In a century characterized by amazing amounts of unwithheld information and unbridled exposure as the one we find ourselves in today, it may not be untrue if and when we say only a few things evoke more emotions, sprout more opinions, trigger more debates and brighten more faces than the sound of the word LOVE.
Surprisingly, rather regrettably this commendable virtue fast becoming an oft overused word has also bordered on comparison with ‘triggering fear’, ‘creating doubts’, ‘lingering expectations’ and ‘fading hopes’ due to the way it has been handled.
Unfortunately, this latter description fits the present state of love, or call it charity as a virtue in the church and/or the body of Christ at large. However weird it may seem, untrue it may sound, gory, absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous, awkward it may portray, however relative we may want to think it is, however much we may want to feign ignorance, somewhere deep inside our hearts every Tomiwa and Prudence know it is true, and every other Emeka and Mariam are in the know.
Perhaps, where we have failed is not in the awareness of the knowledge, rather the understanding and the appropriation of the phenomenon cum virtue itself, that is what it entails and the various ways it can be expressed.
Unlike faith that is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, rather as Paul puts it in his epistle to the Corinthians, love is kind, love suffers long, love endures all things…
Faith may be abstract, bar grammatical inclinations everything about love is concrete!
If to some these revelations are novel, to many they are far from new as in fact they are extant characteristics of love, or say charity as expounded by the Bible which remains the ultimate authority for any professed follower of Christ.
Can we then say in retrospect and in all sincerity that we are true followers of the Lord Jesus if we have failed in the aspect of love not just to humanity generally, but especially to “those of the household of faith” as admonished in Galatians 6:10?
Is our weak, one-sided or non-existent follow-up as the case may be for our young brethren going to the ivory towers – exposing their fragile frames to fields of filthy flames – not reminiscent of love that has failed to suffer long?
The one-time congratulatory message only on the days of matriculation may also sound like love that has misplaced its enduring might.
Even in the book of 1 John 4:20, the Bible quizzes how a man can say he loves God that he has not seen and yet hates, that is dislikes, that is not show love to his neighbour – a man – he sees daily.
We may say we do not hate our brethren, but how about these young ones shuttling between home and their campus world full of as much good as froth and unwelcoming enticements without anyone caring to ask how they fared all year long? One would rethink if love is not supposed to be kind!
Love is beyond our mere vocal confessions, sensual attractions, mutual sensations and platonic relations we share with each other in times of contact and comfort. Love is more than the hugs and kisses we donate cheerfully to dear ones on sight because even Judas donated a kiss to Jesus just to betray him.
Love is a way of life. It extends to the less-noisy habit of networking and striving to keep relationships working and active. It extends to care and welfarism. It does not leave out frequent phone calls to check up. It may come with it tolls too, but the gains apparently outweigh the pains.
As Richard Templar, the author of the bestseller book, “Rules of Love” posits, “Strong, long relationships are what life is about”. And until we learn to handle tricky and testing times between them well, we might never be able to keep our relationships fresh and rewarding as they ordinarily should have been.
Finally, as a model body of Christ and thought leaders in view, it is imperative we understand the pros and the cons. It is high time we understood the rules if truly we want to remain a beacon of a balanced Christian family that we are known as, and then be a model for the world to simulate and embrace.
… And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13: 2)
Love is life! Live – Love – Lead!
Yours in love,
So on Monday, 27th of February 2017, I had to do again one of the things I love to do – Educating People.
This time in my field. I talked on the challenges and prospects of Agrinformation in Nigeria.
AGRINFORMATION: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS
It is no more news that the economy of Nigeria has plummeted. Economic recession has gradually become a trending term in this clime these days. For all the publicity however, very few people can boldly say what it means other than some hardship and irregular cash flow that are obvious characteristics.
The Nigeria Bureau of Economic Research says economic recession is a temporary period of significant decline in economic activity spread across few months and normally visible in the Gross Domestic Product, Real Income, Employment, Industrial Production, Wholesale and Retail Sales.
As a result of the foregoing, it comes as no surprise that scholars and analysts have touted Agribusiness as a prime solution to the economic problems of Nigeria due to the relative stability Agribusiness offers.
