Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Impacting Positive Change Through Education" @wlffgirls

Emmanuel is 12 years old and lives in the area within Ajeromi-ifelodun local government of Ajegunle, Lagos, which WLFF have selected to implement the WLFF 2011 project in.  He comes from a very humble home structure, which he shares with his parents and seven siblings (younger and older).
He is an A student and has held first position in his class at a public school for a significant period. He is also bright and articulate and attends the LOTS Resource Centre each day after school during the term and during the day during school holidays. He enjoyed going to see a film at the ‘Silverbird’ cinema, Victoria Island and also visiting ‘Terraculture’ (sponsored trips arranged by LOTS). He is an avid reader, (His peers at LOTS said his head is always buried deep in a book); he however admitted the bible was still his favourite book.
This September he will start Secondary School on a full scholarship sponsored by With Love From Friends WLFF (with funds raised at the 2011 Ball).

In this interview, the team of WLFF share their passion and expectations for the 2011 fundraising event tagged “OLD HOLLYWOOD BALL.”

Since you started out in 2008, what has been your most significant achievement?
WLFF: The most significant achievement was our first event held in October 2008 which raised over £6,000 for the Premier Foundation Nursery and Primary School  (PFS) in Iwaya and being able to see that project through to fruition.
Working in partnership with ACDI (African Child Development Initiative, a charity based in Nigeria) we returned to Nigeria to visit the students of PFS. We had purchased text and exercise books, stationery, art materials etc, for Nursery to Primary 6 classes. Armed with some snacks and drinks, we arrived at Iwaya (at the Church hall the students were calling school at the time) and handed over the resources/materials we had bought.
We spent the day holding quizzes with the older students and playing games, dancing and singing with the younger ones. We also spoke to the teachers and thanked them for their dedication to educating the youths/future generation of our country.
Leaving Iwaya that day I remember looking back at some children in the neighbourhood who did not attend school at PFS. Members of the team who accompanied us to Iwaya bought them loaves of bread and there was a big scramble as they fought to get a portion. It felt like those were the children we were ‘leaving behind’ despite having just been able to act towards the success of the PFS students.
A year later, in 2009 when we returned to PFS the Students were in their new school building (built with funds raised by ACDI), complete with desks and tables purchased by WLFF. The children were cleaning out their classrooms – with proud smiles at their brand new school.
This is an example of the experience that I think we encounter year on year. We do make a change and impact that we are proud of, through hard work and our supporters who finance the cause. But it can be tinged with a sense of more to still be done. One of our main aims is to continue to urge others to make a contribution also; together we can increase the impact of change.

How did WLFF come about? How did you team up and come up with the idea?  
WLFF: WLFF is literarily seven friends giving back. Six of the WLFF members met and became friends at university. During the planning of our first event, we met Tayo who was volunteering at the time in the planning/organising e.t.c, and she became part of the team thereafter.

Tell us more about the team members. A) Why are you involved with WLFF as individuals? B) Do you do other things aside this project?
WLFF: Tayo:  WLFF, to me, means giving back! Giving back to people who are perhaps not as privileged and blessed as I have been. Giving back to a country that I love and grew up in and most of all, doing this with friends! 
Toritse: It used to be very difficult to be optimistic about Nigeria’s progress in educating our future generations to the high level required for positive change. With Love From Friends and meeting all our amazing partner charities, changed it all. It became very simple, if everyone takes one step at our time, we’ll get there pretty soon :).
Seun: With Love From Friends, for me, created an opportunity for me to give back to a cause I truly believe in. Our core belief centres on education, which includes helping to providing an environment that facilitates knowledge and skills been passed on to a younger generation.
Bim: It means making a contribution to affecting some positive & tangible changes, in the life of at least one child living in extreme poverty in Africa. Its means putting aside self and my 'wants' for bursts of periods.
 Dami: WLFF provides a means for me to give back to young people who may not have had the same opportunities as I have had. With a focus on education; we are able to have a positive impact on the lives of young people in Nigeria.
 Winnie: For me, WLFF is about a network of friends coming together, utilising diverse life experiences and skills to make a strong impact - some sort of domino effect or a chain reaction of social change (if you can call it that) which hopefully inspires other people to roll up their sleeves and get involved. 
Londe: WLFF is about appreciating the difference that passion, drive and hard work can make in the lives of others. It is about putting a permanent smile on people’s faces and inspiring hope in their lives.
B) Five of us are in full time work, and Tayo and Toritse are both on a full time PHD programme. WLFF activities are all performed/planned/co-ordinated during our evenings, weekends and free time.
It can be tough trying to schedule meetings around seven busy ladies, one of whom now lives in Nigeria (and is thus closer to the home of our current cause) and another in Scotland – also a flight away from London. Skype/dialling in on meetings is now familiar grounds. We are also pleased to have survived two members of WLFF adding the task of ‘planning a wedding’ to the balancing act of juggling commitments. I think these experiences teach us the importance of really working as a team!

