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Sermon: Dreams Die: Build a Legacy

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By Babatunde Jose

“O Prophet! Truly We have sent thee as a Witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings,

and a Warner, And as one who invites to Allah’s (Grace) by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light. (Quran 33:45-46)

In this verse of the Quran, Allah summarizes the legacy of Prophet Muhammad as the harbinger of good tidings, the warner, the summoner unto Allah, and as the lamp spreading light in a world that was plunged in darkness; a man who delivered a message to humanity that enlightened every aspect of human life, carrying with it solutions to every problem that humanity would ever face – political, economic, social, judicial, moral and spiritual – for all times, places and people, to take mankind from the darkness and oppression of man-made ways of life and systems to the light and justice of the System from the Lord of the Worlds.

There are many great characters in history, but none of their legacies impacted the world nor shaped the politics and lives of nations to the extent that the life and legacy of Prophet Muhammad. Indeed he was the most influential man in history, as agreed by many historians and writers, including Michael H. Hart, the American author, who ranked Muhammad as number 1 in his book, “The 100 Most Influential Persons in History”, writing, “Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world’s great religions and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.”

First, is the unparalleled political system he pioneered and left behind through the Revelation of Allah – a system that was emulated by the Muslims following his death – and continued for 1300 years – right from the Khilafah Rashidun of Abu Bakr, Umar bin Al Khattab, Uthman bin Affan, and Ali ibn Abu Talib, through the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Uthmani Khilafah until the destruction of this magnificent state at the hands of the western colonialists and their agents in 1924.

It was a political system that was the embodiment of guardianship and care of the people and whose distinctive qualities were justice and accountability in governance as acknowledged by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. A system fashioned upon the words of Allah in Surah an-Nisa: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.” (Quran 4:135)

Apart from leaving a legacy of a sound political system based on justice, fairness and equity, the Prophet also left a legacy of good leadership. The Caliber of Leaders the Prophet left behind can be gleaned from the life of the Khalifs: Leaders who truly understood their heavy duty to be the guardians and servants of their people, caring for their every need.  The prophet said: “Each of you is a guardian and each of you is questioned over his subjects, the Imam is responsible over the people and he is questioned over his responsibility.”

Leaders such as Khalifah Umar bin Al Khattab who during the famine in Medina refused to eat anything but coarse food. His health began to deteriorate and he was advised to take care of himself, but he replied, “If I don’t taste suffering, how can I know the suffering of others?”  This was a ruler who would patrol the streets at night to ensure every single one of his citizens had their needs met and was cared for.

He left behind a legacy of leaders who would use their own wealth to make their people rich even if they died poor – like Khalifah Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Before he became a ruler he was a rich man; in fact it took 100 camels to bring his possessions to the city. But he died with only one shirt to his name despite the Khalifah enjoying economic prosperity at the time, because he had spent his wealth for the sake of his Ummah. This was a man who refused to use even a drop of public oil to fuel his lamp for his personal affairs or even use water heated with the state charcoal for his ablution due to his immense sense of accountability over state funds. Subhanallah!

Can we say these about our leaders? Do they even understand what it means to leave a legacy of service?

A leader’s legacy is established by leaving something of enduring quality behind for the organization and its people. Effective leadership occurs when the leader strengthens others’ capacity to learn, to reflect and to extract meaning from their learning.

In essence, “legacy” is what you leave behind when you’re gone. It’s that “thing” that you did either for better or worse, and it’s most often the “thing” for which you are most remembered.

Integrity is perhaps the most important principle of leadership because it demands truthfulness and honesty. … Integrity means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly. Better to be honest than to delude others, because then you are probably deluding yourself, too. Do our leaders pass this benchmark?

Legacy is fundamental to what it is to be human. Research shows that without a sense of working to create a legacy, adults lose meaning in their life. … Being reminded of death is actually a good thing, because death informs life. It gives you a perspective on what’s important.

