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Lifetime Transition: From Vagabonds to Champions (Pt. 1)

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“The darkest nights produce the brightest stars…just don’t give up on trying to become better versions of your being to the glory of God Almighty and for the benefits of mankind! You are an answer to the prayers of a few across the earth, so keep working on you to discovering the better version in you!” – Tolulope A. Adegoke, Ph.D., MNIM

Here is proof that there is innate greatness in everyone that can be unlocked through training. 1 Samuel 22:1-3 in the Holy Book of life reveals that: “David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.” 

The first thing to notice here is the deliberate reference to the profile and pedigree of these men who joined themselves to David. I believe that the purpose is to make us see that no one can be rightly written off as a failure or a never-do-well. As subsequent exploits of David would reveal, these average men who enrolled in the military academy of David were soon transformed into mighty men of valour.  2 Samuel 23:8-17 narrates the accomplishments of three of these men: 

“These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time. And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder. And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.”

Isn’t this amazing! See what a bunch of men that people would have described as “frustrated failures” had become! What was the secret? Someone believed in them enough to train them, and they themselves were humble and disciplined enough to submit themselves to the training process. And the result was that they were transformed from being men of no repute, men of no value (more or less human trash, or simply zero) to history-makers! 

Self-Application

So, what’s in all of this for you? What has all that we have discussed so far have to do with you? I’ll unravel it for you shortly. But, first, here is an insightful quote from Bishop David Oyedepo, “We go to school to acquire the literacy skills required to train ourselves most effectively in our fields of choice. Schooling is not the same thing as the real training! That is why there are many certificated, uneducated people! They have degrees but cannot deliver, because they are not trained to deliver!”

This is exactly what I wish to point out here. Everyone must take personal responsibility for being the best that they can be. Success is not an accidental occurrence. You cannot be wasting your precious time on irrelevances and expect to amount to much in life. You must wake up to the task of being positively responsible, deliberately reaching out and taking advantage of opportunities to enhance and deploy your skills. 

As the example of the men who placed themselves under David’s tutelage shows, you are the one who must make up your mind not to settle for a worthless, defeated or frustrated life. Regardless of what people say or think of you, it is up to you to decide the direction you want your life to go!

As I earlier observed, training is not only meant for the ignorant or the inexperienced. It is an on-going activity that everyone must actively and constantly engage in, as long as we wish to stay afloat and be ahead. In other words, while schooling is periodic, training is for a lifetime! 

The Place of Discipline and Diligence

Let’s face it: Training – whether formal or informal – is never an easy process. Even the Bible admits, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful…” (Hebrews 12:11). It is in the fallen nature of man to prefer the comfort of self-indulgence to the stress of self-enhancement. This is why many visions are aborted and many destinies are ruined. It is for this reason that discipline plays a crucial role in being a beneficiary of the power of training. It takes plenty of discipline to maintain a training lifestyle so as to emerge a relevant and dominant force in your generation! 

It is possible to waste a whole lifetime if you do not understand the place of discipline and responsibility in achieving greatness in life. So, you must settle it in your mind from the outset that you are undoubtedly a Kingdom treasure that cannot afford to be comfortable with a substandard, mediocre or “trashy” life. The possibilities that God has wired into you must be empowered to find expression. You must therefore be ready to pay whatever price it requires. Let me quote Bishop Oyedepo again, “You belong to dignity, royalty, excellence and you have your excellence in Jesus Christ. Therefore, you have the mind of Christ. You have the creative, intellectual capability of the mind of Christ. You are not an ordinary person; you are a peculiar person in the order of existence!”

Closely attached to discipline is diligence. The two must function together to produce the expected result of excellence. Diligence simply means hard work. Interestingly, “hard work” is a term that many in this generation hate to hear. I often hear youths talk about “soft-work” almost everywhere now. They want the easy route to success. Of course, they may get what seems like success but because such is not built on the solid foundation of diligence, it often crumbles within a short time. 

Proverbs 22:29 says, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Proverbs 12:24 (NKJV) adds that: “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labour.” The revelation here is that it is diligence that establishes enthronement. There is no future for an idle man in the Kingdom. Christ Himself demonstrated this when He said: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).

