GS Speaks

Of work in progress… | @gbengasesan

From Anger To Participation: Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria’s First Five Years

April 13, 2015 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

Things happened really fast. Social Media rants. eMails. Calls. Meetings. It was all for one reason: halting Nigeria’s gradual slide into another one of its numerous lows. The anger was real, and the fact that a “cabal” was accused of being in charge of the nation’s administration, instead of elected officials, further angered citizens. Yet, in the midst of all the citizen reaction, there was a central question: where are the young (wo)men who make up majority of the country’s population.

On March 8, 2010, enoughisenoughnigeria.com was registered. By the next day, messages rolled out from the official eMail address of what had become a movement of young professionals who were not going to look the other way because of their own individual comfort zones. “March 16 is the date when young Nigerians get angry!” was the subject of the eMail that touched on the power vacuum created by the president’s illness, the nation’s electricity woes, fuel scarcity, and announced a rally by young professionals, celebrities, media, students and activists.

In Abuja, and in Lagos, we used technology to keep the eyes of the world on protests that registered the anger of young Nigerians, and that called for a better country. When the Vice President was eventually announced as Acting President, demonstrating that Nigeria had at least been rescued from illegal administrators, it was clear that what had become a movement of angry young Nigerians needed to find a way to channel that energy towards the real work of good governance.

A decision was made to set up an organisation, aptly named Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria. The slogan, “enough is enough!”, was borrowed from earlier protests by the Save Nigeria Group but it stuck as a valid expression of our anger and stayed on as the organisation’s name. An inaugural “board” was set up and a number of participating individuals signed up their respective organisations as founding EiE coalition members. We had moved from chanting “our mumu don do” to working towards ensuring free and fair elections in 2011. Since technology was extremely useful for the cause of protests, it was only natural we opted for the same platform as we planned our engagement for the elections.

It was at one of those evening meetings that the RSVP slogan was first suggested. Register. Select. Vote. Protect. Once it was shared via BBM, no one could argue with the fact that we had found the right slogan that would inform the various aspects of our work as an organisation that had a self-imposed mandate of ensuring free and fair elections in Nigeria, using technology. The highly controversial 2007 elections presented a gloomy picture we didn’t want to see a repeat of, and the heavy use of technology by the Barack Obama campaign in 2008 presented something close to what we though technology could do for Nigeria’s elections.

From rallies, we moved on to Town Hall Meetings. As plans continued towards the 2011 elections, a group of technology experts gathered in a room in Lagos for 2 days, and came up with what was then built upon to become EiE’s tool for decentralised citizen election monitoring opportunity in Nigeria – ReVoDa. With the mobile app on just over 2,000 mobile phones spread across 35 states (no one registered on the ReVoDa network from Bayelsa) and the Federal Capital Territory, EiE produced daily reports during the 2011 elections. Thanks to simple technologies like SMS, we informed voters of postponed elections, shared updates on incidents and called for calm when reports of violence came through.

It’s now been 5 years since the Enough is Enough Nigeria movement started with the rally in Abuja, and a lot has happened in that time, including the fact that some founding members have become partisan even though the institution itself remains non-partisan so that it can call any government to order. This was why some of us resigned from the board as we approached the 2015 elections. While the last five years were spent moving from anger to structured engagement, the next five might be defined by a new active role that Nigerian citizens must play in order to avoid outsourcing government engagement to activists and a few that are seen as “young leaders”.

As a founding member who had the privilege of leading EiE through various technology initiatives, nothing gives me more joy than seeing that the message that EiE once fought hard to make central is now mainstream. Today, the average Nigerian citizen is more aware of the role we can play in ensuring good governance. It is my hope that over the next 5 years of EiE’s existence, we will see the Office of the Citizen strengthened, and government will become afraid of the people, knowing that every false step or wrong move is one more nail in the coffin of their next electoral ambition. Enough is enough of the obvious disconnect between government inaction and consequence at the polls. Enough is enough.

Chris Ihidero’s Worries Are Valid!

