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Opinion: Interrogating President Muhammadu Buhari’s Oversized Integrity

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By Raymond Nkannebe

It has become a pastime of sorts for the APC crowd to inundate anybody who wants to listen, how the so called Integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari is the best thing to have happened to post-colonial Nigeria. They do this with a certain air of arrogance elevating Buhari to something of a Saint without a single foible.

As the 2019 general elections draw near, the craze has reached even new proportions, and the latest scheme (but which is bound to fail), is to make “personal integrity” ( or the lack of it), a defining factor in the forthcoming elections as against the score card of the administration and it’s impact on the welfare of the generality of Nigerians. The target, understandably of this defeatist campaign strategy is candidate Atiku Abubakar, who have forced a disquiet in the camp of the ruling APC on account of his towering popularity which looks certain to guarantee his victory by the 16th of February, 2019 so as to Get Nigeria Working Again. The modus operandi of the strategy is simple: emphasize Buhari’s so called integrity, and contrast same with Atiku’s.

At the official launch of the APC Presidential campaign in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state last Friday, this chorus of integrity was chanted with reckless abandon by the numerous party members who mounted the rostrum reiterating the vaunted integrity of candidate Buhari, and why that is a quality enough to earn him a hard-sought re-election. From the Director General of the Campaign Organization-Rotimi Amaechi to Adams Oshiomole amongst others, the so-called Integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari was adumbrated notwithstanding the fact that many of them sounded like a broken record.

Controversial party chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole in an interview with The Daily Sun Newspapers some three weeks ago put it in black and white thus, “I believe the president will be re-elected on the basis of his personal integrity”. Even the president himself seem to be playing the part. At a religious function in Kano a fortnight ago, he told his audience to elect only candidates with credibility and integrity in 2019. Making a veiled reference to his overrated integrity.

When the spokesman of the Buhari Campaign Organization, Mr. Festus Keyamo played host to a political programme on Channels TV the other day, he was also seen singing this swan song. Ditto Garba Shehu, Femi Adesina and the numerous other image makers of this president. With the manner in which they go about it, it gives away the impression of a well rehearsed plot behind the scene namely, to present president Muhammadu Buhari to Nigerians once again, as the only chief priest before whom divination to the ifa Oracle is possible, as they did in the run up to the 2015 polls.

The reason for this however is not hard to seek. There is nothing the government of the day has to show for its stewardship three and a half years after it promised Nigerians a Change that has proven to be a mirage. Whereas it campaigned at the time on the three pillars of Fighting Corruption, Improving the Economy and Enhancing our National Security, a one-off look at these heads of campaign thrust shows that we have only progressed in retrogression under its watch. And the facts out there bear us out that they need no demonstration in this intervention.

Having come to this realisation, the only alternative is to latch on to the time worn “mai gaskiya” narrative, and re-present him as the last of the ‘saints’ without who the survival of Nigeria will be forgotten. Hence why Nigerians are inundated every other day with rhetorics around an overpriced integrity that is not supported by verifiable facts. I shall return to this soon.

Now, it is not that this writer discounts “integrity” as an integral quality of leadership. No serious person should be heard advancing such proposition. Indeed ancient scientist and Greek philosopher, Aristotle underscored the importance of same in leadership when he intsructively observed, “because rulers have power, they’ll be tempted to use it for personal gain. It is important that politicians withstand this temptation, and that requires integrity”. He concluded by delimiting it’s fundamentals thus, “integrity is about having the right ethical values that become visible in a pattern of behaviour”. Our own professor Chunua Achebe (May he rest well), weighed in on the matter in latter years, and defined the truest test of integrity as the blunt refusal to compromise, writing on the subject in his pamphletter, The Trouble with Nigeria.