Make no mistake about it – it is work that defines your worth! In other words, it is how much you work on yourself that will determine your ultimate worth. Work is a must for anybody who desires to take the lead. Even with the abundant favour and grace of God upon your life, you still must work because that is the God-ordained pathway to the top. In fact, the grace of God being upon you to guarantee success in all your ventures should spur you to attempt greater ventures than the average person. Paul the Apostle shares his own experience thus: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Every successful person (empowered zero) is a product of favour from the factory of labour. You can never take out of life more than what you have invested into it. Galatians 6:7 says it accurately, “Be not deceived…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 explains it further, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”

It is only hard workers who become great leaders (heroes)! There is nothing called “luck” in determining leadership or empowering a zero! The harder and smarter you work, the greater the level of your success. This is why someone ironically says, “I’m a great believer in luck and I found that the harder I work, the luckier I become.” So, dear friend, if you can concentrate more on empowering your zero, rather than wasting time lamenting, complaining, regretting, envying others, chatting on social media, listening to irrelevant talks or spending so much time watching the television, you will soon find your circumstances changing on their own. You will not even need to shake the Heavens before your blessings unfold! 

Personal Experience

Permit me to use myself as a case study here. There was a time I sowed out my television in order to be on television. There was also a time that, for over a year, I did not subscribe to any cable channel, just to be able to meet up with the demand of delivering possibilities beyond the ordinary frequency. Here is Bishop Oyedepo again: “I have invested an average time of 16 hours a day from the time I stepped into ministry to date, no matter how odd the night may be, I still have my night to work. Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings and not mere men…Our business that did not look like anything – it was trash when we came into ministry; it had no form of comeliness that anyone should look for it. It is what you invest or put into a trash that will bring forth its treasure! You need to show the world out there that you are on a mission (that is to take the lead in your field). But you cannot take the lead without doing the work to make it happen. So, go on and do the work!”

You can always change your level. It all depends on your level of investment. Just by re-aligning your mentality to believe that you do not belong to mediocrity brings you closer to excellence! Just by evaluating your activities and relationships and severing all unprofitable ties will give your life a sharper focus and clearer direction. 

Note it again – hard workers fly higher! Nothing is a substitute for hard work. Be ready to go through the incubation process of becoming a hero. Subject yourself to the diligence and discipline that will transform you to a solution-provider to the people of your generation.

Sacrifice: The “Extra” in the Ordinary

Added to your discipline and diligence is the need for sacrifice, or going the extra mile. Essentially, it is not enough for you to be disciplined and diligent – you must also go the extra mile in doing these. Sacrifice is the scar (or scars) that we bear in the process of carrying our crosses towards getting our crowns.

There is no star without a scar! The scar of every star is sacrifice. It is nothing else! It is simply the ticket towards delivering possibilities. Sacrifice is going the extra mile, paying the extra price and taking the extra steps towards delivering your mandates! Your extraordinary inputs will precede your extraordinary impacts. You must go the extra mile in discipline and diligence – and then the star in you will emerge.

So powerful is sacrifice that it can turn a “dummy” into a genius. It can make a so-called misfit become a maestro. There have been cases of people who had great gifts and potentials but found themselves in fields that were different from what they were meant to do in life. Many of these have had to put themselves through the rigours of returning to their natural passions and getting trained to live out their dreams.

See, you cannot have your cake and eat it! You cannot make omelette without breaking eggs! Not even faith is a substitute for sacrifice. Vision is not a substitute for sacrifice! Sacrifice is a covenant requirement of every Kingdom star! Apostle Paul again says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians1:21). The apostle is simply saying, “I’d rather die than allow anyone despise my glory in Christ”. This is a classic portrayal of what sacrifice entailsBeing crucified with Jesus Christ is sacrifice!

Every star has a story of sacrifice to tell. It is a must for you to rouse yourself from slumber and invest your time in creating the future that you desire! Until you do what others do not do, you will still remain on the same spot as others! You must therefore wake up and tell yourself the bitter truth and design for yourself an enviable destiny. Never let a year end without preparing a schedule of accomplishments for the following year. This will show that you are really on a mission to deliver your world from its aches!

Jesus Christ, the most anointed Achiever, says in Luke12:49-50: “I am come to send fire on the earth…But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” That was someone who had a clear picture of His mission and what it would take to accomplish it.  Anyone who desires to have a “global impact” must pay a “global price”. Yes, you cannot accomplish that glorious dream of yours without understanding its true worth and paying the necessary price!

Designed for Global Impact

Every seed of Abraham is loaded with potentials for global impacts (Genesis 22:16-18). And in case you are not sure you are a seed of Abraham, then read this: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).

