Aliles’s interview on earth published in Vanguard on April 24, his 80th birthday
By Sam Eyoboka
Born on Sunday, April 24, 1938, Apostle Hayford Ikponmwonsa Alile, OFR, B.A. MBA (Hon) D.Sc., attended briefly the University of Ibadan as a State Scholar in Physics and thereafter proceeded to Howard University, Washington D.C. where he earned his B.A. degree in Economics and Mathematics. He later attended Rutgers Graduate School of Management, New Jersey, USA for his MBA and the Harvard Business School for AMP.
Apostle Alile’s rich working history began as an economic and financial Consultant to Louis Berger Inc, East Orange, New Jersey, USA in 1968. Between 1969 and 1972, he served as Assistant Director, Rutgers University Entrepreneurial Development Center, New Jersey and Rutgers Minority Investment Co Inc. He worked as an Investment Adviser/Broker with Investors Diversified Services Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 1972-1973.
In 1973, he returned to Nigeria to head the Management Consulting Department of the Centre for Management Development, Lagos where he was responsible for the establishment of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMCON) and the Nigerian Association of Management Consultants (NAMCON).
Thereafter, he was appointed in 1976 as the Executive Director/CEO of the then Lagos Stock Exchange (LSE). He became the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of The Nigeria Stock Exchange in 1979 from where he retired in 1999.
Apostle Alile has authored several books in management development in Nigerian and on the capital market. He is a philanthropist and has mentored several corporate executives. he is the founder of The Hayford Alile Foundation (THAF).
He is happily married to Apostle Pat Alile and they are blessed with eight children, nine grandchildren and three siblings and currently the Spiritual Leader of St. Joseph’s Chosen Church of God International.
Asked how he managed to remain incorruptible at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the soft-talking Spiritual leader said:
“Well, you know that people would always want you to do the wrong thing but from the very beginning I read out all the rules and regulations of the institution and spent much time educating them that the good that they would derive from corrupt doings will not be as big as the loss that society will gain from it. To a certain extent, I believe God was always speaking through me and guided me to pay deaf ears to corrupt discussions.
How do you feel today with reports of monumental corruption in the nation?
God means well for us and He should make His presence much more felt today than yesterday. And God can always do that for us. That God loves us and one of the great books that we read as Christians stated clear that God created man in His own image and likeness so that we can think like God. Thought of love for others, that we can speak and act like He does. He is ever ready to come and say this is the path. And this starts as an example of what the relationship between you as a person and God is right. Most of them who have followed that path, always find it very easy. You see somebody who makes a few thousand naira a month is able to pay school fees for children in the university, and you begin to wonder how come. You will find out that three out four children are on scholarship; they are able to subsidize the feeding of their parents, the clothing, the movements. And this is a joy that you can always testify to. And people will emulate you.
Will you say the Nigerian Church is winning the war against immorality?
I won’t say so. We are praying that more and more holy people come out and God is anxious. God says I can’t come from heaven above to come and help you, but if He identifies you as a good instrument, He will pump His goodness through you to others. Hopefully if you are that instrument, you have learnt a little bit to be able to multiply the goodness of God in your community. I’m very hopeful though that some people that God has used me to touch will be able to do better than I did.
How will you assess the current administration after three years on the saddle?
I believe they are trying. They inherited a very serious matter. A lot of corruption that man has been revealed, a lot have not been dealt with seriously, and more and more are still hidden. If I were God, there’s no need giving these people more because what I’ve given to them, they have not been able to spread it out to the people they are supervising. Until they are able to cleanse the environment, why should I go and continue to endow them? This is the problem we are having. And I pray that since you and I voted for them, we should go on our knees and continue to ask God to empower them to remember that they pledged to do certain things for us when we put them in power. The Lord opened their eyes and they found where corruption and dirtiness are and they have not been able to muster the energies to wash clean those dirtiness. The ones that are covered up, they have not revealed them because revelations of badness are not being dealt with. And until those are dealt with, if I were God, I will not pump into that environment that is enjoying corruption. I will not give them more prosperity.
