Monday, July 30, 2007

The Huge Gap...

It is no longer news that while some people are complaining of inadequate basic amenities such as good road, electricity and clean water, there are a good number of people who have never slept without light in this country. Do you know there is a big gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria? Of course, in almost every part of the world, there is always a gap between the rich and poor; however, the gap in Nigeria is huge, very huge. If you live in the centre of Lagos, it may be hard to notice this because we have so many people who the poor think they are rich, while the rich think they are poor, thus bridging the gap.

Last weekend, I went to one of the estates in Abuja to spend the weekend and almost forgot that I was in Nigeria. Everywhere was clean and calm; PHCN/NEPA did not blink the light once. My friend had to admit that everyone living in the Estate actually pay about One hundred thousand naira (N100, 000) per month to enjoy such basic facilities (minus other cost of living there). So you see? That means if you don’t have N100, 000 per month, forget about enjoying stable electricity, clean water and good road!

In another area, not too far from this Estate, the people are denied the privilege of drinking cold water from their fridge or fetching clean water from their own tap. Their electricity transformer blew up a couple of months ago and since then; PHCN officials who have gone round collecting contribution are slow in taking action to rectify the issue.

Lets imagine a man who was poor yesterday, who never enjoyed stable electricity or water supply, who struggled to provide a qualitative education for his children, who moaned along with others about the bad leadership structure of Nigeria suddenly finds himself in a better position to make things right, what does he do? Does he take action for the benefit of everyone? No, instead, he buys himself a bigger house with high fence to shut out the voices of others, buy a bigger generator to put an end to the epileptic electricity in his home etc. and soon, he forgets how life use to be on the other side. No wonder it is taking so long for Nigeria to bounce back!

There is a need for us all, whether rich, poor or the in-between to begin to think from me to we because if we must move forward and really bring about the total reformation we so much desire for Nigeria, then we have to really begin to get rid of selfish attitude. Know that there are others who are less privilege than you and try to make life better by also reaching out to them and take decisions that will benefit all! For a start, if you or your parents are in leadership position, tell them to look beyond the rim of their glasses and influence legislations for the better.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Holiday job....

Thank God! I have successfully completed, or rather in the process of putting finishing touches to my one month holiday Job in VSO Abuja. It has been a very enjoyable challenge working as a data collection/review consultant. I have gained some valuable experience over these past days here and I am most thankful to God almighty who keeps opening doors of opportunities to do great exploits for His glory!

School resumes this week... lets see what Nigerian Institute of Journalism have got in store for this new semester! Whatever the weather, we will shine on for God! The best is yet to come by God's grace! Keep your dreams alive!!!

....Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and your possibilities. The next time you come across a road that you've never traveled -- whether it is an idea, a person, a belief system, or an actual road -- take a side trip and make your world a bigger, more interesting place.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Domestic Violence!

It was a warm afternoon. Even though it was raining season, the sky was still and clear as calm breeze blew through the small Estate. All of a sudden, our peace was disturbed. The sound of silence was broken by a loud cry of someone in pain.

“I will kill you today” a male voice barked angrily. I heard a loud commotion as footsteps thundered towards the incessant scream of people fighting. Although they were all in a hurry to intervene and separate the fight, they seem to carry an aura of casual attitude, one that spells “we are use to this”. A child who didn’t look a day older than seven later confirmed this.

Being a curious observer, I walked towards the small crowd forming in front of the shop- close enough to see what was happening and far enough to be able to flee to safety should the need arise.

“It is a man fighting with his wife…he is married to two wives…that is how they fight every time” the child who was also an onlooker explained to me. For a minute, I stopped to take a long look at the child, and other children around. I was not oblivious of the fact that they were taking in every little details around them; I wondered silently what they could be learning from it. If they are use to being expose to such violence, are they not likely to think it was an okay part of the society they could try out with their peers?

The scene of the bruised couples tangled up like enemies in a wrestling ring describes the reality of what so many people suffer every day from abusers who are either drunk, stressed out- in the case of transfer of aggression, or love to control others by afflicting pain. Many women and children who are mostly victims suffer in silence, ignorant of how to find help. Others are forced to remain in such an abuse for fear of social exclusion in a society that would not hesitate to stigmatise them as being unruly.

Other forms of abuse includes: name-calling, keeping someone from contacting their families or friends, withholding money or needed support, threatening or physical harm, sexual assault, bullying etc., most maltreatment even result to severe depression and death.

In a culture that believes it is okay to hit a child at every opportunity or use fist to settle scores during disagreement, the rate of domestic violence remains high. Especially due to economic hardship that contributes to the increase in frustration that turns love ones against one another.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Food for thought...

Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and your possibilities. The next time you come across a road that you've never traveled -- whether it is an idea, a person, a belief system, or an actual road -- take a side trip and make your world a bigger, more interesting place.
...Teenzcrew, myspace, Afroscholars, Hi5, TakingITglobal, Nigerianvillagesquare, Wikipedia, to mention but a few are the fastest growing online networks on the internet today. Internet communication resources are incredibly popular with 106million users of myspace and over a million video clips on YouTube, half of which are educational.
Everyone seems to have lots of negative things to say about the internet, the recent insistent high rate of cyber fraud not helping matters. But do I dare say that there are vast positive opportunities and possibilities on the internet that goes beyond youthful online dating or “yahoo yahoo” scam emails which some Nigerian youths that go online seems to engage in.
I know of a living youth who got a scholarship opportunity online which enabled him further his education abroad. A young teenager also once stumbled into an online writing club which later turned out to be a forum where her writing skills was developed by interacting with more experienced writers and later got a publishing deal. These are just a few examples of success stories from some young internet users.
There are several other things that can be done on the internet, such as hosting an online radio show, or build a website that address issues and problems you are most passionate about and proffer solutions. Internet also offers opportunity to people to showcase their wares and do online sales such as artworks, books etc. one can also join educational forum, make academic research, learn and debate about global issues to broaden their horizon. Entertainment zones are also available to meet the interest of fun-minded people. On the internet, there is always something to meet everyone’s area of interest. It is now left for users to define their interest and maximize the available resources.
However, using the internet also comes with its own challenges, such as the frequent junks that pops-up while you are working online, not having a secured access, slow internet service provider and for an average Nigerian youth, the expensive and limited access to the internet.
The internet is not only the widest used source of information but also the most accessible with one sixth of the world’s population online. Schools, teenage groups, religious groups and other institutions in Nigeria should encourage more young people to explore the positive sides of the internet which is the world’s largest library and resource centre and celebrate.
YOUTH VOLUNTEERING- an emerging trend.
Volunteering is giving your time, energy and experience to help others and to contribute to the well being of an individual or community without expecting a reward or monetary gain. In recent years, a number of opportunities have emerged that required young people to volunteer. Such volunteering program range from peer-to-peer education/mentoring to religious programs, organising sport events to initiating community service projects, local involvement to global involvement in different organisations.
Active youths identify volunteering as a way to learn work skills, establish employable experience and channel their drive and unique enthusiasm towards community service and bring about a profound change. Volunteering has also been linked to skill development which increases self awareness and self esteem among youths.
There are presently a growing number of young people who are actually involved in local volunteering. These young people are driven by a genuine passion to do something about the state of the world for good. However, there are also others who face barriers that prevent or discourage them from getting involved. These includes, lack of motivation, lack of opportunities and information and most obviously, lack of time, many young people hardly have time due to school.
But there are equally more benefits than barriers in volunteering, such as, it provides youths with concrete real life experience to complement class room learning. It also builds one’s resume/portfolio and connects one to his community, reducing isolation. It broadens your horizon and challenges your social norms, giving you an active critical thinking and problem solving skills to deal with real life concerns.
Before you volunteer, you must ensure that the opportunity relate to your interest and skill, it is flexible and fun, it gives room for you to learn new things, make new friends and most importantly, make a difference for good.
Although we have a rich volunteering culture in Nigeria, we do not have a structural youth volunteering program yet. There are however, limitless opportunities in local organisations, online, internationally that have youth friendly vision and room for youth volunteers. So make research, find them and get involved, or better still, start by joining a local youth group and grow from there! I volunteer because, like the art of writing, it is also a challenging but enjoyable art of taking action and expressing myself positively!

