Monday, December 27, 2010

Generation Next.

“Give me a single place to stand, and  a lever, and I will move the earth” Archimedes.

 I will not attempt to pretend I’m an orator, but I tell you I am just a messenger who has got a message, and I know exactly how to deliver it. Trust me, I could cash in on this big time, but I concluded that I don’t have to be a published writer to be successful; I only need to be a read one. So join me as we explore the subject at hand.  

In the last two years of every decade, things usually change so fast. These changes always influence events in the coming decade. Nigeria is no exception in this regard. In the period between 1998 and 2000, series of event that will shape the destiny of the next decade occurred all over the world. Narrowing it down to the Nigerian experience, radical and revolutionary changes took place in every facet of our national life; from political to social, economy to religion. Politically, the foundation for the age of democratic governance was laid when the military handed over to the civilians. As we will see later, this event later dictated the mode of governance in the period between 2001 and 2010. Socio-economically, the foundation laid between 1998 and 2000 was too multi-faceted to be enumerated here. But a look at just two facet of it will be enough a pointer. The entertainment and technology industry becomes handy here. In the pre-1998 era, Nigeria heavily relied on foreign content to get entertained. I still remember how a cousin of mine use to stay glued to media players, listening to Dr Dre, Snoop Dog, P.Diddy, Mase, and Tupac to mention but few. Heralding a micro-revolution however were the likes of the Remedies, Plantashun Boiz, and Maintain; dazzling us with shakomo, you and I, and I catch cold. In the technology world, this period experienced the gradual decline of mail and communication by post, as we saw internet and GSM technology grace our world. The resultant effects are too obvious that I’d avoid tautology.

Like a big bang, the events of the following decade (2001-2010) took unsuspecting Nigerians by surprise. In the political world, we saw political actors demonstrating governance/democracy models for us, while analysts showed us it pitfalls and recommended the best and the prevailing models to us. More intriguing however is the fact that, the period between 2008 and 2010 has already produced the changes that will shape the face of the next decade (2011-2020). From the revolution of Fashola, Oshiomole, Professor Attahiru Jega, Goodluck Jonathan, and most recently, Aregbesola; one would do less than agree that the tone, mood, and texture for the next decade has been set.

The entertainment industry no doubt, equally gave us its own insight. I still remember how Edrees Abdulkareem, Tuface, Tetuilla, Ruggedman, Mode9, Psquare, and the likes led a revolution only a few had envisaged. The scene moved from 90/10 foreign-local content reliance to 20/80 foreign-local content reliance. However, perhaps not many people have noticed that the period between 2008 and 2010 has produced the changes that will shape the next decade. Maybe you have not noticed that you don’t need Kanye West when you have M.I, neither will you need John Legend when you have Darey Art-Alade. You don’t need Chris Brown when you have Ice Prince, neither do you need Akon when you have 9ice. Who needs Justin Bieber when we have Whizkid! No doubt, the tone, mood, and texture for the next decade are set.
From the simple call, sms, yahoomail, Nokia 3310, Motorola c112 to MMS, Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry, Ipad/Q/phone, name it; the technology world too never denied us its offerings, and the closing two-year changes. No doubt, the mood is also set in this area.

Inherent in all these citations, perhaps not noticeable, is the fact that the decades produced its movers and shakers. I mean the creative individuals who led the way. The Fela Durotoyes, Lanre Olusola, Chimamanda Adichie, Temitayo “Tylor” Ilori, Gbenga Sesan, Deolu Akinyemi, Toyosi Akerele, Dele Momodu, Niyi Adesanya, Dora Akunyili, Fashola, Jonathan, Obama, Tuface, M.I, 9ice, Darey, D’banj, Psquare, Dagrin, Cohbams, Asa, Samson Siasia, Mourinho, Mikel Obi, Messi, C.Ronaldo, and Mark Zuckerbergs (Facebook) of this world. Respect and honour to these people, who added colour to the out-going decade; but the fact still remains that, though they will still be relevant in the next decade, they were all produced by this decade, for itself, while a few of them were used to set the tone, mood, and texture for the next decade. In other words, the next decade will be producing its own movers and shakers. I call them the Generation Next! The people that will make up this generation are always the ones who saw the handwriting on the wall, and got themselves prepared. Now, the story so far has enabled you to see the handwriting on the wall, so my last task will be, showing you how to get prepared. Know this: “your space is not vacant, but there are vacant spaces for you to occupy”.