Given an opportunity to score this government from 1 to 10, what will your score be?
That’s one thing that a Christian should avoid because none of us is perfect. Let the judgment be done by God. My role is to identify what is not good, and ask God to cleanse and empower them and turn us around to be on the right path. That’s my score because none of us is perfect.
What will you say about the Nigerian economy today?
Certainly it should have done better. A lot of us who are leaders see the good man that can be used but throws him aside and take bad characters to do what he claims. So a lot of things have gone wrong and we need to love ourselves. A lot of our leaders don’t love themselves. The word of God which is God Himself says man should learn to love himself. He should use the way he loves himself to love his neighbors and to love God as he loves himself. Unfortunately a lot of us don’t love ourselves.
Certain informed economists have blamed President Buhari for the downturn in the economy, arguing that when he vowed to probe everybody, foreign investors were scared and withdrew huge funds from the society… Is there any hope of recovery for the Nigerian economy soon?
I will like to correct the statement you made that the problem we are facing now is exclusively as a result of the way the new administration handled the environment. No! They inherited a lot of wrongs, a lot of corruption by previous administrations, and some of them they put under their beds. The problem that this administration is having is that a lot of wrongs have been made manifest to them and they didn’t take action on them. If you see your child wanting to eat a raw chicken in the fridge and goes to turn on the fire and tries to roast the chicken with his hands and he sees that his hands are also burning and he quickly takes them off, will he eat the chicken raw? No. He will find a way of roasting or boiling the chicken to eat. If he says he will do it the way he’s doing it, his hands will be equally burnt then he’s a foolish child. That’s the problem.
Our leaders see the things that have held back this country and they want to cover them up and continue that way. My prayers and a lot of Holy Spirit driven characters are praying for our political leaders to know where the mistakes are, manifest same. Those who are insisting on continuing to steal our God given prosperity, it will not work for them at all. A lot of our political leaders equally go to bed at night not sleeping. May God come down and assist us to recover ourselves from this foolishness. My prayer is for God to answer them and empower them to do as much as they can before 2019 because a lot of people know that they cannot sit on this horse before 2019; they will not vote for that horse or sit on it. And that’s what is going to happen. By God’s grace, we will continue with this democracy that guarantees certain freedom for people to make choices. And we see the reason why we are not prospering individually and collectively is because we are not ready to obey God’s command. I pray God that more and more of us from whom we will choose our leaders, learn to obey and listen to the voice of God and that voice of God is not exclusively to spiritual leaders. You and I are created by God and are His instruments, and He’s prepared to direct us sometimes in a very loud voice, but most times, in a soft voice. I’m sure with time we will continue.
Will you say that the Government has diligently fought the corruption war?
I don’t know the size of the corruption but the little I have seen of the corruption, we need to talk of people hiding and not only under their mattresses but in buildings of governments seized, using such as a warehouse for currencies in billions. Its worrisome, and the figures are too big which shows that God had it in mind to bless and prosper us. You give a little child five naira now, he looks at it and throws it away, until you give him N1,000, he ridicules all the other currencies. There’s something wrong. We don’t like to appreciate the little that God has given to us and it’s too much. May God redeem us from that imprisonment. Parents are not able to tell their children how many pieces of plantain or yam you can give him to be satisfied. It’s a very serious matter. The more I look at it, the more I know that God loves us.
There are characters within this government perceived to be corrupt while the government is focusing its attention on opposition leaders. Do you also see it that way?
It cuts across. We also hear of Christians whose names are being mentioned….these are people who ought to be carrying the shining light of God. Our prayer is for God Almighty to open our eyes and empower us to do the right things and we will identify the thieves of the land, the corrupt people who are in the process of corrupting others, that will make it difficult for them to do. And the way to do that is when you catch all these big thieves, apply the law and deal with them.
Transparency International and some other international groups have emphatically rated Nigeria lower this year. What’s your response?
