“My neighbour – a pretty married woman, would always try to initiate conversation with me and when that didn’t work, she got my phone number from our gate man and kept calling me for a hangout with her.
“She even invited me to go with her to an event at her place of work. I always politely rejected her advances. Maybe if I had rudely rebuffed her, she would have kept a distance,” says the Lagos big boy.
Writing “Beauty for Ashes” is strictly by instruction of Holy Spirit—-Oluwatoyin Olojo
—an interview with Oluwatoyin Olojo, author of ”Beauty for Ashes”
by PAROUSIA Magazine
Beauty For Ashes is an outstanding book published by Parousia in 2021. We had an interesting conversation with Oluwatoyin A Olojo about her debut book. This interview gave insight into her and her book.
Why did you decide to write Beauty for Ashes? Is there something specifically that spurred you to write this book?
Writing Beauty for Ashes was strictly by the instruction of the Holy Spirit. First, I received the title, then the launch date which was just six months away, then the chapter by chapter title as well as their subtitles… It was indeed divinely orchestrated.
Have you always had it in mind that you’d write a book, be an author?
I have always loved to write. I have always had a private journal, I even had a slum book in back secondary school and I always found a way to express my thoughts in writing. However, I never intended to be an author; a poet maybe, but not an author.
Your book is a book that holds a deep message. Tell us about the message you are trying to pass across with “Beauty For Ashes.”
You know, when the Holy Spirit first told me about Beauty for Ashes, He said it was going to be an expression of my life’s story. I kept asking what story my life was telling and He said, everyone, has a story to tell. During that period, I was going through a lot of redefining moments in my life, which involved getting hurt and recovering. I also realised that I’ve always had deep compassion for young ladies who somehow ended up becoming slaves to sex either intentionally or not.
The main focus of Beauty for Ashes is salvation and healing. This is why the book comes with a workbook to help readers answer salient questions about themselves and a devotional to help guide them through.
After this book, do you still have it in mind to publish a new book? And when should we be expecting it?
Yes yes yes! The deep treatment each chapter in Beauty for Ashes gives, started with me. Beauty for Ashes was an opening to my calling as a Scribe according to Matthew 13:52. It’s a deep calling as several other book titles have been received and are awaiting the divine instruction to “GO!”.
I’m sure some of our aspiring authors will love to know this. What was your greatest motivation in publishing this book, what was the process like?
Hmmm, considering the genre I’m called to write which is spiritual and can be sometimes satirical, I would say it takes having a burden to give a big release. The depth of your burden will fuel your sense of urgency and give you all the push or motivation you need. There were times I broke down in tears while writing Beauty for Ashes, especially in Cactus and Sunflower, It was indeed a process! The whole message started with me! Letting out all that information about myself left me with zero shame and that in turn birthed “The Shame-free Tribe”. My biggest motivation was my burden to see freedom, healing, and salvation.
Apart from the publication by the publisher, what step do you take to make sure your book gets out there? Tell us about the book launch.
Honestly, publicising the book has not been quite easy but I have made sure to have an author’s website in my name where articles relating to the book and other interests are often posted. The homepage carries the book image and everyone who visits the site gets to see the book first.
- “The depth of your burden will fuel your sense of urgency and give you all the push or motivation you need. There were times I broke down in tears while writing Beauty for Ashes, especially in Cactus and Sunflower, It was indeed a process!”
The book launch was more of a small, private event. I believe in starting small and as such was glad to have a controllable crowd of about 35 persons in attendance. It was tagged “the release of a book, of pain and of sounds of worship”. All we did, majorly, was worship God. We also watched video clips of people’s stories of sexual abuse and how they overcame the pain. Some guests also shared their stories of how they were raped, nearly raped, and victimised. It was indeed a release of pain.
Tell us about your experience with your Publisher, Parousia Reads.
Parousia Reads has one endearing factor which is accuracy. The team knows how well to get in your head and replicate the exact same ideas you have. When I saw my book cover design, I began to ask if there was someone else present when the Spirit of the Lord showed me the image. They were also considerate of the first-time author that I was and made every step less burdensome. Thank you Parousia Reads! Thank you Samuel Tola Ijalusi!
So far, how has the experience been? And what do you intend to do after now?
The experience has been transforming! Beauty for Ashes has called forth other assignments and I’m super grateful to God for trusting me with this vision. After now, asides from sending thousands of sponsored copies to teenagers and commercial sex workers across Nations, I also hope to flesh up the skeletal framework of The Shame-free Tribe.
I still write copies, proposals, and contents for businesses, I still write poems, articles, and blog posts, and I still sell insurance and give investment advice. All these and more I’ll continue to do even while I focus on my education. Ultimately, I intend to love on God!
You can purchase this book on these platforms
BEAUTY FOR ASHES by Oluwatoyin A. Olojo
MBA Musa: a silent working machine at Tin Can Customs
His mien gives him away as a harmless, non-assuming introvert.
But beneath his calm look lies a tough, determined and uncompromising work attitude that has distinguished the Tin Can command of the Nigeria Customs service as one of the biggest revenue baskets of the service.
