I had been jobless for over a year!
By now I had spent my savings, worn out all my best clothes, financially broke and was very broken in spirit.
I was at a very dry season of my life – it was a wilderness experience.
He heard about my situation and sent for me. I was fortunate to be gifted some cash, so I travelled to Ibadan to see my grand uncle – Justice Emmanuel Olawuyi Fakayode, the now retired Chief Judge of Oyo State.
The last time I was with him, I had accompanied my mum to his modest house at Oke Ado, Molete area in Ibadan – this was a far cry from the official ‘Mansion’ State quarters he resided at Iyaganku with all the security details attached to his office and revered status as the most senior judicial officer in the entire old Oyo State.
He was so happy to see me; “let’s go into my little office and library”
He said as he ushered me into this room with a huge desk which had wall to wall book shelves filled with very huge and voluminous law books – neatly arranged and stacked row by row, shelf by shelf. “I feel so privileged talking to you Olufolahan”
He started talking and I was very surprised at his humility? “Why would a whole Justice Fakayode (as we called him then) so impressed with me? A jobless youth? He has literally known me from birth!”
I wondered within me.
He began to recount what he noticed the last time I came to his house, several months ago with my mum to drop off his monthly groceries (my mum did this for him each month till he passed on after his battle with a bad leg that didn’t heal). “I noticed you were reading the Bible”
He went on “Was that not a Bible that was in your hand that day? I observed you were reading from it so seriously?” “Yes sir, it was a Bible”_
I responded. “I later confirmed from Foluke that you are now a born again Christian? Is that true?” (Foluke is my mum) “Yes sir” I replied again. “Ehen. ..hmmmm”
He said, deep in thought. “I wished I knew what I now know in my old age” “I am so impressed that at your age, you have found real genuine faith some of us didn’t have even though we were very religious”
He continued. “Nevertheless, never too late for me, better late than never, I have found the truth” “Folahan, I learnt you don’t have a job and you have been jobless for over a year?”
“What can I do for you? Even though I am retired, I still believe in God, I believe God uses people and he can use me in any little way possible before I die”
I narrated my job seeking efforts, my frustrations and disappointments. He asked my if I had any particular organisation I desired to work for?. I mentioned I’d like to work for Mobil Oil. He asked if I knew anyone there? as he does not really know staff or personnel of Mobil Oil.
I mentioned some names I knew, he said he’d never heard of them.
He said: Don’t worry Folahan, go back to Lagos and I will arrange to travel to meet you one day in Lagos and we shall go to the Mobil office together
Then he made a statement that I still hold in awe till today : “I don’t know anyone in Mobil Oil, but we will go there in the name of Jesus and in my name”
By the grace of God, in the NAME OF JESUS and in MY GOOD NAME that have made and kept in this life, we will be allowed into Mobil office to speak to the top Managing Director.
I was startled, shocked and awed! “In the name of Jesus and in your name? Was he joking or trying to make me impressed? Fast forward, few days later, my grand Uncle kept his promise. He travelled all the way from Ibadan to Lagos and we (himself, my Dad and I) drove to the gates of the gigantic intimidating head office of Mobil Oil – called ‘Mobil House’ situated on No 1, Lekki Expressway, VI Lagos.
I directed his driver to the fortified gate house. Now, you don’t move near these gates or even enter through the gates except you had a prior appointment. The practice at Mobil House was to send a list, in the morning, of all the guests with prior appointments that will be allowed into the building for every given day. It was a no appointment no entry was policy – this I think was for security and business reasons back then. This was 1994.
I informed my grand Uncle, this was the practice and we were not likely going to be allowed near the gate or even better still past the gate to the reception area few blocks away unless we had a prior appointment – we may perhaps be a little lucky to secure an appointment for another day? But that will be subject to if the MD knew you?
Justice Fakayode repeated what he said earlier in Ibadan to me: Folahan, I don’t know anyone in Mobil, but in the name of Jesus and in my name, they will let us in to see whoever the MD is My heart was beating faster now. We got to the gate and joined the queue of visitors trying to get in.
Suddenly, one of the tough stern looking guards at the gates noticed my grand uncle, and became a bit gentle and nice. He walks up to where we were and said: Can I help you sir? Please come in to the gate house and have a seat sir We complied…with Justice Fakayode in front, my Dad and I in tow.
Who have you come to see sir, your appointment is with who sir? The guard asked now even more politely. Emmm …actually we don’t have an appointment but I just came with my two sons here to see the MD Can you tell the MD Justice Fakayode is here to see him?
My uncle spoke softly. “Yes sir” replied the guard, who I could guess from his different uniform must be the senior guard.
He made a phone call, and within minutes we saw a smartly dressed staff of Mobil walk down towards the gate house to sign us in, give us passes and usher us to the executive top floor of Mobil House into the waiting arms of the Director of Mobil Oil! “Haa…welcome sir, thank you for coming sir, would you like tea or coffee? Water or juice? His PA was waiting to take our orders.
We were ushered into a massive office with some executive opulence – an office one wouldn’t probably have access into even as an employee of the Mobil organisation without authorisation!
As we sat, my uncle whispered to me: What’s his (the MD’s) name? I don’t even know him? Do you know his name? I have never met him before o? ….he asked me.
I was overwhelmed! All that was going through my mind – was what was being demonstrated before me here!
My Uncle’s words rang loudly in my head: “In the name of Jesus and in my name we will see the MD of Mobil today”
The MD returns and says to my Uncle – Justice Fakayode: Sir, I know you may not know me or never met me before, but I have heard so much about you sir, I count it a honour meeting you today Is there anything we can do for you today?
At this point I told myself I don’t even care if I got a job with Mobil Oil. .. I have gotten, learnt and received an eternal value today – Work For And Build A Good Name For Yourself
Justice Fakayode informed the MD of our mission – asked if I could be invited to be interviewed for a job if I was suitable for in all fairness
I was later invited for an interview – I didn’t get the job, there were better candidates than I.
My Uncle didn’t go back to influence the employment result – that was up to my performance, but he said he wanted to teach and demonstrate to my Dad and I what a “good name and reputation” can do in life.
I have imbibed these values Justice Fakayode taught me – the strong character and virtue of having ‘a good name’…..and passing same to my children.
My own Father’s name has opened doors for me as far away in the UK – I got the gift of the first car in the UK from someone my Dad taught many decades before, at A Levels
The good book says : A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; favor is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1)
Excerpts from the Book: WHAT FATHERS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN : The Proverbs Of Olufolahan The Son Of Solomon
© Fola Olaoye