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Community Involvement In Tourism Development: Building Partnerships For Sustainable Tourism

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By Otunba Wanle Akinboboye

My name is Otunba Wanle Akinboboye and I founded and operate an African tourism brand under the name La Campagne Tropicana. My Organisation focuses on tourism and through its facilities, presents the best of African architecture, culture, and cuisine in a cosmopolitan manner.

The Resorts we have established and are establishing are located in rural or semi-rural areas that include Ibeju Lekki Lagos State, Ondo town & Araromi in Ondo State, Koton Karfi, Kogi State, Cote D’Ivoire and most recently Antigua & Barbuda.

Over the past 40 years I have had the opportunity of merging two great passions – assisting in developing an African tourism industry and leveraging off that industry to create a better life for ordinary Africans who would not normally be eligible for employment in ‘western style’ tourism facilities.

In my humble opinion, Nigeria is the cultural capital of the world. It is a country of over 420 distinct cultures. It also has diverse natural attractions like beaches, mountains, and waterfalls.

It has abundant and diverse flora and fauna. I strongly believe that monetizing our culture by making it the focus of our tourism industry will preserve and enhance the same. A prime example of this method is the UK which has made its traditions and history the centre of a tourism industry that generated £214 billion for the UK in 2022.

We have all seen the revolutionary steps that have been made by young African musicians in selling Africa’s music to the world. Similar moves should be made to sell the concept of Africa’s culture so that international tourists will demand first-hand access to and visit the continent.

The promotion of village, eco-tourism, and weaving tourism around nature can contribute to the development of cultural tourism.

In this, we will require the cooperation of grassroots communities. The fact that my focus has been on developing resorts and locations situated in rural areas has given me the unique opportunity to experience, firsthand, the synergy that results from involving host communities in the development and running of tourism facilities.

Approximately 40 years ago I decided to establish my flagship resort at Ikegun in Ibeju – Lekki, Lagos State. At that time, the area was not accessible by road and my first visits were via boat through the creeks that connect the city of Lagos to other parts of the state.

In selecting a site for the Resort, I knew it was important to ensure that any neighboring community was amenable to the existence of and would work with the tourism facility I wanted to create.

I, therefore, made it imperative to engage with the leadership of the communities that were the potential sites for the Resort. This was so I could be sure that my final choice would be driven by the fact that the leadership of that community and by extension, its people, could buy into the vision of and support the development of the Resort.

In effect, I was looking for a community that was prepared to partner with me in growing an African tourist facility because they understood the long-term benefits of partnering with my organization, which benefits included infrastructural development and employment opportunities for their community. In this regard, and as I had earlier mentioned, the Resorts I develop are African-themed and showcase the best of our architecture, culture, and cuisine.

My focus on developing African-themed facilities is based on my belief that, in terms of tourism, Africa needs to provide a unique proposition if it wants to compete with other tourism destinations and attract tourists that may be jaded by their existing experiences.

It is pertinent to mention that, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, travel and tourism contributed 10.4% to global GDP and supported over 334 million jobs in 2019. Obviously, if the continent could secure only 15% of that global figure it would positively impact Africa’s GDP and employment figures. In my humble opinion, Africa’s unique tourism proposition lies in its environment and its rich culture. If we truly want to develop an international tourism industry for Africa and by extension Nigeria, we cannot offer a pale shadow or replica of what is available elsewhere. Why should an international tourist come to Africa to stay in a resort that is a copy of a resort in another continent? Why should such a tourist receive services that he considers subpar because we have a different understanding of the services he should receive. In making comparisons we may fall short.

EMPLOYMENT

It is pertinent to mention that, at La Campagne Tropicana’s resorts, a significant number of our employees come from the surrounding rural communities. We are, via our African-centric focus able to leverage off their strengths.

We are also not constrained by the need to ensure that what we offer mimics the offerings of other tourism destinations. The majority of the cleaning staff at our Ikegun Resort, who are women, come from the villages around us.

We have, with appropriate training, been able to harness their skills to provide a stellar standard of cleanliness within the Resort. The village has also benefitted, as these women have been gainfully employed and earn income streams that contribute to the financial wealth of their families.