A common denominator to be seen in the quality of integrity as laid down by the two great men, is that it is not a feat attained by undue repetition informed by prejudice of political party megaphones. On the contrary it is a serious character-trait whose visibility must flesh out from a consistent pattern of behaviour to paraphrase Aristotle. A deeper insight into the matter would also reveal that it is not synonyms with ascetism, or the ability to hold extreme religious views. Quite to the contrary it is the quality of being honest and having strong moral values.

But how has president Muhammadu Buhari fared in his much vaunted claim to being the very paragon of integrity? A closer look at the behavioural pattern of the Daura born septuagenerian since he found himself as a democratically elected president, shows that he is anything but a man of high integrity as the APC crowd tries to force down our throats. There is nothing in the behavioural pattern of this president three and a half years since after he took on the “Babar Riga”, that suggests he has a distaste for suspicious, nay “improper behaviour”. Up until today, even the most ardent APC supporter cannot point to a peculiar and distinctive conduct of this president that supports these outlandish claims to integrity. Unlike as was seen in the leadership choices of say, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara who typifies integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim to integrity have been more of an exercise in cosmeticism. And the indications are there for all to see.

First of, any keen observer would notice that this president has observed in the breach the sort of lifestyle he promised to lead if elected into power pre-2015. From maintaining the number of jets in the presidential fleet, to traveling abroad to treat headache and sore throat, and what not, president Muhammadu Buhari has proven to be a turn coat, whose word is not his bond. A character trait which should not be seen in a man that lays so much claim to having integrity. But that is not all.

If compromise as pointed out by Achebe is the yardstick for measuring integrity, then president Muhammadu Buhari should not be decorated as a man of integrity by Keyamo and friends. This is because we have seen him condone corrupt behaviour right under his nose, and even received into his party, persons who are flagged for corruption by the anti-graft agency, EFCC. In this connection, the particular case of the former SGF, Babachir Lawal sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. While he was reluctantly shoved aside for the infamous grass cutting scandal, he remains until today un-prosecuted and was even rumoured to have single-handedly nominated his successor. In the wake of the scandal rocking the Kano State governor, who promised to deliver some 2 million votes towards his re-election, President Muhammadu Buhari told a stunned world, that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was the best thing to have happened to governance. Long before this time, he had absolved late General Sani Abacha of any financial impropriety. Referring to him as a good man. But up until today, continues to purportedly recover the Abacha loots from every corner of the world.

Through and through, he has been a typical party man condoning the rot from within his party and calling out those outside his party. As at today, at least three of his appointees are alleged to have been involved in a certificate forgery scandal. Yet this Mr. “integrity” has not summoned the balls to ask them to take a walk from his government pending when they are able to clear their names with the appropriate authorities. Here, we speak of Mr. Okoi- Obono Obla and the minister of communications, Abdur-raheem Adebayo Shittu. If the former minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun resigned, it is widely believed that it was on her honour and not informed by signals from the presidential quarters.

In the context of financial prudence and management, president Muhammadu Buhari’s “integrity” have also been caught flat footed. Beyond the fact that no one has told Nigerians how much was expended in the campaign that brought PMB to power in 2015, the much talked about recovered Abacha loot, have been enmeshed in secrecy that it is only rational to conclude that they have been re-looted as pointed out by critics. Ditto the recoveries made by the EFCC and other anti graft agencies.

Even inside PMB’s “Oza Room”, we have heard tales from his wife of a certain cabal that runs the show from behind the scene. Buhari’s closest attempt at debunking same was to ask his detractors to point out the cabals. Describing his wife’s remonstrations as “her business”. Such an easy and simplistic obfuscation of the real issue. But we know that it will be fool hardy for anybody to dismiss Aisha’s consistent criticisms with a wave of the hand given the position she occupies in Buhari’s life.

While chewing with that, consider the sudden and alarming rate at which old friends, relatives and acquaintances of this president have risen into stupendous wealth since he came to power! Of course we have the fire eating Buba Galadima to thank for this earth shaking revelations. At a Channels TV program last week, the veteran politician (and an old acquaintance of Buhari), called out the president specifically and put his much vaunted “integrity” in the ‘dock’ before eventually passing a vote of “Zero Integrity” on him on account of how he has corruptly enriched his old friends and associates who are today living in eye popping mansions scattered in and about Daura-GRA.

