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Yes, this is an appeal. Yes, I need you to vote for us. And this is why.

YNaija 2015 is Nigeria’s first dedicated political blog. Launched in April 2013, YNaija2015 seeks to enhance youth participation in governance by providing a context and a background to events in a language, and using nuances they will understand. We are on Facebook and Twitter as YNaija2015, and our site is www.ynaija2015.com

YNaija 2015 deploys trendy, innovative ways to engage with its youth audience including photo-essays, online television, Twitter interviews, and other content, including polls, charts, a daily news tracklist, and infographics. Go and have a look for yourself!

Our Election Situation Room is a national template for election monitoring, getting the nation’s influential young journalists and new media influencers to monitor key state and local government elections as they happen. They coordinate with citizen reporters and our editors on the ground in each state and during each election to report, monitor and interpret the issues for the electorate and encourage immediate feedback and interactivity. So far we have covered elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and our premiere Election War Room was set up for Osun. You can watch here http://ynaija2015.com/warroom/

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Informing young people about political events in our country will give them the right mindset, and empower them to make the right decisions when they vote. Decisions that have to be made based on their convictions, rather than based on handouts from politicians or violent conduct.

It also makes them want more, makes them hold their representatives to account when we publish their activities x-rayed against the funding their offices receive, when they have reminders of what campaign promises have been made.

We have an opportunity to increase the scope and reach of our work by pitching for a grant with Making Our Voices Count. Our entry is here http://ideas.makingallvoicescount.org/a/dtd/YNaija2015-The-2015-election-portal/92985-26650 and we invite you to vote for us, and get your friends and family to vote!

Thank you!

PS – Please vote!! We have less than 25 days to get to the top of the list, and we’re currently at the bottom!! Please vote!

This was actually the first piece I wrote for Foresight for Development (originally published on their site), and I guess it was just me reacting to the ‘give me, give me’ attitude that we young people parade all over the place like we are entitled to certain things just because we are ‘young’. 

Enjoy!

If every young person had a pound each time we heard we deserved this, and that just because we make up a huge percentage of the population in Africa, we would all be very rich. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last very long.

We would head right back to penury in a few weeks because a proverb says, “poverty, like palm oil, cannot help but soil every finger”. Another one says: “It is difficult to remain rich in the midst of poverty”. If the clamoring isn’t rising from the bottom to the top and if it is not all-inclusive, it won’t be very effective.
The calls for inclusion in decision-making in Africa, for the most part, are abstract. It is akin to seeking to fly where one has not first learned to walk steadily.

The rigor is largely misdirected. There are more people saying “give us” rather than people showing they are ready to ‘take it’. Even better people should be asking, “What can we do to help you give us”?

Truth is, young people (aged 15-25) make up a fifth of the world’s population, 20% more in developing countries than the 13% in developed countries. So, one would think that the demographic would not be ignored. But it is ignored, and for a number of reasons, including the age for electoral participation and political representation, a lack of capacity and knowledge about political laws and processes.  Consider all of this before we start talking about the widely touted issues around financing, youth being seen as the problem rather than the solution, compulsory youth quotas, etc.

“A youth-friendly legal system is an important component of an environment that enables youth political participation. Among the most important elements are the minimum voting age to vote but also to run in elections” (Enhancing Youth Political Participation, UNDP 2012).

Now, I believe that while we must be grateful for the African Youth Charter, note that there are 54 individual countries that make up Africa. Individual here meaning that there are different languages, levels of literacy and Internet saturation, religions, socio-economic indices, policies and realities, and traditional/tribal leadership structures that affect the way young people see themselves. The way we see ourselves is a much bigger discussion that preceeds or should preceed the one about inclusion in the national/international decision-making process.

Africa can therefore not be seen as a homogenous unit. Therefore the African Union Commission would be stronger and more effective as an advocacy/pseudo-lobbying group, by pressing African governments to consider/adopt laws/charters developed by their young people.