From my interactions, I have observed first-hand the fact that when women are income earners their main focus is to use their earnings to improve the lives of their families. Our head cleaner, who has been with us for over 16 years, recently built a house whose rooms she rents out to finance the education of her children. Our operations manager, who started work as a cleaner over two decades ago, owns a number of houses in the village and has a side business of poultry that supplies eggs to the Resort.

When sadly, she became widowed last year, she was able to support her family and ensure they did not unduly suffer financially from the loss of the head of the family. As an aside, the men in the village have also expressed their gratitude for keeping their wives gainfully employed. They say the women have less time to start arguments, are less inclined to make monetary demands on them, and in the words of their Baale (monarch)’ Witches No Longer Fly in the Village’.

I am also proud that, in our Resort, we have generations of employees as the children of some of our staff work alongside their parents and are invested in the Resort’s continued success.

We have also seen situations where villagers, who had moved to Lagos, return to work at the Resort as they realize their money goes further and their quality of life is better when they don’t have to dissipate funds on expensive accommodation and daily transportation.

A significant number of our employees are youths. This is important given the large youth population in Africa and the need to create long time employment for this significant sector of our population. Where youths are gainfully employed, it provides them with dignity and reduces the restiveness and drift towards crime that has given rise to many of the current negatives we see in our country today.

As we are all aware, our current educational system at the grassroots level leaves much to be desired. It is not unkind to say that its products would find it difficult to compete for jobs that require high-functioning technical skills.

By focusing on our African culture we are able, through tourism, to create jobs for which our rural dwellers are a natural fit due to their inherent morals and values. Developing tourism organizations that leverage our cultural identity will create sustainable employment opportunities for the youths in our rural areas who would be considered unsuitable for employment by tourism facilities that are modeled on existing European or American facilities.

As I have mentioned earlier, the Resorts my organization develops utilize African architecture and decor albeit with a cosmopolitan twist. Accordingly, within our Resorts we employ traditional building methods that require the skills of people at the grassroots. These structures include mud huts and what we refer to as tree houses, which are built of wood. Many structures have thatched roofs and our doorbells are talking drums. The ceilings of our huts are constructed with mats. Our traditional building methods provide employment for local artisans from the surrounding villages and further afield, who are comfortable building structures using methods that have been used by their forefathers.

They also have the opportunity to hone their skills via the innovations we have introduced to provide a cosmopolitan twist to these structures.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

The impact of the Resort on the community is obvious when one considers the development of Ikegun village’s infrastructure over the years. When the Resort commenced business, its host village, Ikegun consisted of small huts built of Opa. The prosperity of the villagers is now evident in the steady expansion of the number of brick buildings and fishing boats in the community. There is also a petrol station. The Resort has also provided entrepreneurial opportunities for local residents, who provide goods and services to the Resort and its employees.

A study by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) found that tourism can directly contribute to poverty reduction, as income generated from tourism activities circulates within the local economy. The increased economic activity on the Eleko /Ikegun axis which gave birth to the free trade zone can, in my humble opinion be traced to investors that visited the resort and discovered the opportunities in the region.

Tourism activities from the Resort have in effect stimulated the growth of a multi-billion dollar free trade zone that is home to the world’s largest refinery and largest fertilizer plant in Africa amongst other companies.

The development of tourism facilities in rural areas will effectively open up these areas and stimulate other economic activities. This is because visitors to such tourism facilities will be able to determine the suitability of siting their investment in areas they would not otherwise have visited particularly where the government also offers investment incentives.

PRESERVATION OF CULTURAL IDENTITY AND ENVIRONMENT

By focusing on an African theme, tourism can assist in the preservation of our cultural heritage and values. As a matter of practice, La Campagne Tropicana embraces its host culture and has helped to preserve and showcase local traditions, arts, crafts, and heritage. This provides a platform for cultural exchange, promoting understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures on the part of the tourists and the locals.

The presence of tourists at the Resort has also incentivized the local community to maintain, protect and take pride in their cultural identity and traditions. According, to a study by the UNWTO, cultural tourism can account for up to 40% of global tourism, which further highlights the significance of establishing community partnerships as it is the local communities that are the custodian of the nation’s cultural heritage. The Resort has through its practices and incentives been able to encourage the local communities to adopt measures that protect and conserve the natural environment.

