Ben Akabueze gives an exclusive interview with The Spark. The Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget and Pastor-in Charge of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 4, is counselling and endowing the Rookie of the Month with 100,000 naira.
Read how he started from the bottom, like all men born of a woman.
Give us a rundown of your biggest achievements?
I consider my achievements in life, this far, to be modest. Nevertheless, a few of those that stand out for me includes: graduating top of my class at GCE ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level; graduating from the university with a First Class (Honours); setting up a successful Consumer Banking division at UBA Plc (including negotiating the Moneygram franchise); leading NAL Merchant Bank Plc through three major transitions; leading monetary reforms in Lagos State’s planning and budgeting framework.
What was the pivotal moment in your life?
Becoming a born-again Christian in 1988.
How much did mentorship play in your rise to success?
I have admired and learnt from a number of successful people but I have never really been formally mentored.
How old were you when you got your first job?
I was twenty-three when I started working after my national youth service.
Tell us about your experience as an South- Eastern Nigerian in the Lagos State Government?
I don’t have a strong consciousness of ethnicity. It hasn’t really impeded me in the discharge of my duties as Commissioner in Lagos State. In my opinion, I think my appointment as Commissioner has worked well.
What does a young entrepreneur need to know in order to be successful in Lagos?
He/she needs to understand the environment especially the opportunities and threats. Know the rules of engagement in his chosen area of endeavour as well as know the competition he faces.
How much priority does Youth Development receive in the Lagos State budget?
Education, healthcare, recreation, social protection and job opportunities are among the greatest concerns of the youth; these are among the key areas of focus of the Lagos State Budget.
Does your climb to the top leave room for family time?
Absolutely, after God my next priority is my family. Therefore I make time for my family. For instance, in the last twenty years, we have never missed our annual family vacation. Nevertheless, I will admit that sometimes, it is difficult to balance the required attention to family and work but I’m thankful that I have a very understanding and supportive family.
What is your guiding philosophy?
I have absolute faith in God and believe in the virtues of hard work and love towards my fellow human beings.
How do you give back?
I give back through financial contributions to the needy but mostly through personal service. My role as a Pastor provides a platform for service to humanity.
Apart from the Bible, is there any book you’ve read that has completely changed your thinking?
An Enemy called Average by John Mason and When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going by Robert Schuyler are some of the books that have significantly influenced my thinking.
What will you give off as The Spark – an incentive to encourage the Rookie of the month, in his/her own pursuit of success?
A personal counselling session and a 100,000 naira.