Thursday, October 7, 2010

फॉर थे लव ऑफ़ काउंट्री

On a sweltering Tuesday afternoon in March 2010, over four hundred young Nigerians embarked on a rally in the nation’s capital Abuja which saw us march from the Eagles square to the National assembly, in what seemed to be a historic effort on the path of us youths to reclaim Nigeria. It was a call for change, a bold statement that we have come of age and apathy is not going to be part of our repertoire. At one point during the procession, a rainbow-like streak suddenly appeared in the sky. “See rainbow!” yelled Chude, the rally coordinator, as he threw both arms in the air. The crowd responded with a cauldron of emotions as the symbolic gesture made by the good heavens reaffirmed our efforts to engage in the Enough-is-Enough youth rally. With renewed zest, we raised our placards displaying several disgruntled messages like “Stop the killing in Jos”, “Give us light” among others which in plain language encapsulated the pent up frustrations and demands of a generation of young Nigerians.

Not even the presence of armed police men who were perched like vultures in waiting could dissuade us, for the course we chose to fight was as much theirs as it was ours. We shrugged our shoulders, and couldn’t care that we were putting ourselves in harm’s way. How can we come this far and allow our courage to waver? I had thought to myself that most of us arrived the night before from Lagos to Abuja and retreating now was not an option. I couldn’t forget the voice of my mother’s sage warning, “I know I can’t get you not to go, but please sandwich yourself in the middle.” When we tore through the human barricade of gun totting policemen that was set up to deny our entry into the national assembly, a girl close by used me as her human shield.


If any young person had to tell the Nigerian story of the last five decades to an untrained ear, what could it possibly be? Maybe, eight military coups, 30 months of civil war, endless political turmoil, religious, geo-political and tribal divides, a streak of missed opportunities due to that hydra headed monster called corruption? All of these grim and disturbing realities are only a part of the story, but not the complete story. This story is a badly written script by those who got here before us, a script we must not accept, and an end we must not allow. The significance of this year’s independence celebration is for us as the next generation which the nation’s hopes are riding on to take stock and determine what we want the next 50 years to be, and write that script. I believe there is a new bright Nigeria emerging in the midst of this chaos. Blessed are they who believe that there is a new Nigeria, but more blessed are those who are committed to bring about this change. Blessed are those solitary light bulbs in the midst of a cynical dark world.
But I would be failing to do justice to this piece if I pretend that there is so much to look forward to for our generation, anyway. A generation whose major offense was being born in a geographical entity called Nigeria, where dreams are deferred, and creativity is stifled; a country where many battle the indignities of having to leave for pastures so green in order to fulfill their dreams. A generation set up to inherit a nation from a greedy, corrupt and recycled political class that has ridden roughshod over its present and its future. A generation that is educated in empty classrooms, treated in caverns called hospitals, made insipid by the harsh economic realities where a good education is a luxury and not a necessity that every child is entitled to, where being a graduate is no longer a passport to a comfortable job. A generation that is being raised in an era where values are skewed and the press headlines find it attractive to parade graduates caught in armed-robbery, forgetting that such idle minds have become the devil’s factory in the monstrous creation of a careless society. My question is, can we survive the macabre beats of this tragic orchestra? How can we cope with all these and how will these challenges affect us in the future? Can we create a better world than we inherited?

All of these stories that have characterized the last 50 years can be doubly disempowering. However, we must be a generation who thrives despite a failing government. We must take responsibility for the state of our lives and nation. Sure, there is plenty of blame to go around, but blame no matter how justified is a luxury we cannot afford. The lives of many young people seem broken, but so is our nation; the breaking may not be our fault, but the duty to fix it lies squarely on our shoulders.

Victor Hugo said it best when he once remarked that ‘there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. I believe there is nothing as powerful as a generation whose time has come. History has shown that every society responds to the demands of their youth, their exuberance, and that solemn ideal that change can happen. The onus of this change falls on young people. We cannot afford to sit on the fence because doing so makes it possible for the system to change us rather than us changing the system. We must rise to the challenge, discover who we are and what we are about to do.

