Over the last few days I’ve trained my eyes to tell distances from my fuel gauge, no thanks to the scarcity that means cars congregate on fuel stations like they’re sharing something else there. Of course I went to fewer places as the dial danced closer to the ‘E’, and then last night, I knew I had to humble myself and queue.

Why use the word humble? Well, I braved a black market purchase the last time there was a queue. It not only cost me double the normal thing, but the fuel was bad so there was the cost of changing the injector and something else when the car refused to run properly the next morning.

So this time my darlings? I finished all the work I had to do, and at 9.30pm, I joined the queue at Forte Oil, opposite Transcorp Hilton. While I was there, I started tweeting a few things I’ve had on my mind for a few days, starting all the tweets with ‘shout out to…’. Did you catch them? Lol…

About 10.15pm, it was my turn, and typical me, I started chatting with the attendant. Apparently, the station is open 24 hours, and they run shifts. Which sounded nice till the guy said he resumed at 4pm and wouldn’t get off till 5am the next day!

What!! That’s 11 or 12 hours! So, two shifts, and these attendants are on their feet the entire time. And this is a very busy period, because very few stations have fuel, and so the lines are like the never-ending lists we tale before God. Daily.

It gets even more interesting. Guess how much these guys earn? Attendants – N10, 000 per month. Not per shift, or per week. Every 30 days. No wonder they’re trying to fleece everyone every chance they get. No wonder they connive with their managers to fiddle with the meters and sell you N500 fuel even though you pay N1000. Am I excusing theft? No. Stealing is wrong. All shapes, forms, and sizes. Even the Bible says a thief who stole bread because he was hungry should still be punished. However, the same Bible says that if eating meat (or paying a deplorable salary) will cause your neighbour (or staff) to sin, don’t do it.

How do you pay a man (or a woman) N10, 000 in Abuja where everything is triple the price? Not in any of the really cheap states where money goes further? How are their bosses able to sleep at night? In their million dollar houses and bourgeois lives? What are their staff supposed to do with N10, 000?

I didn’t bother asking if they had health insurance or a pension contribution from their management – didn’t want to waste my time. Or his.

Interestingly though, he was very excited with this job because it was hard to get, and it was only because his brother knew someone who knew one of the managers that he got it. So, I also didn’t talk about leaving this or applying for any other jobs. Again, I didn’t want to waste his time. Or mine.

It’s like one multi-millionaire I used to know… who would owe his staff for months on end (and he was paying the exact definition of chicken change) yet they would see him flaunt his wealth on his children and associates. And expected loyalty and honesty, feigning surprise that they were pinching sums whenever/wherever they could.

Again, for absolute clarity, theft/fraud/misappropriation/add other synonyms in all forms is wrong. Wrong, and should be punished.

However… Think about it. What are you paying your hired help? Not saying you should pay beyond what you can afford, but would you accept that with joy and gladness if the positions were reversed? Even if you had no option and the job in itself was a favour?

To paraphrase a saying I’ve heard several times about racism and slavery… there is the bad thing the government has done to its citizens, but there is also the bad thing that citizens have done to themselves.

This thing about the golden rule sha…

 

PS: I got home a few minutes to 11pm. Exhausted, but with high spirits. I have fuel!

About 13 years ago, I was playing with Momma’s luscious locks (my mother has gorgeous hair), and I noticed isolated strands of grey. Guess what? I started crying. Quietly at first, but because all mothers have eyes at the back of their heads, she asked why I was crying. Of course I immediately became louder.

But why was I crying? I didn’t want my mother to get old. *smile*

She comforted me, we cuddled, and then she told me everything I already knew – everyone gets old, white hairs are a sign of increasing grace and wisdom, and all those other nice things. All I could see however was my mother getting old and leaving me. And I was terrified to the heavens!

My mom’s a PhD holder, defended her thesis at the ripe age of 61, and I couldn’t be prouder of this unending miracle God gave to us.

However, this song is not about her. It’s about me, and the white hair I now have!

Hian!