So now you know that you are a bona fide offspring of Abraham and consequently an inheritor of the promises made to Him, and much more – because you have Christ, the one who is greater than Abraham, in you. You are on earth for global impacts, not for mere survival. Having a global Impact is about being a positive and transformative influence across communities, nations and races.

I strongly believe that there are readers of this episode who will manifest grace for positive impacts across the world, if they would be willing to pay a price greater than that which many great men and women of the past generations paid. Every generation comes with greater challenges and thus offers opportunities for birthing greater champions. But until there is a willingness to pay a greater price, this prospect of a greater manifestation will never come to actualisation.                 

Whatsoever a man sows is what he will reap.  The future that awaits you depends on your investments of today! You must therefore begin to do the best that you can, while waiting for the grace for more to flow upon you! It is then you will be able to soar higher than the eagles because the skies would have simply been transformed into your starting point!

Making the Right Investment

Now, it is important that you ascertain your area of calling, so as to be sure that you are not investing in the wrong direction. Your vision must be clearly defined, so as to fully understand your mission and then empower yourself for possibilities in that field. Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 is very instructive, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Ensure to acquire the relevant skills, apply the necessary spiritual principles and understand the peculiar needs of your environment in relation to your “empowered zero.” empowered zero” which is directed towards meeting the needs of peoples, organisations and nations.

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Opinion

Hailing the Supreme Court on LG Allocation Judgment

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Prof Mike Ozekhome SAN, CON, OFR

The supreme court judgement today, July 11, 2024, directing the Federal Government to pay allocations due to Local Government Areas directly to their account thereby abolishing the old practices of State-Local Government Joint Account, is timely and courageous.

What the judgement has done is more like interpreting section 162 of the Constitution, which provides for a joint State-Local Government Account. In which case, money is normally paid to state governors’ accounts and then for them to disburse to the local governments for them to share. But what has been happening is that, as I noted in 2020,over three years ago, the state governors, have been behaving like ”bandits”, waylaing local governments funds along the way and thus impoverishing them leaving them with nothing to work, just a little for salary. And nothing to actually work for the people whom they represent.
I agree totally with the judgement of the supreme court to grant full financial autonomy so that money is released and paid directly to the 774 local government councils which constitute the third-tier of government,to develop their places because the LGAs are grassrooted and nearest to the people. Rather than allow overbearing state governors throw their weight around and muzzle the local governments and seize their purse,they will now allow LGs breath some air of freedom.

If you take a look at our situation, Nigeria is operating a very lopsided federation,more like a unitary system of government. Where the federal government is supposed to be a small government,it is controlling 67 items on the exclusive legislative list. That is why the federal government gets the lion share of the federation account , the lion share of the money that comes to the federation account to the tune of 52.68%. The states get 26.72% while the entire 774 local government councils in Nigeria get just 20.60% of the monthly allocation by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RLASMC.

The question is, what is the federal government doing with almost 53% of the national income? That is because it is a government that is behemoth.That is elephantine. A government that intrudes and intervenes in areas that should not concern it at all. What is the federal government’s business with licensing cars and trucks for states? What is its business with the Marriage Act, dealing with how people marry and wed in Nigeria and how they live together as husband and wife and separate or divorce? What is the federal government’s business with unity schools? A whole FG operating secondary schools? What is their business? Why is the FG not allowing states generate their own power, operate their own railway stations, if they have the capacity? Why should the federal government not allow states have their own police force? Even for the local governments to have their own police force as we have in the United States and other advanced countries of the world where even tertiary institutions have their own police?

The truth is that the federal government is overbloated and overpampered. That is why it is using too much money and make the centre become too attractive,eating deep into funds that ought to be meant for the states and local government areas. The states take not only that which belongs to the states, but also waylays at source that which is meant for the local government areas. No Nation grows that way.

So, I see this judgment as epochal,having far-reaching effect because money will now be made available directly to the local government areas who will no longer be subservient, like fawning slaves to state governors. In fact, the judgement even went further to say that no state government has the power henceforth to dissolve local government areas. This is because we have been seeing cases where inspite of the provisions of section 7 of the 1999 constitution that give autonomy to local government areas, states normally go ahead and dissolve local government areas ND appoint caretaker committees for them.This is whimsical and capricious.The Supreme Court has said this can no longer go on and that henceforth, no state government should ever be able to dissolve any local government area in Nigeria for any reason whatsoever and howsoever.

