• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo


54! To my fellow country people, I say Happy Independence once again


Like many people, I was counting down to Nigeria’s 54th birthday, not due to excitement about what the day actually represents but because it was a day I planned to sleep for as long as my body willed without interruption and catch up on Orange is the new black. Don’t get me wrong, I am not of the opinion that there is nothing to celebrate. As a matter of fact, as a nation I believe we have more than enough blessings to count. For starters, the way Ebola was handled and chased out of the country to me is a gift from God which I do not take for granted. If I were to do a quiz on countries capable of fighting the virus successfully, I for one would not have picked Nigeria. So it is safe to say that I was not only pleasantly surprised but also quick to count it as a blessing.

Amongst that are a number of other good things which are happening in the country yet I wasn’t particularly excited about the day in question. Nigerians across the globe channelled the holiday energy into their businesses; Polo shirts were made with ‘Nigeria at 54’ written on them, musicians released empowerment songs for the nation, models were photographed in green and white with the pictures all over social networking sites, loads of people were in the celebratory mood but I.

The rain wasn’t particularly helping matters and all I wanted to do was stay under the covers until I remembered a ticket I had which gave me access to private event organised by some young professionals titled ‘Staying relevant in today’s dynamic work place’. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on going and I almost lost interest when getting to the venue seemed like a bit of a challenge but I went anyway.

The speaker at the event was someone that is greatly respected in her field. For people like me who met her for the first time, there was this aura of confidence and grace she exuded while waiting to be introduced. Being a gathering of young people looking to network, the program kicked off with just that. We were told to meet at least five people, get their full names, their jobs and their hopes for the future. I am not so good with names so that particular exercise was a bit of a task until I eventually got a hang of it. Our speaker then took the microphone and after telling us her name alone she gave us her own task. She started out by giving us numbers from 1-8 and every one with the same number sat on a table and elected a leader. Upon the sealing of that deal, we were to find out five things that every one of us had in common and then the leader would present that right after calling out the names of everyone on his team. As the audience, she told us to look out for boldness, eloquence and connection with teammates.

After the laughs and awkward presentations by the group leaders, she pointed out their flaws as she began to speak on leadership. She commenced by asking us if there was any one who did not feel like a leader after which she let us know that in every stage in life, we were all leaders and if we hadn’t been acting like that, as at that moment, things had to change. She told us the basic making of a leader clearly stating the difference between doing the rights and always doing right. To be a successful leader, she said that the latter must always be our motto.

Of course it would not be a complete empowerment program without highlighting successful economies around the world. She talked about Jim O’Neill and the BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China in 2001 and South Africa in 2011. All of which are said to have been distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs).

To the excitement of the young people present, she mentioned that a similar study which was not only current but then identified Nigeria as Next eleven (research carried out by Goldman Sachs Investment bank and Jim O’Neill). She further talked about key drivers of economic growth and job creation over the next decade as identified by Agusto & Co which includes the power, automobile, dairy, real estate, and poultry sectors. She rounded up by asking us. ‘What are you going to do with this information?’  At that point the wheels in my head sped up a bit and haven’t slowed down since then. If I don’t do something then someone else will.  I left there super charged and I couldn’t be happier about how I spent my country’s independence day. I will be a partaker in Nigeria’s growth and I am sure you want to be too; what are you going to do with this information?

Oluwaseyi Lawal