Let us live to leave a lasting legacy. May Allah guide us a right. It is understandable then why, George Bernard Shaw, the famous British writer and political activist once stated, “I have studied Muhammad – the wonderful man – and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

Barka Juma’at and Ramadan Kareem

 +2348033110822

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Joe Biden Trusts a Nigerian to Run His Economy – Why Don’t Nigerians?

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By Joel Popoola

United States President-elect Joe Biden’s appointment of Nigerian-born Adewale Adeyemo as his Deputy Treasury Secretary should be a huge matter of pride for us ‘Naija’.

But to me it demonstrates yet again how and where we are failing as a nation.
That a Nigerian in his thirties will be soon have such a critical role in the American economy – and the economy of the entire World as a result- is a testament to the intelligence and industry of our young people.

But it is also a sign not just that too many of our best and brightest young Nigerians continue believe that they will have better opportunities overseas, but that they are probably right to do so.

On some level we should be thrilled at the international success of the Nigerian Diaspora – with the recent promotion of Lagos-born Pearlena Igbokwe at NBCUniversal and Ngozi Ikonjo-Iweala’s role at the World Bank, Nigerians will soon be in charge of both the economy and the entertainment industry in the United States! – but we should also be devastated that it is other nations that our benefiting from our resilience, ambition and talent.

It is also proof that foreign governments trust Nigerian politicians more than we do! Joe Biden may trust a Nigerian to run his economy, but most Nigerians wouldn’t!

As research from the influential Pew Research Centre has shown, more than seven-in-ten Nigerians (72%) believe the statement “most politicians are corrupt” describes our country well.

What is worse, six-in-ten say it describes Nigeria “very well.”

Almost six-in-ten Nigerians say the statement “elected officials care what ordinary people think” is not accurate. 57% believe that things will not change for the people of Nigeria “no matter who wins an election”.

And who can blame them?

Just this week we saw the arrest of Abdulrasheed Maina, the fugitive former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.

The influential intergovernmental economic organisation the OECD recently scored Nigeria 28/100 for corruption placing us in 136th position out of 176 countries surveyed.

When the former head of the President’s own taskforce on cleaning up pensions stands charged with 12 counts of money laundering you have to ask yourself if the OECD has been too charitable in its assessment.

In fact, when it comes to research into Nigerian’s opnion of politicians, the most positive figure I can find is from a 2017 survey which concluded 54% of Nigerians think ordinary people “can make a difference” politically.

What that survey – and those surveyed for that matter – forget however is that politicians are ordinary people!

The problem is that in Nigeria we have fallen into the habit of viewing politicians as some discrete class, completely removed from the rest of us – almost as if they were a different species!

At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we want to change that. We have created a free app called Rate Your Leader which is designed to stop local politicians from seeming remote and out-of-touch and to make them feel like real people.

The app does this by putting electors and elected into direct person to person contact. Instead of party political broadcasts, decision-makers and the people who put them in power can have direct, one-one-one conversations – building relationships, building trust and working together to make our communities better.

Nigerians need to feel that anyone can make it – whether in entertainment, business or politics. To feel it, they need to see it – and to see it they need to be in better contact with people who have made it.

And thanks to apps like Rate Your Leader – which also makes abusive communications impossible – this can be done using technology that almost all of us are carrying in our pockets at all times.

Our hope is that along with improved democratic accountability and transparency we can inspire people to consider political careers themselves, and to stay in Nigeria to do it.

No-one begrudges Nigerians having success overseas – far from it. It is also a huge symbol of national pride that no less than eight players with Nigerian heritage were picked by the top American basketball teams in last month’s draft and nobody is going to claim that the Nigerian basketball leagues are a better place to show off their talents to global audience then the NBA!

But if we are to advance as a nation, we need to prove to our most talented young people that Nigeria is somewhere they can thrive.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian technology entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app.

