BY FRED IWENJORA
Most Chartered accountants are so immersed in figures that everything seems configured. But not Bonny Okpaluba, certified accountant and fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN, whose writing proficiency even without taking courses in creative writing tickles his many avid readers.
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Since his retirement a few e years back from many years of active service (most of which were given to NNPC), Okpaluba has written over sixteen books of diverse interests including on wealth creation, humour, culture and on the very highly lucrative Nigerian oil industry as anchored on NNPC.
Yet he has not stopped writing as there are more manuscripts being tidied up for publication.
Just recently, he gathered his friends and fans and other distinguished Nigerians for the launching of ten of these books just fresh from the press.
FRED IWENJORA met him after the launching in Abuja.
Why did you have to launch ten books at a go? How long did it take you to write them? Writing seems to come so easy for you…?
One thing about book writing is that it is very difficult to say how long it took to write one book. What one may remember vividly is the day it was published. A book takes a lot of time to write. In fact if someone goes into the details of writing a book, it would come down to the statement that says if a poor man is told what it takes to be rich, he will opt to remain poor. I had launched six the previous year.
What did you write about?
When I left the services of the NNPC, I started looking at the entire economic cycle and circumstances of life and I realised that the domineering issue of our existence in life revolves around creating wealth (with Gods purpose) and sustaining it, then health maintenance. My research revealed to me that to maintain good health is to nip in the bud all those issues that impede good health. I learnt that the crux of the issue of health maintenance is hinged on stress management. Anyone who understands how to manage everyday stress will surely live healthy to the number of years he or she wants. Longevity will just be his portion. In summary therefore, I wrote about wealth and money, I wrote about practical stress management with humour and then I wrote about the oiI industry. I have not stopped writing
Tell me more….
Some of the ten books launched are Your Rights to Richies, Simplistic Approach to Stress Management etc
I also wrote three books on the Nigerian oil industry which were also launched on that day; A-Z of Nigeria Oil and Gas industry and Business Opportunities.
It came in three volumes for the Downstream, Midstream and Upstream sectors. I used the books to take the readers through the Nigerian oiI industry as propelled by NNPC where I put in years of meritorious service. I had to deal with NNPC relationships with international oiI companies. I opened up the fact that the NNPC is not a secret organization. I have seen some people who have been defrauded while trying to get involved in the oil industry considered to be very lucrative. It pains me so much. The book is to expose the world to the deep knowledge in the oil business. I had delved into the history tracing the GMDs of NNPC and their policy contributions towards the growth of the company. In fact A-Z of the Nigerian oiI industry is also a historical analysis of the workings of the NNPC laid bare. It is to let any prospective oil dealer to know what to do and how the NNPC really works to avoid had I known. The information contained in the books is first class information because I was an insider. No wonder it is generating much interest.
Could you give detail of the other books? Which came first?
When it dawned on me that the main issues of life are worshipping God, creating and managing wealth and of course how to maintain good health, I decided to pursue this deep knowledge through books. I decided to let people know that pursuing wealth without Gods approval is not wealth. For this I wrote Temporary Riches not my portion. If one is creating wealth and go about doing all kinds of atrocities, he will only glow for a while and fade out sooner than later. But wealth created with fear of God, is far enduring.
I then wrote the Money Intellect. it also came in three volumes. In Money Intellect – an entrepreneurial guide towards riches, abundant wealth and life’s success I try to trace wealth creation from the foundation to a time when it has made one a success.
I also had delved into stress management. I found out that in the daily pursuit of wealth stress plays a big role. Research has proven that the easiest path to stress management is humor. Those who can laugh longer and more often, can achieve longevity. I also discovered that a 30muintes of laughter gives back 90 minutes of elongation of life and death is shifted forward. The first of those books are Laugh and laugh again, Take a laughter Trip, Garden of humor, Just Laugh. They are four books that will make you laugh to banish stress from your system and live longer Laughter touches more than 20 elements in the body system
Most accountants are immersed in figures and readily configure everything, what inspires you to write in this prolific manner? Any childhood influences?
There is nothing in life that does not have a link with foundational upbringing. I was trained in cash management from childhood. I did not know that it will surface again in my life as an accountant. I was born into a family that was very rich at the time. Our assignment after school was to count money for our father. He used to carry them in huge jute bags from where he poured them in a heap in the sitting room like heaps of cocoa in western Nigeria at a time. My father did not have time to count his money. It was our job to count these coins and pack them in stands of ten each containing 20 shillings which later accounts for up to 100pounds per bag. But you were not expected to take any one of those coins. You were also not expected to buy anything outside.
This training in discipline has helped me immensely in life. While I worked and had so much money to share to millions of people in the course of my duty, I was never tempted to take out of it or subtly beg someone whom I was supposed to pay to give me money. I was noted for that and it has benefitted me severally. This training came from my family background.
You seemed not to have answered the question…did your daddy who taught you financial discipline also write?
Hahahahahaha…how can you ask if my dad was a writer. Throughout his lifetime of 120 years (he died in 1999) he used his finger print to sign his signature. He never went to school. But he was naturally gifted with knowledge and discipline. He traded with UAC, John Holt etc as a produce buyer.
He told us that it was 5pounds over payment by John Holt that he returned that became the foundation of his wealth. According to him, John Holt people had marveled at such honesty and sincerity and offered to carry his produce consignment from wherever he bought them from the entire eastern region free of charge.
These concession propelled him in just six months to save up funds to procure his own lorry which he called Chiemeka( God has done it for me).
My father always said that any rich man who cannot trace the origin of his wealth to sincerity, trust and truthfulness is a poor man whose wealth may eventually diminish.
Can one rightly say that your course of study of accountancy was influenced by your daddy?
He did not even know what accountancy was despite that he wanted all of us to go to school. Even I did not know about accountancy. I loved marketing instead. A usually smartly dressed neighbour in the early 70s studied marketing.
He rode in the latest 404 Peugeot car which we called Opiachara at that time and this was my motivation. I had entered for marketing but was given accounting. Someone told me later that I performed well in the exam. That was how I went to study accountancy at Institute of Management and Technology IMT Enugu up to HND.
I pursued the course professionally and got certified in 1994 and in 2004 became a Fellow of Association of National Accountants FCNA, ANAN). I had worked with Union Bank after graduation and later for a long time with NNPC.
Life in NNPC must have been exciting that you have devoted books on your experiences?
It was very exciting as well as tedious and full of stress. I ran an office that handled several payment issues. I faced people from all over the country and even foreigners. There were no computers yet then. To tell you how it had been is to consider that the office I ran alone then has been split into twelve other units as at today.
I suffered from what I often called solidified stress. Imagine you return from work as very late as 12midnight and set to leave as early as 6 am again next day. It was hitting the body left, right and center. There was a time I was hearing sounds in my head. I kept researching on how to take care of it. But when I left office, it went on its own. However in al NNPC has been and continue to be the hope of this country Nigeria.
Now how are the books doing?
Money Intellect is doing well in some schools and universities as scholars and students alike keep commending its content. I once spoke at an event on entrepreneurship education in Africa and there was a stampede for them with recommendations as acceptable textbook for entrepreneurship education in Nigeria.
Another of my books Personal Income Management is also a toast to many readers just like Pre and Post Retirement Education is subject of yearly training for several organisations and establishments. I can tell you that passion for the subject drives me to write. The reception for the three volumes of A-Z of the Nigerian oil and Gas industry +Business opportunities is growing daily. The books are generating a lot of interest as it covers almost all there is to know about the industry.