While it may be contested that these are mere allegations, the fact that the Presidency have not officially reacted to Galadima’s allegations suggests their truism. Nobody knows if Buhari’s handlers are afraid of being sent to the “market square” as Alhaji Buba Galadima threatened at that program.

One could go on and on to chronicle the different behavioural pattern of this president that robs him of any claim to integrity. Upon a further look, one notices that this has been so since in his days as the military head of state. And the particular episode of the 53 notorious suit cases, and General Muhammadu Buhari’s role in same bear us out here. If one might also add, the unresolved case of $2.8 billion allegedly looted while he served as petroleum minister in 1977 further casts a doubt on this vaunted integrity.

If President Muhammadu Buhari has anything, it is a cult following in his North Western political base pre-2015. A followership which it must be mentioned, was not anchored on any proven integrity, but on ideological/religious sentiments.

Assuming, but without conceding however that this president has the wealth of integrity that have been arrogated to him, it is submitted that integrity as a leadership quality is not of itself, determinative of performance. Nations become great not on the dry bones of a leader’s integrity, but their ability to make core decisions and choices that impact the overall well-being of the state. What is more, while it is good for a leader to have personal integrity, there are no guarantees that members of his administration will also be of equal integrity. Hence the need for leadership not to be based on the moral credentials of one man, but through the building and sustenance of strong institutions that will deliver, independent of the driver of the process. In essence therefore, nations do not need SAINTS. They need PERFORMERS to grow and become developed. Adams Oshiomole was therefore in the wrong when he professed that Buhari’s “personal integrity” is enough to earn him another slice of the pie. If indeed Buhari has integrity, it is however not in doubt that he has failed to transform same into any meaningful developmental impact on Nigeria and Nigerians.

Which brings us finally to the forthcoming elections. Assuming Buhari has all the integrity as credited to him, we have seen the limits of what could be achieved with that: the annexation of towns and communities in Borno state by Boko Haram; the overbloated debt profile of the nation running into a staggering 22 Trillion Naira; the high rate of unemployment that has reached an all-time-high of 23%; double digit inflation at the rate of 18.8%; the shut down of our tertiary institutions for upwards of two months due to strike action by academic staff; the threatened shut down of the economy by the organised labour; the mindless killings from Zamfara to Benue, Plateau and elsewhere; a wobbling stock market and an economy headed for the rocks from the analysis of financial experts.

With this score card, no leader should merit a second bite at the cherry. Including President Muhammadu Buhari. His so called integrity is a fraud, a wool over the eyes to further hoodwink Nigerians to repeat the mistake of 2015. This is more so when the facts out there suggests that this over priced “integrity” cannot withstand any serious stricture as Alhaji Buba Galadima demonstrated the other day.

Raymond Nkannebe is a legal practitioner and public affairs commentator based in Lagos. Comments and reactions to raymondnkannebe@gmail.com.

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Food for Living: Of Fear and Faith

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By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destiny Friends,

Fear and faith are two great rivals in the affairs of man. Where one is found, the other takes a leave. They can either make or mar any progressive being, and anybody who truly wants to succeed must know how to activate and control the inherent powers of these two great forces.

According to Dr. Yomi Garnett, “viewed from a spiritual perspective, fear and faith can be said to be opposites…and what each of them brings to our life is also opposites. Fear can lead to failure, while faith will lead to conquest”.

Question: Do you want to live in fear, or would you like to be associated with a conquered fellow?

One of the major killers of vision is fear,  and one of the enablers of life is faith. When one is possessed with the spirit of fear, it will be difficult for that person to achieve their heart desires, but when one’s spirit is activated with the right amount of faith, even the highest fear will fade out.

