Leslie Oghomienor: A tribute well deserved
Heraclitus said ‘Character is destiny’. As I am your wife, I will describe your character as original, creative and bold in thinking and in action, extremely focused on set goals and hardworking to a level that inspires me and sometimes awes me.
We are all products of our genes, our backgrounds. Your father was a visionary in his own time, the first set of Nigerian senior managers in Lever Brothers (now Unilever) in the sixties and seventies. He left Unilever to commence production of a product that could be produced locally but which was being imported by the multinationals. The everchanging Government policy did not favour him in the long run. Still, he was a man ahead of his time.
I think you inherited that part of you from him.I will also add that you are one person who can be trusted with other people’s money. One naira will not go missing. In our early years of marriage, I used to marvel at your skills at money management, your monthly budget lists, your always living within your means, your paying your taxes on time.
Your belief in documentation, following processes have earned the company you co -founded with others laurels and high respect in the oil and gas industry. Russel Smith is known to win bids based on competence and not ‘man know man’. Yes. That is the kind of company someone like you would set up.
You are also a true Nigerian – an Urhobo man who was born in Lagos, attended primary school at Corona school Gbagada, secondary school, Federal Government College Enugu and then the University of Jos.
If Heraclitus is right, that character is destiny, what would your destiny be?
The children and I live for the Saturday mornings when you are relaxed and play Ghanaian highlife E.T. Mensah from the sixties, the music your mother loved so much. One minute, we are listening to that, the next, we are dancing to Fela or Jayzee or Phyno. Very few people understand how you move so fluidly within the music and entertainment world, the business world and the sports industry. Only occasionally do I remind them you produced an album in 1998 that won ‘Best movie soundtrack album of the year‘ featuring RMD Out of Bounds. Then your Mum said enough of music. Go and get a real job. Hence you ended up at Accenture.
When Mrs. Ajayi tried to match make us, she said ‘hmm, that Leslie, he is a genius’, I thought to myself, ‘excuse me, I come from a family of super smart people’. There are not many men who can commit to a woman who matches them in intelligence and ability. As we grow together and we talk more and confide in each other more, we make better life decisions. In fact, we make better decisions all round.
Did we start out like that? No, we did not. Has it taken time, counselling, experience, perseverance and lots of compromise to get us where we are now? Of course it has. Every good marriage has.
Do I sometimes wish the funds invested in Barca Academy and especially the Elite team ended up in my soup pot? And housekeeping allowance! But really, the joy I get from seeing you give young people hope more than makes up for the sacrifices I have had to make.
As you have advanced in age and have experienced extremely tough situations, I see you are more accommodating of people less smart than you. I also see you are kinder. You appreciate better those who care for you and even those who do not. You now instinctively understand better the other person’s position, whether they appear to be right or wrong.
I tell you to start to take notes that will become useful when you begin to write your life story and I hope that this golden jubilee and the situations in which we have most recently found ourselves in will finally galvanize you to do so. What does not kill you only makes you stronger. Young people in Africa need genuine role models, real people, people they can relate to, people they have access to, people who can help them dream and help them believe they can realize their dreams.So on this glorious event of your golden jubilee, the children and I wish you excellent health, enough wealth to give away to those who have less, and sunshine happiness that will radiate to others.Because indeed, as your parents named you, you are Memeredena, Man of the Future.Happy birthday.