Greatness is earned by those who embrace challenge, stand tall in the face of adversity, persevere, learn from failure; never give in, never give up and inspire others to reach great heights.
Forty years ago, the sun set at noon for an accomplished middle-aged man; an entrepreneur, business mogul and titan, who bestrode the nation’s business firmament like the proverbial colossus; a master, of every commerce he was engaged in and an example per excellence of the importance of hard work and perseverance. He was the epitome of rags to riches and a quintessence of God’s grace and blessings for the industrious. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”. James 2:26 He was a personification and embodiment of organization and it reflected in his pioneering efforts in the unions he led and the business pressure groups whose cause he championed. Unlike today’s men of money, he was anti-establishment and fought the government of the day to secure space for the growth of commerce and industry. His unrelenting efforts yielded bountiful fruits for fellow travelers in the business terrain and many profited from his leadership. Most importantly, he did not rely on government patronage and largesse for his gettonity.
Forty years after his demise, his constituency have not had any leader like him and probably ever will. Our persona is late Henry Oloyede Fajemirokun: A born leader of men and a veritable example of reward for industry and business acumen, laced with dogged determination and a can-do spirit. His rural and non cosmopolitan upbringing contrasts with his meteoric rise to fame and riches. His is an example of what perseverance, resolve, will and determination can bring about in the life of man.
Henry Fajemirokun was two years younger than my late father who was his very good friend and neighbor in the early days in Apapa. He was born in rural Ile-Oluji on the suburb of Ondo town in 1927: Son of Pa Daniel Famakinwa Fajemirokun, ‘Dani Ado’, an indication of his remote ancestry: Which would account for Henry’s lifelong friendship with late General Adeyinka Adebayo. They actually hailed from Ile Ife, the Source and went on a migration trail that saw them settled at Ifewara, Ado and later Okeigbo.
At the age of 16, the trajectory of his life changed when he absconded from school at Ondo Boys High School and secretly enrolled in the British Army to fight in the Second World War. He saw action in India and the Far East. This was the first exhibition of his non-conformist disposition, which was to manifest in his championing of trade and industrial unions in later life.
After the war, he settled in Lagos where he got a job with the Post and Telegraph department (P&T), and at the same time, he decided to further his education by studying privately under the tutelage of the late Chief Olowu, then a staff of the CMS Grammar School, Bariga. He later sat for his School Certificate and passed: That showed determination; a hallmark of his life.
Henry became interested in trade unionism and it paid off when he was elected President of the P&T Workers Union; and later President General of the Nigerian Civil Service Union in 1957; a post he held until 1968. He also represented the labour movement on the Board of the ECN (Electricity Corporation of Nigeria) from 1957 until 1960. He was appointed by the Western Nigerian government as a member of the Salaries Review Commission in 1959.
His foray into commerce started when he floated Henry Stephens and Sons HSS, in partnership with his friend and In-Law, Stephen Adepetun, also of the P&T. HSS would eventually grow and blossom into a conglomerate of over 20 companies; ranging from importation to export of bones and commodities, leading to his becoming the first African to have a seat on the London Commodity Exchange with an office in London: HSS London.
It is axiomatic to know that long before Dangote and Folawiyo, he was importing cement from Egypt and Poland; and was the biggest player in that sector. He later invested in construction equipments and the local assembly of concrete mixers.
He was unfazed by calamity or adversities: Even when he lost a shipload of cement in a deep sea disaster; a situation that led to the withdrawal of Stephen from the partnership; he still forged ahead, because he saw it as one of the risks in business. He never changed the name of the company because he did not believe in changing a winning brand with foreign connotation.
In 1962, he formed Nigerian Maritime Services (NMS): The pioneer of household packaging and removal business in Nigeria. Nigmarship Agencies was formed in 1968 as a stevedoring and ship Chatterage Company: It chartered vessels for the cement, building materials and basic foods trade. There was also Henry Stephens Shipping Company, which bought its first ship in 1970, named MV Ifewara. He ventured into banking, insurance, and was the first Nigerian to prospect for oil.