How do you select NGOs or groups to support? For example, this year you are working with LOTS, what informed your decision to raise funds for them and not for other similar organizations?
WLFF: As much as possible, we want to work with a Nigerian charity that shares the same/similar values as us; one that exists to meet basic educational needs, that is hands on in providing/assisting its beneficiaries and that values accountability/transparency.
We find them through a combination of word of mouth, perhaps from friends/contacts who may have had experiences with the charity, online/ paper media sources or stumbling across their website.
This year, after much research, we came across LOTS Foundation and started talks with Tolu Sangosanya (the amazing woman behind LOTS) to assess its potential as a viable project for 2011. Toritse went to Nigeria earlier in the year and got the opportunity to meet Tolu and tell her a bit more about WLFF and what our objectives are. Toritse fed back on her experience to the rest of the WLFF Team and we found that LOTS ticks most (if not all) our requirements and that was the start of the relationship.
The rest of our team went back to Ajegunle in August and got to witness first hand and learn more about Dustbin Estate and the work LOTS is doing in the community, and we are even more convinced!

What do you do at WLFF and how do you do it? Do you just raise money and give to these organizations? Or you build up on the relationship?
WLFF: We try to build a relationship with the partner charity and the community/School management. We speak directly to both parties over the duration of time from inception – making the decision to have that cause as the project for the year, through to after we have purchased and donated materials/tools etc.
As much as possible we aim to directly purchase goods ourselves. The more involved we are personally, the greater understanding we will have of the factors the schools/charities face and also allows for greater accountability for how funds are spent.
We personally plan and organise events of two types. Firstly,  to raise awareness about the educational needs that exist in our chosen area of help for the year’s project and secondly, to actively raise funds for the project.
When we choose the cause we usually know what the funds will go towards. We continue to talk to the charity and school/community/resource centre through to the point where we actively plug funds to meet needs, to ensure that that particular need still exists, as a lot can change between when we start talks with the charity and when we have raised funds and can actively put them to use. This ensures that funds raised are still being put to use in the areas that will have the greatest impact for the children. We also request feedback after the project.

How do you measure your impact?
WLFF: Pictures, newsletters, videos and telephone feedback help us to measure our impact. Progress reports, pictures, newsletters, videos from the schools/charities, via email and feedback over the telephone. We physically, visit past projects school premises to observe what has changed and how much has changed.

What has been your core challenges? How are you overcoming them? What more should we expect from WLFF?
WLFF: Unfortunately, we cannot help everyone, thus we encourage others –students, working professionals e.t.c to contribute in some capacity to making a change.
Hosting quality events at a very low cost base. As we are a non-profit organisation, we are limited by how much we can spend on an event. We want to host an event that is well attended (since each ticket purchased adds to funds raised) but that requires inputs of high quality. So the balancing act is ensuring our inputs are at the lowest cost possible, so we have a bigger pool of funds to spend on the educational needs of the children.
Expect us to continue to raise funds to meet educational needs, year after year. In the future, we would like to offer programmes that encompass acquiring life skills, community development, as well as improving traditional teaching methods. We also hope to expand the ‘communities-in-need’ we reach Africa-wide and possibly beyond.

 What is your message of hope to underserved communities in Nigeria?
WLFF: Our message is keep your head up, work hard, and maintain integrity.  And when your circumstances change for the better, help someone else. Let's keep the cycle going!

About “With Love From Friends”

With Love From Friends  (WLFF) is a voluntary organisation founded in January 2008 by a group of close-knit friends with the aim of making positive and lasting contribution to the advancement of education in Africa.  

Since inception, WLFF has raised over £10,000 towards the provision of basic educational resource and furniture for a poor community school in a high density slum area of Lagos, Nigeria.  

This year, WLFF is teaming up with Love on the Street (LOTS) Foundation to meet the educational needs of children who live on Dustbin Estate, in Agegunle, Lagos.

LOTS is a registered charitable organization in Nigeria that caters to the physiological, social, educational,psychological, medical,  and emotional needs of  street  kids  and  vulnerable children. Their  area  of  focus  at  the  moment  is  the Ajeromi-Ifelodun local  government   in  a  Ajegunle,  Lagos  state.   LOTS  offer  the  children  living  in  Dustbin  Estate  :  literacy  supplementary   classes,  health  care,  daily  meals  and  food  items  and  social  outings  to  broaden   their  perspective.  To learn more about LOTS visit http://lotscharityfoundation.org

WLFF  is  raising  funds  in  2011  towards  a  sponsorship  program  to  put  through  a   Small  selection  of  the  children  from  Dustbin  Estate  through  six  years  of   secondary  school  education. The funds will  also  provide  educational  resources  for  the  LOTS  resource  centre  in   Ajegunle through  which  the  charity  administers  its  services. All  profits  raised  from  the  2011  Ball  will  go  towards  this  project.