One may be wondering, how fear and faith can be positively activated to attract success, ab at the same time be the destruction of man, if not properly managed.

What actually inspires a success-oriented mind? Obviously, several things activate one’s mind. To a lot of people, their greatest fears in life is poverty. These sets of people abhor being poor can mitigate their success in life, and as such they put in all their efforts to succeed.

To some, their greatest fear in life is failure. They can’t imagine the shame and defeat that come with failure, and as such they put in their best in whatever productive work they engage in.

Wen fear becomes extrem, it turns to phobia and dreaded. It’s instructive to note that some people have the phobia of height and flying. Some others have the phobia of pregnancy, traveling on water, approaching, or talking to people due to rejection, making mistakes, threading on new ground, among others.

To conquer this fear however, one needs to activate the inherent power of faith. Faith is the belief in what is not seen but hoped for. Any creative mind that wants to succeed in life must have faith not only in themselves, but in their businesses, academics, personal and professional developmental endeavours.

No great person has ever succeeded in life without faith. They believed in the possibility of their business even when there’s little or no hope of survival. They dared to succeed.

In contrast, fear has been th singular reason for most of the failures men have recorded. Some people even give up before they begin their project because of lack confidence and hope.

In some cases, this fear is projected by friends, family members, mentors or even trusted persons who don’t really know or understand what the person is working on. They just simply believe the project is bound to fail based on the prevailing circumstances or challenges surrounding the person or business.

This is how to activate and stimulate the subconscious and inherent power of faith. Imagine as a young man, you have interest in a lady, but you are wondering how to approach her considering her perceived response. It is not out of place to have a perception of the kind of respinse expected, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

One of the best things the guy can do is to dare to succeed by reaching out to the lady. In the worst-case scenario, the lady might say no. In that case, the man will be satisfied he tried his best because the worst feelings to have in life is the feeling of regret.

Alternatively, the lady might like the guy and just play to the gallery just to gauge the man’s intent and seriousness. If the latter is true, the man is deemed lucky for daring to ask.

As a student, business owner, parent, teacher, government official, or pastor just to name a few; if you have a project or task in mind, don’t allow the fear of failure, disappointment or obstacles to weigh you down, look into the future with bold eyes, and with the mindset of faith in the impossible.

In conclusion, fear and faith are two necessary criteria needed in the journey of life. The ability to nurture both will go a long way in shaping not only our personal lives, but also our professional lives.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Food for Living: The Power of Faith

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By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Destiny Friends,

“Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every journey of life undertaken without faith will surely end in frustration; nothing is guaranteed and there’s nothing worthwhile that can ever be achieved without faith. The reason is obvious; no one sees the end place before they begin a project. For instance, in business, one can never tell how far they can go if they do not begin; it is faith that makes a student believe a 4.0 or 5.O GPA on graduation is possible. It’s with faith an employee believes he will get to the managerial or topmost position in his field of endeavour.

Faith, ordinarily, is the capital to begin any enterprise, endeavour or life’s journey.

Let me make this disclosure, I’m nor referring to the spiritual kind of ‘faith’ in this article, rather I’m referring to the inspirational faith which progressive minds use to achieve the extraordinary.

It’s instructive to note that faith is a powerful force that can transform our lives and help us overcome obstacles. If you have a project or vision in mind you would like to accomplish, if you don’t have extraordinary faith, it will be hard to achieve your dreams.

Great and visionary leaders had absolute faith and believe in themselves and their projects. They were not deterred by the vicissitudes of life. As a matter of fact, they were inspired by their challenges because it enabled them to work hard.

According to NapoleonHill, in his book, Think and Grow Rich, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it”. This tells you how powerful the mind is. It should be noted, success and failure start from the mind. If you believe you can do something, you will do it and if you believe you can’t do anything, trust me, you can’t do it. Even the Book of life states 1 John 4:4 that “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”.

