• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Theophilus Alli-Balogun-the Nigeria’s firelighter in diaspora

Taofeek Alli-Balogun-the Nigeria’s firelighter in diaspora

I have written about two living legends who shaped the corporate world in Nigeria, mentored many people, and retired gracefully. Elder Felix Ohiwerei and Dr Christopher Kolade are worthy of note for their high moral values and value-based leadership.

We are in the age of well-being. A person’s well-being is an important factor in determining whether one survives any event or progresses in any endeavour. People who have experienced ‘Japa’ in recent times can attest to the effects of the shocks of living in a new environment. The visa, the need to survive to pay bills, and the disappointment of the unexpected reality of living abroad could be overwhelming to newbies, especially those without appropriate mentors.

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A living legend worth celebrating for helping thousands of Africans, especially Nigerians, to navigate and settle in the United Kingdom is Mr Theophilus Alli-Balogun, the founder of Ally Boatman Collins, a firm of chartered accountants and secretaries situated in Dalston Kingsland, London Borough of Hackney, United Kingdom. Baba Balogun, as he is fondly called by many Nigerians and Africans he has supported and mentored professionally, is a Nigerian firelighter who is using his experience to support people, especially accountants, to settle, get employment, and adapt to life in the United Kingdom.

With over 30 years of experience and knowledge of living in London, Balogun turned his experience into a calling to make life easier and avert people from making their own mistakes. His practice firm has mentored and supported many new and existing immigrants to find their footing and settle into life. He uses his business to train and prepare people for work while guiding men and women with marital difficulties due to the peculiar environment in the UK, destroying many African marriages.

I was introduced to Baba in 2006, when I relocated to the United Kingdom. He quickly offered me a two- or one-day-a-week working experience in his office to learn about value-added tax (VAT) and payroll preparation in the UK. In the Western world, you must start earning income to pay the bills from the start. He guarantees I will get a professional job if I apply myself and learn by doing my voluntary work experience with his firm. I am not the only one on the sojourn; the firm has lots of students and mature adults willing to gain valuable experience working different days of the week. The office is like a pilgrimage, with believers flooding its space every day of the week.

For reasons of distance, I could not take up his offer. A month later, I referred a newbie, a friend, and a former colleague in one of the Nigerian banks to Baba. My friend, Paul Shotunde, was so lucky. He learned how to prepare VAT from the firm and got a job at a construction company within three weeks. It was an exceptional breakthrough for Paul, but kudos to Mr Alli-Balogun, who, despite his busy schedule, will always create the time to explain and teach the students around him. Paul worked as an accountant at the construction company for eight years before relocating to Canada.

Paul’s experience was just one out of many from a Nigerian who had spent over 25 years helping his fellow country people settle and navigate the initial tough period of settling in a foreign land.

Q: “A person’s well-being is an important factor in determining whether one survives any event or progresses in any endeavour.”

At one point, I asked Mr Alli-Balogun about his motive for helping others, especially accountants, gain experience and get professional jobs. He told me his passion was borne out of his experience while settling in the UK. An experience that made him return to Lagos to take up jobs as an accountant before his return to start Ally Boatman Collins (ABC) ABC was a seed planted and rooted in service to progress people as a core outcome and not financial gains to the founder.

He told me Ally was derived from his surname Alli-Balogun; the boatman was coined from the lineage appraisal of the Alli-Balogun of Lagos (Alli, ‘oloko omi’ meaning the owner of a boat in the water); and Collins was a foreign name to make the firm a diverse organisation. No doubt the objective for using the name was achieved, as ABC has clients across the continents of the world.

In life, greatness is not achieved by not falling but by rising whenever we fall (Confucius). When we rise, our experience becomes an invaluable asset we can deploy to make life easier and better for other people. Ally Boatman, a Nigerian, has used his experience to better the many Africans in the UK, especially accountants and clients from Nigeria, in his noble contribution to serve humanity.

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With a vast wealth of experience in business, tax regulations, and marital life in the UK, the 67-year-old ABC is at the forefront of liberating people from marital injustice and educating men and women alike on the need to be fair to one another. I have taken many lessons from him for my clients and proteges in my coaching classes on life in the UK and marital crises rocking families once they relocate abroad.

Mr Alli-Balogun, a believer and regular visitor to Nigeria, is one of the heroes of Nigeria in the United Kingdom, having invested in people over the last two decades, and deserves recognition and emulation from others.

 

Babs Olugbemi; Success & Leadership Coach; Author, Transform Yourself (the secrets for unleashing & maximising your potentials)