Aim:  Raise funds  for  LOTS  Foundation  Project Estimated Numbers: 200  guests Date  :1  October  2011 Venue  :  Hotel  Russell,  Russell  square,  London Price:  £50  
Purchase:  Tickets  will  be  available  to  buy  online  via  Paypal.   
To  reserve  a  ticket  ,  please  email  info@wlff.co.uk.  
WLFF has supported organizations such as Premier Foundation Primary School (PFS) and Bethesda Child Support Agency (BCSA), working with underserved communities.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact WLFF on info@wlff.co.uk  
Twitter: @wlffgirls, Facebook group: With Love from Friends. 

Come meet the NaijaSistas at The Daisy this weekend!

Hey! Here is an opportunity to meet the Naija Sistas live at the FIRST Naija Sistas Book Reading in LAGOS Nigeria!

What? The 1st Ever NaijaSistas Book Reading & Meet The NaijaSista Event
When? Saturday, 03 September 2011 from 2pm to 6.30pm NO AFRICAN TIME PLS
Where? The Daisy, 8 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos
Why? You want to attend this because you love all things 'books' and by attending you are showing your support for Nigerian writers ESPECIALLY Nigerian WOMEN writers PLUS, you will get to meet some of the NaijaSistas! AND it will be like no other book reading event you have attended PLUS there will be loads of prizes to win! Plus, you will make me really happy if you attend.

About Naija Sistas Bookstore
The NaijaSistas Book-Stop is the brain-child of Bola Essien-Nelson, the author of the recently published ‘The Diary of a Desperate Naija Woman™ in the Year 20-Ten’ which is the second in ‘The Diary’ series.  The concept for this store was born out of her own experience trying to get her books stocked in bookstores in Lagos.

I know how difficult it can be to get some of the bigger book stores to stock your books. There is lot of following up to do and sometimes after all that, your book still won’t be accepted. If it is tough for us self-published writers here in Nigeria, I can only imagine that it is near on impossible for those Nigerian female writers in the diaspora to find a ‘home’ for their books. So when God provided a space for me to stock my own books, I thought why not invite other Nigerian women to come stock their books with me? It just made perfect sense; I knew it would be a mutually beneficial relationship. So, in a nutshell that was how the seed of the ‘NaijaSistas Book-Stop’ was planted in the premises of Henry Nelson Consulting, 26 Festival Road, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The NaijaSistas Book-Stop is committed to stocking well written, inspirational and value-adding books published by Nigerian women home and abroad. Why ‘Book-Stop’ and not Book-Shop? ‘Because the books ‘stop’ over on their way to your home and heart and you ‘stop’ over to pick up a book or two! Also, it really is still just an office with a desk laden with wonderfully written books so calling it a shop seemed a bit much for now. But I know we will get there!’

And so far, the response to her invitation has been very encouraging. Here are the current members of the NaijaSistas Writers Club:

Call Upon Me - Bemigho Omayuku
The Mrs. Club - Ekene Onu
Can I Be Real? - Ekene Onu
Just Us Girls - Mildred Kingsley-Okonkwo
My God Even in the Last Minute - Dolapo Babalola M.D
Healthful Eating For the African - Lara Adejumo M.D
Tailed - Dupe Olorunjo
The Aireginana Dream - Dupe Olorunjo
Be God’s Gift to Your Husband - Adesuwa Anwuri PhD
Preserve My Saltiness & Other Poems - Jennifer Ehidiamen 
The Only Way Is Up - Folake Taylor M D. 

 Twilight at Terracotta Indigo by Umari Ayim

The Quest For Purpose' by 

Pamela Evbota

A Love Rekindled by Myne Whitman


And of course, you can get all of Bola’s three books as well. She believes that this tiny seedling will thrive and grow into a mighty oak tree because its all about Sista-on-sista support and partnership rooted in a God given idea – Nigerian women working together towards a common goal – ‘wRighting lives one book at a time’. For more information on how to join the NaijaSistas Writers Club, contact Bola Essien-Nelson via desperatenaijawoman@ymail.com or by calling +234 705 754 3679

Sunday, August 28, 2011

AdPlacers.com is giving away $200 Ad token to five SMEs in Nigeria and Ghana

Do you run a small or medium scale business or enterprise in Nigeria and/or Ghana? Do you know someone who does? If yes, then this information is for you!

AdPlacers.com is giving away $200 Ad token to five SMEs in Nigeria and Ghana. The Ad Token is to help the selected businesses plan their digital marketing strategies and also have their ads displayed on Facebook, Twitter and AdPlacers’ Local Publisher sites. 

How to Apply:
Interested SMEs are to write a short essay not more than 1000 words on “The Importance of Digital Marketing to my Business”.
Entry should be submitted to http://www.adplacers.com/smes.html including name of the business, nature, location, contact info and details of the owner. Your Ref code is 203

For this maiden edition, the deadline for application is September 5th 2011. Winners will be contacted September 7th 2011.