7 steps to Generation Next

Seeing the handwriting on the wall is not enough to secure a space on the platform. You need a proper preparation. Here, I will be taking you through the 7 steps you must take to find a space for yourself amongst the next generation of movers and shakers.

Step 1 – Clear your doubt and confusion.

One thing I’ve discovered and accepted as a fact is that, you can’t possibly expect to succeed when you are confused, or motivated by the wrong definition of success. One of the misgivings of the modern world is materialism, the craze for money. It moves men to place high premium on material acquisition, rather than fulfillment. I was under a teaching by Dapo Adelegan in 2007, where he said, “when you dream, let it be of noble intention, and not money-driven. In the end, you’ll get the money, ‘cos it runs after noble intention”. When you allow the money to drive you, you get frustrated at its absence, and possibly lose your motivation. Ideas rule the world, and when you are running on wrong beliefs, you don’t get the fulfilling ones. Oh, except you are okay with the sustaining ones. The great French philosopher, J.J Rousseau said: “it is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living”. Clear your doubt!

Step 2 – Identify your Vision/Purpose/Talents/Skills.

Don’t forget the subject at hand here; it is about steps to take to get on the Generation Next. So, I will not attempt to compound your confusion on the subject, vision. Rather, I’ll place it into context, and as such simplify your task. The Generation Next are a set of people who’s got solution to problems (Vision), and are willing and ready to provide it because that’s what they live for (Purpose), and they have their own unique way of delivery (Talents/Skills). You see how simple it is?! Don’t forget here, that you are up against people who have got the same purpose, talents and skills with you. The only thing differentiating you is your vision. But I’m sorry to disappoint you; those people equally share your vision, the only thing they don’t share is your own dimension of the vision. Jonathan Swift said: “vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”. This is why I talked about clearing your doubt and confusion earlier on. You hardly get inspired to come up with brilliant idea in this regard, when you are motivated by “confusion”. From experience, I’ve found out that the best of my ideas came when I wasn’t thinking about money. I’ll wrap up with this: prior to 1846, surgical operations had to be done very quickly. The world record for a leg amputation is 15seconds – by Dominique Larrey, who was Napoleon’s Chief Surgeon. Then it was tough, and painful that Charles Darwin gave up a promising career in Medicine. But then, William Mortan caught a vision; he invented anaesthesia in 1846. Now someone can cut and leave you open for six hours, no pain, no toughness. Identify your vision!!!

Step 3 – Research the dynamics of your vision.

It will be a folly on your part to think it’s time to launch out after clarifying your vision. You must know there are forces stimulating the environment in which you intend to live your vision. You would do well by researching the forces and understanding them. You must have a full control of your vision and its tendencies. You equally need to know that these forces will, at a stage, spur the obscured tendencies of your vision into life. Recently, I conceived a service idea, and it was at the brainstorming stage that one of my ally discovered many more needs hiding away inside the original need we intend servicing, and many more ideas inside the original one. We then developed the capacity to execute not only the original idea, but the ones it’s going to give birth to. The message is this: if we had gone out to launch, our capacity wouldn’t have been able to take care of the further needs to be created by the stimulating forces of our environment, and as such, we would have succeeded in proving our insufficiency. Now you can see that the consequences are too numerous and obvious. Imagine a pencil world without eraser and sharpener!

Step 4 – Imagine and prepare for possible pitfalls and drawbacks.

Sometimes in 2003 I noticed something, which threw me into thinking. I came across some U.S and U.K appliances, and I noticed some little black engine beside each. Step-down they call it. After understanding its working, I admired the wisdom of the manufacturers who imagined the non-compatibility of such appliances with Nigeria’s voltage rating. Simple, you will be taken aback when your vision comes across a pitfall you never imagined, and courage and determination is scared out of you. So you will do well by envisaging the pitfalls and drawbacks, and preparing for them. You want to call it backup plan.

Step 5 – Network wisely.

