Monday, December 29, 2008

An English Youth's Perspective of Nigerian Youth

"We cannot always build the future for our nation but we can build our youth for the future" says Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A British youth once shared his perspective about the Nigerian youth and his hope for the future of Nigeria. Young Joe knew for over half a year ago that he was going to be working in Nigeria as a volunteer, but up until his arrival he had misconceptions about the country, one of which is that Nigeria was a desperate and undeveloped place than it really is. He was surprised to see so many cars and the big buildings in town. He had expected to see many hungry and homeless people on the streets.
As time went on, Joe learnt first-hand that Nigeria is actually a rich country. "it has so many valuable resources and is self-sustaining, it is just poorly led…I am referring to corruption and selfishness from those highly placed members of government and society" he said.

"Those keeping people under thumb need to be challenged. Corrupt officials need to know that they cannot get away with depriving millions with their greed. They need to be asked provocative questions like: why are there so many millionaires in a country that is perceived to be poor? Why are kids eating from refuse dump when there are so many mansions?
I feel strongly for the youths here because I am aware of their passion for achieving things in life. It is aggravating knowing most can’t because of other people’s greed. I hope someday soon, people will not stand for it any longer and create such pressure on those in charge to reform." he added.

But while we are hoping for this reform, what can we as youths do to effect change? Joe says: "Youths in Nigeria absolutely need good education. They are the foundation upon which Nigeria will soon depend, if you keep them struggling on and on, Nigeria will be struck in a rut. I want to see Nigeria become the first world country it could easily be. I hope the youths here equally have good opportunities."

Year 2009 is just a few days away with its opportunities. For many, it a much awaited new begining to dream again, or a continous pursuit of success, desire to serve and be relevant. But whatever Year 2009 means to you, be optimistic, live postively in a way that builds yourself as well as others up. Don't settle for the blame game, decide to contribute to building your future. Don't limit your destiny to lack of material things. The gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria is huge, whatever side you find yourself, decide to succeed despite the odds. Don't let the world move on without you. Have faith, work hard and like Barack Obama, have an audacious hope to achieve the impossible. Above all, stay Connected to God and see your value appreciated. Happy New Year Nigerian Youths!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


What is volunteerism? It is simply defined by as the policy or practice of volunteering one's time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community while materialism is a desire for wealth or the preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.

Volunteering is about giving. According to Mr. Yemi Oshilaja, the country director of Hope Worldwide, “Your heart must go before your tummy or pocket …a volunteer is someone who is fully engaged but at the same time able to offer themselves to help mankind.” In his opening remark during the December 5th International Volunteers Day event organized by GIVE Network, Mr. Oshilaja said that volunteers are the key to solving the Development issues in our country no matter the amount of money available. He also urged the media to write more about volunteering effort in Nigeria so that many more people will join the trend.

Indeed the culture of volunteering should be encouraged at all levels. It is one of the tools that can effectively curb the sudden quest for materialism in our society. Volunteerism gives you the opportunity to give while materialism only makes you want to take. Volunteerism ask how can I offer help while materialism ask what is in it for me. Volunteerism reminds you of the needs of others and how significantly you can impact lives by taking action. Materialism reminds you of your needs and how much you must acquire more things at the expense of others. Volunteerism builds a better world because it breeds care and support while materialism pulls our world apart because it breeds greed and envy.

In a world that is being faced by numerous global challenges such as global warming, global food crisis, global financial crisis and all other global phenomenon deeply rooted in local causes, it is imperative for everyone to embrace the volunteering culture. Positive volunteer efforts that will contribute immensely to national development starts by just giving a little of yourself- give appreciation, give encouragement, give enthusiasm, give ideas, give time etc.

As it is being advocated for Entrepreneurship to be added to our academic curriculum, I will like to also advocate for volunteerism to be encouraged in all institutions- individual, corporate, government etc. There is so much to gain by giving a little of yourself and time. According to Roger Carr of, volunteering gives you an opportunity to make new friends, build personal and professional contacts, build your self-esteem and self-confidence, develop new skills, explore career opportunities, add experience to your resume, improve your health, have fun and make a difference. See your world through a new eye, identify the volunteer opportunity that is right for you, make a positive impact and expand your world by doing everyday things in a positive way- go volunteer!


This Yuletide season gives us the special opportunity to appreciate everyone who knowingly or unknowingly impacts our lives positively in every ramification. No man stands so straight, says the Knights of Pythagoras, as when he stoops to help a boy (or girl). I thank God for these men and women who live as positive role models in a corrupt and perverse world. Do you have a list of people whom you will like to appreciate specially too? Aside my brothers, male friends, lecturers/teachers etc., there are special men in my life whose chaste impact has set my success in motion.

One of them is Pastor Tunde Bakare whose radical opposition to corruption and commitment to rebuild the fallen walls of Nigeria serves as an unwavering inspiration to me. His contagious passion for God shaped my faith too. In my quest to make a difference, I stumbled into Temidayo Israel . This young man gave me the first opportunity in his youth group to get my hands dirty and stand up to be counted. Dayo inspired my award-winning poem “I surrender”. Talking about poems, Philip G. Bell played the unique role of giving me a rare opportunity on a global platform to become a published poet at no cost. He simply said to me “Pay it forward”. As if to explain this, God sent my way Tunde Rosanwo who exemplified that paying it forward is as simple as when you share resources or pass useful links to others without glorifying yourself in it.