“Well done! You have surpassed some expectations, and oh! A hearty congratulations on your good achievements this far!” If I were to chat with the Minister of Education today, these will be my first set of words to her. Does it sound flattery? Scheming? Or simply an innocuous remark?
Anyway, after the formal greeting and all, I will then proceed to ask her just one question… “What is the main role of education in our society?” Do we all know education is a fundamental human right which aims to improve knowledge and skills? But with the falling standard of education, don’t we sometimes wonder how this can be fully achieved? Most young people trust and prefer private schools to government owned schools because of the quality of education which fortunately have not been watered down…but what about those who cannot afford it?
This brings me to another subject that I would like to discuss with Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili. “What specific education related attention is being given to youths in distress circumstances?” Won’t we all like to see our education system stepped up a little to accommodate, encourage and create equal opportunities for refugees, street kids, immigrants, rural youths, physically challenged youths, orphans, etc. to have access to education?
Another area of emphasis will be about our education curriculum. It is seriously in need of reform in order for it to be of relevant to changes with times and improved ideas. We are not advocating for cheap education but for quality education that is relevant to youth employability and youth entrepreneurship. A quality education that allows room for co-operation and teaches about cultural heritage and global issues. A quality education that foster solidarity, mutual respect and understanding.
Most importantly, I will draw the attention of the Minister to the vital need to build modern infrastructures in our schools, especially in public schools. And the need for the provision of a continuous training scheme for our teachers and leaders at all levels to make them better in their field.
I will not suggest to our Honourable Minister to scrap JAMB, instead I will encourage her to collaborate with non-governmental organisations and other agencies to establish alternative programmes for non-JAMB minded youths. This will enable them acquire necessary skills that will equally assist them transit to full adulthood and make them active and productive citizens. WE CAN indeed and we should!
Now your turn… if you were to meet one of our Honourable Ministers in future, who will it be and what issues will you raise with him/her?
Okay, just thought I should share some thoughtful emails I received from our readers... it actually ranged from “well done” to “oh! I know your face from school” kind... it is really nice to read contributions and feedback from readers!This is saying a big thank you to all who took their time to comment on articles published here and also to all those I bump into on the way (or vice versa) who tell me they actually enjoy reading “Dis Generation” on The Young Nation! I will keep writing for you... I will keep writing for love... I will keep writing for positive change... all by God's enabling grace!
hello and how are u doing, u might not know me, but i saw u on newspaper speaking about wisdom of life and how to achieve ur goals in life. well i want to thank u 4 the adverse and all other things. can u believe that u have change my life ever since i read the paper page,and i so much appreciate it and i take practice on it and everything was just perfect. i thing if we have alot of u like this in Nigeria, Nigeria is growing to develop and xpand with so many idea and understanding. well let me introduce my self to u first?my is kenny and i;m so happy to write u. remain blessed in Jesus name,{AMEN:}this is my number 08027558744 bye and i hope to hear from u again.kenny
Hi Kenny, thanks for your kind words! I am glad that your reading “Dis Generation” is actually making a positive impact on you. Please do keep reading The Young Nation and also spread the word! I am optimistic that if we all play our role well in Nigeria, the lines will definitely fall into place and by God's grace Nigeria will flourish again... I will sure keep on the right track and remain an instrument God can use for His glory! Cheers.

How far with elections for ur side. did you vote? the situation is really bad oo. Me I did not near the place self. Imagine after teaching people that your vote is your power, they go ahead and rig even to the extent of killing. Sandra
Hi Sandra, wow! To answer your question... no I did not vote and it is a shame I didn't make any extra effort to. I did register but chickened out the last will read about this in subsequent articles I write! Hmm, things don't often turn out the way we expect sometimes right? I am sorry the election was quite violent in your area, hope you were not hurt? Well, guess not. But please, whatever the case...don't give up on Nigeria! The best is yet to come! Cheers

hi,Kudos for good efforts on your Sunday column. i am a poet and think it'll be nice making some contributions to your column. here is a poem, an eulogy of course written specially for the African father, whom is least recognized and appreciated in the African arts. hope it passes your editorial scrutiny to appear on your column page this Sunday. if you would not also mind, i wish to continue making regular poetry contributions to your column. please mail me in response to this.thank you. Oba Adeoye 1st.
Hello Sir, Thanks a lot for your kind contribution! Your poem is really lovely and we sure will WELCOME future contributions! Please keep the ink flowing... your creativity is appreciated! Cheers.
Do you know of someone who has ever been described as a typical Nigerian girl? Well, you may be fascinated by the new trend of this generation talks that now refer to some Nigerian girls as “Nigerian by looks but Italian by character” or “Nigerian girl with a British mind” or “Nigerian body with an American Taste”.

I stumbled on this trail of gist once in England , where I met a Nigerian-American guy who gave an interesting definition of a typical Nigerian girl. A few weeks back, this same issue was again raised by another male friend back home and interestingly, their geographical location have a lot to play in their perspective on this issue.

Hear this:
Nigerian-American brother defines a typical Nigerian girl as one with a strong fighting spirit and strong-will, a never give up personality. One who does not just sit and watch things stand-still when she can move them to her advantage.

In a nutshell, I ask, does that mean this is how our sisters in America trying hard to keep to their roots behave?

Brother in Nigeria ( Lagos ) defines a typical Nigerian girl as the one who loves being lied to. For instance, ask any brother the easiest way to “catch” a Nigerian girl and he will tell you to simply lie to her.

This is a hard nut. I know Lagos girls to be smart, how come they fall for lies brothers tell? You mean a girl will rather date a “poor” guy who looks rich and claims so even with glaring tell-tale signs telling otherwise?

Now putting the two definitions together, you may get this: a typical Nigerian girl is one with a strong-will to love lies a brother tell…

I do not think this is right about us sisters. But I take succor in the fact that these brothers classified their definitions as a typical Nigerian girl and not The Typical Nigerian girl. Moreover, hope these brothers have not forgotten that Nigeria is a very big place. Young girls from the North certainly do not share the same qualities with ones from the south. So where do we start from?

I was however excited to hear that a typical Nigerian guy of present generation is one who is trying hard to be himself irrespective of what people say or think. Should we then totally agree on this if it is on the right note?

How will you define a typical Nigerian girl or boy? Can they really be defined even though we are all different yet the same? It will be interesting to have the real Nigerian gals and guys define themselves or better still, who is the typical Nigerian girl or boy? Are you one of those often referred to as “Nigerian by looks but Italian by character” or “Nigerian girl with a British mind” or “Nigerian body with an American Taste” Send us your thoughts to share them with the world.