Sir Isaac Newton said “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Let me say emphatically here that you hardly will go far if you don’t surround yourself with people of high net-worth value. There have been many names for it. Some call it synergy, while Carnegie calls it Mastermind. Whatever name you call it, the underlining factor here is that, you need to form association with people who has like mind, and share the same passion with you. People who have developed expertise, and have succeeded in the line you want to toll. People who are not motivated by confusion. People, who will appreciate your vision, and be willing to sell it. And let me quickly correct an impression here; you don’t want to think you can achieve this by developing a very large friend’s base. Research shows that out of every 200 friends you have; only 20 of them contribute to your advancement, while the remaining 180 are just socializing. A recent study of 1,000 people who have crossed the 5,000 friends limit on Facebook shows that only 80 out of this 5,000 makes a fundamental contribution to their lives. Save the statistics, all you want to do is discover your clique, and place a high premium on them. These people eventually form your think-tank, and your ever-ready resources. Bill Gates said of Microsoft; “take away our twenty most important people, and I tell you we would become an unimportant company”. Network wisely.

Step 6 – Cross the bridge and break it.

Here, I’m going to be sounding a little bit religious. The bible recorded it that, when Elijah placed his cloak across Elisha’s shoulders, Elisha begged to go back home and kiss his father and mother good-bye. He did this and equally killed all his animals, sharing them to people, after which he left with Elijah. What happened there was that, Elisha caught the vision, understood it, accepted it, shed off distracting responsibilities, and started living his purpose. All you have been doing so far is catching the vision, understanding it, accepting it, and preparing to start living it. You have not actually started living it. The reason is very simple. There is a stage of a vision you get to, all you see is the impossible, but sure success, and the inherent cross. At this stage you look back, and all you see is your comfort zone. You don’t want to live! Elisha must have felt the same way too. But then he left. There is a part of the story I loved so much; the king of Israel called Elisha, father! You must launch out and never look back. Know this; “if you can’t handle the lows of your vision, then you don’t deserve the highs. Cross the bridge and break it!

Step 7 – Know when to skill-up and go for it.

The one last important thing you need to know is that, everything on this planet earth has a life span. A time will come in the course of fulfilling your vision, when your skill set will no longer be enough to sustain momentum. Be wise enough to know it’s time to skill-up. Develop new expertise.

To the trail blazers of the outgoing decade, who will still be relevant, and the evolving trail blazers of the next decade.
I take my fulfillment in the number of souls that will be inspired by this effort. So, refer the ones you love, and the ones you hate to this note.

With Love,
Alamu Samson.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I still do...

On a hot afternoon, somewhere in Ikot Udo’bobo, Ukanafun local government, Akwa-Ibom…

“This is what I believe, and this we can make happen if only you’ll join me in believing. Thank you.”
Labake wrapped up her emotional speech and made for her sit, while a deafening applause from the audience rented the air.
In a little while, the inspired and rowdy audience took to the street in their twos and threes, still discussing Labake’s life changing seminar.
 Labake was about stopping a bike man heading towards her route when a messenger dashed towards her…”Corpra, corpra, corpra”, “Itoro, how many times will I tell you it is  pronounced corper, and not corpra?” Labake yelled. “Sorry” Itoro said, panting. “Okay, what do you want?” Labake quizzed; “Madam bin dey call you”… “Okay, I’ll join her now.” Labake turned to the okada man and told him to leave. Few minutes later, Labake was inside the Matron’s office… “Good afternoon Ma, Itoro said…” “Oh, yes I sent her truly. You had a wonderful and compelling delivery you know! I wish you could stay with us after your passing out parade tomorrow, or what do you think Labake?” “Ma… Ma,” Labake stuttered. “Don’t worry, I already know your answer, I was just teasing you. Anyway, even though I fear what will become the fate of this project, I can’t but pray that God be with you as you travel back home tomorrow. But truly,we will  miss you”, Matron said in an emotion laden voice. She went blank and did not notice when Labake left her office…

