Journalism in the service of society

You can still grow in Nigeria

‘Productivity accelerates your success. You are a result of your Creator’s productivity. You were created for success. Nothing can stop your upward movement when you are a goal getter. There is always space at the top for those who are productive. Seize the opportunity to grow when you discover it’

ADMITTEDLY, the economic situation of Nigeria is depressing. However, in the last two years some information technology startups have grown to become unicorns. So, you too can still grow. Let me share my story with you.

“Are you sure that you are a goal getter?” My interviewer abruptly ended the interview session. He sprang up from the black leather, high back swivel chair in his modestly furnished office.
“Come with me” he motioned to me as he walked out of the office.

“Yahaya, this young man claims that he is a goal-getter. Please chat with him and see how he fits into our vision.” My interviewer ushered me into another modest office. Before Mr. Yahaya Shuaibu could respond my interviewer walked away.

“What do you mean by claiming that you are a goal getter?” Mr. Yahaya Shuaibu threw the first question at me.

“I am self-motivated to achieve any goal I set for myself.” I replied confidently.

Mr. Shuaibu fixed his eyes on me for a period that seemed like a whole day. It was obvious to me that he was meditating on my response. I confidently sat before him fired up to answer the next question. After all, my experience as a baby journalist had helped  me interview several people in the last one year.

“How long will it take for you to prove yourself Mr. Goal-Getter?” he quipped with a smile on his lips.

“As soon as I am given the opportunity sir” I replied with the confidence of a surgeon.

“What if you don’t perform when given the opportunity?” he asked.

“Sir, I am cocksure that I cannot fail to perform. Just give me a chance to prove my worth,” I assured him.

He directed me to wait at the reception of the first wing of the white painted twin duplex that served as the office of the new bank that began operations some days earlier. About an hour later, I was back in the office of my first interviewer.

“Congratulations. You will resume with us immediately. I hope you can get great goals for us. We have just started one of the best commercial banks in Nigeria.” My interviewer gave me a very firm handshake as he handed my letter of employment to me.

“Thank you sir,” I was elated.

I will call you Wale. You can call me Jim. Together we will build the best bank in Nigeria.” Mr. Jim Ovia, the founding Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc. offered me a Marketing job.

“Thank you sir” I smiled.

“Go back to Yahaya and get cracking,” he said firmly.

I was assigned to a desk by Mr. Bayo Ajiboye. Before I could settle down to ask why a bank could operate without a signage or an imposing building the gentleman gave me a document on credit administration. I started perusing the document. About two hours later, I overheard Messrs Ovia and Shuaibu discussing the challenge of installing an electricity metre in the new building. Apparently payment had been made for the metre and electricity pole some days earlier but there had been no performance from the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). This did not augur well for a new bank. I immediately believed this was a challenge I could take up. Somehow, I believed I could make a difference on this matter. Within me, I decided that I was going to leverage my mother’s more than 20 years experience as a staff of NEPA from its early days as Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN).

“Sir, I believe I can assist our bank to secure the electricity metre and pole” I rushed into Mr. Shuaibu’s office.

“Are you sure?” Mr. Shuaibu could not hide his surprise.

I assured him I would perform. He immediately took me straight into the modest office of Mr. Ovia, the Managing Director. I repeated my determination to solve the electricity challenge to Mr. Ovia. The Managing Director was swift in his response to my offer and wasted no time in handing over relevant documents to me. He also assigned his official driver to take me out with his Peugeot 505 for the assignment. By now it was about 11:00am.

I quickly left for my mother’s office at NEPA Headquarters in Marina. I told her the good news about my new job and the challenge of the new bank. Although she was a telephone operator, she quickly reached out to all her bosses for assistance. About two hours later I received a referral note to NEPA Central Store in Oshodi for the allocation of the electricity pole and meter. Help was waiting for me at Oshodi because my wonderful cousin, Olumide Adeyileka was a staff member there. He mustered all the support he could garner for my assignment to be accomplished. After what took like eternity, two men were eventually assigned to accompany a truck carrying a meter and electricity pole to be installed at 84 Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island.

We returned to the office at past 7:00pm with the officials of NEPA who installed the meter and electricity pole that evening. My two new bosses were elated. In fact the less than 12 members of staff of the new bank were all delighted about my modest achievement. Mr. Ovia called me to his office and gave me a very firm handshake accompanied by the word “Excellent!” He also gave me some cash as my taxi fare. As I turned towards the door to make my exit he called me back.

“Wale, I think you are good enough to be our pioneer Head of Administration in Zenith International Bank Limited,” Mr. Ovia announced.

“Er…Thank you sir,” I stuttered. I did not quite know how to respond. I was still grateful for the letter of employment I received earlier in the day.

It is impossible for me to forget July 5, 1990. It was the day I got a letter of employment to be a trainee in the Credit and Marketing Department. It was also the day I literally got promoted to the position of Head of Administration. I went on to become the first staff member of the bank to be officially promoted with effect from October 1, 1990. I was not just promoted to the next level. I got a double promotion in less than three months of resumption.

Productivity accelerates your success. You are a result of your Creator’s productivity. You were created for success. Nothing can stop your upward movement when you are a goal getter. There is always space at the top for those who are productive. Seize the opportunity to grow when you discover it.

Do not limit your success by becoming less productive. Your continuous growth is guaranteed if you refuse to limit yourself by thinking and acting within the space that you have been placed by your employers or situation. As a young professional in Zenith Bank, I gave expression to my capacity to do more than I had been employed to do and I was instantly rewarded with a higher responsibility.

According to Mr. Ovia, as at that period, I was the youngest Head of Administration in the banking industry. I was just 23 years old. It is on record that I performed creditably in that position. Even three years after my request to be transferred to core banking departments was granted I was still saddled with the responsibility of performing some tasks related to Administration in the bank. Productivity makes you break barriers if you avoid self-limiting thoughts.

Dr. Adeduro is a Productivity Consultant

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