Resting in Jos

It’s 3am on Sunday morning and I seem to have utilised all the units of sleep that I have allocated for the day. A peep into the last few days (and hours) would give you a better understanding of why a rather tired young man would lose sleep: I arrived Nigeria on the 25th of January just after noon and tried making my way to the Virgin Nigeria desk to get on the 1:30pm flight to Abuja. After enduring the long queue towards the entry point, I ended up with an immigration officer whose sole aim was to deny me a free extra page for another visa — he stamped “Seen on Arrival” on a fresh page of my passport, ignoring my late request that I am guarding fresh pages on my passport (to prevent carrying a rather bulky passport due to renewals ahead of validity expiry). Well, I bounced back to reality and — thanks to forethought — escaped the unbearable wait for luggage because I was able to travel light in spite of my multiple destinations.

By the time I got through the final immigration check (the last before you breathe Lagos fresh air), I had left another drama in my tracks. The last immigration official saw an Indian visa (dated December 2005) on my passport and thought I should be checked for drugs because that (to him) was proof that I had access to their most suspicious route for drug transfer. A few words from an innocent young man in a hurry convinced him that I was innocent, helped by the many Ethiopian visas that made us discuss my UN involvements. We ended the discussion with his promise to vote for Prof. Pat Utomi in the forthcoming elections. You can be sure that the flight had left for Abuja by this time… and it was actually a 1:10pm flight, not 1:30pm as I was informed! The other alternative was to leave for the local wing of the airport to catch another flight… and then the Arik Air option dawned on me. I got the new airliner’s ticket and even though take-off was not on time, the pilot’s continued emphasis on his brand new aircraft was enough to keep every passenger laughing — or fuming. 🙂

I arrived Abuja and had to do the Abuja-Jos part of my journey by road (there’s only one flight from Lagos to Jos everyday and its in the morning). After about 4 hours, I arrived at the National Telecentres’ Summit, but the opening meeting had ended. I made up for that by diving straight into getting an update and attending to outstanding administrative tasks on my desk. For the 2 days (all of Friday and half of Thursday and Sunday) we spent on the task, I saw vibrancy and a summit whose timing was rather on time. The telecentre operators from various states of Nigeria discussed the place of telecentres (in their various forms and nomeclature) within Nigeria’s ICT4D space, and held focused discussions on the definition of telecentres (within the Nigerian context), the problems telecentres face, how telecentres can get better, and who can help telecentres. After appreciating the need to work together, participants discussed issues such as How do we begin? (Network establishment and pre-establishment logistics), What can we do together? (Projects and members’ collaboration), and How do we work together? (Operational details and logistics).

At the end of the braistorming and focus on practical steps on the way forward, the network was named the Telecentres’ Network of Nigeria (TNN). The summit report and action lines are available, and you can be sure that the process has only just begun. Nigeria now has no excuse with respect to taking adavtage of the ongoing global telecentre movement’s activities, especially in relation to our desire to extend the dividends of ICTs to rural Nigeria. I left Kuru for, Jos in order to catch up with online work, and decided to spend the night so I could rest from the Uganda-Kenya-Ethiopia-Kuru stretch. The night began rather early, with my eyelids falling in love with each other at about 11pm. Initial plans to see the city and have dinner didn’t go beyond thoughts… Stop Press! Guess what, sleep is creeping back into my system and I need to subscribe to the opportune units so I can recharge for the days ahead — meeting with stakeholders in the Nigerian ICT space to discuss the possibility of the Naija 774 dream on a bigger scale than I imagined before the National Telecentres’ Summit at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru…

Nigerian Telecentres’ Network (NTN) Summit

(c) Ashley

Tomorrow is a very important day in my life, and that of Nigeria’s journey towards the appropriate use of ICTs for development — especially for the rural population. A few kilometres away from the city of Jos, about forty telecentre leaders and industry stakeholders will meet to discuss the emergence of a network that can serve as the platform for taking telecentres to the next level in Nigeria. In a recent study of Telecentres in Nigeria, I shared thoughts on what I found out as the cross-cutting issues among telecentres in Nigeria (especially the energy/power, access and manpower challenges). In that research report, I agreed with the Wikipedia definition of telecentres:

