African Outliers, Helicopetr View Of Nigerian Success Stories.

By : Muhammad Abdulrahman

Success is quite a hard-fought topic to discuss. It means different thing to different people, but to every serious person success is the highest accomplishment in any path one chooses. However, success story is not obscure, it can be studied and has been analyzed by many scholars. It is widely accepted that success has an established procedures to follow before attaining. This is quite plausible, but the most important factors that determine success are the ability to grab opportunities that materialize and systematic training by practice. Chances have not only made people successful but also non-living things such as cities, towers, monuments, and any other thing. After the Nigeria civil war, the then military government conceived the idea of moving the country's capital city to place, where all its people would be ably represented, geographically. Abuja happens to lie in the central part of the country, with vast land and moderate weather made it the best choice for the new capital. Thanks to its initial conception and associated attributes, Abuja is an outlier. The success of Abuja lied on some of its natural circumstances. As Abuja, contrary to the general perception, achievement is not altogether attributed to individual struggle.

Like every other postulate, be it in politics, law, business, or policies, Nigeria’s edition is ever inconsistent with established evidence. what might be the reason? That is a topic for another day. When I started looking into some success stories in African societies, one thing that came to my mind was “Inconsistency” - hoped-for some facts only peculiar to this part of the world. Luckily, this time around, it all turned out similar. By and large outliers, from north pole down south have some features in common.

Malcome Gladwell in his book titled “Outliers: The Story of Success” Outlined two of the most important ideas of success: Opportunity and Practice. He argues that success is not entirely depended on intelligence and/or smartness of an individual, rather the circumstance an individual finds his/herself in, and the ability to seize the chance that is manifested. Gladwell presented his facts by analyzing some of the world’s renowned entrepreneurs, and notably amongst them, one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the world – the Co- founder of Microsoft and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation – Bill Gates.

Bill Gates and other successful tech entrepreneurs such as Bill Joy, Steve Jobs were peers born in the mid-1950s. Bill Gates was lucky to be born when computer revolution kickstarted and equally fluky to be raised in Seattle, the home of Lakeside school, which was arguably the most expensive school in Washington in the 1960s and one of the only schools that pupils got access to computers at the time. For this circumstance, Bill Gates was privileged to go to Lakeside School, where he was exposed to using computers from a very tender age. If Gates were not raised in Washington or had no chance to get into Lakeside, he would not have had access to computers, and if he had no access to computer, he would not have been exposed to coding and might not have been successful in the Tech industry.

The three most successful businessmen in Nigeria according to Forbes are: Aliko Dangote, Abdussamad Rabiu and Mike Adenuga. They manage multinational businesses in their respective sectors, and combined, this three worth more than 20 billion dollars. Two amongst them have quietly similar success path.

Aliko Dangote the founder and president of Dangote group was born in 1957 to the family of Dantata. Dangote’s Grandfather Sanusi Dantata was once the wealthiest man living in kano. Aliko Started a business with a $5000 loan from his uncle. Should he had not been born in a wealthy family, and had no uncle to lend him, his bank account might have been different today. Abdussamad Rabiu, the founder and president of BUA international was born in 1960 to the family of a wealthy sheikh in Kano. Khalifa Isiaka Rabiu was serial Entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest people in modern day Kano. Both Rabiu and Dangote were lucky to be born in the late 1950s and raised by wealthy individuals. Should they have not been born in the late 1950s perhaps, a little bit earlier or later, their stories would have been completely different. Should they have been raised by poor families, they may not have access to capital. If they were also raised in Nembe in Bayelsa or Tungo in Adamawa not Kano, they might not have access to commodity market to sell oats or rice. Kano was and still is the economic hub of Northern Nigeria.

At the 63rd Annual Grammy awards held in Los Angeles on March 14. Two amongst the most successful musicians in Nigeria won the Grammy award, which is unarguably the highest and prestigious award in the music industry. Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy) and Ayode Ibrahim Balogun (Wizkid) were all born and raised in Southern Nigeria, this is a place where now choosing music as profession is morally fine and free of any stigma. However, if Wizkid and Burna Boy were born in Gusau or Maiduguri their chance of winning Grammy is close to nadir.

The second most important idea is called “10,000-hour rule” meaning whatever you do, if you have not practiced it for 10,000 hours then you are not great at doing it. You want to be expert in 3 years, you need at least 9.13 hours of practice per day, in 10 years, 2.7 hours of practice needed. The medieval originated phrase “Practice makes perfect” is an indication that practice has been a path to success for more than five centuries. Jay-Jay Okocha, A Nigerian footballer, said in an interview with BBC Sport that he spent his childhood practicing the game of football with any round object he and his friends could find. Okocha applied the 10,000-hour rule; He understood that to be successful in football you need constant practice of ball playing. Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi are young successful Nigerian programmers. They were the founders of Paystack, a multimillion-dollar IT company. According to Ezra, he has been practicing programming since secondary school and his friendship and partnership with Shola is because of their shared interest in Programming. These kids graduated Secondary school in 2006. Imagine how long practice they have made before founding Paystack in 2015, Almost a ten thousand hour.

Aliko, Rabiu, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Okocha, Shola and Ezra are all African Outliers, the Nigerian success story. It is blazingly clear that some of the most important factors that determined success are spontaneous opportunity such as Inheriting huge amount of wealth, year of birth, place of birth or any other circumstance that may arise. And repeatedly practicing of what you do. Nonetheless, being successful in your chosen field is not entirely dependent on the aforementioned factors. The qualities of effective communication according to Patric Winston an MIT professor of Artificial Intelligence, are knowledge, Practice, and inheritance talent. In Winston mathematical equation, knowledge and practice are the most significant functions of effective communication. Whilst inheritance talent which is the circumstance on this component is just a peanut. It is rather imperative that, whoever aspires to be successful must identify and seize any opportunity that showcase. Should you aim to make a fortune in blockchain trading or become a professional data scientist, now is the time to act and get yourself trained for 10,000 hours.

Mohammed A Raji can be reached at [email protected]

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