Youthful Fashion

Imagine being invited for an interview one day, and I arrive at the venue dressed in baggy jeans with a very bright colored shirt and long necklace to match the color of my shoe lace. Well, if I was going for a friends rag-party, this wouldn’t have been too bad a dress sense, but for a corporate job interview? Duh!

How do you choose what you wear? Does the society, media or religion determine what you should wear for every occasion? Or are you one of the few Denrele Edun of this generation that design and dictate what you wear?

I won’t really count myself as a fashion freak, but I never seem to be amazed on how new trends flood our culture everyday. Between the western culture and Nigerian culture, we do not know who is even competing with whom. Our local designers are striving hard to keep up with the demands for tasteful styles that appeal to young people.

Nothing could be more appealing than taking your material to your seamstress and in return a few days later you have a neatly cut out piece suitable for all occasion. So there, right then and there you sign up to patronize our traditional materials and drop the hustle after western clothes. Which by the way do not really have any better design than does not go beyond low-waist jeans and belly-showing blouses for ladies?

By the way, are our guys now patronizing low waist Jeans? Okay, that is me going off to the extreme. We all know guys sag. But do we all know it is because they are ignorant of the origin of sagging? I do not think it is style. Perhaps you have also heard they story about the prisoners who were literarily forced to go everywhere without a belt while in prison, thus, after they got out, they never got used to holding their trousers with belt and went around that way, obviously, the ignorant ones decided to emulate the culture. And that was how the sagging style came to be.

I do not have any definition for dress sense. I think everyone has got a good dress sense but it is just the timing that differs. For instance, there will be nothing wrong in wearing a hooded sweat-shirt in a very cold weather but wearing it during one of those hot days in Lagos? Or wearing a bikini-like-see-through gown to “the House of God?” I think that is a deliberate attempt to confuse the service that day.

We youths must learn to dress the way we want to be address. Wear the right clothes at the right time. Like my friend would say,”Dress for success everyday” because you will only get a first chance to make your first impression with your dress culture. You don’t have to move with the flow… build your trend.

Congratulations Nigerians!

Congratulations Nigerians! We have a new government. Did you listen to the intoxicating speech given by our new President? That sounds so good... “Our New President”. Anyway, I was privilege to read the speech again this morning and I gained a broader understanding of why the world was excited after they listened to President Umaru Yar'adua's Presidential speech.
The contents of the well written speech is sure worth an ovation. If the power of presidential speech has anything to do with their performance, I cannot help but join Mr. Richard Gozney (The British High Commissioner) say that indeed a great future awaits Nigeria.

“Fellow Citizens, I ask you all to march with me into the age of restoration. Let us work together to restore our time-honored values of honesty, decency, generosity, modesty, selflessness, transparency and accountability...”says Mr. President. “Let us recapture the mood of optimism... Let us join together now to build a society worthy of our Children. We have the talent. We have the intelligence. We have the ability. The challenge is great. The goal is clear. The time is now.” he added.

Forgive me if you don't understand my excitement here, but this is the first time this generation is witnessing a Civilian to Civilian transition of power. The freshness of this new administration is worth jubilating over. Moreover, we would be dancing to a different tune if the third-term bid had made it through.

We all know that Nigeria as a whole has not been as easy as its spelling but we might as well stand on the right foot and join this new government in moving things right. Lets shun all manner of cynicism like the president advised and march on in the fear of God to restoration.
Happy new dawn Nigeria. We hope in days to come, we will still have a course to dance.
Remember, this is a “Let us...” affair. All hands should be on deck to move Nigeria forward... everyone has a role to play. And once again Nigerians... Congratulations! And Mr. President, we hope you will back up your words with action. Everyone will be watching you lead by example and hopefully as the head moves, the body will follow.


April will remain a very memorable and important date in the history of Nigeria. Even though Election 2007 have come and gone, so much talk is still making rounds about how that event went. Views, debate, and all manner of protests flying left, right and center over the election results and all of a sudden, everyone seems to have a brilliant idea of how the election should have been conducted.

These past days, Nigeria's 2007 election have really been making headline in both international and local media. Chartrooms now have new posts inviting people from all over the world to debate issues surrounding the election. One actually read something like: “We just posted a thread about the Election that took place in Nigeria, we would like to know your opinion on this matter”. The election was conducted imperfectly. Did the result make me loose trust and hope in the future on Nigeria? Of course not!

We young people will however not be left out of this new buzz. Passionate opinions are being aired in different forums, revealing how concerned the 21st century Nigerian youths are about the political matters of their country. Let nothing stop you from using your voice and sharing your opinion in good faith.

A Nigerian friend in Scotland sent a text to me last night saying: ...Watz up? Shld I say congrats on the relatively peaceful election held last weeknd? Any gist?-M. It is a shame I have no first-hand experience on how the election went, except of course what the media disseminated. I did not fulfill my civic responsibility of voting during the election, not because I was under-age, but for the distance between where I registered and where I live. Anyway, the Election took place without my vote and we are all living happily after.