A telecentre is a public place where people can access computers, the Internet and other technologies that help them gather information and communicate with others at the same time as they develop digital skills. While each telecentre is different, the common focus is to support community and social development — reducing isolation, bridging the digital divide, promoting health issues, creating economic opportunities, reaching out to youths etc. utilizing appropriate technologies. Telecentres exist in almost every country on the planet, although they sometimes go by different names (e.g. Pallitathya Kendra, Rural Information Centre, village knowledge centres, infocentres, community technology centres, community multimedia centres or schoolbased telecentres). You can learn more about telecentres on the web site.” (Source:

The NTN Summit is supported by, and will feature the participation of Microsoft and UNESCO. It is being co-organised by Lagos Digital Village, Fantsuam Foundation and Coseo Limited. While the major focus on the meeting is to develop strategies on the operationalsation of the network, there will be focused post-meetings with partners and potential collaborators who can share the dream and enhance the process. If you ask me, I would easily state that Nigeria should, by now, have at least 774 telecentres across the country (in each local government) to meet the needs of the rural population. Through these telecentres, they can connect with ICT opportunities; meet their information needs (e.g. market information, farming facts, etc); promote their communities and involvements (by uploading data — possibly to fuel toursim interest or seed eCommerce relations); connect with education/learning opportunities and more.

The recent launching of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and other activities across the nation (may I mention those that have been in the news a lot of late — i.e. efforts spearheaded by Zinox’s Leo Stan Ekeh and AfriHub’s Manny Aniebonam) provide the opportunity to harness prevalent energies to facilitate a nation-wide rollout of telecentres. After the 27th of January — and follow-up meetings — it would be great to know if my long-term dream of Naija 774 (not an airliner but the existence of at least one telecentre in all of Nigeria’s 774 local government areas) will come to pass. I can’t deny the influence of my December 2005 visit to India (during which I was able to learn more about the Mission 2007 project) on this dream, but I am excited about the fact that after various months of discussions, et al, the NTN Summit will hold from tomorrow!

Of Youth Advocacy and Proof

(c) The Future Awards     (c) The Future Awards

I had a brief stop-over in Lagos on Sunday (January 21) before my onward journey to Ethiopia — the last of the 3 East African countries I’m visiting this January. By the way, I have come to see Ethiopia as a second home because of my frequent travels to the country’s capital city, in relation to my involvements with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and must confess that the city is beautiful! … Our flight from Nairobi was delayed for 2 hours, during which I made god use of the airport Internet terminals which offer services at the rate of $2 for every 15 minutes spent. It was also good time to reflect on the last few days and to realign my plans for the month of January with the emerging realities of the year. I thought the five-hour flight ended too soon because I only remember waking up to have a meal and waking up on arrival. 🙂 The Lagos airport looked a bit different as there are evidently some ongoing renovation work — visible from the exit point and the relocated restrooms.

My stop-over afforded me the opportunity to receive the plaque which was presented to me in absentia during the 2007 The Future awards. The award is increasingly becoming the de facto youth celebration event, and the promos were everywhere just before I left for Uganda. Kudos to the entire RedStrat team that keeps increasing the tempo of the award while keeping the desire to be better on the minds of young Nigerians. I had won the Best Use of Technology category at the maiden edition last year, and was surprised at my nomination this year. After the event, I got eMail messages from friends congratulating me on winning the Youth Advocacy category for this year’s award — during which Tara Fela-Durotoye won the Young Person of the Year prize.

I told a friend that the award (coming in a nice glass plaque set on a marble stand) means a lot more to me than the reward and recognition, as it really goes to challenge the need for me (and of course lead others) to move from the level of advocacy to proof-bearing action. Advocacy is excellent, but I have come to learn that whatever cause we stand for can be further supported when we show proof in relation to the things we ask for. I have spent a few years seeking improved participation of youth in ICT-led change processes, and look forward to sharing information with you on appropriate action towards producing undeniable results. Technopreneurship (here defined as youth-led ICT-enabled entrepreneurship) is one key area I’m looking at, and hope to finalise ongoing discussions in order to share news about a platform on which Africa’s youth can maximise ICT opportunities to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and create wealth. We can address the unemployment issues on the continent through active social technopreneurship that provides a double bottomline — with economic and social values.