These include the recycling of plastic waste, cleaning of the beach fronts, preservation of trees through controlled measures for tree felling, etc.

CONCLUSION

When we talk about sustainable partnerships with the communities, I would like to mention that over the years our Resort has involved the community in projects undertaken by the Resort that impact them. We also provide some level of revenue sharing to ensure that they have a sense of ownership. We realised early on that where the community feels involved in the well-being of the Resort, it will take steps to police its members and ensure they do not disrupt our operations. The synergy that has been developed between the Resort and the community in relation to security issues has been invaluable. I would like to thank the organizers of this event for giving me the opportunity to share my views on this very important topic. I welcome any comments you may have on these views and hope that I have convinced you of the need to immediately execute a tourism agenda that involves and works with our communities.

Being the keynote address at the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN)’s Annual General Meeting in Abuja. 20th July 2023.

 

 

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Who Will Save the Falling Naira?

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By Kayode Emola

It would be a profound understatement to say that the dwindling fortunes of people living in Nigeria is concerning. A country that had the fastest-growing economy in the 1960s is now classed as the poverty capital of the world. Instead of people sitting down to look for a viable solution, they look only to elections and which criminal politicians they will elect.

In the 1970s, when Nigeria was productive, the Naira was double the US Dollar and a little higher than the British Pound. In 2023, a mere 50 years later, both Pounds Sterling and the US Dollar are a thousand times stronger than the Naira. If this statistic does not worry the intellectuals and provoke the masses to action, then we will end up sitting on our hands until the Naira has gone the same way as the Zimbabwean Dollar, to utter destruction.

Zimbabwe, which boasted of a highly intellectual population, saw its currency destroyed when hyperinflation forced it to redenominate. Between 1980 and 2009, there were three massive redenomination events in an attempt to control the skyrocketing inflation. As a result, 100 *trillion* Zimbabwean Dollars became worth only 40 U.S cents, forcing the country to officially adopt the use of currencies like the Chinese Yuan, U.S. dollar, and British Pounds, just to mention a few.

I know people in Nigeria would say “God forbid”, that what happened in Zimbabwe can never happen to Nigeria. But it behooves us to remember that Zimbabwe is not alone: Venezuela also suffered similar crises of hyperinflation, forcing it to change its currency three times.

In Nigeria, the inflation figures are not accurately reported, causing the people to be unaware of the real dangers that they face. When four tomatoes that cost ₦200 a year ago now cost over ₦1,000, it gives lie to the claim that inflation is only at 20%. The example of the tomatoes alone puts inflation at 500%, suggesting that the reported figures are merely a smokescreen to stop the people from revolting.

In the 10 years from 2012 to 2022, the Naira has lost its value by more than 700%: from an exchange rate of around $1 to ₦135 in 2012, it is now at $1 to ₦1,000 and falling rapidly. In 2023 alone, the currency has fallen by more than 50% against the U.S. dollar. In early 2023, it was exchanging at around $1:₦460 at the official rate –around $1:₦600 on the parallel market; whereas today, the official rate is around $1:₦790, with the parallel market exchanging at $1:₦1,000.

This is clearly unsustainable for the general populace, given that the Naira shows no sign of slowing its descent. Both history and its current trajectory suggest that the worst is yet to come. Every economic indicator in the country shows that it is heading in the wrong direction. The foreign reserve that we were led to believe was around $60 billion has been revealed to have only around $3 billion; no thanks to the most recent ex-Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, who opened the treasury for the wolves to feast on it.

If truth be told, we Yoruba have existed in this farce called Nigeria for too long, which is why our fortune has eluded us. To correct this turpitude, the only solution is Yoruba independence. However, we must ensure that whilst we are pursuing this dream, we also begin putting mechanisms in place to safeguard our children’s futures.

We must realise that the Naira is beyond redemption. Currency redenomination is not the answer, as it is a very expensive means of addressing leadership failures. Therefore, we must begin to create our own financial system independent of Nigeria. Creating our own blockchain currency would be able to stand the test of time without being devalued by political whim. We must embrace this technology that will help us to advance the cause of independence, protecting our people from being left out in the cold.

As we march on toward our independent Yoruba nation, may I use this opportunity to reassure our people that victory is certain, though it may take a little time. However, we are far closer to our destination than from where we started, so we must not surrender at this eleventh hour. It is only those who quit that have lost the battle; since we are no quitters, by the Grace of God we will overcome all the challenges ahead of us to reach the victory.

