Leaders of Today

Leaders of Today

When I was in primary school, there was this marching song that had “we are the leaders of tomorrow” as part of the lyrics. My voice used to overshadow those of my classmates as that was my favourite part of the song, YES! I dreamt of being at the helm of affairs, I aspired to be a very powerful woman and that song always kept my hopes high. It gave me the assurance that my dreams would definitely be accomplished.
I never liked the way things were going on in the country: the bad roads, the poor infrastructure and poor electricity supply. I remember how excited we used to be any time we had electricity supply. The shout of “UP NEPA!” always filled the air especially from little children like me. Those were the things I could see and understand as the problems of the country. I never knew they were more than that.

My assumption of my future, my dear tomorrow, was a setting where children of my generation, strictly my generation, would be at the helm of affairs and occupying relevant and significant positions in the society. I felt it was “turn-by-turn” and I believed our leaders, parents, teachers were living their own future and probably in the next twenty years we would be given the opportunity to live ours. I heard stories about the military heads of state and how at thirty (years) some of them had already assumed office. All these further inspired me as a pupil and I believed if I worked hard I should also be in a relevant position before thirty. I should be a woman of my own. I saw in me a younger version of Queen Elizabeth, Helen Sirleaf Johnson, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Flora Shaw, etc. I dreamt of being greater and more relevant than these women.

Childhood was sweet and unique, the inspirations were perpetual. Things looked so easy and the future was equally bright, very bright! I really miss being a child, there was nothing to worry about.
I moved from primary to secondary school with my head still high. I always wore a contented smile anytime I remembered my dear tomorrow, I looked forward to the day when the reign of those old men and woman would pass away and another generation would be opportuned to display their potentials. I was in a hurry, I couldn’t wait for my turn to come. I waited patiently for the announcement day but unfortunately nothing like that happened. I still kept seeing the same faces on TV, I heard the same names. These are the people I have always noticed since I was in primary one and even till JSS2. Their names were still all over the place. Seven years and nothing like change! I was in a great labyrinth and I wondered if those people don’t allow others when would it finally get to my turn.

I got to SSS2 and it was still the same story. I was forced to ask my teacher why it was a particular caucus that dominated the important positions in our society and she explained to me that it was the kind of society we live in. The taste of power and wealth is so sweet that a particular set of people aspire to enjoy it alone. They keep passing the baton to themselves and the deserving ones are not given any opportunity. Then it dawned on me that the future may never come. My dear tomorrow might just be a fiction. I was very confused. My whole perspective about the future was wrong!

I used to think there was a regulatory body in charge of the future and after a stipulated time there was going to be something like a census. This would officially make the people in power/offices retire and give room for the competent younger ones. In this way, everyone would be allowed to live their dreams. I felt it was that easy. I was weakened and I told myself what I needed was to graduate with good grades, get a good job and raise a family. The tomorrow thing was all a fiction. I felt all schools should be banned from singing that marching song: it only deceives the students.

As I grew older, I started seeing what life really meant. The future is indeed real but there is no stipulated time for it. There is more to the future than just graduating with good grades, as a child all I understood was school and graduating with good grades. There is indeed more to life than being a doctor or lawyer. There is something called potential. You have to set goals. You can start living your dreams from today. We don’t have to wait for tomorrow, waiting for tomorrow is just a way of limiting ourselves, the tomorrow may never come, it is our responsibility to live our dreams, the government won’t live them for us.

As I write this article, I am in my second year in the University and I can tell you that the political, social and economic structure has not really changed. The same set of people still dominate everything and everywhere but surprisingly, we have people who have no popular background making it in life but these are people who made extra moves and who started planning their future a long time ago. There is more to life than waiting and procrastinating, we have our potentials, there is something built into each of us. Why not discover them? It doesn’t disturb school. Education is very important in life but there are a lot of things to be learnt outside school.