So I looked in the mirror yesterday morning after my shower, admiring the beauty that God took his time to mold, and while I was trying to decide what next I want to do with my hair (been through the #TeamNatural, #TeamLocks, and all the other ‘team’ phases) and there it was. Right in the middle of my head, this long, silver strand. Shock, curiosity, awe, fear; I felt them all at once.

“I have white hair”, I tweeted, like I was trying to confirm that to myself.

Here are some of the responses I got.

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I’m turning 29 in a few short weeks (whoop) so obviously the white hair is waaaaaaaaay before it’s time but I’d be lying if I said seeing it didn’t make me stop and think for a minute, ask myself a few questions I will now share with you.

  • What am I doing with my life?
  • Am I happy?
  • Is God proud of me?
  • Am I on the way to where I want to be?

Yeah, that’s it, didn’t want to overthink one strand of hair biko. I’m happy with the answers to those questions, and there’s a fresh resolve to cater to the ones I wasn’t that happy with.

So, what next? Maybe dye a few more strands white?

*wink

 

 

Welcome to the end of March! Have you had a good month? I know I have!

Much earlier in the month, I was invited to Warri to facilitate at training for some officials from various organizations working in the Niger Delta. And I was excited, for a number of reasons. Since I ran a couple sessions late last year I discovered that training is something I really enjoy plus I hadn’t been in Warri since 199something and so I was really excited about the trip.

Flight was uneventful except I must mention that Arik Air thrive in the midst of confusion. It’s incredible! So my flight was for 8am, and I was at the airport before 7am. There was a rapidly lengthening queue, Arik Air officials doing what the Lord alone can explain because there wasn’t any progress.

And then of course people started jostling about and getting rowdy because their flights were getting announced. Guess what? They delayed the flight. Lol…

Anyway, we finally boarded the miniature plane, and off we went. Landed in Benin, and then did the 45+ minutes drive to Warri. I was taken to my lodgings, a place called Denaj Hotels. I was a little concerned when I saw these two signs but I said I’d be a good girl and not make a fuss about anything.

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This was at the bar.

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This was at the gate.

Have you noticed that when we say we’re not going to do something bad it seems like all the devils in hell relocate to our ends just to make us renege on that promise?

Children of God, the sheets had funny stains on them – not even going to hazard a guess around that. Then the toilet seat looked like there’s been a pissing contest for blindfolded guys.

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I was confused. There was no menu in the room either, and I was starving.

I called for someone to clean the bathroom (not change the room – remember, no fuss), and then I ordered jollof rice, plantain and chicken. Food came on a tray without cutlery, and the cleaner still hadn’t come.

So I went downstairs, and had to get cutlery myself, and pried a lady attendant from her phone and argument with the receptionist about her not being the person to clean my room. I ate (don’t ask any questions – I was starving), and then had a meeting where I complained to the heavens about the entire situation (by this time chill had departed), and then I spread my mom’s wrapper on the sheets, and slept. The evening, the morning, and it was time to prep for the first day of training.

First off, I woke up with some sort of itch on my arms and feet. There was no hot water. I’d finished my water and I didn’t even feel okay buying water. So, no shower, and I settled for gargling with my mouth wash.

Was I grumpy or what!! Hian! I mean it was lovely to meet the class, 21 bright-eyed people who I was supposed to be useful to, but I couldn’t shake the itch and it was all so disorienting, two mugs of my favorite brew didn’t help.

We were moved to Protea that evening, and guess what I did first? Phew… Thank you Jesus! I had a proper dinner as well, three-course type of business. Talmabout getting my groove back!

So what did I teach the class? We did an introduction to social media, tools and platforms, what their organizations might need (or not), and the personal vs corporate communication. We also learned about keeping ourselves safe online, hyperlinks, infographics, blogging, and developing articles for their organizations. Of course there were lots of things we tried our hands at (internet permitting), and I ended up creating a WordPress blog for one organization, a Facebook page for another, and personal Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for members of the class.

