Right now, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika has become a role model for many ladies in the country. Not only that she has also become a motivational speaker who gets called from time to time to talk to career women.
She is the first female Chairman of First Bank. She is a sought after Speaker, locally and internationally. She is a proud wife and mother. Her story is an inspiring one.
Ibukun Awosika cuts the attention of a determined and hardworking woman and she does not hesitate to share her humble beginnings with whoever cares to listen. Ibukun Awosika didn’t just start her career with First Bank. She is the founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group which comprises of The Chair Centre Limited. Chair Centre Limited, Furniture Manufacturers Mart Limited, and TCC Systems and Services Limited. She serves on a number of corporate and not-for-profit boards. Born in Ibadan in 1962 to a Cameroonian mother and a Nigerian father. She is the 3rd of a family of 7 and had a B.Sc in Chemistry from Obafemi Awolowo University and a Global Executive MBA from IESE Business school in Barcelona, Spain, etc.
Beyond her career success, Mrs. Ibukun is a Pastor at the Fountain of Life Church and she established the Christian Missionary Fund which is dedicated to raising support for Christian missionaries across the country. At the 2019 Arise Women Conference in Lagos hosted by Dr. Siju Iluyomade, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika was the keynote speaker where she charged the audience to live their lives for God’s purpose, the speaker revealed that she comes from a strong Muslim family in Ibadan. How she was not ashamed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. How women can bloom in all situations they find themselves by trusting God and how they can also fulfill their purpose on earth. Below City People Society Editor, TAYO FAJORIN brings you her powerful speech at the conference. Read on:
Wow!!!! when you see so many beautiful women in one place, then you know that heaven will be sweet, but what’s even more important is when you know that all those women are for Jesus.
I will like to thank my friend, my school mate of many years, Pastor Mrs. Siju Iluyomade and Pastor Idowu Iluyomade and the entire City of David family for giving me this invitation to come.
I thank all the women for their support and being unashamed of the gospel. I also thank our mothers in the house, for those who do not tire at any age to support the gospel and to support all their children as we do the things of the kingdom. The theme for this year’s conference is bloom, and it is obvious that we are in spring at the City of David because there is so much blooming in the whole environment.
Even your Ankara is blooming so without a doubt, it can not be ignored. One thing that is important is that it is easy for us in the excitement and the drama and colours of the day to forget the reason why we are here or what is important about today, but we will not forget because we know that in the house of the Lord, we will never go back the same way that we came. So what does it mean to bloom, or to blossom? For me, every woman, as a child of God, there is a purpose for our creation. God made each and every one of us specifically. No accidents, no duplicates, no factory mass production.
For every single woman, God had a plan and in that plan, he had an agenda to cover the entirety of the time of life that you have been allocated. And you know your life is fully accounted for in time because every single one of us has a time of birth, the day you were born. if you check your birth certificate, it has to the last second of the time you were born, we should not be afraid of time of death because there will be time of death and it will be to the last second and what that tells us is that God has time assigned to each and every one of us but that entire time, he planned for, there are no accidents in the time allocated to us.
Women, in particular, tend to allow the many other things of life and some of the assignments of our life to take over the essence of our calling which means everybody here who has a daughter expects her to get married someday and we all pray and wishing the next 9 months, she should be pregnant and tend to have children but we tend to forget that before she gets to that moment, from the time she was born till she gets to that moment, there was a substance of who she is that defines and begins to manifest what God has called her to be and in that calling of God for her life, he never said, that the gender and the plan of your life will stop when you get to the point of husband and the children, why? Because when we finish our time, every woman will stand before her maker, and it will be every woman with her God and you will have to account for your time that you had and your husband and your children will not be an excuse for not fulfilling your assignment.
Now, who has the responsibility for the assignment? Nobody has it but you. Not even your parents, children, husband. You can find it convenient to pass it on to other people and say it is because of this person or that person. Because the bible says, you will work out your own salvation. So when you sit and you think about it, when you plant a seed, there is a stage when nothing comes but God is at work because in the soil, all things happen and at a point, you will see a bud, something comes through but it still does not manifest its full glory. And at a stage, it’s all leaves, it’s all green, you begin to see that there is something in it, but you did not see its total beauty. And there is a point and seasons of the life of that seed where the flower will bloom and they will blossom and you will see the beauty of that particular plant and you will get excited and you will appreciate it.
