Living in Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria and the largest in Africa, Adebola Falabi decided he wanted to make an impact on society and the world in general.
His dream brought him nearly 6,000 miles from home to Lee University in Cleveland, where he became an accounting, information systems and business adminstration major. Embracing change and the challenges that come from cultural differences, Falabi, became a man on a mission — a mission that would have a positive impact on the Nigerian people and the world in general.
“Conditions in Lagos are paradoxical,” he explained. “There is a great need in the midst of an abundance of resources. Corruption, nepotism, and bad leadership are huge problems. Poverty is perhaps the biggest issue facing the country as a whole. Roughly 63 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar per day.”
According to a 2012 Reuters report, “More than half of the country’s 160 million inhabitants live without electricity, while the rest have to rely on expensive generators run on diesel supplies controlled by a small and powerful cartel of importers.”
Experts say education, occupation, employment and income can be linked to the occurrence of poverty in the area, therefore, any attempt to improve these factors will help in alleviating poverty in the region and in Nigeria as a whole.
Falabi, who came to Cleveland in August 2009 will be graduating from Lee this month. Explaining his immediate and long-term goals, the sociable Lagosian said, “I intend to pursue a career in public accounting. I also hope to pursue a CPA and a Juris Doctor (JD), and be a corporate attorney, and even maybe a professor in the not too distant future. There are a gazillion things I want to do to make the world a better place, but then I remember the words of my grandmother: ‘Only God’s kingdom can bring true everlasting peace.’
“However, I still want to impact the world in a positive way, starting with my country, Nigeria. I want to establish a successful conglomerate that would provide employment opportunities and improve the economic well-being of Nigerians. I also want to reach out to the needy, give them hope and set them up for success. In the not-too-distant future, I want to participate in missionary work, bringing the good news of God’s kingdom to remote areas of the world.”
Having adapted to the cultural and climatic differences of Cleveland, Falabi said he has learned a lot from living in Bradley County and being instructed by professors he has come to cherish. Elaborating on the contrast in countries, he said, “The weather is different. It usually stays hot all year, except during harmattan [an African trade wind], when it gets a little bit cool. The food is also very different. We eat a lot of spicy food. The cultural diversity is also quite mind blowing. There are more than a thousand different ethnic groups. Of course, the United States is a far more developed country than Nigeria, which makes living conditions a whole lot better here in the U.S.
“I greatly enjoy the personal relationships I share with my professors at Lee University. They are committed to my success and go all the way to help me. I have met some of the most loving and caring folks at Lee. Cleveland is quite a small town, compared to where I am from. I am a big-town person, but I do like the serenity that Cleveland provides.”
As far as enjoying life and approaching it with zeal, an open mind and a thirst for enlightenment, Falabi admits, “I like to read a lot and learn new ideas. This is because I have a strong liking for staying informed, and also because knowledge is power. I love to watch and play soccer. I was raised watching and playing soccer, and it still remains a lifelong passion.
“I enjoy sharing my religious perspectives with others. It is comforting to share hope with others in a dire world. I also love participating in volunteer projects when I can. It feels good to put a smile on the face of another individual. Every now and then, I enjoy sitting with friends, exploring the great mysteries of life.”
Falabi shared a lesser-known fact about himself when he revealed, “I was born into a Muslim family but I converted to Christianity at a very early age, thanks to my grandmother, Esther Balogun. I like to compare her to Lois, Timothy’s grandmother in the Bible. Hence, I have been a Jehovah’s Witness for the past 20-plus years.”
Still, Falabi said it is his desire to make a difference in the lives of fellow Lagosians, his community, his country and the world, if possible, by doing all he can to be a positive influence and share a positive message with everyone he meets.