Retelling UNIBEN’s artistic story…

While an undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I spent ample time hanging around the Fine and Applied Arts Department. As a consequence, I made a number of friends from around there, who were handy in helping me make sense of some of the pieces in the gallery. In addition, I was privileged to have one of them as next door neighbour at my off-campus apartment; Ugochukwu, my namesake, not only helped me understand what artists actually do by letting me into every new piece on his Artist Diary, but went on to do incredible portraits of me without either pre-informing or asking me for a fee. Charles Ekeanyanwu has always been there to satisfy my hunger for the arts; he explains stuff to me like the great teacher he’s become. Yes, I loved arts, and I still love it. Dearly.

And so, it happened that I visited the University of Benin, UNIBEN, today. UNIBEN happens to have been established in 1970, one of the first generation of Nigerian universities; a university sited in Benin, a town reputed for breathtaking artistry. Of course, I remember that my high school history teacher taught us that the Ancient Benin Kingdom was art personified. In fact, for the Benin people art forms speak louder than a thousand words and a hundred pictures put together. For them, I suppose, art is life. Little wonder every nook and cranny of Benin City is dotted with life art forms – usually of royalty, which is the epicenter of the kingdom; the king here is deity.

Immediately on stepping into UNIBEN’s main gate, I noticed something spectacular. Though ancient in its outlook, it was fine arts galore! However, my sense of art appreciation failed me this once, as I couldn’t notice, talk less of making sense of, the story that was already being told in art forms right from the gate to the convocation arena. Coincidentally, today was convocation day at UNIBEN.

Then came Dubem to the rescue. How could I have come to Benin if not that I’ve either got stuff to tidy up here or know someone who lives here? In this case it was Dubem, a friend with a touch of difference, a friend like few others, and a friend indeed. We’re at UNN together. The long and short of it all is that Dubem, GCFR we call him, is now a masters degree student at the University of Benin. Dubem was my tour guide, so to speak. And then he called my attention to this…


And then to this…


And again to this…


And yet again to this…


There is yet another one…


And then the very last one, the 6th one, right in front of the convocation arena…


This is an interactive post; let us reason together. Kindly take a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even a 5th look at all six images and say what you observed or think on the comment box. What message do you think those 6 images lined up from the gate to the convocation arena is passing across? The most satisfactory answer gets a prize from Dubem; he’s the judge too. A book mailed to you. That’s the prize. And those who know Dubem will tell you his word is his bond.

When AGE leads YOUTH: 8 unwritten rules of engagement

No one tears off a piece of a new garment to make a patch for an old one. Not only will the new garment be ruined, but the old garment will look worse with a new patch on it! And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, for the new wine bursts the old skins, ruining the skins and spilling the wine. New wine must be put into new wineskins. But no one after drinking the old wine seems to want the fresh and the new. “The old ways are best,” they say.

Those are the words of our Blessed Lord, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter five, from verse thirty-six to verse thirty-nine. Little wonder, he is reckoned not just the greatest man, but the greatest teacher who ever lived – for his wisdom can never be measured. In those words are loaded nuggets of wisdom for leadership excellence, especially in cases where age plays leader to youth. No doubt, age comes with wisdom, wisdom garnered from myriads and varieties of experiences.

However, old people who are set over young people – in a leadership arrangement – must be especially careful. They must be careful because old patch on a new garment rarely looks good, plus new wine in old wineskins bursts! The reason is not far-fetched: generational gap. Generational gap captures the fact that successive generations differ considerably on many issues that matter, especially as it relates to value-orientation. An even bigger challenge is the ‘superiority complex’ that goes with age, as reflected in the rather mischievous claim of good old days. Since leadership is more influential than positional, the leader who is to wield ‘real’ and enormous influence over youths must keep to the following unwritten rules of engagement:


