Last week. I brought you a piece on the occasion of the Birthday Celebration of my boss, the Fides Director, Rev Fr (Dr) Martin Anusi. Here is the concluding part Please read on…
Is there anything you've ever struggled with in your early years in your career as Fides Director?
Yes. First of all, I struggled to understand my environment because I came from an experience where people were more auto-convinced about what they do. I found myself in an environment where people have to think that you have to stand behind their back before they do what they should do. So, you know, if you move from one world where you have the principles and everybody has that conviction The moment I get to work, I don't need anybody to force me get to work. I go to work because I have to be there and I just sit at my desk in my office and do what I should do and go home. I don't care about who stands at the window or who comes in to check me or not check me. So, it wasn't easy really. It wasn't easy getting adapted, trying to understand. So, you really have to train yourself in patience. You have to explain and explain without being bored of explanation. I taught in the seminary. What came to my mind then were all the experiences I garnered as a formator, then. You really have to be patient and work people gradually from one step to another. So, my biggest challenge was change of environment. And then, if you have been to the company where I worked before, you can easily make your budget. I'll give you an example with a media house like ours. You can make your budget that you will spend N20,000 on paper, N5,000 on ink, N10,000 on salary etc. At the end of the day, you realize that you have a specific budget. I discovered I couldn't do it here because I don't know how many days we will have light. And remember you are working in an environment where all the machines are used machines. Some of them have been used for decades. It's a different thing. For example if you buy a new car from a company, I don't think you will be budgeting up to a hundred thousand when you take it to a mechanic. However, when you buy a car used for 15 years already, you will encounter challenges. My challenge is, moving from an environment where there is some level of order, which makes it easier to work and plan, to another environment where you have less order and confusion. I had to learn and re-learn myself to be able to do what I was supposed to do. That was my biggest challenge at the beginning. It has not finished because we are still going to encounter more.
How long have you been in Fides?
When you took over as Fides Director, a lot of things changed, at least, judging from the testimonies given by the members of staff. People call you the digital Director, which perhaps explains the reasons for the changes in Fides. Tell us, what is that thing that you can call your major accomplishment?
One thing is human empowerment, which is very important for me. I have always believed that if you want to change a company, change the people that work in it. If you want to empower your company, empower the people working in it. If you want your company to be successful, let your workers know they are working for their success. If you want them to care for your company, tell them you care for them. For me, that is the best formula. So, my whole attention was focused on human formation and empowerment. You see, everything flows from there, because human empowerment means that the staff will begin to learn that if I work one hour in my office, that one hour has to be one hour of work, and not thirty minutes of work and ten minutes of going up and down from the Director's office to my office, another ten minutes of going to meet the PM, another ten minutes of going to the accountant's office possibly to tell her something or pass a message.
So when I began to digitalize this place by first putting the intercom, I could see changes. Formerly, I had to go down to the staircase, shout at the receptionist, to call the PM. She moves down to the PM comes back and says the PM is not around or he is with someone. At that point, when she is about to go back, another person comes. So when we installed the intercoms, people felt it was for comfort. No! It's for efficiency.
And I began to think about this also, I began to make people understand that we care for their health, their comfort, I mean, comfort is not luxury, it's part of what makes you efficient, so I began to look at the offices. That's why I say everything flows. I began to look at that person in that office who is not a robot generating money for the company. He is human, therefore, as much as we can, there is no comfort that is too much. You make the office a work environment suitable for the person working there. So we said let's look at our offices.
Those who don't have wonderful chairs and tables, we make them better. We are in a tropical environment, so we said, why don't we have air conditioner in our offices as you settle down for work, the A.C will help you cool down since we have generators. So that's why I continued to move in that direction. So it affected every section here, even to the last point of our production. We go to their office, anything they need to aid their work, we provide. And then, the staff welfare came up with letters they had written for sometime requesting, because formerly when a person gives birth, the policy was that, the lady will be given only two weeks, so they requested for one month, but I gave them two months because when a baby is born, it's a joy to all of us, and you are not just a “jaaki” working for us. You have to take your time, take care of your child, then when that is done, you can come back to work. If I ask you to come back after two weeks, you can never be settled here, it will be like penny wise pound foolish. That's why I focus on the human person, because when you focus on the human person, you can help them realize the purpose why we value them and the more you realize your value the more you become beneficial to yourself and the company. It becomes also the way of establishing a relationship.
