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

#BringBackOurGirls Represents Growing Citizen Action

#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

For Immediate Release
ASHOKA Fellows Network
May 12th, 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.


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,

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


#BringBackOurGirls (Photo Credit: World Economic Forum)


Are You Plugged In?

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

Two Interesting Journeys


It’s been an interesting journey. Literally. And figuratively.

We set out, from Lagos, for the magical island of Seychelles on Wednesday night, to celebrate Temi’s birthday and our 5th wedding anniversary, but the journey grew wings. A strike action at an airport led to missing our connecting flight to Seychelles, even though the airline staff in Lagos went the extra mile – after we insisted, of course – to make sure we could join the connecting flight because the next onward flight to Seychelles would be on Sunday, 2 days after the major events we thought to celebrate on the beautiful island tucked away in the middle of the Indian ocean.

The duty manager called the central operations team to explain our situation and he was assured the connecting flight would be held for a few minutes to allow us board, especially as we packed only one bag. Well, our plans for this holiday isn’t one that requires a lot in packed luggage. But I digress. So, after we boarded and overcame the day-long airport staff strike action, we looked forward to a trip without delays. The moment we were courteously pulled aside on arrival, my alarm bells went off – the flight had left without us. A few minutes later, we demanded to speak with ground staff at the transit hub, and she was quick to say they’d put us in a hotel until Sunday.

Temi knew what would come next, so she looked at me as if to say, “baby, take it easy.” She assured me it was okay to work within the plans but I replied, “a promise is a debt, we have a birthday and anniversary to enjoy at our desired location.” After few calls on her phone and repeated attempts to convince me it was impossible to get us to Seychelles, I told Sylvia I needed to speak with the “oga at the top.” The lady I spoke with was calm, and quick to say everything Sylvia (I pitied her at some point) had already told us. I was calm (even Temi was surprised) but told the oga something like: “I know you couldn’t do anything about the airport strike but you made a promise.”

I continued, “Look through your network for an airline that can help fulfill your promise, hire a private jet or a very fast boat… but I have to pay a debt to a tired young woman.” I think she understood what was going on here. She asked for a few minutes, and after what looked like a very long wait, Sylvia showed up with a solution. I wanted to ask her why they called the task impossible before until I insisted on getting online myself to recommend possible connections, but we were too tired to gloat. A few minutes later, we were at lunch and arrangements to get us to Seychelles in time for Temi’s birthday and our anniversary were taken care of.

That’s the literal part of the interesting journey.

As I write this on the flight towards our final destination, Temi is reading the latest edition of Msafiri. I just checked the cover again to be sure I got that spelling right. I did. She smiled. Of course, she knows what’s going on here. I hardly write non-tech reports, so she knows this is about the journey – the literal one. The figurative journey started this time 5 years ago. In Lagos, Nigeria.

65 months before January 17, 2009, I met Temi at a friend’s wedding and immediately asked her to dance with me. The groom was my friend and the bride was hers but for some reason, we had never crossed paths even though we all attended the same university. I think it was because she lived in the classroom, a place I didn’t exactly consider my first priority while on campus. Okay, I digress again. After a failed first date – involving an inability to pay at Chocolate Royale, Temi suggesting she didn’t really like the place anyway (to save my ego), walking to another restaurant (and it wasn’t for fitness) – and many more incidents that included a friend advising her not to marry me because of my bad habits, we got engaged. Er, there’s a Part 2 for that video 🙂

The journey of marriage is one you can’t prepare enough for because the dynamics change once you both wake up without pretenses beside each other. In the first 3 years, I learnt tolerance. Chei! I learnt a lot. As far as I was concerned, I was making a lot of sacrifices and she was too busy trying to create a new body of knowledge. Temi was completing her PhD in the UK, so I was in Nottingham every month. I’d promised on our wedding day that I’d make sure we spent good time together each month, so I made sure that meetings outside Nigeria took me through the UK route. And for months that saw no work travel, I traveled anyway. After many fights, tears and a day she almost walked out of the house, we both learnt how to support each other’s career and enjoy it!

Anyone who knows me really well (not the new “friend”-ship as defined by social media) won’t be surprised to read this: I get plenty wahala. Yes, work in progress, but far from the picture that public appearances show. Not that I pretend, but you know how none of us would fart in public as we’d do when in the confines of our bedroom with folks who are used to the odour? I thought you’d get it. Now, let’s get back to pretending we all don’t do that. Cool. In the few years spent with Temi, I’ve done things that made her cry, shown signs that could make anyone doubt love regardless of how deeply it’s expressed, etc, but one thing that I can’t argue with myself about is that she’s the best decision I ever made.

This interesting journey has involved days of those tough marriage questions: does she really love me? Why on earth won’t she see that I almost killed myself to do that? And more. Maybe the fact that I knew I was a flawed human being helped me learn a lot. Of course, she isn’t a saint, but she’s such a sweet soul that I wonder why she considered signing those dotted lines on January 17, 2009. Five years and many decisions later, I look at her and I smile. I smile because we’ve taught each other a lot (most recent lessons from Temi include small talk, remembering people’s names, calling friends and family, etc) and I’m glad we have many more years to continue to do that.

In many ways, I think this fifth wedding anniversary signals the next phase of our union, but it also represents the next phase of our careers – bodies of knowledge we’re both proud we’ve spent years to build. I don’t even know if I’m writing this to say thank you to the woman who changed my life (and continues to do so), or just thinking out loud about this interesting 5-year journey, but I am glad to have a co-traveller that inspires me, and one I am proud to call Mentor. We push each other towards career heights that ordinarily scare us as individuals, but most of all, I have discovered the true meaning of love. Love is Temilade Adeyinka Sesan.

Temilade, thank you for saying yes.

Adeyinka, the promise to become better is a debt.

Baby, I’m sorry I stole your birthday and turned it into our wedding anniversary. Well, it’s insurance against ever forgetting 😀 Happy birthday, hun!

I know I’ll get a chance to say this privately, but to the woman who has spent the last 5 years laughing at my increasingly almost-not-funny jokes and working with me to keep smiles on both faces: oooooooooooooooooooooooosé!

Cleaning Her Way Towards Opportunity

She’s young. Very young. We hired her as a cleaner when it became clear that the new office needed someone to look after it through the day, especially as there was now a lot of human traffic through the Ajegunle Innovation Centre – parents seeking opportunities for their kids, students who come in daily for 7 weeks to learn new things that could turn their lives around, young people who just want to check out what was so important that their colleagues went through the rigour of interviews. Tinuke didn’t come across as one with a lot of confidence. Actually, she lacked confidence and you could see through it. But she was just a victim of the lack of opportunity that Paradigm Initiative Nigeria is working hard to at least make a dent in – and continue to chip away at the alarming numbers. When we hired her, she didn’t bother to tell us that she had gone through training at an ICT Centre, and that she actually did teach. Yes, she didn’t bother trying to pick up a job with that skill and grabbed the opportunity she could get.

I’ve seen a lot of that. People don’t bother looking for matching opportunities because 54% of the other young people out there are unemployed, and they will accept a much lower pay to edge others out of the competition for the few spots that open up. At one point, a graduate attended the interview for our program but hid what you would think was his competitive advantage. He knew it was a program for folks who, among other things, have not had a chance at tertiary education and didn’t want his degree to disqualify him from a program that could offer a 3-month (or longer) internship that might just be his entry to the world of work that had eluded him for over 3 years after he was told by his Vice Chancellor that he had been found worthy, in character and in learning, to join the labour force. He didn’t get a job, like many others, so he lowered the bar to start from anywhere. Chances are that the security guard you were rude to last week holds a BSc but ate the humble pie as he keeps searching for that better opportunity. I don’t think this was Tinuke’s deliberate approach, but she is also a lot more powerful than the position she accepted.

As she cleaned the training room, she showed interest in more than just keeping it neat. After asking her about her plans for tertiary education, I’d think to myself: she should join the next set of students so she can pick up skills that could set her up for much more. Little did I know that she would one day walk into the class to train the students she was cleaning up after. Tinuke is no longer just the cleaner who had to keep every stain off, she is now the tall lady who puts students through on those computers she still cleans. Of course, she won’t be there for much longer as she has now taken the bold step of showing interest in an opening to do what she had been doing on the side – assisting our program lead with making the experience much better. Just before the staff evaluation exercise at our recently concluded staff retreat, other members of the team confirmed the need for her to step up, “come out of her shell” and show much more confidence. I took time to tell her in person, when she sat alone with me to give honest feedback that could help us at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria in our desire to be a much more desirable place to work.

Tinuke is work in progress, as I am. As you are too? Well, I thought it was just me. And Tinuke. LOL. I won’t be surprised when she goes on to become much more than she was ever given a chance to be, and I am extremely glad that Paradigm Initiative Nigeria is able to add value to the students that walk through our doors – and the young men and women who work very (read that as VERY) hard to make sure that our program beneficiaries get a chance to improve their lives. Our vision is summarized by ICTs + Youth = Socio-Economic Opportunities and it is the work that people like Tinuke and the other team members do that allows us to hit the nail on the head. But this isn’t just about a young woman who is climbing higher on the ladder of opportunity, it’s also about what she has taught me. Tinuke has reminded me again that it’s okay to start really small and grow, and to never allow the smallness of the space you currently occupy take away the sight of that big vision. Thank you, Tinuke, and all the best with the rest of your career journey.