Saturday, 13 October 2012

AGDC Creates a Platform of Empowerment

Unemployment issues have grown severe as the global economic recession that began in the last decade endures. Around the world there are discussions on how to mitigate the problem, but many countries still struggle to reduce the number of people idled by economic forces. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is not exempt from this lot.

Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are either unemployed or employed in a job that is below their academic qualification. In addition, thousands more freshly graduate from tertiary institutions each year. They flood the labour market in search of the few available opportunities, and may become vulnerable to negative vices in the face of persistent idleness.
However, some government leaders and many non-governmental organisations are combining efforts to reduce the rate of unemployment in Nigerian society. Perhaps the intervention of such timely initiatives will help cushion the effects of unemployment and population explosion in the next decade.

One such initiative is the Lagos Ignite Project, a collaborative effort between the Lagos State government and the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC). While the project is usually co-sponsored by various corporate organisations, the Lagos State government remains its highest sponsor. Every year, AGDC assembles thousands of Nigerian youth at a Youth Stakeholders’ Forum to discuss and proffer realistic solutions to issues affecting them. The overall aim of the meeting is to create a platform of empowerment for the future leaders of Nigeria and the young stakeholders of Lagos State.

Apart from the thought-provoking lectures and self-help texts offered at the forum, Nigerian youth get an opportunity to exchange information with the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola.
During the question and answer session Governor Fashola decried the indiscriminate importation of the Keke Marwa motorized tricycles and Okada motorcycles that are mainstays of public transportation in Lagos, saying, “There is no legacy we can leave from it.” He suggested the resurrection of the railway system as a means of interstate transportation of goods, and encouraged the use of our mother tongue and the projection of our local dialect into foreign cultures.

The primary promoters of the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre, Mrs Detoun Ogwo, Mrs Ibukun Awosika and Mrs Funmi Adeyemi, also attended the event. Mrs Awosika presented the latest graduates of the AGDC programme to the audience and encouraged more youths to enrol for one of their highly competitive courses.

“We will always fulfil the promises we commit ourselves to,” Mrs Awosika said, assuring prospective students that the programme is made absolutely tuition-free courtesy of various sponsors.

In closing the event, another AGDC promoter, Mrs Adeyemi, charged participants of the AGDC programme to “be the light in the midst of darkness.”

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Letter to Young Builders --by Jumoke Rasaq

Think of this as a correspondence from the land of Nigeria herself


October 1, 2012 .

Dear Young Builder,

          Today, I want to thank you for staying true to me all this while. Your smiles fuel my hold on breathe to live on. Thank you for not giving up on me.

        Year in year out, the claws of selfish leaders tear hope away from my dream. Yet, your belief in me has not waned. Thank you for choosing to stand despite the sinking sand; for your bricks of faith, sands of hope, pillars of resilience, water of determination and zeal of responsibility... Thank you.

       As always, I have a vision, you know the vision -just keep building. If I have not collapsed in the face of economic recession, religious crisis and poor leadership, then I need your belief, hard work and honesty to keep me standing.

      Don't stop praying for me -though I need more than that. Don't stop believing in me, I can't have enough of it. Let not your faith in me stagger nor your hope waver. Every cloud has a silver lining and mine has got loads of it, including golden ones.

      Thank you for seeing beyond my now... Keep building! Keep hoping! God bless you, God bless me and God bless Africa.

One of your carpenters,

Written by Olajumoke Rasaq, a co-builder.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

How Agbada Reflects a Politician’s Thinking --by Yimika Ilori

Linguists believe that we are shaped by our language –this is a time-proven fact, given a wide range of cultural instances. But, could it also be true that our thinking reflects in the way we dress?

Recently, as I watched a documentary on China, a question popped up in my mind: How many similarities does our Nigeria share with the People’s Republic of China? While there are lots of similarities between the two countries, I will only identify the common characteristic of a long standing culture. The intention here is not to ramble or discuss their similarities but to direct our consciousness towards a singular observation: how dressing, which is an element of culture, reflects a politician’s thought pattern.

I sought to know the psychological effects of clothes on their wearers and made a few findings. I used the suit (or business suit as some call it) and the Yoruba’s agbada as my objects of study. Agbada is a loose and flamboyant masculine outfit put on by several Nigerian politicians. These two were chosen because they are commonly worn in the southwest of Nigeria. I discovered that contrary to our flamboyant agbada, the suit serves as a visible sign of hard work and seriousness. The traditional attribute of agbada as a garment mainly suited for ceremonial functions and corporate formals makes it depict pleasure and less seriousness when worn.