December 28, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

Buhari/Osinbajo 2015
I’m in [pause] mode on twitter for a bit. That could mean until work resumes again, or just after I’m able to convince Temi that I can actually take my eyes of all screens long enough to listen, understand and make sense when she has her aha moments. She has a lot of that, and it might have a lot to do with the fact that she has a real PhD. She spent 3 years to create new knowledge around Energy Poverty, and unlike some people who try to justify theirs by claiming papers with similar initials, Temi actually has papers to her name, and intelligent thought processes to show for her attainment of that unique level of academic knowledge and research quest. But, I digress. Summary: I choose to respond to @ChrisIhidero off twitter because even though I got eMail alerts of his tweets and took some time to read all 14 of them, I’m still in twitter [pause] mode because I don’t want to miss the most important things of life to 140-character moments :)

Chris raised valid questions around the vacuum that could be created by thought leaders he respects, and who could become less objective in the face of partisanship due to the 2015 general elections. He also thinks that the retired Major-General that all of these thought leaders seem to be campaigning for does not represent the change that he would want to see in Nigeria. Let me quote the tweets that speak to these fears, and then respond to my friend, hoping to address his fears, get his vote for our candidate, and get him to lend his voice to what represents Nigeria’s closest realistic change opportunity in recent times. His first fear is of a possible vacuum in thought leadership:

Chris is right. Relationships do blur the lines of objectivity, and there’s a chance that many of us would tolerate in our candidates what we call out in his opponent. However, I’ll start by stating what I said while looking straight in the eyes of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) when he met with volunteers in Lagos: “You have my vote because the things I have seen in the past four years do not represent what my family and I wish to see in the next four BUT we give you our votes in exchange for your leadership towards the emergence of a new Nigeria. Do not disappoint us. If you do, we will use our democratic might to vote you out.

What I am sure Nigeria’s next president also understood that evening is that most of the ladies and gentlemen rooting for him and his team mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, have a history of speaking truth to power. We speak truth to power, not because we want to get the attention of the powerful and court their favour, but because we do not eat from anyone’s table, so, we can look anyone in the eye and say what’s in the interest of the nation. In 2009, when Yar’Adua abdicated his role, we spoke up. When the incumbent who has wasted all of his goodwill was prevented from assuming his rightful place as Acting President in 2010, we protested. When President Jonathan ran for office in 2011, we advised everyone to look beyond mere words, and adopted the Register-Select-Vote-Protect (RSVP) slogan as a non-partisan way of making sure voters chose right. Well, we know what happened after the man who had no shoes got drunk on power.

In 2012, as the lamb-turned-dictator roared from Abuja, we stood up again to demand a move from lazy governance that preferred punishing citizens to taking on corrupt interests. When you realise that the billions they are spending to try to rape the nation again comes from these corrupt interests, you’ll appreciate why no oil thief has been brought to book. In 2013, when this same government decided it could not continue to endure the taste of the 2012 protests by introducing Internet surveillance (even though the terrorism that they have refused to confront successfully was a useful excuse), we wrote a Freedom of Information letter and then went on to court to defend the digital rights of Nigerian citizens – including those who now accuse us of hating their incompetent candidate. The irony of it is that they use the same tools that we are fighting to protect their rights to continue using freely. Anyway, we have a court date on February 4, 2015, and we will do what is needful – protect the digital rights of all citizens, regardless of who they vote for a few days after that.

This year, when the Secret Service was used as a threat and one had information about what could happen after protesting at the venue of the World Economic Forum, I had no fear wearing the #BringBackOurGirls t-shirt to the stage when I was called out to receive an award that brought honour to Nigeria. As I stood on that stage and turned to take another look at the president – who had refused to take leadership of the rescue operations required to liberate the abducted Chibok girls – behind me, I was ashamed to call him Commander-in-Chief. For 2015, Nigeria needs a Commander-in-Chief who will not go to bed until cowards are punished for their terrorist acts. So, in response to Chris Ihidero’s valid questions, I have this to say: we are working for the election of GMB in 2015 but if he as much as hints at messing up, we will do what we’ve always done: invoke the powers of the Office of Active Citizen (thanks to the amazing Oby Ezekwesili for that most honourable job description.)

