By Ishola Balogun
Bode Adediji is the President, Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers and CEO, Bode Adediji Partnership, one of the front-line property consultants in Nigeria. Besides his professional callings, he has dedicated himself to mentoring and delivering lectures to inspire the younger ones to greatness. He was trained at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, and University of Reading, United Kingdom.

Bode Adediji...My success today was not basically as a result of academic brilliance, but a grace of God

I started out like an ordinary village boy. I was born and bred in the village. My school, University of Ife was in a village setting then. It was the youth service that took me out of my village first.

I see life as strategic. This is because I was born into a hardworking and very disciplined family. Right from my youth days, I had imbibed the culture of hard work. I was also lucky to attend a secondary school where they believed in working round the clock such that the school opened at 6:am and closed whenever it pleases the principal. I had to read and read, not having time for any other thing. You can imagine that I spent three and half years in secondary school as a result of double promotion. And I came out with grade one. Again, everybody knew University of Ife for its efforts in driving knowledge, where you had the likes of Pro. Oluwasanmi, Prof Aluko who died recently, Prof Igun, the frontline Development Economist, Prof Ojetunde Aboyade amongst others. In fact, it was like a educational war zone. In the university then, I was also in the forefront. By the time I left the university in 1979, I was the best graduating student. Today, there is nothing to regret.

I was admitted to read accountancy but after one year, I changed to Estate Management merely because I didn’t want to read any popular course. As at that time, the estate Management department was the broadest in terms of course content of all universities in Nigeria. You can see that that the products of that department are actually the pillar of all the leading estate firms in country today. Fatimilehin & Co, Jide Taiwo & Co among others are ex-Ife. It was because of their practical exposure to quality knowledge, practical training and discipline. So, growing up in Ada village in Osun was fun.

My success today was not basically as a result of academic brilliance, but the grace of God. There are so many unseen forces in life. As a result, for every thing I have done, I have always seen the hand of God.  The choice of my school, the choice of my career, the choice of my wife, the choice of my place of work and the friends I keep. So, I will not ascribe brilliance to my success. I have come across several people who are phenomenally brilliant in academics. That is just a means to an end and not an end in itself. You still need the direction and wisdom of God. Without these, academic brilliance may turn to a liability.

I met my wife for the first time while I was returning from the first break during my youth service. I was returning from Port Harcourt to my village and I was in the same taxi with her. She was at the front seat and because of her skinny stature, the driver decided to carry another passenger with her against the rule of one person at the front seat. As a result, argument ensued and as a bubbling youth corper, I put my feet down in support of that young lady since she was paying the same fare.

Don’t forget that was the era that student unionism was effective especially in asserting their rights whether in the campus or outside. And with the spirit of esprit de corps, anything that affected a student, affected all. So, the head of the park intervened and we had our way. That was how the communication between us started. Incidentally she was going to visit a place near my village where she did not know. We exchanged addresses and one thing led to another. Five years later, we got married.

I choose my friends on the basis of the values and passion we share. One of them is one of the best Professors in one of the South African universities; others are successful bankers, Fola Adeola, Jim Ovia.

Right from my youth, I have cultivated the act of service and as soon as I returned from my post graduate studies in the UK, I started to actualise my vision in my official capacity. Before becoming the President,Nigerian Institute of Es
tate Surveyors and Valuers, I started as the Public Relations Officer, Lagos state branch, then I moved to the National body as the PRO and later served as Treasurer, and as Secretary and later as first Vice President.

Now as the president, the motivation is the need for a radical change in the ways in which the public perceived the practice of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. Largely speaking, members of the public used to see Estate Surveyors and Valuers as mere estate agents; those who engage in only the buying and selling of lands and renting houses. I kept asking myself, if that was all about the profession, why I would spend five years in the university to go and learn the art of buying and selling of landed property.

It is ridiculous. The truth is that the profession is one of the most cerebral and broadest profession anybody can come across by virtue of their training and what they do especially in advance countries. Some of the areas they engage in are client advisory services, construction, engineering, project management evaluation.

Anyone who studied Estate Management must have knowledge in building, engineering, construction designs, and all other areas that are germane in building like electrical, mechanical designs. So when you look at the whole gamut of these knowledge and exposure, certainly, an estate Surveyor and Valuer must not be seen as a mere estate agent.

So, we have been working to change that perception and I think we have achieved that to a large extent. We have been able to tell the corporate industries, government and other bodies that as you have them in other countries, so it is here or even better in some areas. In 2005, I led a team to conduct the evaluation of the entire federal government assets in this country before their capitalisation. We have also taken a look at all the assets belonging to Lagos state government and advised them as to their values and their management. These are what we don’t usually convey on the pages of newspapers.

My style of leadership is by example. I used to say that Nigeria is the easiest country to govern in the world. When the people believe in you, when they cry to you and you cry with them, when there are challenges, you are in the forefront trying to resolve those challenges and you did not disappoint them, then you will be their best leader. In fact, they will sacrifice everything to make sure that you succeed. But when leaders double-talk, Nigerians don’t respect them.

That is why we will continue to refer to the likes of Awolowos, Azikiwes, Balewas whose vision are yet unmatched. Look at Ahmadu Bellow who galvanised the entire intellectual principle and resources of his own region to advance the cause of his own people without asking for anything in return. So, my own concept of leadership is based on service, sacrifice and empathy to humanity. You must feel whatever your people feel. You cannot live an affluent life when majority of people are in abject poverty.

Again, in specific reference to my association and as President, we all agreed that we should move the profession from the pedestrian platform to a level of substance, relevance,performance and collectively, we have achieved that to a large extent. Today, when surveyors speak, they speak from the context of adding value and not in terms of primordial instinct.

At home, you must see yourself as co-pilot, but if you see yourself as the lord of the house simply because you’re the breadwinner, then there will be problem. Again, men should have time to pursue the physical and mental development of their children and ensure proper educational career of the children. If you don’t do that, no matter what you do in life, it will come to naught. The men should cultivate the wisdom of listening.

I am not fashion crazy neither am I party freak. I maintain simple dressing which usually fits the occasion I attend. For example, simple suit and tie to the office and kaftans to social gathering. I have always dressed decently and not flamboyantly. In Nigeria where most people live below $1 per day, we do should rather be modest in whatever we do.


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