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Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Next?

By Pastor Ituah Ighodalo

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to come speak to a couple of young people who had just graduated from the university and sometimes in January, we held a job fair for young unemployed people. From my interactions on these occasions, it was obvious that there is a lot of pent up frustration on the part of our young people especially if they had not been properly mentored on what to look out for and what to expect. I want to use this avenue to encourage our young people on life after school.

Now that you have finished school, what next? The allowances and pocket money will stop coming in or reduce drastically. You will be expected to find a job or start doing something – making yourself useful. Even if you are to proceed for a postgraduate degree or a professional qualification, the level of support from parents, guardians or family will not be like when you were still in school.

The first question is what resources are available to you to proceed for the next line of action. Do you or your parents have the resources to finance a postgraduate or professional qualification programme without you working? Can your first degree guarantee you a job as some degrees are more easily employable than others? Do you have any added skills, vocation or experience that can aid your employment search? If you are interested in starting our own business or trade, do you have the requisite skills set and finance or would it better for you to undergo some apprenticeship training?  

Before you embark on any line of action, do a reality check so as not to be solely disappointed. Talk to mentors, attend job or employment seminars and be reasonable about your expectations, which most times can be far from reality.

Your Expectations
-                     Thinking you can get a great job by just having a degree. Some of the most valuable lessons are learned outside the classroom. Employers are looking for students who did more than just sit through four years of classes. What about your soft skills? This includes such abilities as effective communication, creativity, analytical thinking, diplomacy, flexibility, change-readiness, and problem solving, leadership, team building, and listening skills.

-                     Thinking your first job defines your career. College graduates often buy into the “perfect first job” myth. They think they need to be in the right place at the right time right after graduation. That isn’t true. Skills and lessons are transferable, especially the ones you learn during your first job out of college. Those lessons will get you all kinds of places— including your dream job.

-                      Thinking you’ll be in a better financial place than your parents—immediately. Many college graduates are incredibly sheltered. Some don’t even know what their parents do; they think the money just shows up. When you begin your career, you’ll have to work hard. You’ll have to put in time and pay your dues. Don’t expect to live the same lifestyle that took your parents 20 years to achieve.

The Reality
Due to the dire economic situation, the days of having a car, a house and many other added material benefits being offered you right after graduation are long gone. Job security is also unlike the days of our parents when you looked forward to pensions and gratuity after working for 20, 30 or 40 years for the same organisation. Demand and supply also do not match in the job market as there are now far more qualified people than vacancies. Employers now look for something extra – special skills, soft skills, working experience (internship) while in school, etc. Considering also that many job vacancies nowadays are more open to graduates from various disciplines and not just those from that particular sector, the competition is more intense. The selection criteria have been raised a step higher, cutting off most graduates since they require post-NYSC experience. The jobs that do not require experience have too many people trying to occupy few available positions.   

BusinessWeek reported, "More than 200 million people globally are out of work, a record high, as almost two-thirds of advanced economies and half of developing countries are experiencing a slowdown in employment growth.’ According to The Federal Bureau of Statistic, ‘over 40 million Nigerian youths are unemployed’.

Aligning Your Hope/Expectations With Reality
-                  Start small and grow big in whatever you find yourself and wherever you find yourself. Don’t be in a rush to make it big.
-     Rather than waiting for that elusive million naira job, start with one that can enable you gain experience and learn fast. Be open minded about opportunities that come your way.
-     Be focused on your chosen path rather than being a jack of all trades
-   Find your natural habitat – that thing or area that excites you the most even if it does not offer immediate monetary rewards. Develop and deploy your talent.
-   Don't think you’ll succeed only because you went to the right college or studied the right course. Success comes from all walks of life. It might require some work, but you can succeed in all different kinds of environments.
-   Make a decision to be an asset rather than a liability  
-   Find and follow your passion. So many people are struggling on a job they are ill suited for. One of the greatest of all success secrets is for you to decide what you enjoy doing and find a way to make a good living doing it.
-    Improve yourself continuously, gain mastery of whatever your field is and know your onions
-    View work as a chance to grow by creating opportunities to demonstrate your skills.
-   Work at your highest potential every day to move toward the position or goal you are striving for. This will give you a sustainable competitive advantage in the future

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Women Inspiration & Enterprise (WIE) Symposium Africa to launch its Second Edition in Nigeria

