By Bayo Ogunmupe Why does God call people who don't necessarily feel qualified to lead? So, we will depend on God more than ourselves. When God called Moses, he asked, "Who am I that I should go? When Jehovah called Gideon, he replied, " I am the least in my family". When God called Solomon, he said, " I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties."Kings 3:7. When God called Jeremiah, he replied, " I do not know how to speak." Yet all of them became great leaders. How did they do it? By saying yes to Allah's call, learning from their mistakes and growing wiser, and drawing strength from God each day. So whether your God-given assignment in life seems large or small, you can grow into it. A teacher once told Mary Martin the famous American singer, that she had an inferior voice and would never make it in the field of music. But she determined otherwise and for over fifty years she reigned as the world's most loved and famous singer. Mary overcame her seeming deficiency through determination and self discipline. The Greek statesman Demosthenes had such a speech impediment as a boy that it was embarrassing for him to speak before a group. But by investing long hours by the sea in unrelenting practice, he overcame his problem. As a result he became one of the most famous orators of all time. You may not have a natural aptitude for leadership, but under God's guidance you can develop into a visionary leader of our dreams. This is because even though you may be limited, Jehovah who lives within you isn't limited. Thus, success comes through group cooperation. Each of you is a part of it. None of us can do individually, what all of us can do collectively. Apostle Paul said: All of you together are the body of Christ (the church), and each of you is part of it. But the body of Christ has been known to misbehave. The brain discounts the heart. Academics discount worshippers. The hands criticise the knees. Men of action criticise people of prayer. The eyes refuse to partner with the feet. Visionary thinkers won't work with steady workers. The mega city needs the smaller towns. The liberal needs the conservative while the pastor needs the missionary. Cooperation is more than a good idea, it is a scriptural command. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace", Ephesians4:3. When we work together in unity, the bible says God commands His blessing to be upon us. We have not been called to compare, to compete, to complain or to criticise one another. No, we have been called to complement one another. Jesus said: "When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I will be there,"Matthew 18:19-20. What an astounding promise; when we come into agreement Jehovah notices. He shows up; He hears and answers our prayers. Which is why we should cooperate, patiently embrace change and the new leader Muhammadu Buhari. God who abides in him will guide him to prosper the nation. Our duty is to pray for Jehovah's direction. We become like those we spend most of our time with. If we spend time with angry and resentful people, we risk becoming angry and resentful ourselves. So choose your friends carefully, for attitudes are contagious. Good and quiescent attitudes get our prayers answered. For the right answers, we have to ask what we desire in accordance with the will of God. Otherwise, we might have been sabotaging our prayers. God told the Israelites the reason they were not getting answers to their prayers was because they were engaged in finger-pointing and criticism. It is just as important to glorify Jehovah through your spoken words when you are not praying, as when you are. There is a direct link between having a critical, careless tongue and not getting your prayers answered. How you treat others will determine how God treats you. God made it clear: "Stop oppressing those who work for you; treat them fairly, share your food with the hungry and those who are helpless, poor and destitute. If you do these things Jehovah will shed His own glorious light upon you. He will heal you; your godliness will lead you forward; goodness will be a shield before you and the glory of God will protect you from behind. Then when you call, God will answer. Stop making false accusations, stop spreading vicious rumours, help those in trouble and your light will shine out from the darkness and your surroundings will be as bright as day: Isaiah 58:6-11. That means the answer to your prayers is contingent upon your attitude and actions towards others.
