The nation’s most popular motivational columnist reveals the secrets of his own motivation and aspiration
HABU Dawaki is best known as the man writing the motivational column in the Weekly Trust and the programme "Moments of Destiny" on FRCN Kaduna’s FM 96.1 radio station. For years, he has touched the hearts of many Nigerians with his half-page column and radio commentaries and made them to believe positively in themselves, to know that in spite of the difficulties in which they live, there is hope.
An indigene of Gombe State, Dawaki is a product of Ramat Polytechnic, Kaduna Polytechnic, Petroleum Product Institute, Warri, and Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa University, Bauchi. He originally studied Engineering and has a post-graduate diploma in Management. He worked with the Bauchi State Agricultural Development Project before the creation of Gombe State (1983-1988), ALMO Gases, the largest LGP plant in northern Nigeria, and KFCC, Kaduna. He retired in 1996. He is presently a businessman and also runs his Destiny Foundation in Kaduna, which he set up purposely for the promotion of his motivational and inspirational activities.
Dawaki is also a pastor, ministering in his own church in Kaduna. Asked whether he is a reverend father or simply a pastor, the easy-going, gregarious motivator answered with his always ready smile, "Well, I don’t like titles. It doesn’t make any difference if you call me a pastor."
Last year, Habu Dawaki published three books on motivation. The books were subsequently launched and are on sale. Prior to the launch, I interviewed the all-rounder author on his universal ministry of motivational writing and broadcasting. Excerpts:
You are popular within the media circle as a motivator. How did you become a motivational commentator?
It’s a long story. I started reading inspirational write-ups since my early days in life, works of authors like John Kennedy; I read his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, in 1980. I read the books such as The Power of Positive Thinking. The first book, I actually started with was one I could not remember its title but was written by Dr. Lara Morei, who was an American. That book inspired me so much. Ever since then I developed the interest of reading books about motivation, leadership, and management. My life is mostly spent on reading books.
Do you read any other books apart from those ones?
Yes, I read management and leadership books and several others. I spend so much on books.
Yes, I read management and leadership books and several others. I spend so much on books.
When did you decide to start writing on motivation?
Well, I was in Gombe in 2003, the state government gave me a job to go as a member of the local government transition committee. One day, the governor invited me to his office intending to appoint me as a commissioner. But something inside me revolted against everything. I can’t tell the reason. I just felt that he was going to give me that job. I walked out of the office to make my first debut the following day. But since then I have never gone back to the office. Later something occurred to me. I said to myself: "You have gathered information and derived inspiration. Why not share them with other people?"
I came back to Kaduna, and did not know how and where I was going to start it. One day, I went into a bookshop along Ahmadu Bello Way. I sighted a book which inspired me. Ideas started occurring to me, and that was the genesis of my radio programme. Then other media began later. Immediately after, I went home, I stopped reading and started preparations for writing inspirational commentary. From morning to night, I was putting to paper all that kept flowing from me. My first column, however, was daily motivational write-ups.
Why did you start with radio?
I understood that radio covers a wider range in terms of communication. As I was saying, the inspiration came with a view to sharing the experience of life with others. So we went to a radio station and, after series of discussions, the script reached one of the directors, who saw it and appreciated it. However, he seemed to be skeptical about whether I could sustain it. Some people started writing, only to stop half-way. And that was a weekly programme.
How did you start the newspaper column?
Well, from the beginning, I was introduced to the (Weekly Trust) Editor, Malam Garba Deen Muhammad, who soon bought the idea.
Who introduced you to him?
Sam Nda-Isaiah (presently the Editor-n-Chief of Leadership) introduced me to him. He demanded a few articles to assess. I gave him and he liked them. Incidentally, he set up his Leadership, which also invited me. Now, The Companion also uses my contribution.
So you are writing for three newspapers. Is it the same piece you submit to them every week or do you write separate articles for each of them?
Sometimes separate, sometimes the same.
Are you still running your radio programme?
No, I have been off air for some time now. Yet I wish to continue soon. I have been very busy recently. My intention is not to stop here. I intend to pass the message across.
Briefly, what is your core belief in life? How do you expect people to think about themselves?
