Exactly 21 years before Nigeria gained her independence, a boy child was born on 1 October, 1939, at Okija in Anambra State, whose life purpose would be to use the power of words to help individuals attain freedom from ignorance and negativity.
Sir, Ifeanyi Atueyi, the publisher of Pharmanews was born to touch lives and shape destinies. His writings, books and speaking engagements have shaped tens of thousands of people’s lives for the last 40 years.
I first met Sir Atueyi through his column in Pharmanews in 2007 as an undergraduate studying Pharmacy at Olabisi Onabanjo University. His column is filled with wisdom, laced with biblical principles and crafted with so much simplicity and practicality. I always looked forward to his thoughts on a monthly basis.
In 2011, after publishing my own first book, titled, “Maximise Your Life”, I paid him a visit at Pharmanews headquarters in Lagos to present my book to him and also learn from his wisdom firsthand. Sir Atueyi shared some suggestions with me on how I could improve myself as a writer. He also gave me advice on the path I had chosen in life.
He said, “Oh boy, writing books, teaching principles and helping people to grow and become better is not a calling that quickly yields return on investment. But it is a fulfilling path. However, if you have made up your mind that this is your purpose, you must focus on impact not money, but with time the money and all other rewards will definitely come.
“You must be patient, committed, consistent and persevere if you want to enjoy the reward of your efforts. I am looking forward to your next book. I have made it a point of duty to publish at least one book in a year.”
The next time I called Sir Atueyi, he gave me feedback about my book. He said, “I was impressed about the truths in your book. They are going to help anyone who studies, understands and applies them. I am proud of you. Please keep it up.”
Listening to those kind words from an icon of publishing and a man of great wisdom inspired me to learn more, do more, create more, research more, in order to contribute more. Today, I have seven published books and hundreds of articles in my name.
You see, in our world where many elderly, successful and well-respected people act like semi-gods, Pharm. Atueyi is above personal aggrandisement. He is accessible to the old and the young, the accomplished and the budding in the profession.
I remember when I had the plan to start Achievers Forum. I booked a meeting with him to share my plan. As usual, he listened attentively to my thoughts, gave me some suggestions on what to do and what not to do, accepted to be part of the event as a facilitator and supported us before, during and after the event. Since then, he has always honoured me with his presence at any of my seminars. Honestly, it takes a very humane elderly person to keep honouring a young man who is like a grandson to him.
I have learnt a lot from Sir Atueyi in the last 12 years from his words but more importantly from his actions. Below are seven life principles that we can learn from his long and meaningful life and apply to our own journey so that we can also enjoy a long life, filled with impact, influence, peace of mind, sound health, joy and love.
- Follow your passion. Discover your calling, develop your gifts and deploy them to make other people’s lives better. Our rent here is service to humanity. Sir Atueyi discovered his calling and pursued it wholeheartedly, even when success was not guaranteed. There is a worthy price for discovery. When you do what you love, you will always be fulfilled. Follow your passion.
- Never stop learning. If service is our rent here on earth, then, our means of paying our rent is commitment to lifetime learning. Sir Atueyi keeps learning and growing despite his age. Keep growing your mind. Keep improving yourself. Keep becoming better and better on a daily basis.
- Help people to grow. Within and outside the pharmacy profession, Sir Atueyi has mentored many people. He has shared his wisdom, experience and time with others to improve them and guide them appropriately. Don’t be selfish. Invest in people, especially young people coming behind who have shown seriousness and promise.
- Humility will take you far. Sir Atueyi relates well with everyone, regardless of their age and stage in life. I strongly believe that there are very few people in the healthcare and publishing industry who are older than Sir Atueyi. But despite his age and experience, he doesn’t look down on any one. Be humble. Stay humble. Live humbly.
- Be a blessing to your profession. In various ways for the last five decades, Sir Atueyi has served the pharmacy profession nobly in various positions and roles. In recent times, during the PSN-led administrations of my mentor and boss, Pharm. Ahmed I. Yakasai, he played key roles in various committees and events. Do what you can to add value to your profession. Don’t stand on the fence. Be part of the process. Do what you can do with honesty, discipline and probity.
- Be a good family man. I always see Sir Atueyi and his wife, Mama Atueyi, at all the PSN conferences I have attended so far. The love and care he showers on his wife and family, including the Pharmanews family, is what we can all learn from and apply. Take care of your family, treat your employers well and be a complete gentleman at home and work.
- Befriend God. Sir Atueyi is a man with the fear of God. He knows His words and lives by the words as a good ambassador of the gospel on earth. Despite his strong faith as a Christian, he doesn’t look down on other people’s faith. You have to befriend God. With him, you are unstoppable. When you put your trust in Him and live a godly life, you will never regret your life.
Proverbs 4:18 states, “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” May the life of Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi continue to shine brighter and brighter every day of his life because he is a righteous man.
May his wife and children continue to be sources of joy to him because he is a just man. May the good Lord continue to grant him long life in good health, joy, love and peace of mind because he is a good man.
Happy birthday to a mentor of mentors, a leader of leaders and a coach of coaches!
Happy birthday to a great son of Okija land, a great thinker of Anambra State, a great citizen of Nigeria and a great Ambassador of Africa.
Happy 80th birthday to my mentor, teacher and friend, Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi.
I salute you, sir.