YOU CAN HAVE CONTACT BUT DON’T BE CONTAMINATED. BE FOCUSED AND DISCIPLINED, DREAMS DO COME TRUE.
When I forayed into public service some 41months and 24days ago, it was with mixed feelings. I was torn in between the gratitude of being privileged to serve my people and contribute towards good governance and the emotional burden of stepping aside from a career I love so much and have sacrificed everything to build to a modest enviable height with the help of God.
Some of my friends and professional colleagues couldn’t comprehend the rational behind my decision to sacrifice a brilliant banking career with all the bright prospets ahead of me for a thankless job of public service and the murky waters of Politics.
I still remember vividly the conversation with my Executive Director in the course of approving my leave of Absence: ” ‘Lekan are you sure you’re doing the right thing at this point in your career? Why not at early stage of the ladder? This is your 5th bank and opportunities are always knocking at your door. We look forward to great guys like you as the future of banking.You know how people view politics and politicians in Nigeria? We know your competence and capacity but Nigerian political space don’t seem ripe to treasure people like you yet. But then, I trust your judgement and am sure you don’t do things without good reasons and conviction. You’ve been so phenomenal in your career and I sincerly hope this won’t be an exception. I wish you the very best ‘Lekan and we will sorely miss you.” I thanked him so immensely and among other points I raised,I note the following:
1. This is not by choice, It is a calling. A divine call by God in very clear terms to surrender myself to be a tool in his hands to provide solutions. That I should be ready to serve him through service to humanity in government and leadership.
2. I am not going into public service to conform with the status quo, I am going to add value, solve problems and raise the bar. There is a standard minimum below which I will never descend for any reason and no matter the cost of not doing so. I will never compromise my integrity and faith in this journey.
3. I will leverage all my God given talents, professional experience and skills to serve humanity and leave public office better than I met it.
4. I will continue to update my skill set with relevant professional and general skills that are required to address societal problems. I will combine professionalism with public service.
5. I will major in Africa’s area of acute shortage – good governance and minor in politics. I will therefore play actively as a professional in politics and not as a professional politician.
Ever since I became a public office holder, I have been so hard on myself. I gave myself profusely to governance and sacrifice my leisure and sleep to equip and update my skill set daily. I study hard to have a good understsnding of our societal problems and I give time to develop solutions in diverse aspects as if i am preparing for a professional exam.
Looking back today, all I can say is thank you Lord for your faithfulness and your grace. When it appears politics won’t give room for professionalism, you have turned it to become an enabler.
I was busy with some Inauguration activities on thursday evening when a call came from CNBC Africa Television. “Good Afternoon Mr.Olatunji, I am calling from CNBC Africa. We will like to feature you on our flagship programme tommorow. We don’t know if you’re in Lagos and we can take you from our Nigerian studio in VI”. Then I replied, “Thank you for inviting me. I am presently not in Lagos but we can have an online conversation”. The rest is history!
What is the story in this? It is not just because “CNBC is the number one business and financial news network on the planet and ….available in more than 385 million homes worldwide.” It is simply because CNBC is one of the dream media outlet for professionals in the business and financial world. It is purely a platform for outstanding professionals. It is not a place to speak with political,religious or emotional sentiments.
I made my first appearance on CNBC Africa TV last week friday to assess the rate of poverty in Nigeria. Poverty is perhaps the biggest problem plaguing Nigeria and the entire African continent for many years.
It has remained a growing concern and there is need for us to have a proper assessment devoid of politics, sentiments and emotions to address this agelong problem.
I was called after the show and I was deeply humbled by the kind comments from both their Nigeria and South Africa offices.
Above all, it was a deep sense of fulfilment and humility for me to know that I have now become one of CNBC’s expert contributors. With this new opportunity, I will be privileged to contribute knowledge towards addressing Africa’s financial, business and developmental problems from time to time on another wordclass platform as an economic and financial expert.
Thank you and have a beautiful new week.