The Future was on Sunday

Best Use of Technology 2006 Award

At about 5pm on Sunday, February 26 2006, I was at the City Mall (Onikan, Lagos). That location is known for one major thing — movies — but I wasn’t there to see a movie; rather, I was there to celebrate the future. Earlier in the day, Adeolu Akinyemi (former classmate and an inspiring young man) called me, and a few minutes after our initial conversation was over, I called back again… and our discussion was also about the future. “What is this future thing you’re talking about?”

Organised by a team of dynamic young people who want to be known as RedStrat Communications, and have sworn to paint the town positively red, The Future Awards website has the following to say:

Slowly but surely, a quiet revolution driven by the 18+ has taken place, and it is time to signpost this revolution (for a new Nigeria) and take advantage of it. You know why this is crucial? Because all over the world, positive and radical change for the better has always been powered by the young – therefore it can only mean well for Nigeria, this revolution.

What we want to do is accelerate this change, to encourage it, and to sustain it. Looking away will be a dis-service not just to this enthusiastic, passionate Nigerians – but also to our nation, Nigeria, and its future. The event has a six point agenda:

  1. To honour achievement
  2. To celebrate youth
  3. Integration
  4. To connect futures
  5. Correct present destructive stereotypes of the Nigerian young person
  6. To present authentic role models

Defining the event will be an atmosphere of style and panache strongly underlined by excellence, achievement and success. And then the clincher – it will be all about, for and totally by young people.

And in announcing the event itself, the organisers said, “The ‘D’ Day is HERE! 26th of February 2006 Young Achievers between the ages of 18-31 will be recognised and APPLAUDED. Welcome to ‘The Future…!’ 200 seats…200 unique individuals! 18-31 years old…ALL Achievers! 26th of February 2006!”

I got an earlier eMail announcing that I had been nominated for 2 categories (“Best Use of Technology” and “Youth of the Year”), and the suspense was really there until the evening of the event. Adeolu was also nominated for the “Corporate/Professional Nigerian” category, and that meant a lot to me. [See full list of nominees here] We’ve been friends for quite a while (and worked on a lot of projects while in Great Ife), and here is celebration coming the way of two innocent (did someone sigh?) young men who made up their minds a little earlier to focus on donation and not duration.

By the time the evening was over, there were three statuettes on our table — one for Deolu, one for me, and the third for LEAP Africa (whose representative was on our award-winning table :)) While I won the “Best Use of Technology” award, Deolu went home with the “Corporate/Professional Nigerian” award. See the full list of winners below:

  • Musician of the Year: Innocent Tuface Idibia
  • Actor of the Year: John Njamah
  • Production Person/(Producer of the Year): Cobhams (QuestionMark)
  • Beauty & Style Award: Bisi Sowemimo (FTV Model of the Year 2004)
  • On-Air Personality of the Year: Ikechukwu Oviawe (Wildchild)
  • Best Use of Goodwill: Maria and Marita Ayodele
  • Best Use of Technology Award: ‘Gbenga Sesan
  • NGO of the Year: LEAP Africa
  • Comedian of the Year: Basket Mouth
  • Magazine of the Year: YouthSpeak
  • Corporate/Professional Nigerian: Adeolu Babawale Akinyemi (Virgin Nigeria)
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Tara Fela-Durotoye (House of Tara)
  • Artist of the Year: Toyin Sokefun
  • Writer of the Year: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Young Person of the Year: Tosin Otitoju

In all, the event was inspiring — and no one can ever forget how proud we all were to be Nigerians when the national anthem was remiexd by the trio of Segun Obe, Essenceand Ego Iheanacho (Lagbaja’s vocalist and dancer, who didn’t fail to show off her new wedding ring at the event, at the instance of a comedian). The future is here, the future is bright, and as we say here, “dem go take!” To Chude and the entire RedStrat team, I doff my hat… to the stars who chose to shine at City Mall on Sunday evening, our work is spelt out, and to the motivating “aunties” and “uncles” who showed up to encourage the 18+ event, nagode. Nigeria rocks! And I see a New Nigeria…

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Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network Launches Portal for Youth-Led ICT Projects

NYIN: Let Our Voice Be Heard!