Bringing this home to Nigeria, young people must therefore know their laws before demanding things the constitution does not provide for. For example, demanding (especially online) for a certain percentage of leadership is foolhardy, because the constitution stipulates the ages of 40, 35, and 30 if a person aspires to be president, senator, house of representatives/state house of assembly member, respectively.

This means that as a first step there must be an agreement on the definition of ‘youth’. Advocacy in this instance should then naturally focus on lowering the age of eligibility, rather than using social media for the blanket demand, #30percent or nothing.

Youth must also reject tokenism or quasi-representation without any influence. We must reject being used for photo opportunities or for the sake of participation but instead challenge our laws to provide significant quotas for youth and women representation.

To be able to do these, young people have to do a few things:

  • We must come together and realize that chopping off an oak tree doesn’t start from celebrating a few branches that were knocked off by the wind. And so we must seek knowledge. We must show ourselves faithful in whatever little corners we find ourselves in; we must develop ourselves socially and intellectually.
  • Youth (and youth organizations) must see themselves as complimentary units of one body rather than competition, and seek opportunities to harness the power of our numbers.
  • We must see social media as a means to an end and not the end in itself, especially because of the circumstances surrounding Internet rates in Africa. We cannot base our campaigns solely online, like youth in Singapore with its national Internet and mobile penetration percentages of 84 and 137 respectively, can afford to do. What are we doing in our communities? How are we reaching the digitally excluded? Ben Rattray, founder and CEO of Change.org, said in a 2013 interview with NBC that, “when you marry petitions with social media, making petitions really personal and local, they have the incredible capacity to make a difference.” Our activism must go beyond signatures online and twiddling thumbs to actual influence in our local communities, if we want to be taken seriously.

Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed itself to death”.

We, in whose hands the future is to be entrusted, must be equipped and ready to cater for it.

P:S – I like guest writing. Let me know if you want me to write something for you/your organisation.

PPS – 85% of my external writing is paid for. The other 15% is free, depending on who/what it is for.

What do you do when you are totally stressed out? Like, when everything screams ‘you need to breathe air that doesn’t contain this drama’? When I can, I travel. When I can’t, I travel somewhere a little away from the drama I’m facing. Bottom line, I try to distract myself from whatever I’m facing, find some peace within.

I went running with a buddy a few days ago, and it was a lot of stress. Stress because I haven’t done anything remotely related to exercise (beyond running around/after my nephew) in a few months. And we agreed that we’d achieve 5k.

After the first kilometer, I could see my heart thumping in front of me, I was breathless, my belly was hurting, etc. (all the signs of a severely unfit so and so). We stopped to stretch a bit, and then we carried on. By the 3rd kilometer I was throwing up bile. Lol. I was in so much pain! Ended up having to stop soon after because my knee started acting up. Like I literally limped home (not the whole way though).

Anyway, total distance covered? 4.5km. Time it took us to do it? 45 minutes, against the 30 minutes my friend would normally do the 5k in. Again, I was more proud of myself than disappointed (and you should be proud of me too)

When we were walking home, we saw this beautiful patch of flowers in a garden, and it was truly a sight for sore eyes. I really derived peace from looking at it, so I went closer to take a picture. Doing that made me think for a bit, and here’s what I thought.

As adults some days are great, others we’re just happy to get through, and some others are super horrid. In the midst of that strenuous run (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), I found peace just by looking at ‘green’. I remember captioning this photo below on Instagram and saying…

2014-09-04 08.14.31

Green is beautiful, and a reminder that there can be calm in the midst of chaos, and more importantly, God is always there, even in the midst of chaos.Sometimes all we need to do is stop, hand over things troubling us, and then just let Him do His thing.

So, question is, where do you find peace? (Apart from the very obvious question about your health and fitness, and if you like to run as well). 2014 has been a much better year than 2013, better by miles and miles. Doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been dodgy in its own ways, doesn’t mean there haven’t been days when I didn’t want to pull out my non-existent hair.

