Senator Ibikunle Amosun
Senator Ibikunle Amosun
By Senator Ibikunle Amosun
Senator Ibikunle Amosun's speech at the 4th edition of project "WHAT NEXT" 2013 at Lagos Business School, March 18,2013 tagged A VOYAGE POWERED BY CONVICTION
I am aware that The Lagos Business School is not an ecumenical centre and my lecture is not a catechism. Nonetheless, let me share my fascination with the stories of Moses (Musa) and Joseph (Yusuf) as told in the scriptures, the Bible and Qur’an. The commonality of personalities and similarities of the stories also speak volumes, essentially that humanity is a single club. These stories, I believe, offer profound insights for leadership and nation-building. Moses was born at a time the Israelites were under the yoke of oppression foisted on them by Pharaoh (Fir’aun). It was an irony of a sort that the would-be liberator of his people, Moses, was weaned in Pharaoh’s palace. He suffered intimidation, persecution and threat to his life from Pharaoh and his army. Of course, he was later to become the nemesis of his former host. At a time, his people disbelieved him and he was almost overwhelmed with frustration. Similarly, Joseph, though destined to save Israel from famine, had to go through slavery, imprisonment and humiliation before he finally became a Minister in Egypt. Fast forward to contemporary times, you will find leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr. Nelson Mandela, who also endured hardship on their road to greatness.
There are some common denominators amongst leaders. The most obvious is that the trajectory to leadership has never been an easy one. Vision, courage, resilience, and risk-taking are some of the most common items in their tool-kits.
In as much as I cannot claim to stand on the same pedestal as these great men, my story is not dissimilar from theirs.
I was born at a period when parenting was communal and parents instilled discipline and strong values in their children. Family values and honour were cherished and preserved. I have fond memories of my father, a very strict disciplinarian, who would rouse us from sweet slumber every day at 4.30am. Between that time and 8am when school started, we would observe our early morning Muslim prayers, perform many household chores such as fetching water to support the domestic needs of a fairly large family – my father had eleven wives, twenty nine children of which sixteen are surviving. As a close - knit family, children had to work together even as we competed for attention, resources and to excel in our assigned tasks, particularly academics. This environment could be said to be my first school in leadership training.
My mother, a trader, was the first of the eleven wives. If my father was a disciplinarian and the undisputed Lord of the manor, she was a symbol of quintessential womanhood with the usual feminine capacity to be many things rolled into one. In terms of discipline, she was even a notch higher than my father. Yet, she was so caring and loving that she ensured that she perfectly handled all the soft but important issues in our lives. For instance, throughout primary school, I always won the prize for being the neatest pupil, a direct result of my mother’s almost religious insistence on cleanliness and hygiene. I should mention here that I was the third of my mother’s four children.
In those days, teachers were demi-gods. They were not only purveyors of knowledge but also moulders of character and barometers for determining right and wrong in the society. Indeed, the fear of teachers was the beginning of wisdom and good behaviour. Many teachers made a profound impact on me. However, Monsieur Ogunwemimo, my French teacher at African Church Grammar School, Abeokuta, is one teacher that stands out in my memory. For a local boy who was still struggling to master the English language, French was considered an unnecessary additional burden. To make matters worse, Monsieur, as we called him, was a no-nonsense teacher who neither spared the rod nor limited his role to teaching alone. I owe him and indeed all my teachers a great debt of gratitude for the discipline, focus, tenacity of purpose, among other values they laboured so much to instil in us.
On successful completion of my secondary education, my intention was to study Economics, but my father had other plans. Ogun State Polytechnic – OGUNPOLY- (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic - MAPOLY) had just been established. My father, partly due to his patriotic fervour for Ogun State and partly to ensure that I was still very much within his disciplinarian “jurisdiction”, preferred that I should attend OGUNPOLY where I studied Accountancy. It was not a difficult decision for me to accept (I had little discretion in the matter, anyway), because many illustrious sons and daughters of Ogun State were (and still are) the leading lights of Accounting profession in the country. Besides, if you were in the sciences, it was more prestigious to train to become a Medical Doctor or an Engineer. For those of us in the Arts and Commercial Classes, you would rather become a Lawyer or an Accountant. Daddy - Daddy, as I fondly called my father, guided the selection of my course of study and profession. I remain eternally grateful to him for this. To satisfy my initial craving for Economics, many years later I obtained a Masters degree in International Finance from Westminster University, United Kingdom.
