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The year was 1968. He stood erect, gazed at the shinning sun and thought deeply: what would I want to be in the future? This is a question he had never remembered to ask himself. “I don’t know. But I’m going to be great”. He muted to himself as he bent over his waist to wash the clothes in front of him. This was in preparation for a journey to Aiyetoro Gbedde where the common entrance examination for that year was to take place. As he washed, so his mind thought critically: would I be a lawyer? A Doctor? An Engineer? Or a lecturer? Maybe a lawyer! He concluded as he spread the last piece of cloth on a string of rope.
He was determined to be great, but the journey to greatness by a Bunu Boy comes with a price very few can pay.
Washing his clothes was just one of the many tasks lined up before he departed his Akutupa hometown for Aiyetoro Gbede. The journey he was about to embark on was, for many, a journey of no return, but for young Femi Mokikan, it was a journey he had already conquered. When presented with options, Femi opted to make the journey on foot like every other of his school mates going for the entrance examination.
“Spend your money wisely!” His father warned and cautioned as Femi ladened his head with his small box of clothes, and one step at a time, he bided Akutupa farewell in search of greatness – on foot!
By noon, under the scorching sun, Femi and others were at Iluke and by the evening of that day at twilight, he alone was dragging his feet as the voyagers approached the dangerous bend where a short-cut route to Aiyegunle Gbedde begins. Both legs were heavily swollen from what our people call AGHONHIN, and Femi Mokikan could hardly move any further. It was a journey from Kiri to Gbede, driven by foot!!!
No paddy for jungle. Every man to himself. By this time, the strongest boys in the mix were now in Ayegunle Gbede and they poured themselves into searching for an accommodation for the traveling team.
His box on his head, his legs unevenly big and immobile, young Femi Mokikan was exhausted beyond words. Just at the begging of the hill that will walk you to Aiyegunle Gbedde’s market, Femi became totally immobile. Now living between the devil and the deep blue sea, Femi would only be saved by the undying love and care of a woman. Margaret Medupin was the most mature girl in the school. She was equally the Head Girl. She had looked back only to observe that young Femi was no longer within sight! She therefore slowed down, caught up with Femi and offered him her back! It was a succour no one in this condition would reject. Femi Mokikan would live to fight another day but for the remaining part of this journey, Femi would complete it on the back of Margaret the Head Girl. Such was the struggle in his early days.
Fortunately for the traveling team, most of whom were already exhausted by this time, there was a woman popularly known is IYA YEERO who had had some business dealings with Femi’s father. Her son, BODA APOLLO, a very popular and loud man, was already a teacher in Aiyegunle Gbedde. This family demonstrated that they were indeed Good Samaritans. They not only sheltered the team, Boda Apollo went round to comb the town for IJA AJOLA (The fat of a Python), which was authoritatively prescribed as the only solution to Femi’s predicament. He returned with the fat of Python and with it, he massaged Femi’s legs. By the following morning, Femi’s legs were back to normal and he could walk again! Like he started in Akutupa the morning before, one step after another, the journey was to continue from here – on foot as the Aiyegunle Muslim community called for morning prayers until a vehicle came to the rescue as arranged by Apollo.
This was how Femi made it to the entrance examination that saw him to Government Secondary School Okene in 1969 where the second stage of his journey to the top began.
But something happened that night at Boda Apollo’s place. As his legs were healing in the deep of his sleep, Femi got up and took a decision that would change his life forever. Thinking about the rigour he faced, the dread of the bush, the near death experience all in a quest to obtain a Western Education and be great in life, Femi gazed into the sky, this time barricaded by the ceilings, and he remarked as in a covenant: when I become great in life, I will build people just so they may not experience the same travails I experienced. From here, young Femi Mokikan gained the inspiration that molded him to the Okun legend he has become today.
In the decades that followed, as Femi Mokikan started to work with multinational corporations, he moved along with him an army of Okun sons and daughters, fixing them in various positions in the job market. Yet in his humble nature, Mokikan never believes he has helped anyone. He ascribes all help to God.
Rather than write an abstract, we have taken a step further to interview a few of such Okun people, cutting across all the districts in Okunland who had benefited from Mokikan’s career empowerment as a testimonial to his legendary status in Okun Land. We did not bother to survey other parts of Kogi state, or even other parts of Nigeria even though they exist in large numbers. Such would not be relevant for our purpose. Have a great day listening to Okun people speak:
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is an astute Administrator and a leader per excellence. His quality of people management is second to none”.
– Olusegun Tanimola
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is a father to all irrespective of tribe or ethnicity. He is a change initiator, implementer and sustainer”
– Toluyemi Eyitayo Gbenga
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is not your normal Okun man. He is not in the crop of Okun people you greet in Okun language and they will respond in English language. He is one in a million. Mokikan practically turned 7up to an Okun venture as he populated everywhere with Okun people across all regions. If we have 20 Mokikans in Okun land, unemployment would have vanished totally. Personally, Mokikan is a father figure to me”
– Olutayo Titilayo
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is a Kogi man to the core. He believes strongly in the development of his immediate environment and in particular, his people. A gentleman, an erudite scholar and a role model to the youths. He is a trusted ally and most importantly, a bridge builder of our time. I have no doubt that he is the man who can galvanize the various ethnic groups within Okun, at home and in the diaspora”
– Adekunle Olusuyi
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is a genius and a role model. He is the kind individual I think we need at this time in Okun land that will help drive and actualize our agenda towards moving Okun land to a new socioeconomic phase we all desire. He is a selfless leader who strongly believes in youth development.