I also met Samson Idoko, a very brilliant young man and co-facilitator who taught Microsoft Office in a way I’ve never seen/heard it taught before. Tips, shortcuts, tricks across Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, and it was a free class for me!! I learned so much!

There was also Frank, a staff of the organization who ensured we were always overfed! God bless him, one afternoon I said I wanted fish and a salad for lunch, and here’s the fish I got! I shared mine with Samson and we gave his out – walai I would have dozed if I ate that alone!

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There was James who drove us around, and had this hilarious bad eye he would give other people who were driving dangerously. Thank you for making me smile everyday!

And the icing on the cake? The feedback from the class! I grabbed a bit of it, and then there was the email from one of the attendees, which was the sweetest thing I’ve read in a while. Sweetest.

I learned lessons about myself, about people, and about social media on this trip. Start from confirming that Lagos, Abuja are on one level with social media, and the rest of the country on a totally different level. Totally different ladies and gentlemen. It might not mean much till you juxtapose that with political communication, numbers and expectations for these elections.

And now for a shameless plug: want a social media trainer for your organization? Get in touch, already!

Warri was great, I love the class, and it was my privilege to share my skill/knowledge; massive thanks to the organizers and technical adviser for the opportunity, and for ensuring that we were comfortable. Let’s do it again!

How easy is it for you to forgive? Easy/difficult? Or something you don’t even dare? Are you one of those people who say they can forgive but they can never ever, ever forget? Lol… I used to be like that.

I attended a service in Asaba late in 2014 and my father preached on the horn of unforgiveness. As always I made notes you can share in, so welcome to church!

He started by saying, the company you follow/accompany determines what will follow/accompany you. I totally agree.

Zechariah 1:17-21

Unforgiveness is refusing to let go of something or someone who in your opinion hurt you.

Unforgiveness is not holding my peace and letting God fight for me but forcing Him out of my fight because I want to do it all myself. That’s scary, who are we without Him?

Matthew 18:20-21

Genesis 50:17 – ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.”

Who has noticed that forgiving people can be a difficult thing? And the greater the grief they caused, the harder it might be to forgive. But it is a clear instruction from God. We must forgive.

2nd Chronicles 7:14

Psalm 130:3- 4 “Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies”

Zechariah 1:17-21 (yes, we read it again, for emphasis).

So, how do we defeat the horn of unforgiveness, which is rooted in anger? By the way, anger is some sort of inflammation, deep-rooted resentment or upset. The dictionary defines it as…

Psalm 103:4-5 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

Daddy mentioned something I want to ask about; do you know how your heart skips a beat when you round a corner and see someone you’ve got beef for/with? Lol… Unhealthy stuff.

And the sad/unfortunate thing is that most times the person we’re beefing is not even aware so we’re just stressing our hearts and minds and the person is walking around free!

How do you deal with anger? (Err, don’t worry there’s no magical or high-sounding formula)

  1. Keep your cool
  2. Don’t say or do anything when you’re angry. This is something we probably already knew but did you know the Bible mentions it too? Proverbs 25:11, 15:1,3.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 –Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.”  Verse 17 of the same scripture says, On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time?”

Did you learn something? Now to ask God for grace to let that learning shine through the things we do so that the few minutes we spent reading this don’t waste.

Dear Lord, help us to always turn our fights over to you, to remember that living like/for you means we must forgive people who offend us just like we’re forgiven all our sins as well. Help us to live right, amen.

Have a good week!

PS: Did you go to church today? Hope it’s a yes…

In September 2014 I attended a service with my girl Tokes at her church, Trinity Chapel, in Barking. It was a special service, and Prophet Gilbert from Ghana was the guest minister.

His topic was “Exposure: good or bad?” and he opened up stories from the bible in ways I didn’t know were possible. See ehn, it’s one thing to read the Bible, and another thing to be given a clear/different understanding of the words you’ve read.

Anyway, let’s get on to the message right? Prophet Gilbert started by saying, “before Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden they were naked and they knew it. It was the exposure (their eyes being ‘opened’) after eating that brought shame.