But, how would you value an opportunity that allows you(th) to own your own online-driven business?

Kenya’s 20 Year Old President-in-Waiting

(c) Bliss Sites

I’m on my way to Nairobi for meetings that include the World Social Forum. After days of meetings in Uganda, which had fun-filled moments unlike most of my previous trips when I have had to go directly to meetings venues from the airport and depart the same without a chance to see the new city. I am now in the second phase of the three-nation working visit in East Africa and my Ugandan visit provided the opportunity of meeting fellow blogger Ore Somolu whose intellectual and physical charm can’t be ignored.

I arrived at the Entebe airport quite early to continue my search for access close enough to the airport — as I have since learnt that last minute access at the hotel is a sure invitation to a missed flight. I found what should have been the answer to my desire at the airport’s post office but it was closed at 4:30pm even though the sign said it was open until 6pm! That meant Plan B was next — getting something to eat and checking in to search for access close to the boarding gates. This proved to be useful even though I had to pay throuh my nose to use the access point at an elite longue, whose access chose to freeze just before I started using the system (or how do you explain the fact that all I could do in 1 hour was to clear my inbox and wait for eMail windows to open).

I walked into an old Ugandan friend I had met in India in 2005, also on his way to Nairobi. We discussed the 3-nation network that Celtel supports and I thought it was really cool to have a SIM card that worked in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania — hoping that it would one day be possible across the continent. Did I also mention that the flight was delayed for a few minutes because of a young man who left his book at the waiting longue (please don’t ask who ). Once inflight, I had to make a decision between two newspapers that were avaialble for passengers — The Standard and Nation. I was trying to guess which was a better option through the frequency of request but sitting at 6C meant I had only 1 row ahead of me. 🙁

I chose The Standard and must thank the guys who work on the Education section for giving me the opportunity of meeting Kenya’s 20 year old President-in-Waiting. George Gachara’s story was featured on page 7 of the newspaper and I was thrilled to read that he said, “Someday, I am going to be the president of this country…” I would not have been moved by the quite popular phrase (don’t we all dream) but could not avoid the description of the author (Maryanne Waweru) on George: “At his youthful age, Garacha already has a vision of his rule as president”. Trust me on this one, this young man is one of the new generation of young men and women who will take the continent by surprise when we ascend their desired thrones for which we spend endless hours planning and working hard at.

George is a recipient of many public speaking awards and deliberately enrolled for a degree in Communication (Public Relations and Electronic Media) towards the fulfilment of his leadership dream. A good sign was also his election to his university’s governing body as the first year representative only four months after he resumed at the school. George’s mother (a single parent) died when he was very young but there is no way you can stop an idea whose time has come — especially one that has a man and his dream in action. In spite of his humble background, George is busy making others better. “I have a passion for my generation, and I try to inspire, motivate and encourage as many young people as possible” was how he put it. By the way, he is also CEO of Delserv Synergies along with website designs and bakery that help pay his tution — plus he’s also not missing out on the stock market.

Just listen to him: “Youth need to be original and think beyond what is expected of them. They should never think of things as out of their reach…. I create time for all my engagements, and only undertake activities that add value to my life. I am not the kind of person you will find idling around campus. I work by prioritising issues, working on only what is important”. You can bet that Gachara reads widely — with Stephen Covey and John Maxwell leading his favourites’ list. The need to plan for the future cannot be over emphasised, and you can also predict how a leader’s youth was by the way he carries out his leadership duties today. Africa hasn’t been very blessed with good leaders because those who spend their youth pursuing other pleasures can not grow up to make the best of leadership that is often stolen on their behalf!

In my local language, we say “omo to ba maa je asamu, kekere lo ti n’senu samu samu.” You can predict a child’s future by his present livelihood is the closest that translates to in English. George may not even become president, but I will not be surprised if he does — and if he enjoys relative ease when he launches his presidential campaign, and when he eventually sets down to the task of governance. Watch the news, and when you hear his name and how his days as president keeps Kenya on international headlines, remember that he said so many years ago (even when many of us laughed off his youthful dreams. The future only belongs to those who can dream and hold on to the value in such dreams. This inspiring story was so strong on me that I had to write the draft of this blog on kenya Airway’s Air Sickness Bag — another event that made me miss my stolen laptop, which was always a ready companion anytime I had a brain-wave, regardless of location or altitude.