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Opinion

Opinion: Soyinka and the ‘Gbajue’ Metaphor

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By Promise Adiele

Akin Akingbesote was my roommate at Q107 Eni-Njoku Hall, University of Lagos. Akin was in 200 level studying Mass Communication while I was in 100 level studying English. Given the large number of Igbo and Yoruba students on campus then, the general lingo was dominated by code-switching straddling pidgin English, Yoruba, Igbo and other forms of slang. My knowledge of Yoruba was poor, Akin’s knowledge of Igbo was abysmal. So, we struck a deal to teach each other our mother tongue at least, to retain a faint knowledge of all linguistic strategies and slang on campus. Akin, a good-natured guy from Ondo State, suggested that the best method would be for us to come up with expressions in the opposite language and bring it to the table while the other person interpreted and analysed them. I agreed. Every day, I came with different Yoruba expressions and Akin interpreted them. He also came with different Igbo expressions and I interpreted them. Both of us sometimes played pranks and were mischievous with the interpretations. However, we managed the situation and it was fun.

One day, I returned to campus from town and asked Akin to explain the meaning of lo toju eru e! I had seen the expression boldly written inside a bus. He explained that it means keep your load safe. Also, I asked him to explain the meaning of owo da! He said it means where is your money? I disagreed with Akin’s interpretation of owo da! I argued that the bus conductors were wrong to use Owo da as where is your money? I told Akin that owo da could mean where is the money which I thought was arrogant and rude. I further argued that Owo da sounded like a thief demanding money from a helpless victim. Pay your transport fare in Yoruba should mean something else, more peaceful and respectful, something like san owo re. Akin laughed at me and said, “When they ask you owo da, don’t give them your money and see what will happen to you”. I told him that in Igbo, pay your money could be translated as kwuo ugwo gi, or nye m ego gi. Although kedu ego gi could be interpreted as pay your money, it didn’t quite capture the accurate linguistic potential of the expression.

One day, I returned to the room and asked Akin, “what is the meaning of gbajue”? He looked at me intently, smiled and asked, “Why do you want to know the meaning of gbajue, abi you don join them”? His response did not make meaning to me. “Akin, please tell me the meaning of gbajue”, I insisted. Well, it means 419, he laughed as he explained. I noticed that Akin was not serious with the gbajue lecture, so I decided to contact a course mate the next day, concluding that to get the best answer, I would approach an Igbo student who also spoke Yoruba fluently, as well as any Yoruba person. So I went to George Nkwocha, the ever-smiling, peacefully disposed guy in my class. Georgie, as we called him, gave me different meanings of gbajue depending on the context. At last, I concluded that gbajue means deception, dubiety, and all forms of criminal tendencies that are meant to mislead, confuse, and lead astray. End of story. Armed with my knowledge of gbajue, I moved on. No one would bamboozle me with the word again.

Having learned and understood the meaning of gbajue in school, I was therefore irked when Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka used it in faraway South Africa as a metaphor to describe the activities of Africa’s most avant-garde political group, Labour Party under the aegis of Obidient movement. According to Soyinka, the Labour Party employed gbajue tactics to befuddle Nigerians, claiming that they won the last presidential elections. The accomplished man of letters avowed that he “can categorically state that Labour Party did not win the election, they came third, not even second”. Let me quickly admit that I am not fit to untie Soyinka’s shoe lace. He is a great man revered and respected across the world. I teach Soyinka’s texts every year. But I am not one of his disciples. I subscribe to Femi Osofisan’s Brecht, Marxist, dialectical leaning more than Soyinka’s ritual cleansing, tragic world view illustrated through his appropriation of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron and the subterranean agent of self-examination. Soyinka is entitled to his explication of gbajue, although many people think he erred. Many people think he is gradually losing that invincible, iconoclastic portrait of his by consistently aligning with bourgeois, upper-class echelon against the masses. Many people also think that he is gradually eroding all the virtues and principles he stood and fought for as a young man. His “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” has morphed into an ideology with which he is appraised and found wanting because he continues to maintain grave silence in the face of tyranny pro max. Like Soyinka, let me also exercise my intellectual prerogative by offering a personal, surgical dismembering of gbajue, at least within Nigeria’s evanescing, socio-political environment.