In the same way, sometimes we would lead better lives if we hadn’t become ‘exposed’ to certain things/new knowledge. Some things we become aware of destroy us. What have you suddenly become discontented with because you’ve been exposed to something else? How many spouses/partners are no longer happy with what their partners bring home because they’ve heard so-and-so have it better?

Enlightenment should bring development/improvement, not the comparison that leads to destruction. The Bible says that, “comparing themselves with themselves, they became unwise”.

Now, on the flip side, when Adam and Eve became exposed, they covered themselves. Are you covered? What are you covering yourself with? How do you dress?

Prophet Gilbert talked about the image of a person being the sum of their appearance, behavior and communication. Are these three things in your life saying three different things? Are you professing Christianity with your lips but appearing/behaving like a devil?

He also talked about ‘knowing ourselves’ and how people not knowing who they are and what they are made of being the reason they are swayed by every wind of doctrine.

He ended his very thought-provoking message by saying that in five years we’d be products/mash-up of what we’ve read and the people we’ve interacted with. Who are you hanging with? What are you exposing yourself to? Who are we allowing to influence us?

And then we prayed. Sweet baby Jesus we prayed! For direction, for blindness from the exposure that will derail our destinies, for the strength to say no to the wrong influences, we prayed ladies and gentlemen.

I had a great time in the service, and I’m grateful I was there. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and I pray that we receive grace to do as we have read. Amen!

Have a great rest of the week!

A little intro before you read this. First off, I didn’t write it, my friend @ElohoOmame did. And boy, was it refreshing to read something overflowing with common sense, devoid of the hate young people (on all sides of the divide) are peddling in the name of voter education, calls to participation, etc. This was refreshing, and is a bigger incentive to vote than the tiresome rhetoric I’m now consciously blocking out of my mind.

Eloho is brilliant with this, simple, convincing logic, sentence after sentence. And I join my voice with hers, asking that you go out on the 28th of March and the 11th of April to vote the candidate of your choice.

Still ‘Undecided’? Here’s What I’d Like You To Know

Undecided isn’t good enough. Millions of us are counting on you. Please spend the next few days deciding whom you will vote for and be bold enough to see it through. Your vote is important, your vote is strategic and it would be silly not to use it. If you’ll bear with me, I’ll tell you why.

First off, if you are one of the lucky 56 million people with PVCs, give yourself a pat on the back. You are a guardian of the welfare of two other Nigerians that will not have a say in how our country is run for at least another four years. Think of yourself as ‘standing in the gap’ for two of your children, employees, friends or neighbours. To stand in the gap is a good thing; it means you speak on our behalf.

Remember also that there 17 million or so, like me, who live abroad for different reasons, but have left their hearts in Nigeria. There is no provision for us to vote. We add the burden of another half a person to each load. Think of us often. Remember you speak for three and a half people, including yourself.

But, if the last two presidential elections are anything to go by, the disappointing reality is that not all of you that who are able to vote will come through for us on March 28. My guess is that around 38 million people – 55% of the 68 million registered by INEC – will actually cast a vote. That means about 20% of Nigerians will speak for the 100%, because 18 million of you with PVCs will do nothing. You will forget the hard slog of getting the card in the first place and ignore its power.

Some of you will mean to vote, but be put off by the simplest inconveniences, like predictably poor logistics or the inevitable heat of the sun. The rest will give us three reasons.

The first group will say their votes don’t matter, “one vote won’t decide the outcome in the end”. And they would be right. If there could ever be an argument for apathy that I respected, this would be it. It makes rational, economic sense. The voting process is individually costly but not individually beneficial since the chance that any one person will cast the single deciding vote is close to zero. It would be silly to respond to this group then with statements like “what if we all didn’t vote?” That’s a close to zero probability event. Thankfully, 38 million people will.

Others will say that the process is likely to be rigged anyway, “it doesn’t matter what I want, the result has been fixed.” These are the classic free riders, and it’s tough to respect that. They are not happy with the status quo and are probably voters for the opposition (or they wouldn’t care if the process were rigged in the first place), but they will abdicate their responsibility. I am not saying that I believe Nigeria is now at the point where elections are entirely free and fair, but I am saying this group should give the process a chance. They are potentially very powerful as a unit but would rather sit at home speculating and sulking.