About AdPlacers.com
Adplacers.com is an Advertising  Placement and Management platform developed by Flying Antlers. The platform allows individuals, Agencies and Corporate brands to place and monitor their campaigns on leading websites like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, BBC etc. By providing “one platform for all” approach, SMEs are able to monitor the progress on their campaigns.
Adplacers presently serve as the only advertising platform, apart from Google, on Nigeria’s most visited Nigerian Forum - Nairaland.com
Their Secondary Services include website and applications development, SEO and SEM, Social Media Management, Mobile Marketing, Online and mobile surveys, Digital Marketing Training and Consulting.
For more information, contact : www.adplacers.com
Tel: +2348024666799
Facebook: facebook.com/adplacers
Youtube: Youtube.com/adplacers

Source: CP-Africa.com

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Exclusive INTERVIEW and special feature on IBK @spaceshipboi, winner of Don Jazzy's Enigma Competition

Three winners have emerged in the just concluded Don Jazzy’s Enigma Beat Competition. The competition, which went viral while it lasted, was launched a few weeks ago with over 1,800 submissions. After screening and short-listing the entries down to top ten, the publics were invited to vote for their favorite artiste.

According to a post on the website that hosted the competition, notjustok.com, the top 10 entries had 34,410 votes from different parts of the world. On Monday, 15th August, the top three artistes who emerged winners were announced. IBK Spaceship Boi, was top winner with 13,214 Votes. While Teeklef Unogu came second place with 7,864 Votes and Opeyemi Akinloye aka OPZY had5,746 votes, coming third place.

In this interview with Jennifer Ehidiamen, the Computer Engineering graduate from Covenant University, Emuwawon Ibukun Kevin, aka IBK Spaceship Boi shares his experience on the Don Jazzy Enigma Beat competition and his aspiration forthe future as he launches fully into the Nigeriam Music industry.

In retrospect, who was your favorite artiste from the top 10 shortlisted on Don Jazzy's Enigma competition?

IBK: Wow! That's a tough one because everyone had elements in their delivery that was exclusive to them, and I appreciated the individual diversity each time I listened through the top ten list. They were all deserving winners, but I can't seem to take a pick.

The track you entered for the competition started with "a toast to the winner," was that a premonition that you would win?

IBK: Yes it was, (Laughs) because winning for me was encapsulated around the fact that a young man or woman would be inspired to dream and become what God wants them to be on earth after they listen to the record. I was positive I had delivered to that effect and shouting out a toast to the ultimate winner in the deity of Christ was to reassure myself that He would bless His people through the work He inspired me to do.

If you had not won the competition, whom else do you think deserved to win on the list aside Teeklef and Opzy?

: Like I said earlier, they were all deserving winners. Everyone had what it took to get the number 1 ticket. It could have been anyone on that list, but the author wrote that chapter in my favour and for a very good reason too.

You won the competition with a striking 13,214 Votes, compared to Teeklef's 7,864 Votes and Opzy's 5,746 Votes, what do you think endeared you to the listeners who voted for you?

IBK: I would say the message and the way it was delivered. I heard the beat and immediately thought "cinema", hence I introduced the effect elements like the thunder sound, rain, soldier foot stomps, extra vocals to make the intro fuller and an inspiring hook, with the body of the rap focusing on the story of God's salvation told in a manner the rap artiste, Common, did in the song “I used to love her”. It was different and stood out. For some people, it was a bold step doing what I did. I can't forget a comment from someone on twitter saying "Wow! You spoke about Jesus without saying His name but we all got the message. That is true creativity." But most importantly, I found favour with God and with the listeners because it was ordained to be, even before I was born.

How was the waiting process, between the time the poll closed on notjustok.com and when the result was announced on Monday?

IBK: (Exclaims) It was horrible! Ah! I had to remind myself of God's word that says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your request known unto God." It was a true test of selflessness. There were many moments of doubt because I didn't know what it would be judged by. I kept telling myself, "but you are already fulfilled in what you set out to do, which was to inspire people". It wasn't a pleasant waiting moment I must say. But God proved Himself.

Where were you when you were told you won? What was your first reaction?

IBK: I was on a Bike, heading out to see a friend. I find traveling on Bikes an efficient means of beating the traffic jam in Lagos. Anyway, as we rode along, a friend sent a BBM message saying "Yayyyy!!! You won". I was like “Please don't play with my emotions, oh please!” All of a sudden, another message came in, and another and another, all saying congratulations. I broke down in tears as the Okada (Bike) rider kept going. Immediately called my mum and told her what had happened because mummy was supportive with her votes, with prayers and all, thank God for my family and friends, they were all so supportive.

Before the Enigma Beat competition, where was IBK Spaceship Boi and now that you won, what next?

IBK: Before the competition, I was working on my debut album schedule to drop sometime in 2012, a current member of bez's band and very well into the business of creating music for other artists, companies and all. What happens next is obvious to me because I have always been on "what next" since I was born. It is simple, be sensitive to listen and obey Gods voice because like I said earlier, He is the author and director; I am just an actor with a script He wrote for His play.

Tell us a bit more about life as a music producer and songwriter

IBK: It's fun having the ability to create; an amazing experience having to go through old records, redefine the sound and make it fresh for the human ear consumption. "There is nothing new under the sun" King Solomon once said. It is pretty cool being your own boss and pushing yourself to achieve your goals. It is exciting and fun, especially when the set wages for your services are handed to you, wow! That sure is amazing.

