How might Sir Ahmadu Bello’s reaction to news of the discovery of oil in Eastern Nigeria challenge us today?

Today’s post is in two instalments. The next post, with an adjusted title, comes up tomorrow morning.

My neighbour preferred Opportunity Mentality versus Threat Mentality as the title for this post. I kind of liked the ring to it but I told him I preferred something that cut to the chase, something that provided some good peep to the subject at hand. Both of us agreed that the substance of the piece is worth highlighting in the title, considering its implications for anyone with considerable influence over any group of persons.

Here is the story: In 1959 crude oil was discovered in commercial quantities in Oloibiri, in the then Eastern Region of Nigeria (Oloibiri is in Bayelsa State today.) Subsequently, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa broke the great news to his cabinet, and was actually on hand when the Hemifusis, the cargo carrying the first consignment of crude oil, set sail for Europe.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, Premier of the Northern Region received the news with great excitement. Many persons around him did not know the reason for his great excitement, and out of curiosity asked him, “How come news of the discovery of oil in Eastern Region has made you so excited?” “Don’t you get it?” he replied. “Can’t you see that a great opportunity for our farmers has just been created? Certainly, by this discovery, many people in the Eastern Region will stop farming activities in other to concentrate on oil matters, leaving our farmers the chance to cultivate more lands, grow more crops, and sell more produce to the new markets that have just been created,” he concluded.

It is instructive that whereas many around him did not see it, he saw the opportunity immediately! And was already beginning to explore the possibilities. Those familiar with the famous Northern Nigeria Marketing Boards, which he established, know how much economic power the initiative placed in the hands of farmers at the time.

Can any family, business, group or people led by leaders dominated by threat mentality ever fare as well as those dominated by the opportunity mentality? Can any family, business, group or people led by leaders who feel intimidated or insecure about the strides made by those they consider as their competition ever fare as well as those who consider news of every any stride made by those they consider as their competition, convert such news as fuel and motivation to strive better and be better in all of their strong areas?

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