If you aspire to be a medical doctor why not make extra moves, discover! Explore! Launch extraordinary things relating to science. Isaac Newton developed the law of gravitation, calculus and three laws of motion at the age of twenty-three, all during two years that Cambridge was closed due to the plague. There is a little write-up that was sent to me by a WhatsApp contact which stated that a dropout of Cambridge or Harvard is equivalent to a PhD holder from a Nigerian university. I was totally devastated and amazed by that. Who says we can’t have a greater version of Isaac Newton, Bill Gates or even Mark Zuckerberg in Nigeria. We have subjected ourselves to limitations, but I refuse to be intimated. That is why I am writing this article.

Opeyemi Awoyemi, Ayodeji Adewunmi, and Olalekan Olude started Jobberman on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Jobberman.com is an employment website and has beem described by Forbes as West-Africa’s most popular job search engine and aggregator. They were even recognised by Mark Zuckerberg for their efforts in the technology and employment sectors in Nigeria. They created an opportunity themselves and gave other people different opportunities; Jobberman has definitely contributed to creating employment in Nigeria.

Opportunities can be created by ourselves, we don’t always need to wait for them to come. Why not make a move today, sooner or later your moves would be noticed. About three days ago I read about DJ Obi who is set to break the record for the longest DJ set in the world. He believed he could do it and he set out to play continuously for 240 hours and I am positive he would break the record and for the first time set the world record for Nigeria.

We breed more youths with Facebook and Instagram swags than those with innovations. There is nothing that can’t be done in a new way, be you a writer, musician, model, actress, lawyer, doctor, blogger, fashion designer or make up artist. There are new ways things can be done, it just entails innovations and the ability to discover. Social media has even made things easier, but there is more to it than just chatting and monitoring other people’s progress in life. A lot of people make fortunes from this social media. Take a look at SISIYEMMIE, she is a lifestyle blogger and she made something tangible out of her life via social media. There are a lot of people like that who have used this ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

I think even our leaders don’t believe in this generation of ours and that is why we are always left behind. We lack active and sensitive youths, we breed a lot of those who are quick to laugh and make caricature of everything. We need youths who are active in political and developmental aspects of our country, we need youths who are assertive and are always ready to take up any challenge in the quest for what they really want.

The more we keep quiet, the more we portray ourselves as vision-less and dumb as they really think we are, things may really be difficult but it is 100% possible for us to solve our problems ourselves, we all have something built in us, we just have to discover them and start making use of them. No matter how difficult things may look, there is always a sweet side of it.

I am putting every Nigerian youth out there to a challenge. It is our time to make it happen, the future has come. The “tomorrow” is today, enough of the limitation and intimidation by our leaders. We now crave for what is truly ours, we want to be relevant and accorded our due respect. All this depends on us, let us keep our heads high, make good use of whatever is built in us. We are the leaders of today so let us take charge and help Nigeria regain her rightful place among the committee of nations. It is possible! Let us make it happen! It depends on you and me!!

BY: AGEMO, Oluwabukola Miriam (guest writer from UNILAG)
Founder, “Arise African Child” Movement

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How Reading Impacts Knowledge

How Reading Impacts Knowledge

Reading, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, is defined as the process or act of looking at and understanding the meaning of written or printed word or symbols. The concept of reading is to learn; impact knowledge; to grow; to emphasise; to understand; to marvel, and to wonder. Reading is the root of strength of an individual even of a nation, hundreds of millions is allocated towards clothing and cosmetic just to take care of our outward and physical appearances. It is just a pity and very unfortunate that very little amount of Naira is spent on our inward strength which includes knowledge.

Reading really impacts knowledge. It helps in developing our cognitive domain which gives us the ability to solve problems and generate creative ideas. I personally, can now boast of a mind that can generate many thoughts per minute, per hour and per day. Not thoughts that can change my life alone but also of those living around me and my nation as a well. Reading also helps us in developing habits and virtues that can change our thoughts and help us live a life worth emulating.

Reading indeed is a fountain of knowledge. When we read we get unlimited knowledge and information. Continual reading is a major source of knowledge and information, it is something important in our life and our major key to success in life. Reading as a process and science has helped me acquire many forms of knowledge that has improved my personal thinking and enhanced my skills.

Reading also makes us conscious and it awakens our knowledge towards things happening around us which includes: political development, social and economic development, values and cultures of different societies and even contemporary social issues and how they can be curbed and tackled.