For all the promise tilling the ground holds in redefining the fate of our flailing economy, absence of proper orientation, education and information have proved a tough opponent for the few youths who are intrinsically motivated to practise Agribusiness as Agriculture is now being addressed.
Rural youths are the future of food security but it is becoming increasingly difficult to entice and sustain these youths in the business of Agriculture particularly in the rural community, hence the advocacy for incentivization alongside information.
There is a direct link between nationwide food security and education of rural children according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation. As such, access to knowledge and information is crucial to the prospects of Agriculture.
For us to shape agripolicies, we need appropriate and timely information and education.
Take Keesan village in Olorunda, Abeokuta as a case study, they are predominantly farmers and processors as we have seen. Imagine their young ones have access to at least basic education that urban children are exposed to, imagine the effects on their productivity levels, comportment, packaging and overall production process.
When children are hungry, they will obviously lack energy to go to school, even if they do their assimilation level will suffer.
In many rural areas and some urban settings, agricultural knowledge and farming know-how are passed from parents to children, and of course as it is with oral tradition, it is either too padded or too shabby eventually leading to inefficiency.
What are the directions we should look at to ameliorate these challenges?
- Extension services, Vocational trainings and Internships
Youths should be engaged in vocational trainings and trainings like the AgroWealthminders Programme. Philanthropists should also look into the area of Agriculture when thinking of social impact and Community Development Services.
Extension services should be a two-way process. Input and Output.
On the input, EAs should attend capacity building seminars to advance their knowledge and subsequently volunteer to help other farmers attain higher levels of knowledge – this the output.
- Rebranding the field of Agriculture such that the discipline does not suffer the ignominy of discrimination from other favoured courses.
Specialised schools of Agriculture should be funded and monitored so that researches and extension services are carried out exactly the way they should be.
- ICTs: Young farmers should leverage on the power of Modern ICT tools like social networks, applications, websites, online Ads and Search engines. Information now spread in no time and failure to move with the tide may leave one stale.
Farm Management tools like Agrivi should be maximised. Trends on major agribusiness websites should be followed and provision of quality content on Agriculture may also be considered. This may lead to networking and a fast approach to attaining Authority status.
Although mobile devices are plentiful these days, the internet is not! PCs are still very much expensive and electricity is at a premium in some places. These are major challenges of ICT in rural these days.
- Open schools for youths and women
- On the job training
- Resource centres on Agriculture
To cap it all, I submit that quota system be introduced for gender issues in training programmes and research institutes. And just like what Mr Ayopo Somefun is doing with AgroWealthminders, incentives like feeding, accommodation and stipends should be provided at training camps for as many people with interest in Agriculture but devoid of experience.
Providing scholarships for deserving tertiary institution students and strengthening the capacities of institutions can only end up favouring all stakeholders.
I take a bow.
P.S.: If you are wondering what my field is really. I’ll tell you. I am a qualified Agricultural Economist, Farm Manager, Rural Sociologist, Schooled Extension Agent and Agricommunicator.
Now that you know, when next you need consultancy services in Agriculture or you know someone who needs, you can as well reach out to me.
So, yesterday I officially attained the second standard age of responsibility as it is with many other countries other than Nigeria and I celebrated that responsibility with RESPONSIBILITY.
Before now, I used to think that the tears on the face of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and some others on their return to Stamford Bridge as footballers for other sides were just an attempt to play to the gallery since the phrase “emotional homecoming” has almost turned a cliché in the footballing circles these days.
But when tears dropped freely in my eyes in the afternoon of Tuesday, February 14 2017 as I joined the current crop of Briggs Gate Comprehensive College students in Ilupeju, Lagos to sing the school anthem, I knew indeed what the term ‘emotional homecoming’ was playing out and for real too.
I reached out for the back of my palms to mop the tears right there on the stage. I had spent about 14 years of my life in that school. More than half my age obviously and you should see why.
The maiden edition of the Azeez Okeyale Collegiate Essay Competition and Imperial Contemporary College Talk was a success at least at that level.
Much thanks to the co-convener – Sam Bada, our theme speaker – Chinenye Nzom, stand-in agrifacilitator – Emmanuel Israel, Logistics chief – Dayo Bada, Compere – Mc Ashafa, Ushers – MojolaOluwa Adeniyi, Oluwatosin Fayomi, Essay assessors – Patience Jehoiakim, Seyifunmi Adebote, Sponsors – Joshua Bolarinwa, Kehinde Jeremiah Bada, Daniel Akakabota, Paul Oyelaran, Babatunde Kareem, Victor Briggs, the management of the school – both line and staff and our dearly beloved participants.
