“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” – Steve Jobs
Let’s call these two boys Peter and Paul.
They did everything together as kids, they played with sand together, and got into trouble together. In school too, they smashed the grades together, whether it was Primary 4 mathematics, or SS1 Economics.
But here’s the thing, Peter’s house, which is just down the street from Paul’s, is the one thing that separated them. In the darkness of Paul’s house, whenever there was no electricity as always, Paul could always see Peter’s house lit up, everyday, every night, thanks to a generator that never ran out of fuel.
Peter and Paul might have been best friends, but their fathers were not on the same level.
Paul’s father stood in line at the bank whenever he needed to make a withdrawal. Peter’s dad on the other hand, just went straight to the manager’s office, or on some days when he got too tired to go out, had his account officer bring his withdrawal to the house. Something about customer service and all that jargon.
But as it should be with great friends, this wasn’t much of a problem. It was their fathers’ businesses, not theirs. The best part? Paul was made senior prefect in SS3 and Peter, labour prefect.
They smashed their certificate exams too, as expected.
Paul smashed his JAMB exams too, but Peter didn’t. That’s because he didn’t take the exam. He was going to America. The Ivy League came calling and for the first time in their lives, these brothers felt real separation. Still, they kept in touch.
Peter came back every December with stories of white girls, junk food, and how school was not as difficult there. Paul, on the other hand, shared stories of missing results and endless strikes.
“They say we’re studying Finance,” Paul would say, “but what we’re actually studying is Archaeological Finance, because to be honest, this is the same curriculum we’ve been using since this University was founded in 1974.”
By the time Peter was sending pictures of his graduation, Paul’s school was just returning from a strike and he had three more semesters to go. He still graduated one of the best in his class, against the odds.
Peter sneaked out of an office meeting to congratulate Paul the day he finally graduated. It’s what real friends do, even if time difference and thousands of kilometres stand between New York and Lagos.
A lot has changed since Peter and Paul used to play with sand and get in trouble together.
Peter has resumed a managerial role in Lagos at an investment bank. Paul is in a commercial bank too, but in his branch alone, he still reports to many people.
Even with their fathers too, a lot has changed. Peter’s father still sees the manager, but now Mr manager comes over and they drink whisky together, and talk about the bill he’s sponsoring at the Senate. Paul’s father has stopped queuing in banks. Thanks to internet banking, he can now do his little transactions from his phone.
Back to Peter.
He has a really nice place now. His house is still lit up all night, thanks to his generator that never runs out of fuel. Paul too has a modest place, but he turns off his generator at 10 pm, while his rechargeable fan does the work till morning.
At this moment, the résumés of Peter and Paul are sitting on the table of the Director General of a financial institution in Nigeria. He can only hire one person. One is from a ivy league school, the other is from a University a few hours from his office.
This director has come a long way too.
He used to be the manager at a bank where Peter’s father used to visit him in his office very often.
There is another story.
The one of Olajumoke Orisaguna. An inspiring one, but it is what it is, a fairy tale. And fairy tales don’t happen very often. In fact, there are so few of them that you can afford to hear the same one “happily ever after.”
If Hillary Clinton becomes president and completes a first term, only two families, the Bush dynasty, being the other, will have ruled America for 24 out of 32 years.
But privilege is even better.
There will be leaders tomorrow, but you will remember them by the names their daddies and mummies ruled with today.