But God has been there, in the midst of everything. In the wings, under, above, and inside me; just ensuring that the waters don’t overwhelm me. And for that, I’m super grateful.

I’m a part of what you might call the generation of today, a part of the 68% of the 170 million Nigerians that is ‘young’. Not the ’60-year-old’ ‘yoot’ status political party members ascribe to themselves, the true demographic.

And I am different. I neither corrupt nor thieving, I do not appropriate the allocations or benefits of others to myself under any guise. I am a hardworking entrepreneur on the one hand, and an employee on the other. Why? Apart from the fact that I love to do both, and there are more than enough brain cells to allocate to both ventures, if I don’t hustle in the days of my youth, when will I?

There are millions of others like me, braving one unfavorable circumstance or the other to stay in their jobs or keep their businesses above water. Some of them have moved from being employees to employers themselves, others (just for the love of it) have founded social enterprises and devote the 24 hours they have each day to making sure that the next man has a better quality of life. All of this independent of government.

When ‘dependent’ on government, there are loads more who will not touch bribes, muddle figures, or taint themselves for a quick buck. They prefer to receive their wages with joy (or murmuring), and either find a way to augment it, or adjust their lifestyle to fit their budget.

People say of Nigerians that we are the happiest people on earth, regardless of fuel scarcity, epileptic (or non-existent) power supply, deplorable schools and Boko Haram (amongst others). We have also been described as the most hardworking and resilient. I believe all of that because I know how hard I work, and I have peers who make the hours I work look like child’s play.

I have a ‘Mama Put’ I patronize every time I’m in Abuja, I could swear by her meals! I was there recently, and my favorite, beans and plantain, was lukewarm, and I’d gotten used to piping hot food from there. Even worse, I bit on a stone!

Did I complain? Of course I did. Did I stop going there because of one incident? No. Why? Because one bad experience cannot be enough to cancel out all the brilliant meals I’ve had there. Same way you don’t bin a crate of eggs because you cracked open a rotten one. No, you try again.

It would be foolhardy to paint every Nigerian you meet with whatever evil brush you inadvertently acquired via the news, a local or foreign blog, or even worse, off hearsay. If you were wont to do that before, we forgive you.

Nigerian youth have excelled in spite of a glaring lack of good role models to follow. Where are they? From Babangida, to Abacha, Shonekan to Obasanjo, down to what we’ve got now, where is the inspiration? Just how much inspiration do all these great men muster between them? So precious little.

Yet we have thrived, soldiered on bravely in a landscape barren of support. We’re asking questions, championing causes, holding this government to account, and most important, we’re providing solutions.

I might not be able to say this about the others, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this generation, my generation is different.

PS – Written in May, after a discussion with @bubusn. Edited after a conversation with @eyooekpo.

 

 

 

I met Kalat (we preferred to call him ‘Dale’ then sha, sounded very posh and all) on the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) camp in Abuja. There was a bunch of us who would hang around together, Simi, Ini, Dale, David Barau, someone else who’s face I can see but whose name I can’t remember, and myself.

Camp got done with, and Dale was in my Community Development Service (CDS) group, the one and only Editorial Board. And the camaraderie continued, I remember the park at Area 1 where we’d have CDS meetings, and the awesome support Dale and our other friends gave. Super people!

Dale is married now, with a gorgeous baby girl, and I’m so proud of what he’s become!

Enjoy!

My name is Kalat, I am Nigerian and I practice Law in Abuja.

I started this year with a decision, a resolution really. I resolved that this year I was going to be more together, more competent. Half way into the year I’ll have to say the biggest lesson I’m learning is to take one day at a time.

Multitasking. Pulling everything off seamlessly and coming out of it all looking unflustered without a hair out-of-place. Some people seem to have that gift. Not me. It seems like I’m always busy, juggling 101 things at the same time. Sometimes I feel like such a scatter brain.