How many men still consider the least qualified with the chaste intention of helping them up the ladder of success? Well, Mr. Kayode Akintola does. He gave me an opportunity to serve in a big way, which has changed me forever. These men looked beyond my inadequacies and showed me the “how to”, the platform to learn and the opportunity to be productive. Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin is one of the most passionate mentors I can look up to any day, he helped direct my focus! There is also Mr. Victor Akinpelu (my Boss), who keeps giving me task bigger than me (I think). It is a delight to be stretched beyond limit. It expands your worth and world. And the list of these kind hearted and inspiring men goes on…in their dynamic ways, they live their lives so positively that they inspire others to be more.

Thus, can I count my blessings this Christmas without mentioning these faithful men who shape the world by planting trees under whose shade they do not expect to selfishly sit? William Arthur Ward says, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”, so this special note is written with a sense of merry alacrity befitting the season to express my gratitude. I can no other word say but thank you Sir, and thank you Sir. May God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


For the love of God and humanity, my colleague, Kat Macleaod and I set off on an exciting adventure, one of those one will class as ordinary with a little extra, i.e. “extraordinary”. This adventure found us sitting in the office of the controller of Prison with a handwritten proposal to set up two recreational clubs with the inmates.

As usual, as it is with in most offices in Nigeria, we had to wait and wait outside the Controller's office while someone struggled with the bureaucracy. We watched the guards clad in tight, big, black boot that go half way up their calf, billowing green trousers, a rope over their shoulder and a tight belt containing spray or gun, shining their boots. To keep the harmattan away, one young guard carefully spent a few minutes rubbing his lips with lip gloss, for a split second, he looked very vulnerable just like the rest of us. It was an interesting sight.

Finally, the Controller came out and shouted “why have you kept them waiting?” to one of the guards. He took us to his office and read the letter. “Yes, I definitely approve this…!” This receptive and encouraging response gave us a sense of importance and gingered us for the task ahead.

The following weeks saw us working closely with the Prison guards, the inmates and other volunteers who shared our passion to reach out for those who seems cut off from the rest of the society! At the end of our 6-weeks activities in Jos Prison, all the 700 inmates and selected local guest assembled in the yard to watch the informative and educative drama performed by the male inmates. The 9 women, 8 of whom were still waiting trial were also granted a rare permission to enter the male dominated yard to watch the drama. While we busied with the men drama club, our volunteers-friends worked with the women on different skill acquisition trainings such as candle-making, soap-making etc.

Our aim was to empower everyone in Jos Prison with new skills and HIV and AIDS awareness so that their life can be different in days to come. Some of the Prisoners have been serving time for over 20years so it was vital they are equipped with the knowledge about HIV and AIDS, to protect themselves and others while in Prison and afterwards.

Our resounding achievement at the Jos Prison was made possible by the support of the Controller of Prisons and other officials, as well as the inmates and our volunteer friends, who were willing to look beyond our young age and sex, to contribute our quota to the community. The idea was sustained through the power of collaboration driven by passion. All we know is that a seed was planted in Jos Prison to grow. Here I am telling the jenniferized version of our experience as once told by Kat. The future is bright for all who dare to leap by faith.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


So as we were saying, have you noticed how skilled these scammers are? They are prolific writers, they are creative…they will excel if they channel this skill to feature story telling and other positive business! Why can’t they just see the potentials they have? Perhaps, they are too obsessed with the mission of scamming people, reaping where they have not sown, to concentrate on these good qualities! Are these yahoo-yahoo boys really ahead of every effort made to curb internet fraud in Nigeria? What is the latest development being put in place by stakeholders to control this trend and make yahoo-yahoo less attractive to those involved?

Ambassador Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) bailed me out with his rich response to my many questions! I sent him an email to ask: Do you think the increasing rate at which youth are engaging in cyber fraud a.k.a yahooyahoo can be eradicated? If yes, how? Are there any NEW and EFFECTIVE measures being put in place to curb this corruption?

“While I may not want to use the word "eradication" for yahoo-yahoo, I think it can be "curbed" like other crime. Reduced. made not so attractive. So, yes. How? There are the legal and technical solutions which will both punish the act and make it almost impossible to commit the crime without being adequately "rewarded." But there's a strong need for a socio-economic approach. That explains why I chose to start the Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria ( and we're working on the second phase now. Phase I made noise about the problem but phase II will involve a sticker campaign, musical collabos against cybercrime (if you will, the opposite of "Yahooze" and "Maga Don Pay").

Also critical is the re-training of repenting cybercriminals to make them a successful example when talking to present cybercriminals. With positive peer pressure, we can dissuade many from the act... and I bet you know this is a major issue so it won't leave us tomorrow.” He replied.

Indeed, this will not leave us tomorrow. But it will leave! With such undiluted initiative by PIN and of course our collective efforts, we can together make scam business, especially yahoo-yahoo less attractive in all ramifications!