Posts Tagged ‘Borno State’

Fola (@LitaofLagos) is one of my favourite people online, and late last year we had the good fortune of meeting and working together on a project for Heinrich Boll, the first Book Sprint in Nigeria. Basically we were holed up in a house/hotel somewhere in Maitama, and in seven days went from nothing, to a full book, printed! It was a most amazing experience, and a privilege for me to share time, space, and energy with the wonderful people I worked with on that project.

Fola is lovely, loads of fun, and very REAL. Yep, she’s one of those people I know who are without airs, and what you see is literally what you get! I’m more than thankful she got the all-clear, and I hope you enjoy her entry!

My name is Fola Lawal, and friends call me Lita. I live in Doha by day and Lagos at night. I work as a Senior Project Analyst at my Qatar organization; I also run a personal business as a social media brand-integration marketer and manager for companies and individuals, helping to design effective social media campaigns. Also, I manage a book-publishing business while also developing ideas for, and encouraging my social media folks in, saving the world—one tweet at a time.

2015 started slowly note for me, but picked up pace gradually. I had to decide, with my partner (who, on the other hand, was resigning from the corporate legal sector), whether to go back into paid employment after my few months as a full-time entrepreneur. Eventually, I was able to secure a paying job that still allowed me time to focus on my businesses.

But I was to have a more worrisome time in the course of the year. During a routine medical checkup, my doctor advised me to go for an immediate mammogram as she could feel lumps in both my breasts. Although the scan results were reassuring, my experience during that scary period improved my attitude to, and outlook on, life.

I spent a part of 2015 sulking at how my world didn’t seem to appreciate my merits; and fuming at the challenges that prevented my plans from materializing. I was also faced with the challenges of settling into a new work environment and, sometimes all of these piled on hard on my psyche—but the Egba woman in me stayed relentless.

And so, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for my partner, Ayo: who is always there through thick and thin, to share battles and celebrate wins.

I’m grateful for my family: because I couldn’t have had a better support system.

I’m grateful for my friends: all of whom came through when I least expected.

What did I learn in 2015?

  • I learned that, in Nigeria, hard work is not enough to strategically position me for success.
  • I learned that what will be sometimes, will never be.
  • I learned to be unapologetically ME, that no matter how much I try to please others, people are wired to see what they want to see.
  • I learned that some people, trips, lies, books, or parties aren’t just worth their stress value.
  • And I learned that the key to material success is selfishness.

And what will I do in 2016?

  • Sleep less.
  • Love more.
  • Worry less.
  • Communicate better.
My baby girl!

My baby girl!

Yes o! I’m totally with you on communicating better, it’s something I have to learn; very necessary! Here’s to living the baby girl life in 2016!











When did I even meet Azeenarh? I don’t remember to be honest. What do I remember about her though? Frank conversations, laughter, real talk, dinners at her place (babes remember the ‘after birthday party’ you threw for me this year with lots of cake)? @Xeenarh’s a real person; what you see is what you get. No airs, no high shoulders, nothing. One way we’re alike? She loves to travel! Dang! Like, you can grab a bite with Azeenarh today, and tomorrow you call to pick up, I don’t know, a pencil you forgot in her bag and she says she’s just touched down in some European country! Girl can move! 

We did some work together last year, first time I’d ever done that so I was really excited – it was a Book Sprint for Heinrich Boll, and I chronicled the 7 days we were holed up in a house in Maitama here

So, give it up for my gorgeous, skinny (yes I’m beefing) friend, Azeenarh!

I’m Azeenarh Mohammed, Nigerian, resident in airports and tech conferences, happily unemployed.