As many of you would readily attest to, admission into a tertiary institution is not just a step up on the rungs of the academic ladder, it was also the commencement of the period of freedom and urge for self-expression – a teenager on the loose.
However, I was fortunate enough to have caught the attention of my Head of Department at the Ogun State Polytechnic, Mr. Nurugesu Ooruthiran, from Sri Lanka. He was an exceptional and very dedicated teacher and a mentor. While my parental background and earlier tutelage under the likes of Monsieur Ogunwemimo provided the character building blocks and foundational education, my compliance with their desired ethos was largely based on enforcement and fear of great reprisal if caught violating the norms. It was Mr. Ouruthiran that made me realise that I needed now to take responsibility for my life and be my own police and compliance officer. He helped me navigate the slippery path of my newly found freedom and stay focused as a responsible student. Alongside my other lecturers, the potentials in me were refined and nurtured.
While our parents ensured that our needs were largely met, after meeting their acceptance criteria, the urge to achieve early financial independence and assist others put me on the path to commercial activities. I traded actively in fashion items such as shirts, trousers (you remember JB trousers and platform shoes?) and belts which were in high demand at the time. Apart from the stream of income, it also provided a collateral benefit of making me a “powerful” dresser.
In my final years at OGUNPOLY, I scaled up my entrepreneurial voyage in response to the new market opportunities and began to trade in new and fairly used electronics, in addition to trendy items of clothing. As they say, “level don change”.
I guess like most youngsters in an era without technology playmates and platforms that are pervasive now (such as Ipod, Ipad, Blackberry and social media), I was actively involved in extra-curricular activities, in addition to trading which I mentioned earlier. These extra-curricular activities included sports, literary and debating society, and membership of social clubs. For example, at OGUNPOLY, alongside other students, we started the G-Men’s Club, an exclusive gentlemen’s club that focused on academic attainment and social service in addition to “polishing and refining” the members. The club changed the social landscape of not only the school but Abeokuta, the host town. Imagine a product of communal parenting (with a strong sense of reciprocal obligations to the society) and human playmates (with attendant skills for networking and empathy – as opposed to individualistic and technology play partners), you can then appreciate that even as an adult, I cherish the company of others and work better in a team. I simply love to have people around me.
At this point, a little advocacy for extra-curricular activities in schools is appropriate. Though students participate in these activities more for relaxation and fun seeking, the learning, subtle and even unconscious, that takes place is tremendous and will manifest later in the lives of the participants, just like a tourist may have set out on a journey primarily for sight-seeing but will receive more expansion of his horizon than many years of reading.
A Call to National Service ….
For the first time in my life I was exposed to other cultures in Nigeria when I left Abeokuta to go and participate in the National Youth Service in Benue State. I appreciated the diversity of our cultures and the strength in that diversity. The experience stood me in good stead many years later as a Senator of the Federal Republic.
The service year had other effects on me. I realised the need to have a feel of what life would be outside Abeokuta. Apart from proximity to my erstwhile domain, Lagos held a particular attraction then as the nation’s political and economic capital. So I decided to permanently settle in Lagos after the service year.
While most of my colleagues were seeking employment in multinational oil and blue chip companies, I made a conscious decision to gain hands-on experience in an accounting firm. My first employment was with J. A. Adeniyi & Co., an indigenous accounting firm in 1984, as an audit trainee. Though the firm was medium-sized, it had a wide variety of clients which provided me with the necessary breadth of experience within the shortest possible time and, of course, a higher level of responsibility than it would had been in a larger organisation. Later on, when I felt the need to move on, I joined the firm of Lanre Aremu & Co where I qualified as a Chartered Accountant. In 1990, I finally realised my dream of starting my own practice when we started the firm of Ibikunle Amosun & Co. In 2003 I was conferred with the Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
What About Managing with Ethics?
One need not elaborate on the attributes of a great manager here. The audience is comprised of great managers seeking to put a seal of authority by acquiring the prestigious MBA of The Lagos Business School. That is the easy part. The more challenging part is remaining ethical while being great managers or leaders.
