Nigeria’s Presidency is exclusive. It is open to any Nigerian, yes but in truth, it is closed to most. I want to explore why an average Nigerian should dream of the job and what it might look like to prepare for it.
I have closely watched the rise of one Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe. I follow him on LinkedIn. A quick google search will reveal this Wikipedia bio:
Ekekwe is a Nigerian professor, inventor, engineer, author, and entrepreneur.
Follow him! He is all those things and more. I find him incredibly fascinating because whilst I was not there when he was born, I have consumed a lot of his content. Enough to know that he grew up in a small town called Ovim. He is the very definition of an average Nigerian. Average by birth, giant in stature. I am secretly rooting for him to run for the most important office in the land. If he did, I know he will win. In other words, he won't run if he doesn't believe he will win; and if he believes he will, I expect nothing short of brilliant strategy paired with impeccable execution.
But how did he get here? How did an average Nigerian become so influential that a universal chorus of applause, interest, and curiosity follows him? How is it that this man is sought after by Ivy League schools, Venture capitalist firms, Pastors, politicians, and most importantly everyday Nigerians?
Professor Ekekwe devised a strategy to capitalize on his unquestionable pedigree as an engineer by crafting and syndicating a clear, nuanced, consistent, and positive voice on a bedrock of data-rich reasoning that always leaves you wanting to agree or disagree sharply with his position but never his intellect and brilliance.
I often ask myself, how can one be so noisy and loud and full of opinions yet so respected and admired? He manages to take a position — a critical part of how he differentiates himself — without disrespecting those on the other side of his position. There are two key lessons here
- Be Different: Most people are afraid to stand clearly in a camp. Maybe it isn't most people, maybe it is just me. However, standing out requires being different. There are numerous ways of being different, what is important is finding the ways that you can be different without being inconsistent with who you are and what you truly believe. Professor Ekekwe merely stands alongside the average Nigerian. Even though he is now far from average, he has managed to stay connected to the voice, eyes, needs, and perspectives of the common man. Even as he lives in the United States.
- Be Bold: There are so many people that are different but fewer combine difference with boldness. Usually, when you are different, it's so much easier to be different and weird than to be different and bold. To stand confidently in your difference and make it an armor. A bold broke man goes to a rich independent lady and says…
“I have concluded that you cannot live without my humor and my connections to life — doing a lot with a little”…
On the contrary, a wealthy timid man thinks of a friendly lady…
“I don’t have much to offer her besides money.”
They are both right. The truth becomes the actions taken not the thoughts that never hatch into a real chick.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
The gentle professor is merely an alliteration, a pointer to the message that YOU can become Nigeria’s president but you must play the long game.
In case you cannot figure it out, I am speaking to you as much as I am speaking to myself. Since the cat is out of the bag, I might as well declare it plainly and boldly.
I, Adedolapo Olisa, will become the president of Nigerian in 2052
I have a dream, it is a dream, it is bold and it is different.
I was gonna start this post by talking about the youngest President or Head of State in Nigeria’s history. I had it in mind that the real thing is to target building a case for Nigeria and to yourself that intersects with being ready to harvest when one is 50. Little did I know that Nigeria’s youngest Head of state was 31.
General Yakubu Gowon was 31 years old when he became head of state. I am 31 years old. Naturally, my boldness began to wane but different wouldnt let it!
Maybe it was possible then to be Head of State in a military system but in the current democratic system that we run. The minimum requirement was recently moved from 40 to 35. And even at 35, it's quite obvious that the hurdle that one needs to overcome to be competitive let alone elected requires a lot more than 10–15 years of adult experience to overcome.
Since I see the professor as one that has achieved the brand notoriety to knock successfully at the biggest job in the land. I will x-ray his journey and deduce what any young man, looking to take on this job, must consider.
Time and Timing:
One of the most frustrating elements of impeccable execution is time. There are so many sound strategies that fail because of their premise or impatience.
- Premise 1: I want to become the president of Nigeria in the *NEXT* election.
“This is analogous to planning to have a baby in 3 months” WHY?
The premise must be sound. The soundness check of any premise or strategy is the careful detangling of dependencies in other to arrive at a realistic time. Imagine if Olympic sprinters decide to set timing goals that exceed the limits of physics. I do not mean the known opinionated or experimental or measured limits of humans but the physical limits rooted in science.
I would never take anyone seriously that says to me, “I have a dream that in 4 years, I will become the world's fastest man in the Olympics by completing the 100M dash in 3 seconds.
If you analyze that goal in relation to timing, you see that these keywords are the defining factor — 4 years, Olympics, 3 seconds. Is it possible to become the world’s fastest man by completing the 100M dash in 3 seconds but not in the Olympics… maybe? maybe one can create a machine that makes one accelerate like a Tesla but that would not be in the Olympics. Another phrase — 4 years. It's possible that the subject of my research is to figure out how to make older folks develop a speed advantage in racing by inventing a medication or machinery that works with the physical limitations of older people. In other words, as I get older, I can have an advantage. Would this though be something that will be completed in 4 years?
Time and timing are important mechanisms that attract those with the expertise and interest to make your strategy work by establishing feasibility with the experts. Your job is to surrender to the limitations that drive the timeframe of your vision. You do that by revising the statements encapsulating your destination — often referred to as vision statement — every time you return from immersion.
The vision statement is NOT the vision anymore than what you draw is WHAT you see.
Network and Resources:
If you have the vision to finish Medical school by age 17. You might be able to skip network and resources even though I wager that it is still needed. But for lofty non merely personal goals. The need to network and the need for a robust network cannot be understated.
There are so many Professor Ekekwes all over the world who have refused to network. There are many more brilliant engineers than the professor that remain unknown, unrecognized, and uncelebrated.
Unfortunately, the grander the vision the more resources it requires. A goal, an objective, a vision that you can see yourself accomplishing because you control all the chips. It is not a dream. It is a task.
A dream, a realistic dream, is one that is very much rooted in reality — memory — but very much diluted by imagination. The imaginative aspect of dreams is what makes them out of reach in the present day.
Where will your imagination take you and what resources will you need that you do not possess?
Fortunately for you and me, the resource doesn't come before the network. Oftentimes, all we know is the big block of the unknown which liaising with expertise helps to unravel and define.
I do not know what it will take for me to become the president of Nigeria in 2052 but I know that I sure as heck do not have the resources to contest. I also know that if I am giving all the money now that I need, it guarantees me nothing.
“I must craft my vision statement, shop my vision, and embrace feedback. I must NETWORK.”
There is a marriage between network and resources that are profoundly more impactful than any of these pillars alone. Impeccable execution requires this marriage; and like any great marriage, divorce weakens both parties. So do all that is within you to
- Know who you are before you begin networking towards a goal.
- Know what you believe.
- Seek clarity.
- Stand and be BOLD.
- Default to attracting over hunting.
- Prioritize knowing, who you are not, over defining who you are.
Work and Play:
Work the plan too much. You get burnt out. You get burnt out, before you know it, you are burning up and draining your network with negative energy.
Play too much. You get turnt out. You get turnt out, and before you know it, you are disqualified and corroding your network with whiplash.
Work and Play!
There is an innate human desire to fill up our days, to consume time with meaning. To latch onto visions that provide tangible attainment but a life long pursuit. We want to feel accomplished and we want to feel like there is so much more to accomplish. We want to arrive but also always be on a journey.
Its like we want to be arriving at different hotels, seeing different views but always be fully funded to get into the plane to the next destination.
That is what WORK and PLAY. The journey is the work, the resting to smell the roses is the play. There is a beauty in watching people work that have figured out how to blend the two. Where work feels like play and play is work. Maybe you aren't there. Maybe you don't mix your rice and beans. Maybe you like your meat on a separate plate from your pasta. The important thing is to remember what a balanced diet is. If you like blend your rice and beans and drink it like soup. If you like cook them together. If you even desire, buy them from two different sources and use different spoons to eat them so they do not mix even in your stomach. That is your business!
The business of your dreams though requires work and play. The business of your network requires balanced energy. A clarity of why mixed with a humanity of how.
Another lesson from the prof. If you ever read his posts on LinkedIn, you will hardly recognize that he is not in the room speaking to you until after completing the piece. His words read as if he is speaking your local English dialect. As if he is your best friend sharing to you how his day went. There is a refreshing connection to you at a human level that feels playful but the subject matter is rarely a thing to play about. That is his work and play — also his teeth is always shining in every picture.
That style might not work for you… find yours. But be balanced. For your network, for yourself, for your candlelight to stay burning long enough before the Bridegroom comes.
Who is the Bridegroom?
The man who made you and gave you a purpose. A purpose that is a dream, a dream that must be written, made plain. For me, I write to announce this desire. It is not yet a dream but I hope that other young qualified presidents will read this and apply its naive insights.
DREAM IT. TIME IT. NETWORK FOR IT.