The WSIS Declaration of Principles attests to that fact that young people are the leading creators and earlist adopters of ICTs; and there is no better set of people full of energy and so passionate than these youths to spread the use of these technologies. It is therefore important (of course) to include these young men and women in policy implementation processes and supporting them with the needed resources to extend the perimeters of the development through the Information and Communications Technology.

All across Nigeria, there are youth-led efforts aimed at raising awareness on the effective use of the ICTs for socio-economic development. This number will increase as more communities adopt the use of these technologies. In order then to support this new dynamic, to harmonise all these local efforts into a platform for resource sharing and best practice appraisal, the Nigerian Youth ICT for Development (ICT4D) youth network (NYIN) was formed. NYIN was launched just after the WSIS African Regional Preparatory meeting that took place in Accra, Ghana in February 2005.

NYIN: Let's gather our best for the race...

NYIN has a vision of “raising a networked generation of young Nigerians empowering themselves and contributing to the country’s active participation in the Information Society”. NYIN is not another new organisation, but a network of youth led ICT4D initiatives. Through its online platform, NYIN seeks to support, inspire, empower, educate, assist and inform youth led initiatives around the country and help them reach their full potentials and achieve their goals and objectives. NYIN also will work with youth efforts that are directed towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). NYIN seeks to bring together youth efforts from all levels and locations — at home and in the Diaspora; at the pre-school level (talk about catching them young), primary school, secondary school, tertiary institutions and young professionals!

On Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006 the NYIN portal ( was launched at the Henrich Boll Foundation Lagos Office and has since been open to youth led ICT4D efforts in Nigeria for registration. So do you have a youth led ICT4D initiative that wants to be a part of the network or that is already a part of it? Please get to the website at and register. Registration is free and with time, registered organisations will have access to ICT4D news update, upcoming ICT4D events, resources, best practises and more.

Sgd: Edward Popoola, Nigeria’s Information Technology Youth Ambassador

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Beyond Tunis: Reaping the Dividends of WSIS in Nigeria

Life after Tunis

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) ended in Tunis over two months ago, but it will only amount to obvious waste (of resources, including time and travel money) if any nation or people-group fail to maximize the opportunities that the process provided — and still provides. With various follow-up meetings and consultations continuing globally, it is important for Nigeria to also consider the opportunities that the WSIS process — and ICT for Development efforts — provides.

From Bamako to Tunis

Beginning in Africa (with Africa hosting the first of the regional preparatory committee meetings in Bamako in 2002) and ending here also, the WSIS process seems to be a great way of reminding Africa of her responsibilities within the Information Society. And when we are reminded of the fact that an African nation suggested the idea of hosting a World Summit on the Information Society, one can not but ask the question: “Was the WSIS process really beneficial for the African states that actively participated?” Each nation would be responsible for the appropriate answer, but it is worthy of note that beyond expected (and unexpected) flaws, the WSIS provided a unique networking and communication opportunity on a multi-stakeholder platform.

My consistent constituency throughout the process, the Youth Caucus, made a good case for what young people can do when there is a meeting point between preparation and opportunities. Right from Bamako through to Tunis (and including all the PrepComs and inter-sessional meetings), youth presence was felt. Arriving Tunis in varying numbers from diverse nations, the Youth Hub was soon to become a center of attraction to the entire WSIS population. Was it the visible energy, the colourful displays, the evident result of intense research, or was it the music and youthful vigour? All these played their respective roles in establishing the role of youth within the Information Society.

As you moved from one event to the other, you couldn’t avoid seeing these young people whose faces radiated hope and spelt sustainability for the future of the Information Society. A subset of this Youth Caucus was even more visible: with impact on their minds, passion in their hearts, branded T-shirts often on their necks, and their national flag on their shoulders, young Nigerians revealed the hope for Nigeria’s active participation (and possible leadership) in the Information Society. And when you think of the meetings in which some of these young Nigerians were invited to share best practices, you could not help noticing the attendant commendation for their efforts. But how were they able to translate all the energy into visible products such as the popular documentary and much-sought-after book?

The Miracle of Accra

The translation of energy into visible products is not unconnected to what I choose to describe as the Miracle of Accra. A presentation opportunity allowed me to share my thoughts on possible youth participation at the then-upcoming WSIS Regional Meeting in Accra, and what would come after that was not exactly predictable a few months before that day. The Youth Caucus had learnt to work through volunteers who depended on personal finances to attend meetings, and to take advantage fellowship openings to continue involvements in the WSIS process. But the support of Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF) changed the speed of action.