What is faith? Faith is the confident belief in something that is not yet seen or fully understood. As mentioned earlier, without faith, it’s impossible to achieve any commendable feat. Uninformed minds think faith is having everything ready before they begin a project. They have this mindset, if all the t’s are crossed, and i’s are dotted, what’s left is do the necessary. They fail to understand that done is better than perfect when perfect is not done. Sometimes in life, you don’t wait for the coast to be clear before you can soar. 

Just imagine the ship thriving despite waves in the ocean and the plane flying the wind in the air. That’s simply how life works. We don’t give up due to the challenges of life. Sometimes, it’s through the challenges we are fashioned. It’s just like the gold and petroleum which must be processed before they become refined products. So also, we must pass through some challenges in order to be processed, refined and appreciated.

Furthermore, when one has faith and believes in a project, the universe has a way of bringing interested minds, who are either passionate about the project or cause to support the being.

One may be wondering how faith works, imagine being hungry as a student, one will not feel the hunger too much if one knows he has food in his refrigerator. Now compare that scenario to when there’s no food. My late mother will always say, the most painful part of being poor is, if one does not have money and doesn’t know anyone to borrow from. Trust me, it can be heartbreaking.

 The importance of faith cannot be overemphasized, faith gives us hope, it strengthens us, it brings blessings, and it inspires hope and confidence.

The power of faith can enrich one’s life in many ways. Here are some of the ways faith improves our work and life.

1. Faith Improves Your Daily Work

When you love what you do, you will be inspired to spend some time developing your project. Faith impacts what you do, how you do it and how you live your life.  With faith, you will be intentional. Faith keeps you going. If you want to do any task, you need to have faith that you will accomplish it. If you have faith, you feel motivated to get things done because the faith will serve as a propeller.

2. Faith Helps You in Difficult Times

There is a popular phrase, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” If you have faith, you will have hope, and hope will help you endure difficult times and uncertainties in life. Times can be bad, and you may find yourself drowning in despair. But never lose hope. Even when you lose your job, suffer the pain of losing a beloved, don’t have enough money, or face any other challenge, having faith means to release control to a greater power, the universe or God.

3. Faith Encourages Others

Do you know your faith can inspire and encourage others? Have you wondered how creative-minded people come up with new ideas or directions to take after failing multiple times?  They have faith that they can achieve their goal. No matter what comes their way, they remain focused and motivated, even after facing backlash from people. Their example can encourage others to follow the same path. You too can be the same way by having faith. People around you will learn from you. They will follow your lead. When you have absolute faith and believe in a project, people will notice.

4. Faith Gives You Courage

Courage helps you do the things that scare you. It plays a significant role in motivating you to act on something despite the risks or dangers involved. If you have courage, you show more strength in times of pain or grief. Courage comes directly from faith. For instance, you gather the courage to go on a job interview. You think you won’t get the job, but there is always a chance you will. You have faith in yourself and your abilities and take a bold step in going after the job, which can lead you to success.

5. Faith Helps you Discover Purpose

The ups and downs of life can take a toll on you. In some cases, it leads you to question why you’re here. But when you do, faith can save you from falling. It guides you to move in the right direction and helps you discover your purpose in life.

In conclusion, we all travel by air and trust the pilot to take us to our destination safely, we all use the sea and trust the captains to arrive safely, we all have faith that when we turn on the light, it will lighten up, why can’t we trust the creator we have not seen? When you trust the creator, believe in your project and believe in yourself, trust me, you will not only get to the promised land, but you will also exceed expectations.  According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Food for Living: Be the Best Version of Yourself

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By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destiny Friends,

It is a known fact that everyone wants to be the best in any field or activity they engage themselves in. But truth be told; being the best is not easy; it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, consistency and patience. One must put in the work to bear the name he wants to be reckoned with because nothing good comes easy, apologies to the legendary Bongos Ikwue.

Being the best in life is not just about people, it also extends to products, schools, hospitals, businesses, sports, etc.

