“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

— Tony Robbins.

Success is a story to be told just like every birthday. Prior to this, the story of the  richest black woman in the world is not just a motivation to every girl child but also to all and sundry. My pen dances with joy as I heartily write about a courageous woman who rose to success without a university degree.

     Folorunso Alakija is a household name not just in Nigeria but the world at large. The Ikorodu born mouglette started her career as a bank secretary and typist. The serial entrepreneur in an instagram post said ‘’My desire was to study law but my daddy did not believe in investing in girls at that time. Today, I have no university degree, but God’s glory lifted me up and I have received numerous Honorary doctorate degrees at home and abroad’’. As the 8th child out of 52 childreen she found her way to being a world billionaire with consistency and resilience.

     The billionare later went into the fashion business  called supreme stitches which was later named Rose Of Sharon house Of  Fashion.

       Folorunsho was born on 15 July 1951 to the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State. She had her basic education at Our Ladies of Apostles, Lagos, Nigeria from 1955–1958. At a tender  age of seven, she travelled to the United Kingdom to continue her basic studies at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales between the years of 1959–1963. On the accomplishment of her basic studies, she attended “Muslim High School” in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. She later returned to England to study secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London.

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     Alakija  applied for the allocation of an oil prospecting license (OPL) in 1993.The license for exploration of oil on a 617,000-acre block currently referred to as OPL 216—was granted to  Famfa Limited, Alakija establishment. The block is approximately 350 kilometres down to the southeast region of Lagos, Nigeria and 110 kilometres offshore of  Nigeria in the Agbami Field part of the central Niger Delta region of Nigeria. In September 1996, she put pen on paper by signing a partnership deal  with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a fully owned subsidiary May of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep.

     Little wonder, oil exploration started, the Nigerian government reportedly snatched a 50% stake. For over a decade, she fought the government through her way in court. The Nigerian Government argued that  if Alakija and family were allowed to retain their bloc, they stood to be making a whopping sum of money estimated to be a figure of  $10 million a daily. Still, she never gave up and gallantly won the case at the end.

    The billionaire further emphasized on the need not to give up when facing challenges in life. This she reteraited in her instagram post which read ‘I have had to make sacrifices like everyone else, faced challenges but never given up’. Also in her interview with The Vanguard Newspaper on March, 24,  2016 quoted saying Do not accept ‘’No” for an answer – Many doors were shut in my face but I refused to give up and kept going back and it paid off; see where I am today. Be determined to succeed as there is always a way where there seems to be no way. Only the persistent and diligent find it.

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I belong to the school of thought that success evolves witth time just like the day give way at sunset to the silent night. Alakija shed more light on the timeliness of successs quoted saying ”All of what you now see today has taken almost two and a half decades, so I am not an overnight success. On the contrary, through God’s grace, I am a blood bought totally forgiven, absolutely redeemed, heaven bound child of God” .She also shed more light on this in her interview with vanguard Newspaper she said ‘Time is money, use it wisely. Say “no” to corruption Find mentors for practical guidance in your chosen career. Find out God’s purpose for your life and embark on it. Exercise patience and have courage. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Family influence Always remember, that anything worth doing at all is worth doing well. Don’t sit on the fence but come to Nigeria’s defence. Proffer solutions and follow through’.

         The bottom line is drawn from Lupita Nyongos acceptance speech at the 2014 Oscar Award, she said and I quote ”To every African Child, your dreams are valid”. There is a thin line between success and failure but we must also bear in mind that success is a gradual process. Pat Riley said ” success is a gradual result of always striving to do better”. The rise of Alakija says it all.

Kayode Adeshina Rhymes

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