The following evening @ car park, Millverton, Aba…

“Lagos, Lagos, Lagos… Onitsha, Onitsha…” a cacophony of sound rented the atmosphere as various conductor lobbied for passengers. One of them was Labake, trailed by the guy who wheeled her luggage. “Ajuwaya! Where you dey go?” a conductor beckoned, “Lagos” Labake responded. At exactly 5:45pm, they were set for the journey…
2:15am @ Ojota, Lagos…

“Abeg, e remain one bag o”, Labake charged the conductor. Soon afterwards, everybody started chattering taxi to their destination within Lagos, while Labake waited for the arrival of Demilade; “naughty boy” she soliloquized. Growing more impatient, Labake reached for her phone again. As she awaits the connection from the service provider, a car flashed her in the face. She was almost cursing when she spotted Demilade in the car… “Hahahahahahahah…” she screamed as Demilade alight from the car, welcoming her with a warm and soothing hug. “Welcome aunty Labake”, the driver greeted. It was a happy re-union. The road was so free, so in no time they were at home. It was a hug, patting, peck and kiss galore as everybody scrambled to have a feel of Labake. Though it was midnight, the planned party would still go ahead. In 30 minutes, Labake was out of the bathroom in her night wear, while her mum and sisters hurriedly fixed up the dinning. The dinning gist was getting more interesting… “Dad!”, “I’m serious Labake. Thank God you are back with the certificate minus Akpan!” Labake’s father said jokingly, while the rest laughed their ribs off. It was a long night in their house. Two days later, the atmosphere was back to normal. Labake was no longer a new bride.

A year later…

Labake now works with SFH. One day she returned from office only to discover something new, “Mum! Who placed a letter on my bedside locker?” “Oh! I forgot to tell you, it was your dad. It’s from Akwa-Ibom.” “Akwa what!” Labake exclaimed as she motioned towards her mum in the kitchen. She opened it, and to her surprise, it was an invitation letter engineered by the Matron. A new government is in place, and on recommendation, they had wanted some former Corps members who showed promise to come execute a project for them. Obvious in the body of the letter, she wasn’t the only one invited for the project. The offer was actually mouth watering that she did not even think twice, “Mum, I’ll go for it!” Labake exclaimed. Well, let your father return so we can discuss this as a family.” “Mum! Dad wouldn’t stop me, will he?” “I don’t know…” her mother said, making her way to the dinning. Labake lost her calm as she awaits her father’s arrival. Soon, the family was at the dinning. They discussed Labake’s invitation through the dinner. She was more than happy when her father consented… “Anyway, you can go. But this time around I wouldn’t mind an Akpan.” “Dad!” Labake sounded embarrassed as the dinning quaked at her sibling’s funny response. There has been an argument in the house of recent, on Labake’s inability to tie down a man for marriage. She used the remaining days in the week to pack her bag. Sooner than expected, Labake was out of Lagos already.

@the airport, Akwa-Ibom…

Labake travelled aboard unique airline. The airport still wears a Heathrow look as it was not up to a year yet that it was commissioned. In no time, almost every passenger had gone. Labake was still gazing around when she felt a hand on her back. She turned around only to see Mrs. Sunday Uwem, her dear Matron… “Mummy!” Labake shouted as she couldn’t believe her eyes… “My daughter, I told you! I said you’ll be back here very soon. Shey you now see that am right?” Labake was so filled with joy that all she could do was walk into Matron’s arms. It was a warm and reflective hug. The two of them reflected on the past, while their car breezed through the beautiful roads of Uyo. Her hotel accommodation was superb, a 5 star one it was. Indeed, it was a home coming!

10am, January 11, 2010 @ the conference center…

It was the project briefing morning and almost everybody was already seated: the commissioner for health, members of the “imported” project team, of course Labake inclusive. The only exception was the First Lady of the State, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Kunle Smith, the leader of the project team. He had a flight hitch, which delayed his arrival. As their car halted at the conference center, one of the protocol officers quickly made his way to the briefing hall to signal their arrival to the commissioner for health. As the protocol officer put his mouth to the commissioner’s ear, he sprang up from his seat…”Ladies and Gentlemen, I was just told that Her Excellency and her team are here…” in a student-like manner, everyone re-adjusted their sitting posture. In 5 minutes they were in session already. From her countenance, it was obvious Labake couldn’t comport herself any longer from the moment she saw Kunle Smith enter the hall. The session lasted for hours, but all through it, the first lady and the matron never missed the cue. Kunle and Labake sounded so incoherent when it was their turn to assess and comment on the project blueprint. They however both had their faces saved by the First Lady, who made excuse for Kunle. At exactly 3:47pm, Kunle was called upon to close the briefing…”this has always been our passion. So, on behalf of the entire project team I say, Akwa-Ibom be our guest.” The inspiring speech no doubt, overshadowed his earlier goof, as a thunderous applause rented the hall. In quick succession, the cars present at the venue made their way to the team lodge; a befitting accommodation provided by the state government.

