Enugu, Benin Feel the Heat of The Future Awards Season 4!

This is fresh from the stables of the bright young minds behind The Future… awards. Well done Chude, Debola, Emilia! They are another reason why I still believe.

As The Future Awards team fulfills its promise to crisscross the nation with the message of inspiration for young Nigerians from varying backgrounds, it has been a rollercoaster ride!

On the 22nd of October, the national tour moved to the ancient city of Benin in Edo State, where The Future Awards engaged with a crowd of over 1, 500 at the Sports Complex of the University of Benin. Hosted in conjunction with rave Benin TV show; Music Mix, CFI Benin chapter and Nigeria International, the meeting saw a presentation of the idea and took questions from the guests.

“Honestly,” said Onyebuchi Aihie, Mass Communication student of the university and one of the attendees, “I have heard about The Future Awards on television but I really didn’t know what it was about – you know all of these things that happen in Lagos are usually only for the famous ones; but I am so happy they came to Benin because so much is happening in Nigeria and the youth of this country need to come together and say: it cannot continue like this.”

Guests at the ‘town hall’ meeting were informed of the 20 award categories, how to nominate via the website www.thefuturenigeria.com, what the Awards is looking for, a peep at the profiles of past winners, a peek into what to expect for the next edition, and how to spread the word.

Immediately after, the train moved to Zodiac Hotel in Enugu on the 25th of October, where, for an hour, there was a vibrant, robust conversation with hundreds of young passionate Nigerians about Nigeria and its future. If the crowd at Benin was enthusiastic, Enugu was over the top with excitement!

In a presentation made by the Operations Director for the Awards, Adebola Williams, he repeated the process of re-introducing the Awards, and answering questions from the audience, whilst distributing the event flyers and posters, as well as the special “i am the future” campaign t-shirts and stickers.

“The guests identified with the stories of past winners, especially some like Tara Fela-Durotoye, Genevieve Nnaji and Basketmouth who were specifically mentioned as role models,” Williams reports. “It’s amazing the kind of passion that young people still have for Nigeria – and you know, one needs to say to government, and to corporate Nigeria, what are we doing to make sure that this passion doesn’t die? I stood there facing the crowd, and I thought to myself: ‘Waoh’. We cannot, must not, allow The Future Awards to even slow down one bit! For the sake of our nation, for the sake of our youth, all hands have to be on deck.”

“The Future” is a year-long national project that terminates in the yearly Awards which identify and celebrate young Nigerians achievers between the ages of 18 and 31. The awards proper holds on the 18th of January 2009 (this will be the 4th edition) in Lagos, but the national tour started from the 1st of October and now moves from Enugu to Calabar, Jos and Ile-Ife.

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8 Years Ago

Working on the ongoing social campaign to redirect the energy of young Nigerians – from cybercrime – towards positive engagements, I took a trip back to my earlier eMails on brining IT literacy to young Nigerians — at a time when internet access was plug and pray (you had to take a walk after entering the website address so it would have loaded by the time you returned to your seat). I came across an interesting eMail message…

At about this same time 8 years and 12 days ago (5:56am on Monday, October 2, 2000), I rose from deep thoughts to write to Dr. Philip Emeagwali. The eMail is reproduced below:

Good day sir,

I found out your site and address after so much search.

I do not need to tell you how I got to know about you because the whole world does.

I am a final year student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Nigeria. I’m in the Electronic and Electrical Engineering department and I’m building an infotech career in Internet Technologies (with websitedesigns and eCommerce options). I am also presently the chairman of the electronic club of the department.

All that was necessary so that my purpose of sending the mail will be understood.

Sir, we have a dying need here in Ife and in Nigeria at large.

I HAVE A DREAM! I have a dream that despite the climate here, Nigerians would be able to see, harness and synergize the innate potentials to produce Global Impact. We have what it takes and I believe we can fly, taking advantage of the present democratic dispensation.

Sir, we need encouragement for the average Nigerian undergraduate because the system over the years has changed our paradigm to chasing after certificates rather than expertise.

We need someone like you, a Nigerian and a frontliner in Global Technological trends to salvage the situation.

Sir, I’m writing to find out how you can be of help to us. We have already held a seminar where we discussed NEXT GENERATION, taking the bulls by the horns to harness our potentials so as to make global impact. That was actually when someone gave me your website address.

Sir, I would eagerly await a response to your mail and thus continue with the correspondence. Thanks for believing in us. Thanks for your anticipated cooperation.


‘Gbenga Sesan

About 24 hours later (at exactly 4:55am), he replied with a copy to Mr. Chris Uwaje who, at the time, was the president of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN). The events that followed that response have been chronicled in my forthcoming book.

We have come a long way since October 2, 2000. At the time, very few campuses had internet access. Today, the issue is not the access but what we do with it. Increasingly, internet access has become available but we need to treat the cancerous growth that appears to be attached to this rather good news. Cybercrime is a topic that may have many sides to it but I choose to look at the angle of providing alternative positive opportunities for the many young people who are daily attracted to the vice in the name of how for do. When we gather at Planet One on October 25 for The Alternative, it will not be a time to curse the crime or accuse the actor, it will be a time to discuss how we can provide an alternative that will create a much better scenario.

With the number of phone calls I have received (describing how each person has been a victim of an increasingly smarter group of online crime actors) since we announced the event on FaceBook, I am convinced that we need to act now. As we presently do with our Ajegunle.org model, we will work with partners to retrain at-risk youth and empower them to create an enviable career in IT (as they already invest their energy in this area, even though in a negative sense) so they can inspire positive peer pressure. Details will be unveiled next week Saturday at the event and , and I can’t wait to see how we can add another drop to this much-needed ocean of change.

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The Alternative

If you’re looking for young talents, come to Nigeria. They’re everywhere – in technology, entertainment, the arts, fashion, sports… the list is endless. But one vice has brought us more shame than the fame we earned through our dignified labour. It’s cybercrime, aka Yahoo! Yahoo!

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and Microsoft Nigeria proudly present The Alternative, our opportunity to redirect the energy of young Nigerians – from Yahoo! Yahoo! – towards positive engagements, through the Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (ISSPIN) campaign and follow-up project.

There will be internet safety technology demonstrations by Microsoft; announcement of national essay and quiz competition winners; decoration of Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (ISSPIN) Ambassadors, public presentation of Microsoft/PIN’s technology capacity building program for young Nigerians, red carpet reception, music, and much more…

Featuring: Banky W, Rooftop MCs and Owen Gee…

The date is Saturday, October 25, 2008 and time is 3:00pm. Location? De Event Place, Planet One Entertainment, Lagos. For your invitations please write to thealternative@pinigeria.org, call 0702 830 72 05 or 0702 830 72 06.

This event is sponsored by Microsoft Nigeria and proudly supported by Planet One Entertainment, Soundcity, Teledom Group, New Nigeria Club, NairaHost, Blarque Brother Entertainment and Nigeria Computer Society!