I hold the firm view that truly, great managers or leaders are indeed those who achieved greatness by adopting and remaining true to ethical standards, at all times, even when it is inconvenient and constraining. Easily said! For most of us, remaining ethical is a constant struggle between recording short term gains and remaining true to ethical values or ethos. It was not until we started Ibikunle Amosun & Co. that I realised the full import of the lessons that my disciplinarian father, the no-nonsense Monsieur Ogunwemimo, and the mentoring hands of Mr. Ouruthiran imparted in me. Indeed, every time I was about to make a tough decision, the words of my late mother would echo: “Ranti omo eni t’onse, eni a ri kii ba o”. Roughly translated, ‘remember the son of whom you are, make transparency your watch word’. If this is my first pillar to retain traction on the ethical path, my faith is a strong moderator of my conduct. I mentioned earlier that I remain a communal person and am proud of this. “Show me your friends and I will tell who you are” is not just a cliché, for me, it is also a reminder that my circle of friends and business partners comprises those we share the orientation to ethical standards. In government, I have also carefully selected people of great skills and integrity. I have since realised that you can balance political expediency with maintaining an eagle - eye focus on ethical standards, even in Nigeria’s murky political waters.
One of the hallmarks of a great manager is to have a great vision, select the right team, inspire the team to share and own the vision and to work together to translate the vision to reality-with a constant eye on ethical principles.
Even with all the best ethical background and disposition, leaders still require strong institutions and regulations to always do that which is right. Absence of strong institutions and regulations will not only weaken the fabric of society, it will give undue advantage, at least in the short run, to those who operate outside ethical ambits and unwittingly discourage the ethically inclined.
A final word on this: declare upfront your ethical orientation, people will hold you accountable to what you profess.
From Lemon to Lemonade:
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you are right” – Henry Ford (1863 – 1947).
The essence of this statement from the founder of Ford Motors is that success is a choice. We are all confronted on a daily basis with challenges on the path to realising our dreams. The successful ones are those who turn hurdles into stepping stones and make lemonade out of lemons. By the way, let me say that any dream without challenge on the way to realising it will not be worth pursuing. It is like having a common item, like pebbles, as money to pay for valuable items.
The history of the world and its monumental achievements is indeed a chronicle of stories of individuals who decided to rise against their challenges and attain heights thought impossible or at least difficult to achieve by others. And I need to quickly add here that by achievements, I do not refer only to such feats as putting man on the moon, or developing penicillin or winning a Nobel laurel, I refer to every endeavour that converts a challenge into an achievement. The principle is the same. Each of us could therefore, on reflection, recount how (s)he has summoned enough courage, resilience and mobilised resources (sometimes not money) to record an achievement in the face of an otherwise daunting challenge.
Permit me to share a few of my own triumphal moments with you in my professional life and journey to Government House.
Competing with Majors…
I will be restating the obvious by asserting that Ibikunle Amosun & Co (Chartered Accountants) may not command the same attention and recognition as the then big 8 Accounting firms. The firm does not also have the multi-national presence or a pool of worldwide resources at its beck and call. Therefore, in a competition for an engagement by a multi-national client, the multi-national firms have a clear edge. Think of a football match involving Arsenal FC and the football team of African Church Grammar School of Abeokuta, then you appreciate what would naturally pass for a mismatch.
This was the similar situation Ibikunle Amosun & Co, a newly established firm under my watch, faced many years ago when we locked horns with the “majors”, as the big accounting firms are usually referred to, for an account on offer by a multi-national organisation. Saying that the odds were stacked against us was an understatement. However, the survival instinct, the search for validation, and the urge to excel all combined to pump adrenalin into our corporate nervous system – to fly or to fight, literally speaking. Flight was ruled out and we made the conscious choice to fight for the honour, the prized engagement.
Our strategy was simple and involved the following elements. Turn attention away from the corporate platform and focus on the actors. In this way, we could call attention to the previous assignments we had handled individually that were relevant to the account under consideration. To bolster our resume, we brought in other accountants who had attained impressive levels of achievements. Thirdly, we knew our response time could not be matched by the “majors” – we were relatively small with a flat decision-making hierarchy. Lastly and most importantly, rather than the usual generic proposals, we offered tailor-made solution that addressed the specific needs of the client. In all of this, we avoided the temptation to adopt panic measures by “under quoting”. This was not only designed to avoid being regarded as lacking a good appreciation of what the assignment entailed, but an extension of my philosophy that we were as good as, if not better, than other accountants that our competitors would bring. So, we deserved the same level of remuneration for the same level of skills and efforts.
Let me not bore you with further details. We won the bid.
