Johnson Babalola
October 1, 2023

The Builder @63

Like most newborns, he had no say in his naming. Naija, he was called. Without his consent, his components were made up of cousins with different languages, cultures, and views, but he was determined to make things work.

Like most newborns, he had no say in his naming. Naija, he was called. Without his consent, his components were made up of cousins with different languages, cultures, and views, but he was determined to make things work.

So, he started building. He cultivated different cash crops in different regions. The cousins competed among themselves to make their environments better. He built education, commerce, roads, and other infrastructures. He trained doctors, teachers, civil servants, and professionals that were well respected all over the world. Indeed, his professionals were in demand to serve in other nations.

He built a strong currency that was accepted the world over. He built other nations and provided them with financial assistance, military support, peace keeping support and assisted them to confront racism and apartheid.  

He built political leaders that communicated well, cared about the landowners, and provided for them. He built a good moral base. He ensured his landowners were taught civics and their history. Those who erred in society were punished. The institutions were not perfect, but they worked. He only needed to continue to research, build, maintain and improve on all he had done.  

Then he started experiencing some changes. Strange fellows in uniforms kidnapped him with a promise to feed him better than the ones in street clothes who they accused of nursing him to malnourishment. Truly, everyone saw the oily plantation and wanted a part of it to the advantage of a few and the detriment of most, if not all.

Then there was a misunderstanding between the cousins. The bond they had built among themselves had broken. This caused avoidable losses of lives and more. Trust was broken!

Despite the setback, he picked himself up and continued to build and demand the very best. He meant well and thought he could do it. But then, his managers became arrogant, telling the world the builder had too much money that he had no idea how to spend. He started giving out money to those who did not need it. Rather than build more infrastructures for generations to come, he started doing nothing. The building started shaking.

He did not pay attention to the unsteady building.  He pretended as if the foundation and the structure on it were standing well. Gradually, he lost the compass to navigate through its streets of economic and political growth.

He continued to experience changes in the hands of those in uniform trying to outdo each other. They said they were more experienced in project and construction management. Alas, the building was collapsing. The parts were falling apart. The public water ceased flowing. The electricity supply became epileptic. The roads to the building had become gullies. His institutions were falling apart. His streets became hawking and begging markets for the young and the old. They hawked anything and everything. His construction workers had no voice. Talk at your own peril, they were told by the project managers.

Then the project managers started listening to foreign inspectors. Devalue your currency to make progress, they were told. “Yes sir”, they responded and did so. The building continued to collapse while many started getting rich pretending to help steady it. The construction workers started to become poorer. They ate once a day and pulled their children from schools. If the construction workers were this poor, how about the ordinary landowners?

The builder has lost his way!. To assist, the project managers changed their uniforms to street clothes and joined with others already on the street to become renewed project managers. They promised to refurbish the building. No, nothing changed. Rather, things became worse. The building started sinking. Every foundation laid by the builder in the areas of education, security, health, economy, and others was collapsing. The renewed project managers changed hands, and many became richer as they tried to rescue the building from total collapse. They were accountable to nobody. Some of the construction workers joined them and became rich too.

Hope was lost in the builder. Some that had helped steady the economy for years started leaving him. Even the currency lost hope and started taking a flight. The landowners lost hope in the builder and his project managers too. They started picking their documents to leave the builder, the building, and the project managers, taking with them, the builder’s currency changed into other lands’ currencies. Yet, the project managers showed no concern that the human capital the builder had built for years was leaving for other lands, to help build and develop those lands. They did not care that the builder is now deprived of the best professional hands to help steady, modernize the building and build new ones.

Sadly, the builder received abuse and name calling by those he helped to build, especially those that were able to escape from the land to other lands and were able to do well in their new locations having built on the builder’s foundation from their original land. This, however, is not done out of hatred for the builder, but out of disappointment that he has not lived up to expectations. This is more about the failure of the project managers rather than the builder.

As the builder turns 63, the current project managers must acknowledge, appreciate, and address that the building is almost completely crumbled. They must be focused and sincere in ensuring that the building is properly steadied and that new and modern buildings are constructed. The project managers must cut their financial excesses, show empathy, address corruption and insecurity. They must prioritize access to healthcare, food, education, and justice within the building. They must be truly invested in creating buildings that will be cost effective, durable and accommodate all.

Despite his shortcomings, the builder built many artists, businessmen and women, politicians, writers, athletes, professionals, and others who are recognized and respected globally. He built those that lead global organizations. His movies and songs are watched and listened to globally. He built sportsmen and women who are at the top of their professions. He built doctors, lawyers, writers, architects, and others who are making waves all over the world and receiving awards for their professional achievements. He built those that are at home and all over the world studying and working to make the world a better place. Without a doubt, his direct and indirect investments in these people will yield positive results for him someday and hopefully soon.

However, the builder needs to make a positive change. His managers must help him focus on empowering the women and youth, caring for the poor, strengthen his institutions, build infrastructures, provide a conducive environment for many to have confidence in returning to help diversify and build the economy etc. Thereafter, the builder should watch his currency strengthened and watch his respect among the landowners, construction workers and foreign inspectors return and soar.

The builder has worked hard and deserves some appreciation and respect. With time, these and more will come.

Happy Birthday Builder! Thank you for the hope of a better tomorrow starting today.

Johnson Babalola, a Canada and Nigeria based lawyer, leadership consultant, storyteller and corporate emcee, is a public affairs analyst. Follow him for discussions on real life issues that affect us all.

You can obtain a copy of his newly released book, REJECTED on Amazon, FriesenPress, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, Nook Store etc.