While some are doing this as party members, some of us are not. Membership cards have a way of making you tolerate what you can’t stand in your opponents, in your own party, but I am not subject to that, and the same is true of many others working with the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket. Reality, though, is that we need party insiders because they are the ones who vote for candidates as delegates at their party primaries. We will not lose our voice to the emergence of a preferred candidate. We will continue to stand for what we believe in, regardless of who is guilty of the attempt of departing from the ideals that would take us to the Nigeria of our dreams.

Chris also spoke of his perception of Buhari as one who pursues a “northern agenda first”:

There are valid reasons to be worried about this possibility but I’ve come to see beyond the powerful media wars against Buhari, and it has helped me realise that unlike the evil Buhari many would have us see, the man behind the forced mask of propaganda is actually a true Nigerian who fought for the country and continues to use whatever opportunity he has to bring benefits to all of Nigeria – not just a section of it. He’s accused of favouring the north and/or muslims but his records show otherwise. Thanks to recent truths published by the media, we now know that Buhari is not a religious bigot and he did not favour the north even when he was in charge of resources that could help him do so. Same cannot be said of the man who was quick to shout that “my people did not blow up Abuja” when the leader in him should have cautiously asked for thorough investigation.

To Chris and many others who are yet to be convinced by Buhari, I ask of you to do these four things: follow @thisisbuhari on twitter to engage the man and his team on the issues that bother you; watch out for more information about my candidate as he tours Nigeria to reintroduce himself as the storm Nigeria needs before the calm of actual rebuilding; watch out for the Fact Checking website that will go live in the new year as it will address many of the lies we have been made to believe; and consider the balance that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo brings to the ticket. Together, they are a dream team.

Of course, there will be many more opportunities to speak with Chris and many other voters who care enough about the future of Nigeria but I’ll leave this here for now while we continue the much-needed ground work. In 2015, change is coming to Nigeria, and we need your vote to kick-start that process. Enjoy the rest of the holidays, and I wish you a 2015 without the sad events that Nigeria has had to endure for the past 4+years. Or, at least, a year that sees Nigeria with a leader who is capable of confronting our security, economic and corruption challenges.

Buhar1  Buhar1

15 Reasons APC (Buhari/Osinbajo) Will Get My Vote in 2015

December 17, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

Resignation From EnoughisEnough (EiE) Nigeria Board

December 14, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

December 14, 2014

‘Yemi Adamolekun
Executive Director
EnoughisEnough Nigeria
Lagos.

Dear ‘Yemi,

RESIGNATION FROM THE ENOUGHISENOUGH (EIE) NIGERIA BOARD

I write to thank you, staff and members of the EiE Nigeria board, for the opportunity to serve the organisation, first as Chair of the board, and then as a member of the board with a chance to contribute to EiE’s tech projects and general tech needs.

When I responded to Chude’s “Where is the outrage?” eMail before the 2010 protests, I nursed feelings quite close to what occupies my mind today. At the time, Nigeria was at an all-time low and action was required to save her. Following the March 16, 2010, protest in Abuja and the April 13, 2010, protest in Lagos, the group’s decision to institutionalise the process by setting up this organisation is one I remain grateful for.

In 2011, we decided to work as a non-partisan organization because of the need for a neutral organisation that can call any of the players in our governance space to order without the accusation of bias. It was a wise decision, and even though I feel very strongly about using every available means to save Nigeria from the current security, education and other woes, I respect the decision of the organisation to remain non-partisan. Nigeria needs an institution like EiE Nigeria, and I wish the organisation more strength as it fulfills an all-important role of working for good governance in Nigeria.

Due to what is nothing short of the “fierce urgency of now”, I write to notify you of my decision to resign from the board of EiE Nigeria, effective immediately, in order to pursue partisan interests that I consider important for the sake of the Nigerian project.