The judgement is salutary, timely and regenerative. It should be upheld by all governments and people in Nigeria for better democratic dividends.I see this as victory for our wobbling democracy, even if we are far removed from true fiscal federalism where the federating units control and utilize their God-given resources while paying royalty or tax to the central government. This case is one big plus for tested court room gladiator, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation, who initiated the case at the apex court, invoking its original jurisdiction.Surely,to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. God bless Nigeria.

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Opinion

Telling the Nigerian and African Food Story to a Global Audience

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By Lydia Enyidiya Eke

Nigeria as the most populous black nation on earth is located in the heart of Africa and as a great country with unique culinary traditions, this great nation is known for her diverse and vibrant culture and people.

Nigeria, as one of the 54 countries in Africa is well known for her rich history and myriad ethnic groups, and equally known for her culinary strength.

These divers’ culinary strength offers a gastronomic tapestry that remains largely untapped by the global audience.

Since globalization fosters a growing interest in diverse food cultures, it is high time the world embraced the flavours of Nigeria.

A Culinary Mosaic

Nigerian cuisine is a reflection of its vast cultural diversity. Each ethnic group brings its unique ingredients, cooking techniques, culinary textures and flavour profiles to the table, creating a culinary mosaic that is both rich and complex.

From the spicy and oily soups, stews and sauces of the Yoruba in the southwest to the savoury soups of the Igbo in the southeast, and the aromatic dishes of the Hausa-Fulani in the north, and of course the seafood and vegetable delight of the south south as well as the lovely relishes of the middle belt, Nigerian food is a journey through the country’s cultural landscape.

Staples like jollof rice, with its tantalizing blend of tomatoes, peppers, and spices, have already started making waves internationally.

The same applies to the well-known dishes and a plethora of lesser-known culinary treasures waiting to be discovered.

These covers the 36 states of the federation. The popularly known egusi soup, also known as unity soup is a hearty melon seed soup that is eaten across the nation and continent.

What about the pepper soup and their spices, the same applies to the herbs, condiments and flavourings of bitter leaf soup, oha soup, groundnut soup, beans soup and many more.

Suya is another spicy grilled meat skewers, which equally offer a glimpse into the depth of Nigerian culinary artistry.

The Need for Global Recognition
Despite its richness, Nigerian cuisine remains underrepresented and basically under reported on the global stage.

This lack of recognition can be attributed to several factors, including limited exposure and the dominance of other culinary traditions in international media. However, the tide is changing. With the rise of social media and the global trend towards exploring new and authentic food experiences, Nigerian cuisine is poised for a renaissance.

Championing Nigerian Food through Digital Platforms

One of the most effective ways to bring the knowledge of Nigerian cuisine to the global audience is through digital platforms. These platforms are now diverse. They range from YouTube, to Instagram, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Snapchat amongst others . Also included are food blogs, food websites and vlogs.

YouTube, in particular, has emerged as a powerful tool for sharing culinary traditions with a wide audience. Channels dedicated to Nigerian cooking, like the one I run, are playing a crucial role in this movement. By offering step-by-step DIY tutorials, we are not only teaching people how to cook Nigerian food but also sharing the stories and cultural significance behind each dish.

These digital platforms offer an interactive and engaging way to learn about Nigerian cuisine. Viewers from around the world can watch, comment, and even share their attempts at cooking these dishes, fostering a global community of Nigerian food enthusiasts.

Preserving Cultural Heritage
For many Nigerians living abroad, cooking traditional dishes is a way to stay connected to their roots. It is an act of preserving cultural heritage and passing it down to the next generation. By teaching the younger generation how to cook Nigerian food, we are ensuring that these culinary traditions are not lost in the face of globalization.
Moreover, sharing these recipes and stories with a global audience promotes cultural understanding and appreciation. Food, after all, is a universal language that brings people together. By inviting others to experience Nigerian cuisine, we are fostering a sense of unity and cultural exchange.

The Future of Nigerian Cuisine
The future of Nigerian cuisine on the global stage looks promising. With increasing interest in authentic and diverse food experiences, Nigerian food has the potential to become a beloved part of the world’s culinary repertoire. However, this will require continued effort in promoting and sharing these rich culinary traditions.
Initiatives such as food festivals, cultural exchange programs, and collaborations with international chefs can further boost the visibility of Nigerian cuisine. Additionally, support from the Nigerian government and private sector in promoting food tourism can open new avenues for showcasing the country’s culinary wealth.

