…Continued from last Sunday
Then late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was in detention and he made a copy of the first agreement available to us at the student level. We went through it and we were not very happy. It was signed by Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikiwe and the document gave the full right to the British to use our airspace to test their air force planes. We felt this has negated the whole idea of our independence significantly and we mobilized the student movement and the country knew that we were serious and the Anglo-Nigeria Defence Pact was cancelled. Same thing with the census figures.
I donâ€™t know how Chief Awolowo managed to get those figures from the villages and some of these figures were being manipulated from the North. These materials were sent to the students’ secretariat in Ibadan and we immediately approached the government and sounded it loud and clear that we were not going to accept the figures. They initially pretended as if they obeyed, but nobody could come up, officially, to accept the figures. I got to know a lot of things about this country.
Though very young then, what I knew in that year was very wonderful. But thank God that people like S.O. Wey, who was then Secretary to the Federal Government took us very seriously because as at that time, we did not want to be either pro-west or pro-east.
Our president, Rasaki Solaja was a very matured man and he was a leader. Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi was our vice president and we all maintained neutrality in terms of ideology. The only philosophy that mattered to us then, was for us to be pro-Nigeria and, at best, pro-African countries that were still under colonial rule. The Algerian war of independence, the apartheid in South Africa, we never allowed them to have rest.
Unfortunately, some countries in East Africa, although they had their independence, they were still under the serious control of British—countries like Kenya, their student leadership was completely under the influence CIA and it was a great pity that Congo is still going through all these problems today. Countries that we fought for like, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and others.
Later, I was asked to go to a place called Kent where we used to spend our long holidays. About 20 students are taken to Kent in Britain and there, we are to help the British farmers to harvest fruits, for us to have an idea of agriculture. Later, I received a letter to go and represent Nigeria in Madison at the US National Students Association national conference. It was a great experience there, the president and the vice president, international affairs, were both Rhodes scholars and both of them were in Cairo University.
When the first coup being planned, I was not in the country but we heard a lot and the students were not pleased with some of our leaders as at that time. We were prepared to support anybody then but the only man that we saw as a patriot was Michael Opara and we concluded he should take over. And we invited him to University of Ibadan only for late S.L.A Akintola to send message across the air that Opara was not welcomed in Ibadan or anywhere in West. We replied him that Opara had a right to land at the Ibadan airport which is owned by the Federal Government and the students were prepared to carry him shoulder high from the airport to UI, another Federal Government institution without his foot touching the soil of Western Region. And true to our promise when his plane landed in Ibadan, we carried him on our shoulders and his foot did not touch Ibadan soil. That day Akintola has to relocate to his village, Ogbomosho.
I have to stay back in Washington but this time I changed to Economic and Mathematic. I had to
abandon my state scholar-ship. And in my final year I was given two admissions, one to Rutgers Graduate School of Management, New Jersey for my MBA and the other to Harvard Business School, but I opted for the Rutgers. I was the first black to ever attend Rutgers School of Management. Later within a month, a political refugee in the then apartheid South Africa was brought into the school. Between two or three months in the school, I was given a fellowship and also made the first graduate assistant to my professor whom was aÂ Japanese.
In the year Martin Luther King was assassinated, Newark, a small town with over 70 per cent black population, was devastated. They destroyed everything on sight, all small businesses, medium sized businesses, shops and any-thing they could lay their hands on. And most of the businesses were owned by the Jews and Italians.
After the destruction of major cities in America, Rutgers School of Mana-gement was saddled with the responsibility of rebuilding the town and revival of all the businesses that were burnt down. They commissioned one Jewish professor, myself and the South African fellow for the task. They knew that only the two of us Africans who will be able to face the large black community. And that experience thought me some lessons.
And when I came to Nigeria and became the executive director of the then Lagos Stock Exchange and indigenization exercise came, it was a familiar territory. I saw a number of capital issues involving Indians, Jews and others. They run businesses in this country and they donâ€™t pay tax, instead they asked us to give them good value for their companies. In essence what I learnt from Rutgers Graduate School of Business helped me to bring up entrepreneurs among the minorities. It was in 1976 that I resumed work at then Lagos Stock Exchange. But honestly it was work. It was no child’s play. For the Federal Government to decide as at that time that they wanted to go ahead with indigenization despite the huge political problem at hand…They wanted British to give independence to South Rhodesia and the British refused.
The Fedral Govern-ment responded by nationalis-ing the Barclays Bank which became Union Bank, Standard Bank which became First Bank, British Petroleum which became African Petroleum. I was working six
days in a week and almost 24 hours in a day. It was not a joke. Later Chief Joseph Sanusi who later became governor of the Central Bank and I got to know ourselves and we were able to do a lot of things selflessly for this country. Some of these foreign company owners wanted to bribe us, they offered up to 10 and 20 million, but because we knew what the value and potentials of those things were, we refused to allow that. And till tomorrow we are still together because of the integrity that we both saw in each other.
My promotion from executive director of the then Lagos Stock Exchange to the Director General and Chief Executive Officer
The stock exchange was converted to The Nigeria Stock Exchange and my title was changed from executive director of the then Lagos to the director general and chief executive officer. Thank God I served there for almost 23 years and I retired in 1999. And after my retirement in 1999, I was made the director of Central Bank and I served on the board for two terms. I thank God for all the challenges. But along side was one interesting thing in my life which is serving as a teacher in the St. Joseph Chosen Church of God. Ten years before the founder, Joseph Ikechukwu died, he made me his deputy chairman of the church and anointed me as an apostle. Ikechukwu passed away in 1998 and I retired in 1999. The church leaders said I should take over.
How has the journey been?
What really turned me around into St. Joseph was my experience at Loyola College. I was a mass server assisting the reverend fathers at the altar, but I donâ€™t have access to the Bible and I donâ€™t know anything about the Holy Spirit. Any time I am on vacation and went to church, I found that in the church the gift of Holy Spirit manifest as it has been articulated in I Corinthians 12:13. In 1962 I was anointed as an elder in the church. Three years after I returned from the US, I was appointed into the governing council of the church. Frankly speaking, I didnâ€™t like uniforms and that was why when I was in form six in Loyola College, I forfeited my admission into the Nigeria Air Force School, despite the fact that I passed their writing and oral interviews.
When I was chosen to be ordained as an apostle, I was debating in my mind on how I was going to cope with the uniform issue. But I started getting revelat-ions and dreams that were very profound that this is what I was called for. There was a song that God generally used for me when He wanted to speak to me and the song asked me to Take the power, the power is from above. I didnâ€™t understand, but three weeks before the ordination, this song kept on coming and I told my wife and she told me that I have to accept.