The last group will tell us that they are truly undecided, and so have no choice but to abstain. They are afraid to take a chance on an outcome that they cannot foresee; they don’t want to vote for a losing candidate, and are probably most in favour of those challengers with an outside chance. These people should spend more time with the most rational of the non-voters. If they did, they would take comfort in the fact that their individual votes will not by themselves change the outcome, and they might have the courage to back their convictions. With any luck, they’d come to understand that voting is not a lottery – it is not about guessing the winner – and that by staying away, they weaken the quality of our democratic discourse.

To the 18 million I say this: you have grown weary too easily. You forget that our democracy is barely 16 years old; the journey has not begun. You want to be inspired, to be rewarded with good leadership and good governance, but until then, you will not join us in the drab modalities of a democracy. Sadly, the promise we all want will continue to be delayed for as long as too few people are involved in deciding how nearly 200 million people are governed. We need many more to be invested in this process. We need you to do your part. We want to be inspired too.

So please vote, and vote wisely. The issues before us are clear and the choice is not easy. Ironically, the campaign slogans of both the PDP and the APC agree that the status quo is unsatisfactory. We debate the semantics of ‘transformation’ vs. ‘change’ and I am reliably informed that one is a point in time occurrence and the other is an impressive process. Politics aside, I understand enough to know that in either scenario the promise is the same – today does not look like yesterday and tomorrow will not look like today.

But, in reality today does not look different enough to where we were four years ago, so given half a chance, I’d give my vote to General Buhari’s government. For no reason other than it is time to go back to the drawing board. The Chinese say ‘if you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading’.

But, ultimately, I won’t have a say in what happens on Saturday. If you have a PVC, you can. Whichever way you lean, remember that your vote sends a message, you are luckier than millions of us with no voice and you stand in the gap for 2 and a half people.

You could use your voice to make a show of confidence in President Jonathan, to deliver a message of support for General Buhari or to give a word of encouragement to the phenomenal Remi Sonaiya. That’s your prerogative. Just go out and vote.

Who has noticed I’ve got my groove back? Whoop!!

Very recently I wrote about being almost subsumed by work, stress, and so many emotions that made it difficult to write. Guess what? I’m back! Whoop! Slowly catching up with most of my writing commitments, and oh what a joy!

Thank you Jesus!

So let’s talk about something that happened recently which I’m very concerned by, especially since it has happened before. Before I start though, quick question: what’s the most important thing for you when you apply for a position/job/project/whatever?

For me, it’s knowing all I can about the people hiring. It’s like dating ( by the way, I refer to relationships so much these days I think an Agony Aunt column is in my future) and if you don’t get to know your partner, how can you please them (or at least try)?

Agreed? Not saying that’s all you need to look out for but believe me when I say it’s important. Very important.

Second thing for me is that I need to care enough/want it bad enough, otherwise there is no point. I won’t get it. To be clear, I haven’t been accepted everywhere I applied for a job, matter of fact there was a research project I put in for a couple weeks ago with a team, and we didn’t get chosen. We did get great feedback though, on what we did right and wrong, so much as I really wanted us to win the tender, I’m not beating myself up at all.

Anyway, back to talking about other people. Lol.

For about two years I’ve recruited ad hoc or full-time staff for myself and for clients, and so I’ve gone through a number of CV’s. And that’s what this post is about. The entire gamut around securing a job, from sending a CV to the interview, to negotiating your pay, to whatever comes after. I know we all talk about the scarcity of jobs, and the difficulties around women finding and being in work but have we thought about employability?

A month ago I needed two researchers and so I asked on Twitter – and most times I will tweet about positions I need to fill – that people send CV’s and a link to anything they had written to an email address.

