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Building Legacies That Endure And Benefits Of The Long View – Tony Abolo

The Oasis Reporters

December 19, 2017

Walls round ancient Benin kingdom protected the city from external aggression, and so was Kano city. Entry into the city was through designated ‘kofars’ or Gates (right).

Let us evolve a new beneficial thinking in terms of long term perspective planning, with individual lives, with families, with leadership, with states and with nations for the greater good.
I have five examples to start with so that this audience can begin to best appreciate the term and concept of legacies and what it is to create LEGACIES.
One, there is the Benin moat – which has been described in the Guinness Book of Records, as the greatest earth rampart in the world. Today, you can still see it and some vestiges of it. But when was it dug? It was dug as far back as the Ogiso era in Benin history. That is over 6000 years. We all here, will live and die and the Benin moats will survive us all.
Some forty years ago, I visited a church in the middle of England – the famous Winchester Cathedral, with its unique features, back when Christians were under persecution in England. I walked through the catacombs and cobbled stone floors. The church was built in the 12th century. We are in the 21st century. The church is still standing.
Then, when I was working and training at the BBC, I went to interview the Managing Director of the London underground, for a documentary production. I was shocked to learn that the London underground rail lines or popularly called “The Tube” was conceived and built when HORSE CARRIAGES where being ridden on London streets. We are talking of the 17th and 18th century. One of the rail lines goes under the Thames River. The depth to reach the underground line is 100 feet. Today, you can only move faster across London on the underground train. It is still standing and moves the over 30 million Londoners around daily.
In the course of my advertising work, just three days ago, I met a man who is about to commission his Plaza, an event centre with an extensive parking lot, a lodging facility and a bar, with shops spaces. A fantastic idea and it cost millions. It is being commissioned in 2017. But the project started 20 years ago.
We have all heard of the famous Agidigbi-Agbidigbi saw mills, Uwagboe Agidigbi Memorial church, Agidigbi shopping complex – But where is all that now? Everything is all but disappeared.
What is the point I am making with these stories? It is all about, what endures. What outlives us. It could be something physical or it could be ideas. Take theorems and formulae that you learn in Mathematics and in the Sciences. When did Euclid, Archimedes or Newton live? You will go back to the Greek times and early 18th century. But are the theories not still in study and application and are guiding new Fermat and Quadratic theories? Logic that you study either as a lawyer or for your General Studies in the universities, has come from Aristotle and old Grecian societies. These are what we call “Legacies”.

But what do we have in today’s Nigeria? We have a culture of short termism. Money, money, money today – “Forget about tomorrow. This is my time. Na me go kill corruption?”
A Governor or a President does not have a long view of time or history. It is all about a four year or 8 year term. But what is four years or 8 years in the life of a man or a nation?
Today we still talk about Herbert M’cauley, Zik, Ahmadu Bello, Awolowo, Akanu Ibiam, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Moremi, Queen Amina, Margaret Ekpo, Imaguero. These are names that have endured.
That is legacy.

Who remembers today’s people; the here today and gone tomorrow people? They are all remembered for massive corruption and looting. Their names are not enduring. Sadly these are the people afflecting* nearly all of our people. Short time views of life and history is today’s Nigeria’s culture.
Which governor has come to tell you, let us plan for Edo state for another 50 years?
Which President has come to say, let us plan where Nigeria will be in 50 or 100 years time in the comity of nations?
None.
They come in a hurry, ‘chop’ and go. Where has that left us?
In ruins and frustrations coupled with the lack of progress.
Take the current Libyan slave trade issue. Is it not because there was no long term view of society, hence this crisis? Had someone thought that here is this large youth population in Edo State or Nigeria which need skills, education, employment, living standards, some thirty years ago, and worked hard at it, would we have the mess we are witnessing in the Mediterranean Sea, the slavery in Libya, the deaths in Agadez and in the deserts? Ferrying them now from Libya, housing them in Motel Benin Plaza and giving them N40,000, is no solution. It is medicine after death.
Anybody who wants to understand excellence and legacy in governance should read the Book and story of Lee Kuan Yew in “From Third to First ”; how Lee Kuan Yew moved Singapore from a Third World to the First World in a space of thirty years! Nigeria is 58 years old and we are still BUMBLING and FUMBLING from one stupid regime to another. There are no legacies to learn from in today’s Nigeria’s leadership and hence the youth are learning nothing about things and values that endure.
I cannot help but quote Frank Aigbogun, the CEO and Publisher, Business Day Media Limited who said on Tuesday last week:
“Let us get to work. We do not have time. To overhaul Nigeria’s education system, a 10 – 15 years mindset would be required, but our thinking is usually a four year cycle.”

The Jaycees philosophy has always been predicated on forming the youth from age eighteen, so that by 40, you are equipped to go out there and make positive changes. It is about nurturing Leadership today so that when tomorrow comes, there will be a better tomorrow.
Our society is in need of young people who can envision a better and a greater future. People who grow up with perspective planning attitude – about themselves, their families, organisations, and their nation. Hence we say that a good Chapter President is one who left his Chapter, better than he or she met it; that translates to growth and progress, “Be Better” as I hear some chapters say.
As you grow in the chapter and in life, you can look back and ask, what good did I do? How much good did I leave behind – in terms of projects, in the persons I led. How much similes did I create? Those are the legacies we are looking for.

After Awolowo, Zik, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, Enahoro, now look, years after them, what other leaders left landmarks? You have to use binoculars and microscope to find who left anything behind, other than massive ego and corruption.
Values then will be the issue. Money we should emphasise, is not an eternal value. It is what money can do, that matters.

I have never ceased to admire the Chinese model of development. Mao Tse Dung was a modern founding father. On top of him, was Deng Xiaoping and then now, Xi Jiping. Every one of them building on the past such that today, China can celebrate 100 million people moved out of poverty in 5 years. That is an example of Leadership. That is building legacies and achievements. Those are the gains of good and selfless Leadership. Can we say the same of Nigeria?
Who will remember you? You have heard the statement – To live in the hearts of those you love, is not to die. Ask yourself then, what will you be remembered for?
Always take a long view of history, of yourself, of where you work, of what organization you lead. After you are gone, from the organization, or of its leadership, will you be missed? Will your memory be recalled with a sense of nostalgia?
What will your friends, your children, your spouse say of you in 10 years or 20 years after you have left the scene? Will your name still be like Shakespeare, still being quoted and studied? Or will you, years after, become mere statistics – another Nigerian who lived and passed this way? What will your name be in Nigerian History? A foot note, a comma or a chapter in the book?
Think about it all seriously and start your entry into the history books not just only of Nigeria, but of the World. That is the ultimate Legacy. For it is in the history books, and in the human minds, that we record, achievements, gains and what are permanent and enduring legacies. Think on these things.

Written By Tony Abolo.
(A Paper he presented at the Investiture Programme Lecture of the Jaycees Organization in Benin City, Nigeria recently).

Tony Abolo is a veteran broadcaster, Broadcasting trainer, University lecturer, Public Relations Consultant and one time BBC producer and Correspondent in Brussels.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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