I have found out I’ve rediscovered that life’s going to keep throwing curve balls at me and the best I can do is plan and prepare for what I can foresee. For everything else, take it as it comes. So for rest of this year, I’m still going to keep crossing all my “t’s” and dotting the “i’s” as much as is within my power. For everything else, I’ll do the best I can and won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t go as I planned.

Recently I posted this piece on my blog, it’s called “Just for Today”. It has helped me put a lot into perspective. Don’t know who wrote it but I’d like to share it with you. Please take a look if you have the time. I hope it helps you as much as it has me.

What am I most grateful for? I’ll have to say love. The love of my family helping keep me sane, a lighthouse in this treacherous storm called life. The love of my friends who put up with all my foibles and my constant abandonment, and the love of a God that I will never understand.

Love keeps me humble because I’m convinced I hardly deserve any of it, so I’m grateful and constantly looking for a way to pass it on. Not to earn it mind you, but to show love to someone else who may feel as undeserving as I do in the hope that they will do the same. Love might just change the world.

Kalat is on Twitter as @talakbags. Thank you Dale!

Just look and remove your eyes, I told you he's married!

Just look and remove your eyes, I told you he’s married!

Are you enjoying our movement? Nigeria to Afghanistan, to South Korea, to The Netherlands, on, and on, and on? Incredible! So many different stories, diverse views on the year!

Today, we’re off to Botswana to meet my friend Silindile (she will attest to the fact that I was one of the very few we met in The Hague who could pronounce her name perfectly – whoop!). Silindile loves studying (like me), and she’s a gorgeous girl, inside and out so it’s an absolute pleasure to have her on today!

A few days ago I turned 25 years old. Yeahyness to me I am a year old. So, in true Silindile style, I decided to reflect on the past few months of my life like I do each year. And I just realised how much I have grown and learnt so much, and I owe this to every single human being I have had an encounter with. Whether be it a stranger’s smile on the street, a stranger stopping and taking the time to assist me or through family and close friends, I can say am truly humbled for the impact you have all had in my life. Yes, all of you, even you I am yet to meet because I believe, every encounter or experience is an opportunity to learn.

So what did I learn from myself and all of you so far? Well, I really learnt a lot that I much I know, but to avoid going round in circles as a talkative person, I will try to get right to the point and highlight three lessons that have stood out for me.

I have learnt to believe in myself and put my trust in God. I know this might sound like a cliché for some of you, but honestly the belief in me and my potential even through moments of doubt and fear have manifested into the great things I have achieved so far. I not only got awarded a scholarship to study in Europe, but the bonus is that as a person who loves to travel my programme affords me the opportunity to study in five different countries (Denmark, France, Portugal, Poland and United kingdom). Sounds exciting right? It’s absolutely amazing and sometimes I have to pinch myself because even to this day it still feels surreal.

To always smile, even at strangers. I have not fully applied this into my life as it can be challenging especially when I am having a bad day because a smile is contagious, it radiates positive energy and can make someone’s day. I know this because many smiles from unsuspecting strangers have added brightness to my day whenever I experienced a challenge.

I have learnt to be grateful, even for the small things that we sometimes take for granted. I am grateful for the gift of life, the opportunity and chance to be the best Silindile I aspire to be, my family, friends, who love me for who I am and the lessons I have learnt along the way. Lastly, I am grateful to God, my heavenly and earthly, the ever constant presence in my.

As we enter the second half of the year, I plan to take my lessons with me and continue to learn and grow each day through my experiences. I want to love more, laugh more, dance more, smile in spite of, travel a lot, take risks, continue chasing my dreams and finally getting round to learning French and learning how to swim. My goodness, these last two things have been on my list since forever, I think it is about time I got around to learning them lol.

My name is Silindile Mlilo, from Botswana and I am studying toward a Master in advanced developed Social Work.

I wonder why I didn't take this lip color off her when we met! Post it to me babes!

I wonder why I didn’t take this lip color off her when we met! Post it to me babes!

 

I met Sabine Ewald, project Manager of the team hosting social media week Hamburg 2014 @ Social Media Week London 2013. She said I had to attend at Hamburg and I was excited at the opportunity.

The story about the visa application is a short one, a few pages to confirm I was resident in England, bank statements, invite, you know how that works. There was a curious declaration form though, actually two I had to sign saying I wasn’t a terrorist. I remember a particular question asking if I had recently received training from …(listed a number of countries), and another lumping Nigeria and some war-torn countries together.  That hurt.

So I got the visa, now it’s on the trip proper. If you’ve travelled anywhere with me (via this blog), you’d know I cannot sleep the night before any flight. Last time I slept, not only did I miss the flight, I started in my own ‘league of unfortunate events that morning. It wasn’t funny then, glory be I can laugh about it now.

This night though, I slept I was exhausted, and so I slept. But I asked the Holy Spirit to wake me (that’s something I’ve started doing recently), and soon as I put my things together/booked a taxi for the next day, I hit the sack. Flight time? 7.40am. 

I woke up about 4.50am, 10 minutes before my alarm (thank you Lord). Shut my eyes to pray (still cozied up under my blanket) and I promise you I had gotten through one song and a few words of prayer before…I heard my phone ring and it was my beloved father asking if I was at the airport! Lol. Bless him!

I jumped up, took one more wake up call (thank you dearie), and then it was in, out of the shower, and in my taxi at exactly 5.50am; of course I dozed all the way to the airport.

Thankfully my hosts had paid for check-in luggage and I was on time so I went to drop it. 

Do you know that the Nigerian passport doesn’t do us  a lot of favors sometimes? Ok, so I got to the counter and after asking me where I was going and why, the lady rang someone to ‘register/confirm’ my passport and visa. Incredible. Just incredible. And that’s all I will say about that here.

Cleared security, got to the Duty Free Area, and a little devil wanted to tempt me to look around. Was ambling towards the perfume display then I saw my gate was closing in 11 minutes. Which perfume? Would it guarantee eternity? I dashed for my gate, made it just in time!

Boarded, and beside me was this stern looking lady, na wa. All of a sudden I heard my mother tongue behind me, whoop! Ladies and gentlemen there was a young man blasting Ibo on the phone – I was so excited! Tweeted that, said a prayer, and fell asleep!

Hamburg baby!

Touchdown! Cleared immigration (again got the extra scrutiny), and then I went to grab my luggage. It had dawned on me that I was on my own (no my hosts weren’t meeting me at the airport), so I went out, found a cab, and that story forms the beginning of part two!

PS – Written on the 19th of February, don’t even ask why I’m just publishing it now!

 

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fairygodsister:

I haven’t reblogged anyone in a long while, but I had to keep a record of this.

Like I said on Twitter, with Ayo’s response, this mass is ended. Let us all go in peace and serve the Lord.

Originally posted on Ayo Sogunro:

Dear Sadiq Abacha,

I do not know you personally, but I admire your filial bravery—however misguided—in defending the honour of your father, the late General Sani Abacha. This in itself is not a problem; it is an obligation—in this cultural construct of ours—for children to rise to the defence of their parents, no matter what infamy or perfidy the said parent might have dabbled in.

The problem I have with your letter, however, arises from two issues: (i) your disparaging of Wole Soyinka, who—despite your referral to an anecdotal opinion that calls him as “a common writer”—is a great father figure, and a source of inspiration, to a fair number of us young Nigerians; and (ii) your attempt to revise Nigerian history and substitute our national experience with your personal opinions.

Therefore, it is necessary that we who are either Wole Soyinka’s “socio-political” children, or who are ordinary Nigerians…

View original 1,336 more words

Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please! 

A week plus ago I said I’d be doing my very first giveaway, and I was pretty pumped about it. Then I did another blogpost with the giveaway details, and the deadline when I had to get the answers by. 