Did you experience any “wait until after Election” syndrome? This refers to a kind of standstill in important issues that concerns you due to the tension the election brought last month. For instance, a major exam you have been dreaming of writing and getting over with being postponed due to clash with the election date or your plan to hangout with friends at the newest spot in town was spoiled due to some Election “fever” which eventually made someone sensibly suggest “why don't we wait until after election?”.

So many lives and events that were put on hold as a result of the election are gradually returning to normal. From students going back to school and candidates sitting for the famous JAMB exam to having the usual routine of reserving Saturdays for weddings and parties!
By the way, we are equally wondering for how long uni students in Nigeria would have to wait for ASSU to call-up the strike. Is there hope of the Federal government and concerned stakeholders reaching a sensible agreement anytime soon? This is another “wait until after election” syndrome making waves right now... we really hope this new government-elect will find a final solution to this disease eating into our educational system. What affects one, affects all. The future should not be put on hold!

Monday, July 09, 2007


If you asked any young person whether they want to be like their parents when they become adult, they will tell you they want to be better. It is not that they do not like the way their parents are at the moment but rather, it is their aspiration to surpass the achievement of their parents. For the guys, they want to be better fathers and role model to their children while the gals want to be better mothers than their mothers. There is nothing wrong with such desire, at least it is every good parent’s wish for their children to grow taller than they are and achieve more than they did.

But at this stage, I paused to ask, with all these strong desire, what are the youths of today doing to ensure its achievement? Are they making any positive effort to be financially secured in the future? How are they treating their relationships now to avoid committing themselves to abusive relationship that may end in divorce? How are they planning to balance work with family to make sure they don’t end up as workaholics to their children?

Again, so often we young people complain that one of the barriers between successful adult-youth relationship is lack of understanding, however, we seems to forget that these adults didn’t wake up one morning to find themselves in adulthood. They were once youths like us. Perhaps when they were growing up too, they used to accuse their older ones of not understanding them. But due to them not having an open mind towards ensuring they learn and retain skills that will build them into better adults, they ended up just like the past generation. Thus, there is a need for us to open our mind to learn from their lapses so we don’t end up lacking understanding.

For every youth, who is working/struggling to make sure the future- when they will become adults and take up more mature responsibility, is secured, they must lay the foundation now and take control. Sow the kind of seed you would want to enjoy in future. If you build your wealth through “yahoo, yahoo” or “aristo” business, what story will you tell your children to make you a better role model to them?

The future they say belongs to those who prepare for it. Don’t be caught unprepared, begin to build a good legacy, acquire necessary skills that will unlock resources and most importantly, build your mind through proper education (not just the four walls called school), learn from the mistakes of the adults of today and equip yourself with what you need to move on. One of the secrets to securing your future is having a clear and intimate knowledge of who you are. We all have a calling, a reason why we are here on earth. It is our responsibility, not our government’s, to find out what it is. Oprah Winfrey once said “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” For every one of us that succeeds, it's because there's somebody there to show you the way out… find yours!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

