Books | A Review of Chude Jideonwo’s “Are we the turning point generation?”

Are we the turning point generation?

Title: Are we the turning point generation?

Author: Chude Jideonwo

ISBN: 978-978-52058-7-9

Pages: 187

Publisher: Kachifo Limited (Under its Kamsi imprint)

Year of Publication: 2014

Category: Non-fiction – Essays, Leadership, Governance, Nation building

Everyone has said something about Nigeria’s numerous problems and opportunities. There’s nothing new under the Sun. Nevertheless, for the ignorant, the forgetful, the curious, the historians and the curators of knowledge, Chude Jideonwo has written a collection of short, engaging essays, speeches if you like, that his generation, the one before, and the ones to come should take seriously.

In “Are we the turning point generation?” Chude – arguably one of Nigeria’s most influential young people below 30 – x-rays the past of our beloved country with boldness and wit beyond his age. He borrows a leaf from some of Chinua Achebe’s most important works; highlights Lee Kuan Yew’s narrative on Singapore; plus stories from Israel and China. He is unashamed and fearless to tell the truth.

“Government is the single most important force for change in any society – print that and paste it on your door if you want to do something to change your country,” he writes. That’s a simple, sound and insightful piece of advice. It took me several years to realize how the wrong people in government can sabotage the most brilliant of ideas from private and non-governmental initiatives.

Chude acknowledges the relevance of activists, freedom fighters, the opposition, radical lawyers, dogged journalists and progressive clergymen in governance; nevertheless he emphasizes the equally crucial need for competent and vision-driven individuals with the capacity to transform the government from within. “Many capable leaders will be flawed and will have undesirable attributes, but Bola Tinubu need not be flawless if he could create the political environment for a visionary like Babatunde Fashola,” he argues.

“Nations are not changed by the innocent and the unscarred, and people who have an unblemished record. In reality such people do not exist…”

He questions the existence of “the Nigerian dream” – whatever that means – and cautions against neglecting the country’s peculiarities as a nation and the dangers of outright transplantation of ideas and solutions from other parts of the world.

“How is it that perfectly reasonable and principled people get into the Nigerian government and suddenly begin to speak in tongues that normal people cannot understand? How come what is crystal clear to everybody else is not at all clear to those who make and drive public policy? Governance should be made unattractive to those who only want the easy life. Our government is one continuous owambe party, and it’s time for the music to stop.”

Chude is sharp and crisp as he sets aside sentiments whilst highlighting the failures and successes of some of our country’s past and present leaders. “Mr. Ribadu was clearly not a politician and didn’t have the skill set to convince, to persuade, to influence, maybe even to inspire. It was like watching a train wreck… the failure of his candidacy was spectacular. Mr. Ribadu was a fine public official, a model for effectiveness in service that has and will inspire a whole new generation – that much remains.”

He draws important lessons from these examples as he urges Nigerians to continue to ask the right questions and identify and support people with an agenda for our country – one of competence, development and nation building.

The headline question remains: Could our generation, Generation Y, be that critical generation in which Nigeria takes a decisive turn and step into the reality of the ever-elusive dream of a Nigeria that works like the most advanced of economies? “The young have it in them to be as clueless and as corrupt and as close-minded as the old. Our social media savvy and general openness to technology will not by itself save us.”

Chude does not pretend to have all the solutions. He presents a 52-point road map for incremental change as an alternative to forceful radical change. However, the onus lies on each one of us to step up and save our nation. “We are all we’ve got, and this should be the turning point generation. Let’s keep faith. If we stumble, let’s rise. When we fall, let’s rebound. Let’s refuse to let Nigeria go; let’s insist that it must work.” I agree.

Originally published on BellaNaija.com.

Agriculture Advocate, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu emerges as The Future Awards 2011 Young Person of the Year – Photos & Highlights from TFA 2011

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (Young Person of the Year)

It was an evening of celebration and advocacy at the Landmark Village, Oniru Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Sunday 30 January 2011 as the crème of the Nigerian youth converged to celebrate their peers who have excelled in their respective professions. It was the 6th edition of the Future Awards, the most reputable platform for recognition of the brightest and best of young Nigerians working tirelessly round the year to make laudable impact on humanity in Nigeria and the world.

BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu was at the event and tells us about his Future Awards 2011 experience.

