A piece I wrote for the year book of the 2012/2013 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Graduating class of the University of Nigeria.

Congratulations! That is one word you will hear in excess today and in the next couple of days or even months. It is an acknowledgement of the feat you have achieved, for successfully passing through and graduating from Vet School. You deserve it, and all the high fives and shoulder slaps that come with it. It is no mean feat. I know, because I have been there and on this day of your Oath Taking, I join your teachers, friends and family in saying “Congratulations.”

When the cameras have stopped clicking away, when the last bottle of beer has been drained, when the party to celebrate you and your achievement today has long ended and all is quiet again, I implore you to carry out this brief exercise which in many ways will determine how the rest of your life pans out.

Take a second to grab hold of your future and begin to realize it. Close your eyes and imagine yourself ten years down the road. Imagine every aspect of your own life. Your job, your spouse, your kids, your friends. Don’t simply imagine the future towards which you are heading, but rather the future which you consider ideal. Forget the expectations which your parents, friends, teachers and relatives have for you, as well as the one’s you have for yourself. Ignore, for just a second, all those expectations and concentrate on what you want. Now visualize the road that will take you there. That is your path.

A couple of years ago a mentor of mine shared with me seven questions the answers to which will help you in the exercise above. I strongly suggest that you take a pad of paper and write out your responses remembering  that anything that isn’t written “hasn’t been said!” or as in this case thought or desired….”

Question Number One:

What are your five most important values in life?

This question is intended to help you clarify what is really important to you, and by extension, what is less important, or unimportant. Once you have identified the five most important values in life for you, organize them in order of priority, from number one, the most important, through number five. Not three or seven but five!

Question Number Two:

What are your three most important goals in life, right now?

This is called the “quick list” method. When you only have thirty seconds to write down your three most important goals, your subconscious mind sorts out your many goals quickly automatically prioritising them based on your previous thoughts and actions. Your top three will just pop into your conscious mind. Even with only thirty seconds, you will be as accurate as if you had thirty minutes.

Question Number Three:

What would you do and how would you spend your time, if you learned today that you only had six months left to live?

This is another value question to help you clarify what is really important to you. When your time is limited, even if only in your imagination, you become aware of who and what you really care about in life.

Question Number Four:

What would you do if you won ten million dollars cash, tax free, in a lottery tomorrow?

How would you change your life? What would you buy? What would you start doing, or stop doing? This is really a question to help you decide what you’d do if you had all the time and money you need, and if you had virtually no fear of failure at all.

Question Number Five:

What have you always wanted to do, but been afraid to try doing?

Answering this question honestly will help you see more clearly where your fears could be blocking you from doing what you really want to do.

Question Number Six:

What do you most enjoy doing? What gives you your greatest feeling of self-esteem and personal satisfaction?

This is another values question that will help indicate where you should explore to find your “heart’s desire.” You will always be most happy doing what you most love to do, and what you most love to do is invariably the activity that makes you feel the most alive and fulfilled. The most successful men and women in the world are invariably doing what they really enjoy, most of the time.

Question Number Seven:

What one great thing would you dare to dream of doing if you knew you could not fail?

Imagine that a genie appears and grants you just one wish. The genie guarantees that you will be absolutely, completely successful in any one thing that you attempt to do, big or small, short or long-term. If you were absolutely guaranteed success in just one thing, what would be that one exciting goal that you’d set for yourself?

Next Steps:

Study the pad of paper that you used to answer these questions. This paper represents your future goals. Look at what you wrote every day and shape your life the way you see it on that paper. You’ll be amazed at how far you get towards them in very little time.

Let me add here that you are of a special mettle having trained as Vets but that fact alone does not secure for you that life you’ve always dreamed of. Indeed the practice of our profession in this clime as you must have been reminded over and again by your tutors presents some additional unique challenges. There is the pressure from society on you to perform on the one hand and also the impediments presented by the same society which doesn’t seem to have come to the realisation that it needs your expertise. Through all these, you must show yourself worthy by digging deep and making informed decisions along the lines of both your education and the path outlined in notepad exercise above.

Good luck, fellow doctors, as you cross the line between the safety of Vet School and the brutal reality that is life. Make your life a conscious decision. Don’t confuse fun with happiness. And remember that in the real world, it is your hard work, resilience, and creativity more than what your certificate reads that makes you fulfilled.

Dalu nu!

Dr Sylva Nze Ifedigbo DVM Nigeria (2007)

@nzesylva on twitter.

This guest post by Dagogo Karibi-Whyte is dedicated to celebrating the life and achievements of successful businessman and accomplished politician, Senator Dan Etete as he clocks 70. 

Dan Etete

Dan Etete

The headmaster was once a school boy. True. Sometimes we really don’t want to remember. Probably because of some memories we want to let go. Don’t forget that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger (please be informed that it might leave you with a scar too). We most times remember through the eyes and lips of our elders for things that pre-exist us.

I therefore remember the birth of a baby boy on the 10th of January, 1945 into a humble background and his name is ……………..Growing up, he had it good and he had it rough, life’s mixed fruity.

