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Fela Durotoye must be a good mentor

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Fela Durotoye for president

Sir, I am a papist and I avoid occasions that would make me miss Sunday Masses. “Expediency rules over principles” sometimes, so you can’t avoid it. And so Linda called me, while I was in a burial service in Port Harcourt where I was living at the time before I moved to Abuja.

I cabled a text to tell her where I was and called her later. She needed me to come to her church, Church of God Mission Elekahia on Sunday to listen to her pastor and a Steve Harris, give talks.

The latter on development of self. Never heard of Harris. Couldn’t say no. She’s never asked. So I went. Steve Harris sounded American and shocked us when he mentioned that what he has as qualification is a school certificate. But he is a corporate trainer and a motivational speaker of good standing.

Who gave him the chance? Fela Durotoye. A massive one at that, to train staffers of a Bank for the first time. It was an impromptu notice and all other consultants, including Fela were busy on the first day of the scheduled training.

Harris, an office assistant with a graduate mien, offered to go, having watched consultants train people over time. He was not a consultant. He was a desk cleaner who watched other people train and groomed himself for the right moment. This doesn’t happen everyday in this country. This is more than being a mentor.

Durotoye is a rare prophet. I remember when I went to Fate Foundation business school to learn the art of consulting. Part of the requirement for a Diploma was that you would be sent to a mentor for mentoring.

The first and last time the mentor saw me, he muttered loudly, “I have told those people not to send anyone anymore to me. I don’t do things that don’t give me money.”

True to his words, whenever I called him, he was either in Warri, Benin or Lagos. I got the message. But I am grateful to him, for on that last day, he sold me two books worth NGN10,000. As I write, no-one mentored me. I had to self-educate.

‪After that school, years later, I approached a renowned consultant in 2014 in Port Harcourt to mentor me but he dodged the chance no-end.

Once, in a new job, years back, I called a former boss who then sat on the board of that company for tips on how to carry a pressing assignment. Surprisingly, she asked me to pay, NGN100,000. Now you know why Fela Durotoye is different.

If established people were as avuncularly kind as he was to Steve Harris, many people would be out of the street. There would be a marked flowering of businessmen, artisans, intellectuals in Nigeria who would begin to free more people from the tutelage of privation.

Imagine what good mentors would have done to the boys who are militants? And to insurgents? Many would have flourished in science and merchandize. I have never met Fela Durotoye.

Ingratiation is not my forte. But he needs to be celebrated. Ours is not the environment of the Winston Churchill where degrees don’t matter but skill and competence.

Degrees matter here, it is the be-all and end-all even if degree-holders can’t express themselves in English without words such as, “it’s like”, “we were like”, “as in”, “basically speaking”, “I followed him to, “just chill.”‬

Simon Abah, wrote from Abuja

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