Musa Baba Abdulahi(MBA), the Customs Area Comptroller of the Tin Can command, bestrides the command like a gentle giant.
He presides over the command reputed as the second cash cow for the Nigeria Customs Service with unassuming dexterity and clinical efficiency.
Musa is not given to publicity. He hardly grants press interviews.
He loathes calling the press to flaunt his achievements at the command.
He believes that aspect is better handled by his equally versatile Public Relations Officer, Uche Ejesieme, who has equally mastered and emulated the work ethics of his boss.
While he leaves the talking to his spokesman, Musa marshals his officers to do the work he was mandated: revenue collection, trade facilitation, discouragement of anti- illicit practices such as importation of contraband and seamless Customs operations.
He believes his works and achievements are enough to publicise him.
So, while his colleagues enjoy generous publicity, Musa daily buries his head in his works, churning out impressive results which have consistently screamed the name of the command to the hearing of his superior officers at Abuja.
His consistent impressive performance at the command has however adequately compensated for his almost anonymity at the unit.
No wonder his no-nonsense boss, Col. Hammed Ali, the Comptroller-General of Customs, seems to have ” forgotten” to redeploy him from the command as the case of other area Comptrollers whom he changes at will.Against the norm of high mortality of the tenures of Area Comptrollers at the Commands, Musa has spent three years two months so far as the helmsman of the Tin Can Command.
And the CGC seems not in a hurry to look in his direction for a change yet except when it is time for his elevation to the next rank.
Whoever knows the practice of the CGC who shuffles his field commanders at the drop of his hat, then the ‘ long’ and running tenure of Musa is a feat “unheard of” under the administration of Col. Ali.
While all other commands, especially the ‘grade A’ commands, have experienced multiple turnovers of the CACs in the past years, the Tin Can Command has enjoyed relative stability in terms of changes in helmsmen since February 2018 when Musa berthed at the Tin Can Command.
But it would be fallacious to assume that the eagle- eye, highly mobile CGC overlooked or ‘forgot’ to include Musa in the litany of redeployments that have come to characterise his administration, but it seems Musa is “playing the match according to the match plan” of his coach.
In football, you don’t change a winning team.
At his resumption of office as the CGC in September 2015, Hameed Ali pointedly told his senior officers in Abuja about his unambiguous mission to the Customs.
“I have come to carry out the mandate of Mr. President to reform Customs, to restructure Customs, and to increase the revenue generation.
“I don’t think that is ambiguous. I don’t think that is cumbersome. It is precise and I believe that is what all of you are here to do” the CGC had then said six years ago.
So Musa has stayed this long because he knew and mastered the rules of engagement.
Statistics show why Musa has wormed his way into the heart of his boss, a feat that is almost inconceivable given the deadpan expression the CGC always wears which gives him away as someone who doesn’t indulge in needless emotions.
When he was redeployed from the office of the CGC to Tin Can Command on February 1st, 2018, Musa had a clear understanding of his vision and mission to the command.
“Part of my key mandates includes trade facilitation, driving of seamless ease of doing business, provision of coordinating roles in port operations, and strict maintenance of national security at the ports.
“The Command will continue to maintain lead in revenue generation which remains a core function of the Customs,” he said at his maiden press conference in 2018.
“The comparative analysis of quarter one revenue collection from 2018 to 2021 are as follows: in 2018, N76,789,721,107.42; in 2019, N78,857,106,168.27; and in 2020, N91,635,998,490.73,” the customs boss said
“This improvement is despite the twin threat to lives and livelihood posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The command has inspired their officers to continue to work hard while observing all the safety measures to achieve the best of performance.
“We kept our lines of communication open and concerted effort was made to ensure that the supply chain is not disrupted,” Musa said of the geometric increase in revenue performance since he took over.
The success of Musa lies in his heavy deployment of technology to track revenue, plug revenue leakages, and reduce excessive physical contacts between officers and the trading public which he believes will minimise corruption.
He also put much emphasis on building human capacity as he believes well-trained and motivated officers will enhance efficient service delivery.
As a result, officers are being trained on a regular basis on some of the core functions of the customs in the areas of classification, risk management, and data management, the areas in which Musa himself is well versed as a Mining Engineer who joined the service as a Cadet Officer in 1990, and had undergone several trainings in Valuation and Classification, which are the core duties of the Nigerian Customs Service.
Trade facilitation holds as much passion for Musa as revenue generation.
This was why at his resumption of duties in 2018, he reinvigorated the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) which he personally heads, and made his PRO the deputy to sit daily and resolve all issues arising from valuation within six hours.
This was unlike the previous arrangement when the committee sat two times a week.
He also deployed and beefed up the Time Release study tool to determine the actual time required for the release and clearance of goods right from the time the cargo arrives to the physical release from Customs’ control.
Time Release study was a strategic tool that was capable of identifying bottlenecks in the trade value chain and creating an enabling environment for effective and efficient customs operations.
Musa made judicious use of all these tools and methods which create a conducive, customers- friendly environment that facilitate the quick clearance of goods and which in turn boosts his revenue drive.
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