By Muyiwa Adetiba
My week started with an S.O.S text message from a mother of four who had been abandoned by her husband, and to her, the whole world. Her travails started about four years ago when she lost her job and her husband’s business gradually collapsed.

So from two cars and a home to nothing she went. Her husband left home under the guise of looking for better opportunities. He has not returned. Over the years, sympathetic relatives had thinned out when faced with their own woes.

Her text claimed there was no grain of food in the house, and her children, two of whom were home due to the University strike, were starving. I had helped out over the years, and like others, my resources—and patience were thinning out.

So I told her the bitter truth which was that she could not beg for ever and that she had to see herself as a single mother and come to grips with her life. Her reply was that she could not build up the necessary capital to run a business due to the many holes that needed to be filled and she was determined not to sell her body—as if that was the only option.

As I dropped the phone, I wondered if I had been too harsh on her. It would be a lot easier to send my widow’s mite and gradually shut the door as many had done. Yet I knew her problem was more in the mind and it would be a disservice if I allowed her to wallow in it.

She was prepared to blame her husband who had left home, the State for jobs that were no longer there, and her destiny for putting her in this kind of predicament. She probably would blame the moon if she could get some comfort from it. Yet, she wanted as many of the indulgencies she had in the past including children in private schools, to continue.

Yes, it is not easy to leave a flat for a room; Apapa for Ajegunle, and many would balk at taking such a decision. But the earlier one came to grips with one’s situation, the better the chances of survival. Self indulgence is easy, sweet even; but it does not get anybody any where. People have to be ready to dig and start with the barest minimum if need be. Not accepting when levels change has been the bane of many in Nigeria, including our leaders.

Being an ex-this, ex-that, can be challenging. But it can be rewarding if you apply yourself because fresh challenges can be liberating. But it is important for us and our state of mind to accept where ever fate plants us and make the best of it.

My week continued with a note from an old friend to help yet another unemployed graduate. At 28, he seemed confused about what he wants to with himself and just wants a good job. Now, nothing puts me off more than having a person say ‘anything’ when asked what kind of a job they would want to do. Or when prodded, to pick banks and oil companies. To me, that is not a sign of being adaptable. It is a sign of a lack of ambition.

Every young person must have a passion. Something they can do for free and still enjoy doing if need be. Nigeria is also a country of limitless opportunities for those who have eyes to see and don’t mind starting from the scratch. The internet has opened a new vista; a new unlimited world that was not there in my youth. An intelligent use of the internet will create ideas.

The young must stop thinking of big bucks and think more of self actualisation and fulfilling their passion. Where ever fate plants you, dig in and blossom. I firmly believe each of us can do more with the resources at our disposal.

My first meeting with him was a lesson of sorts. As a columnist for a major newspaper, I was not used to warming seats in secretaries’ offices. So when I came late for Chief Anofi S.Guobadia’s appointment and was told to wait, I got restive. After about ten minutes, I told the secretary that I had another appointment and so had to leave.

She quietly went in to convey my message to her boss who came out and said, ‘I am sorry for keeping you. But you were late and I had to start another meeting’. He said it so simply, so matter of factly, that I resolved to always be on time for appointments.

Chief Guobadia was among the early trained industrialists in Nigeria. His company ‘Maiden Electronics’ would have been Nigeria’s answer to Samsung or LG, if the government, through Udoji award, had not opened the flood gates for all manner of electronic goods to pour into the country. You see, the problems of Nigeria didn’t just start today.

A lot has been said about him. He was a leading figure in the Rotary movement in Nigeria and one of the founding fathers of the Institute of Directors (IOD) among many achievements. But you could never overstate the fact that he was a complete gentleman.

When he had his travails at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, I was incensed as many were. In fact, a former President, Otunba J. Ade Tuyo, was so upset that he resigned from the chamber because of what some members did to Guobadia.

In all of these, he was calm and dignified; another lesson for me.

He had a beautiful place in Ikeja and I spent some lovely evenings there. One of my happier moments was when he once introduced me to someone as ‘my son’.

A good man has passed on. May his soul rest in peace.

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