By Bayo Ogunmupe The recent Global Corruption Barometer shows that 12 of the 13 countries with the worst record of bribery are in Africa. The African Union estimates that 25 percent of the GDP of African states or some $148 billion, is lost to corruption every year. The African Development Bank (AfDB estimates corruption costs Africa up to 50 percent in lost tax revenues and over $30 billion in aid, yearly. In comparison, Africa receives about $22.5 billion in development aid from industrial countries, according to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2014, Kenya sold government bonds to foreign investors to raise $2.82 billion for infrastructure projects and to pay off outstanding debts. But $1 billion of that amount cannot be accounted for. Recently, Samuel Ukura, Nigeria's auditor-general, reported that $16 billion in oil proceeds was missing from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). After that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) uncovered NNPC's $2.3 billion not remitted to Nigeria's Treasury Single Account. The culpable Nigerian commercial banks hid the amount with the intention of corruptly enriching themselves and their collaborators. At independence, Nigeria started development with low economic development foundation. For instance, we inherited no significant private sector and little infrastructure. In order to expand these rudimentary economic foundations and create wealth, we needed to build capable public services, create new private enterprises and expand infrastructure. To achieve these projects, Nigeria needed to allocate scarce public resources efficiently to foster equitable development, foster efficient state- owned enterprises, specific industrial policies and develop quality long-term economic policies. These are instruments by which government stimulates the economy to create new industries. But after independence, Nigeria continued to export raw materials without adding value, which would provide wealth, bricks- and- mortar investments and jobs. Nigeria's economic challenge is to diversify its industrial base on the back of its raw materials and agricultural products- that is- spinning off new industries from these or developing new ones from scratch. Corruption is one of the reasons why Nigeria has not industrialize as a nation. In fact since independence Nigeria has de-industrialized by producing at the same level or at even lower level. Corrupt elements have captured the areas of policy intervention, which could reverse Nigeria's de-industrialization, causing a vicious cycle of underdevelopment. Because the Nigerian state has been captured by corrupt elements, scarce resources are not distributed optimally to boost development. According to the OECD, as a result of corruption, investments are not allocated to sectors and programmes which present the best value for money or where needs are highest, but to those which offer the best prospects for personal enrichment of politicians. Public resources are often distributed where kickbacks are high and tenders are given to the company or individual that pays the highest bribe- not the company that can deliver the best quality products and services or make the best investment. Because of corruption, state owned companies become a drag on public funds rather than a catalyst for growth. Because of corruption, very few new dynamic industries are created because resources are channeled to corrupt individuals or unproductive investments. In a corrupt environment, long- term investments- so crucial for development- are not a priority. In fact, dominant leaders, groups and factions try to eat as much as quickly as possible, and amass wealth, before the next incumbents push them from the feeding trough. Alternatively, some dominant leaders supported by their minions, try to remain in perpetuity. That was what Olusegun Obasanjo sought to do by his third term agenda and in allowing the National Assembly members to pad the budget, award and pay contractors. Because it is so easy for the politically connected to live off rents, they lack incentives to build bricks- and- mortar companies. This means that the Nigerian economy cannot expand productive capacities, because the corrupt milk the existing capacity and kill off new productive capacity by choking not- so- politically connected innovators, entrepreneurs and new ideas, even before they get to start-up,whether in finance, mining, services or trading. Public procurement, where companies have to bid to deliver services on behalf of government, is especially vulnerable to corruption. The World Economic Forum estimates that 25 percent of the cost of procurement contracts is lost to corruption, which also undermines the delivery by the state of basic public services. The poor suffer disproportionally more from corruption because they depend on basic public services the most. For development aid received, it is also captured by corruption and misdirected to the bank account of individuals or to unproductive projects; such as the reliefs targeted at the Internally Displaced Persons which were found in the bank accounts of non- governmental organizations. Ultimately, corruption shatters the confidence of citizens, organizations and investors in government as is happening in Nigeria today. When government loses confidence it cannot enforce rules aimed at increasing productive capacity, economic growth and per capita income. Where leaders, legislators and ministers and other government functionaries are perceived to be corrupt, private sector organizations and investors also try to shirk their duties. They find ways to avoid tax or to move income offshore or bribe officials to secure trading licenses The result is that government is deprived of income. In many cases Western governments and companies have been complicit in encouraging corruption in Nigeria. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz says, "Every bribe that is taken has a payer, and too often the bribe payer is a corporation from an advanced industrial nation or someone acting on its behalf". Nigeria with one dominant resource, is now experiencing a natural resource curse. This well recognized phenomenon occurs when the export of the commodity does not benefit the country as a whole, but only a privileged few. Stiglitz says the reason for the resource curse is the prevalence of corruption, whereby Western companies abet the siphoning off the income from our oil to Nigerian leaders and elites in return for selling the natural resource at discount prices in global markets. Foreign investment is also impacted by corruption. Investors are often asked to pay bribes to secure tenders, licenses and protection to operate without interference. China for example, has been accused for targeting African political leaders and governing political parties, providing them with patronage to secure trading licenses, favourable investment terms and freedom to shirk its duties in terms of local laws on labour, human rights, wages and the environment. In Nigeria, local and foreign private donors fund governing parties in return for favourable policies subverting regulations and the drive toward efficient privatization. This stymies development. Developed countries exacerbate the situation by harbouring the proceeds of corruption in secret bank accounts. Illicit outflows of money from Nigeria come in form trade mis-pricing, payments between parent companies and their subsidiaries and profit shifting strategies aimed at hiding income. These corruption reports implicate governments, mining, oil and banking as well as legal and accounting firms. Corruption leads to brain drain of Nigeria's best talents, it distorts mechanisms like fair competition. It deters domestic and foreign investment, thereby stifling growth and creating large scale unemployment. The IMF says investment flows to corrupt countries are 6 percent lower than other countries. Nevertheless, Nigeria's civil society groups, media and individual whistleblowers must continue to point out corrupt practices. They need to be supported by transnational bodies such as the African Union, Transparency International, Global Witness and Action Aid. All of which have done well in exposing corruption. Abdulmumin Jibril must also be commended for exposing corruption in the National Assembly.