The first thing I am grateful for is that 2015 is ending. Yeah, I said it! Despite recording a couple of good things (Nigeria eradicating polio, a peaceful democratic transition, passage of Violence Against Persons Act) the year was also all round shitty. Boko Haram continued to wreak havoc in the land, we passed a very vague and harmful Cyber Crime Prohibition Act which is being used to silence bloggers and journalists, and we switched a clueless government for another one that seems just as insensitive. But let me step away from that (deep breath) and focus on some not so bad stuff…

One thing I learned this year; it is a gift to be able to say I love you. To ourselves, to our parents, to our family, our friends, our partners and even many other people in our lives. So many people go through life not hearing these words said to them and I feel this is one of the tragedies of our times. One thing we can never do too much of is say and show people how much we love them. Life is too short to feel awkward. So go ahead, look at yourself in the mirror and gift yourself the words; I love you. Don’t be shy to tell your parents, your friends, your personal persons, your baby sister, how much they mean to you and how grateful you are that they are still here with you. Then before ringing off, tell them you love them. I promise it gets easier after the third time 🙂

The one thing I would undo in 2015 is everything that happened on 19th January 2015. I wish I had called my sister to tell her I loved her. I wish I had called her to check on her. I wish I had taught her how to use Circle of 6. I wish I had been more present in her life. I wish I knew more about her last moments. I wish I could have hugged her. I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I wish. I wish. I wish…

But sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

Things I would do all over again; quit my job. We are brought up to ‘go to school, get a degree, find a partner, find a job, settle down and live happily ever after’. This puts so much pressure on individuals that we never really get a chance to find ourselves and follow our passions. If there is a gift I could give to everyone, it would be 1 year of paid unemployment. So we can all learn to breathe deeply, live simply, listen/sleep consistently, find/confirm our true calling and most importantly, center ourselves. But since I cannot gift you that, I encourage you to save hard so that you would be able to take anything from six months to 1 year off work and life. We need to be able to pause, to heal, to grow, to marinate in ourselves and our emotions.

I wish that the gains humanity recorded in 2015 are surpassed, that we start to look past our perceived differences and learn to live together in peace. I hope that we learn to dream, to actualize those dreams, and to allow others the freedom to dream big and actualise their dreams. I desire joy, happiness, good health and contentment for myself and my loved ones. And I wish the same for all of you too! See you in 2016.

Love, @xeenarh.

I love you baby girl, and again I’m truly, really sorry about January. Here’s to a 2016 without any bad news or evil occurrence, full of God’s great joy, peace, and very many blessings!

I’ve known Andy for just under nine years now, and we’ve gone from being acquaintances to business partners, to great friends. Whether it’s sitting on the road in Wales waiting for pizza to be delivered, or brainstorming for hours on end for clients, or agreeing to pray about something that’s proving difficult, Andy is the kind of friend you want in your corner.

He’s quiet, is a good listener, has learnt to forgive (thank you Jesus), and is one of the most versatile entrepreneurs I’ve met. And I’m happy he’s my friend.

It isn’t necessarily foolish to make a mistake twice you know? It could also be that risk taking sometimes becomes addictive. Not the bungee jumping type, but the type when you decide to stay on a job for XYZ period then up and leave because you know you have paid your dues… This was me in 2013, that was me in 2015 and hey, I love being able to make decisions without feeling I will die if things change.

I left a steady 8am -5:30pm job as a Chief Technology Officer in an ePayment and IT solutions firm exactly two years after leaving the role of a Senior Cyber Threat Analyst in the UK. For most people I seemed crazy, to others, unserious. What was the next plan? Well, the next plan had started almost ten years ago and kept me as busy as all my other steady jobs did, surprisingly that even paid better. Eight months later, I wake up every day filled with the peace of mind knowing that the hustle is up to me; I broke free of the chains called corporate slavery and went full-time into being an entrepreneur and an innovator which is what I have always been passionate about. I actually started a pre-book taxi service which has in turn created several employment opportunities for some young Nigerians.

I am thankful for so many things, knowing that I can survive through the month without salary coming from one source has driven me to do better and has even helped me prioritize and have peace of mind. I got closer to God and learnt the real art of giving. I did that for a bit and realized that when we give expecting to receive, we actually do receive but hardly ever in the way we expected. The gift of life, health, family and little things are the rewards which can hardly been quantified. The best blessings are the blessings unseen.