“Hurry up now, we have got less than thirty minutes to make it in time” the voice of one of our facilitators rang into the hall, prompting us to rush into our rooms and dress for the occasion. The D-day was here, the blessed evening some of us have been looking forward to- a special dinner hosted by Sir David Green KCMG, Director-General of the British Council. It was our second day at Davenport House in Greenwich where we were attending the Greenwich 2007 Forum, sixty of us from about forty-eight countries with a common goal of working together and presenting our course to the world leaders during the world Economic Forum in Davos.
I couldn’t tell if I was excited about the thought of visiting Downing Street, but I soon felt the butterflies in my stomach when someone whispered that going to Downing Street was like going to White House or Aso Rock. The heavy traffic jam like the one you will find in Lagos threatened to spoil our fun that night so it was suggested that we make the rest of the journey on foot so we don’t miss the event.
The Addire (Skirt and Blouse) I wore did not make the walk easy and I am sure that I would have frozen up had one of the representatives from America not offered me his coat. The short walk was quite enjoyable; at least the street of London was really a beauty to behold at night. Everywhere was brightly lit up; there were no Danfo buses with screaming conductors, no Okadas competing with pedestrians or sights of smelling refuse dumps posing here and there. Everything was orderly and orderly worked well for this city.
At last! We got to the gate of Downing Street without much stress, but the security officers asked us to wait because Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of State was about leaving the building. Other vehicles and pedestrians were also stopped at both end of the road; respect must be given to one whom it is due. Meanwhile, there I was stretching my neck and trying hard to see if I could catch a glimpse of her but to my disappointment the windows of the car she was in were tinted!
After a few minutes of waiting, another set of security officers came out to ask us to show our passport and admittance card for screening. We were not allowed to take mobile phones or cameras into the building for security reasons. The rest of the evening was spent in the warm house no. 11 Downing Street, a really enjoyable dinner of talks and drinks (I had juice)! We knew Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain, lived next door to the building we were in. “Does that mean he could hear us?” someone asked. “Well, that is if he is at home” one of the facilitators replied. “What if we knock on his door and run into hiding?” asked another cheeky but brave youth. Some funny thoughts that run around our heads sometimes!
This event took place about a month ago but the memory still lingers on. The reception gave me the opportunity to see how beautiful the future is for this generation if we stick together. There we stood, all dressed in different cultural attire to reflect the country we represented and proudly appreciating our cultural diversity because we all know how boring our world may look if we were all dressed in the same way. We openly robbed minds with the adult-guests (top personalities from different works of life) without fear of being ignored or our opinion underestimated.
It is often said that young people face similar challenges in life irrespective of their background or culture. In a bid to see how true this is, I engaged some of my classmates in a cafeteria discussion. Yes, I have always wondered what this generation was most frantic about, sharing my thoughts with my colleagues, I was surprise to discover how similar the issues that bugged us were after they shared their opinion about the matter. In no particular order, here are some of the things we believe our generation share the same concern for: Education, Family, Character, Pre-marital Sex, Materialism etc.
Here is a Jenniferized version of what we moaned about that afternoon:
Education: For an average Nigerian Youth, education is seen as a process of learning which begins and ends in school, a means to getting a very good job, nothing more. But we asked ourselves, when will our educational system begin to encourage youths to take up lifelong learning and stop limiting our education to classroom learning? That our education system is yet to meet international standard is no overstatement, but we need a real reform that will begin to put in a new value to our education.
Family and Friends: “what is family? Is it my support to lean on when my legs are trembling? A hand when I want to climb up in life? …Or is it just my responsibility to be a support when someone’s legs are be ears to listen to what others have to say?” In as much as our families can be our friends, friends on the other hand are most times non-members of our own families who we know well, love and trust. How many young people can boast of a strong relationship between themselves and these two links? Have the bond gone wishy-washy due to split-image personalities?
Future: Don’t be surprise if you ask any young person where they see themselves in ten years time and all you get is a blank look from them. The thought of the future scare some youths so much but for some others, they are so much carried away by the present that they fail to plan for the future. Some engage themselves in activities without reflecting on the consequences it may have on them five years down the line. Is it because the song “whatever you sow, you go reap” is not popular anymore? The future belongs to those who prepare for it, young people need to be taught how to make long-term plans and work towards it.
Character: It is very true that knowledge without character is nothing but a waste. God forbid that this generation be referred to as a generation of youths without a good character. There are obvious challenges here and there that sometimes frustrate our efforts to have an undiluted positive attitude towards life but we are optimistic that we will get there!
Materialism: This is the belief that money, possessions and physical comforts are more important than spiritual values. Some young people have long been trapped in a do-or-die quest to acquire wealth for themselves, compromising their values without a second thought. For instance, they see their neighbor with a fancy phone and they strive to buy a “bigger one”.
Pre-Marital Sex: I cannot hide the fact that young people are being exposed to having a casual attitude towards sex. Some think virginity as lack of opportunity for those who claim it is dignity. What can be done to curb this from becoming a social norm, or is it too late?
We can’t blame it all on societal influence, media or the government. All these have to change and we can change them! Feel free to share
Do you think today’s youth trust today’s adult? Do you think having more adult mentors can help close this yawning gap in youth and adult relationship for a better tomorrow? Yahoo generation, GSM generation, to mention but a few are appalling terms that is being use to describe our generation, the youths of today. We are faced with increasing challenges at all levels with influence of the society.
Trapped in the flashes of moving with the flow with limited power to break free, we settle and squat in the position of “pity me” and watch ourselves waste our today wrapped in yesterday’s juvenile delinquent, unsure of what tomorrow holds. On the verge of falling off, we are tired of being tagged with fancy and flattering slogans like wares on market stall. We want to live and not just exist, but to know the road ahead; we must ask those who have gone ahead or those coming back. This is the path only few youths are exploring and taking advantage of- Mentoring!
The word "mentor" comes from the Greek word for "steadfast" and "enduring. Mentoring is the one-to-one or group relationship that one or more adults develop with one or more young people to help them develop and succeed in life. A mentor is an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time, considered as an excellent example of what one aspire to be in future. In choosing a mentor, there are certain qualities you must lookout for by asking these questions: is the person a knowledgeable epitome of how you see yourself in future? Is the person real or make believe? Does the person have a good moral standard? Is the person humane and sensitive towards others? Your chosen mentor can be an achiever in your immediate family or circle of friends or s/he could be someone you admire from a distance whom you would have to then build a relationship with.
Mentoring comes with a lot of benefits which includes: Leading young people to resources they might not find on their own, building a more youth and adult friendly society and enhancing relationship, raising goals and expectations of youths, building a generation of confident youths that trust adults, building a generation of adults that understand youths, Providing support for new behaviors, attitudes and ambitions of young people and improving skills by giving them access to valuable experience and knowledge of adults, providing advice to help youths with aspirations evaluate options and make better decisions and even help motivate youths that have no sense of belonging or aspiration.
Assisting our youths require appropriate mentoring. If a youth sees an individual s/he admires, s/he should feel comfortable in developing a mentor-mentees relationship with the person (quoting Folakemi T. Odedina). So go for it! Seek out a mentor, build relationship, build trust, and build future! We are youths, we are the posterity of our Nation, adults should make themselves better role models and impart in us your valuable experience and knowledge to equip us for the future. They should teach us the different stages in life to learn how to turn over, to sit up, to crawl and then to walk and run to become relevant and useful for the good of our society.
“There is no thrill in easy sailing, when the skies are clear and blue. There’s no joy in only doing things everyone can do. But there is some satisfaction mighty sweet when you reach a destination that you thought you’d never make”.
Every youth has something they want, some place they want to go, something they want to learn or do. Every youth has a mountain in life they must climb over to get to the next level they so much crave for. In this New Year, almost everyone is drawing a new plan or adjusting old ones to explore new opportunities to achieve their goal(s). While some young people busy themselves scribbling passionately on their diary some pursuits towards which they hope to direct their efforts, others claim they are not good at setting goals. Yet, I ask them if they are going to spend the whole year moving with the flow and watch the world move on without them.
It is a New Year, so many dreams are yet to be dreamt and realized. But what we need is an ability to dream, plan, pursue and realize our dream with diligence. For me, there are a lot of things I proposed to achieve last year which I did not achieve, of course I did not droop like a flower as a result or feel bad about myself because I believe every new dawn is an interval of opportunity provided by God for the pouring out of another portion of ourselves until we have exposed all His precious treasures in us that makes us unique.
Some youths want an easy life, good for them. But there are some others who have dreams, aspirations, and ambition. They have to learn how to make their dream a reality and one of the first steps is to write down their aspirations and set goals accordingly. Before you can move a step to accomplishing your goals, you must have a clear understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Don’t always ask “what is more important”, but ask “what am I suppose to be focusing on right now?” For instance, if you are pursuing to be the best student in your school this year, listening attentively to lecturers is more important than taking notes during lectures, but eventually, all the listening in class won’t matter if you don’t have notes to reflect on during your private study.
Aside having a written goal and knowing why you want to achieve this goal, it is also necessary to know how you can achieve this goal and have practical idea of resources you need. You have to believe you can achieve your goal and don’t wait for others to believe it for you. Then you move on to making baby steps plan on how to achieve this goal(s) and set realistic deadline for yourself. It is said that Rome was not built in a day, so the journey of a thousand mile must begin with one step. You may need to solicit for family support and surround yourself with encouraging friends and like minds. If your goal is to Improve on your computer skills, you will need to spend more time studying computer related books or get acquainted with the machine with the help of a skilled instructor. If you want to improve on your savings, you may need to cut down on your spending/expenditure or get a better paying job.
Lack of resources, pessimists and goal bullies are tools that can prevent you from accomplishing your goals, so avoid discussing your goals with negative confidants. Also, it is very important to avoid wrong environment or bad associates that can distract you from your goal. For instance, if one of your goals is to quit smoking, it will be defeating to surround yourself with people that smoke when you know you can easily be lured into bad habit.
Achievement of our goal(s) increases our self esteem and builds our confident. Learn to celebrate little achievement and progress you make with your goal as this will motivate you to aim for more challenging goals. Failure in the achievement of your goal should not discourage you instead use the setbacks and unexpected challenges as stepping stones to adjust your goals and set new deadlines. Be conscious of the fact that no one can dream your dreams for you, your goals this year should not be limited by others, stay connected to people and things that will draw you closer to realizing your dream, accept personal responsibility and take positive action. If you cannot sit, crawl. If you cannot crawl, walk. If you cannot walk, run. If you cannot run, hop. If you cannot hop, fly, soar and keep moving to realize your dream. Stand up and be counted.
We are youths of today, the leaders of tomorrow, yet we have no effective voice on issues that concerns us. Those that represent us at the government level are not accessible. We are victims of political, economic, cultural, social and religious discrimination. We are denied good and qualitative education and those coming after us have stopped trusting our educational system. But for the sake of our tomorrow, these things have to change. Society has to change and working out exactly how we can change it is crucial.
First we need to identify the issues and create for ourselves an enabling environment that will challenge us to take creative initiative to make a positive difference and impact our society. We don’t want to see ourselves in the future as tired and greedy politicians, economists, inventors or orators, thus the need to discover early in life how to reverse this string of gloom threatening to befall our generation. We need to look beyond mere gain to really making efforts in doing things that will have resounding impact in days to come.
A story is told about two brothers who come from a home where nothing works. Raised by a detached father who spends his time and all he earned on beer-parlor in company of several bottles of beer. Adamu and Mustapha grew up knowing nothing else but poverty, failure and violence until they became of age. Fifteen years later, Adamu turned out a replica of their father while Mustapha followed an opposite direction. When asked what became of them, Adamu between gulps of beer replied in a drunken voice “can’t you see I was raised by a drunkard, how else you expected me to turn out?”. Mustapha on the other hand cleared his voice, like a gentleman, straightened his impeccable designer’s suit and replied “You see, I was raised by a drunkard but I could not afford to turn out like him”.
Youth of today must be careful not to turn out like Adamu who chose to become a failure and blame his father for his misfortune, instead we should aspire like Mustapha and use our obstacles as stepping stones, turning the failures around us into motivation and self develop ourselves where possible. Are you worried about the future? Share your fears with a positive confidant and work out a solution. Are you afraid that you are not living up to expectation? The fact that you are aware of this means you have the power to change your situation, make the changes you think needs to be made. Nobody is saying the road ahead is easy but with hard work and perseverance, success is certain.
We live in a country where everything does not work just yet but this should not hinder us from working hard to become assets and solutions instead of compounding the problem. Our society is aware that it is part of our responsibility to sustain and protect our future. We are important, think and act positive for a change. Start preparing for the future, the future belongs to those who prepare for it. Don’t give up on life, keep moving with a purpose!