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Food for Living: Your Life Is Not Over Yet

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By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Dear Friends,

I officially welcome you to the last month of the year.  The year is gradually coming to an end. At the inception of the year, we all made resolutions and had plans and expectations of what we intend to do before the end of the year. Some of us measured our successes every quarter. The question we should be asking ourselves however, is if we have been able to accomplish our goals and desires. If your answer is no, just know it’s not over for you. If your answer is yes, just relish in the words of Les Brown, “it’s not late to set another goal”. Sometimes in life, we may not reach our goal, but at least it is expected we try our best. According to Bruce Lee “A goal is not always something to be reached, it often serve as something to be aimed”.

When 2020 came, we were all beaming with joy; no one saw the pandemic neither did anyone see the recession some countries experienced due to the pandemic. In the journey of life, nothing is guaranteed, as widely acclaimed, tax and death are the only things that are guaranteed because we all must pay tax and we all must die one day.  In the same way, life may have thrown tantrums at you, you may have lost your job, lost a loved one, experienced divorce, experienced a set back in your personal and professional life. I don’t know what your situation or story is, but I just want to let you know that it is not over for you.

It is generally believed you can never have a second chance to make a first impression, but we fail to realize that we all need a second chance.  A student needs a second chance, an employee needs a second chance, a businessman needs a second chance, a divorcee needs a second chance, the prodigal son was given a second chance, even Christ died for us to give us a second chance. Getting a second chance is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures. It’s about positively adjusting your attitude toward future possibilities. According to Edgar Caycee, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself if you have gone the wrong road, turn around”.

As human beings, we are always in a haste to make the next step without even taking stock of previous steps or decisions we have made which may have consciously or unconsciously led us to where we are today.  It is because the philosopher was so busy focusing on the journey ahead of him that he forgot there was a ditch in front of him, and the rest is history. Human beings are very important in our journey to success. According to Roy Bennet, “Good things happened when you surround yourself with good people”.

Challenges come in different shapes and styles, but what makes the difference is not only the way you managed it but what you learn from it. According to Robert Schuler, problems are stop signs, they are guide less”. Some of us go through different challenges, and we allow the experience, circumstance, or situation to define and shape us. Regardless of what you may be facing or have experienced, just know that your life is not over yet, there’s still a ray of hope for you. If you have ever watched a football or soccer match, you’ll realize that nothing is guaranteed until the referee officially ends the match. That’s simply how life works.

Furthermore, just like education is the greatest leveler, the child of a certified pauper can become a man of means tomorrow if properly educated. This simply tells you the only thing that is permanent is change. The mistake most of us make is that we measure and compare our progress with that of others. The only comparison you have to make is with yourself. That’s simply how to measure matured growth otherwise you may be heading into defective success.

If you are feeling downcast or thinking that your life is messed up, please note that there are people who are in a worst situation and have not given up. If you have plans of opening a new page in your life or business and you are afraid of what the future upholds, just take a leap of faith. Do you know you have a voice, and a message the world is itching to hear? There’s somebody crying and literally begging to be where you are today in addition to having what you have.

Sometimes in life, we feel it is over for us, we feel that there’s no other path, we feel we have lost it completely just because you lost a family member, business, or even an election, but we fail to understand that there’s a lesson and experience for us to learn. If you continue to worry and be afraid in your mind, it will be hard, Charlie Chaplin has a word for you “You will never find a rainbow if you are looking down”.

Learning how to overcome life is not rocket science; all you need to do is know what you want and what you don’t want. For example, you should know how to say no in a polite way without being offended. Saying no makes you focus on the needful because whatever “distracts” you can serve as an “attraction” if you are working on focus.

Another way of overcoming challenges is by finding what you love. In a world filled with so many distractions and negativity, you need to channel your energy on what you truly love and build on it. It’s by doing that you overcome unnecessary pressures and challenges. In order to move ahead, here are some guidelines

1.    Let go of the past

Sometimes, we are used to holding on to past experiences or hurt we suffered. These guilt feelings make us feel we can’t move ahead; most of us are always tormented by this feeling. We fail to understand that every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity. When life throws dirt at you, dust yourself and move on, nobody cares what happens to you, rather they are concerned about what you were able to do with what was thrown at you. When you do this, you identify the lesson or situation that put you in such a mess and never allow it to reoccur.

