The Funnel Effect in Nigeria’s Education System

First, it was Facebook. And now, it’s WhatsApp. You get added to a group, everyone welcomes you, you’re excited about hooking up with classmates… and then someone drops the bomb: we should go back to help the school, you know. Silence. In some cases, the silence is broken. In all cases, especially those groups set up for the tertiary institution you attended (in Nigeria), everyone agrees that things could have been better. Lecturers didn’t have to play so much God. Lectures could have used some more relevance. The story of how education is increasingly disconnected from the workplace says a lot about why unemployment and unemployability are both on the high side right now — and until we fix today’s student experience, the fate of tomorrow’s economy is pretty certain. At Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, we work to fix this student experience, using ICTs, so that under-served youth can improve their chances — but a foundation of miseducation makes this work a bit more difficult.

In addition to the miseducation that happens within the four walls of many institutions, there is also a funnel effect that condemns many young people to impossible futures, and this takes its toll on the economy too because some education — especially of the flawed variety — adds to the damage of available (wo)manpower. Let me start with the most scary of them all: 30% of pupils drop out of primary school and only 54% transit to Junior Secondary Schools. I wish I made that up. I didn’t. That was UNICEF data before terrorism joined child labour, economic hardship and early marriage for girls to chase more kids, especially girls, out of school. An even more recent Fact Sheet suggests that less than one-third of Nigerian primary school students will proceed to secondary schools — and “the top two factors influencing primary school drop-out in Nigeria are Monetary cost (32%) and Insufficient interest (26%)”.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 17.59.51Working with the more optimistic number, I should not need to suggest what the 46% who don’t make it into Junior Secondary School go on to do but what happens to the 54% that make it into secondary schools? We know, for a fact, that not all of the 54% make it to Senior Secondary School but let the data speak for the results and experience of our children who complete those 12 years of education. Let me call the West African Examination Council (WAEC) to the stand. The  student pass rates for WAEC between 2004 and 2016 are shown below, and if you don’t see the funnel effect in action, then you scare me more than the data. A student is considered to have passed this Senior Secondary School examination if (s)he gets a minimum of credit passes in six (6) subjects, including compulsory Mathematics and English.

2004: 18%
2005: 19%
2006: 9%
2007: 8%
2008: 14%
2009: 26%
2010: 25%
2011: 31%
2012: 39%
2013: 37%
2014: 31%
2015: 39%
2016: 53%

Whichever way you look at these numbers, we should be worried. Even if you work with the best result in years — the 2016 result — we still have some 47% (one of every two students) who are not qualified to proceed to the next stage in their education. If there were vocational education or informal options, the pressure wouldn’t be much, but tertiary institutions tell the next story: only about a third of the students who pass their Secondary School exit examinations and write tertiary institution examinations are able to get a seat in the many schools that dot the Nigerian landscape. But that would be if they all pass, right?

waec-pass-rate-2004-2016According to the Nigerian Universities Commission, we have 40 federal, 42 state and 61 private Universities in Nigeria while the National Board for Technical Education says there are 25 federal, 40 state and 38 private Polytechnics; 17 federal and 19 state Colleges of Agriculture; 23 federal, 2 state and 2 private Monotechnics; 9 federal, 40 state and 3 private Colleges of Health Technology; 19 federal, 110 state and 3 private Technical Colleges; and 22 federal, 47 state and 14 private Colleges of Education. Between them, these 576 institutions have a carrying capacity of about 800,000 (up from 450,000 in 2011, 500,000 in 2012 and 520,000 in 2013), which means only 800,000 of the 1.47M students who wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in 2015 had a chance at tertiary education. When you consider the fact that most of them don’t bother applying outside universities and polytechnics, you can see the pressure on the funnel better.

By the way, there were 1,493,611 UTME applicants in 2011; 1,503,933 in 2012; and 1,735,729 in 2013. That means only 30% of students who wrote the UTME in 2011 could get a place in our tertiary institutions. That number was 33% for 2012 and 30% for 2013. It grew to 54% in 2015 but that’s still 1 of every 2 students locked out. In summary, only 1 in 2 kids move from primary to secondary school and only 1 of every 2 kids who make it into secondary school have a place in our tertiary institutions. Someone should ask: how about the Open University? Well, the unconventional National Open University, better known for unconventional students like Obasanjo, Awujale, Emir of Bauchi, etc, had 132,000 students as at 2013 even though it said it could potentially handle 1.5 million. Let’s add National Open University’s 77 study centres to the 800,000 spaces in tertiary institutions and we still have much less than 1 million in total capacity, for about 1.5 million students!