In re-writing the script of our nation, we would need that sense of ire that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala once described when she said, “It is a sense of anger that drives me. Anger, that this country and the Nigerians that I know are being maligned by a small percentage of people. You have to do something to clean things up, you always look up to other people to do it, the fight begins with you.” Such passion will help us confront all the virulent display of impunity that is diametrically opposed to what true democracy stands for. In order to write our script we will need to ask the hard questions; How come we have more pot-holes than roads; and our elected officials cruise around in sirens unfeelingly? Don’t we have a government whose responsibility is to fix the road? Why are we not seeing the dividends of good governance? And yet we seem not to bother? Shouldn’t there be an expectation from the government of the day for those who they govern?

There is never a perfect script without an active imagination. We must dream out of limitation. While circumstances can limit our dreams and imagination, when allowed to thrive our imagination can shatter any limiting circumstance. This is why I dream with my eyes wide open, and my mind bubbles with streams of possibilities. I dream of a Nigeria that is radically different from what we have now, where everything works, where the Nigerian child goes to school and sits on a decent desk, with a classroom far from being over-populated; where libraries are updated and equipped laboratories are necessities provided, not luxuries. I dream of a Nigeria were graduates of our higher institutions can compete favorably with graduates from any other part of the world, and hold their forte; and those graduates would have jobs waiting for them before they graduate. I dream of a Nigeria where youths are not only gainfully employed but are business owners that generate thousands of jobs.

I dream of a Nigeria with a responsive and responsible leadership that condemns fights, reduces, and eliminates corruption. I dream of a Nigeria where electricity is taken for granted; a Nigeria that produces her own cars, refines her own fuel and exports millions of cash crops and locally manufactured goods; a Nigeria that will become the giant of manufacturing in Africa; a technologically superior country. I dream of a Nigeria were the youths are HIV free; where maternal mortality is non-existent, and drugs are genuine and therapeutic, not fake and lethal. I dream of a Nigeria where the youths are patriotic and its leaders selfless and honest; a nation whose policies are people-centered and transparent and its public servants are committed and follow due process; a country where militants are the defenders of our unity, the rule of law is upheld and democracy is allowed to thrive. This is a script you and I have to endorse and produce. It is not just a dream; it is the blueprint of our future.
For the Love of Country

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Did the meltdown make you lose your to-die-for-job with all the impeccable pecks and benefits that came with it? Huh! Maybe you broke up with that potential hot (or should I say cool) spouse, when you thought the altar was your next destination, and you were fast approaching age…30, right? (You know getting a good one can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, pele). No, maybe yours was losing that brand new ride that kept you on the top ten gossip list for 3 months? I suspect it is the Omonile who duped you what was left of your tumbled and crumbled investments in stocks, for that land you so wanted to buy, right? Well, if none of these, then for a moment, think about the grueling traffic one has to face on a day to day basis, sometimes it is a miracle to stay motivated and survive.

The past few months have been incredibly challenging for most people. It has been for me as well. It was like I was hitched on some kind of hurricane. No sooner had I survived one than another took me by surprise in quick succession. I was like a drowning man at the time, except that I was not in water. The walls had caved in, but the only difference was that I was not in a cave. I was in my meltdown (I can’t tell you if it is over though). Every day, the mere thought of facing the day leaves me not only exasperated but slightly depressed. I always had a grouse that some of our life’s challenges can be senseless tragedy. I somehow managed to pray and believe, but somehow nothing changed. Like Mother Theresa said “Hope Father doesn’t trust us so much as to give us trials beyond our capacity?”
What life has taught me, if it has taught me anything at all, is that God will not stop life from happening to us; he only gets us through life. A couple of months ago, I wrote about a note on Facebook, of how God uses adversity to heighten our sensitivity to build character in us, to bring wisdom to the not too wise, to strengthen the weak, to fortify our faith. This is what I am expanding in this piece. Life is all about playing with the game that fate dealt with you. It is never too much about punishment but about learning as we go through life.