The “N” Factor

(c) Google Images

Just before leaving Lagos on a 3-nation working trip (Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia) on Thursday, I had the opportunity of sharing thoughts with students of Awori College on how their lives can be the source of positive change that the world badly needs. Discussions started with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which helped explain what the United Nations-led discussions just before the turn of the millennium identified as the worlds eight most urgent needs. I continued with a quick description of Nigeria’s National Economic Empowerment and Development (NEEDS) strategy, focusing on wealth creation and value reorientation.

The discussion then focused on what role individuals can play in translating these strategies and goals into action, and the opportunity that arises for individuals who are able to meet existing needs. Noting the age bracket (14-19), I discussed the need for progressive preparation to avoid future disappointments and also used their forthcoming final examinations as a descriptive scenario for success that arises from planning and goal-setting. I spoke about the need for personal development to help with an enviable career choice, nation building and the role of light in darkness, and global participation that goes beyond just being a local champion.

The incident that trigerred my conclusion involved a lady who spoke (in response to my question) about where she would be in 15 years only to enjoy the mocking laughter of her colleagues. I insisted that it was okay to have people laugh at you (for various reasons) now, but that would change only if you’re diligent enough to ensure that your future story changes to one that makes those who laughed at you green with envy. 🙂 I told the story of 20 friends who had various attitudes towards planning for the future and how the focused few ended up as the envied ones.

In conclusion, I shared (in a language they very well understood) a formula that explains how to arrive at the enviable furture we all dream of:

Future = Present + Opportunitiesn

There may be nothing you can do about the present situation (background, status, etc) but you can change the future by identifying opportunities. I however emphasized the fact that opportunities abound for all, but the n factor (the variable that amplifies opportunities in the formula) refers to the extent to which we are able to identify and utilize these opportunities.

Look Before You Leap

(c) Google Images

I have always maintained that Nigerians are holiday lovers — not in terms of spending the time to cool off but just to get the day off. 🙂 You can be sure that many people spend that time either attending family ceremonies, extra work, and some other extras. This, however, seems to be changing with the emergence of more relaxation spots especially in the capital cities. But that is not the core of what I intend to share thoughts on.

Today, January 8, is the first full work day in 2007 because there was another holiday after the New Year holidays. Many offices resumed work on Thursday last week, but many minds resumed work today. 🙂 Me? Well, you can ask and I’ll tell you when work resumes or resumed for me… but while the traffic situation this morning revealed that the 9 to 5 spirit is back in the groove, the most important part of this morning would be the discussions about the New Year. After much of hugs, handshakes and voiceshakes welcoming colleagues back to the office (including those you really wished changed jobs, desks or departments during the holidays), the meeting begins with how 2007 should be a better year for the organisation and then the meeting ends with comments about the forthcoming elections. After that, each person would likely say what their impressions will be for the year.

In one of such meetings today, I was asked a simple question: “What do you think 2007 will look like?” Responses from various people at the meeting came in form of words such as fast, slow, surprises, etc. But I was of the opinion that 2007 cannot be seperated from 2008. I said: “2008 is a leap year, so the year that comes before it must be a look year. It is natural that we loook before we leap, so 2007 must be the look year while 2008 goes on to be the leap year it should be.

While this was met with smiles and sighs, I couldn’t help notice how a simple illustration helped drive home the point: we need to look into the various departments of our activities and life in order to set things in a ready mode for progress. Just as opportunities come to many unprepared people and they do not gain access to it, the unprepared will naturally spend the entire year waiting and complaining. If it’s not the fact that the budget wasn’t good enough in January, it’d be the fact that February was lousy because no roses arrived on her desk. If the complaint isn’t about how March was too full of political activities, it would be the fact that he couldn’t stand the idea of voting in April. May, for her, would be the month when holidays should have been extended while June came too soon. The year would go on until, suddenly, it would be December. Then, the excuse would be that the year moved too fast and (s)he couldn’t plan properly for it. Wake up!

