Mrs Folorunsho Alakija at 70
The Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija is 70 today and I wish her a very happy birthday. Ordinarily, when we plan the Annual Teens conference of our church, we begin with the speakers before identifying the theme. But in 2018, we chose the theme, “If you can dream it, you can make it happen’, before we began thinking about possible speakers. Around the period, I read an interview by Mrs Alakija on the battles she fought to secure her oil license and I felt she was the kind of person we would love to have speak to the teenagers that year.
Determined to try, I Googled and found an office contact that eventually led me to her PA with whom I began to exchange mails. At the end, Mrs Alakija accepted the request, came from Lagos with a retinue of aides (which must have cost a fortune) and the teenagers were really blessed by her presence. Meanwhile, the only personal contact I have ever had with her was the brief handshake we exchanged on the day of the conference. No other contact before or after that day! It takes somebody passionate about making a difference in the lives of others to do what she did for people she had no relationship with, and I cannot forget that.
At the conference, Mrs Alakija defined dream not only as a cherished aspiration but also an imagination of that which one would wish to happen. She then identified three categories of dreamers. The first are the ‘wishful dreamers’ otherwise called day dreamers--people who indulge themselves in mere fantasy. We have a huge population of those people in Nigeria today. That conclusion I must state is mine, not hers! The second category she identified belongs to ‘night dreamers’ who sleep and remember that something that does not necessarily bear any semblance to the reality of their existence happened in their subconscious. Mrs Alakija then focused on the last category, comprising those she labelled ‘action dreamers’. These are people who stretch their horizon beyond every conceivable limitation. They are most often considered unrealistic, eccentric, or erratic but they know where they are going, and nothing would stop them from reaching their goals. The fact that we have a few of such people in Nigeria today is why we are where we are. That conclusion, I must also add, is mine!
Citing her 12-year legal battle with the federal government over OPL 216, Mrs Alakija said a certain level of tenacity is needed for those who dream big. “Dreams motivate, inspire and improve us. Dreams are important because without them, life would be meaningless,” she told the teenagers in Abuja on 17th August 2018.
From Mrs Alakija’s life story, it is obvious that she is an ‘action dreamer’. As she celebrates her Jubilee year and joins the elite class of septuagenarians, I wish her happy birthday, long life, and good health. May she continue to dream big.
Meanwhile, registration for the 2021 edition of the annual teens career conference with the theme, ‘A Brave New World: Who Dares, Wins!’ continues both for physical and online attendance. The speakers are Chairman, Talent City Inc, Mr Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, MAX.NG, Mr Chinedu Azodoh and Group Managing Director (Nigeria), NewGlobe Education, Mrs Omowale David-Ashiru. Like previous editions, it will bring together teenagers from Abuja and its environs to listen to expert advice on career choices in today’s dynamic and challenging world. For details on the conference, interested teenagers should visit www. rccgteapteens.org.