Let’s face it, sometimes the greatest problems we face are not the very issues, but the perspective we hold about them. Often times our poor perspectives make our adversities self-inflicting and bring us needless battles. On the other hand, our apathy, our inflexibilities, our insensitivities, and our prayerlessness our spiritual anorexia brings us into crisis. Sure Father knows us more than we do know of ourselves. I had set my expectations for myself and when I failed to meet those expectations; I became disappointed and foisted same disappointments on God. Truly, God never fails, only humans fail in their false expectations of God. In the first place, He doesn’t just exit to answer our prayers, but by our prayer we come to discern the mind of God. In the letter to Colossians, 9 verse of the first chapter, Paul said, “…do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” The significance of prayer is not give to God, our list of wants and needs; that is not wrong in itself, but it places limit on the benefits we can tap from prayers. The whole significance of prayer is that we get hold of the mind of God and that understanding becomes the answer to prayer. It is true that prayer changes things, but most of all prayer changes me and I change things. Again for emphasis sake, the greatest answer to prayer becomes that my perspective is brought into a perfect understanding with God and that alters my views of actual things. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said, “Let your will be done; let your kingdom come”, before He said, “Give us this day our daily bread”. We have sort of reversed this; I believe if God’s will is done in our lives, our wants and needs, will fizzle out automatically. This helped me, though my circumstances haven’t changed much, my views of them have.

God is sovereign and is not obliged to use our strategies to meet our needs. God is not easily manipulated by our tears; follow the principles. Save yourself the heartaches and wait on Him for his strategy. We impoverish God in our mind when limit him with out mind. God is not as much interested in our whining as he is of our character. God’s goal is beyond money and trappings of wealth, rather he wants us to become like Christ. Though he cares about our comfort and well being, He values our character more than our comfort and convenience. God does not waste a hurt; there is always a purpose to our crisis. Many times, it is to bring about a paradigm and perspective shift in us. But I prayed, I believed, so what went wrong? Why is life so unfair?

I penned this words a couple of months ago. “I think life can become unfair when we choose to focus on what we don’t have, and let them prevent us from making the most of the little we have. I think life can become unfair when we run a marathon like a 100m dash, and become busted and exhausted, rather than taking the race of life at the pace that is uniquely ours, as to guarantee we arrive alive. I think life can become unfair when we fail to see challenges for what they really are-stepping stones-and see them for what they are not-stumbling blocks. For challenges are not meant to frail us but to firm us. I think life can become unfair when we magnify our problems rather than our God, who can solve the problems. Most of our failures are failures of faith. I think life can become unfair when we choose to see only those who have better living conditions than we do, and forget to see those who have worse living conditions than we have. I think life can become unfair when we focus on those who hurt us, and forget that they are human, and have the tendency to err, while it’s ours to forgive and love again. I think life can be unfair, when we try to set God’s time with our clock rather than set our clock to God’s time.” For He makes all things beautiful in His time, in His time the job will come, the love will come, the child will come, and all you need are already set for an appointed time.”

Now have I stopped believing? Never! Have I stopped praying? Not anytime soon. Have I quit? At least not yet! Challenges are inevitable in life, but misery is optional. The whole essence of this piece is to help us separate what is necessary and what is not in the crisis we face. If you are feeling like I felt, just maybe think about these perspectives. The advantage of speaking in tongues is simply to enable Gods mind bye-pass our mental limitations, but creating a new band width that can get us through the tickling of our limited minds and communicate his will to us.

Love you!


I was stuck at a point in my life; I had so many clues and suddenly was clueless amidst the many clues. Have you ever been there? I am talking about that strange place where you want to move ahead, be more than you are, start that initiative, but the will power is subdued by sight of discouraging events, and sounds of disparaging remarks. You are scared of starting because you are afraid of failing; you have gone for motivational talks and you get pumped up and after you went home you became busted. There are many young Nigeria with fantastic ideas, but seem trapped in the same state of inertia that I was-am not sure if I am out anyway-they just can’t perform.

Somehow it takes more than an entertainment or what I call pedestrian motivational gibberish to get going. If you think those are the answers, forget it! “How can we sustain this aspirational spirit and turn those ideas, concepts, creativity, strategy, and technology into a productive venture?” is the big question that has been on my mind and those of my friends.

What we need is a sustained network of like minds who are also trying to make good sense of their gifts, talents, potentials and lives. We need to build relationships that will create a context where we can express ourselves and help us find our voices and provide a launch pad to build us, expand us, expose us and export us. You get? Enough of a one man army! Let’s synergize friends!

This is what our eponymous INTERFACE conference is all about, it is not just a marketplace of ideas brimming with mind boggling innovations, but it is a place where people share their stories and tell you how they have navigated their road blocks, perhaps you will learn a thing or two about removing your own grind blocks.

Basically, INTERFACE is about meeting new friends that would ignite your passion for the extraordinary. It is about breaking out of the box and making a difference. You have never experienced anything remotely like it.

