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Opinion (10/4/2021): I Will Not Run Away From Nigeria For Anyone – By Tony Okoroji


Once in secondary school, I got 12% in a mathematics exam. That tore through my soul. Me, 12%? How did that happen?!

I usually do not blame anyone for whatever predicament I go through, believing that life is a challenge and only the strong survive.

I knew that the 12% result was my own making. Mathematics was never really a challenge to me so I had taken it for granted. Any time the mathematics teacher was in class, I did cross word puzzles or read some comics. I paid no attention.

At exam time, my brain froze. I panicked! I could not remember any formula. Something like BODMAS became strange and confusing. The reason was very simple. I did not practice at all. From being overconfident, I totally lost confidence.

The shame and humiliation that followed my 12% debacle affected me going through life. I resolved that 12% has no business with me and 12% success would not come my way again. Next term, I followed the Mathematics teacher from class to class, took every note and practiced every formula. At the end of the term, I had an ‘A’ in the same mathematics. From then on, I considered a ‘B’ a failure.

Those who went to school with me and those who have worked with me thereafter will testify that I prepare, practice and practice for everything. I never want to go to a meeting without studying the issues and fully understanding what I want to come out with at the end of the meeting. I do not embark on an event without checking every box over and over again and being sure that there is a Plan ‘B’, if Plan ‘A’ goes wrong. I never take a case to court without being certain that my processes are very well done and that the facts and the law are on my side.

Have I always got an ‘A’? Many of the times I have. There were however a few times that I have not. I recall going to a Lecturer at the University of Lagos to say that I wanted to retake his paper. I had scored a ‘B’ in the paper and was distressed. The lecturer was very angry with my ‘audacity’ and told me how stupid I was. He was emphatic that he does not give an ‘A’ to any student and that the ‘A’ belonged to him. At the end of the day, I found out that my ‘B’ was the best result in the subject. What I have discovered is that if you strive for an ‘A’, the worst that is likely to come your way is a ‘B’.

In the university, as a student, I used to teach classes and I found out that my fellow students preferred my classes to those of the lecturers. They would ask me questions they would not dare ask the lecturers. I knew that the students would enjoy embarrassing me if it was obvious I did not know what I was talking about. So, before any class, I would go through the subject with a tooth comb and prepare for every possible question. What my colleagues did not know was that it was my way of preparing for exams.

I am that guy who would tell you bluntly that if you fail to plan, you have planned to fail. The problem is that there are many people who go through life without a plan and with little effort. They do not work for an ‘A’. They would readily accept “let my people go”.

I have spent much of my life wrestling with man’s hatred. The hatred is not because I did anything to anyone. The hatred is usually because I have worked hard and achieved results that have confounded those who are just prepared for “let my people go”.

Those who in a very wicked move recently froze my personal bank accounts will be shocked that I have little material wealth. What I have is faith and happiness. I appreciate the grace that the Almighty has given me to work hard, focus on every challenge and achieve results that are pleasing. I love the gift He has given me and I try to use it the best I can for the good of as many of His children as possible.

I have said before that I do not want to be Dangote or Otedola or Ronaldo or Donald Trump. My name is Tony Okoroji and I like it.
I know that the good Lord has given to each of His children, their peculiar gifts. The problem is that rather than harness their gifts, some people are very busy with envy and covetousness and fixated on the gifts of others. Somebody should tell them that I do not want to be them and no matter how much they try, they cannot be me.

I have heard some people say that I am arrogant. I have also heard it said that some people are determined to drive me out of Nigeria. No sir! They won’t because they can’t. Last time I checked; it was clear to me that both my late mother and father were Nigerians. I am a full bloodied Nigerian. I do not concede my rights as a Nigerian citizen to anyone. What some people consider arrogance is confidence. I am not so stupid that I do not understand that the wisdom and strength we deploy do not belong to us but to the Almighty.

I know that hatred is a virus. It permeates your engine and destroys the effectiveness of your mechanism. That is why those who fight me with falsehood fail and keep failing.

What of those who think I will run away from Nigeria because of them? Dem dey craze!

See you next week.

– Okoroji is the chairman of COSON

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