• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Good-byes are seldom easy but are often inevitable. Even an exercise as mundane as reading a book will require you to leave one page behind to progress to the next. And so life is. A journey that requires one to continually alight the train and board again at different stations. Until we all, at different times but also inevitably, reach our final stop. After 5 years and 8 months of writing this column, it is now time for me to move on. As I go, kindly permit me to share a few thoughts. Parting words, if you like. My hope is that some may find them useful.

My column was born out of a desire to make a difference. To speak to some people out there. To highlight the importance of character and upholding values, both to us as individuals and ultimately for the benefit of the society we call home.

I have always considered myself a thinker whose preferred mode of conveying thought is in writing. More so than a writer. And my thoughts are, more often than not, geared towards proffering solutions to societal issues rather than just pointing out the problems that are already obvious to everyone. Never have I professed to be a scholar, blessed with the ability to conjure up complex solutions to solve complex problems. I’m just not that smart. And so I try to stay in my lane by offering simple solutions, even for the most complex of issues.

“Through several different articles over the years, I have also pointed out that leaders only need to show the people that they care, and the people will willingly support them.”

Those solutions, which most people tend to overlook because they are just too simple for people to notice a nexus between them and the issue of concern, As an illustration, here are a few that I recommended in previous articles. It is my belief that having Zebra crossings on all the appropriate streets and enforcing the use of them by both pedestrians and motorists would help in tackling what I have long concluded is the number one reason for our country’s retarded progress on all fronts: self-centeredness. This single stroke can help tackle (1) unemployment, as numerous youth can be employed by state governments to enforce compliance by both motorists and pedestrians.

Very few pedestrians are even aware that the law only protects them if they cross on the actual Zebra crossing and not just near it. (2) Indiscipline—as people inculcate the habit of obeying the law; and (3) Self-Centeredness—as motorists find themselves having to put others (the pedestrian) before themselves. Over time, this practice of putting others first and doing the right thing would become ingrained in our collective psyche.

Through several different articles over the years, I have also pointed out that leaders only need to show the people that they care, and the people will willingly support them. Thereby removing the need for politicians to coerce, maim, and rig when it comes to elections. Saving them and everyone else a lot of money and trouble in the process. I made reference to my personal observation, where I discovered that those who appeared unfriendly and hard-faced during my exercise walks around my neighbourhood were not horrible people after all. It only required a warm and sincere greeting from me to open them up, and their whole countenance would instantly change. By extending that simple gesture, I acknowledged their existence. I had made them feel like they mattered. That is the desire of Nigerians and all human beings too, for that matter. But take note, too, that I didn’t wait for them to greet me first. Leaders are meant to lead. How? By showing others the way.

More recently, and driven by my growing concern about the dangerously high youth unemployment rate in Nigeria, which is at 40% or more, I conceived and proposed the idea of tweaking our National Youth Service Corps scheme to include a 3- to 4-month mandatory skills acquisition programme for all Corpers. The potential benefits are endless. Aside from making graduates (many of whom are only armed with theoretical knowledge) infinitely more industry-ready and employable with industry-specific skills, there are also countless digital, technical, and vocational skills that can be mastered within that period for those learning from scratch. But perhaps what would please me most would be to see those graduates who grow into their own because they finally find themselves doing what their DNA has always prepared and directed them to do. I’m speaking specifically of the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands who went through university only to please their parents but whose passion and strength lay in the genius that their hands could do. Remember this: what we learn today is how we will live tomorrow.

Last but certainly not least, I will offer this advice. Model what you preach and claim to believe in. Sure, you can fool some people some of the time, but you will never be able to fool everybody all of the time. Your reputation will one day catch up with you, good or bad. Live by your convictions, as this will ultimately earn the respect of others, even if they do not always share your worldview. Over a period of almost 6 years, not once did Businessday need to remind me to submit my article. It was submitted like clockwork, always several days early. It’s not as if I didn’t have challenges throughout this time or that I didn’t feel under the weather every now and again, but I just strongly believe in the sanctity of commitments.

Our dear country has gone through many changes in the almost 6 years that I have written this column. We have transitioned from a remarkably clueless presidency to one that began on slightly wobbly legs but whose steps are becoming surer by the day, showing much promise. No matter who we voted for, we would be doing ourselves the greatest disservice if we didn’t pray for its success.

I have had a good run with my column and have made many new friends from those who reached out to me after reading my article. At this point, I must also express my utmost gratitude to BusinessDay for offering me this wonderful platform to air my thoughts. Last but not least, I want to say a big thank you to my column’s avid readers. You made it all worthwhile. However, like they say, every good thing must one day come to an end. Something tells me though that this may be ‘au revoir’ rather than ‘adieu’ as you may still come across the odd article. But for now, fare thee well.

Changing the nation, one mind at a time.