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I have written before that I am an unbelievably lucky guy and that I thank the Almighty for the incredible protection He has given me in many trying circumstances and under conditions that would have broken many men.
Believe me, I have repeatedly seen the treachery and betrayal of men and how they rationalize their duplicity and all the nonsense they do. When a guy you thought was your guy begins to manufacture a dispute between the two of you when there is really nothing to quarrel about, your antenna should go up. Nine times out of ten, your guy is fabricating a justification for treachery which he is hatching. Take it from me, it will soon manifest. Then the guy you used to eat and drink with will tell everybody how horrible you really are and why he must perch somewhere else. It is all cock and bull! He was never your friend. He has not been able to use you as he wishes. He is looking for a new chopping center.
The average human being is selfish and is out for where he thinks his bread is buttered, and a good number of such people live in our part of the world. Do not be surprised to find out that the person who has behaved like he would go to the grave with you is in fact praying that you should die quick so that he can grab everything that belongs to you. All the while, your guy has only been using you as his ladder. If he gets to wherever he has been climbing to or finds a better ladder, he will create a scene and dump you like rotten ewedu soup.
I have learnt to be weary of praise singers. If a guy begins to tell me that I am the best thing he has seen since man discovered sliced bread, my antenna goes up! I know that I am a mortal being and no mortal being is perfect. The guy is setting me up for the kill. Have you ever got any telephone call from a guy you do not know from Adam who begins by sweet talking you and telling you how the two of you met at an event you never went to? From there, he will tell you about the huge demand for a special stone in some place that only he knows and which you can obtain and be stinking rich or an NNPC contract that he wants to execute with you as his partner.
I have seen betrayal upon betrayal and evil men in every colour. I seriously have to restrain myself from believing that there is no good man in the world anymore and there is no reason to do good to anyone. Fortunately, there are still good men left and there is good reason to do good to people. If I cannot do good to people, then what am I alive for?
There is hunger in the land – biting hunger! Almost everyone is desperate for where to connect his pipe and get some succor. There are people who think that if they connect their pipe to me, their days of hunger will be over. Wrong investment. The truth is that I am hungry too. The difference is that some of us wear our hunger well, with a smile. I rarely eat three times a day. If I find a slice of bread, I will eat it with joy without any butter and drink some water. I pray to God Almighty for better days and I don’t attack anyone for my situation.
In my work, I hear all kinds of things from people who have made themselves believe that I owe them a livelihood. They think that I have a duty to take what belongs to others and hand it over to them. So, they stay awake at night making evil plans. In the day, they snipe at me and attack from every corner. I understand their frustration. May God forgive them.
At COSON, some complain that I am ‘Executive Chairman’ and do too much. Let me repeat that when everyone else leaves the boardroom, I stay back to intensely review with management the decisions made by the board and determine how to give them feet to walk and wings to fly. I am a doer, not a talker. I simply do not believe in talk without action. That is why despite all the AK 47s fired at COSON, the future of COSON remains bright.
I do not consider my position as Chairman to be to sit and beautify a chair or to wear ‘agbada’ at big occasions and make meaningless speeches. I am the team leader. My job is to make sure that work is going on and we are executing to the benefit of our members and affiliates. I am the general in front of the army and not behind. I do not ask others to work while I drink pepper soup. I dirty my hands and get the work done.
Take it from me: most people do not say what they mean. You have to read their lips. I have had to learn to understand what people truly mean and not what they say. They will in one breath tell you that Okoroji is “Executive Chairman” and is doing everything himself. Next minute, the same people will tell you that Okoroji did not do anything, “we are the ones who did all the work”! It does not matter. Let the work be done!
I have always asked the Almighty to give me an opportunity to give. I have written in this column before that if I had become a janitor or a security man, I would have dedicated myself as much as I have dedicated my life to being Chairman of COSON.
A year and nine months ago, at Lagos Sheraton Hotel, I stepped down as a Director and Chairman of the COSON Board. My term was up and as a rule, I have never stayed in any position one day longer than the rules allow. Despite a full auditorium of COSON members from practically every state in Nigeria at Lagos Sheraton, no one stepped up to take the position. They know that the work is rough and tough. In conformity with our rules, I was re-elected.
In this land full of treachery?
That day it struck me that while there is a lot of evil in the world, there are still good men left and that there is good enough reason to do good to as many people as possible. May the Almighty be praised. That is why I will do anything to protect the legacy that is COSON.
See you next week.