Posts Tagged ‘Aliko Dangote’

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.


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 From a lack of futuristic thinking on the part of governments to the unemployability of youths, to the outdated curricula youth are taught with that don’t ready them to solve any of the problems in today’s ever evolving world, it seems that we have a lot of young people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.


So I’m totally excited about this little project I’ve got going this month, which is opening up my blog to 31 people, every day of this month! What they’ll talk about is here, and who better to start with than my friend, brother, and boss, Chude Jideonwo!

I learnt the truth about the road less travelled

My name is Chude Jideonwo, I am Nigerian, and I run an innovative media company that seeks to empower an evolving generation – of Africans. Which is pretty frightening sometimes, because I always knew I would be a journalist, but I never thought I would be flying without wings – as an entrepreneur.

This has been a remarkable year – remarkable because it threw up the kinds of battles I had read about but never quite understood. Just last year, a dear friend of mine had said to me ‘You haven’t even started. No one has really stolen your money and run away, betrayed you so deeply, you can’t imagine it. When that has happened, come back to me, I will know your journey has started.”

I said ‘God forbid’, as I am wont to, but she had insisted – God won’t forbid this, it is the way He has made the world.

I haven’t quite experienced to the scale that she speaks, and even till now my request to God that stands as my response to the thought, but I have come to a depth of understanding of what she spoke about.

This is the year that I have fought battles I never thought I would, faced moral, financial, personal conundrums I never thought I had the capacity to, opposition I didn’t think one man should face, human conduct that tested my ideas of all that is good, and many times when even I questioned my motives in the face of the odds.

I have learnt long ago to sit still and keep calm when all I want to do is scream; to keep my calm when the stakes are higher and not ever to be moved by the emotions of the moment when the vision is a longer one. This year, the limits of that lesson were tested.  Sorely, they were tested.

I learnt early that the road I have chosen will be rough, that the desire to do new things, to break a few of the rules, to change the course of things as we have met them or as we know them, to conquer my inner introvert, and my natural comfort with the status quo, and move beyond that with which I am comfortable. But no one prepares you for the twists and turns of that road. And, I found out, even you cannot prepare yourself enough. Not even if you can see into the future.

In an interview with the Financial Times a few weeks ago, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote spoke of the fear that gripped his heart as he begun a new venture. How so frightened he was that he had made a mistake that he could not eat, could not sleep, could hardly move.

I dare not compare myself with such a man, but on my level I have experienced just that kind of fear, of despair, of gut-wrenching second-guessing, of a desire to turn back and run to that which is normal, and usual, and comforting.

But then I know only the road less travelled would give me joy. And, with a mix of excitement and trepidation, I realize that, because of this; because of the life I have chosen to live, this roller coaster will not end, it cannot stop.

I see men who have already done it all; who have lived a million lives but yet face obstacles so steep you wonder why they do this. And I realize, each time, there are more trials, more temptations ahead – more excruciating decisions to make, more disappointment and pain I must build the capacity to absorb, more difficult actions to be taken, nights and days spent alone in contemplation.

But I will have it no other way, and I would do none of it differently. Because to arrive at great summits, one must endure great journeys – with great girth.

My journey, in fact, has just barely begun. And I am excited at the prospects!



So it’s 2am, and I’m awake. Not because this was one of those nights that sleep eluded me, but because I just got off the most enchanting phone call ever. As people who know me probably know now, I love it when my phone rings. Not every time, and definitely not for every caller. There are some for whom my heart skips – my mother, because she always has a word of blessing and peace (she’s my unending miracle), my father, because he will always make me laugh, my sister, because we always find a way to cheer each other up even in the face of adversity, my brother, because he is the smartest, most handsome brother in the world, with the funniest jokes, and the biggest loads of encouragement for his baby sister.

There are some for whom my heart skips, not only when they call at 1.30am in the morning just so they can fall asleep to my voice; they call and say, ‘tell me how you feel Babe’, and then before the first word is out of my mouth, they’re dreaming it – it’s perfectly ok, and somehow I still think that the next time will be different, that they won’t fall asleep (thought that the last two hundred times now). Thoughts at two, I love you, yes you.

I spent most of my night chatting with a dear friend who doubles as my counselor, and my shrink. We talked about love, about friendships, about the reason why we all shouldn’t judge. We talked about life being various shades of gray rather than black and white like we erroneously ascribe to the circumstances of others, but expect everyone to ‘understand’ when it’s us. I came away from that conversation determined to be a little better at understanding people. Shortly after I watched Chimamanda Adichie‘s Ted Talk she titled, ‘the danger of a single story’ – couldn’t be more of a confirmation of the discussion I’d had.

I also watched Sarah Kaminsky’s story of her father who for 30 years was a forger of documents, passports; you name it, he forged it. Wrinkling your nose in your mind yet? Believe it or not it was for a good cause, to deliver the poor and oppressed; his works were mostly during World War 2. It was such a pleasure that he was in the audience, and took a bow at the end of her talk.

What am I thinking of at 2am in the morning? I’m excited for the heroes welcome the Super Eagles got for winning the African Cup of Nations – I’m excited about the joy it’s brought every Nigerian. I am afraid though, that it is again one of the quick fixes that distract us from the many things that plague us. The boys have been gifted millions of naira by Dangote, by Adenuga; they have received national honors, landed property, and more money from Mr President. That caters to them, with their football ages that would put many a young vixen to shame. What happens to raising the next generation of AFCON, maybe even Olympic gold winners? What happened to celebrating today, but making plans for tomorrow? The celebrations of tonight to my mind are a tad reminiscent of King Herod offering his belly dancing daughter the half of his kingdom but hey, that’s just me.

What else is on my mind? I’m thinking of my nephew, and his two teeth, how adorable he is, and how I cannot wait to see him again, feed him (hopefully I won’t have to force him), strap him to my back (oh yes I can do that), and cuddle, and sing, and coo, and just be with this very precious gift from God to us.

I’m thinking of my future, and what I want to do/be because sometimes it’s really easy to get wrapped up in only the things people want for us, rather than things we really want for ourselves. I’m thinking critically if I want to be in England, or if I want to be in Nigeria, and be one short flight away from my folks, one short drive away from a church where the music is of heaven, and one ‘dramatic’ phone call away from you. I’m thinking of the idea for a charity I’ve had since January 2007, and wondering why six years after, I haven’t been bold enough to start. I know that’s all I need to do, start.

I’m thinking of today, thinking of tomorrow, thinking of times when I didn’t think at all (like this afternoon when I said I’d wash my hair but ended up with a very low cut), and finally, thinking of my yesterday, and being thankful that I might not be where I want to be, but I’m definitely not where I started.

And that’s enough, even for 2am.

That's me, and my new hair cut.

That’s me, and my new hair cut.