Many years ago (and the emphasis is on many :)), my mother (equipped with foreknowledge of the way I’d leave my bed in the morning) had a favourite saying: as you lay your bed, so you will lie on it. It was more of a song than a sentence, and I bet the song gioes without an argument. As most offices resume for work in full mode across Nigeria today, it is certain that many employees will complain all through the year until they break away from the glass ceiling that comes with the let’s just do this and get paid attitude. What must you have accomplished on the job by December 31, 2007 so that you can move from working for that organisation to working with the organisation. Whatever that translates into for you, you hold the ace! Whatever you do, look before you leap.

A Short Trip to the Past

(c) Google Images

When last did you time-travel or take a short trip to your past, and then the future? Please do not accuse me of suffering from any hangover from Deja Vu (the movie I saw yesterday night) because all I had to do was to look through my library to find my diaries and journals from 1998!

It was extremely interesting reading the things I wrote between 1998 and 2005, and I even spotted a plan for 1999 – 2010 that looks very different from what I now have in terms of details — but had a striking similarity in terms of postgraduate plans and focus on the use of technology for development. I was able to compare the past with the present to redefine future directions, and this further strengthened my resolve in terms of the daily steps that will take me there.

If you make a habit of documenting your thoughts and plans, you will find it easier to look back into the past in order to compare with where you are and make more informed decisions about the future. Start now, because 2007 will be 10 years ago by 2017 — and mark my words, 2017 isn’t as far out as you think.

180 Degrees: The Nigeria Story

Nigeria has received a lot of media attention for the wrong reasons, but that is changing – and the overall effect will be made evident over the next few years. Noting the fact that Nigeria is seen as a sleeping giant, and the fact that I was born and raised in Nigeria – and I live and work here – I understand what it means to be referred to as “potentially great”, “rich country with poor citizens,” and the many accolades that dot the Nigerian space in many foreign hearts. Four years ago, I began to think very seriously about the issues with the Nigerian nation and came up with a conclusion that things would remain the way they were until the country’s citizens took their stand to right the wrongs. Over time, I saw this same passion on many faces as I shared my thoughts with different young people.

My thoughts on Nigeria’s 180-degree turn-around is clearly articulated in the following words: “I 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 [appropriate tools] 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 nation’s tomorrow today!” And as I continued in my efforts, I saw many other people expressing the same optimism and starting on the path of taking action. Of course, most of these people are of the younger generation, and we seem to receive inspiration from the words of the second stanza of the nation’s anthem: “O God of creation, direct our noble cause / Guide thou our leaders right / Help our youth the truth to know / In love and honesty to grow / And living just and true / Great lofty heights attain / To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.” It is clear that young Nigerians who discover the truth are the proof of what the future will be, and that Nigeria needs a 180-degree turn-around from what is to what should be.

It is also exciting to note that when (not if) Nigeria does begin to see the fruit of today’s diverse labours and investments, the world will come to our doorsteps to ask, “how did you do it?” When the telecommunications sector was set right and the world took notice of its success, I smiled and said to myself, “just wait and see what will happen when we achieve a complete national (economic, social, political, etc) 180-degree turn-around. Then, the other nations who need to transit would learn from The Nigerian Story. This, and the knowledge of the role of individuals in nation building, informed the partnership between myself and my friend, Adeolu Akinyemi (, which resulted in the 180 Degrees project ( – beginning with a seminar series.

The 180 Degrees Seminar series are a revolutionary gathering of young minds intended to inspire and educate them on the need to ensure a complete (180 degrees) turn-around from their present shortcomings, and aim for a complete control of their lives – without the usual excuse-giving and blame-shifting tendencies that are popular among today’s students and young professionals. The seminar series hold in various locations across the country, and has held in Lagos, Osun and Ogun states (with many more to follow). Feedback from the impact of the various sessions has been extremely encouraging, and we are in the process of taking the 180 Degrees experience to the next level. This quarter, we will begin a 1-month intensive 180 Degrees (training) school which will focus on equipping fresh graduates and students with the appropriate tools they need to compete favourably in the New Economy. The 180 Degrees project deliberately focuses on youth, and looks at a 2025 timeline for the emergence of Nigeria as one of the most desirable nations on earth, because we know the importance of the role of young Nigerians in this much-needed 180-degree turn-around for Nigeria.