  1. Give reasons; explain: They really don’t mind ‘what’ it is you want them to do, but they care about ‘why’ you want them to do it. It is typical of youths to want to know ‘why this’ and not ‘that,’ ‘why him’ and not ‘her,’ ‘why us’ and not ‘them,’ ‘why there’ and not ‘here.’ The point is that your directive is not enough; go on to explain why things should be the way you want them to be. Some older people think they don’t owe younger people explanations. Too bad. It used to be that way in the days of our fathers, but not now. Of course, they’d do it your way if you insist, but be sure they’re not comfortable with you.
  2. Know the trends – and showcase that knowledge: Youths are trend-freaks. You can be sure that something is trending for them at every point in time: fashion, music, hairdo, celebrity, gadget, slangs, and what have you. It will do you a lot of good if you’re in the know of the what’s ups in town. By knowing what’s trending, you create the impression that you’re on point and up-to-date. And there is just a way they reward you for this by being more open and friendly to you.
  3. Apologize. Thank. Appeal: Many people of the older generation rarely think they owe younger people an apology. They hesitate to say thank you because they feel they deserve things. They don’t get to beg because they have an entitlement mentality. There’s this annoying way they feel their successor-generation owe them the dues they paid their predecessor-generation. Who cares! If anyone does, that wouldn’t be the average member of the millennial generation. For God’s sake, apologize when you offend them; thank them when they do things for you; and appeal to them when you need them to do you a favour. Guess what? Your influence-rating will soar.
  4. Don’t threaten; speak to reason: Of course, they’d make tons of mistakes, usually because they’re distracted more often than not. When they do, and they always will, don’t be so red at them that you’re all threats. Guess what? Those threats mean little to them; they already know the most you can do and really don’t need you to remind them of that. Do they even care about what you’d do to them? They rarely do. Instead, conscientize them; speak to their sense of reason. You want them to feel real remorse for what they’ve done? The easiest way to get them to do that is to give them a reason to choose to do that. Remind them of how exceptional they’ve been and how what they’ve now done betrays their past and makes it all look like pretense. That would do.
  5. Don’t compare: You need to see some older people compare their own generation with that of the younger generation. They make it look like it used to be just like heaven on earth. To say the least, such comparisons are not only grossly uncalled for but annoying. Truth is: there was never a better generation and will never be; every generation only gets to respond to the changes that greet them while exploring their possibilities. Yes, gone are those days! Welcome to the now! And don’t even draw comparisons between people. That’s uncalled for, too. Individuals are both unique and differentially talented.
  6. Feign confused; ask for help: Youths lock up against the know-it-all kind of people. And many older people are especially good at priding themselves as capable of always answering every question, clearing every doubt, calming every fear, and solving every problem. How then will youths feel relevant? Why not give them opportunities to laugh at you by expressing ignorance over a seemingly easy question? Why not ask for help, which gives the impression that you too can be helpless. This is what will happen when you do so ones in a while: they’ll see you as really human, as one of them, and they’ll always flock around you.
  7. Sow respect; reap respect: With the millennium generation you earn respect; they don’t owe you it. And the only one way to reap a harvest of respect with them is to sow it. Respect them a lot, and they’d respect you a lot, too. How, you may be asking. Very little things signal respect: offer them a sit as soon as they step into your office or house, speak gently and kindly with them, keep your promises to them, temper justice with mercy, correct them with regard for their esteem, greet them – even if they didn’t greet you first, etc. Simple enough: you reap the respect you sow.
  8. Key into the digital: Be the leader who can be followed on twitter, befriended on Facebook, connected with on LinkedIn, chatted with on Whatsapp, and read up on a blog. Send materials to their mailboxes, ask them to download this or that app. In all, key into the digital revolution and ride with the flow along with them. And you’d be glad you did, since you’d always be on the same page with them.

At Anty Dayo’s feet… 12 game-changer take-homes


The date was October 15, 2016 – exactly 48 hours from Anty Dayo’s 51st birthday. The venue was Bolingo Hotel and Towers, Central Business District, Abuja. The event was the 3rd Motivators International Youth Organization Annual Conference. And I was there. Live! Who is Anty Dayo? comes up next. For now, glean the following 12 lessons from her profound wisdom …

  1. Beautiful = Be-you-to-the-full

A second look at the word beautiful reveals that it is actually be-you-to-the-full. This revelation is striking, especially in a world where people seek beauty in cosmetics and cosmetic surgery. The best that can be got from beauty products and care is ‘agreeable or pleasant looks.’ But beauty calls for more. It demands that you be original and authentic. It insists that you explore your potentials to the fullest. It requests that you devote your time and energy to the mastery of your craft and the perfection of your art. The beautiful one is the genuinely attractive one.