2.    Accept accountability & eesponsibility

One of the greatest disservices we can do to ourselves is to lie to ourselves. Most times, we don’t tell ourselves the honest truth. Sometimes we put ourselves in a difficult situation and expect someone to clean our mess. For example, if you don’t manage your money, you’ll lose it, if you don’t manage your marriage, you’ll lose it, if you don’t manage your business, you’ll lose it. If you don’t manage your anger, you’ll lose it, if you don’t manage a good loyal friend, you’ll lose it. Accepting responsibly is the first step in owning a problem. You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. Moral: You must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles.  Choosing not to is giving up.

3.    Focus on the things you can change.

Another mistake we make is feeling we can solve every problem. For instance, a man who has an ego problem will find it difficult to ask for help when he needs assistance, and by the time challenge gets to the peak, the issue might have deteriorated. Getting assistance from professional or trained personnel will go a long way to fix any problem. Don’t channel your energy on what you can’t solve, rather channel it on what you can change or fix. In that way, you get peace of mind. Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery, and stagnation. Moral:  Invest your energy in the things you can change.

4.    Figure out what you really want.

In some situations, we don’t know what we actually need. As a bachelor, you must know the kind of woman you want, and the same principle is applicable to a woman. As an entrepreneur, you must know what your skills set are, as a businessman, you must know what business you can manage in addition to having a good background and understanding, as a student, you must know the subject that interests you. Failure to do your due diligence might make you frustrated down the line, and it won’t take long for your life will be over.

The journey of life is truly not for the feeble minded. Just like marriage, you must brace up. From birth, you grow up, go to school, get a job, get married, start a family, have grandkid/ great-grandchildren before meeting your creator at the appointed time if life does not take us earlier.  So, as you journey through life, don’t give up, no matter the challenges that come your way.  According to Winston Churchill, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

We all have different experiences which shape our life. To put it in a proper perspective, an encounter is an experience that makes your life story incomplete without the mention of that experience. To know if you have had an encounter, look at your life before that experience came and after it has made an impact on you.  An encounter can result on account of somebody you met, a job, your spouse, or even a spiritual transformation.

In conclusion, I don’t know what your storyline is, but I will leave you with the words of Roy Bennet, “be happy for everything that happened to you, is an experience”.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a mindset coach and self-discovery expert. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Opinion: The Gift of Pain: Maximizing ADVERSITY as a Builder!

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“Adversity is an adventure that develops a ‘venture’ at the junctures of ‘what’ would have destroyed the structures of your purpose on this plane called Earth, but eventually turns out to be a weapon and a builder towards fulfilling your destiny and lifting the weights of glory! How you see situations or challenges and confront them matters, and they are functions of your mindset as a being called MAN. You determine what (must) come out of it! Adversities are surmountable! You are the actor in the picture. Your posture influences the picture. I charge you to BE THE HERO! Thereby, maximizing the scenarios in your favour! It is, therefore,

Acutely advertising!

Destructible!

Vulnerable!

Episodic!

Revival!

Surmountable!

Impactful!

Terrifying! But, it is all about

YOU!” – Tolulope A. Adegoke

John 16:33[NKJV]: ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’

Romans 8: 37: ‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conqueror.’ [NKJV]

ADVERSITY is a builder. It is to a man; what fire is to gold! Fire purges, melts, heats the gold, yet makes it SHINE!

It is the way that a man sees adversity that he would get from it. If you take it to be a builder or ladder, it would build and lift you [ vis- à- vis].

It is the challenge that comes to one’s way that brings out either the best or worst character in a man.

Winners today were once failures, but they were determined enough through the order of divine grace and strong-will to face it all and breakthrough, which eventually culminated to them being globally celebrated in their areas of callings!