We believe we can do this in some better fashion at some other time. Thanks again for your sacrifices!
Below is the welcome charge as delivered by Azeez Okeyale, a co-convener of the event.
Warm regards to everyone here and I must say I am very happy to be among you here once again. It’s like a homecoming for me. I really want to appreciate every faction that have worked together to make this day a reality and it is my prayer that the Almighty meets our earnest desires.
Mr Sam Bada is unavoidably absent and he sends his apologies. Circumstances beyond his control has so far hindered his presence. It may be however, that he joins us in the course of the programme. Thanks for coming around Miss Chinenye.
I know that I will be speaking the mind of Chinenye, Sam Bada and as many of our guests if I say that although we are not where we want to be, we are not where we used to be.
You see Miss Chinenye with a professional degree from the London Business School. You have heard about Mr Sam Bada with a diploma from Ireland, Joshua Bolarinwa as a fellow of the Association of Agricultural Economists in Africa and you are also aware I have an international standard leadership certificate from the West Africa Regional Leadership Centre, Accra in Ghana sponsored by the United States of America.
These are not magical. You can go even further if you determine to RISE and ACT on your dreams, your ideas.
If I decide to sample this audience and ask you all about your individual dreams when you slept last night. We will obviously have reactions. Why does he want to do that? What does he need that for?
Well, I’m obviously not going to that for time reasons but I am quite sure if I did, we will arrive at the following categories of people. I want you to listen carefully and evaluate yourself, know what category you fall in and what best you can do to improve.
- No dreamers: These people sleep and don’t dream. Don’t we have those kind of people here today who slept yester night and did not dream one bit? Away from sleep and to reality, these category covers those people who are lazy with life or are going through some emotional troubles. They consistently suffer from brain freeze, creativity block or are reminiscent of the lazy servant who refused to invest his master’s coin in Jesus’s parable. Are you not like that?
- Dream discarders: These people simply trash their dreams. They forget about it because they cannot remember the dots and pieces. Many of the people in this hall are like that. In reality, this people have ideas that come as a flash in the pan but because they are not attentive to their inner man enough and are not considerably meticulous on the outside, they let the million-dollar idea slip and they are back to square one
- Negative dreamers: These ones have nightmares and are you usually scared by it. They were probably having good times in the dream and something tragic happens to spoil all the fun. It’s most terrible of all. In reality, this exists too. They are the people who have the most achievable ideas but the fear of threat, cost implications, peer influence and parental questions are all over their mind and these lead them to think embarking on that idea can only give a bleak future. So, they are afraid to even take one step towards the realization of the good times they first saw in the dream. But this type of dream has two implications:
- It either pushes the dreamer to defy the odds and be rewarded with a breakthrough or
- It leads the dreamer to become afraid, demotivated and in the state of nothingness
- Lofty positive dreamers: These ones have the fantasy dreams of glorious future. Everything seems to be falling in place for them and life is almost a bed of roses. In reality, there is no utopia but then, this can happen. An idea may seem virgin, noble, achievable with requisite human and material resources readily available. As with the negative dreamers, there are two implications.
- Dreamers becomes complacent, carefree as if everything were achieved already and failure strikes unrepentantly.
- Dreamer becomes alive to the idea, motivated, eager and follows through to the end of the project
A quick solution to these likely samples.
If you belong to category one. Understand first this is the right time to start dreaming – your youthful age. Tomorrow may just be too late as you may have been phased out with developments (social and technological) duplicating geometrically by the day. Your time is your life, your life is your time. Don’t spend it, invest it – in reading profitable books, surfing the internet, hanging out with people that matter and soon you will find out that your barrenness with ideas will vanish and your horizons will expand. Good luck with that!
For the second category, work on your retentiveness! I suggest you read “MIND YOUR RECEPTACLE” by Azeez Okeyale. It is freely available on the internet simply by Google searching that topic with the names inclusive. Keep records, the faintest pen they say is sharper than the sharpest memory. Writing your dreams, ideas, goals down in a safe place will do you much good than harm. It will keep you in constant competition with yourself, it will check you and career your ways.