While thinking of reasons to be thankful, I had a real-time experience that shaped my thinking and sense of experience on the 29th of November. A thief/armed robber jumped into my moving car and tried wrestling the car from me, of course it was late at night. Years of working out finally paid off as I foolishly fought till he fell out of the car and I drove off Nollywood style. I would have been stabbed or shot but I am here today. That means more than money.

I work with an amazing group of young people, the Abuja hub of the Global Shapers Community (the youth arm of the World Economic Forum), who are leaders in their own right and passionate about having an impact on the society. Less than 10 days after the Nyanya and Kuje bomb blasts by Boko Haram in Abuja, we started a project called #AGSDrive where the good people of Abuja contributed cash and several items for the people affected by the bomb blasts. This renewed my belief in good people who are able to have an impact even without waiting for government.

I am thankful for bottled water. I visited a community called Wukara were their main source of water can not even be called a stream. Where they had to sieve out spirogyra from the same water they drink, bath and wash with. Thankfully the Global Shapers, Selfless For Africa and The Project Drink Live teams sunk a borehole for them.

It is another December and I’m still unmarried, said several people. But that does not define me or you, it does not put a benchmark on achievement or success. I have learnt that the real resources crucial in life is people and not money, the right network and how you cultivate relationships with individual and clients is what sets you aside from the next man. It is okay to be upset at things around you as long as you are creating a solution. Finally, find something to believe in; for me it isn’t a pastor or Church but I believe in God and that has helped me find some sense in a lot of nonsense in 2015.

Andy Madaki is a Partner at iBlend Services, CEO SmartDropNg, an information security analyst, a public speaker and part-time geek. He stays in Abuja, Nigeria.

Ahhh!! See Posh Kid! Please I'm auctioning Andy jor! Private bids only...

Ahhh!! See Posh Kid! Please I’m auctioning Andy jor! Private bids only…

See what I said? All-round correct guy! Thank you for sending in your entry, and for being on my blog again! Here’s to a fabulous 2016!

On the 28th I was introduced to Hadiza, organizer of the #BringBackOurGirls march slated for the 30th, in Abuja. Idea was to march from Unity Fountain to the National Assembly and the National Security Adviser’s and drop off letters asking questions but more importantly demanding a cohesive, maybe even coherent communication of whatever strategies they have to bring back the over 200 girls kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno on the 14th of April.

I blogged about it on the 29th, short post explaining why I was going to be a part of the protest, forgetting one important thing – my darling mother reads my blog. She rang that night and called me ‘Chioma’ (the name reserved only for times I have erred), and I started wondering what sin I might have committed. Then she mentioned she read my post (uh oh), and somehow I convinced her I would be fine.

The morning of the 30th I woke up pumped, really excited, uncertain, and a bit worried at the same time. I’d heard of the protest by Polytechnic students and how they got tear gassed by the police. I also know a couple friends who were arrested the day they protested the deaths in the tragedy called the #NISexam earlier in April. Somehow, I knew this would be incident-free but I was ready for anything to be honest.

Had a good brunch, dressed in my most comfortable Reeboks, and started walking from my sister’s house to the road for a taxi when I saw something I will never forget, a woman strangling a baby who couldn’t be more than 11 months old. I froze. She was screaming something (in Hausa) at a man who had just alighted from a bike and was trying to snatch the baby from her.

I crossed over to their side of the road, collected the baby (who had been staring blankly), and then the child started to cry. In between comforting the child and trying to find out what the matter was, I learned that the man is a Police officer (a Corporal), while the woman is his ‘wife’, and the mother of the baby. A bit of a story of how the man wasn’t providing for them and his son (born by another woman), and so she was going to kill the baby and then kill herself.

By this time I was in tears too. Got it together enough to scold both of them, and restrain the woman from inflicting more bite marks on the man (he showed me his chest with bites like he’d been attacked by an animal), promised to help the woman I’d help her start a business if I came back and that child was still alive, and I left. All of this took about 45 minutes.