By Bayo Ogunmupe Local governments are the third tier of government. The first two are the state and federal governments. So far there is where in the world where local governments are independent either of the state or the federal government. When local governments are independent the states become irrelevant, because the states will no longer have access to the land and the people. Besides, federations all over the world three tiers of government. Be that as it may, local governments are nearest to the people. They comprise the executive expressed in the Council chairman and the supervisors. Like the states and the federation, supervisors represent commissioners of the states and ministers of the federation. Like the council chairman, councillors are elected. They constitute the legislative arm of local governments. Like state and federal legislators, councillors make laws- such laws are called bye-laws. Councillors also have oversight functions in the councils. They ensure the chairman and supervisors adhere to the budget, execute projects and the like. It is for these reasons that the refusal of some states to conduct local government elections are objectionable. Under section seven of the 1999 Constitution, it was envisaged that some people shall be elected to take charge of the affairs of the local governments. The Constitution mandates the people to assume office as prescribed by it. For that reason the basic law directs that there shall be elections to the 774 local government councils of the federation. The Constitution clearly forbids anyone or group from taking control of the government of Nigeria or any part thereof except as prescribed by law. Thus those saddled with discharging authority at the local government level without election constitute the usurpation of the authority of local governments. The governors should be blamed for these lapses. Indeed, failure to conduct local elections as at when due, is a grievous breach of the Constitution. But governors have a duty to defend the Constitution by preserving the values and ideals of democracy. In the circumstance, council chairmen are mere pawns in the hands of governors. Expenditures of local governments are variously regulated by the governors. Therefore governors should give utmost priority to local elections as learning process for federal elections. Adhering to such recommendations will boost democratic practice in Nigeria. It will also ensure that the dividends of democracy reach the grassroots faster than ever before. However, we should not miss out the federalist doctrines which confer power on the federating states to control and promote their local authorities. Certainly, the present Nigerian federalism is skewed to favour some communities; because states and local governments were arbitrarily created. That arbitrariness has encouraged many states to create area councils without the corresponding financial powers. However, to reduce the cost of governance, particularly now that states can no longer pay salaries of workers; we should convert zones to states with the present becoming local governments. Then, councils can create housing estates in order to provide shelter for the people. Thus, the infrastructural concerns of such councils could be met. Such concerns include: rural roads, low cost housing, water supply and flood control measures. Indeed, the urgent task of the people should be how to make council officials accountable to the people. While some states have complied with constitutional provisions on council elections, many have done other things that render local governments irrelevant and powerless to fulfill their functions. Under the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution, the functions of local governments include: construction and maintenance of roads, streets, street lightings, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces and such public facilities as may be prescribed from time to time by the House of Assembly of a state. It is disheartening that some states have conspired to strangulate the importance of councils by diverting their funds to other uses. Thus, the constitutional provision requiring the payment of council statutory allocations into a joint account with the states has not been helpful. However, that does not necessitate independent local governments. The clamor for independent local governments is borne out of ignorance and profligacy. As poverty and unemployment ravage Nigeria, councils should be empowered to assist in the establishment of local and import-substitution enterprises for our prosperity. This may be done through the institution of a N720 billion national full employment programme for the country. In this way we my heave a sigh of relief from the debilitating scourge of poverty ravaging the country. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment in Nigeria doubled between 2006 and 2011. At the same time, we allowed our factories to close down in favour of a trader mentality that imports everything including toothpicks from China. If we must use Chinese for there cheapness, why don't we bring them here to manufacture the goods and create jobs? Clearly, many things are wrong with Nigeria. Let local governments build this nation for us just as Amuwo Odofin Local Council Area is blazing the trail for all Nigerians in Lagos state.