I got the weirdest responses. From the guy who addressed me as “Hi Chi” (forget the inappropriateness of the salutation, anyone who knows me knows any adaptations of ‘Chioma’ never work with me), to the person who sent me her social network names for me to ‘check her out’, then the guy who sent me a CV which had more errors than correct sentences, phew! Then there was the lady who sent me a nice CV, but then an article that was full of ‘lols’, ‘smhes’, and ‘rmes’. How do you send that as a writing sample for a research position? Who does that? Hian!

About 72 hours ago I joined a panel to interview some people for an internship position. Three guys, two ladies, and somehow the guys went first. First guy was alright, second guy maybe just a bit more qualified, and the third guy sounded like the perfect ‘bullshitter‘ (forgive that word please, I’ll explain). We asked him how he would solve a problem in our organization (which he claimed he was well aware of, and then he said he wouldn’t be able to give us an answer till he had “researched into the foundation of the issue because everything takes root at the foundation then starts to grow”. What??? You know how people just go round and round the mulberry bush because they don’t have an answer? This guy.

Anyway, it was the ladies who worried me. Greatly. The first one knew next to nothing about the organization, kept on smiling in a ‘I-don’t-know-as-much-as-I-should-but-I’m-hoping-my smile-makes-up-for-it’ kind of way, and said she didn’t use social media but had a Facebook and Twitter account. Haba!!! When social media management for the organization was there as one of the tasks? Did I mention she wore jeans and hot pink lipstick? And generally gave off a very unserious vibe?

The second lady did just a bit better but all the interviewers knew the race for the position was between the guys. The ladies were (to my mind) just there to make up the numbers.

And so it is to the sisters I write today. Do we not care enough? Is the problem that we are not aware of what we should do when we’re job-hunting or we don’t want these jobs bad enough? I don’t know. It was distressing though, super distressing. And then we’ll go to our places of worship to pray for favor when we put in ZERO effort. I don’t know…

Thoughts, anyone?

PS: Written on the 21st of March, 2015.

On the 14th of January I attended a parley between 36 young people and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), organized by the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers Community. The event, which doubled up as the launch of the AMANA Initiative and the Abuja Dialogue Series, was hosted by the U.S. Embassy Abuja. The Commissioner of Police (CP) for the FCT, Wilson Inalegwu, came through with the force PRO, and some other members of his team.

The Cultural Affairs Officer at the Embassy, Bob Kerr, received us, and soon after the introductions were done, the question and answer session began. I made note of things that really stood out for me, and I’ve reproduced that below.

Q: What’s the relationship between the NPF and young people in Abuja?

A: Quite cordial except when they get involved in unwholesome behavior. Apprehension and arrests are never pleasurable events.

On the elections, the CP said the NPF was more than ready to ensure people across the country could go out and cast their votes without fear or concern for their safety. He said we would have noticed, “Already, motorized, static and mobile policing has been increased around the country”.

He also talked about the collaborative nature of the work between all the security agencies, giving an example with the relocation of Internally Displaced Persons  (IDPs) affected by the insurgency in the North East to camps in Abuja. He said the Department of State Security (DSS), military, police, civil defence, etc. worked together to register people so that fleeing combatants and terrorists wouldn’t be able to infiltrate the camps.

The Commissioner admonished young people to eschew (and I hate to sound like I’m writing for a Nigerian newspaper) political thuggery, drugs, and bad behavior.

In response to a question about the time it takes the police to show up when they are called, the police boss said community policing meant it was everyone’s responsibility to secure their areas, and be vigilant. Why? Simple reason is because the police cannot be everywhere at the same time. There are less than 16, 000 officers covering Abuja (morning/working population of about 4.5 million people, reducing in the night-time when people have returned to their homes within and outside the territory). For the entire country, there’s about 387, 000.

What else? Yes, on killings of civilians vs. killings of police officers, the CP said, “the NPF does not condone extra-judicial killings. It is their duty to apprehend, link the accused with the crime, and charge them to court, or let them go. They are only allowed and empowered by law to defend themselves to the full extent.” He also talked about various checks and balances in place to curb excesses and urged us to use the available helplines, Human Rights Desks within the police stations, and the Public Relations Officers to air our grievances.

