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Toast to unalloyed friendship

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In one of his philosophical jottings, the great Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, wrote on three types of friendship. Those based on utility.

Friendship based on utility is the most common. People associate for their mutual usefulness. Example, a car owner and a mechanic.

Those based on pleasure or delight friendship for pleasurable gains. Examples, drinking together, sexual exploits between men and women.

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Those grounded in virtue.

This is the most ideal type of friendship.

It is constructive engagement. Friends share common values and principles of an irreducible moral nature which allows them to honour and rever each other. Simply put, this is an essentially selfless relationship which sustains, encourages nurtures, supports and celebrates lifetime friendship as opposed to relationship bound by utility or pleasure. True friends are not phoney. They are sincere, authentic, loyal, honest, kind, caring, respectful, sympathetic, trustworthy, truthful, dependable and a source of love and support. Moral and virtue theorists counsel that personal relationship built since youthful days must be taken seriously. This should be a true friendship that is affable, affectionate, amiable, amicable, attentive, believable, brave, cheerful, considerate, cordial, discerning, easy-going, empathetic, faithful, forgiving, humorous, generous, gentle, heartfelt, honest and kind. Some friendship has been characterised by snubs, slights, misunderstanding and betrayals. I have been lucky to enjoy true friendship in my life which is noble, edifying and enriching. I have enjoyed over forty-seven years of healthy friendship with Venerable Segun Agbetuyi which had and still have a positive influence on my life. We have succeeded in sustaining friendship and intimacy that is grounded in shared goals, concern for each other and mutual caring.

It is no exaggeration that Venerable Segun Agbetuyi is the best friend l have ever had and still have. He has played and still playing lots of roles in my life as a trusted adviser, number one cheerleader, confidant, one with milk of human kindness, care and support as well as someone who shares with me moments of joy and despair.

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Our friendship is one of the greatest gifts in my life. It is a friendship in which l have found trust, companionship, love, hope and compassion. He was part of my youthful adventures and even escapades. We grew up in challenging circumstances and struggling to fulfil our destinies having lost our fathers in our young ages. We were not born with the fabled silver spoon. We aspired for the best in life. We exalted bond and friendship, not in glib terms. We spent time together affectionately. We freely exchanged gifts. Till date, he remains an old and new soul. I can’t remember any altercation or contention between us. In all of these, Segun proved to be a great talent. He is kind, generous, loving, giving, honest and caring. It was a good, respectable and mandatory move to attend church services. Those were memorable times of our lives. Right from youth, Segun established unquestionable relationship with God. It was not a surprise much later that he studied, trained hard and became a Minister of God. He rose rapidly and today he is a Venerable in the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. I have worshipped several times under his ministration and I can say loud and clear, that his knowledge of the WORD is deep.

Beside, Segun knows the challenges of business management like he knows his palms. He is deploying this knowledge to assist the church to manage its enterprises. He is a God-fearing man with strong convictions. He is a man with great testimonials of deep zeal and commitment to the growth of Christianity.

There is something unique about Venerable Segun Agbetuyi. His academic records were a commendable catalogue of distinctions. He left Ekiti Parapo College, Ido Ekiti at the top of the class. The child of providence from Ekiti went to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in the early 1970s where he honed his skills in banking and finance. He qualified as a certified and chartered banker of the UK Institute of Bankers in his first year at ABU, Zaria. It did not come as a surprise that the authorities of his alma mater head hunted him as a lecturer before his graduation. He was discovered as an academic star in his very early days in the University. For the brief period, he was at the Congo Campus of ABU, Zaria, Segun was celebrated for his brilliance, competence and effectiveness. He was strict with his students. Yet his sense of humour and humility was disarming.

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As a University Teacher, he had a combination of the rare attributes of hardwork, scholarship, frankness, flexibility, dedication, focus and commitment. His stay in the academic community was brief but impactful. It is an indisputable fact that today Segun can look back with satisfaction at the many children he has fathered in the banking industry, first as a lecturer and later as CEO of a flourishing commercial bank, Omega Bank.