Henry Fajemirokun was best noted for his pioneering role in the Chamber of Commerce, a business pressure group that would see him clashing with the military administration: A role which he played until the end. He was very vociferous against inconsistent policies of the government. From 1971 until 1975, he was President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce; during which he insisted that the Chambers should have input in budget preparation.
In 1977, he championed the interest of British/Nigerian trade when, in partnership with his friend, Sir Adam Thompson, formed the Nigerian–British Chamber of Commerce. He was also Vice-President of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce and President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA). His activities during the clamor for the integration of trade in West Africa were influential in the formation of the ECOWAS.
He became a leading exponent of regional integration and trade in the West African sub-region and this led to the founding of the West African Chamber of Commerce of which he was President from 1972 until he died while on a trade mission to Abidjan on February 15, 1978. The man died in active service!
Henry lived an exemplary life, unlike that of today’s crop of ‘evil men’ who are hell bent on milking this nation to the bone. His was a life of service in the very short period of 20 years. Given the opportunity to continue stealing, many of our leaders would never achieve a tenth of what Henry did in a thousand years and they would never have anything to show for it. Today, Henry’s worthy legacy can be seen in the odyssey of his son, Dele; a quintessential chip of the old bloc.
As we remember late Henry Oloyede Fajemirokun, we pray that God continue to grant him eternal rest. From God we come and to Him we will return.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend: And Blessed Lenten season.
With kind permission from Dele Fajemirokun; Adapted from the forthcoming book: My Odyssey in Business – An Autobiography.
Have you ever made a new year resolution and then nothing happened? That was because you didn't follow through. You didn't perform the necessary daily rituals. Rituals are simple performances you do everyday that build up and gradually condition your body and mind to make things happen. Rituals define you. Activities which result in successful achievements in your life come from your rituals. In life, you don't suddenly become successful. You become successful over time from the little things you do everyday.
Failure occurs the same way. All the little daily failures and procrastinations come together to cause you to fail. With this principle in mind, I want to share with you some little things you do that stop you from moving forward in life. Your progress stops when you change nothing and expect different results. The saying goes that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you want progress, you want to improve yourself, you must try new things to see what works and what doesn't.
The difference between success and failure is the courage you put into betting your ideas, to take risks and take steady steps forward. Two, you hinder your own progress when you keep waiting for the right time. You cannot wait for the perfect time, because it will never come. Three, you can never get anything done when you have a broken focus, when your focus is in disarray. You must wake up daily knowing what you want to accomplish. Create plans to achieve your goals sanely, one at a time.
Every night think of about three things you want to achieve tomorrow; write them down. In the morning review the list. Then take steps to actualize your goals. Let this routine become your daily ritual. If you find yourself being lured to do something outside the list, bring yourself back to focus. Four, you should never make the rejections of your past your focus for today. Not believing you can do it is the biggest trap of your life. They conquer who believe they can. You must believe in yourself before you can triumph.
Five, taking risk is the soul of success. Living is about learning as you go. To truly live is to take calculated risks. As long as you keep your presence of mind, moving forward means making progress. And moving ahead will be far easier than you can imagine. The twists and turns eventually leads to the authentic peace and freedom of an enlightened mind. Change is like breath; it is life's process. In reality, the only thing we can count on is change. And the first step towards positive change is to change your outlook.
You are not how others have treated you. You are only who you think you are right now. To effect change, sometimes all you need do is look at things from a different perspective and then take steps in that direction. It is not what you have been through that defines you; it is how you got through it that made you the person you are today and the person you are capable of being tomorrow. Realize that success requires you to move forward otherwise you are failing while you are in a standstill. You gain lessons from every loss.
Keep climbing, every person at the top didn't fall there from the sky. Good things come to those who work for them. You gain confidence and grow stronger by experience you push yourself to do. You cannot enjoy the view of the splendour without climbing to the top of the mountain.