One of the questions thrown at the Police Commissioner was about the welfare packages of force men who died while carrying out their duties. He said their families would receive N100, 000 towards burial costs, a minimum of five hundred thousand naira minimum insurance, and death gratuity. He also mentioned schemes like Police Officers Wives Association (POWA), and the Police Reward scheme that cater to the family of deceased officers. He acknowledged it wasn’t enough but said like other things that needed fixing, this was being reviewed.

Out of the tons of questions he had to cater to, the commissioner mentioned that they were in talks with Microsoft to develop an app that using geo-tagging, would enable residents reach the police in an emergency, pinpointing their exact location and therefore reducing reaction time. Nice! Amen to development, even though I remember saying he didn’t need to go all the way to Microsoft. Nigeria has more than enough developers to deliver on that!

Finally, the CP shared the helpline numbers for the police (08061581938, 08028940883, 08032003913) pending when they sort out their short code numbers. Store them, and even though the general hope/idea is you don’t have an emergency, there’s nothing as comforting as knowing you have the police close by if you do!

PS: Originally written for and posted on the Global Shapers Website.

I hear there was a time when jobs were plentiful. Whether white or blue or pink collared, young people were assured of some employment or the other at the end of their education or training.

I didn’t meet that. If I hadn’t heard of it, I would never have known such times existed. Interestingly, this problem isn’t the exclusive preserve of Nigeria; all around the world, countries are groaning under what should ordinarily have been a blessing: the percentage of youth amongst them.

Populations have expanded exponentially, literally taking governments by surprise. Saudi Arabia has 70% of its people under 30 and half of that number under 20. Kuwait has 60% under 25. Nigeria has 75% of its 170 million population under 35. It gets worse; 40-50% of them are unemployed.

Why?

That was the thrust of the Abuja Hub virtual #ShapingDavos session on #ShapingWork , held on January 22, 2015, led by former Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Frank Nweke. Themed, “Engaging Youth in Work”, this session connected the Abuja (Nigeria), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Orlando (United States), and Chandigarh (India) Hubs via Skype and Satellite to Davos where renowned broadcaster Nick Gowing moderated a panel featuring Omar Alghanim, Dominic Barton, and Nigeria’s own Aliko Dangote.

The discussion? Everyone agreed unemployment amongst young people was an issue even though they had several approaches to it. From a lack of futuristic thinking on the part of governments to the unemployability of youths, to the outdated curricula youth are taught with that don’t ready them to solve any of the problems in today’s ever evolving world, it seems that we have a lot of young people without a lot to do with them or to give them to do. A lot of people share this sentiment.

The rising tide of unemployment was also strongly linked to terrorism simply because idle minds are the devils playground. Perhaps to corroborate that are news reports that said some Boko Haram recruits were unemployed university graduates.

The discussion peaked with this question: “what new thinking and approaches can close the unemployment gap?

One word that resonated with me? Entrepreneurship! Young people taking hold of their destinies (and quickly too) and discarding the “give me give me” mentality, Onyeka Onwenu referred to in the local panel discussion earlier in the day.

Agreed. But can entrepreneurship exist in isolation? What’s the hope of a young graduate from a low or middle-income family who wants to start a business who cannot access a loan? Immediate costs include funds to pay for two years rent, run a generator, sustain himself, and all of this starting from zero? How about Graduate Internship Schemes (and the Federal Government through the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme rolled that out in 2013), mentorship programmes too? How about good roads, stable electricity, and other infrastructure that create the enabling environment for small and medium scale businesses to thrive or at least survive?

One of the panelists said world leaders need to react to unemployment with the urgency the Ebola Virus Disease was given. I totally agree. Another said governments must stop lip service to employment issues and truly map out interventions to drastically reduce the percentages.

I couldn’t agree more.

Another thing I was totally excited by? The talent in the room! During out networking session, I met two dentists, one farmer, one lawyer, an environmentalist, a lady who writes code (whoop), and the DJ/sound guy who is a 3rd year student at university but fends for himself by playing at events.