The average Nigerian youth – at the moment – may not hold so much premium on his/her nation, but all hope is not lost as more young people are beginning to realize that we are not leaders of tomorrow, but of today. Many of us now agree that darkness is an opportunity for the least of lights to illuminate its environment – and shine. I have often told the story of how my younger sister walked for the first time on her first birthday anniversary, and told a recent youth audience that:

“Just like my younger sister and every baby have a choice to make between enjoying the attention of being babies and choosing to walk, every young Nigerian may also decide to stay a victim or choose to be a victor. Tosin could sit still and say, “I really would love to walk, but it is more comfortable to crawl. Can you imagine how nice to be lifted by everyone. And to make it worse, the environment is not helpful. My parents were richer than this – and Nigeria was better – before they had me.” … We may all have reasons not to believe in the Nigerian system, and may all have good reasons to leave this ailing nation in its dying state and pursue our own lives. And you may not be entirely off track doing that, you have a life to live anyway. You will one day have a family to feed, and children to send to school… so, in their honour, you rightly make decisions today. Every great people-group, nation or region will have to go through transition. And in those days, no matter how prolonged (as it appears to be in Nigeria); there must be men and women who will stand within their spheres of influence to change things. And just like the ripple, waves will join to waves and produce a lasting wave; and like the biblical miracle of the “exceeding great army”, bone will join to bone, tendon to tendon, and lingament to lingament!”

The desire to change Nigeria – and any other nation at that – is a responsibility that rests on the shoulders of youth – and must be pursued as a critical mission. We are the proof that any nation will still be around, or that it will compete favourably with others on the global stage, in the next few years.

I say with pride that various young Nigerians are acting in their own spheres of influence, and I am glad that my own humble efforts (mostly with partners) have met with successes – even though some not-so-much-of-a-success stories are experienced. I believe that three major things that have worked include positive peer pressure, policy influence, and a paradigm shift! Fortunately, the story of the change process I have been involved with in Nigeria is told in the book, “Global Process, Local Reality: Nigerian Youth Lead Action in the Information Society,” but when I speak of positive peer pressure, I refer to the fact that many young Nigerians are now leading social and economic change processes today because there is a sense of holy competition that makes each of us strive to do all we can to influence change – mostly because they have been inspired by little efforts led by fellow youth. We have also been able to influence policy in the country as youth – coming from a nation where youth were almost banned from speaking about high-level issues to one where youth are appointed as advisers to the president on very high-level policy issues (not as a form of tokenism but respect for professional expertise). There is an obvious paradigm shift among youth themselves, expressed through the many young people who have gone beyond just being inspired to the level of taking appropriate action.

The journey of a thousand miles begins in a day, but I have a very strong feeling that Nigeria is quite some distance into its necessary 180-degree path.

Walking the Talk

As they walked through the door, I knew they meant business. Two young men came to see me at different times yesterday, to discuss their different projects and ask questions about how they could make better plans and walk the talk. Not that such visits are strange to my day, but I spent quite some time thinking about strings of such encounters that I had in 2006. Thinking through the various discussions, I realised that each day in the life of each one of us who have decided to be valuable to our various spheres of influence actually spend time completing a major task — walking the talk, i.e. translating words into action.

I walked into 2007 with well-defined plans in five categories: life, tasks, career, financials and projects. In a beatifully drawn up document (“year plan”) that listed bulet points that were further explained in detatched paragraphs — with dates and specific targets — I hinted on major areas of my life that would need specific focus in 2007. Each time I have had to look at the document or refer to it in discussions (especially when stating the need for clearly written-out goals for each person’s life), I cannot help thinking of the huge distance between thoughts and plans, and then plans and action.

I had always assumed that all humans think until I heard the story of a man who asked his mother: “mum, do you think at all?” Actually, there’s a difference between straying thoughts and deliberate choice of a thinking pattern that makes sense. That latter option is productive, and is the one I refer to in the line that leads to action. Much thought without committing such to a visible media is as good as day-dreaming because it will change with each discussion and story (especially other people’s inspiring stories). After much (or little) writing and talking then comes the opportunity to act out the script, and this is where many find the glass ceiling because of the lack of discipline to translate words into action.