Recently, i read about the power of paradigm shift and how it can quickly change your life from lack to abundance, from sickness to wellness and from poverty to fulfilment. But do not mistake paradigm shift for mindset change. In the popular self help books, you hear of changing one's mindset. In those books, mindset change is a magic wand that attracts lots of attention. But most of the time will be disappointed. They teach what the rich and successful think, they even offer you their affirmations.
Sadly, they don't actually help you change to become a successful and wealthy person. They fail because these ideas and affirmations do not sound natural to your mind or heart. On the other hand, a paradigm shift totally changes you as a person. Paradigm shift naturally enables you to think differently; enabling you to see abundance in the universe. Sometimes, changing your circumstances isn't simply possible soon enough. You cannot restructure your lifestyle in an instant.
Paradigm shift means changing your perception, belief or opinion about your circumstances. Doing so will help you change your attitude and ultimately allow you to grow beyond the problems and barriers you cannot immediately overcome. But paradigm shift takes practice. Bad habits like people pleasing, reacting to issues with a victim's mentality, succumbing to needless worry; spending time with toxic people or indulging in negative self talk are patterns that need careful attention and renovation. Paradigm shift means breaking with our present faulty patterns of thinking.
When you think about something repeatedly, you begin to identify with it personally; your inner identity gradually becomes your outer reality. Your positive, productive thoughts will create a brilliant, vibrant reality- one where opportunities, happiness and gratitude reside. While your worst fears and foulest thoughts foster a lifetime of darkness and hopelessness, a paradigm shift will usher in your finest desires. The choice is yours. You choose wisely by choosing your words and thoughts carefully.
Be conscious of whatever you are saying to yourself, how you are interacting with others and what you are seeking from the universe on a daily basis. Your life, your health, your happiness and your future depend on it. The bottom line is this: You cannot control the reality of yesterday, nor even the reality of today, but you can control how you think, react and respond to everything in hope of crafting a better blueprint for your tomorrow.
Here are more powerful time-tested ways to enact a greater tomorrow for yourself. One, surrender your worries and embrace acceptance. Remember that somewhere within you exists a supreme self who is eternally at peace with the universe. Moreover, peace of mind envelops you whenever you are at peace with the universe. Two, to attain a paradigm shift practice mindful gratitude. By appreciating what you already have, you create grounds for continuous abundance.
Be thankful for what is, and be grateful for what has not got to you. Find peace in the thought that you know only a fraction of the whole, that there are still many possibilities available to you on the way. Always value what you know; for in what you don't understand, there is the joy of growth. Life will always be incomplete and asymmetrical because finite man cannot comprehend the universe at a glance. Remember education doesn't always make you smarter than your contemporaries and age doesn't necessarily make you wiser. So, invest in yourself through lifelong learning and risk taking to become smart, healthy and wise.
An All Progressives Congress (APC) senator from Kaduna State, Alhaji Shehu Sani has confirmed the existence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo's coalition to rescue Nigeria from President Muhammadu Buhari's inefficient government. Senator Sani said Obasanjo had reached out to Nigerian lawmakers in both the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He said National Assembly members belonging to the two major parties will soon defect to the coalition being shepherded by Obasanjo.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this month, Obasanjo had called for the establishment of a coalition to save Nigeria from Buhari's incompetent government. Senator Sani said the coalition had started gaining prominence as members of the National Assembly were bracing up to defect when the time comes. The Guardian finds that about 80 percent of Abuja lawmakers are ready to join the former president's coalition. We also found that many former state governors were already joining the coalition.
Sani said while it takes two weeks to register a political party, but even then, there is one particular registered party at hand which will likely be the focus. From schemes to oust Senate President Bukola Saraki by the executive, it is apparent that there are people in APC not comfortable in it. The same disquiet abounds in the PDP, thus reports affirm that there will most likely be defections from both main parties within the next one month. Sani said the coming APC national convention will determine the survival of the APC. He opined the possibility of APC becoming a minority party in the National Assembly before the 2019 general elections.