By Bayo Ogunmupe Afa is an ancient settlement in Okeagbe, Ondo State. It constitutes a little more than half of Okeagbe town. Along with such other settlements as Oge and Ido, at the behest of a West Indian missionary named Venerable Augustus Lennon, they relocated from their hilltop refuge, where they hid from slave raiders to settle at their present abode in 1924. Okeagbe is the headquarters of the Akoko Northwest Local Government of Ondo State. Another town created similarly at the urging of the same Venerable Lennon at the same time is Idoani in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo state. There are no historical records of Afa up to 1923. For that reason, it was necessary to rely on linguistic evidence; long held oral traditions, evidence obtained from place names or the panegyric of the Ogotun lineage as well as logical deductions. The Sahara Desert covers most of North Africa. It is a dry inhospitable place. In the past, about 800 years ago, the Sahara Desert area was characterized by abundant rainfall that sustained lush vegetation, great rivers and lakes, human settlements and a variety of animals. Like is happening now, following climate change: a steady decline in rainfall caused the Sahara to dry up. Subsequently, desert conditions took root and expanded outwards. This caused humans to scatter in all directions. In the course of these, groups of people of common origin and language broke up into bands, taking their languages with them. Owing to mixture with alien groups and adaptation, their common language begins to diverge, becoming noticeably different. Such bands of the same people are now speakers of Igbo, Yoruba, Itsekiri and Igala. Which is why Afa-Okeagbe dialect is linked to those aforementioned nationalities. Moreover there had been wars between these communities such as the war between Afa and the Nupe at Ogidi near Kabba in Kogi state in 1885. There was another war with the Nupe in 1897 but this time the Nupe were assisted by the forces of the Royal Niger Company, the forerunners of the British colonial government in Northern Nigeria. The last war that took Afa fighters away from home before Pax Britannica was the Ekiti Parapo War, also known as Kiriji war, fought from 1876 till 1896 against the Oyo imperial army led by Ibadan. That Afa force was an amalgam of Akoko, Ekiti and Ijesha fighters. The aim of the Kiriji war was to put an end to harassment from Ibadan marauders. It was for safety that people resorted to living on hillsides such as by Oyin, Aje, Oge, Akungba, Oka and Idanre. However, it was not the Fulani who brought Islam to Afa and the Akoko territory. It was the Nupe who for decades ranged freely all over Akoko from 1840 to 1897. Islam was the first alien religion in Akoko, Christianity followed a century later. It was not until 1842 that Protestant Christians penetrated into Akoko land via Badagry on the Atlantic coast. In Badagry, the Protestants quickly established their base; founding Western style educational institutions. With Ajayi Crowther as their leader. They moved further inland to Abeokuta in 1846. The school they found in Abeokuta was moved to Oyo in 1896- becoming St Andrews College now renamed Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo. Regettably, Afa's location up country prevented education from reaching it even by the time it relocated to its present site in Okeagbe in 1924. This book in review is titled, A Short History of Ancient Afa-Okeagbe. It was written by Oladele Awobuluyi, professor emeritus of Linguistics. It was published by Okeagbe Book Company in 2015. The book has five chapters, 101 pages in English and Yoruba combined. It also includes a preface, an appendix of traditional titles and the ward lineage in Ogotun Afa. The author, Professor Awobuluyi is the eldest child of the late Ologotun of Ogotun-Afa, Okeagbe. Educated in Nigeria and the United States, Awobuluyi has written many books in addition to many essays in scholarly journals at home and abroad.
By Bayo Ogunmupe The Reformation, Luther's legacy, 500 years on, is the most far reaching event in Western civilisation. Its impact will be the subject of discussion during the Reformation's 500th anniversary in 2017. Five hundred years ago in Europe, there were changes which had a profound influence on world history. The divide came about within Christianity between the Protestants and the Catholic Church. Individual freedom, freedom of conscience, the German language and the present day understanding of work ethics- developed. What happened at that time is now known as Reformation. It began as a theological dispute initiated by a young monk Martin Luther(1483-1546) who taught at the University of Wittenberg, Germany that had only recently been founded. On October 31, 1517 he sent out 95 Theses on theological questions that he wanted debated in public- as was usual at that time. Later, Luther also nailed the Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. However, his ideas provoked a dispute that led to the division of the Church, which after Luther's death led to the European Wars of Religion between Protestant and Catholic princes as well as the redrawing of the map of Europe. Luther developed his own theology, later called Protestantism, which turned against the Papacy, shifting the focus of attention onto individual faith. Thereafter, Luther left the Order of Saint Augustine, married, translated the Bible into German, wrote many books which the people devoured avidly- as a result he founded the Protestant churches. Today roughly 37 percent of the world's 2.2billion Christians belong to Protestant denominations. In Germany, 29 percent of the people are Protestants, 30 percent Catholics while 34 percent do not belong to any religious community. The 95 Theses of Luther written in Latin became etched into our cultural memory as an affirmation of the right to freedom of religion. In 2017, 500 years after that event, the anniversary of the Reformation is being celebrated worldwide including Nigeria. In Germany, there will be church and government organized events, exhibitions and conferences. The 31 October 2017 will be a nationwide holiday, consequently the Reformation anniversary will be the largest jubilee ever. Thus, the Federal Government and several states established a Luther 2017 Project Office. Government is focusing on the achievements