Speaks on choice of personalities for Hallmark of Labour Volume 7
BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
For how long have you been championing this revolutionary cause and why?
The Hallmarks of Labour Foundation has been in existence for the past 18 years. I actually noticed Nigerians were excessively scrutinised at airports and labeled fraudsters on the international scene despite the fact that we weren’t all horrible; at least, many of us could match our counterparts anywhere in the world.
Except that people hardly notice such people. Of course, in those days, a wave of negative role models had emerged because fraudsters had taken over and were making so much money while professionals and professors took the back stage.
So, from my experience as a journalist with the Nigerian Television Authority-NTA, researcher cum publicist with the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria-UPN where I was Acting Director of Publicity and Research, and later, as an advertising practitioner, I decided to champion the cause when Hallmarks of Labour found its way to my heart.
How did you take off with the vision?
I started by uncovering Nigerians with exceptional virtues and conferring them with the Hallmarks of Labour Role Model award. I told you earlier that there are people in this country who can match their counterparts anywhere in the world. That’s why I believe Nigeria is not a lost case.
All we need to do is bring out these people for the younger generation to learn from and know that they too can become great by following the straight and narrow path rather than be fraudulent. So, we felt the best way was to look for reputable Nigerians, show them on national television, give a history of their lives and tell people why we believe they are role models.
We also get credible Nigerians to testify to the fact that they are role models worthy of emulation. Of course, after we had done all that, looking at the lives of these people, I discovered I had so much material in my hands. We therefore decided that the best thing was to compile their histories in the form of a book series. That way, younger people would be able to read extensively about them. Researchers, as well as lawyers and judges, can also rely on these books for facts.
Each of the last six volumes of the Hallmarks of Labour series chronicled the lives and times of three distinctive personalities. What inspired the choice of personalities for this 7th volume and who are these three Nigerians?
People you find in the Hallmarks of Labour book series are people who have received our awards. Take this newest edition for example. You have Honourable Justice Obakayode Samuel Eso who was in the Supreme Court for almost 20 years. We all know about Justice Eso who was a very upright, no-nonsense and straight forward kind of judge.
In the book, you’ll learn that he was indeed an ordinary boy like any child, who, through determination, got to the zenith of his profession. We also have Professor Ben Obi Nwabueze who is probably one of the greatest constitutional lawyers we have in this country. Again, there is Professor Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe who was the youngest medical professor in his time, having become professor of medicine at the age of 35.
People in paid employment might also find these histories helpful as against stealing from their employers on the basis of job insecurity.
You declared earlier that Nigeria is not a lost case; but are recent events in the country not pointers that it might collapse soon?
Why should Nigeria collapse? It is true that we have bad leadership, but the bad leaders are actually Nigerians themselves. They emanated from this society. Did we not vote them into government? When they return home, do we not crave for what monetary benefits they’ve brought us from Abuja instead of requesting accountability? Even though we did not vote in some, did we not allow them sit there in peace?
Take the Arab Spring for example. These people were under dictatorship for so long but when they said it was over, it was over! When the people say it’s enough, then it is enough. That’s why I say we complain unnecessarily in this country. Whatever we want stopped can be stopped if we are determined because power rests in the hand of the people.
What solutions would you therefore proffer as an advocate for development and positive values?
What we need is total reorientation because we all are responsible for Nigeria’s predicament. If we decide that enough is enough, all of this nonsense will stop. I have come to the conclusion that you do not have to be in government to help Nigeria retrace its steps; Hallmarks of Labour for example is totally nongovernmental.The number of students that benefit from this foundation scholarship wise; the number of widows we empower, and things we do to help so many others, are without government funding.