Meanwhile, the millionaire businessman and founder of Aiteo Group of Companies, Benedict Peters has declared that he isn't the person funding Obasanjo's third force. In a statement, Mr Peters denied links with Obasanjo's new group. The statement reads: "For the record, I wish to state categorically and unequivocally that I am not a financier of the said organization or any socio-political association or political party in Nigeria or anywhere in the world." In his letter, Obasanjo had asked Buhari not to seek reelection in 2019.He also called for the formation of the 'Third Force' a coalition outside the APC and the PDP parties.
Self reflection is good but you should not indulge in it. The question of happiness haunts us because at every stage of our lives we hope to seek meaning in everything we do. In an age we're encouraged to daily evaluate our position in the world and how we feel about being it; the search for happiness not only becomes tedious, it becomes discouraging. Thus, self reflection becomes a forced part of our culture, compelling us to reevaluate our relationships, homes and lives ever so often.
Actively looking out for happiness only creates feelings of unhappiness. Psychologists found that the more people value happiness, the more likely they will feel disappointed. Even when life changes for better, we still continue to feel hopeless and lonely. Then, what's the solution to this problem? The solution, a study found, is not to pursue happiness but meaning. People who pursue meaning end up being more positive in life, acquiring better attitudes for everything pleasing- from pleasurable relationships at home and at work to outright happiness in life.
While searching for meaning may be less a task as pining for happiness; experts say there are significant differences between them. Indeed, it is easier to establish meaning early in your life by following these steps: One,controlling your perception of life. Often when you sit down to reflect, you become more unhappy; then you retreat and feel defeated. But when you strive for meaning, you instead look beyond the current situation and look at the bigger picture. As life is filled with ups and downs you get yourselves riled up by the bumps in between moments of happiness creating feelings of despair in your lives.
However, finding meaning in your life depends on whether you are happy at the moment or not; which allows you to find a solution that will keep you happy from time to time. That makes you look beyond the present knowing fully well that how you feel now does not define your entire existence. The second step is in finding things bigger than yourself. When you look at things bigger than you and what you know, you seek transcendence. Transcendence isn't anything spiritual; it is in allowing yourself transcend being self centred by blending into a bigger reality.
Transcendence is experienced by the elation of belonging to a higher vision. Transcendence would then plunge you into reflection and self awareness. You evoke transcendence by placing yourself in situations that juxtapose you and the world, allowing you to clearly experience a bigger reality other than your own. Three, surround yourself with love. By so doing you attain happiness. We often turn to the people around us for happiness and with meaning, there wouldn't be any difference. While you might not be able to test yourself against the universe, there are ways to assure yourself of a sense well being through belonging to your family.
With friends and loved ones and by surrounding yourself with people who love you, you are able to realize that your existence has meaning. Of course this is different from being popular because of things you have or places you belong in. Deep connections go beyond actions and thought. By establishing kinship with someone, you are able to relate to people outside your world view and find meaning beyond the ordinary.
Finally, by creating a purpose for your life, you gravitate towards the universe of things and public figures.A purpose isn't defined by your paycheck or schedule or any agency. Your purpose is defined by joyful ability to give to others and change lives. It isn't strange to find purpose in our jobs; as long as we can contribute to the common good and the well-being of others. On the other hand, finding channels where we can affirm our sense of well-being, where we can passionately help others find direction in life are worthy purposes.
However, the goal of finding meaning in things isn't tied to finite things. Jobs can end, relationships often disappear; money fades away; what is left when all else collapses is your sense of purpose which no one can take away from you. This residue constitutes meaning in your life and ending up to making yours a happy life.
Leaders must be able to light the flame. And the followers keep the flame alive. During our lifetimes, we experience various kinds of hierarchy. From our first experiences in our family, to our nursery years, school days, friendships and sports teams; these experiences prepare us for adulthood and its diverse hierarchical structures. Within such structures, we face all kinds of formal and informal leadership situations. From these variegated experiences, we learn powerful lessons.
Our most enduring experience of leadership isn't in our professional environment, but in our social lives. here, informal but no less powerful- and sometimes difficult exchanges of leadership take place. Examples include family structures, circles of friends and even the dynamic between a pet and its owner. In many cases, leadership and follower roles alternate over time. Leadership is a constant exchange between leader and follower. It is both verbal and non-verbal. The strength of the relationship depends on each party's capacity to support the other.