Basically, our major problem in this country is attitude. People have wrong attitude towards themselves, towards others, towards the leadership, and so on and so forth. People see things mostly from the wrong perspectives. I believe that is the wrong direction. It also spells the main objective of my mission: to change the way people do things in life, to change the way we think; and changing a man entails changing his thinking. I believe everybody is qualified to have a crest in this life. Everybody can be fulfilled in his life. If he can utilize his potential and given the chance, everybody can live his life to the fullest. The problem is that most people don’t even know they have the potentials. As I wrote once, I didn’t know I could write before I started writing. And the only way they can realize their potentials is for them to be tried. Knowing my background, I set out to give hope to the people. I was born in a mud house, on a mat floor. I wasn’t born to a rich family. I was poor; that was perhaps part of my limitations. I never knew I could come so high like this. If I were richer, I would have become greater than this.
As a man of God, has spiritualism been another source of inspiration for you in this mission?
Yes, it has. As a human being, you operate on three dimensions–the spiritual, the mental and physical dimensions. No man is complete without these three factors coming into him. Some time we underestimate one for another. That’s where we encounter problems. From my experience with people, books I have come across and the places I was privileged to go and meet their peoples, I have learnt that all these things have powerful influence on our daily lives. Having grown up in this part of the country and having witnessed the level of poverty in the land, one cannot but start to think of how to change the status quo. I have come to find out that the best way to change it is through making people to think. But one thing is fundamental: you can’t expect things to change when the people continue to share the same values, manifest the same attitude and see things in the same way.
Our people believe that everything is in the hand of God, and He will solve all our problems for us if we depend totally on Him. Do you share this belief?
To me, it is a wrong way of thinking, I may be wrong, but I don’t see it that way. You are sitting on a chair, it’s somebody’s thinking. God gives us raw materials; He gives us cars, but how can a car come while we are sitting here? He gives us raw food; He doesn’t give us cooked food. So if you’re hungry, you’ll be expecting Him to give you finished food? I mean, even if He gives it to you He will not put it into your mouth!
So I believe there is the human factor. There are things we cannot do for ourselves and there are those we can do.
One intriguing thing about your commentaries is that you do not quote religious books like the Holy Bible to inspire people. Rather, you quote secular scholars and philosophers. Why is it so?
Of course, it is deliberate. Number one, I want my message to cut across ethnic and religious divides. This is a multi-ethnic country, people can see things from different view-points. To reach all and sundry, you have to avoid using beliefs and quotes that may come to offend them in the process. So I write what will be acceptable to Muslims, Christians, other tribes and faiths. The issue is that we all face the challenges. We live in the same environment; we all need hope and encouragement. We all need a good legacy and have a good name regardless of our differences.
Many people don’t know that you are a Christian because your name sounds like a "Hausa" name. Are you aware of this?
Well, some Christians fear the use of their names when they go to places where other faiths are predominant. That is not the issue. I have met different kinds of people in this part of the country. We all aspire for the same thing. It is just like in school. You don’t offer Geography because it was written by a Muslim, Christian or Hindu. You do it because you have a God.
What can you say has been the impact of your commentary on your readers and audience?
I receive letters virtually every day either by email or text messages. To me, the most pleasant thing is to tell me, "Thanks, you have changed my life." And I receive such glorifications times without numbers.
Do people come to meet you for counselling?
Some come to meet me physically. They call and say they want to see me from different parts of the country.
Is that the reason you set up Destiny Foundation?
Yes, it was part of the reasons for that.
Do you charge fees for the services you render?
No, I don’t charge anything. I offer consultancy services. My yearning, my mission, my desire is to see people changing for the better in life.
Do the media houses for which you write pay you anything for your work?
Of late Trust started to give me a token allowance to enable me to continue with the work. But on principle, I don’t charge for it.
Why did you decide to compile your commentaries in a book form now? By the way, are they extracts from your write -ups?
Yes, they are but I have worked on them and made so many additions. Number one, it is part of the dream to reach everybody. Two, one likes to leave a legacy behind him for which, at least, he will be remembered. I therefore said I will document them in a way that they will not be forgotten?
When will the book be launched officially?
By the grace of God, it is coming up on 16th September, 2006 at the Trade Fair Complex, Kaduna. The beauty of it is that wherever you go, somebody would have read it somewhere.
How do you plan for the book to circulate very well?
I have started discussing with many publishers about that. I want the book to reach all the nooks and crannies of the country.
Do you have any special message to the Nigerian people?
Number one, we must never give up hope despite the economic malaise in the country; I always say after the rain, the sun will shine again, and no matter how dark it is the sun will always rise. The most important thing is for Nigerians to respect one another, to love one another and to aspire for greater things in the future. This is a country where there is so much division, so much factionalisation and there is so much selfishness. You can’t become great with these. The moment we respect one another and think in a positive way, we will make Nigeria a better place.
Finally, can you please tell me your age and the number of your children?
I should be forty-three now and have a child.