7pm, January 11, 2010 @ Kunle’s flat…

“Psooopsooo… psooopsooo…”  Kunle whistled across the living room as he took the last spoon of meat meal in his plate. Suddenly, his door bell rang…”grang grang…” “Yeah! Who there?” Kunle sounded Rastafarian. The sound of the music that rented his apartment however did not let him hear who’s at the door. As Kunle opened the door, he almost slammed it as he saw Labake, but she hurriedly entered though not violently. As if on impulse, Labake went down on her knees sobbing…”Kunle, I’m sorry, am truly sorry.” “Oh! Save me. I don’t need your…” Kunle cuts as Mariam entered the living room from the kitchen. “Oh ho ooo… what do we have here, a movie scene?” Mariam said sarcastically. “Oh, sorry I don’t wanna be a part of this potter’s house scene. Kunle please, don’t forget to copy me the file, see you tomorrow!” Mariam said closing the door behind her. “Labake leave, please leave my apartment right away” “Kunle hear me out, I said am sorry. I can explain…” “Explain what?” now an emotional outburst… “Explain what? Explain how you made a mess of my final year on campus? Explain why you jilted me two weeks to my final exams without any reason. Go on! Go on and explain!” The floor beneath Labake was wet from her tears already, yet she sobs still. Kunle continued unbolting his emotions… “No! Go ahead! Explain why it was needed that I lose my 2:1 to our relationship; explain how you ended up with Kelvin my spiritual brother. I lost interest in life because of that. I lost my creativity, my peace, joy, name it!  Explain why I deserved the 3 years emotional wreck I’ve suffered” “Oh no, Labake you are a disgrace to womanhood, a disappointment to God. I hate you!!!” Kunle screamed. Labake was already a shadow of herself. She has sobbed her soul dry, and wept her spirit weak. The next 2 hours was a mixture of emotional songs and talk. It was a serendipitous evening.

June 24, 2010 @ Obudu ranch resort…

Throughout the past 4 months, Kunle had maintained a very cold attitude towards Labake. Now is the time for the project team to have their first, but short, break. One week it is, and the famous Obudu ranch resort is the destination. Everybody definitely has something up their sleeves, as they were all determined to enjoy every moment of their break. The first night wasn’t that loaded as it was a dj night, all sort of slow music rented the air all through the night. Everybody has been busy discussing Kunle and Mariam, both sitting at particular corner. They’ve been too noticeable in the last four months. “I know that he loves me ‘cos he told me so…” Destiny Child’s Brown Eyes rented the air, suddenly Mariam noted and called his attention “Kunle, look at Labake, she’s right over there” she pointed towards Labake’s direction. “Go boy, go for the kill!” A fully charged Kunle stood up and motioned towards Labake’s table where she sat alone. “Can I?” Kunle pointed at the chair. “Eh, Kunle! Sure you can” an excited Labake offered a chair. “Labake, I’ll be straight. I know it’s been tough going down this road. I know we’ve both had our share of the offerings of this disappointment. But you know what; I had expected this all along. I believe this was going to happen. This is fate.  I think am through, crying over you. All I wanna do now is smile and embrace the future” now in a subtle voice, Kunle suddenly knelt down and said “Labake… will you marry me?” understanding her unspoken fear, Kunle looked towards the direction of Mariam and said “oh, Mariam? Never mind. She’s just a friend, a good one though. She’s been my… call it emotional therapist. We both had our youth service here 3 years ago, and she’s happy about this. So, I’ll say it again, Labake will you marry me?” “Yes! Yes! Yes! I will. I’ll marry you. They both clung to each other in a hug battle, while Mariam smiled her heart out at the other end.