You are a seed that God planted, and in planting you, He had a plan and agenda. He had a design for your life and at a season of your life. He meant that you will get married, as a part of your life but not as the totality of your life. He meant that at a stage you will have children and you will mother children for him as an assignment, but that in mothering children for him, both the ones you gave birth to or others that are assigned to you, it will not be all of your life because God says, your children will come at a season and earlier before now, they are gone at a season, and if you think your life is all about them or all about your husband, then what happens to the women whose husbands died? Do they stop to live? Or what happened to the women who have not had children or some that have had children and lost their children or what happens to women who had children, and whose children have grown and who have gone away? Or even if you live in the same town, they remember to call you once in a while, you should be glad.
What does that tell you? that, that can not be what your life is, that your husband and children are part of your life but they do not complete your life.
MANY DON’T KNOW I WAS A MUSLIM
I was not born a Christian. My name is Bilkisu. Yes, I am a Muslim from a strong Islamic background and my great grandfather was the first Alhaji in the City of Ibadan, so I come from what you call Islamic royalty. I had no chance in hell forever preaching the gospel.so this is not about religion. I am talking about Jesus. I am not talking about religion. I don’t care that you have a phew in your family name in a church or that you come to the city of David and you sit on the front pew every day, it does not count with God.
What counts is your heart, your submission in his service. If you know who this God is, you will serve Him with everything that you have. You will give Him the best of your time and season. You will do the best kind of things every time and in every place. You will never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On the 10th of October, I had to speak at a conference in Paris, it’s the biggest entrepreneurship conference in Europe. They usually have like 5000 or something more attendees and it’s stream to about 400 thousand people. And they have 100 keynote speakers in a day. And by His grace for whatever reason, I was put in the last four slots. It was myself, somebody else, the global MD of Society Generale bank, and then President Macron. And then they had a practice, you have to give them a song that you love, to the whole world they will sing that song once it’s one minute to the end of your time. And I sat with my S.A. at the bank, she said what song are you going to sing? So I told her, you know me and songs, I can’t sing to save my life, but I said to her that, but do you know I would really like them to listen to this song that I will love to sing. Then, I sang to her, and we went online and we search for it. If I earned the slot. It is not for them to tell me what I should sing. And I am certain nobody was going to take Jesus there. And I had no shame about taking my Jesus there so that is the song I gave them. you know it was such a joy, that they liked it or not, they had to listen to my song. Listen you know there are times in the seasons when the seed is in the ground that you almost lose faith.there are times that the weather will be harsh and things will not work. And you will think that this plant or this seedling will not survive. And you will almost want to give up on it like our lives, many trying moments where it seems that there is no God but he is God and he does not change. And through all of that somehow the miracle of the power of God, helps the seed to stand and not be destroyed. But that is where the knowledge comes in, see knowing your God helps you to stand and not give up, when everything says you need to give up now, knowing your God is what helps to remind yourself of the antecedent of God.you remind yourself of the testimony in the life of your friend, your Aunty or someone in church and in your life, you remind yourself of the things he has done. You go back to the book of history and you come back to the saying that says God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. So you know that the God that opened the Red Sea is still in business. God that reigned manna from heaven when there was nothing is still in business. He has not gone out of business. Then you know that even though the grass looks brown yet if it is the almighty, he can speak to the dry home and say let there be life and the dry bones will receive life and come alive but they that know their God, they are the ones that will wave through the seasons and know that it seems there is no water in the neighborhood and it seems there is no help, no friend or encouragement, are the ones who will encourage themselves from inside when they are alone, the Lord will bless them from inside and find the strength against all odds to fight alone and stand for righteousness.so you want to bloom, it’s a process, it is not a one-day event. It takes time and it takes the season and there are different seasons in our lives, but whatever season you are, the God of all season is still God. He does not change, he never goes anywhere, he might be quiet for some time, that’s because he has no need to say anything to you at that moment because that moment is your moment to prove that you can trust him, even when you can not hear him.