  1. Create a legacy

Since we’re sojourners here on earth, the best we can do for ourselves, the human community and Mother Earth, is to leave a legacy – footprints on the sands of time. With this, generations yet unborn will know we were here once upon a time. However, legacy is not a chance occurrence; it is created. How? Simple: give yourself to every single thing you do.

  1. Make it singular, make it distinctive

Since Jack of all trades is usually a master of none, make it singular; choose one thing. Just one! And then deplore all your talents, creativity, uniqueness, originality, and authenticity into it. That is, make it distinctive. Make yourself into your own brand. It may not be better than the rest, but it will be astonishingly and breathtakingly different from the rest. Leave a signature of excellence in whatever you do. This is a duty you especially owe yourself.

  1. Celebrate your teachers

The human mind at birth, contends John Locke, is a tabula rasa upon which nothing is written. Then, whence comes all our knowledge? Our teachers! Beginning from the informal to the formal teachers, we owe all else to them. And so we must celebrate them. Always. This is right and just, especially those teachers who singled us out and pushed us into the incredible people we’re today.

  1. Excellence is not there; it’s in you

Schooling abroad is good, but that’s not where excellence is resident. Excellence lives in you – and in all of us. There are people who entirely schooled here [Nigeria] and turned out into some of the bests the world over. How did that happen? They took it upon themselves to become global citizens; they resolved to leave a dent on the planet.


  1. If you believe it enough…

The measure of believe is important. You have to believe it enough to achieve it – whatever! In medicine, only the prescribed dosage will effect the needed cure. While overdose may send one to the grave, ‘underdose’ will not get the job done. In the same way, believe has to be ‘enough’ – not less than that. Wondering if there is ‘over-believe’? Of course. We call them fanatics. The point is: if you believe it enough, you can have it more than enough.

  1. The greatest tragedy of any opportunity is that you missed it

So, prepare. Someone said it best, “I will prepare and wait, my time will come.” Adequate preparation and proper positioning will ensure that you embrace every opportunity that comes to town. Opportunity, they say, comes but ones. This is hardly true. But the greatest tragedy of any opportunity, which should give you cause for concern, is that you missed it.

  1. Never sit on the sideline

Never be undecided. Never sit on the fence. Don’t drown your inner voice; speak out. Don’t submerge yourself in the crowd. Don’t align with the backbenchers. Always dare to stand up to stand out. Take a position and stand by it.

  1. A good name is better than all else

The Bible particularly says that it (good name) is better than silver and gold, and to be desired than riches. In a materialistic and consumerist society such as ours, many people have traded their good names for fat bank accounts, and will do it over and again if given a second chance. This must not apply to you. The very first legacy everyone gets to leave is their name. Ask yourself: What readily comes to mind at the mention of my name – good person or bad person? If bad person, then today is a good day to start redeeming that name.

  1. Not demons, but decisions

The eventual outcome of our life is the sum total of the decisions we’ve made. Ours is a society where the devil takes all the blame and absolves the actor of all responsibilities. You must take exception to that. Truth be told, quality decisions make for a quality life. Why not take your time to ensure that you make sound judgments and decide correctly. And if your decision backfires, keep the accusing finger at the face in the mirror and not the devil and his demons.

  1. Obliterate every negative trait

Give it a chance and it will gun for chances; leave it a foothold and it will assume a stronghold. And that’s how it works! The way out is this: obliterate every negative trait. Crush every bad habit to the finish. Better still, nip it in the bud.

  1. Get yourself a coach

The farthest you can go alone is ‘far.’ Alone you can’t go ‘very far.’ If you aspire to go very far, then a coach has got to step in, to especially help you refine your content and get you set for world class exploit. Remember that world best athletes and Olympic champions still use the services of coaches. If they do, what makes you think you don’t?