“There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done; there are thousands to prophesy failure; there are thousands to point out to you one by one, the dangers that wait to assail you; But just buckle in with a bit of a grin; Just take off your coat and go to it; just start to sing as you tackle the thing; “That cannot be done”, and, you will do it”. — By Edgar A. Guest
Life is a complex tapestry of an unknown voyage with an identifiable port of embarkation provides no compass that can show a clear way towards a port of disembarkation. In the reality of human life, that compass is like a silhouette through which an imaginary picture may be painted with a colour of wish in a circumstance where and when the certainty of such a picture may be totally devoid of reality. Thus, with a realistic philosophy of life which, only a few people may have imbibed at the age of adolescence, a distinction between a proverbial silhouette and the desired true picture becomes manifest.
The similitude of a silhouette, in this case, is like the role of destiny in the life of man. It is only through the vehicle of destiny that the curriculum of a man’s odyssey in life can be clearly defined. In a nutshell, destiny is the language with which Allah talks to human beings in parables.
The Rightly Guided Few
One of the very few rightly guided people in today’s Nigeria is a quiet, self-composed and easy going gentleman with a rare digital brain and exemplary humility. His name is Chief Sarafa Tunji Ishola, an erstwhile Nigerian Federal Minister who has just been appointed as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK). For those who had known him in the past four decades, this man’s life is a special school at which most focused Nigerian youths, who are aspiring to be meaningfully great, should learn how to walk the tight rope of life.
Functions of Certificate
Unlike most Nigerian elites, who deify the tenured meal ticket called certificate, His Excellency, Chief Sarafa Tunji Ishola, the Baba Adini of Yoruba land, fervently believes more in the currency and posterity of testimonial than the ephemerality of mere certificate, even despite the retinue of certificates which he, himself, obtained from highly reputable institutions around the world.
As a matter of decent upbringing and rich global exposure, this man knows that certificate, no matter how highly valued, is only an attestation to one’s level of literacy which, as a mere meal ticket, cannot be inherited by anyone else. The tenure of any certificate comes to an end when the job for which that certificate was obtained terminates with the retirement of its possessor.
Essence of Testimonial
Through his peregrinations within the three scores of his existence on earth, Chief Ishola got to know that in a serious-minded society, it is testimonial, rather than certificate, that shows the values and virtues of a person with genuine substance. Not only that, he also knows that neither Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the greatest man that ever lived, nor Prophet Isa (Jesus), who preceded him by about 600 years in evangelical mission in the world, attended any known school for the purpose of obtaining any known certificate from anywhere. Yet, for almost two millennia after their exit from the earth, both men remain the foremost custodians of positive legacy for mankind as guaranteed by their divine testimonials.
Chief Ishola knows, as well, that even in the contemporary mundane time, one of the most revered Western leaders, especially in the 20th century, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, who successfully took Britain through the World War II, still remains a permanent symbol of leadership in Britain till date. Yet, that colossal legend never saw the four walls of anything called University. By his well known intellectual disposition, Churchill was considered one of the best educated British Prime Ministers known to British history. Thus, by his rich philosophical conviction, Chief Ishola believes that in a world where plagiarism plays a big but vainglorious role in obtaining certificate, only men of mediocrity will place premium on certificate at the expense of testimonial.
Flag of Knowledge
As a deeply informed personality with an immaculate flag of knowledge, even in the sphere of Islamic religion, His Excellency knows that after death, it is only an impeccable testimonial, rather than a written certificate of literacy, that can pave way for any righteous person to paradise. That is one quality that was duly recognized in him by the League of Imams and Alfas of Yoruba land, which prompted the latter to confer the highly respected title of Baba Adini of Yoruba land on him.
The secret of Human Life
Through the unique philosophy of life that he fervently imbibes, this Nigerian High Commissioner in the UK knows that the
Secret of any man’s or any woman’s fingerprint cannot be deciphered with precision by any mortal being.
Today, there are about 7.8 billion people in the world. Each one of them has his or her own natural fingerprint which is not similar to that of another person and cannot be shared or duplicated. And, no one can interpret, in reality, the contents of the fingerprint of another person. The best that can be done, by any mortal being, is to take someone’s fingerprint and compare it to another’s for security purpose.