Perhaps, you are wondering why I am emphasizing politicians when other individuals also wear it on noble occasions. Well, Nigerian politicians are the easiest to talk about (that should come out as humour). But seriously, they are Nigeria's public image; they are our official image makers. With more cravings in my heart, I continued my research and found the reason why agbada was created in the first place. Though there are other reasons, the main motive was to showcase the superiority of its wearer in finance and authority over its non-wearers at significant events; which of course is good, right? Yeah, right (that should come out as sarcasm!)

No one has to tell you that while wearing agbada you will be relatively hindered or distracted by the garment itself; the looseness of the clothing is enough to get one stuck to the hinge of a vehicle’s door. To even sign an ordinary document while wearing an agbada is a unique problem. If the wearing of agbada therefore hinders performance, why can't the Nigerian politicians concerned here simply put on the agbada’s undergarment without the overall itself? Such an act will be a visible sign of simplicity and seriousness, if they actually find the suit as an extreme and still want to promote our culture. Or, is the humility it takes to wear the simple agbada undergarment too expensive? Politicians who bear the burden of wearing the full agbada every time really miss out on daily body exercise.

In my own opinion the agbada undergarment wear serves as a visible sign of simplicity, seriousness and traditional prowess.

Recalling facts from the China documentary I watched, I can say that a constructive comparison between the dressing of the politicians of Nigeria and China presents dissimilarity in that Chinese politicians do not wear loose traditional attire to the office. They just don’t make it an office wear –and I think that’s cool. While I am not asking Nigerian politicians to copy them, I believe they should learn from their Chinese counterparts. Can it then be said that the clothes we put on reflect the way we think? Could this also be a pointer to why the Chinese seem more focused and effective than Nigerians? I leave you to judge.

Yimika Ilori is a purposeful and prolific writer. He facilitates Larntan and his articles have been published on Nuggests For Nobles and CFA Leverage amongst several other e-platforms. He can be reached via his blog (

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Innovating Culture through the Telling of Stories and Fables

Growing up was fun for me because I loved listening to stories and often learnt vital lessons from them. I remember the interesting fables of ijapa (the tortoise), that illustrated how cunning, tricky and dishonest the shelled animal is. His wife too, Yanibo, added a measure of diversity to the stories. Many times, she would support her husband, Mr Ijapa, in the dubious endeavours, and at other times, expose his secret schemes to the victimised parties. In one of the funny stories I remember, Ijapa stole some money from friends and was planning to buy a horse from his loot. So, he informed his wife, Yanibo, about his intention. Yanibo did not care to know how her husband had gotten the money to buy a horse but she was overjoyed. 
While rejoicing, she frolicked around the bedroom to demonstrate how she would tirelessly ride an imaginary horse. She began by saying, “I will ride it like this and like this and like this and like this and like this…” Angered, Ijapa shouted, “Do you want to kill the horse? Don’t you know it will die if you ride it like that?” But Yanibo deafened her ears to her husband’s queries and continued gambolling. After a while, Ijapa’s fury heightened and he grabbed a stool and hit it on his wife’s head. Yanibo cried out sharply and died suddenly. Eventually, the village guards captured Ijapa. He was brought before the King and judged in the presence of his previous theft victims (the dog and elephant). A few morals from the story would be that: one should not steal; when angry, one should not make a decision or take an action but instead leave the environment; one should not be as talkative as Yanibo and one should not take what belongs to others without their consent.

Most of the fables I loved were those aired on the local television (children’s shows and story time programmes) and tales told by grandma at the appearance of moonlight. Others were read to me from the many storybooks my father bought for me and my siblings. Grandma’s stories were usually family-inclined, complicated and almost unending. She told us stories about the incidents and people that existed before even our mother was born. She would ask us for the meanings of some Yoruba proverbs and smiled at our ridiculous interpretations before providing the right meanings. That was what happened in my childhood and early teenage years. Today, technological advancement and the invasion of our homes by foreign media have sent story-telling behind closed curtains.

These days, children observe foreign culture on TV and adopt it as their own. An instance is seen in the new taste of fashion in urban Nigeria. Fashionable mini-skirts did not walk into Nigeria in one day; they were first seen on TV, liked on foreign fashion shows before Nigerians began importing and selling them in boutiques. Guys who wear ear rings learnt it from the hip hop stars and ghetto shows aired on American television. Unless you were a member of the ancient sango family in Nigeria, the wearing of earrings was generally perceived as a poor behaviour and wearers were treated as outcasts. Well, human rights cover all that today and the path-paving factor is that you can wear what you like. These days, almost nobody defines the dressing ethics in many exposed societies. It’s legal. It’s your right. You can wear what you like. A hybrid of foreign cultures have been embraced in Nigeria and are somewhat diminishing the sustainability of Nigerian cultures.

The use of local languages is banned in several primary and secondary schools. Native greeting patterns are discouraged in some parts of the corporate environment...

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