O Ti Zeh

In the fall of 2019, I was in GDM Group as the Head of Strategy & Innovation, and Vicaf rushed excitedly into my office and summoned me upstairs, telling me to drag Bryan and Donald along. We were seated around the small meeting table in his expansive office and Vicaf slammed a white file [tagged Confidential] on the table.

‘Mr. Governor wants a tech conference in 40 days’.


I looked at the file and emblazoned on the front cover was the seal of the Executive Governor of Lagos State. 

‘Guys, I want a tech conference in 40 days’, VA said and handed the file over to me.

I exchanged a slow, surprised, and stupid smile with Bryan and Donald. 

40 fucking days!

That wasn’t my first time planning a conference, but this was a different ball game. At Touchstone, I co-planned the first [and the only] International Conference on Payment Systems [ICPS] for the Central Bank of Nigeria but we started 6 months earlier.

Now a tech conference, and we had 40 days; and chiefly, the conference planning falls on my desk.

The first task was to come up with a name.

Vicaf advised us to go hang out somewhere and figure out everything; and to support the mission, he gave an open-ended access to his debit card. That means we were permitted to empty his account.


That evening, Bryan, Donald, and I drove around Gbagada and ended up in a low-budget 18+ bar [which we later discovered was a red district avenue].

I mean Olosho spot. 

Then we started munching, drinking, and talking.

And laughing too at our dry jokes.

Then names started popping off.

Lagbaja. Lakashegbe. Tamedun. Orisirishi. Tamuno. Obioma. Kamoru. Shetima.

Until Donald mentioned Art of Technology – AOT.

The name rang a fucking loud bell and we stopped the jingle to reflect on it. 

AOT is the name. 

Then we called home, ‘Mama, it’s AOT’.

Bryan ordered a drink for the celebration.

We fine-tuned it to AOT Lagos 1.0.

And that was how AOT was born. 

Right at Olosho spot. 

We took our laurel the following day to Ikoyi where Eko Innovation Centre is domiciled and the conference concept was curated – driven by Vicaf, Kayode, and a few other people from Lagos State Government. 

A theme was extracted, and the rest is history.

Today, AOT has become the biggest tech event in Nigeria and happens yearly; and I’m super excited to watch it grow. 

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Oliver Thief will mean different things to different people.  

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