Father’s day is this weekend and I truly believe good fathers are under appreciated. I was reminded of this even more as I sat in the baby feeding room in church last Sunday with Dads who were either feeding or changing their little ones. It was refreshing to see these men look after their children as many forget all aspects of parenting a child should be shared. Luckily I am blessed to know some very good fathers and one of them is Mr Aliu who is one of the most devoted fathers that I have come across. Enjoy his interview and Happy Father’s day to all the super dads!
Please tell us a few things about you.
My name is Folorunso Aliu. I am married to Olujoke Aliu and I’m blessed with three great children: a princess and two princes; ages 11, 9 and 3. I studied Computer Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. I work with one of Nigeria’s earliest full-fledged ICT firms, owned and run in Nigeria by Nigerians. I started as an Industrial Trainee student in the company and rose to the position of managing director of one of the subsidiaries within 7 years.
I volunteered to run a strategic national project dear to my heart in 2011 and had to relocate to Abuja from Lagos. I am currently in charge of large and strategic projects for the parent company and also drive the interest of the organization in the northern region. We are known to provide solutions to national problems by deploying ICT enabled business solutions.
We know you also co-authored a book recently what is it about?
Yes, I co-authored a book titled “VACANCY – You Are Urgently Needed” with Mr. Anedge Ekiotenne, a trainer and coach. It took about 3 years to have the final product as we could only work effectively on weekends, spare time, public holidays and vacation time.
Our book deals with the issues around employee, employability, value creation and appropriation. From the website of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, youth unemployment rose to 42.24% in Q1 2016. 56.1% of Nigerians in the labour force aged between 15-24 years were either unemployed or underemployed in Q1 2016, compared to 53.5% in Q4 of 2015. Also, 32.8% of Nigerians in the labour force aged between 25-34years were either unemployed or underemployed in Q1 2016 compared to 31.3% in Q4 2015″. In other words, the number of unemployed Nigerians between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 increased by 1,449,180 persons. Note that even after the publication of these statistics a lot of people have been retrenched, especially in the financial services and the oil and gas sectors. With the current state of the economy, the threat of further retrenchment is looming.
These are the types of challenges we seek to address in the book. We are of the opinion that even with the stated position based on data, there are lots of vacancies and it behoves on the individual to position himself/herself as the problem solver.
The books also seeks to help workers to understand the concept of vacancy in every situation and how to position to optimize such vacancies whether the person is a job seeker, employee, would-be entrepreneur, struggling or thriving entrepreneur and even the CEO. It focuses on the ability of the human mind to be adaptable and have the creative essence if it is engaged actively.
We examined the success cycle of Learning, Earning and Yearning as a sure way to remain relevant today and in the future.
We begin each chapter with insightful proverbs and used stories extensively to help readers grasp the relevant points/solutions, we also have practical ‘how-to’ action exercises to ensure that it is resulted oriented. It is an easy to read and useful tool for everyone. More importantly, it calls the reader to immediate action.
The book has been receiving a lot of excellent reviews and we are quite pleased.
Sounds fantastic, so you are obviously a very busy man, yet you are a very hands on dad and are very involved in your children’s PTA, tell us how you manage to do this?
It takes a lot of juggling and depriving oneself of some things, but it is well worth it. For example, my one hour break period is sacred as that is when I can pick my children. I am careful not to fix meetings at this time. There are times however when this becomes impossible to do. At such times, I make alternative arrangements with my wife and sometimes trusted family and friends. However, because this is of importance to me, I give it priority. Thanks also to free roads in Abuja, it is easier to rush to pick the children and get back to work on time.
What this does for me is that it increases my level of efficiency. It means I must make my time at work count. I try to ensure that if a timeline falls within my break period, I finish way before that time. As I said earlier, the objective drives me.
Most importantly, my wife is simply awesome as she makes it easy to achieve goals by taking away a lot of distractions which allow me focus on what is most important.
A lot of fathers feel being involved in the children’s school, day to day activites etc. is a job for their Mothers, what are your views?
I believe most mothers are overworked and overwhelmed. By the way, I wish to celebrate all mothers whether ‘work-at-home’ (or full time housewives in popular parlance), ‘work-from-home’ or ‘go-out-to-work mums’ mothers. You all work and I think as men, we don’t give near enough credit to the womenfolk.
In terms of fathers being involved in their children’s school activities, I think not being involved is self-sabotaging. As I stated earlier, you have very little time to impart life values to your children and it takes both parents actively utilizing any opportunity to optimize the interactions with their children. The drive home with your children right after school is a wonderful time to listen to them, to know what went on in school, who did what, how it was done and why? Those moments give you insight into the mind of your child and what is important to your child. It helps you to know your child’s challenges and who or what is important to your child. In those moments when things are fresh in their minds, they are willing to say a lot of things without inhibition. And in the event that they are quiet and introspective, you begin to notice patterns that will help you position yourself to be of impact to them.
As a father, I try to listen as much as I possibly can at these times as I gain a lot of insight and can learn a lot about my child’s life in those 20 to 30 minutes window. It is an awesome experience most fathers should tap into if they possibly can.
Finally, I believe that most fathers are trying their very best to provide for their families in the ways they know how to and the environment (economic, social and political) is also not friendly to most working men as it is very hostile to say the least. However, I believe it starts from the mind, as the mind has a way of finding its peculiar solutions to whatever is considered very important.
What inspired your hands on approach to fatherhood?
My father passed on when I was just turning a teenager and I had to take on a father’s role from that time as the oldest male in the house.
Before my father’s passing however, I can confidently say that he was my friend. He gave me his time and was genuinely interested in me as a person and not just a son. Even as a child, this meant the world to me .My father meant more than just a father figure to me. I would do anything not to disappoint him and he earned my respect by showing me how to live. I did not have the privilege to spend a lot of time with him, as he died quite early, but I would have given anything to have him spend more time with me in my journey growing up. My daily thought is that if I can make my children feel half as much love, respect and confidence in their person as my father made me feel, even as a pre-teen child, then I would be glad. After my father’s passing, it was a lot easier to get my siblings to do the right thing if I could reach them in their own world rather than force them.
While in Lagos, I realized that I was not spending time with my children at all because of the demands of work (which were real and very important). I had to do a self-audit and it became clear to me that if I continued that way, I would not have the desired degree of connection with my children. Often times, it is too late by the time one realises. It was a moment of epiphany for me as it dawned on me that I was not giving priority to the most important things in my life. I could get another job which may pay me less (or more) but I could never get other children, the same as mine. It also occurred to me that time was short to impart any form of value in the children because once they become teenagers; we are no longer as relevant in their lives especially if we did not cultivate them earlier. At that time, they would be seeking their personal identity (and most times would seek this identity outside the home). I therefore resolved to be there and be fully present while I have the window of opportunity to be relevant and impart the values.
More importantly, I realize that as a father, my job is to be the best guide I possibly can to my children in this world. The best way for me to be a guide is to be there in person and lead them by my actions, words and presence.
Wise words Mr. Aliu, thank you for your time.