Her Excellency Toyin Saraki, founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa; fashion designer Folake Folarin-Coker of Tiffany Amber; Mo Abudu, CEO of Ebony Life TV; Bola Adesola, CEO of Standard Chartered and television star Julie Gichuru will co-host the second annual Women Inspiration & Enterprise (WIE) Africa, it has been announced. This is the second time that the WIE Symposium will be venturing into Africa following its successful launch in Cape Town last year. The symposium will break new ground in Nigeria by bringing together the continent’s stars and emerging young female leaders to empower and inspire the next generation. WIE Africa will be held on 3rd May at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

Tiwa Savage, the celebrated Nigerian singer-song writer is one of the many soon to be announced headline speakers. Host, Her Excellency Toyin Saraki, gave an inspiring talk at last year's event and is elated to see WIE Africa come to her country. She said: “Following the immense success of the inaugural WIE Africa in Capetown, South Africa, I am delighted to welcome WIE Africa to Nigeria — my wonderful home country and Africa’s most populous nation. Women play a great role in today’s global economy; and in order to make an impact in her sphere of influence, profession, vocation and passion, a woman must first be empowered to be health-seeking and achievement-driven. It is therefore truly wonderful to know that WIE Africa - Nigeria will be a further step to fulfilling the potential of the African continent and empowering women in leadership all over the world.”

Folorunsho Alakija, the self-made founder of Famfa Oil, and Nigeria’s first female billionaire, will speak in a spotlight session, sharing her learnings on leadership with the ambitious and aspirational crowd that WIE attracts. At the time of confirming her attendance Alakija added: “I am absolutely delighted to be attending the Women Inspiration & Enterprise (WIE) Africa event this year as I am extremely passionate about the empowerment and success of our women in their own rights.  I look forward to both contributing and listening to other successful female entrepreneurs as we share experiences of what I am sure will be an
informative event, motivating and inspiring the next generation.”

WIE (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise), founded in 2010 is a global annual conference and community designed to empower the next generation of women leaders. WIE Africa is timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum Africa and will showcase the women taking a central role in shaping the Africa of tomorrow. WIE Africa aims to contribute to changing any negative perceptions of Africa as a whole by showcasing successful African women and innovation.

Dee Poku, Co-Founder and CEO of WIE said: “In this truly exciting second edition of WIE Africa, our mission is to get to the core of how Africa’s talent can both drive development within the continent and have global impact. I’m so thrilled about the incredible caliber of people we’ve managed to attract to the event.”

The day will be packed full of panels and workshops featuring speakers from the worlds of politics, business, philanthropy, media, fashion, entertainment and the arts.  Topics for discussion include: “Retail Ready: Developing African Labels Into Viable Businesses”; “The Power of Publishing: Women’s Role in Shaping Africa’s Media Industry”; “Our Future: What It Means to Empower African Women”; “Afropolitans – The
Return Home” and “What can Africapitalism mean for Africa”.

Previous WIE Symposiums in London, New York and Cape Town have boasted some of the most recognisable thought-leaders from around the world including Graca Machel, Nancy Pelosi, Iman, Sarah Brown, Donna Karan, Ariana Huffington, Cherie Blair, Jill Biden, Diane von Furstenberg, Baroness Valerie Amos, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ted Turner, Dambisa Moyo, Tamara Mellon, Tyra Banks, Christy Turlington, Nick Clegg, Geena Davis and Aerin Lauder to name a few.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Soyinka, Ajumogobia, Ekweremadu, Debate “Will Nigeria be Better Served by a Parliamentary System Government?”

St. John’s Forum, a group of public spirited Nigerians with deep interest in promoting the common good, good governance, national development, peace and stability, has announced the inaugural edition of its Public Service Debates.

The maiden debate will hold on Wednesday March 26 2014 at 11.00am at the Agip Hall, Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos, with the motion: “Will Nigeria be better served by a parliamentary system of government?”

The debate is part of a Public Service Debate series designed to bring to the fore, critical issues that affects the Nigerian society. The Forum’s aim is to promote and enhance public awareness, dialogue, and encourage participatory thought on matters of social and national importance.

The speaking panel at this maiden edition comprises some of Nigeria’s noblest minds, including Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka; former External Affairs Minister, Mr Odein Ajumogobia (SAN); Senate Deputy President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; renowned Oxford University scholar, Dr. Abdu Raufu Mustapha. The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku will moderate the debate.

The St. John’s Forum is an apolitical platform committed to advancing dialogues that promote the common good in all aspects of Nigerian life. Its activities cuts across all segments of the community – industry, commerce, the intelligentsia, the press, politicians, decision makers, and indeed ordinary Nigerians. The Forum believes that the coming together of such a diverse body of people with widely differing backgrounds and aspirations to debate a singular issue, must ultimately promote good.

The debate is open to the general public, and all are welcome to engage the key speakers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nigeria is a Corrupt Country...US Country Reports

US Secretary of State John Kerry

United States has classified Nigeria as a corrupt country with a poor governance record. US Secretary of State, John Kerry made the corruption allegations when he presented the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” which he presented at the Press Briefing Room of the State Department in Washington.

Kerry warned that the US was not acting out of arrogance but to plug the pitfalls arising from its experiment at home and help the human race against making avoidable mistakes.

“Even as we come together today to issue a report on other nations, we hold ourselves to a high standard and we expect accountability here at home too. And we know that we’re not perfect. We don’t speak with any arrogance whatsoever, but with a concern for the human condition,” the Secretary of State said.

This year’s report, he stressed, “is especially timely coming on the heels of one of the most momentous years in the struggle for greater rights and freedoms in modern history.”

The report took a huge swipe at the Nigerian anti-corruption agencies – the EFCC, ICPC and the Police. The report which ranked the EFCC’s commitment to the anti-corruption war higher than that of the ICPC said Ibrahim Lamorde’s efforts at prosecuting offenders were frustrated along the way.

“The anti-corruption efforts of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and EFCC remained largely ineffectual. The ICPC holds broad authorities to prosecute all forms of corruption, whereas the EFCC is tasked with handling only financial crimes. Despite this wider mandate, the ICPC had achieved only 68 convictions since its inauguration in 2000.

Lamorde, according to the report, seemed to have been constrained “by the fact he is being teleguided by those that put him in office, on who to arrest and prosecute while his efforts at trying 12 prominent public officials met a brick wall with several frustrating setbacks during the year.”

The report continued: “Despite the arrest of several high-ranking officials by the EFCC, including Dimeji Bankole and Hassan Lawal, who have been left off the hook, allegations continued that agency investigations targeted individuals who had fallen out of favour with the government, while those who were in favour continued their activities with impunity.”

In conclusion, Kerry summarised once more the reason for his country report exercise: “This is about accountability. It’s about ending impunity. And it’s about a fight that has gone on for centuries, as long as human beings have been able to think and write and speak and act on their own.

“And so, the United States of America will continue to speak out, without a hint of arrogance or apology, on behalf of people who stand up for their universal rights. And we will stand up in many cases for those who are deprived of the opportunity to be able to stand up for themselves,” the report said.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Slum to School Africa Project

Every second that ticks, millions of children across Africa and the world may never have that opportunity to get primary education. Many could be due to the lack of proper orientation and access to schools, others could be due to social constraints such as conflicts, early marriages, disabilities while the majority say its poverty. UNESCO estimates 57 million children globally are not in school; over 10 million of these are Nigerian children, the highest National rate in the world.

As part of efforts at combating this trend, the Slum To School Africa Project took its education enrolment campaign to the Makoko Area of Lagos. About 360 school age children who were hitherto not in school were enrolled in school, most from the fishing community, on the river side of Makoko, Yaba, Lagos.

About 500 primary school pupils from various parts of Makoko were there to welcome the newly enrolled pupils. Headteachers, teachers and politicians from the area notable among whom were Honourable Francis Samson, community leader and representative from the Yaba Area Council, Alase Francis Agotan, Head of Baale, Baale Daniel Hungbeji, Victor Barnabas Balogun and Iyalode Mary Gbetohomen.

Most of the newly enrolled pupils had been out of school according to Mr Otto Orondaam, head of the NGO, due to poverty, ignorance and apathy on the part of the parents of the children. Mr Otto also mentioned that "this is the third edition of the programme". Two had taken place earlier in Epe and Bariga areas of the state. Otto also seized the opportunity to thank his stakeholders who donated school items like bags, books, tables, chairs and other educational needs.

Most of the parents expressed joy that their children were going back to school. Iyalode Mary Gbetohomen enthused that, the initiative that Slum to School Africa has brought to Makoko is very laudable. The Makoko edition of the Slum to School Africa programme also featured music, dance and cultural display in Egun, Yoruba and English.

As a volunteer driven organization, Slum2School Africa over the last year has attracted over 1000 volunteers from over 15 countries who have given in their time to ensure that they bring hope to vulnerable children in remote communities and slums across Nigeria and Africa.

Reporting by Biyi Akinsola, Editing by Ayodeji Jeremiah

Monday, January 13, 2014


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