A former employee of garrulous billionaire, Jimoh Ibrahim took to Facebook to share the lessons he learnt from working with the man many Nigerians hate.
JIMOH IBRAHIM: CHRISTMAS AND 2003- THE LESSON FROM MY OGA
I am not surprised that Araba is holed up in hostel or classroom far away from the real enjoyment here. He has always been like that and he expected everyone to be like that.
I worked with Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim in 2003 elections and became the only person from Ondo State who joined him at Global Fleet Oil & Gas as the Officer in Charge of Legal later Admin. I joined him when he had four petrol Stations and I left when we hit the 103 mark. I left on my own accord ( probably the first staff to attain that feat at that period). It was a crazy period, very educative, confusing and frustrating at that time and extremely confounding but today I am the better for it for obvious reasons which I intend to share with the whole house.
The date was 23, December 2003, our salary was late in coming and most of the staff were apprehensive and angry. Anxiety was written all over the staff. 25/26 Kayode Abraham street, Victoria Island was like a ghost town everyone was concerned. Some of us who had the gut went to Yetunde the closest person to our Oga and told her matter of fact the way the staff felt. She promised to get back to me. At that period I have created the impression of a bold, courageous and efficient staff. We waited. Yetunde did not get back and the waiting continued.
I refused to go back to her again. Around 2.45 pm a memo was circulated for a meeting with the CEO for exactly 3.00 pm. The apprehension increased. Some had started packing their loads expecting their sack letter. Some came to me to know what to do or expect. I told them I do not care whatever he does. All I know is I want our salaries paid and I intend to travel to Oka for Xmas.
At exactly 3.00 pm our Oga entered the meeting clutching his cup of MacDonald’s tea and the pack made of fine wood and some grasses. He asked someone to pray and went straight into the only agenda of the meeting. Listen to him. ” I learnt some of you have been involved in what seems like a mutiny in this office today. When Yetunde informed me, I was disappointed in her why she did not issue you people query for acts not in conformity with the goals of this company. My plan is to teach you people the secrets of financial success and freedom. If you are here and you cannot learn or accept to learn the rudiments of financial success then you have no business being here. Your behaviour today is one of the reasons why you cannot be rich. When men like Otedola, Dangote and myself are behind our desks working on how to increase the bottom line, poor men like you are thinking of Christmas. We would not think of Christmas because while you save to buy chicken every Christmas, we work to make as much money that makes everyday like Christmas to us. That is why we are rich and we can buy anything. Listen to me, you are only recognised when you have money. If you don’t have money, your wife will be too ashamed to call you honey in public and your children will deny you in public that you are their father.
He continued, ” Look at me, my father is a village bricklayer but today I can employ 1000 bricklayers better than my father in a day. You are all here when people like Otunba Subomi comes to greet me. Mrs Ibru sees me as a member of her family. At a private breakfast at the Ibru house sometimes ago, Baba Adeboye gave me a special prayer because as a young person probably the youngest, I dropped the highest offering in pounds in the hand of Baba Adeboye. So, money is important. For you to have money, you must plan, sacrifice and work for it. If not you people will never be rich”. That was the end of the meeting. We all dispersed. I was angry with myself. I did not even know what to think , do or say. I was just blank.
Just a few minutes later a bullion van from Oceanic Bank headquarters at Ozurumba Nbadiwe drove into the compound and the staff were invited one after the other to come and collect their salary. I walked up to the paymaster collected my N30,000.00 in new mint of N10.00 (30 packs) and left for my house.
Talking seriously, I have never been so humiliated in my life. I felt totally disappointed that I never had the opportunity to say a word or two. I really felt bad and I could say that was the worst Christmas I ever had. The reason was that a man, who is junior to me in age, whom I assisted his course when he wanted to be a Governor of my State, a man who is a lawyer like me (very senior one at that) and a man just because he has money could violate my person like that without any opportunity to reply or challenge his impudence. I really felt bad. There and then I made up my mind that I will quit the job but not until I have the opportunity of getting my own pound of flesh. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity until I ” withdrew” my service sometimes in 2004 to go into private practice. One thing I did was that I probably was the only staff who left the employment of Araba at that period on his own terms. I forwarded my letter of withdrawal of Service and submitted to Yetunde. He invited me to his office at the penthouse, he scolded me for about 45 mins for my impudence and the tone of my letter. He directed me to go and withdraw it and continue my work that he is growing me for a specific role. I listened but I declined and he wished me all the best. I left his office he sent for me again on my way out and gave me N100,000.00 cash. He shook my hand and wished me best of luck.
When I became an employer, after setting up my law practice off Allen Avenue, Ikeja. I soon discovered what is meant to make money, how difficult it is to keep it, to make ends meet. I also discovered what is meant by work, leisure and pleasure. I discovered that, no one looks at a man who is not successful and that money plays a major role in being successful. Someone said, ” you will be addressed the way you are dressed”. That is personality. But your purse is equally more important than your dressing. Those who know Araba would appreciate his is not the best dresser in Igbotako talk less of Ondo State. But I can bet only few people has the level of his deep creative mind, strategic thinking, ability to communicate ideas, his deep understanding of numerous issues, his penchant for hard work and his unique style of doing things.
After the initial antagonism and pent up anger against him I discovered a lot of truth in all that he said even if I did not agree entirely with him. In 2006, we met again at Excellence Hotel Ikeja in one of his Seminars and he openly acknowledged me to a great applause. When he bought Great Nigeria Insurance, I was already back in Corporate practice as Company Secretary /Legal Adviser of Confidence Insurance PLC. He attempted to lure me to Abuja to work with him. But I knew the two of us had strong characters and it may not work. I declined.
Araba’s penchant for the unlikely is legendary. It started in his early days at the University. He is the Editor in Chief of Nigeria Inter Faculty Law Journal, I have read his book on Osoro, I have a copy of his book on Mohammed Bello former CJN. I was a visitor to his rich library at VGC and his level of attachment to books especially motivational books. Today I have benefited by agreeing to always work , work and work. I borrowed the act of working on holidays, Xmas, new year and Sundays from a man that thought me something the hard way which I was told ” is the best way and probably the only way”. Araba, I thank you for 23, December, 2003 and for November 26, 2016.