Ibile Youth Academy is about empowering the youths of Lagos state

Ibile Youth Academy is about empowering the youths of Lagos state

By Peace Morrison

Interview with the pharmacist-turned-politician and the Lagos state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Princess Uzamat Folasayo Akinbile-Yusuf.

She opens up about being a philanthropist and the joy that comes from empowering and developing the youth through various projects.

WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT IBILE YOUTH ACADEMY?
Wow! It is a dream come true. What has inspired me is the fact that I wanted to do something different that will help and develop our youth because they are faced with so many challenges as young people. I had to look for the best way to really develop them and that gave birth to IYA. And in Yoruba land the meaning of IYA is so wide, it means a mother who is able to guide her children and put them in the right path. So, that is why I came up this concept called IYA. Also, IBILE in Lagos state covers the five divisions of the state; Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos and Epe division.
And the aim is to get to the grassroot where we will be able to penetrate and affect more youth on this platform. The training is all about developing their leadership, entrepreneurship skills and volunteerism. In the next five days they will be at the academy where they will be taught so many things. Also, trainings will be going on simultaneously at the five divisions in the state.

 FOR THOSE WHO GO THROUGH THIS CURRENT TRAINING IN THE ACADEMY WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS?At the end of the training we expect the participants to have broad understanding of what leadership is all about so they will be able to develop themselves better. As part of the volunteering training, they will also be taught how to see themselves as part of the society which will motivate them to render services by given back to their communities.
They will also be taught the child right law and implementation, youth policy and how they will be able to integrate into it. All these will help them tackle some of the challenges they might face in the future.

Also very important, at the end of the five days training 10 participantS will be selected and camped at the Lagos State Youth Hostel Ipaja for a week where they will be able to interact with each other.
And at the end of the day five ambassadors will be selected from each division where one ambassador will be chosen as spokesperson for the youths in Lagos State.

YOUR SLOGAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN “BUILD THE YOUTH BUILD THE NATION” WHAT HAS BEEN THE DRIVE?Yes, it is so because youth are very energetic and vibrant and this energy has to be channeled into something positive. if you build the youth, you build the nation and if you refuse to build the youth, you destroy the nation. If the youth are properly empowered, then criminal activities will be reduced to a reasonable extent.



WHAT OTHER PROJECT OCCUPIES YOUR MIND?
I have a lot of projects to execute before leaving office. As you can see IYA is part of them but it is limited to youth between the age of 18-24, so they will be programs for other categories of youth. Also, there will be a Youth Summit were youth will have interaction with Lagos State Government Officials. And at this forum many issues that affect the youth will be discussed.

Also, before the end of the year we will be having our quarterly Senatorial Forum with the CDAs and Baales at the grassroot level where issues such as insecurity, unemployment, and other problems will be discussed.

AS A WOMAN IN POLITICS, WHAT DO YOU ADVICE WOMEN IN COMMERATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?
Yes, the theme of this year is “BOLD FOR CHANGE” we should be very bold as women and be able to express our selves. So, I implore every woman out there to be bold and not allow any form of intimidation, abuse or suppression. As women our voice most be heard in the society irrespective of our gender and we should be able to speak out and say no to rape, domestic violence or any form of abuse.

AND FOR THE YOUTHS?
Our youth should shun violence and all forms of evil vices at all times. They should see themselves as part of the society so that they will be able to contribute and build the nation.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEBERED FOR? Ok, I want to be remembered for executing projects such as IBILE YOUTH ACADEMY, The documentation of Lagos State Youth Policy also for reducing child abuse to the barest minimum.

I wasn’t ready for the limelight when I married my husband – Amara Nwankwo

I wasn’t ready for the limelight when I married my husband – Amara Nwankwo

It is no longer news that wife of popular Nigerian footballer, Amara Nwankwo got married in 2004 to the football star Kanu Nwankwo at the age of 18-years old and has ever since been basking in the success of her marriage.

Amara who was naive at as when she got married to Kanu Nwankwo in an interview with Punch Newspaper, disclosed how her parents were in support of her marriage at that age, her architectural degree, how she has been coping with fame and much more.

Excerpts….

Why did you decide to practice as an interior designer?

I have a first degree in Architecture and I graduated just before I had my daughter. I had some experience working with some of the best architectural firms in London.