Having been a witness to the 15-year opportunity that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had to work for change in Nigeria, and how corruption, selfish interest and other vices have led us to another all-time low with security, education and much more, I consider the need for an alternative critical. I am not a member of any political party and have no interest in public office but beyond my one vote for the APC Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, on February 14, 2015, I will complete – and be involved with – projects to convince others not to reward failure and incompetence during the 2015 general elections.

Thank you for the awesome work that you, and the EiE Nigeria team, do! I look forward to a Nigeria where my children can go to school anywhere in the country and return home without the fear of slaughter or abduction. I look forward to a nation where my president will be a true Commander-in-Chief who places national interest above personal interest, small mindedness, deliberate division and lazy governance. Once again, thank you for the opportunity to serve on the EiE Nigeria board.

Best regards,

‘Gbenga Sesan

African School on Internet Governance 2014: Defining Priorities and Addressing Capacity Gaps

November 25, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

2014 African School on Internet Governance

2014 African School on Internet Governance (Picture by Nnenna N.)

“Thank you, Madam Chair”, he said, before going ahead to make a point about which paragraph – in a statement various groups worked on over the past few days – he thought required some form of revision. This form of language is not new to actors within the United Nations system, or similar platforms, but today, delegates are not in such a session but at the 2014 African School on Internet Governance’s Practicum Plenary.

Over the past few days, 38 participants from 17 countries across Africa have been discussing the subject of Internet Governance and its relevance to Africa, guided by a faculty that cuts across almost as many countries as participants. Subjects discussed around Internet Governance include Policy Making Institutions, Internet Infrastructure, Internet Addresses and Name Management, National and Regional Polices, Internet Governance in Africa, Multi-Stakeholder Issues, Human Rights and Cybersecurity.

As I listened to the class discuss – even argue – issues, it was obvious that participation was meaningful. I imagine that the Association for Progressive Communications and other co-organisers of the School are proud of the intensive 4-day training session set up to address the capacity gaps that obviously exist, and that have a huge impact on Africa’s participation in global Internet Governance processes.

The representatives of civil society organisations and government institutions at the training have at least started on a new knowledge path that could inform meaningful contribution to the global process, and I trust that most would now take this to their respective organisations in order to at least spread the knowledge a little. However, the School has done a lot more than create an atmosphere for learning and active participation; it has, to some extent, helped define priorities for Africa’s participation in the Internet Governance process.

For a continent that is not a stranger to issues competing for attention, many ICT Policy experts and advocates have been met with the challenge of defending the suggestion that certain issues within the Internet Governance conversation deserve attention without the assumption that they have been imported due to donor influence. The 2014 African School on Internet Governance was not one without the contest of ideas – a great reflection of the success of the School, if you ask me – but every issue enjoyed its own attempt at gaining priority, on the merit of relevance to the various stakeholders across the continent.

As the School comes to a close later today, a huge burden (no pressure, ladies and gentlemen) rests on the shoulders of participants as they must now go on to do at least 3 things: put new knowledge to use in their work; share acquired (or refined) knowledge with colleagues and/or other stakeholders; and improve their contribution within the national, regional and global Internet Governance Forum space. Beyond the opportunity of facilitation, I leave Mauritius with a smile, knowing that the 4 days of learning helped to define priorities and address capacity gaps.

“I am going to challenge delegates to continue this conversation online, to take care of areas where compromise is needed”, stated Madam Chair as she thanked delegates for their hard work towards coming up with a statement with input from the 4 stakeholder groups that participants joined over the course of the School – Civil Society, Government, Private Sector and Technical Community. The sessions leading to the statement might have been simulated but the final statement coming out of the 2014 African School on Internet Governance’s Practicum Plenary session demonstrates new learning and understanding of the issues.

What is true for this School is true for Africa and the ICT Policy space in general: Africa must define priorities in order to improve engagement, and we must address capacity gaps that ensure we do more than just have a seat at the table.