Like it is often said, there is nothing as formidable as a timely idea. We believe strongly in the power that ideas can change attitude, lives and world. We will like to invite you specially, to join us at the first edition of the Interface conversation, (themed Nigeria and the Creative Economy).The date is July 24, 2010, by 9am to 12noon at Modex Meeting Room, 3 Abiola Segun Ajayi, off Muri Okunola, off Ajose Adeogun, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Speakers include:
Eng Maduka: from Pan African University: speaking on "Innovation: what it is and what it is not"
Pai Gamde: from Hi Tech: Competing in the global village

Others are: Tosin Otitoju, Uche Nworah, Uche Eze (Bellanaija), Tolu Oluketuyi and Lami Idakwo, all sharing interesting topics that would leave you better than you were.

Our speakers are am amazing people who have proven themselves in their diverse interest. They are brilliant people in the true sense of the word.


The Interface is a community of influential, young, aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs from diverse disciples united by our curiosity, open-mindedness and desire to think outside the box. But we are set on building a better future by exploring on how to integrate ideas, enterprise, strategy, creativity and technology that will bring about individual empowerment and national advancement.
The core objectives of the Interface are to provide a forum:

Ø For young people to find like minds and build relationships and friendship that can be mutually beneficial to their dreams
Ø To provide a mentoring system for young people
Ø To initiate a self-development culture and build avid and informed young minds through various reading clubs and schemes
Ø To bring a sense of empowerment by exposing young minds to opportunities around

N/B: Please note that limited seats are available. If you are interested in attending please send us a mail for a seat reservation on or before July 22, 2010.
We look forward to your favorable response.

Ferdinand Adimefe
Intellectual spa! SHUN THE CONVENTION!


By Ben Ezeamalu

July 26, 2010 02:31AM
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There is a creative economy in Nigeria that needs to be developed, and there is a need to harness the different potentials, abilities, talents, skills, and bring them on a common platform for expression. This was the purpose of a gathering tagged ‘Nigeria and the Creative Economy,' a forum where young and prospective entrepreneurs from all walks of lives met to network and exchange ideas.

According to The Interface, the organizers of the forum which held on Saturday in Lagos, there is a gap in creativity in the country and so creative minds need a lot of encouragement in this part of the world. "We need a platform where we can collectively build capacity, where we can collectively find mentors that can mentor people in different areas, where we can share our stories, learn our lessons, make our mistakes, correct ourselves, and grow our businesses," said Ferdinand Adimefe, one of the organizers. Some of the speakers at the gathering included Pai Gamde, HiTV's Head of Human Resource and Administration; Uche Nworah, a writer; Tosin Otitoju, poet and lecturer at the Systems Engineering Department, University of Lagos; Uche Eze of Bella Naija, an Entertainment, Fashion, and Lifestyle website.

Youth and excellence

In her presentation titled ‘A Life of Excellence - Duck or Eagle,' Ms. Gamde encouraged the gathering to imbibe excellence as a way of life in all their endeavours. "Excellence is a way of life, it is not a destination," she said. "The difference between excellence and mediocre is the willingness to go beyond your limitation and operate your comfort zone." She enjoined the youth to celebrate their accomplishments and at the same time raise their bar a bit higher. Mr. Nworah also advised the youth to be independent while striving for excellence. "You really have to make a lot of effort for yourself," he said. "As a creative person, you have to make a drive for yourself. Whatever you decide to do, there is a space for you. There is a lot of opportunity in this country."

Motivated youth

Some of the participants at the forum expressed satisfaction at being a part of the gathering. Adewale Oreshade, final year Law student of the University of Lagos, said he had been motivated by the presentations he had witnessed. "I think all of them have been able to simplify and demystify phenomenon and philosophies we've always had in our hearts and have been afraid of all our lives in the entrepreneur world, in the leadership world, in a managerial society and realm," said Mr. Oreshade.

Another participant, Taiwo Fapohunda, said the knowledge gained from the forum would be invested in his recently established cleaning business in Ketu. "When Uche (Eze) said something about structure and strategy. Strategy has always been a big deal for me. Setting up a company, what's the strategy? What's the plan? What are the research and goals behind it? But now I've learnt that it is basically careful planning for future forecast. It's been wonderful being here," he said.