of Reformation in fields of art, culture, human rights, politics and to inform people on the legacy of Reformation. Undoubtedly, the Reformation is one of the most far-reaching events in German, European and world history. It has profoundly influenced the history, politics and self image of Europe and Western civilisation. It had impact on education, created the foundation for social and political participation and citizenship. Without Reformation, the world would be different in many ways. Thies Gundlach, Vice President of the Church Office at the Evangelical Church of Germany and the person responsible for the Reformation celebrations believes that today we are again living in '' in our own form of prereformation era'', when fundamental principles are being questioned. He considers Luther's path from Augustinian monk to the discoverer of the freedom of religion without recourse to institutional requirements, to be an existential archetype of all liberation paths. Yet, historians and theologians agree that neither the Reformation nor Luther's theology was merely a story of liberation. Thus, it is better not to invite historians to the jubilee, because they can be depended upon to focus on the points in history that are hard to celebrate- from Luther's anti-semitic writings to the European Wars of Religion. Naturally, these subjects will be discussed during the anniversary- incidentally on the initiative of the Church itself. In the history of ideas, Luther had many harbingers who anticipated his thought. However, he was able to assert himself by applying courage and skill, by attracting attention throughout Europe which he received thanks to the media revolution of printing and by seizing the political moment. Then, Luther's ideas of the right to freedom of speech and religion, freedom to hold opinion and impart ideas without interference, spread swiftly. Nevertheless, the history of the Reformation was intrinsically contradictory. And like all historical processes open: The Reformation did not end the Middle Ages, it emerged out of them. The Middle Ages were not dark, many of the ideas we consider modern today had already been formulated then. To that extent, the Reformation represents the culmination of medieval ideas, not their overthrow. It is also not a history of Luther; though Luther is its central figure, he is not the only influential figure in the early days of the Reformation. Therefore it is important to note the late Middle Ages as a time of enormous diversity, in the same way that the age of Reformation was itself diverse. Even the term: the Age of Reformation is misleading, because the time was not simply the time of the Reformation, but also the time of the Renaissance. Martin Luther's contemporaries included other Reformers such as Huldrych Zwingli and Johannes Calvin- those the Church untiringly refers and the Renaissance giants like the artist Leonardo da Vinci and the historian and political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. Which is why there are no longer grounds for the thesis of decay with reference to the Catholic Church, which was only renewed by Luther. The whole history of the Reformation is closely bound with the many different forms of piety, theology and culture of the Middle Ages, according to the historian Thomas Kaufmann. There is also the argument among researchers on the place of the Reformation in history. This dispute rages on whether it should be described as an unexpected, sudden break with the past or as a gradual transformation of ideas. However, there is consensus that there was not one single self-contained Reformation, but many different Reformations. Here, according to Kaufmann, Luther especially came to be used by subsequent generations as a surface for the projection of diverse longings, hopes, enmities and dreams. Nonetheless, on this the experts are agreed that Luther isn't an exceptional figure but in many respects a stranger to us today: in the assessment of the Church historian Volker Leppin. Nevertheless, Luther had and still has a strong historical influence. This is especially demonstrated by his understanding of freedom. In his treatise "On the Freedom of a Christian", which was published in 1520, he establishes the idea that a Christian is, on the one hand, a free lord over all things and subject to no one, and, on the other, a ministering servant to all things and subject to everyone. That looks like an echoing of Muhammadu Buhari's " I belong to everybody but I belong to no one". In any case, by that thesis, Luther made the distinction between the inner and the buter human being. This forms the basis for the Protestant theology that shifts faith into the centre of what it means to be a Christian. Neither works nor laws, nor even the Church, in other words no buter factors are crucial for inner salvation; only faith and God's mercy can decide. Luther's concept of freedom is above all a theological imperative. But he was never only understood that way. Thus, varying opinions emerged during the German Peasants' War(1523-1526) that the understanding of freedom should be applied politically. Though Luther opposed this, but the idea of freedom as a rejection of servitude had a great impact on German politics and society of his time. Therefore, Luther's 95 theses were claimed by different sides and also misused as justification for national, social and political freedom. Luther did not discover modern freedom, his ideas preceded it. Luther only strengthened a dialectic that reveals liberty to be an ambivalent process. There are many good reasons to remember the Reformation on the 500th anniversary of the hailing of the Theses. This also represents an important cultural and intellectual transformation. The most important point is that Reformation has not yet come to an end. We should attach importance to the renewed Church that embraces everyone, across the divides of the religions, ethnicity, continents and self interest. This post-colonial interpretation of the Church aims to respond to the here and now. That definitely comes close to Luther's theological conception of Christianity. To Luther, Christianity meant above all one thing- lived faith. It is this life-long awareness created by Luther which engendered the uproar that greeted the killing of Evangelist Eunice Elisha in Kubwa, Abuja last July by religious extremists.