#BringBackOurGirls Day 100: THE NIGERIAN CITIZEN WILL NOT BE SILENCED

July 22, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

Wednesday, July 23rd will mark 100 days since 276 girls were savagely abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State. 57 escaped and 219 remain in captivity. The families and community have suffered deep anguish seeking effective rescue to end the peril that befell their daughters who had gone to school in search of knowledge.

In those 100 days, the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign has focused on creating awareness of the abduction to ensure that it is a priority issue requiring action and compelling the right sets of action for a positive outcome. We have engaged various stakeholders – the Presidency, the National Assembly, the office of the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defense Staff, the Borno State Government & other State Governments, ECOWAS member countries and UN agencies to name a few.

Through our various meetings, our singular message has been to demand that the Federal Government perform its fundamental duty of ensuring the security and the welfare of its citizens. As we denounce the wave of terror and insecurity across the country, we continue to demand that the Federal Government deploy its resources to ensure that the missing girls are brought home, and the errors leading from three-weeks of delayed action are remedied.

Citizens who have insisted on standing with our girls and ensuring they are not forgotten are heartbroken that our daughters and sisters are about to spend 100 days with their evil captors.
To amplify our voices in demanding that these girls be brought home now and alive, on the 100th day, there will be a variety of activities around the world. These include:
• Ibadan: Press Conference at the BRECAN Centre at 10 am
• Abuja: Special sit-out ceremony at the Unity Fountain at 3 pm
• Lagos: Remembrance service at the Wall of Missing Girls at Falomo Roundabout at 4pm
• New York: Candlelight vigil at the Nigerian Consulate at 5.30pm.
There will also be events in India, Pakistan, the UK and most world capitals where there are teachers’ organisations in partnership with the UN Special Envoy’s Office of Gordon Brown. Organisations participating are World at School, Girls not Brides, Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free, Educational International and ITa.
The continued pattern of intolerance to the activities of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign is at variance with our effort to promote healthy civic engagement by citizens to strengthen the resolve of government to rescue the girls.

As days become weeks and months and our girls are separated from their parents and their community, our singular focus remains on their safe return in the shortest possible time.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed:
Hadiza Bala Usman, Abuja
Oby Ezekwesili, Abuja
Aisha Oyebode, Lagos
Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, Lagos
Betty Anyanwy-Akeredolu, Ibadan
Amina Hanga, Kano
Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi, Enugu

#BringBackOurGirls Represents Growing Citizen Action

May 31, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

#BringBackOurGirls is part of an unfolding citizen action process given expression through hashtags, protests. It builds on earlier actions. When some said #OccupyNigeria was a failure, I was quick to point out the fact that it’s not correct to isolate citizen action as activities.

Before 1999, social mobility in Nigeria was frozen, except for few activists we outsourced protests, concerns to. Many buried heads in sand. With the arrival of democratised communication in the early 2000’s, thanks to mobile telephony, anger found its way through telecom networks. People discussed issues. Poor power supply, terrible roads, miseducation, shameful healthcare. Social mobility found ally in telecom freedom.

Between 2007 and 2009, when social networks began to connect more voices on similar issues, unfreezing of social mobility in Nigeria grew. By 2009, we began to see clear demonstration of anger finding exit through BBM, Facebook, more. Organization for action enjoyed these tools. The 2010 protests, triggered by a sick president and rumour of the cabal, found friends in social media connections. 2011 enjoyed from this.

2011 elections saw citizens using tools like ReVoDa and social media-enabled tools to take action. We labelled them clicktivists but a group that had found exit in silence found tools that allowed the safety of near anonymity while allowing outlets for angry expression. This is why 2012 #OccupyNigeria happened. Not because opposition or a tired labour movement wanted mass action, but anger found expression.

Social media proved useful in amplifying the issues, connecting angry citizens to mutual expression and to even report organised action live. 2013 saw Nigerian citizens standing up for each other through various #SaveCitizen efforts. You think hashtags are useless? Ask victims whose lives were saved because someone cared enough and started a hashtag. These actions are part of a trend, and it’s why it was easy for citizens to join a campaign that had elements of citizen solidarity, demand for good governance and measurable action.

When the first set of #BringBackOurGirls tweets showed up, people could identify with what it represented. Government failed to act and was going to cover up the abduction of #ChibokGirls, as usual. They saw concrete action that challenged citizen helplessness in the face of Boko Haram. #BringBackOurGirls is part of an unfolding series of citizen expression. Citizens respond to leadership that seeks results.

As with many hashtags before it, and many more we’ll see unfold, #BringBackOurGirls isn’t isolated clicktivism, it’s growing citizen action.

Ashoka Fellows: Press Statement on #BringBackOurGirls

May 18, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

For Immediate Release
ASHOKA Fellows Network
May 12th, 2014

CHIBOK GIRLS ARE OUR GIRLS: ASHOKA FELLOWS CALL FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION ON MAY 14TH 2014.

On April 14th, 2014 over 270 girls were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state. Their lives will never be the same.

These girls had resumed briefly, to take their examinations at the school, in a state that has virtually been a war zone for the past five years due to the menace of the group we have come to know as Boko Haram. For almost two weeks, there was deadly silence, until the world began to catch up and speak out, until social media came alive with fury about yet another injustice done to innocent children by the terrorist group in North-Eastern Nigeria.

Why has the government taken so long to respond and why did they let various atrocities against the girls continue unabated before waking from their slumber upon international outcry? In our opinion, there are several reasons for the negligence:
1) Children of the Poor – these girls were characterized as ‘Children of the poor”. A serving senator was quoted as saying ‘only poor people send their children to public school’. Their parents were not senators or ministers, they had no one to speak up for them or offer a huge ransom in exchange for their return.
2) Borno State has been abandoned by the government – although under a state of emergency, daily attacks on the lives of citizens continue unabated with mass killings, kidnappings, rape and other atrocities committed against innocent civilians daily in each of these states. A report by Human Rights Watch in October 2013 described kidnappings of girls and other citizen disappearances. The parents of these girls reported that for weeks after the kidnapping, there was still no presence of any military force on ground.
3) Girls are neglected in Nigeria – girls have less of a chance to go to school and are more likely to be sold in child marriage. UNICEF
4) Education in the North is neglected and poverty is rife – Nigeria has the highest estimated number of our of school children IN THE WORLD – an estimated 8 million. Over half of these are girls.
5) The government has other priorities – becoming an economic super power has been the priority for this government – not caring who is left behind. The Goodluck Jonathon administration has focused on increasing growth rates with no attention to the growing inequalities that exacerbate social strife.

But there are several reasons that we must take note of as we fight for the lives of these innocent young girls whose nightmare over the last few weeks can only be imagined:
1) The brave and courageous – Their parents had taken a chance, a very big chance, first by attempting to school their female children in a region where some states don’t boast of a female literacy rate of over 17% and where less than 8% of female students complete secondary school. Secondly, they had taken an even bigger chance TO SEND THEIR DAUGHTERS TO SCHOOL, knowing that there have been incessant attacks on the schools in the region and that the schools had been closed for some time, only reopening for the exams.
2) The bright and ambitious – These girls were an elite few, they had made it through secondary school, against all odds, and had big dreams for their future, dreams of attending university or a tertiary institution. Some would want to be doctors, lawyers, musicians, scientists and others might even be aspiring to enter into government, to change the plight of the girl child in Nigeria.
3) Child marriage was not their option – they wanted to go to university, to become great people and have different opportunities for their lives. Unlike many girls their age in the same region, they had not been sent off into child marriage but their parents had chosen education as the key to their future.

From this, it is clear that the terrorists who stole the light from these children’s eyes had every intention to break the only hope that remains in this down trodden and forgotten region of the world – the HOPE FOR A BRIGHTER SECURE FUTURE THAT RESPECTS THEIR RIGHTS AS GIRLS AND AS HUMAN BEINGS, BASED IN THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE.