For those who did not know, fingerprint is an evidence of destiny in the life of man. It is Chief Ishola’s strong belief in the role which destiny plays, in human life, that makes him the exemplarily humble and contented man of vertical standing that he is today.
Causes of Greatness
Looking at the background of all great men and women in history, a good observer will discover that none of them attained greatness by birth or by heritage. All human beings are born the same way and by the same means. It is only the environments and the circumstances of their birth that may differ. Therefore, the material concept which engendered the saying that “some people are born great” is a mere fallacy that has no root in the soil of genuine faith.
Greatness is not measured in terms of the amount of money in one’s bank account or by the number of properties in one’s possession. If possession of money or that of properties is what constitutes greatness, then, it is money or property that should wear the toga of greatness in today’s world when human beings have turned themselves into errand agents for material possessions. Most of the genuinely great people in history did not know that they were great when alive. The factors of life that conferred greatness on them in the archives of history are the legacies they left behind which became beneficial heritage for others after their departure.
Evidence of Destiny
When, as a young man, Chief Sarafa Ishola first travelled to the UK, where he commenced studies at the Institute of Chartered Marketing, in 1978, hardly did he know that, he would become the Nigerian High Commissioner in that same country one day. And, as if studying in the UK was an intuitive signal of what was waiting for him, in future, in the UK, the young Ishola also followed up the study of marketing with that of Principles of Investment at South West London College, at Tooting, Broad Way. While doing all these, it did not occur to him that he could become the principal negotiator for his country on investment at a time when negotiation might become essentially crucial in international business transactions. Yet, as recently as 2009, he still went for Master of Business Administration (MBE) as a further enhancement of his educational prowess in line with Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith that seeking knowledge is from cradle to grave.
The diplomatic status of a High Commissioner in the glorious days of the Commonwealth Empire was like that of today’s Ambassador Plenipotentiary in the advanced countries. That Chief Ishola is Nigeria’s High Commissioner in Britain, today, is not by any accident of politics or that of history. It is rather a confirmation of the acknowledged ambassadorial testimonial which he had consistently displayed naturally since his kid days, either as a pupil in the primary school or as a potentially reliable leader in his secondary school days.
It was that trait in him that gingered his urban and rural people, in the Egba area of Ogun State, to ask him to join politics in order to represent them effectively in government. And when he obliged them and contested for the post of a Local Government Chairman, on a zero party platform, they voted for him overwhelmingly. Thereafter, he did not just become the Chairman of Abeokuta North Local Government Council; he was also the Chairman of all Chairmen in the State. It was his ability to perform excellently in managing his Local Government with zero monetary allocation, as Chairman, that paved the way for him to be appointed as the Secretary to Ogun State Government (SSG), under Otunba Gbenga Daniel, from where he later rose to become the Minister of Mines and Steel Development in the Ministerial Cabinet of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. That is one of the profits of combining assiduity with contentment in an environment where unbridled greed and corruption are the order of the day.
This write up is not meant to serve as a media hipe for the man of the moment. And, it should not be seen as such. Ordinarily, yours sincerely does not write to sing praise or eulogize anybody for any benefit. But if certain people can be criticized for not doing well, certain other people should be commended for doing well if only to serve as an encouragement for them to perform better as well as an incentive for the younger ones to emulate them. That is what genuine journalism should be about in building a veritable society today that for comfortable posterity tomorrow.
One unique and natural feature that is manifestly vivid in the personality of Chief Sarafa Ishola is his strong belief in service to humanity at any level of existence without expecting any personal benefit. He sees no worth in a life that has no way of serving others for the well being of all and sundry. Perhaps that is a reason why Chief Ishola regards any desperate quest for certificate as a matter of self-serving venture while testimonial, to him, is for the service of others.
If many men like him could be fished out and appointed as Ambassadors for Nigeria in serious countries, it will become obvious that the benefit of that will be for our country and not for the aimless hostlers alone. So far, this man’s natural testimonial has stood him in good stead and it is now left for good intentioned well wishers to pray for his success that Nigeria may not be a loser in the world of diplomacy. Kudos to Nigerian government for fishing out a vertical man like Chief Ishola and for appointing him as a trusted envoy in a country like UK. Such is an action that Nigeria will not regret. However, more of similar citizens should be fished out and be placed in such strategic positions for the progress and greatness of our nation. God bless Nigeria!
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