#ShapingDavos was a rounded, tell-it-as-it-is discussion and I can only hope that the corresponding actions are taken, and quickly too.

Originally written for and posted on the Global Shapers website.

Thinking of what we now know as Enough is Enough Nigeria always leaves me with three feelings

  1. Pride – that I was a part of something whose influence transcends the shores of this country
  2. Despair – that five years after, the issues that gave birth to are still the issues we’re grappling with now
  3. Hope – that there is hope for Nigeria, and our labor will not be in vain.

It was one email, one random Friday afternoon. Late President Yar’adua was terminally ill, unavailable to lead the country, and so many ‘leaders’ arose and plundered, taking turns to rape an already battered country. No one could ascertain whether he was alive or dead, no one had access to him, and there was no talk of a succession plan because some people had sworn they would rule by proxy.

And then I got that email from Chude, asking “where is the outrage;” wondering how Nigeria’s youth demographic, about 65% of Nigeria’s 150 million strong population, was going to stand by and do nothing while evil doers ensured there was no Nigeria left for us. My favorite line from that email was, “We are in the majority. We have the power to actually make change happen. So what is our excuse? What will we tell our children – that we lay down and took whatever they hit us with?”

We couldn’t have been more than 20 copied in that email that led to the ‘Enough is Enough’ protest to the National Assembly on the 16th of March 2010.

Photo credit: Enough is Enough Nigeria

Photo credit: Enough is Enough Nigeria

I remember the nights leading to it; the nocturnal meetings, and the letters we wrote. I remember all of us having to make the decision not to join the ‘Save Nigeria Group’ rally which held around the same time, refusing to be the ‘pop culture element’ but making a statement of our own. I remember reading up on the possible things that could go wrong during a protest, and gathering tips like onions countering the effects of teargas. Now that I think of it, I wonder what would have happened if we really had to use onions on the day.

And so on this day, exactly five years ago, I was at my cubicle at the BBC, having received a stern warning from my late aunt (God rest her soul), not to join any protest. Matter of fact, she’d made me wear a skirt and heels to work so I wouldn’t be able to go.

At 9am, my colleagues Alkasim and Matilda, disappeared from the office for various reasons, but I stayed, trying to be obedient. By 10am another colleague asked me to leave because I wasn’t being useful; that’s how restless I was. I caught a cab home, changed into trousers and my Enough is Enough tee (which I still have), and ran to Eagle Square.

The most beautiful rainbow kissed the clouds that morning, and I remember a few of us getting emotional because God was literally smiling down on us.

And then we set out, voices and placards raised, demanding that our government keep the promise they made about 6000MW of electricity, and stop the fuel crisis that was the stuff of legend.

There were many moments I will never forget from that morning, like Dele Momodu pushing through the human barrier the soldiers formed on the way to the National Assembly, Audu Maikori almost getting shot, and the absolutely scorching sun. I also remember musicians like Omawumi and others leading us in song, and I remember almost falling out of one of the trucks. I remember the Sergeant-at-Arms saying he wasn’t aware of our gathering and procession, when he had in fact received a letter days before. And yes, I remember Alkasim, Matilda, and I almost getting queried for leaving the office.

Photo credit: TalkNaija.com

Photo credit: TalkNaija.com

From ‘Enougha Enougha’ on Facebook, Enough is Enough was registered (in a very roundabout way that still makes me smile), and through the Register, Select, Vote, and Protect (RSVP), #ShineYourEye, #OurNass, election debates and monitoring, Revoda, etc. continues to work with other organizations (local and international) to ask questions of our leaders, and demand some sanity in the chaos that is sometimes us.

That protest laid the foundation for the #OccupyNigeria and #BringBackOurGirls movements, simply because it showed that young people are aware, care, and dare to force good governance from those who have the privilege to serve.

Here’s a big happy birthday to EiE, to the inaugural board and leadership, and to Yemi Adamolekun, who has steadily steered this ship through it all. May our oil never run dry, our arms never go weary, and may we see this Nigeria we dream of sooner than later.

Happy birthday!