Got in a taxi and sobbed all the way to Unity Fountain. How does a mother get so frustrated/disillusioned/distraught that she tries to kill her own child?

Got to Unity Fountain, super heavy police presence, SSS dudes trying to infiltrate the crowd (pretty unsuccessfully because they couldn’t have been more obvious), and loads of international press.

Oby Ezekwesili showed up early – she’s a woman and half – and she stayed till the end!! Dang! I was inspired, impressed, encouraged, all of those and more, all at once! She addressed the crowd, and we set off marching to the National Assembly. It started drizzling and she asked if we would melt under the rain, or if we were made of salt. No to both questions so we continued marching. We were joined halfway by the Commissioner of Police for the FCT Joseph Mbu and all I could think as I looked at him with his Bulletproof vest was, “so this is the person who didn’t let Governor Amaechi of Rivers drink water and drop his cup abi?”

We got to the National Assembly gate and we weren’t let in, by this time we were all pretty much soaked to our knickers. Madam Oby said if they didn’t let us in we wouldn’t leave and so we sat on the floor, in the rain. I had tears in my eyes that I couldn’t explain.

Shortly after the heads of the National Assembly (Senate President, Speaker of the House of Reps and his Deputy) drove to the gate, and addressed us, getting wet in the process. All political statements – if you’ve heard the government react to a tragedy you already know half of what they said.

Letter delivered, we marched back (it didn’t stop raining) to Unity Fountain. By the way, Titi Atiku Abubakar, wife of former Vice-President showed up at the National Assembly to join us, I only noticed because her bodyguard tried to push @_yemia to make way for his Principal. Of course Yemi wasn’t having it, and Titi herself asked the bodyguard to leave her alone. Overzealous animal.

Femi Falana walked back with us from the National Assembly, and maybe it was just my cynicism on overdrive but he was loudest for the cameras. We sang a bit more, Hadiza read the statement which had been handed in, there were a few words from relatives of the girls (the leader of the Chibok community kneeling down and thanking us for coming out for them reduced me to tears again), and then it was time to go. It was still raining.

Was really nice to meet @rotexonline, @AbdulMahmud1, @Bellanwa, @SuperGirlTimidi, @ChineEzeks, and @aishajana, tweeps I’ve interacted with but never met, and nice to see @elnathan, @alkayy, @abangmercy, @saratu, @OjaySays, @Xeenarh and of course, @_yemia.

One bowl of hot amala and ewedu after (thankful to the guy who helped us drive Mercy’s car out of the mud, and to Ojay for his jacket – I was shivering), and it was home (and there was no power), getting warm, and then drained (physically and emotionally), bed.

Last thought on my mind? That little girl.


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I don’t live in Borno. Never been either, and the two people I know from there, are resident in Abuja. I have friends who live in/around Nyanya though. The blast on the 14th? Could have been any one of them but that’s not the point.

The 200+ girls missing from Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok have parents, brothers, sisters, maybe even boyfriends and/or husbands who are looking for them, who are distraught because not only is our military not sure how many girls were taken in the first place, they seem to be clueless on how to get them back.

The sheer inequality in the way disasters are handled in this country is the reason why I’m joining a peaceful march tomorrow. The parents are alone, no empathy or visit from our leaders, no words of comfort, nothing that says, ‘we feel your pain”. Nothing.

The 28th of April (yesterday) made it two weeks since these girls were snatched from their dormitories (Lord only knows why the school wasn’t shut down like all the others but let’s not go there) and we don’t know where they are – if they are still alive, what horrors they must have been exposed to – how many of them have been sold, raped, beaten, used for rituals, we do not know.

Bring back our girls

As someone on Twitter said yesterday, “two weeks, over 200 girls, no tampons, toothbrushes or change of lingerie” – disgraceful. Even more disgraceful is that there is no sense of urgency with the way this disaster is being handled. A meeting of all the joint chiefs and governors that degenerated into a “we invited them but they didn’t come” vs a “we weren’t invited” argument? Really? We’re playing politics with lives?