With the support for twenty one (21) young Nigerians to the Accra WSIS meeting, HBF clearly led what a word less than miracle cannot describe. These vibrant young people “led discussions, facilitated meetings, produced newsletters, met with dignitaries, resolved issues, matched words with action, and stayed up late… in order to help meet Africa’s Information Society needs. ” There in Accra, the African Youth ICT4D Network was born, and its effect can only be best described in the days to come – when different nations (including Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria) will establish their own national-level networks in line with the principles of the pan-African Youth Network.

Out of Tunis: Reaping the Dividends?

Having arrived at our post-Tunis days, and with so much miles to be covered, it is only wise to consider the need for the sustainability of projects, people, policy, partnerships and platforms. In an earlier article , I had argued that:

It is the duty of Government delegations to return to their respective countries and deliberately broadcast the outcomes of the process (to date) to their respective national stakeholders. This is also true for regional representatives and their sub-regional counterparts. We have come to appreciate the place of inclusion in national processes and while some nations, sub-regions or regions may not be able to boast of bottom-up consultations leading to the WSIS, this would be a great time to do so.

“At the end of the WSIS process, each nation would need to answer the question from her citizens – what do we benefit from the process? Many people in rural Nigeria are not bothered about the sub-section of chapter 27 or 28 that may be of immense interest to certain people; their question (and they have a right to ask) is, “where does my next meal come from and how do you (yes, you) explain why you have spent from my uncle’s tax (since I’m not employed and my aunt is under-employed) to finance national input into the WSIS process?”

“The Civil Society occupies a major space that is dear to the heart of many citizens. Will each civil society organisation be able to translate the “chapeau” into visible action for the average citizen? Will the networks that the civil society has been able to create survive the process and find meaningful expression and be available as a platform for progress? The civil society has made multiple requests and has expressed diverse possibilities, would development be visible if these are engaged?

“Would the DSF (among other outcomes of the WSIS process) empower civil society organisations? Would the outcome of the financial mechanisms debate also help increase support for these actors? The question on the mind of civil society organisations who have benefited from the process through networks and new ideas would be how to replicate this same “success” back at home – especially for those who work with communities that care less about Internet “governance” and more about livelihood. The Private Sector, International Organisations, United Nations Agencies and all other stakeholders within the process have the moral right to support this global opportunity of building an all-inclusive society that focuses on people and development over profit and technology.

“For young people, it is time to prove that our energies can help propel development. We discovered a best-practice effort during the first phase, the National Information Society Youth Campaigns. 21 countries, 5 continents, 20 regional and national conferences, over 200 workshops, over 40 radio programs, 5 video conferences, over 100,000 brochures, over, 50 media stories… the impact speaks for itself. You should have been there to see the faces of some rural youth literally glow when they learnt of the role of ICTs and had the opportunity of being taught in their own local language! Have you seen the Youth Caucus movie from phase 1? [And permit me to add this, “have you seen the Nigeria Rocks! book and documentary?”] You need to; it speaks for the impact and possibilities of youth energy.”

These assertions remain particularly relevant for Nigeria and other African nations that are interested in translating their WSIS investments into visible development opportunities. How about the upcoming Internet Governance Forum and the Stocktaking exercise? Have we reached the climax of national participation in the emerging Information Society consultations? I doubt that that should be the case. Projects such as the Lagos Digital Village (LDV) remain committed to the principle of maximizing WSIS opportunities, and I am sure that the coming days will witness dynamic efforts within the Nigerian civil society space. With the support of Heinrich Boll Foundation and project concept (with volunteer support) from Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, LDV will host an ICT4All Seminar for secondary school students (in order to encourage ICT clubs and discuss cybercrime) on the 29th of March; a Cybercrime Roundtable at the HBF office on the 19th of April; a Mentorship Roundtable (which will bring together two generations of ICT professionals in Nigeria for the purpose of building staying power for the sector, for the days ahead) at the HBF office on the 17th of May; and the annual Youth Agenda to discuss wholesome application of ICTs for development at the community level.

