Sir Steve Omojafor is a renowned advertising practitioner, the executive chairman of STB·McCann and the chairman of Zenith Bank Nigeria Pic. He was president of Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (APPN), he was at various times sub editor with Daily Times, Group Head Client Service, Lintas Limited and Client Service Director, Rosabel Advertising. Sir Steve Omojafor holds a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. The soft-spoken and humble man has been married for 35 years now. ENCOMIUM Weekly’s FAITH OMITOYINBO had a chat
with him in Ilupeju, Lagos, where he spoke on marriage, Nigerian banking sector and more …
You have been married for 35 years now and still counting, what has been sustaining your marriage?
Faith in God, understanding, tolerance, trust in each other are the major pillars of a successful and blissful marriage. Let us not forget that marriage has its own challenges, ups and downs but you can surmount them with love, prayer and patience.
Why then do a lot of marriages end up in divorce and separation which is not God’s original purpose?
Marriages break up because the people involved don’t know themselves. They don’t know each other enough and they don’t know why they are married. If you ask them, they will say she is beautiful, she is pretty; she comes from a wealthy family, she is a doctor and she is a lawyer. They look at the external rather than the internal to know exactly who they want to live the rest of their
lives with. It goes beyond money, beauty, family names, profession and background. It is the person inside the clothing, that person who is ready to live with you forever in peace even when you don’t have anything. There must be challenges because marriage comes with challenges. There must be disagreement, there must be days when you will say ‘why did I even get into this in the first place?’
But the ability to come back together, reason together, sit down and talk is what will make it work. If you don’t talk, you explode because you stomach so much and one day, you will explode. So,
never stomach all, talk about it. If you went out all night and probably came back in the morning and your wife asks what happened, sit her down and tell her why it happened and what you were doing because anything could have happened to you. If you got home and all you heard were idiot, stupid man, useless man, you arc sleeping out, you are sleeping around, you are doing this and that you won’t be happy. Some men will not take such, they too will explode and at the end of the day, the whole thing is scattered, everything .comes to an end. So, patience is very important in any relationship. Talk and listen to each other so that you know exactly what is happening. That is what makes marriage work.
Do you agree with the saying that behind every successful man, there is a woman?
Yes, I agree. I will not say behind, I will say beside me there is a woman. My wife is always there for me. She encourages and supports me. If you don’t support each other you can never succeed. If! am doing things that my wife doesn’t show interest, whether it fails or succeeds, she doesn’t care, then it won’t work. So, you need a woman, who believes in you, someone who believes in what you are doing and gives you the needed support day and night. You need a woman who encourages you, then you will be successful. Everything will work out (or your good.
What does success mean to you?
Success, to me means fulfillment in whatever you have decided to do. You have to be self fulfilled and success is not money. It is not wealth, success is about you being fulfilled in all that you set out
to do. All the money in the world for me doesn’t mean success but that I am fulfilled in myself. I am fulfilled in what I set out to do.
As a success man, what do you consider as the secret of success?
Believe in yourself, believe in God and have passion for whatever you want to do. If you are a carpenter, be passionate about it, if you are journalist, be passionate about it and at the end of the day, the good Lord will direct you.
Nobody wakes up and says my ambition is to be successful, it will never materialize. You have to work hard, be passionate about what you do and then you are going to meet an element of luck. Luck is being at the right place at the right time and with the right people, those are the elements that come together, hard work is about 90 percent and then a bit of luck,
At this moment, do you feel fulfilled?
Yes, I am fulfilled. I am a fulfilled man because I have done everything that I set out to do. I am never fulfilled in things I didn’t set out to do. Things I didn’t even dream of. If you set yourself on the right path, you believe in yourself, you believe in God, you will be successful in whatever you lay your hands on.
What is your philosophy of life?
Don’t do unto others what you don’t want anybody do unto you and do unto others what you want them do unto you.
At this stage, what is missing in your life that you want God to do for you that He has not done?
Nothing. I have gotten everything from God, He has done everything for me. He has been very-good to me. It is for me now to give back to people, to give back to humanity, to give back 10
the country and to people around me.
In the hierarchy of priority, where do you place money?
I place money last. The peace of God is number one, hard work is number two and fulfillment is number three. Money can follow later. Money is not everything. Money doesn’t give peace of mind. So, it shouldn’t be the most important thing to you.
When you are not busy, how do you relax?
I used to be very busy but that has reduced drastically. What I do with myself is that I swim, I read, I go to functions that I am invited to and I play with the children.
What are some of the challenges you face as the chairman of Zenith Bank?
No challenges. I just go there when there is work to be done, I do it and I leave. My expectations are very low. So, I am not expecting anything out of the ordinary, I have paid my dues.
As the chairman o£ Zenith Bank, what is your assessment of Nigerian banking sector?
Nigeria banking has rediscovered itself. It has gone out of the problem of the past. It has rediscovered itself and from now on, it is going to be forward ever. It should never think of going
backward, anymore, The era of backwardness is gone. Were really improved and there is still room for more improvement.
Zenith Bank has been one of the strongest banks in Africa, even when others are packing up, what has been sustaining it?
God, dedication, hard work and determination to withstand the test of time.
What is your advice to young industrialists?
Work hard and don’t go for shortcut. Go the long way, be prayerful and gradually, you will get there. But always remember that life is not a bed of roses. Life is a challenge. Your ability to work hard and be determined will bring you success.
-Story first published on Tuesday, May 31, 2015