By Bayo Ogunmupe Folorunso Alakija Speaks is the title of an inspirational book from the richest woman in Africa, Mrs Folorunso Alakija of Lagos Nigeria. It is a new form of autobiography since Mrs Alakija compiled her own speeches into a book. This volume is a selection of her favourite speeches, carefully presented by the author, the skills she honed in decades of a distinguished career as a stenographer, motivational speaker and coach. Alakija's speeches covered many topics and subjects ranging from business, motherhood, marriage, charity to education. Her other areas are Corporate Social Responsibility and nation building. The book also contains Alakija's acceptance speeches in universities where she received honorary doctorate degrees and her latest award as the first female chancellor of a government owned university in Africa, the Osun State University. The Folorunso Alakija Speaks(FAS) has nine chapters. It is grouped according to the type of speech and subject. Chapter one deals with acceptance speeches on awards from Yaba College of Technology, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the University of Uyo and Osun State University. Chapter two has speeches on business and Finance. These speeches she delivered at the Africa/Asia Oil and Gas summit, rebranding and formal Opening of Digital Reality Print Limited, her personal printing facility. Also included is her speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum. In chapter three, Corporate Social Responsibility is highlighted as a means of promoting qualitative education. Education covered chapter four while leading through innovation is the theme of her motivational speeches in chapter five. In chapter six, her public presentation of Conversations With My Country authored by Mrs Funke Egbemode, President of Nigerian Guild of Editors. At chapter seven, she celebrated Women's Development in speeches made at Abuja; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Eko Hotel, Lagos Nigeria. Chapter eight she devoted to charity,whereby she spoke on her foundation, The Rose of Sharon Foundation and the launching of the book: The Cry of Widows and Orphans. Thereafter, she delivered a speech in Abuja on the Role of Governors' Wives in Grassroots Transformation in Nigeria. The chapter nine of FAS deals with interviews. There, she shares with us her interview by the Cable News Network(CNN) at the State House, Marina, Lagos. Her last speech on record is her TW Magazine brunch with interviewers. As you have seen, this paperback book has nine chapters,200 pages, 20 of which are photographs. Also, the last page contains references. However, her most moving speeches that must be highlighted are the fifth anniversary of the Rose of Sharon Foundation and the farewell of its matron. The Rose of Sharon Foundation is Mrs Alakija's philanthropic foundation. It is one of the institutions through which she undertakes her corporate social responsibility and works of charity. In her celebration speech, Alakija espouses her commitment to the word of God as expressed in the Bible book of James 1:27 which says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world". Thus, she gives glory to God for enabling her to use the foundation to place 217 children in institutions of higher learning and 628 in primary and high schools in Nigeria. Moreover, 1,366 widows' children have received scholarships in the states of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Benue. Over 2000 widows have been registered in their books and had their lives touched in Benue State; 970 widows have been empowered with micro-credits to run their businesses while 82 were given rented accommodation and shops. The loans are interest free and the scholarships have no conditions attached. But in her farewell address to The Rose of Sharon Foundation's matron, after eulogizing her husband Modupe Alakija, Mrs Alakija celebrated milestones and her notable achievements. Before 2008, she had empowered three widows financially. Progressively, since then, her foundation had empowered 761 widows and 1,425 scholarships were awarded to orphans and widows' children. She also launched the book: The Cry of Widows and Orphans, a tool to advance campaigns seeking to improve existing laws and push for the enactment of new protective laws. In celebrating the International Widows Day, she used it as a platform to advance campaigns to end discrimination and violence against widows all over the world. Also, her Enterprise Development Training Programme is providing management skills with the view of helping widows expand their businesses. This beautiful book was published this year 2016 by Folorunso Alakija at www.theroseofsharonfoundation.org. The foundation is at Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos.
By Bayo Ogunmupe Rectify your heart and you will rectify your life. Lust, hatred, vanity and self indulgence- breed poverty and weakness; whereas love, meekness, compassion and self forgetfulness grant you wealth and power. It is the mind of a virtuous person that has power to create prosperous circumstances and happiness. In a nutshell, you will only become prosperous when you are disciplined. Indeed, wealth and happiness come most easily to those who forget themselves in their service to others. The above mentioned matters constitute the mindset of the people marked for prosperity. Then where is the path to prosperity? Certainly, you can find it through stocks, bonds, real estate or the ownership of a company. These are tangible expressions of wealth, but they say nothing on how to gain prosperity. In fact, prosperity is created by individuals, but such a people harbour particular personal qualities. In his book: The Path To Prosperity, James Allen argues that prosperity is always personal, resting squarely on the degree you have refined or bettered yourself. Though it is possible for anyone to become rich, but to be happily prosperous suggests that you have peace of mind in addition to monetary riches. Allen is most famous as the author of : As A Man Thinketh, which beautifully expresses the idea that you create your world through your thoughts. The Path To Prosperity goes deeper into the link between your mindset and material abundance. From these books we learn that to be prosperous, you must have a good heart by becoming truly valuable to your fellow human beings. To be rich, you have to follow the path of righteousness, not the path of corrupt enrichment that turned Nigeria into a rich one percent glowing in a sea of mediocrity. A prosperity seeker abjures evil. He accepts problems as gifts which he attracted to himself through ignorance. He then chooses to endure them, becoming free to become a careful molder of his own circumstances. The self awareness gained through struggle enables you to choose the true path. You, realising all you are, is as a result of what you have thought. If you are happy, it is because you are thinking thoughts of happiness. That is why people with a positive mindset quickly get over setbacks and soon become prosperous. Being an optimist essentially makes you think in certain ways despite current reality- this can be learned and it often makes all the difference to a person's career success or failure. Thus, to get out of undesirable conditions, stop being a complainer. The way to a better life is through delivering service and providing love. Adversity helps you master yourself through patience and self control. The paradox of true prosperity is that it comes to those who forget about themselves in providing service to others. As they become highly valued, they are showered not only with money but with love and honour. Anyone can gain wealth if he tries hard enough. But prosperity and peace of mind only arrive at the door of people who have mastered themselves. You can pursue wealth directly but it is wiser to purify yourself in the provision of service. For in the midst of riches, you remain virtuous, seeing yourself less as an owner than as a steward of divine abundance. Outside of contentment, there is neither prosperity nor power, but only the appearance of abundance. The path to true prosperity revolves around good character, also known as integrity. The Greek philosopher Aristotle said: "The hardest victory is the victory over self", but it is a victory that empowers you to win in all other spheres of life. In this 21st century you do not need religious faith to understand that the greater your moral depth and courage, the more you stand out from your peers. No work on refining your virtues of diligence, integrity and sympathy is ever wasted. The more abundant such qualities the more easily riches are attracted to you, compared to people who only chase short- term gains.
