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Emi, in push through the wall, interrogates life journey, wealth, others

By Ann Godwin and Obinna Nwaoku, Port Harcourt
03 December 2023   |   3:49 am
Nigerian business mogul and Chairman of Elshcon Group of Companies, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, in a 332-page compelling story of life’s intricacies, has chronicled his journey, especially from different phases of successes and failures, both in private and public sectors.

Immediate past President, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Chief Nabil Ssleh; author of the book and Chairman of Elshcon Group of Companies, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji and immediate past National President of NACCCIMA, Ide John Udeagbala at the book launch… recently.

Nigerian business mogul and Chairman of Elshcon Group of Companies, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, in a 332-page compelling story of life’s intricacies, has chronicled his journey, especially from different phases of successes and failures, both in private and public sectors.

The book presentation, which held at the La Sien Pavilion, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, recently, attracted high networth guests in Rivers State who converged 0n the venue to honour the Kalabari chief and ex-President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce.

Titled, Push Through The Wall…Way Of Success, the 19-chapter book chronicles his beliefs, hopes, successes and failures. Membere-Otaji, a University of Lagos-trained medical doctor-turned entrepreneur, in the tripod-styled book (novel, biography and leadership) interrogates the life of a resolute maverick fortified by God to push through to new frontiers.

Rivers Deputy Governor Fetes Membere-Otaji
IN her speech, the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Professor Ngozi Odu, who was the special guest of honour, described the author as an astute professional. She said the author is not someone who makes excuses for failure.

According to her, the book’s title was coined from the mantra in the ministry: ‘Push through the wall to get result’ when Membere-Otaji was Commissioner of Health and she the Permanent Secretary. She added the mantra motivated from being one of the best in healthcare delivery.

Her words: “From 1999, I had opportunity to work with him; he was my commissioner and I was his Permanent Secretary. Emi is not a very easy person to work with, I must say that. But the good thing is: I am six years older than Emi. But I respected his office and I respected him.

“One golden thing about Emi is that he has a listening ear. And you can tell somebody that has great leadership quality. When someone cannot listen, it can be a problem. If Emi has a good idea and you have a better idea, Emi will drop his and pick up yours.

“The phrase, ‘push through the wall’, is as old as 24 years ago. When we had tasking challenges, Emi would say, pass through the wall. In attempt to pass through the wall, we could do it and excel. So, ‘Pass through the wall’ became a slogan in the ministry,” she said, while giving her speech.

Speaking on the subject of the book, he said the motivation for bringing to fruition a compendium of his life trajectories was spurred by series of requests from associates, mentees, journalists and many he had opportunity to lead over the years, both in the private and public sectors.

“Often, it’s been, ‘please tell your story’ to inspire and motivate people, young and old. Finally, in 2022, the search for the principal story writer fell on the laps of an author and leadership expert, Dr. Godwin Orovwiroro. Being an avid reader myself, however, it took over a year of ding-dong between us for the book that best fits my beliefs, as a novel, biography, and as a leadership book, to be ready for print.”

He added that it is imperative for him to write something, saying: “Since 1988, I have been employing people both in the private sector, and in six years, the public sector as commissioner and as special adviser, and in other government assignments, both in the Federal and state governments.

“So, I have had to lead people and I decided that there should be a book that would tell some of these stories, some of the journey we have gone through. And the journey has had negative sides, failures, positive sides, successes, and nuances. So, the essence is that, get a book that will be interesting to read just like a novel, but it is not a fiction because the main character is not fictional but real.

“So, the book is biographical. Then after each chapter you see the leadership lessons.

“Now, a reader would be made to ask, what are these nuances, what are the failures. It encapsulates these and we put leadership nuggets so that a reader will not fail. The reader would rather search for the successes and may improve on them. Basically, each chapter has from 10 to 20 leadership nuggets.

“The book is a journey from childhood to age nearly 65. There are 19 chapters that had to go through and as I said it is a journey. It is said that a dancer does not see his back.”

Membere-Otaji noted that about 10 persons ranging from CEOs of banks, captains of industry captains reviewed the book so that readers could form their opinion of issues interrogated and not just rely on publisher’s own perspective.

The publisher gave his thoughts on wealth creation and generational wealth transfer issues, lamenting that many wealthy persons have not been able to transfer same to their children.

He pointed out that a lot of times people live for the immediate. He noted that creating wealth and then transferring their wealth to the next generation is one practice that is rapidly becoming scarce.

He said: “A lot of times people don’t achieve this. If you meet a 65-year-old person, he will tell you there is nothing provided for tomorrow. He made millions or billions and used it up. So, there are lots of areas in the book to help you create and also to plan for the rainy day.”

He advised youths to keep an open mind, saying: “In life, do not move with your eyes closed. Always have your antennas on, be observant so that you will be able to have ideas that you can execute. And, as you go, if you hit a brick wall, the title of this book will spring up in your mind: ‘Pass Through The World, no excuse. Make solutions.”

People’s Impression Of The Book
ALSO speaking on the book, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah (rtd.), former Chief of Army Staff, said, it “is a tale of a real-life story of how a young mind navigated the tuff, through to adulthood, inspired by the values of his era and propelled to leadership heights. Very interesting story; recommended for aspiring minds who desire and want to aspire to great heights.”

A retired Nigerian Federal Permanent Secretary, and Chairman, Access Bank Plc, Dr (Mrs) Ajoritsedere Awosika, said: “From the book, one can easily see how a person can become gainfully and legitimately engaged in multiple ways that positively benefit society in no small measure. Aptly captured are: Consistency in pursuing career goals and passion, engaging in fruitful endeavours, seeking guidance in recognised potential, self-discovery and alignment, embracing challenges and exploring such opportunities, crowned with the intentional building of relationships and sustainably growing network.”

The MD/CEO of Nigerian Export- Import Bank (NEXIM), Abba Bello, also recommended the book for use, not only for students of entrepreneurship, but also for those who want to develop their minds and rank among global business leaders.

He added: “This is really a fantastic book! It is very interesting, not cumbersome at all, and it made reading so easy and uncomplicated. The inspiration is super! I encourage all to get a copy of this wonderful story, which has been told in a reader-friendly way.

Callista Azogu, the ex-Deputy Managing Director, Nigerian Agip Oil Company (a subsidiary of ENI Group, Milan, Italy), called the book an epic example of building to transcend limits, leaving a legacy, and enjoying life. “That is what counts for the people that you impact while you are in this life. Some people have the blessing of helping and supporting others, expecting just to be part of their story in the future.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Holding Plc, and member, Standard Bank Group Worldwide, Demola Shogunle, said: “As one reads through the book, one begins to see God’s hand in the success and survival of Chief Emi Membere-Otaji. You also see the beauty of consultation when making major lifelong decisions.”

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