Gbajue means to insidiously submit fake academic credentials to the electoral body, serve eight years in an executive capacity and recruit foot soldiers to drum support for you. It is the indoctrination of school children who grow up knowing and answering that someone was this and that, a position attained through deception and beguiling posturing for gain. Gbajue also includes benefitting from the commonwealth having attained a glorious political position riding at the back of fraudulent academic and genealogical claims. All the wealth amassed in that process, all the people who benefitted from that deception are indebted to the gbajue phenomenon and must be made to pay restitution.

Gbajue means when the electoral umpire promises to follow a particular pattern in an election and even goes ahead to publish these regulations in national dailies and the internet. Then, suddenly, like real gbajue-seared beings, make a complete turnaround and abandon the patterns and devices already scheduled for the elections. Then the electoral umpire reverts to its invidious, treacherous, double-dealing methods to conclude the election. The real gbajue element is when the people trooped out in millions based on the promises and assurance of the electoral umpire but only to be deceived, cheated, and abused.

Gbajue means when, during an election, the security apparatus in the country assures people to come out and vote, guaranteeing them ultimate protection and safety. Then, when the people came out, a particular ethnic group is harmed, maimed and dehumanized yet, the same security apparatus connives and looks away from these incidents even with incontrovertible video evidence. Gbajue is when some disoriented people make open threats towards an ethnic group and go on to carry out these threats while the government lapses into hypnotic paralysis only to use media outlets, radio, tv and newspaper to release sterile, hackneyed statements, “we are on top of the situation”.

Gbajue means when in a particular state in the South-South of the country, elections were openly rigged and electoral officers glaringly harassed and threatened by the governor. Yet security personnels looked away and the results were finally admitted by the national electoral body, blurred results. Gbajue is when the electoral umpire, while people of good conscience slept, announced the results of the presidential elections in the wee hours of the night. It is when a group of people representing the judiciary set aside loads of electoral malpractice evidence, chide and rebuke election petitioners as if the judiciary is an arm of the electoral body. Yet, gbajue is surely involved when Abuja is ingeniously stripped of its status as the federal capital territory but does not have a governor as a state, therefore, 25% votes there is inconsequential. Gbajue is big.

Gbajue is when a new government announces the removal of fuel subsidy upon assumption of office without any corresponding, well-thought-out plans to mitigate the excruciating effects of such a knee-jerk decision. Petrol now sells for N620. Pure horror. Gbajue is when a new government titillates the populace with a spurious student loan scheme which lacks any fundamental base and, therefore, crashes as soon as it is announced. Gbajue could be more. It is when a government inaugurates a falsehood industry primarily to hoodwink the people daily with unsubstantiated, misleading tales – UAE lifts visa ban on Nigeria, Mr President is the first to ring the NASDAQ bell, Mr President is the only African leader Biden accepted to meet after UNGA. Gbajue could also mean distributing five billion naira to the states for palliatives when the people received disgraceful, next-to-nothing food items, when, unexpectedly 1$ exchanges for 1,000 naira. Gbajue could be more.

The gbajue culture is maintained and desperately sustained by a coterie of desperate felons whose motives are glaringly tied to gain and the protection of the same. Thus, Nigeria is caught in a whirlwind of different gbajue metaphor. The result of the growth of gbajue in the land is the international embarrassment the country is currently facing regarding the inconsistent academic records of the number one chief executive officer in the land. But gbajue’s comeuppance could be summarized in these words by former US president Abraham Lincoln “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. I hope the majestic Kongi agrees with my definitions of gbajue.