I speak to my folks at least three times a week (AT LEAST), and no, I am not an only child. I must salute the courage, the resilience, and the ability to absorb pain that the parents of these girls have shown cos I know mine would have passed on from the trauma. What would your parents do if they didn’t know where you were? For two weeks? And it didn’t look like anyone was seriously looking for you?

If you’re in Abuja, please join us tomorrow at the Unity Fountain (opposite the Hilton) as we march to The Presidency to respectfully ask that someone find the balls to bring our girls back.

Time is 3pm – 8pm (please ask today for permission to close early tomorrow). We’re wearing red in solidarity (but please wear whatever you’re comfortable in).

At some point, we need to go past the comforts of ranting on Facebook and Twitter, and put actions where our keypads are.
Youth are the leaders of tomorrow? Well 200+ of them are missing.

See you tomorrow.


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Frank is another person I have never met, but we had probably exchanged a few tweets before the Sunday I threw open the challenge for people to join my #31days31writers project. He said yes, and when I was editing his entry, I was grateful for the good sense to welcome submissions from people I ‘technically’ didn’t know!

His lessons from this year resonate with me so much I had to convince myself this was someone else’s story, not mine. Say hello to Ewoma, and the 18th day of this project!

So 2013 gradually grinds to a halt and with it comes the experiences, lessons and the many stories that we will tell. I am one of the lucky few picked by the Fairy GodSister to tell my tale so I’ll just share; I’m not good with stories but I can share my lessons!

Oh, the introduction! I am Ewoma Frank Uruemurie, a Nigerian and I own a small business. I am a football lover, a fan of Manchester United; I  a social media addict and I am always seeking out new information.

I have gleaned a lot these past few months, permit me to number them as I share:

  1. When you feel disappointed by the things going on around you, just take a break and see your life from the outside, you will be amazed how quickly things will turn around.
  2. Trust your dreams, don’t be afraid to try new things, to take bold steps. Never allow fear deter you from exploring the possibilities in your life.
  3. Family is everything. They will sing your praise and will not be afraid to tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear. Stay true to your family, you will always need them.
  4. You will fall a few times but don’t give up, keep pushing and slowly but surely you will get there no matter how long it takes. Your flaws do not define you.
  5. People change and so do you, so don’t always expect people to fit into your plans. Accept people for what they are not what you want them to be.

Sometimes it was really hard for me especially as I was trying to set up my firm but as I kept moving these lessons came alive for me and trust me, learning has not been easy but facing my fears head on helped me survive falls. So there you have it, those would be my five major lessons for 2013.

What am I most grateful for?

I could be Captain Obvious and say I am grateful for a lot of things so I’ll just say I am most grateful for FAMILY. Without the support that they bring it would have really been a hard year for me. I spent the first five months of the year in the Northern part of Nigeria with the whole Boko Haram crisis but their words, prayers and endless encouragement pulled me through. I  came back home and there was the business to set up and the whole fear of the unknown but still my family was there every step of the way so definitely I am grateful for them.

If there was one thing I could do differently in 2013 then it would be to TRUST MY DREAMS and the coming year will be so much better! I wish you the best of 2014!

By the way, I am on Twitter as @IamEwoma.


Thank you for writing in Ewoma!!


Been quite a while I worked on the 3, 2, 1 Series on here, thought I’d bring it back with an interview I had a lot of fun with!

In these unfortunate days when the fear of Boko Haram is the beginning of wisdom (and the wrinkling of your nose/shaking of your head at our government that seems powerless in the face of these terrorists), I thought about how I would feel if I had family in any of the troubled spots. Immediately I knew I wanted to find someone like that, and as God would have it, Mark surfaced!

Mark Amaza studied Environmental Management at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, after primary and secondary school education in Maiduguri, Borno State. He runs MINDcapital, a strategy, branding and innovation consulting firm he founded four years ago.

