My mentor’s name is Dr. Oluyemi Ekwe, a communications manager at National Bureau of Statistics. He is an intelligent man who has risen through the ranks of the organization to become one of the most respected personalities at the institution. I knew Dr. Ekwe while at high school, when he came to our school to present a lecture on morality, academics and career success. I remember almost everything he said. This is because his articulation of ideas was simply perfect and everyone kept clapping for him every now and then throughout the lecture.
My memory of Mr. Ekwe’s intellect is even clearer during university days. At Southern California University, he was my journalism lecturer for two years. Members of our class say he was humorous but I think this was his way of viciously making us understand basic concepts. After class, he would hold consultations at length with all and sundry.
Dr. Ekwe motivates me to excel in the journalism career because he has succeeded and seems very ready to help. I always try to maintain contacts with him as much as I can. However, since he is a busy man, it is not very easy to meet him on a social setting.
All mentors have a way of vigilantly influencing one’s personal, public and professional life. This, I would say, is true of my mentor. He is very liberal and has a sense of style. You will easily notice this if you talk with him and then watch him walk away with a slight swagger or deliver a keynote speech. Dr. Ekwe is not a pedant. He obliviously inspired me, and indeed the entire class on how to take simplistic approaches to everything with the main motive being fulfillment of a noble goal in life. I always draw on that wisdom whenever I feel certain about my prospects for a journalism career.
One good thing about my mentor’s professional life is a sense of simplicity, though he maintains a very formal aura whenever the task at hand demands it. He has no sense of self-importance and likes keeping a low profile whenever he can. He seems very much like the utilitarian that he always says he is. Although I consider him successful, he does not like emphasizing his achievements. Rather, he likes talking about the things he should have done to help other people but which he has not done, something he says amounts to sacrilege.
Like all men, Dr. Ekwe, my mentor and communications manager at National Bureau of Statistics, is not perfect. He frequently laments about his failure on the family life front. I have had to cautiously divert our conversations several times when he tried to go onto intricate details of his personal life, in a bid to make me understand what he exactly meant. I wonder whether he wanted me to learn from his mistakes, but I think so.
He rarely talks about politics. Rather, he methodically gives finite comments on the utterances of this and that politician. His views about politics become clear through positive or negative statements and policy issues articulated by this or that policymaker. I think he hates being boringly philosophical about life. This makes me perceive my tendency to get deeply philosophical in just about every topic to be a bit of a weakness. I recently asked him if this is a weakness and he said it was not. I think he meant that it is indeed a weakness but that there is nothing I can do about it.
Apart from enabling me become a better communicator, Dr. Ekwe has helped me wade through lethal academic and career challenges. He is the one who alerted me about the job advertisement that I responded to in order to be hired as an intern at communications department in the ministry of foreign affairs. I am sure that the tips he offered me about the things to say or not to say in the application letter and resume counted a lot for my being shortlisted for the interview. Thereafter, I battled it out all by myself.
I consider it intriguing that my mentor, Dr. Ekwe, says, through connotation, that he has learnt more things from me than I have learnt from him. Yet I wonder why he always turns down my requests whenever I ask him to accept to be a guest of honor at local fundraising meetings. Last month, he told me that he would be out of the country and I believed him.
The second most important career lesson that I learnt from my mentor is about avoiding ‘misplaced priorities’ situations. During the high school lecture, he used a very important analogy to illustrate his advice. I had sworn never to forget about this analogy so that I could share it with everyone on a platform like this one. However, early last year, I forgot everything about it! I will ask Dr. Ekwe to explain the analogy again when I get an opportunity to do so and then I will immediately share it with the world.
I know little about the kind of people that Dr. Ekwe relates with. It seems to me that he has no permanent friends; he can make a good politician, although he denies it whenever the need for clarity on this matter arises. As for friendships, anyone can be his friend as long as two conditions are fulfilled: there is a common mission and that the job gets done. This is how the utilitarian in him comes out very clearly.
Last month, he delivered a speech in which he was supporting the government’s decision to delay the announcement of the statistics of the census that was held four months ago. I admired how he articulated his points. The following day, I tried to emulate him during the speech I delivered during a communications workshop, which I think was an instant success. Dr. Ekwe’s influence in my career life is that phenomenal.