Promise Adiele PhD is a lecturer with Mountain Top University, and can be reached via Promee01@yahoo.com

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Opinion

Developing Your Mindset for Reasons in Seasons

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“If you are having a bad time right now, kindly know that it cannot last. Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary problem. The authentic solutions are tied to your levels or stages of MANifestations!” – Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., FIMC, CMC, CMS, CIV, MNIM

Change is indeed inevitable. Change is also the principle of life, that means everything that is alive is bound to change at certain stages of life, even things that are not alive will change. In other words, the way the river runs through the mountain is simply wearing away the mountain, and when you go back to the mountain in like fifteen (15) years later, you will discover that the river has become wider. At this point, we need to acknowledge that change is in creation, it is part of life. So, here is the question, Ecclesiastes 3:1-3, it reveals that, “to everything, there is a season…” this means, everything has seasons., and everything were created for specific or diverse reasons. And to every purpose under Heaven, there is a time for it. This is the best news I have ever got in my life, which I am also privileged to be sharing publicly at the moment. When I understood this I was a teenager; and it changed my life. I understood that everything is a season. If you are having a bad time at the moment, it cannot last! And if you cannot find a job right now, that is only a season. If your business is going in the wrong direction, it is a season of slide. If nobody wants to marry you, that’s only a season. There is going to come a season when everybody wants to marry you! If you are “broke” at the moment, the good news is that, you are seasonally broke! But that doesn’t define the reasons for your purpose and existence, because it is only for a time. That’s simply the good news, and why we are always reminded never to make a permanent decision in a temporary problem.

Success is not something that you pursue. It is a matter of becoming a person of value. We shouldn’t be pursuing money. We should pursue purpose, we should pursue vision for ourselves, our countries, for our communities. We shouldn’t be pursuing things; what we need to pursue is IDEAS. There are ultimately three (3) categories of people on this plane called earth: i. The Poor People – they talk about money all the time ii. The Rich People- they talk about things iii. The Wealthy People – they talk about ideas.

What separates the above categories are simply thought patterns and habits. They all think differently. For example, the poor people pursue money; the rich people pursue things, while the wealthy people pursue ideas powered and amplified by vision. So, constantly, there is a different way of thinking. I hope nations of the world, most especially the Third World Countries, the young people of our nations become “IDEAS-oriented people”, because it is important to note that IDEAS attracts money. So. I suffice to say that, if we minimize this desire to get money, and elevate the creativity of new IDEAS, we will find that financial results will naturally flow to it. The likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Strive Masiyiwa, and the likes didn’t pursue money, they pursued IDEAS, even the late Steve Jobs who invented the Apple computer, and the iphone never went after money, but he developed an idea into a massive and global realities. If you observe all of the wealthy people in the world, you would discover that it was IDEAS that made them wealthy, not money. So, I think we need to reverse it. Don’t pursue money, and then try to get an IDEA. Get an IDEA, then money will pursue the idea into fruition, and you would become a by-product as far as wealth.

Dr. Myles Monroe of blessed memory shared the above school of thoughts. He tireless preached it to young people to stop looking for employment, he stated: “why don’t you position yourself differently, and look for deployment. To be employed means that somebody else is benefiting from your energy. To deploy yourself means that you are using your own energy to be productive. So, instead of waiting for someone to give you a job, simply by all means create your own work. That’s why I tell people that, there is a difference between creating your WORK and JOB. Your “job” is what they trained you to do, while your “work” is what you are born to do. Your job is your skill, which they fire you from at any point in time. But your work is your GIFT, no one can take that away from you. Your job is where you get compensation for activity; your work is where you get fulfilment, because you love it so much. You can retire from your work, because your work is you! so, when a person discovers their work, they no longer need a job, based on the fact that their work makes them productive! So, there are countless young people in this country and the world at large who are full of talents, full of gifts, but have failed to harness them. I need to add that every problem in life is a business.

All businesses are simply someone solving a problem, which implies that, the more problems that are available in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Canada, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the world at large, the more businesses available for young people to begin.” And, this is what I think we are lacking. We are trying to get trained to get a job, we are not trained to start a business. We are trained to let other people employ us, we are not trained to deploy ourselves!

The question now is, do we just sit down and let change happen to us? Or are we just watching change happening around us? Or are we aware that change is happening within us? Or are we going to be among those proactive people who will make sure that we affect or influence what happens around us?!

We must clearly understand that change also produces four (4) classes of people, and they are simply privileged to be reading this article at the moment. The First Classes of People can be described as The Watchers – they watch things happen. We must be enlightened that not all change is IMPROVEMENT. For instance, someone used to weigh 120kg, and now weighing 162kg, that is simply a change. for some of you, that is not an improvement. Such a person has lost his or her wardrobe, the ability climb the staircases smartly and swiftly, even lost the quality of health he or she had.