By Bayo Ogunmupe Every naira is a money seed. Just as a tiny acorn contains power to grow into a mighty oak, each kobo has the power to grow into a mighty money tree. Rich men have always known, if one stream dries up, they have many more to tap into for support. Which is why ordinary people are much more vulnerable. If they lose their one and only stream it wipes them out. Now you need a portfolio of income streams, not one, not two, but many streams from completely different and diverse sources-so that if one stream dries, you will barely notice. You will be safe. You will be able to have time to adjust your finances. The prosperous do not depend on only one source of income but grow orchards of money trees. In the 20th century, and before the onset of the 2014 recession in Nigeria, most families could survive on one income. Today, most families need more sources of income. Now we need multiple streams of income to be truly prosperous. People think that having a good job means security, but ever so often it happens, with one job, prosperity can turn to poverty with amazing speed. Widening your sources of income provides peace of mind, because if one source dries up, you not only have others but have the time to find more. Robert G. Allen is famous for his 'creative financing' real estate books; so you would expect his: Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth, to focus on the flashier, high- growth ways to wealth. Allen taught conservative investment strategies such as having a survival account containing three month's emergency cash; making sure that 10 percent of your income is always channeled into investments. Then, if you go to the stock market you must stick mainly to index funds. Allen is big on the power of compound interest. The richest man of his time Baron de Rothschild described Allen's advocacy as the eighth wonder of the world" noting that in a span of a lifetime, a dollar a day will grow into $1 million. Most people will be looking to make money at a faster rate than that over a lifetime. However, this is where Allen showed incredible creativity: he identified three money mountains- investing, real estate and marketing. From here the average person should, with a little knowledge and effort be able to obtain at least 10 streams of income that keep ever flowing. In the process creating freedom from a single employer. For the concept of multiple streams of income to work for you, you must stop the leaks. One leak is taxes. That is why wealthy people are not afraid to spend money on getting the best tax advice available. Another leak is spending. Prosperous people do things differently. They make sure that most of their purchases are planned. The longer the time frame before a purchase, the less you will pay. As oil magnate Jean Paul Getty put it, "I buy my straw hats in the fall". That means he buys his Christmas groceries in September. Rich people ask for and get discounts. They never pay retail. They balance their accounts regularly.
Habits that hinder your prayers By Bayo Ogunmupe In an attempt to make human existence meaningful, people craft measures to make impact in the world. They live to achieve goals so as to realize their full human potential. The only way to achieve this is to work and pray. The belief in one God who answers prayers started among the Jews of ancient Israel in about 1513 Before the Christian Era (BCE). They named that God in Hebrew: Yahweh or Jehovah. Followers of this first religion that believe in one God- Judaism use Moses to beg Him in prayer. The English call Jehovah, God or the Almighty. The Christians, a sect of Judaism use the name of their founder Jesus the Christ to beg God so that Jehovah can hasten the acceptance of their prayers. The Arabs call God, Allah and use the cities Makkah, Medina, the hills Saffah and Marwa and the mosque Kaabah to beg Allah in worship. While our prayers must be constant, persistent and without ceasing, to gain God's acceptance; we need them to overcome satan's power. We need prayer to prevent satan from ensnaring us into sin. Also, prayer is appointed by God as the means by which we can obtain favour from Him. For us, prayer accomplishes many things. It promotes our spiritual growth. Prayer gives us power for any work be it in our career or profession. Prayer for results is a definite and conscious appeal to God which underscores the power of united or group prayer. God delights in the unity of His people- and seeks to emphasize it in every way. Indeed, where two or more people perfectly agree to ask for a thing, such prayer has irresistible power. In the nations of Asia: China, India, Russia and Japan, they appeal to God in their native faiths and God accepts their prayers. In Japan where 84 percent of the population believe in Shintoism, God accepts their supplications.Yet, they are prosperous, without oil or steel they are the third largest economy in the world. Brandishing work as prayer, the Japanese have banished poverty becoming a world leader in refining oil and building automobiles. The first hindrance to prayer is to ask God's favour in order to spend it for pleasures. Sin is the second hindrance to prayer, Isaiah 59:1-2. Your prayers are not answered because you wallow in sin. The third hindrance to prayer is to keep idols in your heart, Ezekiel 14:3. An idol is anything that takes the place of God, anything that is the supreme object of your affection. God alone should be supreme in our hearts. The fourth hindrance to prayer is to be found in Proverbs 21:13. "Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." There is no greater hindrance to prayer than stinginess, the lack of liberality toward the poor and God's work. It is the one who gives generously to others who receives generously from God, Luke 6:38; 1 John 3:22. And when you stand praying, forgive. Lack of forgiveness is the fifth hindrance to prayer. A wrong relationship between husband and wife is the sixth hindrance to prayer. This enjoins you to deal honestly with your spouse. Finally, prayers are hindered by unbelief. God demands that we believe His scriptures absolutely. To question is to make Him a liar. Let not any man without faith think of any answer to his prayer. "But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally- but let him ask in faith," James 1: 5-7. Work and prayer go hand in hand. Worship comes later, when you have the time. Mostly we have substituted worship for prayer in Africa which is why we are poor; God does not hearken to our prayers. We have only poverty and corruption to show for our hypocrisy. Let us learn from the prosperity of the Japanese who believe that work is prayer. He prays the most who works hardest.