Well it depends on how they look at it. There’s no doubt when you see these figures, you will count thousands of children who are crawling on the ground. Here are our leaders being revealed who are hiding our $10 million somewhere. I don’t those who are doing the index arithmetic and say we are very bad and corrupt. We should be very careful that the name that God wanted to give us as His sons and daughters, we’d have done it in such a way that other observers now can write and say our corruption index that used to be at level 7 is now on level 21. Thats what we are doing to ourselves. It’s not good at all.
It appears that the security situation of this country is getting worse. The violence is growing by the day and it looks like we don’t have a solution to it. What’s your take on this?
The problem again depends on disobedience. God says I have created man in my own image and likeness. It’s your duty to fight hard to be in oneness with God. Because of the corruption, they are all tied together, leading to poverty and hunger. A lot of the people who are making us insecure, it’s because they claim they have reached a level where if he dies now it’s better for him, and before he dies, let him see if he can use some force to maintain himself or herself, create insecurity in our environment. And they use guns, bows and arrows, pebbles and stones to cart away what does not belong to them.
That’s the logic. And a lot of the little laws that we have been passing, it’s very good to create equality in wealth ownership so that, at least, you are satisfied with what you have. A lot are coming on but the eyes of the jealous one that says your son has just left school and got a job, mine has not even left school even though they started at the same time. Inequality is a part of the corruption. And laws that are there are not applied properly. So it creates the inequality that makes people to think that they are deliberately created to be poor and must fight with what they have to get to the same level with their so-called equal in age and education and so on. That’s why we have to make sure that the little or plenty that God has given to us are fairly distributed otherwise the way I look at you will always be that you have acquired more than I in the same environment and with the same qualities. We always encourage insecurity.
Four years ago, Boko Haram stormed Chibok and carted away over 200 schoolgirls; since then we’ve been playing politics with them. A few weeks ago, tragically, a similar thing played again when 110 schoolgirls were taken away from Dapchi in Yobe State. What does this portend for this nation in terms of security?
It’s very bad. I don’t know whether we want to turn ourselves into animals. Lively children who have not done anything unto us are being stolen from school and from the cover of their parents. My duty and yours is to be on our knees and pray for God to release those children. The situation we find ourselves, we are not the cause. May God help all of us and what motivates people to go to their parents and steal children from them. May God forgive us.
The Fulani herdsmen are becoming a nuisance in the country yet the government appears to be helpless over the issue. What’s your take on this?
The herdsmen feel they are bringing up cattle that society can eat from. That is a private business. And government should allow anybody who says he wants to use his money to buy material to put in to nuclear energy, into gas energy, that is business. But for government to say whether we like it or not, we must pass laws to provide them with land, I don’t think we are developed to that stage yet. Countries like India and China whose population is about 10 times our own, I didn’t hear government providing them and supporting them when they go to a village to kill people out of that place and replace them with cattle. That’s a new track of civilization. It’s something we have to take a serious look at. If a cattle rearer comes to this place and sees green leaves that his cattle can eat here and people like us say we planted this to give us oxygen and some beauty, please don’t do so. Let’s arrange for workers to come with you and whatever is going to be the cost of production of that cattle meat, you add it to the price at which you sell. It’s a private business and the laws are there to provide support for anybody who wants to develop anything. For people like us who may be foolish, I think it’s time for government to come up with educative programs that will convert my thoughts. As it is, if we were to support the way things are going, I will not support it. It’s not good.
Do you therefore support those calling on government to pronounce the Herdsmen as a terrorist group?
Not to that stage, no. They should be charged for killing and destroying properties because the victims and their properties have not provoked them. To be sitting at home and be overwhelmed by this action is not good and government must rise to the occasion. Government should look on how to develop that sector of the economy from the way it’s being portrayed to us today.
Some people have predicted a revolution in this country. I don’t know if you also foresee something like that…
There are a lot of programs that are aimed at converting young people into entrepreneurs, and all sorts of social revolutions that will make them create jobs and wealth. Unfortunately some who came into power and government, when they made promises to the electorate, never fulfill them. That is the problem.