People remain critical resources for this key challenge of achieving Nigeria’s aim of becoming “…an IT capable country in Africa and a key player in the Information Society by the year 2005, using IT as the engine for sustainable development and global competitiveness. ” We may miss the last digit in the year of target, but the decade should remain the same. With the help of the media (who have been significantly helpful with the creation of awareness and responsiveness of government – among other things), civil society networks, private sector funding and academia research, Nigeria should be in safe hands. The task of producing a conducive environment and appropriate policy frameworks remain with the government – through the specialized agencies that have been saddled with the responsibility of developing Nigeria’s ICT sector. Partnerships such as the one between HBF and civil society organisations (of which the LDV is proud to be one), and functional intra-civil society networks will contribute to the speed and efficiency of the post-Tunis phase. Platforms such as the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network (NYIN) portal – which I will present to you shortly – will help various stakeholders to give expression to their commitments and contributions to Nigeria’s post-Tunis realities.

We do not have the luxury of many options. As it is popularly said, we either “shape up or ship out”. My preferred option – and that which I have seen expressed in various discussions – is that of shaping up, doing it right, and reaping the dividends of WSIS in Nigeria.

1. SESAN O. (2005), RIPPLES from Lagos: …Nigerian Youth Choose to Lead Action in the Information Society. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 21, 2006:
2. SESAN O. (2005), Quo Vadis: Where do we go from Geneva? Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 21, 2006:
3. Nigerian National Policy for Information Technology (2001). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on August 31, 2006:

Media Presentation of “Nigeria Rocks!”

NYIN Online

The World Summit on the Information Society ended in Tunis over two months ago, but it will only amount to obvious waste (of resources, including time and travel money) if any nation or people-group fail to maximise the opportunities that the process provided — and still provides. With various follow-up meetings and consultations continuing globally, it is important for Nigeria to also consider the opportunities that the WSIS process — and ICT for Development efforts — provides.

This informs the media presentation of the “Nigeria Rocks!” project, which will discuss the book, Global Process, Local Reality: Nigerian Youth Lead Action in the Information Society; show the Nigeria Rocks! documentary; host a progress report on Nigerian Youth and ICTs (to be delivered by Nigeria’s Information Technology Youth Ambassador, Edward Popoola); and launching of the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network (NYIN) Portal. The series of events will help lend media credence to the process of youth inclusion and participation in Nigeria’s ICT for Development space while also celebrating the possible sustained contributions of these youth.

F. G. C. Idoani, We Greet Thee…

FGC Idoani, I greet thee!

FGC Idoani, we greet thee
FGC Idoani, we love thee
To show academic excellence: this is our goal
The unity of our dear nation: this is our pride

And due respect to our government, this we shall keep
The beauty of good behaviour, we shall uphold
We greet thee, dear principal
We hail thee, all our staff

And we will always keep in mind, FGC Idoani
Yes, this will be our source of pride, FGC Idoani!”

(… and then the usual noise after the anthem, remember? Any errors in the anthem, mine and regretted — 1994 was 12 years ago 😉)

On the 2nd of October, 2006, alumni of Federal Government Collage, Idoani, will gather for the FGC Idoani National Ex-Students’ Reunion 2006. Please see event details below:

Theme: “National Rebirth”

Venue: Dining Hall, F. G. C. Idoani

Date: Monday, October 2, 2006

Time: 10am prompt

Additional program details follow:

  1. Day 1

    • Arrival and registration of ex-students from distant chapters by 12 noon
    • A special Jumat service at the college Mosque by 1pm
    • A friendly football match between the ex-students and present students on the school football field by 4pm prompt.
  2. Day 2(10am-4pm):
    • Cross-country race to town by ex- and present students (6am)
    • A 30-minute lecture on the theme “National Rebirth”, by a renowned medical doctor and conference speaker, Dr. Adeleye Omokhoa (former Chief Medical Consultant, Igbinedion University, Okada)
    • Inspection of college facilities, led by Mrs. A.A. Abolaji (former Principal) and heads of staff
    • A 45-minute open forum between staff and ex-students on “FGC Idoani … Our Status Quo”, to be led by Mr. Tope Fasidemi
    • Official introduction and launching of The FGC Idoani Intervention Fund, led by Dr. Dayo Adewuya and Barrister Ray
    • Introducing The Career Network (TCN), by Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan
    • Introducing The FGC Idoani Books Project, by Mr. Bunmi Isinkaye
    • Nomination and Election of the 30th Anniversary planning committee and zonal coordinators January 2008, by Mr. Doyin Adeloye
    • Refreshment and reminiscences
    • Networking, led by Ms. Kemi Ogunya
    • Cutting the Reunion Cake

The Program Directors/Moderators are Tunde Akinsemola and Akinwunmi Abodunde. The Chairman will be Mr. Samuel Oluwole Adelana, the first Senior Prefect of Fderal Government College, Idoani.