The task was to: 

1. Open the last twelve posts on this blog

2. Pick the 5th word of the 6th paragraph in each post

3. Use these words to form a sentence.

Simple! The deadline was Tuesday the 18th of February, and I haven’t updated on this because I’ve had to do quite a bit of traveling in the past week.

I got many messages saying they were working on the answers to the one question @HL_Blue had, but one person took the time to actually do it all, and sent it in before the deadline. So, I have a winner!

My winner is IVY BEN! Congratulations! You get to use up ALL the prize money (on books), and you get one copy each of the books donated by my friends!

Email dfairygodsister(at)yahoo(dot)com with the list of books you want, and even though I’m in Nigeria at the moment, I’ll place the order for you, and we can start waiting till you get them!

ANSWERS TO THE GIVEAWAY ASSIGNMENT (from IVY BEN)
1) Happy birthday to my darling Aunty Pat
And: AND God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of the water He called sea.

2) My first ever giveaway!!
Idea: IDEA is the singular form of Ideas.

3) For Danny Danosaur
Everyone: EVERYONE should take their seats please.

4) Another one bites the dust
Family: FAMILY always comes first with me.

5) The right solution for the wrong problem
Window: WINDOW blinds come in different materials and designs.

6) For Sylvester – words are not enough
His: HIS (Nelson Mandela’s) biography, ‘A Long Walk To Freedom’ is a must read!

7) #PraisewithCC! This is why we’re here
Very: VERY few christians practice what they preach.

8)The quest to renew my Nigerian ‘pali’ (Part
Two)
As: AS long as there’s life, there’s hope.

9) Separate yourself from unnecessary pressure
We: WE are heirs of the Father, we are joint heirs with the Son.

10) The quest to renewing my Nigerian ‘pali’ (Part One)
To: TO whom much is given, much is expected.

11) Rev E.A Adeboye on “Overcoming Mountains”
Children: CHILDREN ought to be sent to school and not be used for child trafficking.

12) Breaking news: I changed two bulbs today!
Thinking: THINKING of you gladdens my heart and makes me yearn for your return.

Congratulations again IVY BEN! Get in touch!

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Sometimes it looks like I’m always complaining about the service I receive – make no mistake about it, if the service or service providers are crap, I will complain. Call them out sharply.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you’d probably be aware that so far, my greatest albatross is banks. I have stories of terrible service from GTB (which they rectified), and from Stanbic IBTC (which they rectified too).

But, I’m excited! Like proper, proper excited with GTB!  There’s a little back-story, before I tell you why I’m excited though.

Sometime in 2012 (must have been about October), I needed a corporate account for CC Consulting Services, and I went to GTB. Met some lady in marketing for the form and the how-to. Long story short, she gave me such a run around I completely abandoned the idea. Till Monday.

I went to GTB (because again the need for the account arose) in the afternoon of the 24th, and I approached another lady. No exaggeration when I say she was so helpful! I was there with all the necessary documents anyway (not like it helped me that day in 2012) but this lady was so helpful!

I had to refill the forms because my signature wasn’t regular (never is by the way), and she talked me through it all very patiently. Turns out we have a mutual friend (Queen Rita of Hot FM), and by the time I was leaving just under an hour later, everything  was sorted! It was so ‘sorted’ I made a deposit.

It gets better. She rang that night to say she’d gotten my account number, and sent an SMS with it less than an hour later. I was so chuffed!

And so I celebrate Ikalone Udo today – beautiful, patient, and super efficient; talk about someone who knows her work in and out!

She’s new to Twitter too, as @Ikaloudo. Please show her some love, and thank her (very very well) for me.  Try not to disturb her too much with your GTB issues o, we don’t want to chase off Twitter with our requests!

She’s one of the reasons I had a fabulous 24th of February, so thank you GTB!

What stories of great service do you have?