There’s the capacity problem. And the motivation problem (why bother with this trouble when you can become a militant or politician and earn way more than your brilliant friends, right?) And the quality problem. And the disconnect problem. Comparing apples and oranges has nothing on comparing curriculum with industry requirements. Beyond all these, there’s also the cram-pass-forget problem. And the dub-a-final-year-project problem. That’s how, among other economy-related reasons, why we ended up with 49.5% youth employment in Q2 2016. There we go again with 1 of every 2 employable youth getting a job. Look at the unemployment and underemployment numbers and fear God. the future.

unemp-q2-2016-info1 unemp-q2-2016-info4These problems can make you bury your head in the sand and thank your stars for an opportunity to send your child to a country where education matters but if they’ll return to — or you’ll live in — the country where 50% drop off at every stage, you’ll be building an island of sanity that will soon be flooded by the waters of insanity all around it. We must do education differently and tackle each stage with deliberate interventions that will change the current outcomes. I don’t know much about the elementary and secondary school stages but the work that Paradigm Initiative Nigeria is doing at the post-secondary level through our LIFE and TENT programs have demonstrated what’s possible. For the tertiary stage in particular, we work with a model that helps students start preparing for post-school life in Year 1 and graduate with more than just a resume. Through the TENT program, we help students build ICT skills and businesses — not just apps or what’s popular — so they can be workplace ready, as skilled employees or business(wo)men in their own right.

Of course, there are many other institutions out there creating dents — and they could all use more support — but nothing helps like a coordinated approach that combines policy, action and partnerships. We have a huge problem on our hands and must act now to slow down the disaster.

Of Zuck’s Visit to Nigeria, Euphoria and Important Lessons

Zuck’s visit to Nigeria is a big deal. With two trips within one week, he helped draw attention to Nigerian tech startups, offered some form of validation for Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, held high-level meetings with the Nigerian government, attended a major tech event hosted by the Presidency for start-ups, and left a strong impression about simplicity. I pity the next Nigerian big man that harasses citizens with security details. Not only will he become meme material, his entire worth will be converted to dollars just to make the point that he has nothing close to the man, worth $54.5B, who walked the streets of Lagos without visible security.

I doubt that anyone can argue with the importance of Mark Zuckerberg’s visit. He sits atop the largest pool of private data in the world, considering Facebook’s announcement that it had 1.71 billion monthly active users as of June 30, 2016 and 1.57 billion mobile monthly active users as of June 30, 2016. China has a population of 1,378,510,000. India has a population of 1,330,430,000. Facebook has a population of 1.71 billion people. Beyond the importance of his visit and the euphoria though, Zuck was simply here to promote his company’s interests, and there are important lessons that must not be lost even as we continue to discuss the importance of Nigeria’s August visitor in September — and maybe over the next few months.

Facebook pulled a major PR stunt to have Zuck visit Nigeria. I can imagine Ebele, Emeka and the rest of the team smiling as headlines — and pictures — continue to pop up all over the place. Of course, the PR stunt isn’t unconnected with Facebook’s interest and projects. Following the Indian experience and questions that keep coming for Facebook’s Free Basics project, it’s not surprising that Africa is important to the project. When you combine factors such as population, Facebook use, Internet growth rate (7,415.6% over 17 years is no joke) and the fact that Africa is easier to get into, the Nigerian trip and successful PR stunt make business sense. This is a brilliant business move by Facebook and while no PR can turn what is clearly a business strategy into an altruistic save-the-poor one, Facebook is not the issue. Our failure is.


Source: Internet World Stats

Source: Internet World Stats

Connecting the unconnected may benefit from short-term efforts but sustainable work must be done by governments of respective countries, who must put their money — that they’ve been collecting as special taxes, or Universal Access Funds, — where their mouth is! This has been done before, for mobile telephony, and can be done again, for access. Remember when someone in Nigeria said mobile phones were for the rich and poor people couldn’t afford them? Projects like the Rural Telephony Project suddenly became sexy but it was only when liberalisation and sustainable market practices happened that we saw progress.

Today, almost anyone who wants a mobile phone can get one. Competition is something that net neutrality supports and broadband can become Nigeria’s next GSM through just that, and not necessarily by relying on an half a loaf is better than none philosophy. The target date by which Nigeria seeks to achieve 30% broadband penetration is less than 3 years away and while we’re now at 13% according to the Nigerian Communications Commission, it’s mostly thanks to limited mobile broadband. For reliable broadband, terrestrial infrastructure is king, and the last mile — which is a major problem even though many undersea cables adorn the Lagos coastline — matters.