Perhaps, he is one of the most loved personalities. He is loved as a family man of remarkable qualities, he is loved as dedicated University Teacher, he is loved as an exemplary banker of the highest caliber and extremely high standard, he is loved as a friend to many people, his loved in his current calling as a man of God, a Venerable in the Anglican Church. Like his sojourn in the academic community, he was headhunted into the banking industry, even though he had previously in the early 1970s, before proceeding to the University, worked as a Clerk/Cashier in two banks, Nigeria ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—Arab Bank and Bank of America.

At a young age, early twenties, he was already holding managerial positions in the baking industry. This is an indication that he had watched his hands clean and could comfortably eat with elders. He held several top positions at International Bank for West Africa, Nigerian – American Merchant Bank, Bank of Boston, USA before capping it all as Managing Director, Omega Bank Plc and later Chairman, Board of Directors of Spring Bank Plc. He shone brightly as a banker of the old generation. He unabashedly embraced the right things – principle, hard work, diligence, honesty and sincerity of purpose and intentions. Significantly too, he had an unwavering sense of duty, loyalty, professionalism, discipline and demonstrable integrity. There is something relatively unknown about Segun. He loves writing. His writings are refreshing, informative, educative, incisive, factual and analytical. In the world of Journalism, not all Journalists are columnists. Equally, not all columnists are Journalists. Most notable Newspaper and Magazines promote columns as a veritable means of opinion moulding and a source of harvesting alternative ideas for policy formulation and execution by any purposeful administration.

In the 1970s and 1980s, New Nigeria, a Kaduna based Newspaper was very influential even though the Newspaper was forcefully acquired by the then military adventurers in politics. The Editors of the tabloid created a column, “AS I SEE IT”, which was freely made available to any Nigerian to express their views on burning national issues. Segun Agbetuyi was one of the regular contributors.

His passion was the promotion of economic prosperity, good governance and visionary political leadership. He is not a coward, trembling with fears not to step on toes. He is blunt and fearless. Notable writers are like Prophets with accurate predictions and projections. Sometimes in 1976, Segun wrote on Nigeria’s search for an acceptable national policy on foreign exchange management. In a manner mnemonic of Adam Smith’s postulation, he submitted that the wealth of the nation will not be measured by the opulence, conspicuous living conditions, an ill-gotten wealth of the few rich and parasitic men and women of power either in “agbada” or “Khaki”.

But the determinant factors will be total eradication of ignorance, disease, illiteracy, poverty, deprivations, under development as well as the formulation and implementation of an economic blueprint that guarantees happiness and prosperity for the nation and the largest proportion of her citizens. If his admonition falls on deaf ears, he reasoned that the desire for an industrial breakthrough, economic transformation, job opportunities, food security, peace and orderliness, liberal democracy and enthronement of justice and fair play would remain mere dreams. His admonition went unheeded. What prophesy! His prophecy came several years before Chinua Achebe’s dreary but eye-opening book – The Trouble With Nigeria.

Nigeria today is reaping the fruits of the indifference as she cannot keep her over 200 Million population safe, productive and secure.

Sadly, starvation, want, poverty, joblessness and abridgement of the civil rights to earn a legitimate living are looming disastrously. The greatest majority of the citizens remain the poorest of the poor globally. Yet, economic watchers say Nigeria is richly blessed with fertile land, floods of oil, natural endowments and a hugely energetic and talented people. Experiences in life have shown that our individual life is not an untroubled existence. The journey is usually a mixture of challenges and fulfilment, joy and sorrow, expectations and heartbreaking disappointment, achievements and failures, triumphs and dilemmas, hope and despair, tortuous and momentous. Like all human beings, Segun experienced all these pleasant and unpleasant situations. But with amazing courage, dynamism, zeal, determination and above all God’s unceasing blessings, he survived all the odds. On the last day of June 1953 in Usi Ekiti, the same day the then American prestigious car Chevrolet Corvette was first rolled out, Venerable Segun Agbetuyi was born. He has aged gracefully since then. And Tuesday, June 30, 2020, is his birthday. Sadly, the apocalyptic scourge, COVID-19, has decreed that no clicking of glasses, pumping of hands and warm embrace. But there is no inhibition if I shout with my face mask, Happy Birthday to Venerable Segun Agbetuyi, a friend who has shown the greatest of love to me.

Bodunrin, a journalist with AIT/Ray Power FM, wrote from Abuja.

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