Being a good leader involves knowing one's own strengths and weaknesses. It requires being able to listen and follow a subordinate, should his unique expertise afford him a temporary leadership role. A new leader must resonate with all those above and below him. They have to fit into a complex architecture of formal and informal leadership, while also performing in their own field. Followers expect leaders to be exemplary personalities with charisma, empathy and social skills. Leaders say leadership involves giving clear directives, aiming for success and developing and motivating a team.
The ideal leader should fulfill both followers' and leaders' expectations. Creating a profile to attract such leaders is a two-fold task. First, how can we assess experienced leaders against these criteria? Second, how can we identify those who have strong leadership traits but who somehow have never fulfilled it? In every organization, there may be outstanding leader personalities that have never believed themselves to be so, or who have never had the opportunity to realize their potential. We should go and find them in view of the leadership vacuum in Nigeria today.
Success as a leader depends on the effective combination of many factors. Chief among those factors is character. This is a key ingredient for creating long-lasting positive synergy between a leader and his team. Positive synergy is the ability to optimize a team's strengths and skills, generating a powerful joint effort in a shared direction. The leader's character should combine all the soft skills that enable the emotional dynamic in a leadership exchange.
Historically, followers have clear opinions about an ideal leader's attributes. These attributes include integrity, empathy, communication skills, humility, authenticity, strength and determination. It is believed that the ultimate attribute of a leader is the capacity to listen, to understand and to feel the needs, fears and expectations of his followers. Without this, there is no reciprocal trust and it isn't possible to bring a team or political party together for success. A leader with a powerful cocktail of empathy, emotional intelligence and strong values is more likely to be followed than an intellectual hotshot who is unable to find a common language with his team.
In terms of potential, a leader's creativity and his readiness to explore uncharted territory is paramount. A leader looks for an answer without being asked. He identifies the right question and chooses the path his team should follow to seek the answer. Creativity is a state of mind. It depends largely on the capacity for self motivation. It is the backbone of a proactive and solution oriented leadership. A natural born leader is full of ideas, suggestions and solutions. In order to find the right questions to ask, a leader needs expertise on the topic, so as to be able to address the unknown parts of a specific problem.
Leaders also need expertise in leading the process, enabling their team to participate in the solution, rather than be overwhelmed by the problem. Expertise is indispensable in a good leader, but it will support and enhance leadership only if combined with other attributes. That experts are essential ingredients of effective governance is shown by the failure and ineffectiveness of the present Muhammadu Buhari administration whose functionaries are round pegs in square holes in education, employment, power supply and the economy.
The force multiplier for creativity is logical thinking. Visions and ideas are valueless if they are too abstract to be implemented. Logical thinking makes ideas consistent and structured, so that they can be understood and carried by the team. Logical thinking simplifies a concept as far as possible, facilitating understanding without losing the bigger picture. A leader must be ready to leave his comfort zone. He must be ready for new challenges; be able to self-motivate without any external influence; be ready for self-assessment and be ready to have his approaches challenged.
A leader practices self-discipline; takes a positive can-do attitude towards everything he does. Anyone can steer the ship but only the leader charts the course. Results require action. An ounce of practice is worth tons of preaching. A leader's day starts early in the morning with making his own bed or jogging unperturbed by bad weather. There is no contradiction between creativity and self discipline. Self discipline means being well organized in managing your daily routine without losing time in thinking about it.
Self discipline organizes your day, helping you to find time to think and be creative. Being punctual and having a healthy, clean and well-groomed appearance are signs of a leader that has a respectful and self-respecting attitude. For a follower, it is easier to respect and follow a person who respects himself. The sensitivity to integrate into an existing framework of relationships is the hallmark of a great leader. Assuming a leadership role in an organization means creating constructive relationships with superiors and subordinates.