For over three weeks, these girls have be out of school, away from their homes, denied their freedom and subjected to rape, abuse, forced labour and other atrocities which we do not yet know the full extent of. They have no doubt been victims of continuous sexual assault and slavery, homelessness, trafficking, sleepless nights, emotional trauma, fear of being killed, human assault, negligence and deprivation. At the very same time the president, instead of sinking his head in shame focusing on the task of finding the girls, is more interested in hosting the elite capitalists of Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa, unabashedly dancing and laughing in public, behaving as if a national crisis were not at hand, as if it were not human beings whose lives were being destroyed.

Even as the media has awakened the world’s attention to the atrocity at hand, the fact remains that the girls have not been rescued, and as every day passes by, the chances of their rescue grows dimmer with reports of their trafficking across borders and being sold into the general population. It is at this critical time, that we must arise as a nation and fight for the return of these girls and their reconciliation and rehabilitation. It will be no easy task, but with the whole world watching, it is important that we as Nigerians continue to hold our government accountable and force its awakening from its slumber. It is time that we raise the battle cry, not just against Boko Haram, but the continuing poverty and inequality that continues to haunt us as a nation in the midst of our national wealth and riches. It is time that we arise as compatriots, and obey the call of our ancestors to fight for a nation that should be a great pride and joy to the continent.

We hereby call on the government to
1. TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CHIBOK ATROCITY AND ITS DELAYED RESPONSE – it is not the responsibility of any other government and our government MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE and apologize to the families and the world. It must act immediately to salvage what is already a very tragic situation.
2. PURSUE THE RESCUE MISSION WITH MINIMUM USE OF FORCE – many have cried for military bombardment but we as social activists are acutely aware that war and more violence are not the answer and directly threaten the lives of the residents of the state. We ask the government get these girls back with use of MINIMUM USE OF FORCE to avoid casualties and death among the girls and the civilian population of Borno and surrounding states
3. IMMEDIATELY CALL FOR QUESTIONING AND POSSIBLE DISCHARGE of all defense and service chiefs charged to guard the citizens of the state but unable to protect these girls who have not been located for close to a month.
4. IMMEDIATELY CLOSE ALL SCHOOLS IN BORNO AND SURROUNDING STATES until government is able to offer full 24 hour protection with FULL SECURITY to all school children
6. PUT IN PLACE WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT A TRAUMA SUPPORT CENTRE – where parents and girls that have escaped from the kidnappers can receive support, care and counseling. ALL RETURNED GIRLS must be given immediate access to rape support care and placed on all necessary medications free of charge. This support centre should be fully equipped with appropriate and culturally relevant services and families and victims must receive secure transportation to and from the venue as well as have full protection while accessing services. In addition, families of the victims should be place under protective custody of the state to ensure no reprisal attacks are taken against them.

We call on Nigerians and the world to hear the silent cries of these girls as the weep daily and TO NOT RELENT UNTIL THESE GIRLS ARE BROUGHT HOME AND THE PERPETRATORS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE.

We as Ashoka Fellows in Nigeria represent the community of social entrepreneurs that are committed to social change and Social JUSTICE in the country. We cannot sit by idly and pretend that all is well when the opposite is the case. We want to state that CHIBOK girls are OUR GIRLS. They are not just poor and nameless children. They are our daughters and our sisters. They represent what little light of hope is left in the country. They represent a dream dashed to pieces and we must do all we can to halt this tragedy that is occurring and find some way to reconcile these girls with their homes and families, while giving them the full and necessary support to put the pieces of their broken lives back together.

Signed

Hafsat Abiola Costello
Special Advisor to the Governor of Ogun State on MDGs
ASHOKA Fellow ‘02

‘Gbenga Sesan
Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria
Ashoka Fellow ‘08

Rhoda Nanre Nafziger-Mayegun
Executive Director, LYNX-NIGERIA
ASHOKA Fellow ‘04

Princess Olufemi-Kayode
Executive Director, MediaCon
Ashoka Fellow ‘07

Iheoma Obibi
Executive Director, Alliances for Africa
Ashoka Fellow ‘05

Adenike O. Esiet
Executive Director, Action Health Incorporated
Ashoka Fellow ’92

Dr. Betty Agujiobi
Executive Director, MEWOOD
Ashoka Fellow

Josephine Nzerem
Executive Director, Human Angle
Ashoka Fellow ‘02

Orduh Aku Christy
Executive Director, FOTD
Ashoka Fellow ’01

Cesnabmihilo Dorothy Aken’Ova
Executive Director, INCRESE
Ashoka Fellow ‘08

Prof Ifeoma Okoye
Chairperson ‘Association for Good Clinical Practice in Nigeria &
President Breast Without Spot Cancer Initiative,
ASHOKA FELLOW ‘08

John Patrick
Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC)
Ashoka Fellow ’06

Victoria Dunmade
Coordinator, CAPTEC
Ashoka Fellow ’93

Stella Iwuagwu
Executive Director,
Center for the Right to Health
Ashoka Fellow ’02

Priscilla Achakpa
Women Environment Programme
Ashoka Fellow ‘13

Agatha Nnaji
Dewdrop Foundation
Ashoka Fellow ‘06

Afioluwa Mogaji
African farmer
Ashoka Fellow ‘13

Kevin Ekwenwa
The Fisher Project
Ashoka Fellow ‘13

Mathias Yashim
Hope Builders
Ashoka Fellow ‘13

#WEFAfrica For #BringBackOurGirls

May 04, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

#BringBackOurGirls

#BringBackOurGirls (Photo Credit: World Economic Forum)

Meanwhile…

Are You Plugged In?

March 21, 2014 By: gbengasesan Category: Uncategorized

The days when the colour of technology was masculine are over. Increasingly, technology tools that were the exclusive preserve of geeks now offer low barriers of entry, and it is safe to say that the definition of literacy has moved further down from just the ability to read, write and use a computer, to include the ability to creatively use technology tools and platforms – without the need for a manual or a training course.  When you also consider the fact that your mobile phone is more powerful than some of the most powerful computers that paraded the cold rooms of Computer Science departments many years ago, and that the increasing power of technology platforms or tools come with ease of use, you will agree with me that not taking advantage of these tools and platforms now comes with fewer excuses.

Social Media pushes the bar higher with its extreme simplicity and diverse applications. Earning its name from the unique combination of social sharing, social networks and media attributes, social media allows the user to pull and push information through the convenience of mobile devices and more. Popular social media platforms include multipurpose Facebook, with 1.2 billion monthly active users globally and 11.4 million in Nigeria alone; micro-blogging platform, Twitter; picture sharing application, Instagram; video platform, YouTube; and much more. The power of social media has been seen in business, media, politics, business, education and more. The question, though, is: are you plugged in? Are you taking advantage of social media? Let me quickly share three ways you should take advantage of social media.

News and Updates: How do you get your news and updates on events that interest you or matter to your business? If you’re the type that still waits to read yesterday’s news in today’s newspaper, you can be sure that your competition is way ahead of you. With social media, you can follow the news and get updates by subscribing to people and organisations that are likely to share news and/or updates that matter to you.

Information Sharing: It’s not just about getting, it’s also about giving. I’m sure there is a lot you can’t wait to share. From new products to opportunities you want others to know about – and to some not-so-serious updates you’d like to talk about – and more, social media allows you share and gain loyal following so people can return for more. And trust me on this: you’re not the only one who would be sharing information about opportunities, so you might want to watch out for opportunities that you can benefit from too.

Research and Feedback: When you have a quick question about traffic in Lagos, a service you can’t find in the Yellow Pages (wait, there’s none on your coffee table) or you need feedback on any topic, social media is a space that begs to give answers. When I arrive in a new city these days, I take advantage of social media to get recommendations – restaurants, places I must visit, hotels, etc. Why pay an agent when your social media followers are willing to give you information at no cost?

This article first appeared in The Woman Leader Magazine