Does the size and location of a school have any impact on our school experience? An average parent most times consider the price tag before the size of a school, perhaps they are yet to discover that more impact on a child’s school experience is contributed by the size of the school s/he attends.

Which do you prefer, having a small class sized that creates an opportunity to work more closely with your lecturers for better learning experience or being asked by a not-so-familiar face in your class on your graduation day if you are in his class.

I attended a very big secondary school, looking back now, I am not sure I can count more than five people I knew so well. There were so many faces around; sometimes this was more of a disadvantage because it meant more noise, more competition for space and available facilities. I hate to imagine how exhausting marking our test scripts must have been for our teachers.

Small schools offer lower student-to-teacher ratio than bigger schools and provides opportunity for students to know their lecturers. The College I attend at present has less than 100 people in a class compared to big schools that have over 3,000. Groups like secret and occultic fraternities certainly cannot thrive in small schools because there is no hiding place. But of course, there are two sides to every coin:

Advantages of small schools
Small Class size with opportunities to work closely with qualified lecturers.
Strong sense of community/togetherness
More individual attention and guidance
No abuse of available structures and facilities.
Opportunity to have your voice heard
Disadvantages of small schools
Fewer physical resources
Limited social opportunities and academic options
Gossip thrives because everyone seems to know what is going on.
So when next you are choosing a school, don’t just consider the price tag, but take time to reflect on the side it falls on in terms of size. Is it a small school or a big school? Don’t be afraid to choose a small school, it sure gives a good level of hand-on learning experience.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Gentle wind in Abuja

One more thing to be thankful for this blessed day! It is July 1st, a very joyous month indeed. Not only is it the first day of the week, it is also the first day of the seventh month and the first day of the second half of the year. How time flies you will say! Now is yet another opportunity for us to reflect and evaluate these past months and re-organise all that need to be adjusted in our lives.

A change of environment can also help you in achieving this… Travel to get a bit of fresh air into your lungs. Well, that was what I did. It is not that there is no fresh air in Lagos but I am one of those that got depressed by the aftermath of the strike. To put it in more practical words, I didn’t like the angry faces I saw around me each time I tried boarding public transport.

The uncompassionate way the ‘Danfo’ drivers and conductors flared up the already expensive local transport fare was one thing I could not condone. But since I was just an ordinary commuter myself, there was nothing I could do than to watch on in silence and listen quietly to others scream about the injustice. That didn’t help though; listening to the complaints of others without being able to do anything to change things can be as depressing as being in the helpless situation yourself.

So, here I am in Abuja . Spending the rest of my holiday and recuperating for the days ahead in Lagos . The interesting thing about this is having the chance to experience the effect of the strike on two extremely different part of Nigeria . So I asked around, looked around and came to a conclusion: Abuja was certainly not as shaken as Lagos was by the strike. What did you expect? The town dey kampe. After all, it is our capital city!

Don’t get me wrong, there are long queues in fuel stations, things are expensive, including transportation but on a sensible note. While Lagos seems to be on fire (not literarily), Abuja is all calm…a good feel of gentle breeze blowing through the town. If Lagos gets as calm as Abuja is, then Lagos will stop being Lagos , the chaos is part of its beauty but it is a smiling chaos.

The most regrettable thing about the strike was days of wasted opportunities that turned out to be a big blow on our educational, political, social and economic sector at all levels. The religious sector was affected, but positively, at least, more people turned out to pray for Nigeria and for the strike to happen never again. Righteousness should be a lifestyle for all Nigerians and we will have fewer things to worry about.

Like always, life must go on. Like they say, Nigerians have got a good surviving spirit. It does not matter which way the world turns this remaining half of the year, we must keep our vision clear and stay focus to achieve the goals we set out at the beginning. Explore opportunities, leave your comfort zone if you must but stay on the right path and see your value appreciated. We are survivals and we will eat the good of this land called Nigeria .