For additional information and registration details, please contact Humble Okere, and 08038558270.

See you in Idoani, if you ever had the privilege of attending the school I refer to as the training ground 😉 The enthronment and celebration of academic excellence, Nigeria’s unity, promotion of good governance, insisting on good behaviour, honour to the dutiful teachers/administrators, the love for FGC Idoani, and the pride we have in her training should move us to act. Reunion 2006 is the opportunity, February 25, 2006 is the date. Great, old FGC Idoani is the place. You and I are the people… let’s make it happen!

Eager to see you there…

New Technologies and Journalism Practice

'Gbenga Sesan at the Journalism Workshop

Last week, I was invited to the World Bank/Media Rights Agenda workshop for journalists, where I made a presentation on New Media Technologies and Journalism Practice. Please see the final Workshop Communiqué below:

Lagos, February 6 to 8, 2006

The World Bank Institute (WBI) in Washington D.C., in partnership with Lagos-based Media Rights Agenda (MRA) held a three-day Journalism Skills and Training Workshop at the Ostra Hall and Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos between February 6 and 8, 2006.

The workshop brought together about 50 editors and senior reporters to discuss the role of the media in improving governance and development in Nigeria. The workshop was aimed at strengthening their skills to understand and report on key development, poverty, economic and governance issues, including the macroeconomic environment, the international economic environment, poverty reduction strategies, and the role of local and international institutions in alleviating poverty. The ultimate objective of the workshop was to sharpen their ability to report on economic and development issues to improve public understanding and awareness in
these areas.

Workshop modules included the attributes of quality of information; journalism ethics, rights and obligations; media accountability and self-regulation; business and economic reporting; development journalism; effective coverage of budget and macroeconomic issues; effective coverage of poverty reduction strategies; effective coverage of international economics issues; writing effective development stories; writing on economic policy issues and the impact of new media technologies on journalism practice.

The workshop participants agree to and hereby adopt this Communiqué.


The participants observed as follows:

  • The media are the primary intermediaries of information between the government and the citizens. The media act on behalf of the citizens in seeking information on government policies, programmes and activities. The media therefore constitute an important tool for holding the government and public authorities accountable to the people and bringing about development.

  • The Nigerian media need to carry out more investigative journalism if they hope to impact positively on the public space. The enactment of a Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria would
    enhance the practice of investigative journalism as it would enable journalists to move away from the realm of speculation to more factual and accurate reporting.

  • It is important for journalists to familiarize themselves with the laws of defamation, which tend to define the scope of the right to freedom of expression and affect the journalist’s
    performance of his professional duties.

  • The issue of pervasive corruption among public office holders as well as in the private sector has become a matter of great public concern and interest. Any publication in the broadcast or print media exposing corrupt practices among public office holders or in business does an immense service to the society. The journalists should therefore not be deterred by the laws of libel from carrying out their duties faithfully, with boldness and vigour.
  • With the renewed global interest in development economics and the importance of this on national populations, there is an important need to bring about improved coverage of development and economic issues in the media. It is therefore imperative that media
    professionals, especially those covering development and economics, have a deep understanding of how economic policies and developments impact on the population.

  • The widespread corruption in the media raises serious concerns about the profession. The greatest asset any news organization has is its credibility. In order to establish public confidence and trust, media professionals and media organizations must abide by high ethical and professional standards. Media professionals should endeavour to familiarize themselves with the applicable professional codes of ethics. Professional bodies within the media as well as media owners and managers also need to do more to enforce ethical and professional standards among media professionals.
  • The information age is revealing a complex convergence that is creating societies driven by information and communication technologies. Regrettably, many journalists lack the requisite
    knowledge to operate in this new information age that is transforming the nature of the media in the gathering, processing and dissemination of news and information as well as media forms.
    Journalists in all types of media therefore need to keep abreast of technological developments in the field of communications and acquire the technical skills required to use the new media.


Media stakeholders should take urgent steps to revive and strengthen the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) to enable it enforce the provisions of the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists as it is required to do under the Nigerian Press Council Act, as amended. They should also ensure that the Council is independent of government or other political influences in order to enhance its credibility and effectiveness.

Furthermore, the media industry should adopt intra-industry peer review mechanism or process, which will encourage compliance with best practices.

The media should pay more attention to the activities of the various anti-corruption agencies, particularly to ensure that appropriate mechanisms, including secure and predictable funding as well as functioning complementary institutions, are put in place to guarantee their independence, accountability to the public, sustainability and effectiveness.

Given the capacity deficit in the media in a number of areas, donor agencies, including the World Bank, should work with local organizations to provide capacity building assistance which will
enable the media to be professional, independent and sustainable.

Assistance may be provided in the following areas:

  1. The knowledge and skill base of journalists should be upgraded through sustained training programmes over a number of years. Training is required in the following areas:

    • Deeper knowledge and understanding of economic and development issues, including the ability to analyze the impact of the government’s economic and fiscal policies on the society as well as the implications of international trade agreements for the country;
    • Writing and presentation skills to be able to report economic and development issues as well as other matters;
    • The use of digital and other media technologies in the collection, editing, publishing and distribution of information;
    • The management of media establishments to enhance their economic sustainability.
  2. The provision of access to new media technologies, including laptop computers, digital cameras, minidisks, midgets, etc.

    Adopted in Lagos
    This Wednesday, the 8th day of February, 2006

180 Minutes of Football!

It’s 5pm local time in Nigeria. Drums are rolling, waists are moving and the people are obviously happy! That had nothing to do with politics, economic revival or religion — it’s simply football. I’m not keen about football, and know next to nothing about matches, players and how much they are paid — but I watched 180 minutes of breath-taking football yesterday.

It was Nigeria’s day with rivals, Tunisia (on the football field, that is). Two years ago (I’m made to know), we lost to this same team at some crucial point during the same football tournament. And yesterday was another opportunity to “finally put the history of African football to rest as far as Nigeria and Tunisia were concerned”. I couldn’t believe my ears when some noise rang through the streets after about 6 minutes into the match — Nigeria had scored! Trust PHCN (Nigerians know them like the back of thie hands), I had to find an alternative source for power supply, and then settled with the match.

With my heart in my mouth, I endured the two halves of the match — especially when the Tunisians had put in a second goal! I was, however, too glad to see Vincent Enyeama save the penalty taken by that Tunisian guy (my very good friends, Tope and Ayo can help you with the player’s name :)). The extra time ended and there were no goals. My friend (who’d been seeing the macth with me at home) left the living room — not bold enough to see the penalty shoot-out. Suddenly, I saw Enyeama smiling… so I called out and said, “don’t miss history that’s about to be made, I think we’ll win”. Of course, I was scared stiff and needed someone to see the macth with me (I have a way of being a little more calm when someone else is there to receive my and slaps while watching football — now you know why football is not good for my heart :)).

The first came from the captain, Joseph Yobo (got the name!). Ande, ande, ande (as a popular commentator would say)… we missed the first oportunity. By the time Enyeama saved the third penalty of the match and we were on the same score level with Tunisia, my hopes were high. Nigerians were tensed. You could feel silence walk through the street as random shouts rent the air, “God! Help us!”, “is this the end?”, “well, we tried”, were audible from God-knows-where. Then, the moment of the match. Kanu was invited to play Nigeria’s last penalty and he obviously wasn’t ready to take such huge risk. He did, and he scored (somebody say Papilo!) And the man of the macth (though CAF thought it was Mikel Obi who deserved that title) stepped up to do his thing. A visibly hungry Tunisian stepped up to the ball… ande, ande, ande he caught the ball! Nigeria was through the the semi-finals!

I wasn’t sure of how to celebrate, so I went out and took pictures — enjoying every bit of the “celebration”. That I’m blogging about football surprises me, but if nothing else works in Nigeria, football does! Nigeria rocks! And guess what, the same spirit that makes every Nigerian stay glued to a Nigerian match and wish for the best, will line the fabrics of the New Nigeria! Go on eagles, bring home the trophy… tell the world that giants may fall asleep, but this one is waking up! Up Eagles, up technical crew, up fans’ club, up Nigeria! I doff my hat for Vincent Enyeama.

Calculated Positioning for the Days Ahead

(c) National Association of Seadogs website

Its 7:07 am and I have been reading for about one hour. The content of my intellectual journey is not far from the purpose — the purpose being my thoughts on how to move Nigeria from its present state to that New platform that visits my dream, thoughts and moments.

A few days ago, another person asked me to run: “my advice to you is to run! Leave that hopeless country while you can. Run like a hare”, he said. My respons was swift, calculated and deliberate. It wasn’t aimed at joining issues with a senior colleague, but coined to assure my fellow sojourners in the Nigerian space (today’s youth) that only the faint-hearted givs up when its darkest — for the break of dawn comes just after the thickest darkness of the night. My response? Hear:

Thanks sir, but I won’t run (and I smile everytime I hear that — very often nowadays). But I will be glad to tell the story to all that care to listen when things get better. We wll even publish books with such titles like,”The Nigerian Miracle”; “Great Things Out of Nigeria”; “The NIGERIA Story” (seen “The Google Story”?); etc, etc. My only fear is that those who give up now will only “hear” the story, but those who stick their necks out to get the job done — though will have to make sacrifices, but — will be able to “tell” the story. I find out that the more I get involved with fixing (in every little way) the future of this beloved nation, the better I develop critical skills that may soon become helpful when we need to apply the same solutions to other developing nations.

In a few years (and that may be 20 or more, or even less), other people will come asking about how we did it… simply because there’s a new generation that is tired of the questions, “What did you do with all your skills, such that your nation is still the way it is?”, “Daddy, is it true that we were born in Nigeria, can we go back home soon?”, etc, etc. Finally, the reason I can’t run is that the little history I have read shows that the nations that I could have run to have all experienced transition — some were ven termed hopeless. A few years ago, “Taiwan” label on any product meant “inferior”, “China” meant “cheap — and maybe fake”… I suspect that just the same way that China makes even US corporations reconsider their African investments today, “Okrika” will soon mean “top quality”, and wise corporations will outsource to the that nation so close to the cetre of Africa, called Nigeria.

Best regards,

NB: By the way, some Chinese guys just moved in on my street, and a few of my friends spoke of Chinese and other nationals looking for houses in their area. If these guys keep rushing into Nigeria everyday, shouldn’t we reconsider this “run away” idea? A lizard in Nigeria can not become an alligator in a “run-away” land… from this place, we will tell the world the story of moving from “impossible” to “exemplary”.

Interesting. Just read that again myself and I am much-the-more convinced that the New Nigeria is only a matter of time, people and capacity. The timing is now, but the time of realisation will be determined by the people — whose ability would be decided by their capacity. To solve my bit of the puzzle, the next five years have been dedicated to academic/research capacity building; as aptly described in the document I titled, “My Life: ‘Gbenga Sesan” (borrowing from you-know-who). That documents takes over from my 2000 5-year plan to describe what my next 20 years could look like. That explains why I am so convinced that the task of rebuilding Nigeria may hover around that time-span. Put pen to paper, draw up your own plans and you can be sure that a weaving of our diverse efforts will lead to the destination called New Nigeria!

Back to my earlier reference to the early morning intellectual journey. The content happens to be the writings of a man I’ve come to know as a tall citizen of the world, and proud son of Africa (beyond his 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature). Prof. Wole Soyinka neds no introduction, and hardly can any additional praise of the man change the volumes that have been written about him. In one of the happenings that many may call luck, he was there on the 16th of January 2002 as Special Guest, and to hand me the plaque for the I. T. Youth Ambassador award. Incidentally, I stumbled on his January 11, 2002 funeral oration for his friend (and our departed statesman, Chief Bola Ige,) titled Ajibola Ige – An Ecumenical Spirit. In the oration, he concluded: “… they killed a builder, a pathfinder through the labyrinths of man-made divisiveness. But they cannot kill hope, nor can they extinguish the conviction and a faith in the future that burns within our hearts.” I could only sigh after reading the entire oration (having read some other speeches delivered by this phenomenon, including Lessons From Uncle Sam’s Debacle, Redesigning a Nation and The Deceptive Silence of Stole Voices.

At the investiture (that held at the MUSON Centre only 5 days after Prof. Soyinka attended his friend’s burial ceremony), I read a poem I had written around the national tragedy of Uncle Bola‘s assassination. It follows:


Brightness is gone
Darkness has swept in…
Pain is tickling the people
And tears stroll down their faces.

A son is gone
The sun is down…
But many more are being assassinated
Yet without bullets or weapons.

Bubbling with enough zeal for two
Young men and women grow with dreams
Of building the nation
And making it an enviable country.

But… as soon as the dream sets
The unknown strikes
Minds are assassinated…
Dreams are aborted.

They lay with hopes dashed
And their dreams changed…
The vicious cycle continues
And intellectual assassination persists.

When will the sun rise again
Over this nation, our nation?
When will corporate existence
Replace selfish interests?

When will our greatest resources
Cease to manifest beyond our shores?
And the labours of our heroes past…
Shall they be in vain?

Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria’s call obey…
While the God of creation
Guides our leaders and helps our youths!

Gather your writing materials, equip yourself, its time for the next chapter of The NIGERIA Story — the chapter that is aptly titled, “Personal Development”. This chapter speaks of deliberate capacity building, and calculated positioning for the days ahead.

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3rd Time With Funmi

With the entire crew...

Funmi Iyanda is a household name in Nigeria. her program, New Dawn with Funmi is an amazing platform — either to announce a campaign, advocate cause or discuss an issue of interest. Watched by millions of viewers every Monday and Wednesday, New Dawn with Funmi has become a force within Nigeria’s edu-infotainment space — bringing the millions of viewers face to face with dynamic individuals who are selected (as I eventually found out) based on intense research and a strong need for what they have to offer.

My first invitation to the show was for the Get Better (official name of Wednesday shows) session of July 13, 2005. It was an interesting discussion on how to overcome fear, and if you saw that show you would have thought that myself and Niyi Adesanya had met before that day — not true. I walked into the NTA studio and noticed two other young men waiting for the recording to start — Uju (author of a number of books, including “In the Words of Pat Utomi”, etc) and Niyi Adesanya (who I’ve come to know as the de-facto authority on Leadership issues in our generation). After the show, a number of friends called to confirm how important the discussions was — and a few others sent eMails to ask further questions. Sometime in August 2005, I was invited again for a show (aired on August 31) that deliberately focused on the possible role of ICTs in personal development. Funmi Iyanda was not the host, but Peju did a great job that once again underscores the need for institutionalising processes.

With Jerome...

A few days ago, I was having a post-event lunch with the organisers of a seminar at the Federal Polythecnic (Ado Ekiti) — where I’d spoken on the theme, Don’t Stop! Exemplary Leadership through Continued and Result-Oriented Personal Development. My phone rang, and it was the FI (as Funmi Iyanda was foindly called while getting ready for the February 1 show) team again. This time, they wanted me to discuss hope. This becomes necessary, especially following the previous weeks discussion that saw a few young people asking questions about hope in the midst of darkness. Recorded on the last day of January and aired on the first day of February, the show was another interesting session — and it also featured Jerome (a counsellor). Beginning with the fact that frustration should not be seen as a final destination but an opportunity to recognize that you are dissatisfied with the present status (and plot a move-on strategy), I tried to paint a picture for other young people. My major assertion was that, “each one of us must be responsible for the success — or otherwise — of our lives. If you fail in the days of adversity, its not because you went to the wrong school, were born into the wrong family, or any other excuse, it is because your strength is small… when it is darkest, it is another opportunity for even little light to shine!

Just before the show...

There were some amazing thoughts that flowed from Funmi (herself), Jerome, and the audience. I must confess that I was literally tripped when I logged on to Funmi Iyanda’s website on February 1 and saw that the day’s show had been archived (text and a few images). The fact that Funmi has taken the all-important work online shows the relevance of her tasks to this Net-Generation. The focus on mentorship, values, hard work and fulfilment are spelt out on the website. Radiating quality, and revealing depth of content, the New Dawn with Funmi website ( is a favourite destination for young people who are with me on the journey of personal development, nation building, regional cooperation and global participation!