I recall another defining moment. In 1991, we organised a well-attended international conference at NICON NOGA Hotel (as it was then known) in Abuja on ‘Trade and Industrial Potentials of Nigeria with the International Community’. What made it remarkable was that an event of that nature put together by a private organisation attracted attendance and earned recognition of leaders of government at the highest level, captains of the industries in Nigeria, foreign investors and members of the diplomatic community.
Bringing Vision to Reality
The challenge of politics is a different kettle of fish entirely.
In the year 2000, I decided to delve into public service, as I realised that while I was able to do things for the under-privileged in my private capacity and had been doing so for many years, the most veritable tool to reach out and touch people across all cadres of society was through active partisan politics. What may be a subject of intense debate will be how to realise this vision, given the challenge of what many will describe as the corrosive and corroding political environment.
And that is the crux of the matter - the challenge. To this end, I joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contested for and won a seat to the Senate, representing Ogun Central Senatorial District in 2003.
Perhaps, I have presented my successful contest into the Senate as a piece of the cake – nothing could be far from the reality. Prior to my involvement in politics, my primary calling, my professional practice, had clearly defined rules of engagement. So, you could easily predict what the outcome would be, given the input and the standardised processes and procedures. After all, the principle of double entry, in accounting, remains the same, every time, everywhere.
However, I found that unlike the accounting profession, the rules of engagement in politics do not largely follow any standard. Indeed, the rules of engagement may as well be defined as absence of any codified, nay sacrosanct, rules. Those who coined the phrase “political expediency” perhaps had this in mind.
For a professional with little or no prior engagement in politics, I found the environment for my new calling, to put it mildly, challenging and intriguing. Accounting is about numbers and inanimate objects. Politics is about people who have emotions, who could decide to be rational or irrational, who have interests and nurse ambitions – all of which may align or be at cross purposes with those of others. Friendship is not permanent in politics. Interests are constantly shifting and the measure of time and space is different.
With this background, let me return to my election into the Senate. The goodwill I had garnered growing up in Abeokuta – the heart of Ogun Central Senatorial District – stood me in very good stead to have a relatively easy win of the Senate seat. Like in every endeavour, the timing of the contest also helped a great deal in the success.
The parliament provides a good platform to make laws, nudge the executive in a particular direction and generally have a feel in the governance of the country, however, the real day-to-day running of government lies with the executive. So, I realised that to power my vision, I needed to work with others to have the mandate of the people to lead our State at the Executive arm of government.
So, in 2007, I contested for the position of Governor of Ogun State on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). By now, old friends had become implacable foes, some foes became friends, old alliances had become impracticable to maintain, while new ones had to be formed. Those who had their hands on the political levers of the State and those who wielded even higher political powers were rallied against my ambition. I kept two things paramount: my faith in God and my ability cum focus on the people – the real essence of my being in politics.
We went into the elections and the umpire declared my opponent as winner. Of course, I went to the tribunal to challenge the outcome, which I and a significant number of people believed were at variance with the will of the good People of Ogun State as expressed through the ballot boxes. In all, I traversed all the courts in the land for three years (April, 2007 to March, 2010) – from the election tribunal, Federal High Court, through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. These efforts were not fuelled by ambition to be Governor at all costs. I was just determined to challenge, on one hand, the impunity that characterised the 2007 general elections, defend the tenets of democracy, and, on the other, justify the confidence the electorate reposed in me. The court endorsed the results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). As a democrat, I respected the verdict even though I thought otherwise till today.
The 2007 experience did not discourage me from taking another shot again in 2011, this time, on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). I did. I won. INEC confirmed and I was so returned as the winner. I guess I am here today speaking to this August audience because of that victory. Again, the unseen hands in the affairs of men prevail. As they say, winners don’t quit, quitters don’t win. Faith triumphs.
I have shared these experiences to demonstrate that if we look carefully, beneath every challenge is an opportunity. If you require further proof of opportunities disguised as challenges, just remember that I come from a nuclear family (I hope I can still call it so) of 41 members: One father, Eleven Wives, 29 Children!