Category three should talk more to relevant people about their problems, perhaps a counsellor, a mentor. A problem shared is half solved. Who says your ideas can not work? The best of innovations today were the weirdest of ideas yesterday. See biogas fuel innovation for instance.
Harness the power of partnership, team work to ease creativity stress, to bear capital burden (losses and profits) and soon you will see that the dream is working. Keep trying even if you fail at it but employ discretion as to when to stop.
For the final category, seek mentorship as well, procure funding, WORK and attain relevance. The only secret to attainment is WORK like Antonio Conte (Chelsea coach as at the time of writing) will say.
Practically, everybody dreams at one point or the other. You, you and you but the difference in another ten years between Yusuf and Amos, Mojola and God’s grace will be in how they have stood up to fight for the achievement of their dreams. It is your decision to take.
Picture this, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode relays to you in your dream that when you wake, just walk down the road, you will find him waiting for you to hand you a parcel. Good news right?
A dream with a chance to turn real but with certain conditions.
Tell me, is there any chance of you knowing if there is any parcel if you never rise up from bed? The obvious answer in NO! The only way to effectively discard the dream is to still Rise and Check! That checking is the ACTION you need for every of your other ideas.
Today, I admonish you to RISE and act on that dream, idea of yours and by RISE I mean:
R – Realise: Where you are at the moment. Where you want to be in the nearest future. What you will do to get there. What are your strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities? Ask germane questions that will bubble your mind.
I – Initiate: Do something. Volunteer, apply for scholarships, learn a skill and market yourself.
S – Sever: Separate from bad influence. Remove bad habits – sleeping extremely late, gambling etc.
E – Endure: Even the Bible says all that will live godly shall suffer persecution, a Yoruba adage complements that by adding that ikoko to ba ma je ata, idi e gbona join join. The summary of both is that there is a price to pay for the prize, so you have to be ready for the challenges.
As I fall the curtain, I will like to correct one notion. I understand our spirituality and respect for religious leaders of our many faiths and of course I revere them too, but don’t be unreasonable. For all the talk by the pastor on the power of confession and the khutba of the Imam on the effectiveness of Khunfayakun especially in the absence of Alfansa AlMunkar, there is something they have forgot to tell us and that is there is a gap between saying something and achieving something.
This gap can ONLY be filled by doing, by acting!
So, my beloved brothers and sisters having sermonized all day, I will charge you to dream but after dreaming all you can, please RISE because it’s in your hands!
Happy Birthday to me.
2017 will spell good for you.
There is no gainsaying if I conclude that not everyone believes that the new year will spell well for them. If anything, they presume doom. They are probably asking – what’s the worth really … of the wish, of the new month, of the new year, of life?
Here is the good news, however.
Every second lived is worth the breath because the existence of the next breath gives a renewed chance to have a go at where you failed initially.
Take Roberts for instance.
Just a few years ago, Roberts had the requisite academic qualifications to comfortably head a plastic production company but he inevitably found himself at the lower rungs of the establishment, wining and dining with the gate-tenders owing to the terrible state of unemployment in the land.
Coupled with the ignominy of underutilization and lack of deserved recognition he daily faced, he was equally the beloved courier of the gaffer.
On one his many Tuesday deliveries at the gaffer’s office, he mistakenly dropped his wallet. A quick scan through the array of International Membership Cards left the “soon-to-retire” boss mouth agape.
He immediately arranged for a meeting with Roberts for Thursday just before he relinquished his leadership position at the weekend.
With the message duly delivered. Roberts allowed his frustration get to him with the thoughts that the demanding boss had lined up another exhausting task for him. Roberts feigned illness and never showed up on the due date only to discover upon resumption that the outgone boss had considered recommending him for a management role upon proper conversations with him.
His unavailability denied him any chance there was.
Roberts probably thought: “What’s the worth?” but he discovered he stopped one foot from gold, a little too late.
Be Smart. Don’t be like Roberts.
So, today I admonish you to weigh carefully your acts and decisions for in them lie the glory days you always dreamt of.
Living is worth it. The risk is worth it. Work is worth it and so is the sweet rest after labour.