Readers they say are leaders. Reading has me helped me as a person in developing various skills which includes leadership skills. Being a great lover of biographies, inspirational books and spiritual books, they have given me a sense of leadership and empowered me with various skills necessary in helping others solve their problems. Biographies have helped me to know about people’s sojourn in life, the problems encountered and how to solve such problems. Inspirational books are awesome, they make me see myself as a character in the book and they also teach success and leadership strategies. Spiritual books help me grow in union with God and he uses me to impact other people’s lives and give them a good direction and sense of living. Therefore, having more clarity and understanding God’s purpose for my life.

Reading really feeds our minds. There is a saying that “you are what you read.” The type of materials you read has a great impact either negative or positive. The human brain is like a computer that is a continuous ongoing creative machine that never ceases. Our minds, like a computer, needs to be fed with information to keep it stimulated and reading is the best source of knowledge we can feed our brains with, because without information we become stagnant.

Reading helps in improving our educational standards, it also gives us higher knowledge and intelligence than those who do not read at all. Reading also helps in reducing stress, as a book can easily distract one from our burdens in the midst of activities and stressful days. It also helps in increasing analytical thinking, increases vocabularies, and in developing good writing skills and having prioritised goals.
In conclusion, reading for me is not all about escaping into a world of fiction, it is also about providing a context in our environment both real and imaginative. If we can breed many good readers in our country today, Nigeria would be able to regain her rightful place among the committee of nations because her citizens would have been fully equipped with the necessary skills for her development.
Reading is a real essence of living and a mighty fount of knowledge. It helps to be outstanding when others are standing and to stand out when others are outstanding.

Founder, “Arise African Child” Movement

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For the last 24 hours I have neither eaten nor drank anything. I did not speak to a single soul. I set eyes on no one on account of being locked up intentionally in my room.
I read my SMS but responded to none. I had turned off my mobile data and done the same to the Internet service provider modems of which I had two. I had shutdown my laptop as well. I had unplugged the TV and DSTV.

I had set the status on my Whatsapp profile to “SMS only”. I have to remember to change it. So I have more or less been cut off from all social media.

On the table is a plate with 3 slices of bread which I kept just in case. There’s a bag full of 20 pieces of 50-CL water sachets just in case as well. I didn’t touch either the bread or water. There’s half a bucket of water which I finally dipped a small face towel into and used to wipe my face and torso sometime in the afternoon. Not that I was really uncomfortable or sweaty but it was something to do. 24 hours is a long time.

I had a fan running all day courtesy of the inverter. No AC since there’s no electricity supply from the mains since morning. I was loath to open the windows during the day even when the temperature went up. It came close to being unbearable at some point.

As at 9PM I had 49 missed calls. Probably from under 20 people. Most are probably work related. Most of the SMS are from automated systems at the various banks at which I held accounts. It’s surprising that even on our birthdays especially those of us who are naturally reticent the few number of calls we get. I suspect when I enable mobile data on my phone and put on my laptop, there will be plenty of impersonal one-liners from friends and acquaintances. We get what we sow. Someone who wants friends must show himself friendly or something like that so I cannot complain. On the other hand, the Yorubas say it’s impossible for the same 20 kids to remain close friends for 20 years.

I am grateful for the calls (apologies for not accepting them) and those one-liners. The fact that people even take the pains to write them means they spared you a thought even during their busy schedules. Thank you.

I have read a ton of Sherlock Holmes and come away with the believe that “The Yellow face” is one of the best of his engagements. I am sure it’s based on sentiments: especially the ending. I read most of the book “The Rhineland Mystics: an anthology”.

I remember for some reason that the word “interregnum” is one of my most favourite words.

I did a few other “things” while alone in my room of course. I tried to exorcise myself of some of my personal demons. I am not sure if how successful I have been but hopefully I am better now in all aspects than I was 24 hours ago.

At 9:44PM someone put on the generator and it was blissful to feel the first waves of cool air wafting from the AC.

A little “Sunshine” would have made a world of difference but she shines a long way away across the oceans.