The army of Nigerian youths can be deployed to the agriculture sector. Is there any effort in the agric sector that is encouraging enough?
A lot is going to that palm fruits and palm trees. A lot is going on around nuts, tomatoes. A lot is going on. Associations are being formed around like association of rice producers, they came out yesterday and said within this year they will be able to produce sufficient for local consumption and thereafter for exportation. A lot are now talking about tomatoes, groundnuts for exports. The Agriculture Ministry has made some mistakes with the purported yam export. I now know that some of them have corrected the mistakes like the yam, potatoes and so on that will be accepted by exporters or importers. I thank God that He’s answering our prayers. I spent a whole day recently with some friends who have over the years been working on biofuel. Listening to them, exchanging views with potential partners. Potential partners have managed to put together about $300 million to invest in that project and these are very serious people. Not only those to sell those biofuel products locally but also to export. So we are getting there. We will get there and I pray God to help us in the area of leadership. There’s a song in Benin that says that prayer is much more powerful than cutlass. Let’s continue to pray, God will answer us.
How does it feel being 80 sir?
The figure looks big but for me, I’m very light inside. I still look like a school boy. I believe there’s God and He created man. And for some of us who have let themselves to be led by an inner spirit, know that God who created man has a purpose for him and we all have different reasons why we are created and for what we are created. Once you are able to understand the reason why you are created and ask for empowerment and be humble about it that you are not the one, but it is the purpose for which God created you that you are able to recognize and ask God for empowerment to execute for His glory and for your happiness and happiness of people around you. That’s really my driving spirit, to make sure that people around me are very happy.
The purpose as I see it is to make sure that the environment is good and nobody impose himself on somebody else. The purpose for which I stand is to support that scheme that nobody forces action on you that you feel within yourself that this is not the direction that God wants me to go but somebody directly by his force or because he has the privilege to sit and impose uncomfortable laws on you, I will not stand for that. In whatever ways, you ask through prayers to redirect actions. If I find myself in a seat that can change you from taking actions that will be unfavorable to our neighbors, I’ll do accordingly.
Mourning the passage Alile’s third daughter, Osayi Alile, CEO Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation (ACT) said: “Daddy just had a way about him. He gave 100 per cent to everything he did. You would wonder how a man could excel in career, philanthropy, and spirituality and still be the most amazing father and amazing Husband. My siblings and I are very very sad but we are joyous because we know he lived an exemplary life for us to model. His work transcended many fields, but most notably as an investment analyst, an economic and financial consultant. The world has been changed by his tireless work to change the financial landscape of Nigeria; a claim that not many can make. A multitude of family friends worldwide are left behind but his spirit of excellence continues through us all.”
“My Dad was an exemplary leader,” his only son Ikponmwosa Alile explained. “He was shameless about his deep love for God and carried his values in everything he did and led many people to a deeper spiritual understanding. Growing up, he was more than a career man; he was always a man of the people. St. Joseph Church, where he acted as a Spiritual leader, was very much a part of his every day.”
Making her contribution, his seventh daughter, Osaruese said: “My earliest memories of my Daddy were of all the exotic countries he would visit for work and church. His experiences shaped my outlook to live; He inspired my sense of adventure and individuality.”
His vaccum may never be filled, Apostle Alile was the Council Member at The Nigerian Stock Exchange. He served as Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange 1979-1999. He served as Investment Adviser and Broker at Investors Diversified Services Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, from 1972 to 1973.
He served as Chairman and Director on numerous boards, such as Central Securities Clearing Services, UTC Nigeria Plc, Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, Unilever Nigeria Plc, Director of Industrial And General Insurance Company Limited and Nigerian Security Printing & Minting Company. He served as Director of The Central Bank of Nigeria from 1999 to 2005.
From 1969 to 1972, he served as Assistant Director of Rutgers University Entrepreneurial Development Center, New Jersey and Rutgers Minority Investment Co Inc. He was for 12 years a Trustee and Treasurer of the Nigeria Olympic Committee. He was also President of the Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria.
He was a recipient of the Nigeria National Honours awards of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM).