I have been told a number of times that it takes a lot to impress me, but I doubt that itâ€™s true. However, I do know that it takes a lot for me to make the name of a 21-year old the title of my blog â€“ for reasons as simple as being accused of praise-singing, and as complex as defending why the particular individual merits the mention. That said, â€˜Seun Salami is an example of the Nigeria we speak so proudly of when we use the phrase, New Nigeria.
I had scheduled a media appointment for 1pm at a location closest to my 11am meeting venue with the hope that Iâ€™ll just meet up with the journalist and then leave for my next assignment. At 12:29pm, however, I was still in the middle of this meeting (which Iâ€™ll write about later) and then had to inform the journalist that I would be late and he should please note that I had no intentions to be rude. Then, my phone rang: â€œMy name is Seun and _____ said I should meet you for the interviewâ€¦â€ I paused for a second as if to ask why the change was necessary but said a polite thank you, asked for some time to get to the meeting location and continued to bring my 11am to a close.
I walked into the room calling the new journalistâ€™s number and after a few minutes, we introduced each other. I thought the handsome young man who walked up the stairs looked like the person I was to meet with but wondered if the journalist would recognize me. Well, we introduced ourselves and he went on to explain why he was the one who would be interviewing me. He was at the New Nigeria Club launch, had seen my resume online and thought itâ€™d be great to interview me â€“ but little did he know that I was a lot more inspired by his story than he was of mine. The interview went well, as has now become customary, but Iâ€™m still sitting here and tapping away on the keyboard with ‘Seun long gone.
I couldnâ€™t help wondering how such a fresh face would be responsible for all the excellent back-page con-versation articles in the National Standard. After he made me provide more information that I thought I could possibly do within the 60 minutes we spent together, it was my turn to ask questions. â€œWhatâ€™s your background?â€ I wasnâ€™t through. â€œHow old are you, if you donâ€™t mind?â€ His answers were not very surprising but they proved the point I was making during the interview when I spoke about how some Nigerians are already benefiting from the simple fact that they dared to stand out from the usual crowd.
Seun is a final-year student but already holds his own within a major media outfit. He had been at the National Standardâ€™s office for his industrial attachment (a compulsory component of some Nigerian degrees) but they wouldnâ€™t let him go. Why? Because while many are complaining and saying that there are no jobs, smart employers also know that great employees are hard to come by. â€˜Seun has no idea that Iâ€™m writing this, and will probably discover this when a friend refers him to it, but heâ€™s made my day! I have spent years telling anyone who cares to listen about how there are so many young Nigerians who are occupying strategic positions and may be called lucky when they begin to reap their rewards â€“ and â€˜Seun is a visible example. While some of his colleagues are busy undertaking the CPF rule (cram, pass, forget), heâ€™s carving a niche for himself.
It was people like â€˜Seun Salami that I had in mind on November 26, 2001 when I wrote: â€œI see a new Nigeria emerging, one that will be built on the labours of our heroes past, hewn out of the debris of the present waste and engineered by the strength of the future leaders: the youth. These young men and women will adopt Information [and Communications] Technology for the purpose of personal development, nation building, regional cooperation and global participation. They may be unknown today, but in the secrecy of their abode, they master the tool that will change their lives and that of their nation. They’re building the nationâ€™s tomorrow today!â€
‘Seun Salami, I salute you!