I cannot say if I have achieved anything permanently positive by my actions of the past 24 hours though I hope so.

Final tally was 54 missed calls, several SMS and 119 new Whatsapp messages. I suspect most of them are from my secondary school class Whatsapp group.

Now that the “break” is over, I intend to take a proper bath and then go and indulge in something light. After all, it’s my birthday.

NB: apologies again to all those who tried to reach me. I will get around to returning the calls and SMS shortly.

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I prayed …

I prayed …

It was chilly
It was cold
It was bloody freezing
I prayed she would change: her mind
But “He” just laughed.

It was raining
It was wet
It was bloody soaking
I fasted: till I lost some pounds
But “He” wasn’t moved.

It was sunny
It was bright
It was bloody cooking
I thought I laboured: in his vineyard
But “He” saw my unbelieve

It was fresh
It was breezy
It was bloody leaves-dropping
I have never wished for anything: more
But “He” wouldn’t be “manipulated”

It was chilly
It was cold
It was bloody freezing
I prayed she would change: her mind
But “He” just laughed.


* First and last stanza are the same to illustrate life’s unending cycle – or maybe my mental laziness.

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Till we meet again

Till we meet again

“Afternoon. Are you going to Lagos?” asked the lady waiting her turn after me at the airline’s counter.
I responded with a tentative yes.
“Can you look after my daughter? Her father will come and pick her up at the airport.”
I found out later that she’s 10 year old. Almost 5 feet tall.
I laughed and asked why she was OK asking me to look after her daughter. “Do I look that trustworthy?”
“Don’t worry. It’s Nigeria” she said laughing in return.
Numbers were exchanged and the father called immediately to speak with me.
They said their goodbyes (the mum asking for a hug and then complaining playfully when she got an awkward hug from the girl).
We went through the scanner and sat next to each other in the waiting area. She’s very quiet which was perfectly fine by me.
But since we were going to be there for another 90 minutes or so, and she had nothing visible that might distract her, I thought I better try at least.
First few questions were answered with nods, and side glances. Then I put up a movie on my laptop and asked if she liked 3D movies. She told me she couldn’t quite see what’s on the screen. She’s had glasses for two years. But the glasses were in her checked-in luggage.
Our subsequent discussion covered lots of things. She used several “big” words and some of her ideas were beyond her years. Maybe it’s that 6 months of schooling she had in England when she was much younger …
She doesn’t watch 3D films because they are not realistic.
And no animated kiddie films either. She only watches mature films. She’s seen World War Z, all the Fast and Furious films, several movies that are definitely rated well beyond her age. She says she watches them with her dad.
She hates Sponge Bob with a passion (“how can a sponge ….”) and her school mates think she’s weird. I told her we all have our preferences. No 3D animated talking animals either because animals don’t talk in real life.
She doesn’t like corn flakes. But she likes cereal and oats. She likes golden morn because it’s made of maize. She doesn’t like wheat (meal) either.
She hates eggs, peanut butter, red meat (there are bacteria that can not be killed by heat. I suggested if it’s cooked long enough on high heat, all the bacteria would die. But she responded that the meat would become too soft and she doesn’t like soft meat), pounded yam, yam, broccoli (suggested by me). But she likes Egusi soup. I agree. I like Egusi soup too.

