‘Why a conscious life is desirable’

Mr. Oyetunji (left); author, Funmi Oyetunji; Emir Sanusi, Chief Ogunshola, Adeniyi, David-Borha and Chief Akinkugbe… at the presentation ceremony in Lagos

Mr. Oyetunji (left); author, Funmi Oyetunji; Emir Sanusi, Chief Ogunshola, Adeniyi, David-Borha and Chief Akinkugbe… at the presentation ceremony in Lagos

By nature, human beings always aspire to live a fulfilled life. But like a race, not all that start well, finish well. And tips on how to navigate critical stages and aspects of life successfully may be hard to come by. But the finance expert and banker, Mrs. Funmi Oyetunji has filled this vacuum through her offering, a motivational book entitled, A Conscious Life.

The presentation ceremony of the book, in Lagos, recently attracted eminent Nigerians including the Emir of Kano, His Highness, Muhammad Sanusi II, Sarkin Kano; elder statesman, Chief Olu Akinkugbe; a former Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola; Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Mrs. Sola David-Borha, who read an excerpt from the book; and the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi anchored its review.

In the course of writing the book, which took her five years to complete, the author said her colleagues were curious about the subject matter as they thought she would focus on her field as banker and finance expert. However, what motivated her was the existence of “no syllabus in any curriculum that throws light on how to intentionally navigate a fulfilling or satisfying life.”

She explained further, “No subject in schools is titled ‘Life Instructions’. We mostly swing it, taking our chances with little warning about signposts or pitfalls.  I also found that some of my own generation increasingly felt concerned that the direction and guidance that we received from our parents was not being passed on to the younger generation. Mostly, my motivation to write therefore came from a need to pass on the wisdom from my antecedents, the lessons I have learnt while navigating my own life and my observation of other lives, hoping I am able to do so for positive impact.”
She added that apart from her own experiences and observation, she employed some research to ensure that worldwide empirical data actually supported the ethnic wisdom that was passed to her mostly through my grandmothers.

“This book is definitely not an autobiography. I am still too young for that. So, is this a ‘how-to-do book to live by?’ Not at all. The components that would satisfy each of us as a great life are as different as our DNAs. So, I could never present you with that one formula to a great life. What the book, therefore, seeks to do is to point out the sign-posts in the different seasons and critical aspects of life. To challenge you to consider and articulate ahead what finishing well means to you. It is intended to encourage some orderliness to the sometimes overwhelming different layers of life in order to achieve a satisfying balance,” the author added.

Commending the author for documenting her knowledge and experience for posterity, Adeniyi noted that there were aspects of the 11-chapter book that were motivational, while some parts were biographical.

The reviewer said, “Yet, it is also about lifestyle as it covers human interest issues from love and marriage to friendship and parenting,  as well as education and professional career. At the end, the author inspires us to make wise choices as we navigate through life.

“For the young, this book is a tool to help to keep them on the right track as the author offers real-life perspectives on issues they have to contend with on a daily basis. And for the old, it is a good companion to remind them, not only of what might have been, but also of what remains undone. If you have ever looked at the achievements of others thinking you would never be able to accomplish such goals, what this book teaches is that you are capable of achieving whatever you set your mind on. But, as the author also reminds us, success does not come easy as there is always a price to pay.”

Chief Ogunshola wrote the foreword to the book. And at the presentation ceremony, he commended the author for doing a thorough job in the publication.

He noted that when he first read through the manuscript, the writer’s effort surpassed his expectation.

The author’s husband, Mr. Femi Oyetunji, had very sweet words for her on the occasion. He noted that the woman, who he first met at Manchester, UK, 37 years back, was not only dutiful, she was also a workaholic.

“I have been fortunate to have such a wonderful woman by my side all the time,” he said.

The Emir linked the importance of the book to national development.

According to him, the implication of Oyetunji’s stance is that leaders, both in politics and the corporate world, must always think through policies to achieve real growth.

He described Oyetunji as someone who is always looking for better ways of doing things.

The Emir said, “I have watched Funmi at a close range. I watched her work as a banker and also her real estate business. She is a person always willing to stand with friends whether at good or bad times.”

A Conscious Life reminded Chief Akinkugbe of a motivational book he read when he was still very young. According to him, the book he got from his father’s library had positive impact on his life. He therefore expressed joy that Oyetunji’s book would equally help young people to take informed decisions especially on wealth creation.

He praised the author’s style of writing, saying, “It is very elegant. She captured me with the very first paragraph of her beautiful book and she managed to sustain my interest to the very end.”

Mrs. Sola David-Borha, read an excerpt bordering on financial planning from the book, and before curtains fell on the ceremony, the author had unveiled, on behalf of her family, the LASAL Foundation, dedicated to the memory of her late father, Chief L. A. Salami, who transited in February 2000.

The foundation, which has begun to offer scholarship to students in tertiary institutions across the country, is established, according to Mrs Oyetunji, as a befitting memorial “to our father” who played the key role as “the agent for poverty alleviation and social mobility in his family. Daddy was most audacious in vision and laying hold on his dreams.”

THE author obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1977 and after the ACCA qualification in the U.K., practiced in Nigeria in the firms of Coopers & Lybrand and then Z. O. Ososanya & Co. between 1981 and 1987. She then returned to the U.K. to work at the London office of KPMG, as a manager in the Business Advisory and Banking Practice groups between 1987 and 1992.

In 1993, she joined Fountain Trust Merchant Bank as Head of Internal Audit and Strategic Planning. She moved to First Bank of Nigeria in 1998 to head the Foreign Trade department and was appointed the bank’s Corporate Treasurer in February 2001. She held that position until May 2002 when she left to assume the role of Chief Executive of AbiTos Financial Services Limited, a real estate development and investment company, a position she holds to date.

Mrs Oyetunji has put her professional training and business experience to use in Business Coaching and Training and has taught on the executive programmes at the Lagos Business School and facilitated for IBFC Agusto and FITC. She has attended leadership and management programs at both the Harvard Business School and INSEAD.

She serves on the board of a number of companies including Ecobank Nigeria and is a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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