It dawned on me that I was giving my 100 per cent to a company, which was predominantly white and I had little or no time for my family.

Having garnered adequate experience, I decided to set up my own business, so that I would have time for my family. I can now do things at my own pace. Unlike interior decoration, you need certain technical skills to become an interior designer.

How did you adjust to being married to a popular personality?

When I was getting married, I was not ready to be thrust into the limelight. I didn’t even know what I was getting into. I wasn’t a football fan and I knew nothing about the Premiership. I didn’t know I was getting married into that level of limelight as I was young, vibrant and in love. I am now a football fan.

Did you harbor any doubts about your marriage?

I wasn’t scared; I felt it like it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was in love, so there was no time for a negative feeling like fear to come up. I think the love I had and still have for my husband was all I needed to feel comfortable and good.

You got married at the age of 18; how were you able to keep the family and home together at that time?

Marriage is a growth process and I learn on a daily basis. I got married as a teenager. I was young. I think I jumped into the deep end and I simply went with it.

It takes a lot of determination to keep things going because irrespective of your age, marriage throws a lot of curves at you. The main thing is being able to bounce back after being hit with a surprise or what you do not expect.

Would you want your daughter to emulate by getting married at a young age?

Having gone through it myself, I wouldn’t say I would like her to do the same. I would like her to experience life slightly a bit more than I did.

But it all depends on the circumstances and the persons involved. I had support from my mum, dad and siblings. In hindsight, I can say that they actually did a good job. In June, we would celebrate the 12th anniversary of our wedding.

If you could do anything differently in terms of marriage and certain decisions you have made over the years, what would it be?

I don’t think I would want to do it differently. I think getting married early is my competitive advantage. I learnt real life and management skills in marriage. Even though I’m currently studying for an MBA, it can’t beat the real life experiences. I won’t change anything because it all worked for me.

While he still played active football, how did you deal with the risks associated with his job?

When I began to understand what it meant to lose a game, I had to learn to cheer him up. I also had to learn really fast that every game had a consequence, a price and a goal at the end of the day.

How would you describe motherhood?

Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me. In terms of motherhood, women empowerment and business sense, Beyonce inspires me. My children will always be my priority and I give God the most gratitude for blessing me with children. If I invest my time in them, they will give me more value at the end of the day.

How would you describe your husband?

He is a kind man and he has a big heart. He is also very sensitive and intelligent. He shows me compassion through his actions and he doesn’t say too much.

OGO MADUEWESI- Laying the issues bare about Vitiligo

OGO MADUEWESI- Laying the issues bare about Vitiligo

You have a Foundation reaching out to people with Vitiligo, how do you operate?

Yes I founded and im running Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF), a not-for-profit, patient–driven, patient-advocate organization incorporated in Nigeria and passionately concerned about the needs of persons living with Vitiligo, skin imperfections and autoimmune Disorder primarily in Africa, helping ameliorate the agony people suffer as a result of turning from black to white. VITSAF’s major goals are absolute Support to its members, extensive Vitiligo and skin health awareness and enlightenment; motivating behavior change around unusual visual appearance through Entertainment Education, understanding autoimmune disorder and achievement of World Vitiligo Day – June 25th.

Take us through the condition Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is an acquired sudden loss of the inherited skin color. Despite its long recognition, the cause of this disorder is still unknown. The loss of skin color yields white patches of various sizes, which can be localized anywhere on the body. The disease affects people of all races, men and women, and all age groups. It may appear at any age; cases have been reported as early as 6 weeks after birth and after 80 years of age. Vitiligo is a hugely stigmatized condition in Africa, facing not only a visible, disfiguring skin problem, but with widespread social discrimination fueled by powerful myths, discrimination and stigma. The myth about vitiligo being contagious is likely the result of a common fear: people stay away from anything different. It has a major impact on the Quality of Life (QoL) of patients. It is one of the most psychologically, emotionally and psychosocially devastating chronic skin conditions, which has a major impact on both patients and their families.

What has it been from Childhood?

I grew up as a normal African child, I learnt quite a lot from helping my mother from a tender age, I would sit and prepare a big sack soaked corn into akamu alone, would hawk akara and akamu in my primary school days before going to school, during holiday I hawk puff puff in the village market, when she started selling moimoi in my Secondary School, I would wake up 3am to wash the beans and take for grinding amongst other chores.