“Everything in this life is boring.
Especially all those Yoruba films! Eeew! All those Yoruba women. That come out in their wrappers. Just because they want to say bye bye to someone.”
She doesn’t like boring people.
Her grandma is boring. Always telling stories of World War I and this or that General.
I suggest those are the best stories. She insisted she has “current affairs” class in school for that.
She doesn’t like several tribes in Nigeria. One tribe is always fighting. Can’t remember the reason she gave for the others.
“Edo people are …” She started.
“Nice?” I attempted to complete the sentence for her.
“Noooo. My granddad is always “if you touch that thing I will flog you alive!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We are now on board the plane.
“This plain better not crash.” She says.
“Before I die I will kill the plane.”
“How?” I asked.
“I don’t know” she said. Then added: “I will blow up the engine.”
A child will always be a child (strange logic: blow up the plane before it crashes.)
There were other kids and several were somewhat loud. “That’s how they will be making noise” (she had mentioned much earlier that she didn’t like noise).
“Let me talk like the soldier in my school” (she mimicked the soldier):
“I hate noise. If you make noise, I will show you wetin you be!” (She’s a year one student in an air-force secondary school).
She’s cold. I said I don’t think I have anything that might keep her warm in my bag. Her pair of socks and her better sweater were in her checked in bag. She says she’s different (referring to the fact that she’s cold).
She wondered why I had a bag on-board.
“I didn’t check in any bag” I said.
“Because it’s small enough to put in the overhead compartment.”
“So a smart person can put a bomb in his bag and bring it on-board?”
“They still scan it. Remember when we went through the scanner?”
“Can the scanner see what’s in your body?”
“Yes. It looks like x-ray”
“So what’s private is no longer private” she declared.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We made it safely to Lagos. We got her luggage off the carousel. I offered to get the bag but she insisted that she can handle her own bag and that she carried even bigger loads). I had to smile at that. Her dad (a friendly Pastor) was waiting at “arrivals” with a lady. I tag along with them to the outskirts of the airport. I drop off because their destination is in the opposite direction to mine. I said goodbye to the dad and the lady that came with him, and as I closed the door, I said a final “Bye Bye, Jessica.”
Maybe we will meet again, maybe not. I had suggested it earlier and she said she didn’t think so. I think the reason she gave was something along the line of not being that regularly in airports or on planes.

I meant to take a cab. But the middle-aged gentleman I asked for directions at the bus-stop turned out to be a military officer (in mufti) whose first retort was “Why waste so much money?! See that pedestrian bridge over there? Walk across it sharply like a strong man. Take a bus going to Oshodi-under-bridge. It’s only 50 Naira. Climb to the top of the Oshodi bridge. You will get another bus going to CMS or Obalende.” I told him I could find my way from any of those two places. Thus my “Ijebu” kicked in and I had another uneventful trip switching buses 4 times before getting to my final stop. The whole trip cost 450 Naira instead of possibly 5,000 Naira or more (if I had taken a cab from the airport). I made a picture I took of both of us while seated in the plane my Whatsapp profile picture. A friend asked if she was my girlfriend. Another suggested she’s my daughter. I kept it up for the night and switched it out the following day.

I wonder if we will ever meet again. Maybe I should call the dad sometime and ask about those vicious German Sherpards (GSD) puppies she said they had. They are about 4 months old. I think I wouldn’t mind one if I got it for free.

I hope she grows up to be successful, and well-adjusted.

I don’t see why not.

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I owe God a question
And I know he will answer
I love it when it rains
I love the feel on my face
I love the thunder
I love the lightning
I love the crashing of the waves

I owe God a question
But first I will be refreshed by the heavens
I want to go running through the night
Free to shoot up like an arrow to the sky
Then fall like dead-weight back to earth
Turning and twisting at the last
Like a dragonfly skimming lightly over the waters

What is Liberty?
What is hope?
What is freedom
What is life itself?

I owe God a question
But I am distracted by the rain
I am back in my boyhood days
In my dorm lying on my bunk
Looking through the window
The heavens weeping for joy
While I ponder the sadness
That comes with the longing for home

I owe God a question
But I am busy listening to the rain
I like the music of the drops on the roof
I like the smell of the water in the field
I like the mud sucking at my feet
Like fairy fetters made of soil

I owe God a question
But that is for later when I see His face
Right now I want a pair of wings
To go skimming through the rain
Tattooed by the drops
Buffeted by the winds
Like a dragonfly on the wings!

4:04am 08-March-2016

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It was hot
It was dry
It was so humid
I could cry

It was Lagos
It was night
It was Jos
It was bright

He was sweating on the bed
She had rashes on her neck
He scratched till it bled
She opted for a trek

It was hot
It was dry
It was so humid
I could cry

It was you
Like Sunshine
It is me
Seeking solace in moonshine

It was thundering
I hoped it would rain
My mind is wandering
No reprieve from the pain

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