You know, friendship is not when somebody comes and says I want you to be my friend. No! So that's why my focus for the first time was to change the mentality we have, and then we began. When I say staff should come to work, I don't remember any staff who comes to work before me. Before many of them come to work, I most times would have worked for two hours before they arrive and in most cases I will be the last to go, so that kind of symbiosis, you make people comfortable, you start to put consideration where people complain of light rays, we put curtains in their offices. We also began to look at what we will do to bring out the humanity in all of us, beginning from the priests here, we must be a team. That's one thing I did here. I created that team spirit, for example there is nothing that happens here in Fides that you go out there, for example, Father Cyril will meet his friend and he asks, 'what is it you people are doing' and Father Cyril will reply 'I don't know, ask Father Martin. He is the Director'. No! No! No! This is because, even things that are supposed to be my decision to take by all standards, I still speak with at least one of them before I do that. So build that team, because everybody feels a sense of belonging. Everyone sees himself involved.
Everybody gives in his best. So, that is why I said everything falls out from that human empowerment. They create the humanity that we have here, and of course there is no staff that falls sick here that I have not gone to visit. You know that kind of thing is what I am saying. Then, when we push to the second phase, we move together, the frontier that we want to face. We move as a family. That has been my dream in any place I have worked.
Do you have any mentors/role models?
Yes I have. Incidentally, the person is not here. I have role models and I have always said I am a product of grace for so many reasons, because many of my teachers have been exceptional and have inspired me and they have really been wonderful in my life. I have always learnt from them, always focused, listened to them and looked at their lives and have seen how they are doing and I try to pick as much as I can. So that is why I said I am like a melting point. I always say a melting point because of many influences from so many people. Some of them are even my juniors in every sense. Some of them are kids, people who have influenced my life. So when people ask me, I say I have role models, and I see myself as a melting point of all these experiences.
What is your birthday message for the Fides staff, to all those who admire you and to people you have touched their lives?
My message is a simple one. I have always said this to people around me: Love people. Be yourself. Never try to live somebody's life and don't allow others to tell you how to write your story. Your story is yours. Write it!' When I say write it, I mean live your life, just pursue value. In the letter of saint Paul to the Philippians 4 verse 8, he said, 'finally, everything that is honorable, everything that is beautiful, anything that is loveable, everything that is holy, just name them, name the values. Love people and be consistent with your life'.
That is what I have been doing and people have been saying I touched their lives. Yes! That is the same thing I have been doing. I didn't learn it from overseas. It has been my life. When I was at the UNIZIK, it was the same thing. Recently, someone told me that, I was the one that began the celebration of mass in their hostels. Ngbajiaka hostels up there. From the hostels, it spread to Ifite Awka and other places. So, you see, I just live my life and some people say it touched them. It's nothing extraordinary. It's just my life. Tell people you like them and share what you have with people. That is me. And that is why sometimes people who don't know or understand think I am a very rich man, that I have money, but I want to tell you in confidence that some of those people will never believe, if I tell you……..hahaha…let me not say it. So my life was built in such a way that I could have ten naira and then give you nine naira and keep one naira. But you know the typical mentality this place. ‘If you give nine naira, it means you must have a hundred naira’. If he doesn't have hundred naira, he couldn't have given nine naira. But I think that is part of the selfishness that many of us in this part of the world are used to. So, that is it! I love people and I try as much as possible to practice what I learnt from my mother.
When we were small, if any one passes and gives my mum a loaf of bread, the only person who won't share in that loaf of bread is the person who didn't pass in front of our house that day. Once she heard of someone who was passing, she calls the person and cuts that bread then give you. We never liked that, because we will say 'this bread will not be enough', but she will reply, 'you will not understand'.
That is the way to build your life, share what you have with people and I have learnt that. That is the way of life. When I began to read the scripture, I discovered that it was also the way of God. It is the way to grow. It is the way to be somebody. That's my message to everyone. To FIDES, I say let's keep being the family we are and not lose sight of this sense of family.
Thank you, Fr. I've had a most amazing session with you.
You're welcome, Uche.