I worked closely and directly under his watch during my 7 years sojourn in 7up Bottling Company.
I strongly recommend him for the ODA job without any reservation”
– Timothy Adekunle
“Barr. Femi Mokikan was my first boss over two decades ago and fresh from university. This man taught me the value of courage, integrity and sincerity early in my career. He leads with wisdom, sense of responsibility, collaboration and direction. These virtues I picked from him helped me as an HR professional as I traverse across the world. His contributions in shaping the Human Resources profession in Nigeria at the highest levels of advocacy cannot be overemphasized. He is a serious minded, sincere and pragmatic individual. Okun nation to me is the most important and the future of Nigeria and I can only imagine someone with the right experience, humility and pedigree as Barr. Femi Mokikan to lead Okun Nation”
– Ola Ehinmoro (Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Director, Suntory Beverage and Food Nigeria).
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is actually the key God has been using to unlock my Destiny. Why?
In 1999, his name as a referee on my CV gave me my first job as Sales Operation Officer in Nigeria Ropes Plc. In 2002, I saw a job advert in Guardian Newspaper. I called him and he told me to submit my CV to the Head of HR with his name on the envelope. I was therefore employed by Guinness Nigeria Plc. I left as Area Sales Manager. In 2008, he voluntarily agreed to serve as the Board Chairman of a company I founded. With his name on our website, I got invites and connections that made me to be part of young entrepreneurs selected to represent Nigeria in 2010 London World Academy of young Businessmen. In 2013 when the need to go back to paid employment arose, his name again opened the door for me to be employed as Marketing Manager in 7up Bottling Company Plc. This is my story”
– Pastor Timi-Zacchaeus
“Barr. Mokikan is a fantastic gentleman, a purposeful Administrator per excellence, a rare and distinguished specie of a true leader and friend, a living hero with the mission to save his generation from waste and poverty”
– Philips Bolaji
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is a man that contributed positively to my life.
One: he gave me a job.
Two: he paid for the surgical operation of my last born worth millions of naira.
Three: he made me whatever I am today”
– Owonipa Olowosaiye
“My name is Barikin Olukayode. I joined 7up Bottling Company Plc without interview with the help of the man Femi Mokikan. I was in Kiri for new yam festival when he sent for me. He is a hero”
– Barikin Olukayode
“I, Femi Samuel, recommend Barr. Femi Mokikan for ODA top job because this is a man who desires progress for his people. Carry go”
– Femi Samuel
“Barrister Femi Mokikan has empowered youths like me today in becoming a better person both in private and public life. As a young Man looking for job some Five years ago, he gave me the opportunity of joining 7up bottling company as a graduate trainee and I can proudly say that today within the same company I am now a Manager.
I am a testimony of such opportunities he has given to youths to empower ourselves and also become great leaders and individuals”
– Henry Eseyin
(TDM 7up bottling co plc)
“I met Barrister Mokikan during my Graduate Trainee days in SBC. Sir, you have been a great boss, mentor, teacher and guide. Your support, encouragement and advice have helped shaped my professional career. Thanks for being the best Boss ever”
– Tade Adegboro
“Barr Femi Mokikan is my friend, my boss, my mentor, confidant, my role model, and someone God has used for me.
I can’t say enough of this man but I will limit my small write-up to Seven-up Bottling Company plc with a story.
As Barr. Mokikan became head of human resources department, he was to participate in the restructuring of the company.
He came to his place of birth and invited some teachers to take opportunity in private sector. Since then he flooded the company with people from Okun and put them into different departments. This annoyed more sociable staff from Lagos and ogun states .They petition the chairman and head of the company. He was invited and confronted with the petition.
He didn’t deny it. He reminded the chairman that he has a duty to restructure the company. And that he should be allowed to use those he trust. The chairman agreed with him and that was what pave way for people like us to have a career in Seven-up Bottling Company.
He is bold and very intelligent and experience in management generally and he is obsessed with Okun Agenda. After having opportunity, before developing property in Lagos, he had done it in his native town and Kabba.
He has touched the lives of those that come across him in one way or another..
A very pleasant person.
– Dr. Kola Olorunleke
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is a great person. He has turned the people of Okun to a great people in 7up Bottling Company. If you are interested in any position in Okun today, Baba carry go. I know that you are a good leader for Okun People today”
– Oluwadamilare Gabriel
“Barr. Mokikan is a very caring and compassionate man who always see a potential in everyone that comes his way. I’m a living witness”
– Ayodele Matthew
“Barr. Femi Mokikan is our hero. He has over the years positioned himself as a father figure to Oworo people.
– Gideon Gbeja”
Research conducted by: Okun Researchers
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