You studied Computer Engineering but today you have ventured into music full-time. Was this an easy transition?

IBK: Music for me has always been my life. I wanted to go to Australia to study Sound Engineering prior to going to Covenant University to study Computer Engineering. There was no transition at all. It was staple right from my tender ages. I knew this was what I was going to do and I bless God for all the people that added to me being where I am today.

What advice do you have for young Nigerians who are aspiring to be or pursue a career different from what they are studying presently?

IBK: Go for it! Develop yourself in what you want to do. It takes lots of reading and doing what the average person won't do in order for you to be exceptional. I can't tell you the amount of sleepless nights I have had in my little journey so far. Make sure you have a strong purpose for going into what you want to go into, and the motive should be centered on solving a problem or adding value.

Why did you enter for the Enigma Beat competition?
IBK: I entered because it was an opportunity to get God's word out. I entered the competition to inspire that boy and girl who would listen to what I put out. It was a selfless route for me and I am grateful it turned out the way it did.

What is your opinion about the Nigerian music industry? What excites you about the industry? What difference are you bringing on board?
IBK: The Nigerian music industry is in transition like most things are in the country. Where our country is today is primarily as a result of the mindset of its people. We hold our future in our hands but its beauty is evident when we commit it to the hands of God. What excites me about the industry is the growing desire for development and improvement in the nature of material its artistes put out. People are gradually moving from the mediocre state of mind to actually pushing themselves to be creative. The industry is still “doggy dog,” but we are getting there. I want to stir up the drive to put out quality products that would inspire my nation and the world at large. Let's make our nation the most desirable place to live in, let's get more youths thinking like job creators and not job seekers. We need more Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) growing to become Conglomerates. Lets work towards setting policies that will be enforced for the growth of the industry. Let's grow, we can do it and we shall. God bless Nigeria.

Readers can listen to or download “I have a Dream” for FREE, please visit: www.reverbnation.com/spaceshipboi Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/spaceshipboi


My Nigeria! It is Up to Me! Its Y(our) Nigeria too...

A friend recently told me about a new not-for-profit project tagged "My Nigeria," focused on mobilizing youths online to take ownership of Nigeria and implement change projects in their local communities (offline). It sounds different from the armchair criticism and analysis that is going online (the internet) these days right? Read more about the idea below:

My Nigeria is a youth movement that challenges every young Nigerian to become a part of the solution to the challenges faced by Nigeria through their engagement in their communities. Whilst we know how overwhelming the challenges of nation building in Nigeria is and are aware of how some of our leaders at all levels have failed to meet our expectation in the past, our focus is to look inwards to develop quality leaders amongst young Nigerians.
We hope to achieve this by challenging the youths to do what they can today to make a difference in the lives of the people around them. By flexing their leadership muscles, we believe that we will be able to nurture a generation that will not continue in the mistakes of the past but will take ownership of the success of the future through active participation in making Nigeria work, one community at a time.

Through a vibrant online forum that will actively engage young Nigerians in sharing the stories of their change projects to inspire one another, essay competition that will boost the critical mindedness of young people, and an interactive sessions with selected role models in our society, young Nigerians will be able to grasp the vision on how to make Nigeria their Nigeria.
My Nigeria is designed and driven by Nigerian youths with a decade long experience of making change in their community has a vision of mobilizing 100,000 youth by 2020 who would have implemented change projects in their communities and become advocates for participatory change in Nigeria.

The platform challenges the myth that Nigerians are too discouraged by the failure of our leaders to get engaged in Nation building. It seeks to look beyond what we lack and develop our potential for greatness - The Nigerian youth. We dare to refocus the minds of Nigerian youth from thinking about what my country can or cannot do or provide for me to what I can do to improve the quality of life of people within my reach. The philosophy is that true leaders are made in the fields of volunteerism and selfless community service.

JOIN THE First ONLINE FORUM on 22nd August 2011.
• click REGISTER
• Follow all registration process.
• Enter a Username
• Enter your email address, password and click submit.
• Click “Return to the Index Page”
• Login using your Username and Password
• Click on My Nigeria Discussion Forum
• Select a topic from any of the facilitators
• Start discussing

Visit My Nigeria Blog: www.my-nigeria.net
Join the conversation on Facebook. Follow My Nigeria on Twitter @My_Nigeria

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Advice on Quitting to succeed... (Guest writer)

‎"To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish, then resolve to pay the price to get it."
While going through the weekly tabloids this morning, I caught a glimpse of a headline that shocked me it read, “One million students fail 2011 WAEC Exam.” I shared the piece with my colleagues and most of them kept saying “Ahh… children of nowadays, I’m not surprised at all, during our time bla bla bla…"
A few minutes later, I saw a post on Facebook that read “Thanks to the very many talent hunters, one million students failed WAEC.’’  Yes every one has a share of this blame but most of it all lies on the Nigerian youth.

I know what it feels like to fail WAEC because I was once a "victim." I was to blame, my school was to blame and my country’s education system was to blame too.
However, the purpose of this article is to encourage the youths of this country, especially those who are at the brink of being crushed by this mass failure. “It is not too late to start afresh and pursue that future you dream of…the future is in today, it is where you are living now.”
We are no longer leaders of tomorrow but young leaders of today. So all those dreams and aspirations are in our hands to shape.

People might see you and want to recall your failures to your face but it is what you see in yourself that counts. Winners do quit, no matter what the cliché is. If your heart isn’t in it, then it doesn’t serve you to keep doing the things that people think you ought to do.

If you want to be the best Doctor or Engineer ever, you might have to quit the dance club or whatever it is that is taking your time and attention away from passing those examination that will launch you forward. In fact, you might need to quit everything else. But that is up to you and your dream.

Don’t let anyone tell you that persevering through something you can’t stand is of a higher moral imperative than quitting. There’s value in pushing through the tough parts, but suffering for someone else will never be cool or productive for you. Quit the frivolities and mediocrity and commit wholeheartedly to pursuing excellence and good success will wrap its arms around you.

Guest columnist: Chioma Chukwuneta
Chioma is an Accountant and an active volunteer with Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Youth as active Participants in development

"Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels." Says Ban Ki-moon, the 
United Nations Secretary-General. Are young people in Nigeria actively involved in the process of decision-making? Are our government leaders harnessing the potential in youth by engaging them as actors in development process? Compared to many years ago when youth in Nigeria were only seen and not heard, I guess we can say that we are making good progress.

According to the 2011 population pyramid by the National Population Commission and World Bank Growth, “young Nigerians between age 20 to 40 make up 47% of the nation’s population, which provides a window of opportunity for high growth and poverty reduction – the demographic dividend – representing a huge potential resource to Nigeria given the critical role of the youths in strengthening the nation’s economy.”

Many youth are increasingly creating platforms that will help them and their peers stay engaged. No longer is the average Nigerian youth satisfied with just being consumers. We are emerging producers too, taking up responsibility to be the change we want to see in our family, community, country and the world.

As August 12 draws near for another celebration of the International Youth Day, Youth organizations are already setting aside creative space for young people to express themselves and take charge.

As a matter of fact, this year’s celebration coincides with the International Year of Youth (2010-2011 was set out as International Year of Youth). Have you made plans on how you will participate to celebrate this year’s world youth day locally?

To be actively involved in your local community, you can do two things- volunteer and volunteer! Actually in one word, volunteer. Most people think it is a big deal to initiate a new event idea. Well, it is. But at this eleventh hour, it only makes sense for you to collaborate with youth organizations or groups with similar vision and serve in whatever capacity you can to effectively maximize the day.

Here are examples of what some youth groups are doing to celebrate the day:

In Lagos, “the Future Champions” in partnership with “You Digit” & “BibleWay Church” is organizing a 3-day summer residential camp tagged, ‘We’ve Got Talent & Abilities,’ a camp meeting for the Y-generation, youths ages 9-24 to commemorate the day. The aim of the 4-days event is to inspire Nigerian youths to rise to the occasion, to use their talents and abilities to achieve, and also acquire skills that set them on the trail to their purpose; to learn to use their potentials in the new world of work, innovation, entrepreneurship and Learn & Do It Yourself. To participate, please contact: championsfuture@yahoo.com or call 08071541893.

A similar project is taking place in Warri, Delta place called “The summer technology camp 2011,” targeting young people in Warri, from the 8th-20th of August. The event entails intensive learning and creative session, science innovations/ experiments, learning of film screening, creating ,mobile apps and Google extensions, fashion designing, decoration and also the use of ICT in this local applications. For more information, Call: 08026105830 or 08038824660.

Happy International Youth Day! Be the change in your world!! Yes we can!!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Nigerians Debate Pros and Cons of New Cashless Policy

The Central Bank of Nigeria has introduced a new cashless banking policy, which will be implemented in June 2012. Bank officials say it will enhance convenience, savings and the economy. Others doubt the reliability of new banking technologies and the ability of the general population to use them in Nigeria, where the majority are “unbanked.”

by Jennifer Ehidiamen Reporter, Wednesday - August 3, 2011 

LAGOS, NIGERIA – Ibukun Emuwawon, 29, a professional songwriter and music producer, says he stopped using an ATM card after a recent experience at an ATM in Lagos, a state in southwestern Nigeria. He says the automated teller machine deducted money from his account without dispensing any money.

“I walked over to an ATM belonging to a bank different from mine, put the card in the machine, pushed the keys for the amount I needed and bingo – debited, but no money came out,” he says.

He says his card was stuck in the machine longer than usual but came out eventually. He reported the incident to his bank and filed a reclaim form. He says that everything was rectified after three days, but that his distrust of ATMs has endured.
“Since then, I stopped using ATM cards and all,” he says.

Emuwawon says this experience makes him wary of the new move by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to implement a cashless banking policy.

The CBN plans to implement the cashless banking policy in June 2012. Bank representatives say the policy will enhance convenience and savings for Nigerians and the government, as well as elevate the economy to be more competitive internationally. But many Nigerians who have had negative experiences with ATMs say the country isn’t ready to go cashless, especially as the majority of the population doesn’t yet use banks. Bank employees welcome the policy but say certain changes must precede it.
Nigeria aims to be a top-20 economy in the world by 2020, according to Nigeria Vision 20: 2020, a government plan.

Yet roughly 65 percent of adult males, 77 percent of adult females and 80 percent of Nigeria’s rural population are unbanked, according to a 2010 survey by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, a nonprofit organization that promotes financial sector development and financial inclusion in Nigeria. Banked denotes having access to or using a deposit money bank, in addition to having or using other financial services, such as an ATM card, credit card or savings account. Most of the banks in Nigeria are located in urban areas, excluding those in rural areas from various banking innovations.

One such innovation is the cashless banking policy recently proposed by the CBN to reduce the amount of hard cash in circulation and encourage the culture of e-payment in Nigeria.

As of June 1, 2012, commercial banks and allied service providers won’t allow cash withdrawals and deposits to exceed 150,000 nairas, $980 USD, for individuals and 1,000,000 nairas, $6,555 USD, for corporate entities. Banks also won’t cash third-party checks for more than 150,000 nairas, $980 USD, according to the CBN.

An officer at the CBN corporate communications office in Lagos, who declined to be named because only the spokesman is authorized to talk to the press, says that any transaction exceeding these amounts will be charged a fee. He says that this is to encourage e-payment transfers.

In the current system, people are allowed to withdraw cash from their bank account over the counter without any restriction or through ATMs with limited daily withdrawal, depending on the bank.

CBN will launch a pilot program for the policy in Lagos, an economic hub and the Nigerian state with the largest population – 17 million, according to Lagos state government. As part of the policy, the CBN will install 40,000 new ATMs per 100,000 residents around the state. This number will be increased with time as the policy takes effect.

“We will also procure POS [locations] that customers will use any time they visit points of sales, either at the airline or shopping mall or even hotels and airports or other public places,” said Sam Oni, CBN director of banking supervision, during a press briefing in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The World Bank has endorsed CBN’s policy, which has not yet been finalized.

Olaoluwa Awojoodu, managing director of Electronic Settlement Limited, which owns CashEnvoy, one of Nigeria’s web payment platforms, says there are a lot of benefits for Nigerians going cashless.

“The benefits of a cashless society are enormous,” he says. “Electronic transactions offer convenience as it works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also reduces transfer/processing fees and increases processing/transaction time.”

He says it will also save Nigerians money.

“A practical example is that you can make purchases for 7.50 nairas [5 cents USD] without the seller needing to round it up to 10 nairas [7 cents USD] and still have the balance left in your account. All these little savings would eventually add up to something.”

He says the cashless banking policy will also benefit the government.

“It would also lead to easier documentation and transaction tracking,” he says. “The government will benefit from [a] cashless economy in the area of adequate budgeting and taxation, improved regulatory services, improved administrative processes, and reduced cost of currency administration and management.”

An operations manager at Guaranty Trust Bank, who declined to be named, says that the cashless policy aims to discourage the circulation of excess cash. It also strives to provide more effective e-channels and 24-hour ATMs for customers’ convenience.

A bank employee at an Access Bank branch in Lagos, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized by his employer, says the cashless policy will help Nigeria compete with other economies.

“I think it is a very good thing,” he says. “Looking at [a] developed country, we are working towards being among the top 20 econom[ies] by 2020. For us to achieve that, there is [a] need to work towards what is being done in developed economy.

Dismissing fears that the policy will threaten jobs in the banking sector, he says it will boost employment in the information technology, IT, sector.

“When ATM came into operations, people were envisaging the possibility of job threats, but it boosted a lot of employment opportunities,” he says. “Similarly, in this case, IT sector will be developed. What might happen is a kind of redeployment from one sector to another. It won’t affect employment, but boost it.”

He says banks are aware that they need to educate people on the policy and evaluate its effects during the pilot run.

“There is [a] need to educate people on how the policy will be implemented,” he says. “It is starting next year with a pilot in Lagos. We are going to evaluate people’s attitude towards it.”

So far, many Nigerians say they are wary of the new policy, citing concerns over the current deficiencies in the banking sector, such as ATM malfunctions and poor Internet services.

Wale Osoba, a young entrepreneur in his mid-20s, is based in Lagos. He recalls a recent experience similar to Emuwawon’s while visiting First Bank, one of Nigeria’s oldest banks, to withdraw cash with his Guaranty Trust Bank debit card.

He says that he inserted his card into the ATM, and it confirmed that his transaction was completed. But no cash came out of the machine. He says he was perplexed. He later reported the incident to First Bank, which told him to file a complaint at his bank.

“It was resolved within 24 hours,” he says.

But he says that now he is hesitant to use ATMs. When he does, he limits it to ATMs set up by his bank.

“I decided against using my GTBank ATM at any other bank,” he says.

But he says that he hasn’t had any other problems since and is a proponent of Internet banking.

“I must say my bank is awesome,” Osoba says. “I have been using their Internet banking for over a year, and I’m more comfortable with it than having to go to the bank. I do so much from my phone/laptop than I ever thought I could. I only go into the banking hall to make deposits.”

But he says that Internet banking is out of reach for many.

“There are too many illiterates who don’t even know how to use the ATMs, [much] less mobile banking or Internet banking,” he says. “Even literate people don’t want to go near Internet or mobile banking.”

Lauretta Ovadje, a student, says that the set target date for implementing the cashless policy – 2012 – is too soon.

“There are too many old[er] people who are used to doing things the old way with cash,” she says. “My dad is a prime example. He doesn’t trust banks because of all he has gone through and has sworn off ATM cards.”

Awojoodu says cash represents trust for Nigerians.

“Nigerians believe in the ‘cash-and-carry mentality,’ which was probably bred from our lack of trust for each other,” Awojoodu says. “If people can see the benefit of this policy to themselves, then they will be willing to make the effort for change. I believe it is the duty of stakeholders and also very important to properly educate people on various electronic channels that are available for making payment.”

He says others say the government needs to focus on improving services, such as the provision of constant electricity in the country, to make the cashless banking policy work.

“A lot of people are talking about constant power supply,” he says. “We can’t have that by next year. What is important right now is the provision of adequate alternative electronic channels. This will ensure that there are reliable options to choose from, sensitization, improved security on e-payment channels, and more collaboration between banks and payment providers.”

Some Nigerians say that illiteracy and security issues will also pose challenges.

“Almost every time I go to the bank, I meet people who need help to complete their transactions,” Osoba says.

A Lagos-based entrepreneur, who declined to give his name, says the policy is too hasty.

“We quickly rush to embrace stuff without putting down standards or infrastructures for them,” he says.

He says the primary focuses should be on security, proper checks and balances and sensitization of the masses before implementation.

“I think cashless is nice and all, but the country has to be ready,” he says. “We are kind of jumping the gun here implementing it before proper security is in place.”

Bukola Idowu, a former ATM manager of Intercontinental Bank, says that a few issues need to be sorted out before the implementation of the cashless banking policy.

He says the major deficiencies of the ATMs are caused by different factors, which include cash jam, insufficient funds in the cash dispenser and poor Internet services.

“Cash jam means the cash that was supposed to come out of the machine has got hooked in the process,” he says.

This occurs when the bank or the officer in charge loads bills into the machine that are mutilated, instead of fresh and crisp.

“So in the process of the machine picking the cash, since the cash are rough and have folded edges, it is impossible for the cash to go through the shutter, and then the error message comes as ‘unable to dispense cash,’” he says. “Subsequently, any other user of the ATM at that time will be unable to receive cash, but the account of such customer would have been debited.”

He says this also happens when an ATM doesn’t have sufficient funds.

Another major deficiency in the ATM is caused by poor Internet connectivity.

“The ATM works with the Internet link, and most times when the links have ‘no network,’ then the ATM is unable to dispense cash,” Idowu says.

Idowu says CBN needs to implement more consistent policies.

“When CBN says they want a cashless economy, it will be difficult to be achieved as at present vis-à-vis the ATM because CBN itself doesn’t even have a consistent policy,” he says. “There was a time CBN said that no bank should operate ATM outside their premises, but later they reversed the policy, so you wonder what they were thinking before they formulated policy. Some banks withdrew their machine from the off-site position, despite the cost implication involved in setting them up in the first place.”

Idowu also says that some of CBN’s policies don’t favor banks or customers.

“For instance, when a bank takes mutilated cash to CBN, CBN charges them for every mutilated cash brought, and most times the charges are enough to pay some salaries of the bank’s staff,” he says. “This force[s] some banks to return such mutilated cash back to customers. Some banks mix those cash together with the money that is into the ATM, which result to cash jam, thus affecting ATM services and inaccurate debiting of customers.”

For the cashless policy to be successful, he says CBN needs to remove the charges that banks pay on mutilated cash because the ripple effect of CBN’s policy will affect ATM operations. Since banks benefit from the inadequacies of ATMs, strong regulatory policies should also be put into place to ensure banks reverse inaccurate debits made by ATMs on customers’ accounts within 24 hours.

“By these, the public will have confidence in the system,” he says. “I believe the CBN has a lot of thing[s] to put in place to ensure that things work perfectly.”

The CBN officer at the Lagos corporate communications office says that customers whose accounts get debited at ATMs without receiving their money should report the incidences to their banks’ customer service units. If their money is not restored within 24 hours, he advised them to forward complaints to CBN’s customer service unit, which will take action against their banks.

Although CBN chose Lagos for the test run of the new policy, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has not released any information on how the Lagos state government intends to regulate the banks regarding the cashless policy. According to the Public Relations Unit of Lagos state government, the policy will need to be approved at the federal level before Lagos state collaborates with CBN to implement it at the state level.

Click link to read the full story on GLOBAL PRESS INSTITUTE'S NEWS WIRE: http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/global-news/africa/nigeria/nigerians-debate-pros-and-cons-new-cashless-policy#ixzz1Tx7YwJOp