To understand how the best works, imagine a football coach about to play a final match; will he use his second team or first team? A serious coach will surely go for his best team if he wants to win the match. Again, imagine, someone who is sick, they will look for the best of doctors to treat them even if that person is an enemy, if they truly want to be alive.

Let’s consider the definition of best. The new website Dictionary defines best as “something of the finest quality”. A closer look at the word “finest quality” will explain why every employer employs the best persons for a job. When you work with people who are talented, gifted and at the same time intelligent, the rewards and blessings are priceless.

I have been privileged to work with some intelligent folks, and I will say without equivocation that Abdulakeem Sodeeq Sulyman, Ohimai Amaize and Ebuka Uchem are some of the best exceptional beings on planet earth.

Again, there’s no doubt, we all want to be the best, the question we need to ask is. Are we ready to do the needful? According to Usain Bolt, “I trained 4 years to run 9 seconds and people give up when they don’t see results in two months.”

Now, you see it’s not easy to be the best in life?

Before you can be the best version of yourself, you must uncover your essential values, interest and passion that define who you are in life and the world.

Once you’ve identified the person you want to be, you can plan how to become the best version of yourself.

The benefits of being the best in life cannot be overemphasized. Being the best makes one unique, attracts fame, and makes one rich and successful.

One may be wondering how to become the best version of himself?

The first duty of a progressive mind is to know himself. No one, who doesn’t know himself can succeed or be the best in life. It’s like being successful in your craft. You can make money without loving what you do, but you can’t be successful without loving what you do. When you love what you do and what you do loves you, therein lies your authentic success.

Another way to be the best version of yourself is by being unique. According to Oscar Wilde, “be yourself because others are taken.” In our contemporary society, we see a lot of people trying to imitate other people just because they feel they are succeeding in their professions, business, or craft. These uniformed minds don’t know everyone is different. When you know what’s unique about you, you won’t spend time trying to be like another person. The person you are trying to imitate made himself by understanding himself.

Again, it’s like someone who is passionate about a cause or business. When you know what you love, it’ll be easier to develop interest in learning more, and trust me, there’s a certain level of spiritual blessing and ingenuity that comes to one who is working according to their purpose and passion. Other people might be engaging themselves in the business or craft, but their level of success and favour won’t be like yours. That’s why you can imitate someone’s style, but you can’t imitate their creativity.

Your ability to know what’s unique about you will make you make the right choice. It will help you to  focus on what’s important, you won’t be distracted by the noise around you; you will meditate, spend your time wisely and network with the right people.

According to Dr. Yomi Garnett, “to get the best, one must do three things: resolve to think only the best thoughts, work for the best and entertain and expect the best results”.

Even the Bible knows the value and importance of seeking the best. In the book of life, the word says, “….whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things”.

When one is so focused on achieving positive results, the person won’t be concerned about focusing on trivial things. Most of the great people that made an impact in the world had a powerful mindset and they devoted their attention to noble activities.

Being the best does not come easy. One will have to go through pains just like gold and oil will have to go through a furnace to be refined.

Being the best is like working on a purpose, for which the journey and process of refinement might not be easy. Here, people might laugh at you saying you don’t have money, you are wasting your time and so on. Some might even say, you will die wretched working for purpose and advise you to be wise. Here’s my advice; regardless of the negative opinion or thoughts you may have, if you are truly convinced in your purpose, don’t give up. Maybe you are being tested. You may get a temporary side job to support yourself or family while working on your craft, but don’t lose focus on the big picture.

The moral here is, don’t worry about being famous or making money, the most important thing is being the best. When you are the best in what you do, your enemies will seek you, leaders, kings, queens, and influential people will seek you. According to Anastasia Soare “You have to become a master of your craft, and everything else will come”.

In conclusion, as you sojourn through life, affirm positive thoughts to yourself every day by saying, I am the best. Also, endeavor to give your best in whatever you are doing, even if you don’t succeed, be glad you did the best.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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