Nation Building: Our Failings, Our Roles – Professionals to the Rescue
The stagnated growth of our dear nation is a subject of discourse in environments that are as varied as from beer parlour, to the media, intellectual circles, and of course, government circles. Indeed, if there is any national capacity we have developed, it is the ability to identify all that is wrong with us as a nation and pontificate about them. I believe the following list will resonate with most of us as fairly representing the fault lines in our dear country:
· Inept Leadership
· Weak Infrastructure
· Imperfect Political Structure
· Weak Institutions
· Warped Value System
· Bad Followership
This list is by no means exhaustive. Our nation has failed in almost all the indices used in measuring the most critical elements of real growth and development, as evidenced by the living conditions of our people. Every day, we all rue the unacceptable situation of our country and we constantly apportion blame to others, excluding “ourselves”. To my mind, we all have sufficient share of the failings.
Therefore, I do not think it is necessary to dissipate energy on what we already know, rather, let me focus on what roles I believe we all have to play if the situation will be reversed for the better.
I believe professionals have a greater role to play than the current passive engagement of the polity. The political landscape is yet to record a critical mass of professionals with active partisan participation. People who will dream new dreams, articulate ideas and bring in the discipline required for execution. When professionals decline to actively engage the system, avoiding getting directly involved or actively participating in the political process, they unwittingly create an environment for the emergence of leaders that are not the best among us. After all, nature abhors vacuum. The professionals will then not have the moral right to query the way and how they are governed.
There is an oasis of hope. The roles played by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) during the period of absence due to the health challenges of late President Umaru Yar Adua speak about the potency of the power of professionals to galvanise national consciousness and action for the common good. However, intervention of this nature should not be occasional and reactive. The nation is in dire need of a constant and proactive engagement of its best brains for national development.
It is not my intention to reduce the solution to our national challenges to only a reform of the political landscape and the active participation of professionals. That will be simplistic. However, when we consider any of the identified challenges and how the injection of people with fresh ideas, vigour, right skills and attitude could help us tackle them, then we begin to appreciate my emphasis on the need for professionals to play an active role in politics. Leadership is about people, the right people at that. So also is followership. Infrastructure and other enablers of development could only be conceived by people who can see the big picture. In short, only the deep can call to the deep.
A cursory look at other climes will confirm that their political discourse is dominated and moderated by the preferences of their middle class – the professionals.
Nothing I have said should exonerate those in leadership positions from meeting the yearnings and aspirations of our people. Ultimately, the responsibility to advance the common cause and propel the nation in the right direction rests squarely with the leaders. The failure of any nation or indeed organisation is the failure of leadership.
Ogun State, Our Sphere
We canvassed for the mandate of the good People of Ogun State based on the Mission to Rebuild Ogun State, anchored on a five-cardinal programme, comprising:
· Affordable Qualitative Education;
· Efficient Health Care Delivery;
· Agricultural Production / Industrialisation;
· Affordable Housing and Urban Renewal; and
· Rural and Infrastructural Development / Employment Generation.
For us, this was not mere vote-catching rhetoric or a public relations stunt. It was a clearly designed and developed programme to address the most critical developmental challenges confronting our people.
In close to two years of our Administration, we have achieved significant success in all of the five areas.
In Education, which has been the pivot of the pre-eminent position of our State and its citizens in all areas of human endeavour, we have consistently allocated between 23 and 25% of our budgets in line with UNESCO recommendations. The increased funding is to support our free education initiative in all public primary and secondary schools. Apart from free tuition, textbooks, exercise books and other instructional materials are being provided free to all the students. In order to cope with the surge in the enrolment figures, we are rehabilitating the infrastructure in the existing schools and building new model schools in all the twenty (20) Local Government Areas of the State. Other initiatives in the education sector include an upward review of and payment of bursary to our students and capacity building for the teachers. We believe that in the Knowledge Society, the global competitiveness of nations and individuals is hinged on knowledge and skills.
Under our health programme, we are renovating the State’s primary health care centres and building new ones to bring health services within the close reach of our people. Our advocacy programmes targeted at eradicating polio, malaria and other diseases are yielding fruits and bringing relief to our people.
The many welfare programmes and giant development strides of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo Administration in the old Western Region and the immediate successor governments were implemented with funds from Agriculture. Our Administration has therefore recognised the central role of Agriculture as a veritable tool for wealth creation for our people and the industrialisation of our State. Various incentives have been put in place to encourage large scale farming and take full advantage of the attendant value-chains.
The housing sector is receiving intense focus. We have initiated projects in all areas of the sector that will begin to manifest shortly, ranging from development of housing estates, opening up of areas to spur economic development to planning of large regional city centres and towns. For instance, four new housing estates (Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Ota and Sagamu) are underway. To fast-track the development of the new estates and other housing projects and provide a legal framework to give investors comfort, a new agency, New Towns Development Authority is being created. The bill is currently under consideration by the State House of Assembly.