He is also a blogger in his spare time, where he writes about politics, entrepreneurship, education, self-development and other random ideas on his blog,

He also contributes articles and opinion pieces to a number of sites, including The Scoop, Nigerians Talk, Love Nigeria and The Herald. He has also been published in YNaija, YADA Magazine, Nigeria Dialogue and

Mark is the curator and brain behind NHBi (No Holds Barred interactive), a chat show on Twitter every Wednesday night by 9pm. Brilliant stuff!!

Show loads of love and give a warm welcome to my guest, Mark!

FGS: Welcome! Want to tell us about #NHBi, what inspired it and what the vision is?

Mark:  It was quite spontaneous, I was tweeting one night on relationships and then the next day, @Rosanwo asked for my opinion on money and relationships. And from there, it became a weekly thing. Right now, we’re all about making it a platform where young people can talk on all topics of relationships and sexuality, and also working on monetizing it

FGS: Talk us through the format of the show please?

Mark:  we have 45mins for d guest to talk about a chosen topic, and then 45mins to answer questions and comments

FGS: What’s the response been like? Numbers?

Mark: Excellent! It’s been wonderful! We’ve reached an average of 30K accounts per episode; our last episode had 51K accounts reached, and about 2K tweets.

FGS: Massive! What’s the most popular topic you’ve had?

Mark: I think the one we had on sexual addiction and relationships last season.

#NHBi Season 3 Episode 1

FGS: I think I can remember it, the guy who talked about not being able to get enough. Interesting bit for me was the way he got over it, just by deciding to. Anyway, when you’re not moderating sex and relationships related questions, what do you do??

Mark:  I run MINDcapital, a management consultancy. We advice clients on strategy, branding, innovation, business planning and business process improvement

FGS: So, what problem would I come to you to solve for me?

Mark:  If you want to start a business and you need advice on how to, or you want to introduce a product or service and you need to build a brand or a strategy. Basically, any management issues except HR and accounting. You can find us here

FGS: How’s business?

Mark: Business is good, moving gradually

FGS:  Let’s talk Boko Haram. What are your thoughts? Off the top of your head

Mark: Hmm, that’s a complex one. Boko Haram is complex. It has become a cover for many different people to do their evil: the Federal Government, politicians, the military, ethnic supremacists.  And yes, there’s the real Boko Haram…

FGS: Yes, there is. If you could, how would you tackle it? Three things.

Mark:  There has to be that political will to take on everyone involved; there are too many bigwigs are involved, and they’re protected. So how would I tackle it? One, take action on the intelligence that’s there. Two: secure the borders. I don’t have a 3

FGS: Ha ha ha ha!!  Ok… Tell me about your (recent) trip to Maiduguri, capital of Borno.

Mark: Compared to say a year ago, things are much better. There are less checkpoints, there’s ease of movement, except everyone is apprehensive about the civilian JTF (Joint Task force). Though they’ve helped immensely, if care isn’t taken, they could be another Boko Haram

FGS: they are armed right? This civilian JTF?

Mark: They are armed, and mostly on drugs. They use weapons like cutlasses and axes and knives.

FGS: oh wow. How does it feel having family in Borno? No holds barred please (lol)

Mark: I’m not scared anymore. I was very concerned for my younger brother who’s in the University of Maiduguri, especially when 3 of his friends were killed about a year ago. He left for his industrial attachment in March and so I am more at ease. Almost everyone close to me has left.

FGS: So, Borno’s no longer on your mind?

Mark: No, it is. But it doesn’t bother me that my folks are there, because things have gotten much better. My only concern is seeing things improve so much that another Boko Haram doesn’t happen years from now.

FGS: True. Maybe you can give me a tour sometime, I hear I can buy quality gold there…

Mark: Yeah, you can, although I don’t know what quality gold is. Lol!

FGS: Thank you for chatting to me Mark

Mark: Anytime!


Want to read more of these interviews? Go here, or here, or here, or here! Do you want me to interview someone you believe is doing great things? Say so!