As we look towards a future where cultures and cuisines are celebrated for their uniqueness and richness, Nigerian food stands as a testament to the country’s vibrant heritage. By telling the story of Nigerian cuisine to a global audience, we are not only sharing delicious food but also promoting cultural understanding and appreciation. Let us embrace the flavors of Nigeria and celebrate its place in the global culinary landscape.

For further about some Nigerian recipes and cooking tutorials, visit GOURMET GUIDE234 on YouTube, and the food blog GOURMETGUIDE234.COM where you can embark on a culinary journey through Nigeria’s diverse and colourful food traditions.

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Opinion

Of June 12, 2024 Democracy Day Dinner and the President’s Speech

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By Dipo H. Aka-Bashorun

“The lizard that jumped from a high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did” – Chinua Achebe

On October 1, 2005, our father, Alao Aka-Bashorun, passed away at his home in Gbagada, Lagos. He would have turned 75 years old in December later that year. Shortly after his passing was made public, tributes began pouring in from across the country and beyond. One of the first calls of condolences my mother received was from His excellency, the Governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He followed it with a public tribute and the condolence book was signed thus:
“You were a source of inspiration to your generation, you were a dogged fighter for TRUTH, JUSTICE, FAIRNESS and EQUALITY in your nation. You shall be sorely missed”
– Bola A. Tinubu Lagos State Governor

He didn’t stop there. At the condolence visit to my mother, he was alarmed at the poor state of the road leading to the house and felt it would discourage visitors from coming to the house to pay their condolences. He promised to do something about it. The next day saw workers begin road repairs of all roads from the highway leading to the house.

At the Old man’s Lying in state, held at the Nigeria Law School, I gave the Vote of Thanks for the family. Our father had been sick for several years, the onset of which was traced to that fateful day in 1996. I thanked everyone I could remember and those I couldn’t for supporting him and the family throughout those difficult years for the family. One of the special mentions was that of the Governor’s unwavering support for my father’s medical expenses, at home and abroad. 1st class Flights for my parents to seek medical treatment from specialists in London, Frankfurt and New York City. All expenses paid, out of the public eye.

When the family requested that we should respond to the absence of his name during the President’s June 12 dinner speech, it was not because we were lacking in recognition of our father’s contribution to the actualization of Democracy in Nigeria and June 12, in particular. He wouldn’t have wanted us to seek recognition but he would have wanted us to set the record straight with anything attached to his name. And June 12, my fellow Nigerians, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, like so many notable noble Nigerians, is inextricably connected to his name. To list his contributions and commitments to democracy and June 12 will take more time and space for my allotted time and space for this essay and medium.

Where to start? His conviction of G.O.K Ajayi SAN, to join him and mount the legal defense of Chief M.K.O Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of June 12, at his trial for treason? His public warnings to the Nation and to foreign governments, years prior to the elections, that the Babangida Junta government were not the purported mid-wife to democracy in Nigeria and there was a “Hidden Agenda” afoot to manipulate the elections?

How about his years in exile ? Having had to leave Nigeria with a passport issued by the United Nations after the People’s Chambers (his law office) had been raided, sealed off and his Nigerian passport seized? His role as a leading member of the Human Rights movement to take the case of Nigeria’s human rights abuses to The United Kingdom and the United States?

September 6, 1990? A day that should have its rightful place in the history of Nigeria’s democratic infamy. The date should go down as the first attempt to strive for better, coherent national debate through national conferences. It was the date the Sovereign National conference was to kickoff at the National Theatre after he had successfully campaigned and organized civil societies in 1989 to establish a National conference. Unfortunately, the conference was disrupted by the Babangida junta.

His unwavering support of Mrs Kudirat Abiola’s resolve, commitment and determination to see the actualization of her husband’s mandate?

The omission of his name at a dinner speech notwithstanding, history has been kind to his legacy. Associations like the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association who have held a widely acclaimed annual lecture since April 29, 2010, in his name as Bar leader and incomparable activist have lived up to the creed; “the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain” and are doing their part so his name and achievements are not overlooked at the dinner table.

On June 4, 1996, Alao Aka-Bashorun was one of the first people to see Kudirat Abiola’s bullet-ridden body at the hospital. She had been on her way to pick him up for a meeting. The shock was too much to bear and he broke down at the scene and would never fully recover his memory again. Such was the price of Democracy, his price to pay for Democracy, in our beloved country, Nigeria.

Dipo H. Aka-Bashorun writes from Lawrenceville, New Jersey

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