The red carpet event kicked off some minutes past 5PM and had a colourful parade of latest fashion and diverse personalities; from the strictly formal to the casual native and the utterly weird. It was altogether a mind blowing experience with a rare opportunity to meet up with old friends and those virtual “friends” you perhaps had only met in online chat rooms and stalked on social networking sites. There you got to put a face to popular names and shake hands with those faces you mostly see on the TV and on the glossy pages of magazines – Tosin Otitoju (Young Person of the Year 2006), Esther Agbarakwe (Climate Change activist) and Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (Rolex Laureate) made my red carpet experience worthwhile.

After about two hours of networking and interviews, it was time to go into the auditorium for the main course. The troika of Ego, Tunde Obe and ChiDynma, started off with a powerful upbeat version of the National Anthem. ChiDynma’s strong vocal power stood out along with the live piano accompaniment, which made my day. I felt proud to be a Nigerian and the ovation that enveloped the auditorium proved me right. It also felt cool being on the VIP section. Other highlights of the evening include the presentation of awards, the keynote address by Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Finance, Chude Jideonwo’s passionate speech and Adebola Williams’ deft handling of the presentation of the Young Person of the Year Awards. I think he did a good job at making every finalist feel like the winners they truly are! In his speech, Olusegun Aganga, a former Managing Director with Goldman Sachs and Founder of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, appreciated the efforts to make a difference exhibited by the youths awarded and entreated the others to continue to work towards personal achievements and nation building. He affirmed that he had been impressed as already promised by Oby Ezekwesili and Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, who had spoken on the same platform in the past.

Mr. Olusegun Aganga, Honourable Minister of Finance

While the seemingly impatient young audience murmured and even clapped their hands (as to send a signal to the articulate technocrat), they embraced the Creative Director of The Future Awards, Chude Jideonwo’s highly dramatic, yet earnest and heartfelt, speech. It underscored the awareness of the grave consequences of colossal failure in government and misplaced priority in most Nigerian companies’ CSR drives vis-à-vis the overt materialism which continues to impede many wealthy Nigerians from strategically giving real hope to the less privileged (youth) in the society. He gasped, he sighed, but he never stuttered a bit in a tenacious and evocative, yet fluent and charismatic, style. “It is no longer cool to be disinterested,” he said as urged leaders to realize the pertinent challenges of being a youth in Nigeria. “Put your money where your mouth is!” He had made his point! I and many other guests could not but stand after such a piercing rendition of truth! A lady sitting across the table exclaimed: “This guy is the future!”

All the winners are aged 18 to 31. “Every year, we continue to make the point that we are not one of those people who say Nigeria is a great country as a cliché,” says Adebola Williams, who is the event’s operations director. “We are ready to show anyone that there is a new generation that has integrity, that is not corrupt and that is ready to build this nation. We are proud, immensely proud to present a group of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and others who are ready to make contributions towards the development of their country.”

Continue reading here.

Celebrity Read Africa and the World AIDS Day 2010

Hi Blogville Folks!

Happy New Month!!!

It’s so exciting to be alive and well today – the first day of the last month of the first decade of the 21st century… Lol! Coincidentally, today’s the World AIDS Day and I thought to share this account with you, albeit informal as it may sound.

Deji Badmus (Channels TV) taking a comment from Nze Sylva Ifedigbo

Last Saturday (27 November 2010) I attended the 4th edition of the Celebrity Read Africa, a campaign for inspiring an enduring reading culture in Africa, at the Terra Kulture, on Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island. It was a special HIV/AIDS Awareness edition organised by Greenwich Media and three youth-led Non-governmental organisations – Leaders with New Dimensions (LEND), Youth Are Talking (YAT) and TIER. The thrust of the programme was HIV/AIDS focused reading, hence marking the World Aids Day.

Hosted by Mr. Deji Badmus of Channels TV, the event started with a welcome by Ms. Chinenye Offor, CR Information Officer. A brief HIV/AIDS awareness talk by representatives of the NGOs served as a prelude to the main event. Thereafter, the five guest celebrities: Essence, Modele, Chude Jideonwo, Tosin Jegede and Myne Whitman took turns in reading from their favourites.

Moi, posing with Myne Whitman, author of A Heart to Mend

Myne Whitman, the US-based author of A Heart to Mend, read from the pages of her romance novel and talked about the risks associated with pre-marital sex and how she has addressed the issue in several of her writings in the past. I was so happy to meet Myne after months of online social networking! She is someone I’d call the ‘mother-blogger’; you are most likely to find her comment on any Nigerian blog (at least). I bought a copy of her book, got her autograph and grinned for a photograph. (Yay! Mission accomplished!) We later had a chat with other writers, including Nze Sylva Ifedigbo and Chiedu Ifeozo.

Modele read a portion from Dr. Ben Carson’s The Big Picture, specifically the part where young Carson reminisces on his struggle to develop a healthy reading habit and how it finally started to pay off when he is the only one in Geography class to correctly identify a sample rock as ‘obsidian’. Modele read so dramatically you would have thought she was reading to a bunch of kids who no doubt would have been giggling (just like many of us did) as she varied her tone and elocution with the mastery of a top-class elementary school teacher. She indeed took us on a quick trip into Carson’s world and almost left us there.

Modele: singer, songwriter and electrical engineer!

As if Modele’s theatrics were not enough, Essence was up next and she read ‘Advice from Our Elders’, a collection of African proverbs written in English. Her tone and comical outlook whilst reading seemed to make the salient lessons in the proverbs sink deep into one’s consciousness. “It is easier to prepare a young person than to repair an old person”, she read from the book. Then Tosin Jegede who runs an NGO to cater for the less privileged in the society read an excerpt about an HIV/AIDS patient. Chude read ‘No Woman Left Behind’ a short story by Tolu Ogunlesi told from the eye of a young woman about the fear of HIV/AIDS and its impact on marital happiness. This particular one made us laugh out loud and then think.

Christine Ben-Ameh alongside her guitarist

Christine Ben Ameh, winner of Nokia First Chance competition, sang ‘May This Be Love, a beautiful song she composed in memory of a friend of hers who had HIV/AIDS but died in an accident a few years back. Her perfect delivery, accompanied by her guitarist’s dexterity, was in tandem with her well-informed views about the HIV/AIDS pandemic which she shared earlier on. Thereafter, Chiedu Ifeozo, a systems engineer and poet read us a poem he wrote about Nigeria’s elections in 2011, encouraging everyone to Register, Select, Vote and Protect their votes. Jodie did a shorter version of Kirk Franklin’s ‘Up Above My Head’ in-between Questions and Answers.

Some of the issues raised included the concern about the reading culture and reading pattern of many Nigerians. While some participants wondered if Nigerians ever read, Chude was quick to emphasize that Nigerians read a lot, but these days they often feed mostly on motivational books and religious books, especially those authored by their pastors. Essence in her usual coat of fun mimicked the average Nigerian pastor: “Buy it, you will be blessed!” She noted, however, that though most church goers tend to buy books written by their pastors, not so many actually read those books. She made a personal confession that some of her pastor’s books are still tucked way, unread.

Essence in essence!

On a lighter note, at exactly 4:33PM (my phone time) someone’s phone rang: *‘Olo’un l’on s’oun gbogbo…!’ a Fuji tone that sent us all laughing at the back of the room! Not to forget, as I made into the venue, I was handed some printed material, but was somewhat dumbfounded when the attendant attempted to add a pack of condoms too. Kai! Well, more seriously, the crux of the awareness efforts on HIV/AIDS and the World AIDS Day is to curtail this pandemic (HIV/AIDS) that has claimed millions of lives across the globe since it was discovered in the 80’s. Generally, there are three (3) popular options coded by the ABC acronym. I have chosen the A option. You may feel more comfortable with B or C, though it’s safest to hold on to A if you are not married. Be safe and shun dangerous living. Get tested, if you have not been tested, and support people who are HIV positive to lead meaningful and purposeful lives.

Chude Jideonwo

With a few remarks from the organizers; it was time to call it a day. The event closed just before 6PM after we were informed about the expected guests for the next edition. The next edition promises to feature Mallam Nasir El Rufai, Dele Momodu, Prof. Pat Utomi, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, and Denrele Edun. The event was supported by the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Prinz Energy Drinks. Bede Okoro is the founder/Project Coordinator of CelebrityRead Africa. The Contact persons for each partnering organizations are Okoro Onyebuchi Desmond for LeND, Ajayi Olushola for YAT and Olumide Makanjuola for TIER.

*‘Olo’un l’on s’oun gbogbo…!’: a Yoruba expression which means “it is God who does all (good) things”

Chiedu Ifeozo

Jodie with the angelic voice!


____________________________________________________________________________________________
PREVIEW: I was in Port Harcourt penultimate Wednesday and was there for a whole week. Watch out for my Port Harcourt Diaries from next Wednesday.