Saturday, 11 May 2013


I got invited to the Young Emerging Leaders Symposium at Ikogosi, Ekiti State which held from the 5th to 7th of April, 2013. I was excited about being able to put faces to names of young and emerging leaders I had read about who pleasantly surprised me like @Chude @zebbook, @dolusegun, @gbengasesan, @tomisinajiboye, @chxta, @subomiplumptre, @omojuwa, @olorisupagal @abangmercy @KathleenNdogomo, @KolaOyeneyin, @Otto_Orondaam, @ebuka, @denrele_edun etc. So I packed my bags and joined the boat. It was seriousness, fun, networking and all. I was also impressed by the facilities at Ikogosi. The pool, gym, hot and cold spring were fabulous. Although the resort has not been officially commissioned, it is definitely worth a visit.
Nigeria is the largest oil producing country in Africa and it is one of the poorest in the world. For a country dubbed the giant of Africa, the level of corruption is unspeakable. While i concede that Nigeria is not the only corrupt country in the world, I bet we can all agree that the degree and the way it is blatantly displayed is disheartening. I used to be an eternal optimist until i fell off the wagon. I remember posting a comment on Atilola's blog on how the helplessness I feel is killing my 'care' one cell at a time because Nigeria keeps breaking my heart but who exactly is Nigeria? She's you and I and my neighbour, my boss, my friends and foes alike. She is a reflection of every one of us. We live in a country blessed daily with drama-worthy events. If it's not the President not giving a "damn", it is Boko haram bombing innocents and making no apologies or presidency pardoning criminals, or a seemingly untouchable thug declaring that if the president doesn't get a 2nd term, there would be war or if he is arrested, we can all say goodbye to Nigeria. How are we supposed to have confidence in a system that keeps rubbing it in our faces that they can do whatever and they will get away with it because our elasticity for endurance is magical?

Yes we complain about the ills of Nigeria and how "corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society". We know too well all the problems with Nigeria from deplorable roads, erratic electricity, poverty, poor educational and healthcare systems, unemployment, poor infrastructural development, over dependence on imported goods, ethnic and religious squabbles, poor maintenance culture, disregard for human life and property. We've perfected the art of waxing lyrical about our politicians who continue to embezzle and feed fat from the nation's coffers without a modicum of accountability. We like to read the news and verbally wrestle with each other on social media almost to fisticuffs, endlessly criticizing everything without offering help to that boy down the street who needs to cross the road or lifting a finger to make anything better. However, there is something to be said for the spirit of the Nigerian when s/he is determined. That anger, determination and zeal needs proper mentoring so we can channel the positive energy into nation building.

I was impressed by the crop of young people who were present at the event. The symposium was a true eye-opening experience for me. Our voice is gradually being acknowledged as it should be considering that the youth are 43% of the population. We are a majority. The “let the government worry about everything” syndrome is gradually receding. We should all be enlightened about our rights to demand accountability. You can't be living in a country and you'll be passive citizens then complain that nothing works. We need to hold our government accountable but while doing this, we need to contribute out quota of support. I think everyone should be socially responsible. Constant small and gradual improvement, one step, one seemingly insignificant act, can make the much needed difference. We should be less greedy and selfish. Until we realise that it is possible to sow seeds we are not likely to reap, Nigeria won't improve. We should support each other and share the same commitment to making things possible in Nigeria. There is not going to be a miraculous change, quick fixes or short cuts. It's a long road but we can get there.

We should equip ourselves with accurate and relevant information. It is a debt we owe Nigeria. Learn about the history and journey of Nigeria; what she has been through, where she's been and where she's currently at. Even if the president doesn't "give a damn", you need to care about your people, your future and the future of your kids. Talking is good but acting is even better. If talking is the only way you can help, that's fine. Spread the word and if you can "do", perfect but don't leave it to chance. I used to avoid news as a coping mechanism so I don't go sad from watching 10minutes of Nigerian news but it is imperative that we keep abreast. Not watching just leaves me in denial.

Don't delude yourself that you are safe just because you aren't in the North and your family isn't getting bombed. Your estates and high-to-the-sky walls are just facades. When push comes to shove, you would be in trouble just like everyone else. All you've laboured for will be in danger except of course you want to run out of Nigeria but even if you run, how about your family? So while we're here, let's do something to help her. You don't even have to reside in Nigeria to help. You can continue to lend your support in whatever way you can. We need to vote for credible people who have integrity and are competent devoid of ethnic sentiments or nepotism. Lagos has people of other states holding political offices and no, i'm not saying Lagos is the ideal but we can agree that it is better than most states.

Do you always expect something extra for doing your job? Do you give or take bribes? Then start that change with you. Resolve to be better, do better, expect better, act better. In whatever way you can contribute, do it. Be involved, vote and be active. See what happened when we supported each other with Occupy Nigeria? We can. If we all sit back and do nothing, expecting someone else to do something, it is not going to happen. And no, you don't have to join partisan politics to effect change. Only if you're interested, although you should be interested. Do you know who your governor is? Deputy? Senator? Ward councilors? Who are you going to hold accountable if you don't know who is representing you? We should all be interested. If we pitch our tent with people of like minds and spread the word thereby getting the multiplier effect then we are on the right track. Yes, we will get tired, discouraged and even weary but the relentless attitude that is almost innate in every Nigerian is what we will continue to channel. Change starts from you and your immediate environment. Be a mentor to those who look up to you. You are not too young and the future is not far away. The future is here and now. Are you ready to take the reins?

Yakubu Gowon is Nigeria's youngest Head of State at the age of 32 and he was 33 when he led the country in the Civil war. Anthony Enahoro became the editor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defenderat the age of 21. Patrick Utomi was already a senior Special Adviser to President Shehu Shagari at 26. Achebe was 28 when he published Things Fall Apart. Chude Jideonwo, the co-founder and Managing Partner of Red Media/The Future Project is 28. Otto Orandaam, the slum2school Executive Director is 25 and they both have numerous awards to their credit. Still think you are too young? There are amazing platforms that you can be a part of. Check out Enough Is Enough Nigeria, Slum2School, 20Million Youths for 2015and follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook.

As John Quincy Adams aptly put it, if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. We must get involved, join the conversation and keep it going. Let's do this. God bless Nigeria.

P.S: I read a lucid piece by Subomi Plumptre also on thoughts from the symposium. You can check it out here
P.P.S: I love Pink's Give Me a Reason. Here's the video


  1. If I start talking about this, I won't stop. Please, who is the government o? No be you and I?

    I find it hard to believe Chude is 28. I know him well, and there is nothing 28 about him.

  2. This is a very thoughtful article & well presented. But one thing I'd like to point out is one reason that may make the youth's charge for good governance unsuccessful. As I youth and a proud Nigerian, I try everyday to make Nigeria better even in minute things. But our fight can only be successful if we're all united on one course. Some youths of today to say the least are the incarnates of those we want banished from the seat of power. When the progressive minded youth are pushing forward, there Judases 'll be the ones pulling us back. One way forward though is if the progressives far outnumber the vultures. One thing I know & I'm convinced about is that Nigeria 'll change when majority of the population is able to face 'anything' to make the country better. God bless Nigeria.

  3. Insightful and engaging write up, Tee. Sounds like you had a great time at the conference. We've been saying this for yonks...our leaders should be made accountable for their governance. Until that happens, there would be no change. And I agree, the change starts with us...the governed. We can't demand better for ourselves unless we start living it day by day in our own lives - It is only then that we would be driven to demand a similar mindset in our leaders.

  4. Hmmm this is so true. I tell my friends that if we don't as individuals do something positive nigeria would not change. Didn't know chude was just 28.. Lovely lovely post n blog.

  5. Well said Toin. Keeping the flag flying can look as tedious as it looks for the toon girl but its gotta be done...if not for our sakes, for the next generation! We have to learn to think beyond us.

  6. Comrade Toin in the house.......we all should resolve not to fold our hands in a siddon look gesture....we are the change we so desire. Well done babes

  7. Hmmm...some very good food for thought here. We all really have a role to play in bringing about the change we need in Nigeria. (...www.itbeginswithyou...)

    God bless Nigeria.

    Beautiful write up, Toin.

  8. Very nice post indeed.I get too emotional each time i talk about Nigeria and our current challenges,so i won't even start.Posts like this will help to awaken us sooner than later.

  9. what an insightful write up, there is so much about our dear much

  10. Blessings....
    great you are inspired. keep that fire lit

  11. We are moving on and we shall not fail.

  12. Chude is 28? O_O

    Great post :)

  13. Atilola: Feel free to add your voice madam. I'm sure you skipped some parts of this because if you read through, you'd realise i mentioned that the government is you and i which is why we all need to do something.
    Whether Chude is 28 or 40 is not the point. The point is, you're never too young to start and the future is right here, right now. Thanks for stopping by lady.

    Olumide: I appreciate your comment. I also mentioned that in the post - the need to be united and to support each other. There would always be distractions in misguided youths but we should not lose our focus or stop because of the vultures. Spread the word and increase the number of the progressives. Thanks Olumide.

    Adura Ojo: Thanks ma'am. I really enjoyed my time at the conference. I always appreciate your comments.

    Ibifiri Kamson: I know right. I didn't know Chude was 28 too until i heard it recently.

    Ginger: I'll try my bestest to keep the flag flying. We truly need to learn to look beyond the here and now.

    Sykik: lmaoo at comrade. Thanks jere my person.

    Abiola: Thanks ma'am. We surely do have a lot to do.

    9ja's Great: Thanks man. I'm learning too everyday.

    Jemima: I know right. So so much it gets scary. It's too reminiscent of the civil war. I just hope we never go back there.

    Rhapsody: Thanks ma'am

    Mr&Mrstalklovelaways: Amen!!

    Feyi: Yes, i heard 28. *Major side eyes at you* lol

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  16. Nigeria,we shall continue to pray for us,lots of us are willing to make an effort to change,but we get frustrated,never the less forums like this will give us a voice and we can be united.
    One thing we all want is good governance,and we will all work together,another election is around the corner,let us register and vote for who we know is the best,not sentiments or by religion tribe,family.those are one of the major issues we have.
    Nigeria will Survive

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