This is not just about what government must do. A lot has happened in spite of government and I’m glad to see a strong move from dependence on government patronage to real value creation. One generation wasted the opportunity for innovation when it settled for the lazy option of rent-seeking and that is one mistake today’s start-ups must not make. Beyond the validation that visits like Zuck’s bring (a lot more will follow), the ecosystem must focus on real work and collaboration. Don’t wait for validation. Work. It won’t be pretty. It probably won’t enjoy the spotlight all the time, if it ever does, but lay the foundation, and if you intend to — or are fortunate — benefit from it. Visits should move from validation to tech tourism and handshakes. There will be long moments with no external support or euphoria opportunities, and that’s when real work gets done.

Another important lesson is that we must create an environment that allows youth fulfill their potential. You can’t pull down buildings occupied by small businesses one day and talk about creating an environment for businesses the next. You can’t reward militants and politicians more than graduates and expect innovation to be commonplace. This is why I think Aso Villa Demo Day holds some potential to send the right signals. Hopefully, it doesn’t end as a tokenistic PR opportunity but goes on to inform government policy on the ease of doing business, and lays a foundation for thorough engagement.

One final important lesson for me: we want tech rock stars but often forget that innovation and hunger don’t mix well. Once you begin to pay bills, you’re likely to focus less on work and more on returns to pay ’em bills. This is why Paradigm Initiative Nigeria started TENT and why I’d choose spending time with young people who have fallen completely off our radar over also showing up for the pictures 🙂 We need more people investing in schools, and working to catch them young. If they start before 13, there’s a better chance they hit rockstar mode by 30. I’m excited that our first set of TENT students graduate this session, and many of the ideas they started working on in Year 1 are now Final Year Projects. As their colleagues defend 5,000-word dissertations (many of them copied and pasted), they’ll be pitching businesses. Or pitching their skills to potential employers.

Zuck was here. The euphoria is understandable. However, important lessons must be learnt so we move from just hosting rockstars to exporting same.

What Buhari Must Do For The Nigerian ICT Industry

By the time Nigeria’s President said, “I, Muhammadu Buhari, do solemnly swear…” on May 29, 2015, his honeymoon was officially over and expectations from all sectors of the economy – and corners of the republic – soared mercilessly. Nigerians are now impatient and want change, immediately. When the promise of change was being made during the elections, many qualified the word, “change”, with the prefix, “immediate”. Immediate change is what many now expect, and Mr President and his team should have hit the ground running, and must now be working overtime to fulfil promises and meet expectations.

As can be seen from recent reports on the health of economies globally, any nation that gets its Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) act right holds the potential of enjoying socio-economic benefits. There’s a reason why the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) and Human Development Index (HDI) have similar curves. If you plot a graph with NRI on the Y axis and HDI on the x axis, you will see that almost all countries with high NRI are above 0.8 on the HDI scale. It has also been established that increase in broadband access can add up to 0.3% gain to any nation’s GDP. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari must pay more attention to this opportunity, and maximize it. It is safe to assume that the president’s team already has many ICT experts but one hopes that this contribution will add value to existing thoughts and proposed strategies. We cannot afford to continue as a nation solely dependent on the mercy of global oil prices, it is time for us to start defining what the next decades must look like, and we can start with how this government manages the relationship between policy and innovation.

I have often argued that any government that can not work to make sure that policy supports innovation should get out of the way of innovation – and real work – instead of stifling it. The Muhammadu Buhari administration must ensure that policy is weaved around innovation in such a way that instead of standing in the way of those who are working tirelessly to introduce cutting-edge application of ICTs, government encourages innovation. One area where this directly applies is the emerging culture of tech startups in Nigeria, and government must not stand in the way of this potential answer to jobs and innovation but must instead seek to introduce policies that will encourage a Year 1 student in a College of Education to start working on her startup ideas, or at least acquire relevant skills, instead of just waiting to put together a CV as soon as she graduates. School fees are pretty high, even for public schools, so why waste it just to end up on the increasingly long unemployment queue that boasts of every grade of paper with “certificate” written on them?

Governments don’t create jobs, (small) businesses do. If we create the adequate policy environment and support innovation by allowing each student or out-of-school youth that introduces a new tech idea to do their job well, jobs and other economic benefits may follow. As tech startups grow, the need for adequate (wo)manpower becomes increasingly clear. In today’s Nigeria, we have a capacity problem such that even when there are jobs, it is often difficult to find young people who are able to adequately fill the gap. Instead of building (wo)manpower, many of our academic institutions are killing dreams by turning green-horned dreamers into cram-pass-forget students who end up on job queues but with almost no skill. We can turn this around. We must change from mis-educating to purposeful (wo)manpower development. Ongoing efforts in this regard give some reason for hope but they must not end up as paper tigers.

Nigeria has a National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) that can assume the responsibility of working with various stakeholders to lead this process of a time-bound and targeted (wo)manpower development for the ICT sector. We must ask the hard questions: how many people do we need with specific skills or knowledge in the next 10 years? What are the industry needs that (wo)manpower development must meet over the same period? Which sectors of the Nigerian economy can benefit from focused ICT capacity building over the next decade or so? When can Nigeria take leadership positions in pre-defined ICT application areas on the continent? These are the questions that NITDA must ask, set targets with, and then work with the academia and industry to develop (wo)manpower towards.

If we do this well, in the next decade, Nigeria will have adequate (wo)manpower to meet local ICT industry needs and be able to deploy assets towards places of interest where we can both learn and add value. There are problems with the academia, agreed, but if you have seen focused training based on the desire to meet specific objectives, you will appreciate the power of focused learning that has clear expectations. I see this from time to time as Paradigm Initiative Nigeria engages some of the academic institutions that have been condemned as cram-pass-forget centres.

As we develop more (wo)manpower, we must also address the problem of access. With ~46% Internet penetration and about ~12% broadband Internet penetration, majority are cut off from many opportunities. When I wrote on “Keep The Visa, Give Us Broadband!” many years ago, I was speaking to the fact that if we lay the pipes properly, we can afford to build where we are and allow the world come to us instead of jumping from one visa queue to the other, in a race towards better economic opportunities. Now that we have a National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), the Muhammadu Buhari government must build on it and work with the industry to repeat the feat of the early 2000s with GSM. Broadband is the new GSM and we can see aggressive roll-out and increased investments towards faster, cheaper and ubiquitous broadband access over the next 5 years.

For government to work more efficiently with industry and other sectors, it must become leaner and less confusing. In a 2007 report by the Presidential Committee on Harmonisation of Information Technology, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Sectors, which predates the establishment of a Ministry of Communication Technology, proposals were made on how to ensure proper ICT convergence in government. It’s time to whip the National Broadcasting Commission in line and get them to allow full implementation of the 2012 ICT Policy approved in principle by the outgoing government. One minister stood in the way of required harmonisation work and that error should now be corrected. Another recommendation that needs to see the light of day is the need to get rid of quasi-government ICT businesses.

President Muhammadu Buhari needs a leaner, fully harmonised and more focused Ministry of Communication Technology to help supervise Nigeria’s much-needed ICT revolution Nigeria must get her ICT act right, and it’s the responsibility of this government to make sure this doesn’t suffer additional delay.

Opening for Social Development Analyst at RemouldNG

RemouldNG is a start-up development consulting firm specialising in qualitative research and analysis in the areas of energy, gender, health, agriculture, and the environment. The firm works to assess the social and economic impacts of technical and policy interventions in the above-mentioned core areas. The firm also conducts primary and secondary research to uncover the factors driving such impacts, given that they are often at variance with the intentions of the public and private organisations tasked with technology and policy implementation.

Our clients span the gamut from international development organisations to national governments, civil society actors, and local businesses. We also work with the intended beneficiaries of development and market interventions to assess their needs and determine how best to channel public and private resources to meet those needs. Our aim is to provide a strong evidence base on which organisations can subsequently build their implementation strategy and ultimately meet the needs of target populations in ways that matter most to those populations.

The firm is now seeking a social development analyst who will work out of Lagos and will be engaged in all aspects of the firm’s work, including research, data analysis, results presentation, and report writing. Specifically, the analyst will be required to:

  • Undergo training in qualitative research methods on the job;
  • Contribute to the development of research and consulting proposals;
  • Participate in the design of desk and field studies;
  • Conduct desk research and synthesise the findings into background reports;
  • Undertake field research within and outside Lagos;
  • Distil the findings of primary research into working papers and final reports;
  • Contribute to the ongoing development of content for the firm’s outreach channels;
  • Assist the principal analyst in all activities relating to the planning, execution and delivery of project results.

The ideal candidate will have the following profile:

  • A bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, geography, or other social science field. A Master’s degree in any of the above-mentioned fields would be an added advantage;
  • At least two years’ experience working on poverty alleviation and international development issues;
  • Excellent writing and oral presentation skills;
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision and to strict deadlines;
  • Willingness to travel within Nigeria on temporary field assignments.

Remuneration will be dependent on the candidate’s skills, experience, and ability and willingness to learn on the job.

How to apply: Please send your CV, along with a 500-word essay on the potential benefits of mainstreaming gender considerations into energy projects, to by Friday May 13, 2016.

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

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, 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!

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

Resignation From EnoughisEnough (EiE) Nigeria Board

December 14, 2014

‘Yemi Adamolekun
Executive Director
EnoughisEnough Nigeria

Dear ‘Yemi,


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

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.


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.

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