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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Between Alexander and Akinlaja

As coincidence of lessons will have us learn from the woes and greatness of others; the story of Alexander and Akinlaja was artistically reported in a national daily (The Punch) on 5th and 6th of December, 2009 respectively.
Between Alexander and Akinlaja is a success and determination that are worthy to be imbibed by go-getters. Between Alexander and Akinlaja is defiance to poverty with youthful restlessness, even when poverty was their next door neighbour. Between Alexander and Akinlaja is a similar thirst that resultedin different ends. Though they were separated by vastness of lands and countless waves of oceans and seas, they shared in common what can only be described as rare ability of youthful ingenuity. They (Alexander and Akinlaja) racked their brains to save their destinies from rack and ruin. Alexander and Akinlaja strained their precocious dexterity beyond limit to triumph over the strain their fate bequeathed on them as a result of their birth that gives them no silver spoon in their mouths but a rusted metal that they would have to sandpaper to uncover its beauty under rust. As every workman is worthy of his fame, Alexander became the master of urban ringtones and the producer of the finest and most expensive suit, while Akinlaja was only honoured by EFCC’s clamp-down as one of the greatest ‘phishers’ of modern technology. It is obvious that their ends differ from each other, but no one can treat determination involved in their mission as a mere child’s play.
Like any other child with feelings, Alexander, out of frustration of not being identified within his school because of his social classification; he ventured into a scheme that if he had been forced into, can be tagged as child exploitation or abuse. In a desperation of not being a pariah in the midst of kids who only speak and make ‘waves’ through the flaunting of the labels of their wears; he became a newspaper vendor (fondly called by him as Paper Round) at the tender age of 12. Hear him speak; ‘’We call it paper round in the UK... I was attending a public school and I wasn’t communicating well with the other kids. I had no friend in school at the time. I was just the ‘African Kid’. My clothes were Pony. Those who wore such a label were seen as very poor people. All the other kids’ wears were Nike, Adidas and other wears. But I realized that the popular kids were those who wore nice clothes and labels. My grandmother couldn’t afford to pay for such. I had to think of a way to buy those things. Fortunately a newspaper agency gave me a job and they said they would pay me 10 pounds every week to deliver 50 newspapers every day.... I saved 10 pounds for five weeks and it came up to 50 pounds. I used the money to buy my first trainers (Nike).... Remember that I had been in that school for nine months and nobody had spoken to me. But I walked in with my trainers on that day and suddenly, everybody wanted to be my friend and talk to me. That was what made me to decide, at a very young age, that this was what I had to do to fit in – making money and getting rich.’’ It is often said that when you deodorise your moist armpits, even the most hygienic and cultured will always want to have a taste of the pleasant smell with their tongues. But when a child defecate in his pants and rub it over his head, the most caring mother will always hesitate a little and recoil at it before cleaning him up. Suffice to say that success will give you more relatives that are never connected to you by birth or blood. Such was the story of

Alexander at his early age of 12. Akinlaja got it right at the first instance too, when he swindled some of Brig. – Gen. J.O. Komolafe’s friends and bilk them of their money and recharge cards. Akinlaja must have also been oppressed by the affluence of his peers to measure up with their social lifestyle like Alexander; he developed a peculiar means of swimming in thousands of naira without having to deliver newspapers for 5 weeks like Alexander did. His technological craftiness was quickly deployed to active service. Listen to him speak (after he had been caught with his evil enterprise); ‘’I will not say I didn’t do it. I am guilty of the crimes. One day I went to the cyber cafe and designed the web page. I sent this web page to numerous recipients, asking them to change their Yahoo identification and passwords. I have the software that can divert all responses to my mail box where I now get their contacts. The general’s own was part of it.’’ Before we pass a gloomy judgement on Akinlaja, it will be very sentimental of us not to note the skills and drive he used in performing his enterprise. Designing a webpage is something a philistine in the use of web designing softwares like Adobe dreamweaver , iWeb, etc., cannot do. A thumps up should however be given to him. Akinlaja’s skill and adroitness can be lauded, but the negative effect of what he channelled them to, should be loathed in all ramification.

Alexander took his entrepreneurial taste to another level when he had a foray into Cleaning business, which was informed by the 20 pounds his pregnant aunty gave to him for getting her house cleaned from head to bottom, though he never dreamed of receiving anything from her. Alexander enthused; ‘’My aunty was pregnant and she asked me to clean her house.... So I cleaned the house from head to bottom and I didn’t even think much of it. ...she came back and gave me 20 pounds. I walked out of the door and I scratched my head. I asked myself of ‘how many pregnant we had in UK?’ I ran home and I designed a flier that read, ‘Care Clean Agency – if you are pregnant, call this number.’’ Alexander mercantile intuition was matched with positive action, he seized the only small ace up his sleeve and made great success out of it; ignoring the ignominy that such endeavour of his could stir up among his peer-group. It will be proper to believe that the manner by which Akinlaja designed an electronic interface to defraud unsuspecting public; he should be able to do more than one or two tasks with Desktop Publishing applications (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Excel and adobe Pagemaker), which if harnessed, can get him employed as a Computer Operator in some of the Business Centres that we have around. But because of his impatience in wearing the kinds of brogues and ‘designer’ cashmeres that his friends were using, he saw the proceeds from such employment as one that would not be enough to foot the bills of the luxuries and comforts that he dreams.

Alexander became a master of urban ring-tones when tedium made him to press the buttons of his phone than usual. In this process, he was able to observe the composition of different musical tone of each button on his phone. This consequently gave birth to the company that he later sold for 9million pounds. If only Akinlaja had looked inward and utilized the unusual skill he possesses, he would have known that if only he could further in taking courses in electronic programming that will sharpen the blunt sides of his ability; picking up a job in any company of his choice as a System Administrator will be with ease. He (Akinlaja) only allowed his technological understanding, that does not go beyond imposing others identities to play a fast trick on them, to rob him of his promising future by getting him behind bars that would only open to his freedom after languishing for 7 years. And as it was reported; “By the time he is 28, Olufemi Akinlaja might have spent seven years in prison. He can only be saved from this predicament if the court is lenient when he faces it over charges of Internet Scam and obtaining money by false pretences.”
Olufemi Akinlaja did what he only knew could give him an uplift from the seemingly awful circumstances; that he must have claimed to have prompted him to the crime. He did it with the required determination and resoluteness, and he got a free accommodation of a room with crater-like door and walls smudged and strewed with human wastes and body sweat.

Alexander Amosu’s passion against wallowing in abject penury, when it was at its zenith, got him a place with Kings and Queens of honour. He walked a rare path which is dreaded by the slothful, and the sonorous sound of his footfalls is pleasant and clear to everyone’s hearing. His footpaths become an inspiration to many.

For Alexander Amosu’s story:
For Olufemi Akinlaja’s woe:
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