I became a rebel at a very young age, didn’t just agree with so many things that were expected to be accepted, I was the most misunderstood in my house because of my hyperactive nature. Much later in life, Feb 2005 to be precise and at the peak of my career and life with so much dreams and plans, I was hit by a condition that started turning me white, a condition called vitiligo.

Is there a special day set aside for activities surrounding Vitiligo

Yes, 25 June has been accepted globally as a day for Vitiligo extensive awareness –World Vitiligo Day (WVD) however we are still advocating and campaigning for official approval while we gather signatures for our petition which we are presenting to UN this 2013.World Vitiligo Day – 25th June Initiative aims to generate knowledge of vitiligo, its appropriate care, arrest and treatment methods amongst the general public, health care providers, and governments.

There are a lot of people who don’t want us to stand up for our Rights and demand a cure and care. They say vitiligo is not life threatening and not contagious, and that we must embrace a life of a pariah, hiding ourselves from sunlight and from the society.

WVD initiative was initiated by me; it was a very welcomed development when I announced the campaign for World Vitiligo Day – June 25th online and through email to vitiligo organizations across the globe in March 2011. It was accepted by the vast majority though mixed feelings trailed the chosen date 25 June. My thinking was simple – the date would resonate within the broader community due to its, albeit unfortunate, connection to Michael Jackson, whose vitiligo was the most famous and publicly debated case of all time.

WVD is in accordance with the WVD global initiative as promoted and in collaboration with Vitiligo Research Foundation www.25june.org. Please support us with a signature, please sign our petition on www.25june.org as we work towards presenting to UN for official approval this 2013.

Any statistics about people with Vitiligo in Nigeria?

We do not have statistics of people living with vitiligo in Nigeria, we work with the general assumptions where the prevalence of vitiligo is believed to be between 0.5% and 2% of the world population on average, but local numbers may vary greatly. Large studies in China, India, and Denmark have found the prevalence to be 0.093%, 0.005%, and 0.38%, respectively. Gujarat, India is considered to have the highest prevalence in the world with 8.8% of the local people affected by vitiligo. Men and women are equally affected, but women are more likely to seek treatment. Getting the population of Nigerians living with vitiligo is a project we hope to carry out someday soon with Nigerian Association of Dermatologists NAD.

Toyin Adesola – Still Standing despite her battles with Sickle Cell Disease

Toyin Adesola – Still Standing despite her battles with Sickle Cell Disease

I’m lured this month to writing about one woman who has spelt hope for many, many who had hidden away for fear of being stigmatized and those who feel that having one health condition or the other is simply a death sentence.

She was one of the 3 recipients of the Pride of Women Awards that coincided with the official presentation of Woman of Substance Nigeria and the choice of this woman came about because of the selfless service she has rendered with what she does as the Executive Director of Sickle Cell Advocacy Management Initiative (SAMI) a nongovernmental organisation whose mission is to reduce the effects of Sickle Cell Anaemia Disorder through education, awareness and support. With the condition she has grappled with, a lot of people in her shoes will sit back and watch others take care of the day to day running of their lives. She may look frail and unable but what you see is absolutely not what you get with this woman.

My meeting with Ms Toyin Adesola is a rendezvous that constantly reminds me of the fact that we must strive to make an impact in our society starting from our immediate environment. It was a privilege for me to have to interview this woman who has battled and is still battling sickle cell for almost 50 years! We settled into the interview and she took her time out to educate me on why this condition is described as the “black man’s disease” (Predominantly found in malaria-prone areas) something that has tried so hard to keep her down for most part of her life.

In the course of that interview we discussed the challenges that stood as impediments in her journey to where she is today and she takes my attention to her book “Still Standing”…The compelling and courageous story of a woman’s battle with Sickle Cell Anaemia!