Good manners, kindness and being caring are valuable attributes in a leader, for they help avoid, contain or reduce potential friction in a team. A passion for action provides the emotion in a leadership exchange. Showing passion exponentially raises a team's strength, it enhances the power of its can-do attitude. It increases the team's resilience in facing competition. Passion is the poetry of leadership. As a poet appeals to the people's hearts, a leader speaks to his team by his passion for action.
If you are searching for a great leader, look for a person who can do this. Any leadership exchange involving such a man will achieve exponential results. Every organization, nation state or political party needs its leadership principles and values. Leadership isn't about individuals. Once a new leader is found, leading the party remains a shared responsibility within the entire community of its leaders, as well as its followers. His failure to share power with his party leaders is the cause of Buhari's failure as president.
A good leader shares the responsibility to lead consistently, at every level and according to the party's manifesto. Success depends on how a party defines its core values and principles of leadership. It must select leaders who have a good level of innovation and personality deviation, but who can also understand and implement the party's principles. When you define your leadership values, every things seems achievable.
By Bayo Ogunmupe
"I don't think hell exists," said the Right Reverend John Shelby Spong. This reverend father is a retired American bishop of the Episcopal church. Spong served from 1979 to 2000 at the Bish Newark diocese in the state of New Jersey, United States of America. "I happen to believe in life after death, but I don't think it's got anything to do with reward and punishment," Spong continued. He shard his view that hell was invented by the early church in order to control people and his comments have since gone viral, reaching millions of people worldwide.
Religion invents ideas and concepts just like any creative human enterprise. Some of these doctrines have helped people find meaning and fulfillment from their lives. Yet many of the concepts invented by religion were aimed to get people to conform to a system of behaviour that guarantees an interactive reward in the afterlife. As bishop Spong says: "Religion is always in the control business and that is something people don't really understand.
In the guilt producing control business, if you have heaven as where you're rewarded for your goodness and hell as where you are punished for your evil, then you will have control over the population." The effect of threatening to punish people for bad behaviour is to stifle their natural curiosity. Bishop Spong continues: "So they create this fiery place which has scared the hell out of many people throughout christian history (and Islamic history too) as part of it's control tactic."
Spong suggests that hell is a myth, which requires people to fear its existence in order to help the church to continue to survive. Many people turn to religion for guidance in this chaotic world. But the implication of this myth to religion, according to Spong, results in people being less responsible for their actions. As Spong says: the church does not like the people to grow up because you cannot control grownups. That is why the church talks about being born again. When you are born again, you are still a child.
The people don't need to be born again; they need to grow up, accept responsibility for themselves in the world. "It is impossible to verify where human souls go after death, yet christianity created such places as heaven and hell. These places were created to keep people in fear, where they turn to the church as their saviour," according to Spong. "Every church claims that it is the true church, they have some ultimate authority. We have the infallible Pope; we have the inerrant Bible. The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, any human creed, by any human book is almost beyond imagination for me."
Spong ended the interview with a powerful call for the people to see religion in a different way: "God is not a christian, God isn not a Jew or muslim, a Hindu or a Buddhist. Those are human systems which human beings created to help us walk into the mystery of God." This columnist first personally came into contact with this idea while reading Tuesday Lobsang Rampa books. Rampa, the Tibetan lama wrote many books, 27 of which I read. He taught ideas similar to those espoused by Bishop Spong.
However, a new theory based on quantum physics says there is life after death. It says everything you see exists only as a result of an active process occurring in your mind. Put another way, consciousness is creating an awareness of an out there, outside of ourselves, when actually what we experience is only created by our consciousness. What you just read is the first principle of Biocentrism: What we perceive as reality is our consciousness.
That was written by Dr Robert Lanza in his book: Biocentrism, How Life and Consciousness are the key to Understanding the Universe. So you can know you are not reading the musings of a lunatic: Dr Lanza is recognized as one of the greatest minds of the 21st century. He is a distinguished scientist and a foremost stem cell expert. In 2014, he appeared on TIME's list of a hundred most influential people in the world. In 2015, Lanza was selected as one of Prospect magazine's World Thinkers 2015, and he has been voted the third most important scientist alive by the New York Times.