Infrastructure is required to support economic activities in the State and to improve the living standards of our people. Anyone who describes Ogun State in its present state as being a ‘huge construction site’ will be justified as what is known as Ogun Standard roads are being constructed in every part of the State. These are six-lane roads with full complement of road furniture. We are proud that the first fly-over bridge to be built by the state government since the creation of the State in 1976 was built byour Administration and commissioned on 24 January, 2013 in Abeokuta. Many more are under construction across the State.
The primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property. At the inception of this Administration on May 29, 2011, we met a State in which armed robbery and violent crimes were the order of the day. Banks were under lock and key for several months for fear of armed robbery attacks. The security challenge posed by our proximity to Lagos, the Nation’s commercial capital, was quite pronounced as the undesirable elements had turned Ogun State to a safe haven as they were being flushed out of Lagos. Our status as a state with an international border with Benin Republic did not help matters. Presently, there are over 100 illegal routes within the Nigeria – Benin Republic border.
We were determined to reverse this ugly trend. Thirteen Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC’s), 200 Hilux vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, and arms and ammunition were immediately procured for the security agencies. In addition, we established the Quick Respond Squad (QRS) and set up a joint Military / Police Task Force code-named ‘Operation MESA’ to smoke out violent crimes from the State. The results have become manifest and yet, we will not rest on our oars.
People have asked me how do we achieve the pace of the on-going progress and where do we get the resources from? My answer is simple – three elements are working together. These are legitimate mandate of our people, strong team and prudent management of our resources.
The first anchor was the legitimacy of our mandate. The support from our people has been overwhelming. Nothing demonstrates this better than the fact that owners of properties affected by the various road expansion projects are voluntarily demolishing their houses as soon as the houses were marked for demolition. Our Administration is doing what even Military Governments found difficult to achieve. Let me emphasise, for the records, that we do not take the support of our people for granted. Rather, we regard their response and feedback to every project and policy as an affirmation of our mandate. We are emboldened to make and implement difficult decisions because we know the good People of Ogun State will, in the final analysis when the projects are delivered, be the better for it and that we have a legitimate mandate.
Second, we are blessed with a unique team, an unusual cabinet, if you like, that brings to the table an uncommon combination of skills, experience, wide networks and, above all, passion and determination to succeed. Our programmes and policies enjoy robust debate and a vigour for implementation that is rare. At the risk of sounding immodest, Ogun State currently holds the torch in the country judging by the quality of our cabinet. Constituting a cabinet made up of largely technocrats was not without a challenge. But our State was in such dire straits that competencies and skills for the job took pre-eminence over political correctness. I am happy that, working with our party leaders, I was able to get away with what was considered to be a political aberration.
Third, the clarity of our Mission, the open and transparent approach to governance, and the quality of our team have engendered confidence in our people and our friends. This has helped us in blocking leakages, increasing our revenues and opening up other streams of income and support for our programmes. Permit me to also say that as a Chartered Accountant with further training in International Finance, optimal management of scare resources is my turf!
Let me return to where I started. Moses, Joseph, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe, Ahmadu Bello and Nelson Mandela were on clearly defined missions, for their various peoples. Even those with divine missions that could have otherwise achieved their objectives without any challenge, if God had so wished, still experienced tribulations. Moses spoke to God without intermediary – all his prayers, including immediate victory could have been granted effortlessly - and Joseph was given the power of dreams and could see beyond the present. Yet, they experienced great challenges. Certainly God wanted us to learn one or two lessons about resilience, determination and focus. The diversity of the mission should also not be lost on us. Whereas the mission of Joseph was to save Israel from famine on their arrival in Egypt, it was the lot of Moses to save Israel from the yoke of oppression in Egypt and take them to the Promised Land.
Leadership is about vision and mission, big or small. Whereas our sphere of concerns will always be larger than our spheres of influence, every one of us has a responsibility to provide leadership, based on strong ethical underpinnings, wherever we are. I find the following words from Mother Teresa very apt here.
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”.
What is left for me is to thank the organisers, The Lagos Business School, for the opportunity and the platform to share my thoughts.
Thank you all for listening. God bless you all.
Omo Ogun, Ise Ya
Senator Ibikunle Amosun FCA
Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria
18th March, 2013.