Born on the 1st of September 1965, Toyin Adesola one I would love to describe as an optimist says “living with Sickle Cell Anaemia, my love for reading and flair for writing led me to writing the book, Still Standing in which I shared my experiences and the tenacity by which I overcame the many challenges that resulted from the disorder. “Growing up for me became somewhat of a nightmare because I started falling ill and started having attacks and found myself being admitted too often in the hospital…because of that my fun was curtailed because my parents didn’t want me to get injured and I just knew I was not like other kids”

When I got down to read the book Still Standing, Chapter 2 caught my attention where Toyin described her 1st day in secondary school and how she looked forward to doing things like other “normal” children but the dream was cut short after form one because she had to leave due to ill health. Life can be so cruel with the packages it sends our ways but how we are able to manage these hurdles and challenges solely depends on us and it boils down to the fact that if life hurls lemons at us we make concerted efforts to make lemonades of it and if you can go the extra mile you can add a different flavor to yours! I found that I couldn’t put down the book because it had messages in it for me just as I believe anyone who reads it will take away something from it. For instance the chapter she titled “Why Me?” this is a question that majority have asked at some point in life including yours truly and the questions may not come immediately after you have asked or they may never come at all and you would chose not to question God!. Still Standing teaches you to “wait” “watch” and pray when you feel all hope is lost because there will always be a slight change one that would see you not staying in a particular spot!

I chose to celebrate her vision and her tenacity to make an impact in a challenging society where issues regarding people who may be “unable” remains rather at the back burner. Toyin Adesola oversees brand projects, Project Still Standing which is aimed at reducing physical, social and psychological challenges which person with sickle cell face and Touch a Cell, that’s a project aimed at creating awareness via entertainment, arts and sport.

In project Alert we say no to Violence against women – Josephine Effah Chukwuma

In project Alert we say no to Violence against women – Josephine Effah Chukwuma

Violence against women is a technical term referring to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Founder and President of Project Alert on Violence against Women sheds light on this type of violence targeting a specific group with the victim’s gender as a primary motive.

WOS: Violence against women is what most women never talk about, why is that?

Contrary to your statement, most women now speak out about the violence they and other family members and/or friends experience. silence used to be a weapon used to further perpetrate it, but years of advocacy work by organizations such as Project Alert, has brought the problem from under the ground, on to the surface. Combined factors such as shame, fear of stigmatization, threats, intimidation and lack of support services, for victims/survivors, use to make women, die in silence but things are fast changing.

WOS: The role of men be in speaking out against Domestic Violence against women?

Men have a great role to play in the fight to end all forms of violence against women/young girls. Violence against women does not only affect wives and girlfriends, but also mothers, sisters and daughters. No right thinking man, except one that is psychologically destabilized, would want his mother, sister or daughter physically or sexually abused. Thus men must unite with women to fight violence against women.

WOS: How stringent should the Laws on Domestic Violence be?

In my opinion domestic violence laws should be more stringent than criminal laws on assault, because of the issue of easy access. Domestic violence is easily executed than non-domestic violence. The reason for this is that both parties have both access to each other; and opportunity to strike (two factors that must be present for crime to occur).

WOS: Lets take you back to Sophia’s place, how did the vision come?

Sophia’s Place, which is Project Alert’s shelter for abused women/young girls, came into existence as a result of an identified need for a safe place for women/young girls suffering physical and sexual abuse in the family. Very early in the existence of Project Alert, we kept coming across women who were in abusive marriages and relationships, but did not know who or where to run to, thus we started thinking “how do we protect these women/girls?” Also concept of shelter is not alien to our culture, because traditionally, if a woman runs back to her family crying about maltreatment by her husband, she is given place to stay the night, while the husband is invited the next day for a discussion.

That act of accommodating for a night or two, is offering shelter. That is what we are offering abused women/young girls in an organized manner – a temporary safe place away from their abuser, that offers them time and space away, to reflect on their situation, while talking with a team of professionals such as counselllors, health workers and lawyers.

WOS: How bad can it get psychologically for women who face abuse?

Psychological abuse is actually much worse, because it is not immediately evident to the eye, and can be going on for years unnoticed, with the victim not seeking help, because she does not know how she would tell her story or what she would say.

WOS: Why would a woman decide to stay on in a marriage where they face abuse?

Women stay on in abusive marriages for various reasons such as the children; not wanting to be seen as failures – divorced/separated; no job; no money; no accommodation; against their religious believes etc. They however fail to realize, that they need to be alive and well, to be in marriage.

WOS: Share with us the most devastating case that has come to Project Alert.