Change doesn’t connote improvement all the time. The problem is, without change, there is no improvement. So, you need to be committed to the decision of what to do with change. Change will happen, and if you are not careful, it could be destructive. You have to determine what kind of change do I want or need in my life? And I want you as a young person, a mother, a father, a business person, think as a company, even as a family, or educational pursuit. What kind of classes do you want to take in college this year? What kind of grades do you want? What kind of relationship do you want to have in your life? Who do you need to drop, and who do you need to pick up in your relationship? What kind of people do you want or need to associate with? What are the books you need to read that you have never read before? Those changes come with choices! So, what kind of a person are you?

We must always understand that we should not always get everything now (in a hurry). By the grace of God, I have spent 15 years in the University, and I have acquired a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree, a PhD., while still counting several certifications on many academic platforms. Many people got their jobs earlier and settled for their jobs, while some of us delayed our money making profile by leveraging on what were compensated with as payment to ascend, all in the name of acquiring a foundation, platform that would influence the future and hand over a better world onto coming generation. Today, many of us, either by names or deeds are being registered in the anal of history, aligning with purpose in diverse phases of life by God’s special grace. Dr. Myles Monroe (of blessed memory) corroborates the above assertions, that he delayed his money making endeavours for five years, and later got in an hour as pay-check what others get in a year. Many people today, aren’t focused on developing ourselves, rather they are trying to grab the money now.

Please, I honestly charge you to focus on self-improvement, self-expansion, rather than trying to get you pocket fixed backwards, because the more valuable you make yourself, the more value you attract. You are not paid for how hard you worked, you simply paid for what you are worth to the organization. However, the more intellectual, spiritual, and psychological development you have, the more emotional stability you have developed would determine your strength of value to the world. Put in other words, if you become valuable to the world, the world will pay you to be yourself. It is very important for you to become a person of value, and not to seek value in things. I get paid for what I know, not for what I do! And I strongly believe that this is what need to perceive as being valuable.

Do you know what they actually call intellect? That is what they call CAPITAL. You know intellectual capital is really a commodity, therefore, I am using this platform to charge young people across the world to focus on discovering purpose for their lives come what may (why God created you to this earthly plane), and then discover your gifts (abilities), also take adequate steps to refine them, though the processes may be totally no convenient. Develop your gifts, practice them, and then even begin to sow them for free into your community. Develop yourself to the adequate point of building capacity, and in a short-time, you will discover that people will pursue you because of the values you become. You will discover that people will pursue you because of your fruits, and you maximize your fruits or gifts in life just like a tree. Trees never bring their fruits to you, they simply manifest it. I charge you also to MANifest! You are attracted to the tree because of its values. So, when you develop your gifts and refines it, you don’t need to look followers, they will find you, naturally. After all, leadership isn’t about finding followers, it is about followers being attracted to what you have. And, this is, true commodity.

Conclusively, Dr. Myles Monroe further agreed on the above when he stated that, “power for me to be successful was not in the teacher, it was not in the educational system, it wasn’t in my culture, it wasn’t in my society, it was within me, and I began to think, “God, if you are a good God, why are these people better than me? If you make me in your Image, why are they special? And am I a monkey?” And that night, there was no thunder, no earthquake, no lightening, nothing. I just heard in my mind. And the voice said, “I asked you to believe in me, and you will be saved, not them.” And that night, I made a commitment to believe what God said. I was 13 years old at that time, I said “okay, I believe that I have the power to experience far beyond all I can ever ask, think or imagine, and that’s when my pursuit of God began.” Years ago, before his demise, Dr. Myles was asked by a journalist that when did he perceive he was going to be a preacher, this was his response: “I even didn’t want to become a preacher. Matter of fact, I still do not consider myself a preacher. I think it drove me to have a passion to help everybody who has been oppressed. My passion is to make sure that no one should live under what I experienced. I have never desired to be a minister. I desire to help people.” Therefore, the reward system of leadership is as follows: followers are the flowers that decourates the trees of leadership, the fruits are the rewards that naturally manifest to encourage and to appreciate the leader for effective MANagement and (Him-prove-moments) improvement of its ships (platforms/ followers), by the values such being creates.

Dr. Tolulope A. Adegoke is an accredited ISO 20700 Effective Leadership Management Trainer

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