By Bayo Ogunmupe The writer and clergyman Sydney Smith asserted, 'A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage'. To discover and grow visionary leadership, you need courage. Before he joined the army, Winston Churchill desired to create a reputation for bravery. But he didn't know whether he had the talent for it. Then he went to Cuba to test his courage in a controlled environment. He understood that a person doesn't know what he is really made of until tested. If you fear the test then you never get the chance to develop your vision. Our courage is tested when we respond to changes when inactivity is more comfortable. Never leaving the familiar means you are comfortable. But your willingness to let go of the familiar means you are courageous. Greatness is founded on bravery. It takes courage to escape from old ideas and respectable ways of doing things. To become a visionary leader you must be willing to give up the present to become all you can be. By leaving your comfort zone and bravely striving on, you can reach heights you thought were impossible. The opposite of courage is cowardice. Cowardice is conformity. It isn't enough to believe in something; you must live it. Learning and growing require action. Learning forces a change in behaviour. You haven't learned a thing until you can take action and use it. From knowledge comes strength that subconsciously inspires you to push on in the face of stiff opposition. No one makes the most of his talent in isolation. Which is why you must seek the cooperation of others in order to accomplish your aims. By treating others better than they treat you, you make others willing to work with you. People admire leaders and innovators. People honour them, historians write books about them; sculptors chisel their images on the face of hills. However, others want to knock them down. thus, if you want greatness, you never wait for a crowd. You strike out alone. That takes nerves and grit, so you must have both. Greatness is the accomplishment of things which people think were impossible. Adversity is the enemy of progress; so as you move forward, obstacles get in your way. How you overcome obstacles teaches you about yourself. Success makes you wiser and stronger. Greatness is gained by facing difficulties with courage. If you wish to develop more courage, then do the following. One, courage is inside not outside of yourself. During the great Depression in America, the great inventor Thomas Edison, delivered his last public message. He said, "Be courageous, I have lived a long time. I have seen history repeat itself again and again. I have seen many depressions in business. Always the nation has come out stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith, go forward." Edison knew that when we experience fear, we must move forward. Courage starts from the mind before it is displayed. Two, grow courage by doing the right things, not the expedient. Florence Nightingale observed, :Courage is the virtue of those who choose the right thing over the expedient thing. It is the common currency of those who do what they are supposed to do in time of conflict, crisis and confusion." Three, taking small steps of courage prepares you for greater challenges. Mostly, we want to grow quickly, but genuine growth is slow. To be successful therefore, we must start from small things and do them everyday. Your life changes when you change something you do everyday. Which means being made a leader won't give you courage but courage can make you a leader. Former British premier Margaret Thatcher remarked, "Being a leader is a lot like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are one, you aren't." The position does not make a leader. The leader makes the position. Leadership is an expression of courage that compels you to do the right at all times. Your influence expands with each courageous act you espouse. People who are willing to take risks, explore their limits, and are ready to experience defeat will go farther than those who timidly follow the safe path of living. When you resolve to sacrifice lesser ambitions to your great aim, to stand alone, firm in your purpose, you set in motion the divine forces God has implanted in you for your greatness. Therefore, visionary leadership means you have developed convictions that are stronger than your fears. Your vision must be clearer than doubts. Your tenacity of purpose must be stronger than popular opinion. Your dissatisfaction with the Nigerian reality must be more forceful than the status quo. Your risk taking must be stronger than your desire for personal security. Your desire to serve justice must be more robust than rationalization. Your goal of realizing your full potential must be more than seeing people appeased. Only courage can propel you to greatness. You must trade what you have for what's best for your success.