Revel in the new month! Smash and grab this week… and 2017 too.
Indeed, these are trying times and may equally be the most enticing times to undertake “new ventures” in order to “hit it big” leveraging on the record sky-high Naira to Dollar exchange rate, compulsory time to balance the books, mandatory period of remaining the “bigger boy” or maintaining the “happening bae” status.
Likewise, it is the perfect time to recall I Timothy 6:9 that reads: But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
By being rich, here the Bible aptly refers to greed or love of money, which is totally different from riches or wealth in itself.
This is no “sink in poverty”, “don’t bother trying”, “pauperized holiness” message. It is a clarion call to watch our ‘engagements’, ‘ventures’ as we strive to find a ‘lifting-up’ where some others have faced a ‘casting-down’.
If you ask me, I’ll prefer to reach heaven the Abraham-esque way and not a la Lazarus. However, it is worth noting that Abraham accrued his wealth in legal ways possible. If he lived in this time of recession, I am quite sure he would do without cyber fraud – phishing, abduction, assaults, drugs, prevarication, bunkery, bribery or betting.
Lo, they that will unscrupulously long for wealth without ideals for morality, legality or eternity will fall into a snare that drowns men into perdition.
We probably haven’t shown enough love but you haven’t been miserly with yours constantly bringing 170 million Nigerians joy and laughter and making us proud to once again call ourselves NIGERIANS.
To thee we crawl
o! tender tide of Elegushi
and wash perhaps
this once our muse make tune
Your sons – the dons
Zone A- ZONEBIE
no to parity
They tread on us with lips
like we share no good to beasts
We turn fun skits in streets
Tears we drip
when cripple… they blab
Hit at us like flakes in sacks
‘blind and dumb’
they spot and point
not a mite of their thought
still the flag in pains we bear
and golds unsoiled for all we win
O! Mama Elegushi
rest not this time
Wash us till snow we turn!
Heal them of stigma
of neglect, of assault
and us too
of weening and whining
Bath us! o! bath us
till no man disbelief our strength
and all men see clearly
ability in disability!
Dedicated to the Team NIGERIA delegates at the Rio 2016 Paralympics doing themselves, their families and the nation proud!
Voicing the words of thousand voiceless Nigerian People Living with Disabilities.
We probably haven’t shown enough love but you haven’t been miserly with yours constantly bringing 170 million Nigerians joy and laughter and making us proud to once again call ourselves NIGERIANS.
The Nigerian education system is at the nadir for the umpteenth time. Now and again, changes in baton at various offices and parastatal have flattered to deceive even the frankest and pessimists of Nigerians.
Are we back to the zero point? Whatever or whoever is the root cause is not the bone of contention, rather what we hope to drive home is the fact that the system, the academia is in a dire state of health, gasping for breath with all the strength it can muster and if urgent steps are not taken to meander, and avert the foreseen cardiac arrest, Nigeria might be forced to witness a reaction of sort along with the death of the ailing system as the depth of patience of students may have been exhausted after these series of tests.
Just few weeks ago, it was the University of Ibadan resuming after a seven-week long student-management face-off.
Days after, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka kicked into gear internal industrial action at the expense of the students.
In the middle of the above was the outcry of students from Niger-Delta University, Bayelsa pleading for their school to reopen after months on the sidelines with negotiations failing to reach break-even.
Also a certain Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta that her administration has decided to put the hands of ‘postponement’ into paper, deferring anything that can be deferred. Only God knows how long and how much the FUNAAB contract with ‘postponement’ is worth.
And while we are yet sulking, the news that the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) strike action as of yet has not been called off filtered in.
When six years of the life of a student is expended for a four-year programme, it leads one to ask how long we will continue like this?
In light of this, Azeez Okeyale of Naija CampusVibes, FUNAAB in solidarity with the Association of Campus Journalists, OAU joins hands with the entire student body on your renewed call for the reopening of your esteemed Ivory Tower.
We enjoin every influential stakeholder to take a look into this and help in the realization of our plea to #ReOpenOAU
Pending this realization, I urge every well-meaning and concerned student to join the online campaign aimed at reopening the gates of OAU with the hashtag #ReOpenOAU on Twitter and Facebook.
Remember, an injury to one is an injury to all.
Naija CampusVibes, FUNAAB.