Youth, Shift Ground!

It’s been an interesting week for me. ‘Techie. Entrepreneurial. Nigerian. Talented’ organized by Gbenga Sesan’s Paradigm Initiative ftom Tuesday to Thursday and then the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment’s ‘University Entrepreneurship Development Programme (UNEDEP) on Friday. Indeed, it was fun-filled.

I have to say that this is the first time I’m meeting not less than 25 young, promising, entrepreneurial Nigerians in three days. Oh what a privilege. Emmanuel Oluwatosin (Nokia), Osare Alili-Oruene (Fate Foundation), Oreoluwa Somolu (W.TEC), Adebola Williams (Red Media), Victor Asemota, Emeka Okoye, Celestine of TicketMobile, Sim Shagaya (Konga), The duo of Jumia, Temitope Olagbegi (Sixth Sense), Wale Wades, Founders of naij.com and buynownow.com, Opeyemi Awoyemi (Jobberman),… The list is mind-blowing. I’m still recovering. LOL. This brings me to the point of this post.

I couldn’t help but think: Who really am I? What does it mean for me to be Nigerian? Who are you Ifeoluwa? I remember what my brother said after watching the Super Eagles of Nigeria hold the well-known Italian squad to a fierce draw. Really, It was like we were watching 2014 World Cup already. That show was far from the tone of a friendly. “Nigerians are naturally great people by DNA. In all regards, put a Nigerian anywhere and he will conquer giants”. My brother was lost in praises (his lips moved like a small boy’s). He is never tired to mention what his Nigerian friends led the major departments of the Cyprian school he attended.

At UNEDEP, the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Silverbird boss Murray Ben-Bruce were in
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attendance. Ben-Bruce stole the show when he started to express his political views, which as he said, are anti-government. “Always be on the side of the people”, he told us. “And you should know that once you’re making waves in Nigeria, police will trail you. EFCC will arrest you. And it’s got nothing to do with right or wrong. It’s the reality of goverment in Nigeria”. The applause that greeted his speech was deafening. I like that man’s bravery. I mean, in front of a Minister! Same thing Gbenga Sesan did at T.E.N.T when he expressed some political views in front of Lagos State Government’s Moji Rhodes. I love these people.

The young people I met and listened to re-assure my belief in the Nigerian Vision. Of course there’s a Nigerian Vision, not only Americans have a dream. It may not be pronounced yet, but it’s gradually developing and you could understand it’s motivation when you see the amount of people putting their talent(s) to work. We should stop hammering on the number of unemployed youth or wasting talents. Let’s implore them to shift grounds. Crying all we like about government should not be an individual goal. The character of the Nigerian State will not change in a day or a year. We are where we are as a result of the events of 53 years. Even if we start the process of change now, we’re not going to fully get there in the next decade. Let’s be realistic. So, if you think you can do nothing but complain, you’re invariably saying “I’ll make it when Nigeria becomes more responsive”. What? In how many years? When you’re dead? Or when you live in an uncompleted wooden building in a remote area where your children wear tattered clothes to the dilapidated community primary school? Come on.

In fact, one of the recipients of the ’40 under 40′ awards who was present at UNEDEP is an undergraduate of a ‘striking’ federal institution. Who says Nigerian Undergraduates are unproductive? Not my very good friend Ini Ajayi of House of Dabira, or Ope Okunbor of LMI or Taiwo Egunjobi (brain behind the movie Blades of Ennui) or Team Beacon of Nescafe Coffee shop in UI or Tolu Adetunji of AIESEC in Ibadan. These are people of the University of Ibadan. There are very many others that it is impossible to mention all of them. I have not even talked about  talents from other Nigerian institutions. That’s full stop.

I dare join my brother to say that a Nigerian is naturally great by DNA. What then? Let’s shift grounds, heading in the direction of the Nigerian vision.

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Signed,
Ife Adedeji

Author: ifeadedeji

I am a graduate student in African Studies at the Center for International Studies, Ohio University where I work as a research assistant and Editor of Africa@OHIO Blog. I hold a bachelors in political science, and use this space as a container of my thoughts.

One thought on “Youth, Shift Ground!”

  1. The tides are changing, there’s a reawakening of the consciousness! Nigerians are smarter, people (at least the ones I know) are becoming even more productive!

    Like

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