If we are conscious of the fact that each step we take leads us closer to, or farther away from, our dreams we will be inspired to take action in line with documented plans. The people we usually refer to as lucky are actually those who have committed their thoughts to a visible medium and have taken the additional step of translating the same into action. If the journey of a thousand miles may begin with one step, but every additional step taken is the only guarantee that the journey will ever reach completion.

It’s time to walk the talk and act out the plans we set for the year…

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One More Vote for Prof. Utomi

It is common knowledge that 2007 is an election year in Nigeria; and anyone who has heard me discuss politics, seen the picture on my desktop, read the poster on my home door, taken a look at the picture on my homepage and read my recent blog posts would know that I am close to neck-deep into the political process this time. I am not contesting for any office, but I am campaigning for a Presidentail candididate — Prof. Pat Utomi. And the good news is that I got him one more vote in the April 2007 elections when I registered yesterday — after many weeks of literally running after the officials in charge of the exercise.

In 1983, I was one of the young (but more fortunate) victims of Operation Wetie that took many lives and left many scared of politics. In 1989, I literally saw the nation’s economy (and my family’s) dance to the rythm of millitary dictation. In 1999 and 2003, I witnessed the rape of a nation as I watched people’s passive stance taken advantage of. In the recent moments of Nigeria’s 46 years of existence, we have not been very blessed with leaders who care beyond their own bodies and accounts (at least that is what we see that changes in size very easily). The fact that citizens have also given up hope, and are so disconnected from the process that can create change makes the situation worse. The assumption and usual excuse for staying away from political participation is that “our vote will not count anyway”, or “the cabal will not open their eyes and watch change happen”, or “the election results have already been decided.” Lies all!

To make matters worse, the primaries conducted by the ruling political party (and others who claim to know better) left a bitter taste in the mouth of Nigerians because we witnessed selection in most cases. Would this be a good yardstick to measure what is to come? Too early to say, if you ask me. The major tragedy that may befall the upcoming elections wouldn’t be the possibility of an unfair process, but the apathy of the Nigerian people that has kept many away from the process, claiming that their votes wouldn’t count when it came face to face with the machinations of those who assume that Nigeria is their birthright! In war, every participant knows that if you’re able to intimidate your opponent by making them think that they stand no chance in battle, then you are the victor. This is exactly the philosophy that is working against many Nigerians who really desire change but feel that they stand no chance in the political process. What we need to continually remember is that darkness will prevail until it is challenged by light, and reality checks show that we have more people who stand for light across the nation — but we must create a process that will bring little lights together to form the greater light that can dispell darkness and ensure that Nigeria settles down to the business of nationhood.

Among other evident agents of change standing for elections next year (and considering the critical role that the Precidency plays in our democracy) I have made it clear that in Prof. Pat Utomi, I see the change we seek. A man who has lived all his life to make others better; who has shown leadership in politics, business and civil society; whose campaign has taken politicking to the level of values and issues; who blogs ( and spends time to share thoughts with all classes of people… that man, deserves my vote and that of every Nigerian who truly seeks a New Nigeria that we can be proud to call home. I am tired of the word potential (it is common to hear that Nigeria is potentially rich, great, bla, bla, bla) and hunger for a nation that has a receptive atmosphere for her citizens’ contributions to nation building. It’s high time we made the world know that the likes of Wole Soyinka, Emeka Anyaoku, Philip Emeagwali, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, Bola Ige, etc, are not historical creations of fiction (or fictitious creations of history) but human expressions of the greatness of a nation beyond the Niger!

If you’re Nigerian and haven’t registered for the elections, you have the chance to do so until February 14 and chances are that the registration kiosk is somewhere around your home. When I find one, I alert those who live around that area, and we should all do the same so that we can build a critical mass and deliver Nigeria from its captors. 2007 is a year of opportunity for Nigerians and by May 29, we should be clicking glasses (and the geeks can stay online and click the send button to announce the gret news to the world). Let me invite you to see the following websites for more information about the change process for Nigeria in 2007, and the presidential campaign of Prof. Pat Utomi: