On April 18, 2018, the President Muhammadu Buhari said to the world, that a lot of Nigerian youths “haven’t been to school” and want to “sit down and do nothing”.
This birth the nationwide revolt, now known as the #LazyNigerianYouths movement. Fortunately, a good number of Nigerian youths were in that same Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster on the same day the president made that statement. And they had to ensure the world got a clear picture of who the Nigerian youth truly is.
These Nigerian youths kept pushing the agenda for a respected Nigeria and a more prosperous Commonwealth. As a journalist who reported proceedings from the Youth Forum to the Women’s forum and the People’s forum, I had discussed with a number of them, who did more good to the Nigerian image at CHOGM 2018, than the President did.
Like the very progressive Nigerian youth all over, these people bear the burden of a nation without the support of the government whose dealings have been making the nation burdensome. Little is heard of them, they are not on the big screens, they do not get the attention of the international media often, but they keep on moving; with one project at a time, they seek to make Nigeria better. And this is for them.
John Oluwadero is the president/chief executive of Building Nations Initiative (BNI), a youth work and community development organization committed to strengthening communities through the education, empowerment and engagement of young people as change agents in the society. The community youth centre named Nation Builders Centre is headquartered at the University of Ibadan with Outreach Posts in Lagos, Abuja, Akure and Ado-Ekiti.
He has served as the Africa Regional Representative for the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group where he currently serves as the Advocacy Focal Person.
In this capacity, He leads teams of young people to implement the #Sport4DevelopmentNG Advocacy Campaign which aims at advocating the use of Sports for promoting peace and sustainable development while mobilizing advocacy support for the Nigeria Sports Bill at the national assembly.
As a Commonwealth Youth representative from Nigeria, he met with Prince Harry where he advocated the support of the prince in his capacity as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador towards harnessing the use of Sports for peace and sustainable development in Nigeria and across the Commonwealth.
The associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society was also named one of the 30 emerging African leaders for 2018 by the graduate school of Development Policy and Practice, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Omowumi is the founder of ‘Gender Mobile’, which aims to increase the reportage of — and reduce the incidence of — gender-based violence through coordination of linked services. It also works to provide survivors with information, referrals, assistance and longer-term help to close the gap in service delivery through creative use of technology.
At CHOGM 2018, Omowumi was named one of 20 young persons from across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth who have been doing “exceptional development work”. According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, her “innovative projects have had a significant impact” on her community and nation at large.
She is an Associate of the Royal Commonwealth Society. She was awarded one of the top ten Gender justice Activists on the continent of Africa by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa.
Omowumi and John are part of the 30 finalists for the Junior Chambers International Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Nigeria. You may vote for them here.
Olaoluwa is an incandescent advocate for girls and women’s rights. She is a trained legal practitioner and founder of Girl Pride Circle, an initiative which actively empowers a dynamic generation of adolescent girls who are equipped with leadership and advocacy skills to transform their communities.
This is done through a number of grassroot projects like Safe Kicks Initiative, a sexual violence advocacy project that has trained 270 adolescent girls through after-school education clubs and Taekwondo classes. She has also developed an age-appropriate curriculum on sexual violence which is used to facilitate the clubs.
Her “Cool Periods Movement” is also rebranding menstruation as a natural and cool biological process for girls and women, while mobilizing resources to provide underprivileged school girls with sanitary materials. So far, her initiative has kept 200 girls in school by providing free quarterly supplies of sanitary pads.
Some young men in Nigeria need no introduction, and Samson is one of them. He might not be as popular as expected, but as a great leader, his work is too strong to ignore.
He is the convener of Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), leading the NotTooYoungToRun Campaign, which was recently applauded by President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson at the Mo Ibrahim Governance weekend in Rwanda.
Samson has a decade experience in working on elections, and has led election observation teams to Ghana, United States of America and South Africa. Samson is the co- editor of African Youth Journal of Democracy, an annual publication of the AU African Governance Architecture, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He represented the nation adequately as CHOGM 2018.
Anuoluwapo Adelakun is a passionate Girl child & Women Rights Advocate, Journalist and Documentary filmmaker working on issues affecting marginalized girls and women in Nigeria.
She is the Project Lead for Girl Unlimited Initiative, Nigeria, a UNICEF Voices of Youth alumni, and Carrington Youth Fellow. She is also a UN WOMEN/Empower Women Global Champion for Change, YaLa Young Leader, and recipient of the US Consul General Award.
Anuoluwapo is a Founding member of the Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI), Digital Ambassador of Wilton Park #EngageandChange campaign and Board member of the Star Girl Foundation, Nigeria. She is also a 2017 UK Government Chevening scholar.
Nkechi is the founder of Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF), a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2010 to help increase awareness of Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) in Nigeria.
She is one of the inaugural Queen Young Leaders, currently studying for a Ph.D. at the school of law, University of Warwick, UK, where she had her masters in international economic law — in flying colours.
Her message on sickle cell awareness has reached over 10,000 students across Nigeria. With SCAF, she has created sickle cell awareness clubs in over 30 schools in the country.
Nkechi has won numerous awards for her soulful work on better lives for people living with SCD in Nigeria. She was a glowing Nigerian youth at CHOGM 2018, pushing the agenda for a more prosperous Commonwealth.
Peace Ayo is a 15-year-old ambassador of the Malala Fund, advocating for girl child education in Nigeria and across the world. She was the youngest speaker at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, addressing leaders from 53 countries within the Commonwealth.
“I speak on behalf of every single one of my out-of-school Nigerian sisters. We have fantastic dreams for our futures, but we can only achieve them if leaders invest in 12 years of free, safe, quality education,” Ayo said at the Women’s forum.
Gideon Olanrewaju is the founder and chief executive director of Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative AREAi, an organisation that has championed social change, building a youth-led grassroots organization that has sustainably reached over 6,000 children.
He is an educational development practitioner with 4 years’ experience working in the intersection of policy advocacy, program design/implementation and resource mobilization for underserved populations in Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Gideon has also presented, participated and represented Nigeria in several high-level consultations including the 2018 Education World Forum London, 7th UNESCO NGO Forum Riyadh, World Youth Forum Sharm El Sheikh, 2017 UNESCO-APEID International Conference Bangkok , 2016 UNCTAD Youth Forum Nairobi, 2016 UNDPI / NGO Conference on Global Citizenship Education Gyeongju and the 2015 World Education Forum in Incheon.
He is a Chevening scholar, a teaching fellow/certified entrepreneurial leadership educator at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa and A Global Youth Ambassador to the Global A World at School International Campaign on Education.
Ife Ade Tokan
Ife Ade Tokan is a financial and consulting expert, and a graduate of the University of Nottingham, where he studied finance, accounting and management and was listed as one of the top 100 outstanding graduates by Future Leaders Magazine, UK.
He has worked for top global brands like Accenture, PwC, Foresight Group, Atkins and Deloitte. Ife is also a contributor to the career and self-development column for Bella Naija and the Huffington Post.
He is currently the chair, Young Management Consultancies in the UK. He was vice chair (Partnership and Resources) aspirant for the Commonwealth Youth Council at CHOGM 2018.
Afolabi is a Year Here Fellow, part of a postgraduate program dedicated to helping individuals solve society’s deepest problems. He is an International Relations graduate from Queen Mary, University of London.
He has been involved with the LIMUN Foundation, Europe’s largest Model United Nations conference for young people in higher education, serving as Secretary-General of the 2017 LIMUN conference and is now a member of the Board of Trustees. His passion lies in the exchange of ideas and the resolution of conflicts and arguments through debate and education.
He is passionate about developing solutions to the issues in whatever community he finds himself in. His passion translates to his personal engagements, as a member of the TEDxEuston Organising Team and as an Editor and Member of the Stears Business Editorial Board.
He is currently running his masters in African politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), UK and currently serves as the co-chair of the school’s African Development Forum.
Esomchi Agalamanyi is a graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria and presently the Regional Coordinator of Commonwealth Scholars in the West of Scotland where he is studying an MSc in Education, Public Policy and Equity at the University of Glasgow under the Commonwealth Scholarship.
Esomchi is passionate about youth development as it pertains to increased access to education, equality, good governance and raising awareness on social justice. He intends to focus his professional career on how public policy can be used to drive economic development through increased access to these development indicators.
Rejoice Chidinma Eze
Rejoice is a chemical engineering graduate of the University of Lagos, a multilingual Nigerian who speaks and understands French and Spanish in addition to two Nigerian languages.
She was involved with the social development programme at the Commonwealth youth forum and has a continued interest in the positive representation of the country beyond its borders.
Chioma is a legal practitioner in with Ikechukwu Ezechukwu(SAN) and member of National youth of Nigeria, where she currently serves as the welfare officer to the national transition committee, managing the affairs of the national youth council of Nigeria.
John Paul Choji
John Paul was one of the Nigerian delegates to Commonwealth Youth Forum in Westminster, where he participated in the formation of key policy documents for the next two years for Nigeria and the entire Commonwealth Youth Council. He is the director of socials and organizing secretary of youths at Jos South local government, Plateau state.
MY TWO KOBO
These young men and women above revealed to the nations present at CHOGM 2018, that the Nigerian youth is educated, hardworking, and go-getting. And to them, we say, thank you; you are the ones who truly deserve some accolades.
Speaking at The Platform on May 1, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo did an awesome job in cherry-picking awesome Nigerian youths from across all works of life and giving them due accolades — a clear departure from what President Buhari did in Westminster and in a recent interview with Voice of America.
The reality, however, remains; Nigeria’s government cannot keep cherry-picking to make itself look good; until the young girl in Rann gets access to affordable quality education, and the young son of “a nobody” in Gokana can reach good healthcare; until the farmer in Gboko is safe, and the young graduate in Oye-Ekiti has a job, then none of us is truly successful.
Follow Tijani on Twitter and across major social media platforms @OluwamayowaTJ.