Toyin Akinosho@60 “He sets the Standard very high -Paul Kelechi

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If you are teachable, he is a good teacher. Sometimes, you don’t even know that you are following his leadership until the job is done. He is an honest, compassionate man who seeks out opportunities that will benefit those under his care.

It is true that leaders must enforce standards!

When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or published, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable, that poor performance becomes the new standard. Passion is also key; for good leaders must find a way of communicating their visions to their subordinates in such a way that they — the subordinates, take the leader’s vision and make it their own.

Many a conversation we have had, Mr. Akinosho and I, over a cup of coffee which he usually pays for and on various field trips to cover events. All have been learning processes for me and I relish every opportunity I have to pick up a prized gem when it drops; usually from his lips.

The scene for today’s lesson is the arrival section of Murtala International Airport in Lagos. We have just landed from a facility tour and waiting for our baggage to “arrive.” As it is typical, the wait stretched from minutes to hours until our legs hurt from standing! Other passengers gathered in small clusters and quickly, temporary bonds of friendship were formed amongst passengers in waiting.

Mostly, their chats of lamentation were all about the terrible experiences they have had in relation to the so called “Nigerian Factor;” why nothing seems to work in this place we all call home. The gurney in which our baggage was to arrive was worn out and rickety. The conveyor belt had a very large hole in it that could fit a midsized travel bag. People just patiently lined up around the it watching to see wether the next bag that came outout from the “control room” would be theirs while being entertained by the squeaky sound that emanated from the carousel


Just a few feet from where we were standing we could hear the conversation of a group of young men. We couldn’t help but listen to their conversation since they were within earshot. It was mostly negative for the better part of our wait. I kept a keen eye on the conveyor belt, just in case our bag arrived on time. Then a young man in his mid-thirties wearing dark blue jeans and white short-sleeve T-shirt spoke up from group. He had been a bit silent while the venting of anger over the unnecessary delay raged.

“Maybe we could do a video of what is happening in here and show the whole world how deplorable our international airport is,” he suggested. “I mean, since it is practically impossible for them to allow a TV station to come officially to report this, it is left to the passengers to let the world know what is happening; don’t you think?” he asked rhetorically.

“I don’t think that would have any impact,” replied the man wearing a “Be the Reds” polo standing opposite him.

“I am certain that other people must have taken pictures of this gurney and posted videos on social media before. Do you see the authorities doing anything about it?” he questioned with arms outstretched.

I knew I was going to learn something from that conversation, but I also knew the lesson learned was not going to come from the group; but the man I was standing next to and; true to my instinct, it came in this form:
“That is the problem we have a people,” Akinosho began, lowering his voice a bit so that he was talking to only me, “we just do not see a clear solution to our problems and somehow, we amplify the problem at any given opportunity we have. None of those guys have proffered a solution to the problem at hand except the guy in white. The problem would always be there, but he did not complain too much about it. He thought it through and suggested a solution that could get the attention of the authorities, but the other guy knocked it down. We need to change the mindset of seeing only the problem and not the solution.”

Our bags arrived and we left. Lesson learned.

Never compromise on standards, never compromise on quality. Those are words I am all too familiar with.

To meet the Africa Oil+Gas Report writing standard of the publisher, you have to be good. Even at that, the quality bar keeps going up. I recently wrote an article that would be published in the next edition and I got a call from the publisher: “You did a nice job with the material; I didn’t expect that you could get so much information out of it like you did. Importantly, I don’t have to do a lot of work trying to clean it up!”

To some people, he is being too critical. But, if you really think about it and analyze it, it is a nice way of saying ‘don’t be complacent at your job’. Good leaders do this all the time and with ease.

Toyin Akinosho might be many things to many people but his true qualities are clearly seen. If you are teachable, he is a good teacher. Sometimes, you don’t even know that you are following his leadership until the job is done. He is an honest, compassionate man that seeks out opportunities that will benefit those under his care. Poblisha, as he is fondly called by many, is not just a colleague but a true gentleman and friend.

(May your days be long, and may they be filled with joy and happiness even as we celebrate you today.)

Paul Kelechi is on the staff of Africa Oil+Gas Report, AOGR

Essay excerpted with the kind permission of the author from “Poblishaaa…The Man, His Arts, The Myth: Dissecting the interventions of Alfred Oluwatoyin Akinosho in the enterprise of Culture Production, Art Advocacy & Criticisms”
http://www.lagosbookartfestival.org/reports-resources/toyin-akinosho-60-commemorative-publicatione-book
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