Because there are days when you just need to know that he is who he is. You know, my business is 30 this year and for the past 30 years, I have invested from my youth in building the chair centre group and I remember in 2004 January, when the government announced in the network news that they had a change of policy that was literally going to shut down 50percent of my life and investment, and it was Tayo Aderinokun that called me, God bless his soul and said Bili, did you listen to the news? I said No! I was in school, I was in my MBA programme then but I was home in Nigeria, I said No, brother Tayo, I am studying, I am in school. So he said I am telling you something they just said in the news, your business will be affected, then he told me, I said, really? Okay.it is well, how can it be well, I just told you, your business is going to be badly impacted, I said brother Tayo, don’t worry, it is well. I got up from there, I went to my husband, I said to him, this is what Tayo said, he turned on the network news and waited for a recap, I listened to the news, and I heard the news. I walked away and I went into prayer, and I said Lord, I know you, see I came to Christ late, I came to him 4 months to my wedding. I got married at 28 on my birthday.so I was not born a Christian, even though I went to Christian school all my life, I was the valedictorian from my class at Methodist, I had to read the bible passages in school but I am a Muslim girl so I knew the bible and I got A in CRS. But it didn’t mean anything, it was just subject to pass the exam. But then when I encountered Christ, I was not looking for a husband or looking for a child, I already had a manufacturing company, I had 28 workers and four months to my wedding. So this was not a commercial trances action, this was between God and I, somehow I could not argue. Because somehow in my heart, I knew he was my time, it was time. I just submitted myself to him, so I had. Avery black and white attitude when God is concerned and I still have it. If God says it, that’s it, if he says no, that is it, he doesn’t mean maybe, God is always clear about his words and that’s how I deal with God. I ran to him and I said you will not set my feet upon the rock and then kick off the rock from under my feet.but that is not the kind of God that you are so if you have allowed this knowing fully well that you have established my feet in this business, then the bible says all things work together for my good, then means there is good in this situation for me, but all I ask grant me the grace and clarity and calmness of spirit to wait on you as the good in this situation will manifest itself.
I went to work the next day, I called my workers and I said, don’t panic, not firing anybody, we are not to become who we are not because we had options, our options includes becoming a smuggling company, if I accept the good from God in the good times, I was not bound to abandon him in the challenging times because if he allows the challenges in my life, he already has the solution and there is double honour for whatever shame this was going to bring.
So I chose to follow him in that season. That season is what eventually produced multiple companies for me because by deciding we were not going to smuggle, I had to find how to continue in the same business,and then with God on my side, that was what gave me the courage and the audacity to go to the largest firm of French manufacturers and said, Guys, I had been in your top ten dealership for the last 10 years, the government in my country has changed policy and for the right reasons and i am not about to become a smuggler, the only solution we have, you are going to have to come to Nigeria with me,we will set up a factory to produce what you produce for me together,they laughed but they did not know my God, so they could laugh but I knew my God,even though there was a powerful team of this company on one side,and my God were seated on the other side,I look them in the eyes and said to them, guys, if you come with me, let’s take over the region, you don’t I will do it without you anyway, and you will lose my business, and I went away, but I went away only because I dared not to trust what God was doing and he will have to come through in that situation.
About 2 or 3 weeks after, they came back and said, we will do 5 percent in the company and we will give you all the technical support and I said, Okay, fine. But if you know God well, once he allows a window to open, you should know he will soon kick down the door. This was February, March and I remember in June, I was in Shanghai, about to take a flight on my way back to Nigeria, when I got a call back from the French company, saying, Mrs Awosika, we just had a board meeting, and we just decided that we will increase our investment, we will give you all the technical support, and train everybody we need to train from the factory and once they did that, the rest of the money came because other people who needed to invest then made the decision to invest.
That’s history because the company has continued to blossom and then another company came out of that, what am I saying, the trouble seasons will come, but the God of all troubles is always in business and for you to blossom for all times, you must know him, stand with him through thick and thin because he never fails, the story of my life has been a journey of faith. There is not a single thing I have that I had to beg for, I sit who I sit, by the grace of God, there is no single board that I sit on, that my father owns shares there or that it was because he made an investment there. As a matter of fact, that season of trouble and the whole experience of walking through that season is that I did not realize that a lot of people were waiting to see what I will do, they said, she’s working it by faith, we will see where it will get you in times of trouble, I did not know that people were watching to see what I will do, well, thank God for his grace, I did what he helped me to do, and so as the testimonies started to unfold, I realized that for a season of my life, the cup was been filled in drops, and then there was an overflow in another season and it seems nothing will stop,
If you can trust him if you can walk with him, if you have the patience to wait for him if you have the commitment to be who he has called you to, with wisdom and understanding and nurturing, and help, and knowing that on your own, you could do nothing, and through him all things are possible. You will blossom bloom, you will bloom till your last, and the grace of God will be sufficient for you, and every eye that will behold you, in the beginning, waiting for you at the end will still be able to testify that indeed this has been the hands of the Lord, and that will be your testimony till the end of your days. God bless you.
–TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI