Saturday, September 20, 2008

My 'NYSC' Tale!


I'm contributing a story to commemorate the anniversary of the National Youth Service Corp [NYSC] in the next edition of Momentum magazine: a CSR-oriented publication. []

Please leave a quote [to be published if you don't mind] on your opinion on the NYSC.

Also add: Name, Occupation, Year of Service and the state you were posted to. More importantly, please email [if you can or we can arrange to pick them up] your NYSC photograph...[wink, wink]

This should be FUN. You may also use this medium to suggest a way forward for the scheme or its outright scrap.


So much has been said about the NYSC since its inception in 1975. Last week, I co-anchored a LIVE TV show [Rubbin' Minds on Channels] where we discussed the issue. SO many calls came in from different parts of Nigeria [Warri, Abuja, Cross River, PH and of course Lagos] praising the scheme and saying how much it emphasizes national unity, integration blah, blah and blah.

Chude, my colleague who was against the scheme before the show was almost forced to pitch his tent with the opposing camp. All these people talked very briefly about the structure of the scheme and its execution every year.

I wonder what happens to being posted to remote areas in Nigeria with no electricity and decent accommodation; the politics of 'working' your posting to Lagos, Abuja or PH. LAck of materials or bed spaces or even access to the internet all through the three-week orientation camp period...

National Unity AGAINST endangering lives...
Integration AGAINST a waste of time, effort and resources...
A laudable project OR another avenue to enrich a few individuals?

NB: Shout-outs to Mr. Ani [The famous Lagos State Coordinator!]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

YADI 100: Tales of Mirror Language and the Royal Dance!

I love with the state of the nation at the moment! This may sound rather psychotic to many people but I’m simply at peace with Nigeria as she is. It’s easy to misunderstand this immediately, there’s something very helpless about our affairs as a nation.

Quick look: The executive is yet to intimate the citizenry on the detailed direction of administration, the legislature is under-pressure as her image is tainted, and the Speaker is at the verge of losing her job, the CBN Governor’s power feud with the Presidency which saw to the suspension of the naira policy’s just cooling off, the Niger-Delta is at the peak of crisis plus, another terror alert from the West [if that is anything to go by], some Governors are still battling to settle in after 100 days in office. In Lagos, although Governor Fashola’s Security Trust fund seems to be making a lot of progress in funds base can the residents in the metropolis heave a sigh of relief yet? Are the roads motorable or is the BRT traffic worse than the daylight robbery of freedom of movement?

It is very easy to argue that Nigeria is in trouble, which would be dramatic, or to put in simple terms, that we are in a mild crisis; this message nonetheless would not be news. We seem to be at peace with the way we are – the uneasy calm that sweeps over the land is somewhat satisfying. After all, I beg to argue, there isn’t any ethnic clash, the Port Harcourt crisis is being handled, no expatriate is under a militant’s net; so, the country, even though not moving forward, is making progress – some how at the back of our minds!

Our dear President, [whom I have grown patient with in a few weeks], seems very calm and unperturbed. Since Nigerians are used to pouring blames on the Executive, especially the President, as an individual and not even his office, one may say Yar’Adua is lucky in a way, more of his citizens feel pity for the ‘dilapidated Molue’ he has inherited.

With the 100 days controversies over i.e. whether it calls for celebrations or not, the exact direction and detailed agenda of this administration etc; Mr. President now has the floor to dance – all to himself. He must perform this obligation, deliver on the social contract – dance with his lovely wife, Nigeria. He must not be carried away by the discordant sounds of the music from the dysfunctional sound system; he must control his steps so as not to trip. In dancing well, he must watch other activities to observe who steps onto or out, how much space he has to pull stunts, who is applauding or jeering – he must not also let that distract him as he must also be weary of his fragile wife – aged not of years but of bad leadership. President Yar’Adua must also hold her firmly to ensure they dance in unison – step after step. He must bear at the back of his mind, that their marriage is the talk of the town, the cynosure of all eyes.

Like the Latin – American Salsa, he must take control, must enable his wife submit totally to his lead. She must trust him completely, following his lead, his every nudge and body language. They must remember that this dance is to be judged by all and sundry and only the audience will tell how well they danced. Each number is slated to last for four minutes, years in reality. And after that, they may take another number only if they did justice to the first!

The President must also remember that every actor or dancer in this case, must leave the stage when the ovation is loudest. When the ovation is loudest! If he overworks his wife and she collapses, like a few of his predecessors have, he would have to carry her in his arms [God help him bear the weight] off the floor and confine her to bed rest till she recovers. If the contrary happens, they may even dance gracefully to two more numbers!

For the first time in many years, or perhaps our history, we are before a plain mirror. Nothing is hidden, nothing appears farther or nearer – as in the case of a concave or convex mirror. What we see, what we experience everyday is the reality of our situation. We seem to have a leader who is very comfortable in his own skin – being human. Unlike his immediate predecessor, he doesn’t pretend to have the answers to everything, doesn’t promise heaven on earth; he just wants to fix things.

We seem to be tied in strings of helplessness as the approach to solutions looks slow and the method different. This may be because the leadership is honestly na├»ve although trying to learn the ropes fast. No one runs a sprint with slow steps after the gunshot because that’s a proven technique for long-distance races. Actions are being taken; decisions and resolutions made – all, we are certain are made in good fate, all, we earnestly hope will bring the desired change. Time will tell.

Will all the money donated to the Security Trust Fund see to the reduction in robbery and crime rate in Lagos? Will scrapping of the NNPC help matters in the oil and gas sector?? Are Nigerians happy with the state of affairs of the nation??? Is this what they mean by saying we are the happiest people on earth???? Answers anyone????? Mirror, mirror, we may want to ask, who is the fairest of them all??????

Friday, September 21, 2007

Be seen, be heard… all at once?

August 12th this year will be no exception – international youth day! Interestingly, the UN theme for 2007 in commemorating this day is, “Be seen, be heard – youth participation in international development”. You may not really understand the reason this theme is very interesting to me. It is no doubt symbolic in many ways. In Nigeria, however, young people are obviously very upward and mobile; hence the phrase [of Nigerian origin too!] upwardly-mobile young Nigerians. This theme first reminds me of young people generally in society, and how we most times are always striving to out-do the other in school, talent shows and of course in our little neighbourhoods. It almost seems second nature for young people to be forward sometimes, when you look at that word critically it explains doing things that you are not told, but would certainly want to get credit for or be rewarded for using ‘your initiative’?

In the advocacy angle to it, there are so many NGOs and one is more often than not tempted to applaud the efforts of these youth initiatives and their visionaries. On the flip side, you may also wonder what policy regulates the registration of NGOs in Nigeria???

Recently at a meeting with a few friends for a ‘socially-sensitive’ project we are trying to start, I learnt from my friend Mo, that there are even three types of NGOs. They are: Not-for-profit, non-profit and profit-making. This explained the raison d’etre behind most of such organizations that charge exorbitant rates for services dispensed to the public. I immediately began to wonder where does that trend leave ones like mine? While the NNNGO plans an effective way of coordinating these NGOs for effective societal productivity, the world of advocacy and social entrepreneurship rather than sensitivity will continue.

Back to the 12th of August. In a quest to retain relevance or perhaps just to commemorate the International day for youth, many organizations have staged different events all clustered during this weekend. For people like me who know quite a number of these organizations and/or their visionaries, it has been very hectic keeping up with the venues and times.

Here are just a few: The UNITeS force seemingly started off with the graduation ceremony of their trainees on the 31st of July. Victor Gotevbe and Gbenga Sesan powered through next with the Ajegunle project [] where 4 Korean Internet Volunteers [KIVs] arrived the country for their 3-week stay to train youths in Ajegunle on ICT. The British Council / VSO Global Exchange program [GX] also shook Abuja from the 10th to today. Victor Gotevbe, an interesting friend of mine, was again off to Abuja for a Project Nigeria workshop [] yesterday. Also yesterday, Linus Okorie led the GOTNI team [] to stage the 8th leadership summit where powerful speakers like Amina Oyagbola, John Momoh and Gamaliel Onosode lit up the Agip hall, MUSON centre. Toyosi’s RISE magazine [] also held a walk/rally to mark the day. All these events you must note sought very active participation of LOTS of young people with some groups applying strategies to muster more attendance and media attention. Brilliant ideas? All at once?? Effective Impact??? I wonder, any unity of purpose? How do I attend them all, participate fully and still maximize the opportunities??? Must we all be seen and heard to be participating in national development, all at once?

I pray when next I meet or read from Renate Bloem, the outgoing President of Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN [CONGO], she doesn’t tell me of many NGOs still seeking membership of CONGO without merit or whether the situation has improved. What would I tell her?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Just Inkwisitive...aren't you?


It's official!

Lets make this simple, shall we?

I'll rant and ask all the questions...Strange ones that you perhaps haven't bothered to ask about things you observe and experience.


Watch this space!!!