There have been 3 devastating cases that have come to Project Alert in the 13 years of our existence. In all the cases, the women died at the hands of men they knew, married, loved and trust. They are the cases of Ego Osadebe, poured acid by her husband; Superintendent of Police Reginald Ononye, who threw is wife and mother of two little kids down their 3 stories apartment; and Akolade Arowolo who stabbed his wife Titi, a banker several times. these were devastating cases for me, to think that someone you love, would turn round to kill you, is simply unbelievable.

Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan…a true Teacher of tomorrows leaders

Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan…a true Teacher of tomorrows leaders

It’s often very dicey and difficult for me to get down and put pen to paper when I have to put my thoughts down and the reason is because all the women I have come across have exhibited a particular trait that truly defines them. This April, my pendulum swings at the woman who held sway as the Deputy Governor of the Center of Excellence Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, a woman I tracked for a year before getting her to come on as guest on my TV programme Woman of Substance and I must tell you it was one of my best interviews. I sat down some time ago and wondered what had become of this personality that her aides made it so difficult for people to reach while she was number 2 in Lagos.

I can remember the rigors I had to face to get a date for the interview that took place at her official residence at that time in Ikoyi and I heaved a sigh of relief as soon as that interview was over. As I sat thinking about her, I wondered what she was doing now after the glamorous life of politics because there are quite a number of women who have fizzled out and eased into oblivion soon after their political engagement is over.

Trust me, I sniffed and found out exactly where she was and called her assistant up to get me a date to meet her again after a long time! She was delighted to see me and the look on her face said so many things, things I would rather hold dear to my heart. A beautiful smile illuminated her face, we exchanged pleasantries she set me at ease with her peculiar way of calling my name

“Iphy you are welcome and thanks for coming to interview me again” and that set the tone for our journey into what she does at the moment. “I run a company GFR an acronym of the names of my children, you know I’m an educationist to the core, GFR is into Human Capital Development, we are interested in creating appropriate work ethics and quality assurance. We collaborate with corporate bodies and education agencies to develop appropriate training programmes that suit the client”.

While she was talking I was wondering how this relates to the category of people that she passionately reached out to while “in office” and I wondered what had happened to that “passion”, did it fade away just like it happens with most 1st Ladies and other government officials who initiate projects and don’t follow through when they leave office, Princess Sosan was quick to jolt me out of my thoughts, she said “Human Capital Development is part of reaching out, as a teacher I believe we can do a lot in the way that teaching is done, the strategies is something we have to look into, why do I say this Iphy? We organized a practical training session for students, with instructors from Dublin Ireland and the result was amazing, I realized through that training that children need to be encouraged by giving them things that will encourage their learning abilities”

As we talked, she looked back at the various postulations about the Nigerian graduate being largely unemployable and she blamed it on their inability to match the results they have in their hands and the content of their character coupled with their intelligence. In her words “it’s so bad that in schools today you either pay in cash or kind to get your grade and this is not good for a country like ours or any for that matter”.

I agreed with a nod because as a broadcaster and in the course of moderating very incisive interviews, I have realized that as Nigerians, we have a clear picture of everything that is wrong with Nigeria but the problem of getting us out of the woods is as huge as the Berlin wall.

For the rot that has permeated the education sector Princess Sosan says the idea is to begin to catch them young and teach them the right way by that she means “creating a conducive atmosphere, laying out workable strategies instead of the chalk and board kind of teaching which is still evident in some schools, it’s about making learning more interesting in the way it is taught so that children learn even when they play”

Volunteering is a major tool she agreed, one that is popular in many countries. I shared with her the experience with students at my former school Aguda Grammar School in Surulere when I had a 2 hour session with them in class and she totally agrees that people should try and go back to their roots. It’s always a good thing when these young people have someone they can relate with in their midst, it gives them hope that there is so much to look forward to if they work hard and set their priorities right.

Trust that I couldn’t have left this “big fish” go without extracting some information about her journey in life. Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan just like so many other celebrities grew up in Ajegunle, she called it “A J City” and I laughed my head out with gesticulations at attempting to describe those years in Ajegunle, “it was an area made up of different tribes, a mini Nigeria if you want to call it that and we lived like brothers and sisters, that time of my life gave me the opportunity to know the different disposition of each tribe, it helped me in the course of my Job as Deputy Governor and im grateful that I worked with a man who taught me that hard work never kills”

Let me end this piece by saying that you have in your hands what you can do to be who you want to be, follow your heart and believe in yourself. Don’t miss out on the May edition!