Believe me; I had us in mind when I was writing this. More often than not, the offering of our sojourn here on earth draws tears from our eyes, and lamentations from our spirit and soul. They make us feel damned. They scare courage out of us. But then, I’ve learn by experience, that the bravest of all men are those who believed in the flawlessness of providence, and as such, they fought the battle head long. Even when it seems they were going down, they kept their heads up. One thing stood them out I discovered: knowledge-inspired focus. With it, we’ll accept the offerings of our sojourn, and never deny ourselves of the joy of life, ‘cos in the end, Providence will have its way. “It is not a crime to go down, but it is to stay down.”

With love,
Alamu Samson.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

“Leaders of Tomorrow...” underestimation of youth’s leadership capacity.
When we say that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, we are in fact limiting them…
President Goodluck Jonathan.

I grew up trying to cope with the word “youths are the leaders of tomorrow,” with the consolation that I will get there one day, and finally take my place of pride in the society. But then, I was soon to discover that my dream has too many contenders to deal with. Now I am in my late 20s, and whenever I seek to take my place on the pages of history, someone would still go ahead saying “youths are the leaders of tomorrow”, as if today was not the tomorrow they so speak of yesterday. A lecturer of mine in my university days said he use to argue whenever it is being said that a component is missing in the brain of an African man, but now he is beginning to agree. I am equally beginning to give the assertion a second thought. Perhaps, a brief journey into our history would shed more light on the subject at hand.
As far back as the 1930s, Nigerian youths have been in the heat of emancipation struggle. From the Lagos Youth Movement (1934), which fought for the establishment of Yabatech, the first higher institution in Nigeria; to the Nigerian Youth Movement (1936), which fought for the establishment of the University College, Ibadan in 1948, Nigerian youths has made a statement of purpose and intent. At age 21, Anthony Enahoro became Nigeria’s youngest ever editor, when he assumed the position of editor in Dr. Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigeria Defender. At age 30, he equally became the first Nigerian to move the motion for the independence of Nigeria at the Nigeria Parliament in 1953.
At a time when it was obvious that the so called elders were busy engaging in acts that could endanger our nascent freedom, the youths once came in to restore sanity into the hitherto insane government. Major Patrick Chukwuma “Kaduna” Nzeogwu, at age 29, in the early hours of January 15, 1966, citing a laundry list of complaint against the political class; led the first military coup in Nigeria. Arguably though, this act was dubbed in Nigerian history as the most patriotic act.
Most of our progress was made while we were led by young people who used the dynamic ability of youth to bring positive changes to Nigeria. General Yakubu Gowon kept Nigeria one and built a National Electricity Grid (which to a large extent we still rely on for electricity though we are making concerted efforts to improve on it), many Federal Universities as well as a national network of roads that opened up Nigeria in addition to establishing the National Youth Service Corps as a young man in his 30s. General Murtala Mohammed gave his famous 'Africa has come of age' speech as well as envisioned the need for a new and befitting Federal Capital for Nigeria which will be a home to all as a youth in his 30s. General Olusegun Obasanjo became the first military ruler in Africa to voluntarily hand over power to a democratically elected civilian administration as a young man. Also, that worthy ambassador of Nigeria that is Nollywood is an innovation that was created, nurtured, sustained and transformed into an international household brand by Nigeria's youth. Gone are eras when all you get to hear on Nigeria airwaves are loads of foreign music, as young Nigerian artists now compete favorably with their international counterpart.  So the overwhelming statistical evidence is there that we have made much of our progress while under the leadership of youths.
President Goodluck Jonathan recently said “When we say that the youths are leaders of tomorrow we are really in fact limiting them and fail to do them justice. The human being is in his/her prime physically and mentally during the period of life we all love to describe as youth. And so rather than say the youths are leaders of tomorrow, I am more comfortable in saying that they are leaders of today and tomorrow.”
If there is anything Nigerian youths should resolve to do, it is to always go beyond the border line to carve out a niche for ourselves. We should yield no longer to the psychological check of the saying “youths are the leaders of tomorrow”, for today is the tomorrow they have always talked about.