We remember that he has the Bishop Dimieri Grammar School, Yenagoa as his Alma Mater. He was also a staff of the Federal Civil Service. The civil war came and went leaving behind a stronger man determined to make a difference in his country, considering the opportunity for national rebirth. He voluntarily resigned from national service and delved into commerce in a bid to emancipate his people from hardship, by creating opportunities. His only godfather was God and his kits were brute determination and hard work. By this, he became one of the first generation of entrepreneurs in Nigeria after the civil war. The man began to prosper, and continued to prosper until he became very prosperous. His business interests spanned from Shipping to Agriculture (he had farms and ranches) with presence in Brazil, parts of Europe and Africa.

We also remember that as at 1979, the net asset of his business empire (Tarri Int’l Group of Companies) was well over N 500,000,000 (Five hundred million naira) at a time when the naira had more value than the US Dollar. A powerhouse in the maritime industry with ships hoisting the Nigerian flag. Warehouses littered around the country contributing to the national GDP. An employer and colleague to thousands.

Many of us still remember his people begging him to represent their interests nationally and lift them out of their desolation. Hence he was voted as a Senator representing the Rivers West Senatorial district during the second republic. At the National Assembly, he was the Chairman, senate committee on Petroleum. I believe you remember how this sojourn was abruptly terminated.

We still choose to remember his achievements in the political league despite the efforts of many to give it a room in oblivion. The 13% derivation formula for resource control that is currently in existence is a product of a struggle he solidly participated in. How can we forget his role in the constitutional conference of 1994/95 which was aimed at promoting national unity, and development. I bet you have seen the recommendations. A true believer in federalism and was instrumental in the creation of several states including Bayelsa State, his home state; all in a bid to bring the Government closer to the people.

Today, the country is littered with indigenous Oil and Gas companies harvesting the fruits of her natural national heritage. This is why we remember that day in 1996 in Globestar Yard, Warri where he made the pronouncement   “From today, foreign suppliers will have to bid and supply through a local subsidiary” because of the Marginal Field Decree 23 of 1996 which he made a reality to benefit the Nigerian Middle Class and create job opportunities for the Nigerian Youth.

We remember the detribalized Nigerian called Senator Dan Dauzigha Loya Etete who is a graduate of St. Andrews University, Australia. A Fellow of the Petroleum Institute, Warri and the list goes on. He has proven that the superior man is indeed modest in speech but exceeding in action. We remember.

Article by Dagogo Karibi-Whyte


Guest posts are the opinions of the writers only. Be social, share!

Negotiating a Better Deal


Interesting thoughts here.

Originally posted on Ken Etete:

I woke up this morning feeling great, happy to be alive and surrounded by wonderful people. The actors and reason for every action. Looking around me, I saw all the gadgets and appliances birthed by technology (the dreams of people in reality) and reached for my favourite- the cell phone. Some decades ago, it would take me about a week to be informed of happenings in the US or even Mali with only sketchy details and a lot of embellishment. Today, with the touch of a button, I have news real time.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Biz club 2

So a few weeks ago, October 25th to be precise, the delectable Joy Isi Bewaji invited me to read at the “Business of Writing Event.” Award winning travel writer Pelu Awofeso already did a blog post about the event here and you can find a whole lot more by searching the hash tag #WritingBizNG.

So I read one of my Sabi News #WhatIf series pieces, Dear OAP, What If your accent is confused? 

But that is not the news. The gist really, is that my reading was recorded by IfooAfrica, an audio based online platform that aims to bring back the African art form of storytelling, and it is available on their platform here. You can also listen by clicking on the link below. Do well to share :)

Dear OAP, What if….?

wmmcWhat if your cheese is moved?

Cheese? I hear you ask.

Yes, cheese and no, this is not some Disneyland cat and mouse fable. In a way though, it is, different only by the amount of wisdom and enduring life lessons that it bears for which you should be thankful not to me, but to the one from whose mouth the story was first told, Dr Spencer Johnson.

You see, I am not a motivational speaker or something. I certainly do not subscribe to buying tickets to gather in a hall and listen to some smart fellow mouth-off on carefully memorized quotes by great thinkers in the name of helping me fulfill my destiny when the only destiny being fulfilled is that of the organizer. I begrudge you not if you do. What we can agree easily on, however, is the fact that life is one continuous struggle to find cheese, to graduate, find a job, get married, win an election, win the Nobel. Like mice running about a maze, some of us are good at sniffing out cheese, others are quicker to reach it and some others still are really good at helping themselves to more than their fair share of the cheese.

What if your cheese is moved, I ask again?

What if that means of livelihood and happiness that you’ve criss-crossed the labyrinths of the corridors and narrow chambers that is life to find – your job, position, political office, relationship, marriage, house, good health, etc,  is suddenly and rudely taken away? What if your life as you know it today in which everything seems ordered suddenly turns on its head and comes crashing down like a pack of loosely piled cards?