It is the same adversity that breaks one person, that builds another! It all depends on the way we manage and wire our mental and spiritual focuses. You either rise up or succumb to the pressures that come with adversity! It is left for you to pick yourself up, bounce- back like the palm tree and encourage yourself to surmount the mountain(s) before you! Once the mountain is surmounted, you enter into glory.

Adversity is what builds our spiritual and physical muscles, so as for us to be fit enough to bear or carry the weight of glory.

Adversity is like an examination to a student; that gives him promotion or demotion, which is determined by his level of preparation and his level of mindset towards becoming a victor or victim, hero or zero!

It is based on our individual levels of reactions to the ‘adversity’ that gives us edge to surmounting it. It can make or mar you. It can make you in the sense that, if you embrace it with rugged faith, then, you would come out strong; but, if you submit to it, it would crush you. Kindly permit me to say that Dr Yomi Garnett, Yinka Oba, Fela Durotoye, Strive Masiyiwa among others are living proofs [you could ask to interview them in person on how true this is.]. Even, the testimonies of Job, Joseph, Paul the Apostle among others in the Holy Bible lingers on and on.

You must not see ADVERSITY as a problem, but a challenge that must be confronted with hope, faith, love and hard & smart works to conquer; which are the courageous weapons for successes that leads to greatness in the face of tribulations, no matter the number of times it comes.

You must always see yourself on the other side of it. What you see attracts what you get!

A wise man once asked his children: can you say a professor is a failure? They replied NO! The father responded: Wole Soyinka failed the West African Senior Secondary Certification Examination nine [9] times… The children screamed! But can you still call him a failure, today? No, the children replied… The father then asked why? Then, the children responded ‘because he confronted his fears and was determined enough to surmount it by hard work and with the influence of divine grace…and eventually succeeded.’

The moral of this illustration is that: you are not a failure until you give up! Today, you call him Prof. Wole Soyinka, but as at the time he was failing WAEC, most people called him a dullard.

Adversity is a ladder to greater levels of glory!

You cannot get your reward until you finish your course!

You cannot get your crown until you are done with the cross!

No guts, no glory! You cannot overcome the wilderness until you grow wild!

You cannot get through to the promised land until you are completely processed (refined)!

No gold ever shines without passing through the furnace!

You cannot become more until you have been mocked!

You cannot have your prizes until you have fully paid your prices! what we regard as adversity is a setup for us to overcome and step up! It is a junction or curve on our lives journey to fulfilling destiny! Don’t interrupt the processes of growths and sustainable developments.

Adversity is examination in disguise to building our muscles so as to be fit enough to carry or bear the weight of GLORY!

Therefore, adversity is:

Acutely advertising!

Destructible!

Vulnerable!

Episodic!

Revival!

Surmountable!

Impactful!

Terrifying! But, it is all about

YOU! You determine what must come out of it! Adversities are surmountable! You are the actor in the picture. I charge you to BE THE HERO!

You are not a failure until you give up! Adversity unveils us to realms of glory! It compels us to aim higher, while it charges us to take the stairs!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. Reveals that: ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy!’

Truly, it is not easy to be EASY, we must be determined, we must work and do our best to escape genuinely, but only God delivers from all uneasiness… only God gives the grace to overcoming all odds…!

Stop being frustrated when you are confronted with challenges. Rather, engage audacious faith to confront and conquer your fears! It is a revival, and you are in for a revolution that would propel the required evolution. Adversity, is an advance citadel of learning in disguise! I call it the ‘Advance(univer)sity’, where reality poses a great threat, just as examinations in the four walls of a university.

Thank you all for reading this #EpistleForChampions

Watch out for the Book titled: “The Power of an Empowered Zero” (From Zero to HERO) by Tolulope A. Adegoke. Foreword by Dr Yomi Garnett (CEO/Chancellor, Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., U.K., Abuja, Nigeria.) Edited by Ola Aboderin.

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