What would you do? How would you react? Wail until your tear glands produce blood? Grumble to everyone who cares to listen until you begin to sound miserable? Mourn it like you would the dead? Live in denial like it’s not happening? Blame your enemies and the owl that cried at night? Embark on fasting and prayer for the old cheese to be returned? Or would you sob a little, embrace it, adjust quickly and proceed to discovering new and perhaps even better testing cheese?

How complacent have you become about your present life circumstances? You grew up in affluence; all your needs are but a phone call away. You have that fantastic job and the world is perfect because a bank alert is certain by month’s end. Your startup business is bringing in more returns than the books projected so you can afford to spend less time at work and learn to play golf. Your constituents love you, you have stuffed their necks full so you can afford to relax in Abuja as the next election approaches and be certain they will vote you. Your husband, well you now have him hooked, why are you still bothering about looking good or being in shape?

We often get so comfortable and even develop a serious sense of arrogance in our state of comfort that we fail to notice what Changeis happening around us. So much so that even when the handwriting on the wall suggests that a change is imminent, we throw our heads the other way and reassure ourselves about the omnipotence of the status quo.

What if the cheese as a matter of its nature, is constantly moving? What if change like we often say is simply inevitable? What if your failure to change leaves you prone to extinction?

Our greatest undoing oftentimes is a refusal to become better, to learn new things, to venture out of our immediate comfort zones, to take risks. There is a natural apathy to change, a blood pressure spiking anxiety that comes with venturing into the unknown. This is why we refuse to admit even to ourselves that it is time to move on. We forget easily that when we are able to move beyond our fears, we feel and truly become free.

Old beliefs do not lead to new cheese it must be said. Doing things the same way over and over again and expecting a different result is the stuff psychosis is made of.  This has been our bane as a nation and also as individuals. We have mastered the art of complaining as a people but we never seem to be able to muster what is necessary to change the situation that has left us where we are.

So what if your cheese is moved?

old beliefNo need over-analyzing the situation. Nature guarantees that there is cheese somewhere else waiting to be found and the quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.  Jump right back into the maze in search of a new cheese mine for in the final analysis, it is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation.

First published here

Picture credits http://mroutsource.com/ and http://financialkeys2success.blogspot.com/

When I smile and say “Good morning, sir” I lie because it is clear who between us is really having a good morning.

I rose 4.00am, barely four hours after hitting the sack. With a dying rechargeable lamp, I took my turn at the compound toilet and bathroom before venturing into the dark street, my life at the mercy of robbers and their different mutations. I finished up what was left of my sleep, leaning against the cold railing of the weather beaten bus that meanders through the narrow streets on a journey to earn a living.

You woke up when the bus I boarded was already making its third trip, sipped some coffee, jogged across the new bridge to keep fit, and then made a quick stop at the club to play some tennis. Back home, you grabbed a bite of breakfast and showered, before jumping into the back of your 4WD  SUV to be chauffeur driven across the short distance to work.

I do not begrudge you your lifestyle. You’ve earned it. Many years of hard work; calculated risks that worked out, some shady deals here and there that paid off and a sprinkling of some good luck to taste. Dues well paid by Nigerian standards. So much so that you’ve been able to establish this business and have employed me to work for you. Fantastic stuff.

What I cannot stomach, however, is your definition of the relationship between me and you.

What if giving me a job is not a privilege? What if your ability to afford the next three nation summer tour for your wife and kids is by the grace of the hours I spend slaving away at your office?

You see, what we have here is a partnership. Ought to be one, actually. I have some knowledge and set of skills that you need to enable you sustain the flow of cash that in turn sustains your lifestyle. In exchange, you are to pay me for the deployment of these knowledge and skills to your benefit. There are no privileges here. It’s an exchange, a contract. I work, you pay. I am not here to be your friend, protégée, errand boy, domestic servant or slave. We are partners, but your actions don’t suggest such.

What if, sometimes, I think you are a comedian because what you pay me is a joke and it is not lost on me. It is calledtake home pay for a reason but you seem not to have ever really appreciated that or do you?

What If my take home pay cannot take me home? What if it does not manage to even get me beyond the bus stop?

You know the state of employment in the country and that a thousand others are queued up, ready to take over my job the moment I quit. So you use it against me. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded, wouldn’t have as much as grumbled audibly at my fate as the weaker party in this relationship if you made good your word of paying even the paltry sum, as and when due. But no, you decide to hold it back, this take home pay that isn’t worth its title. You decide to take from me and add to your own, just because you can. You decide to push home so far away that I do not even know where it is anymore.

What if you knew that like you, I have a family too, a wife who is worn lean of my excuses, a son who does not know the taste of jam, aged parents who hope to reap from me, the fruits of their labour? What if you knew that my rent is late and my landlord, a neighbourhood drunk, gets quite sober when he is issuing a quit notice? What if you know that endsfor me are like unlike-poles that will never attract?

The business has cash flow issues you say and we all need to be patient. Patience equals understanding which equals not being paid. I stay on, working. And when you didn’t offer me any excuses, I found one for myself, a reason to keep turning up every morning, to keep wearing the company ID card like a dog tag around my shrinking neck, waiting for a pay that is nowhere in sight.


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