On Thursday November 24, 2011, LEAP Africa celebrated five young leaders at its 8th Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards at MUSON Centre, Lagos. The winners: Oladipupo Ajiroba, Babatunde David, Babafemi Oyediran, Tolulope Sangosanya and Priscillia Usiobaifo were showcased for their exemplary efforts to creating positive social impact in communities across Nigeria.
Every year, LEAP solicits applications and nominations of youth who have initiated social change projects in their local communities. After a rigorous selection process, ten nominees are chosen by an independent panel of judges and the five winners are announced at the annual awards event. At the 8th Awards, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Minister of Youth Development, in his keynote address, encouraged the winners to remain committed to their positive initiatives across Nigeria. He also enjoined Nigerian youth to be more positive, optimistic and involved in change efforts. The second speaker, Mr. Tonye Cole, CEO, SAHARA Group Nigeria, challenged the youth present to be prepared to strive for the change that they hope to see in Nigeria.
LEAP also celebrated beneficiaries of its Leadership, Ethics and Civics (LEC) Programme in public secondary schools in Anambra, Lagos and Ogun States at the event. Outstanding schools and student groups were recognized for their commitment to improving the lives of individuals within their local communities.
The evening ended with a thrilling live performance by Chydinma, who was joined on stage by the LEC students in celebration of their awards. Over 800 guests were at the event.
Established in 2004, the Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards is a means to formally acknowledge the difference young Nigerians are making all around the country and to let more youth know that they have the power to address the nation’s most pressing issues. The youth are not the leaders of tomorrow; they are the leaders of today, and increasingly young people are starting to recognize that through dedication, creativity and accountability they can create powerful change.
The Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards is always one of LEAP’s most highly anticipated events of the year bringing young people from across the nation together to learn from inspirational stories of young change agents, gain insights from experienced leaders.
PROFILE OF THE WINNERS
INITIATIVE: The Environment Advocates/Managers TEAM
Ajiroba Oladipupo is a young environmentalist, climate change activist and youth advocate. He graduated from Olabisi Onabanjo University with a degree in Botany. He also holds a diploma in Youth & Migration from the World Bank.
His interest in environmental issues was born from challenges he faced as a child, when he was diagnosed with acute bronchitis due to air pollutants. This challenge ignited his passion to learn more about ecological issues and to safeguard his natural environment. More specifically, it inspired him to establish The Environment Advocates/Managers (TEAM) in 2010.
TEAM utilizes interactive youth-to-youth workshops, quarterly forums and field-volunteerism to build youth awareness and understanding of environmental management. Over 500 University of Ibadan students have benefited directly from TEAM workshops. 1200 secondary school students in Ibadan have also benefitted from TEAM’s environmental clubs and environment protection activities such as – tree planting exercises, gardening practices and more.
Given his interest in the natural environment, Ajiroba facilitated TEAM’s partnership with International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)/Leventis Project to supply high-yield seedlings to local farmers in Apete, Ibadan in an effort to boost their productivity. In addition, the partnership has provided the farmers with access to markets. As a result of the intervention, the framers have recorded increase in productivity and revenues. Working in partnership with TEAM, IITA and Leventis has also reduced the challenges that the farmers face interfacing with middlemen.
Oladipupo was nominated by African Union at Addis Ababa, as one of the 67 Young African Professionals to pioneer the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AUYVC) scheme. He was also appointed Chairman of the newly formed Youth Wing of Nigeria’s oldest environmental NGO, the Nigerian Field Society.
Following his track record in community service and development, Oladipupo was recently invited by the Special Adviser on MDG’s to the Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Hafsat Abiola-Costello, to serve as a Project Officer in the State MDG office.
Oladipupo currently serves as Founder and Programmes Director of The Environment Advocates/Managers (TEAM).
For more information about The Environment Advocates/Managers (TEAM), please contact Oladipupo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INITIATIVE: Youth for Generating Change (YGC AFRICA)
Babatunde David is a 2011 Electronic and Electrical Engineering graduate of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.
Though an Engineering student, he realised in his second year that he was inclined to Motivational and Public Speaking. His love and passion for Nigeria inspired him to create an avenue for his peers to contribute positively to the development of Nigeria. This led to his founding of Youth for Generating Change (YGC) Africa in 2008. He currently serves as its founder and Team Leader.
YGC Africa’s core focus is to provide a platform for getting young people in Nigeria and Africa, to actively participate in national development and collectively developing the continent. YGC Africa believes that young people can inculcate the moral and family-oriented values required for personal development and nation-building. Consequently, it has adopted an approach that utilizes activities that interest and actively engage young people. These activities are executed in four different forms: workshops, essay competitions, social media and printed publications. Some of the programmes include: Biannual Youth Discussion Forums which seek to inspire and involve youth in governance and the nation-building process; the Annual Change Summit which gathers young people to listen and learn from the experiences of positive role models; Rebuilding the Walls-Nigeria Initiative– an initiative that provides solutions to the challenges affecting the positive advancement of Nigerian youth; and Transformed Magazine– a publication which inspires youth through feature-stories on the experiences and exploits of youth who have surmounted challenges to achieve the incredible.
To date, YGC Africa has successfully reached over 5000 young beneficiaries through its various programmes and activities, impacting them with social skills and information to engage in good governance in their sphere and proffer solutions to the challenges peculiar to their country. The initiative has received a lot of support from Channels Television, Farafina Publishing, HIIT, Mediamore Limited, Microsoft, Nestle Nigeria, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and UAC.
In 2008, Babatunde was appointed the Youngest Microsoft Nigerian Ambassador. In the same year, he was nominated for the prestigious Nigerian National Youth Awards (Gold category).
His leadership skills earned him selection as Nigeria’s representative at the 2010 William J. Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in Miami, USA.
For more information about YGC Africa, contact Babatunde at email@example.com.
INITIATIVE: Rural Enterprise Development Project (Project RED)
Babafemi Oyediran is a graduate of Architecture from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree at the same institution.
He is the Founder of Rural Enterprise Development Project (Project RED) and Co-founder of InterSynergy Consulting (ISN Consulting).
Though Babafemi is from the South Western part of Nigeria, he has lived most of his adult life in Niger State. In his interaction with the rural inhabitants in the North Central region, he observed that though they were industrious and enterprising, they were terribly marginalized and lived in abject poverty. Given his passion for entrepreneurship, he decided to channel his energy towards equipping and empowering the rural inhabitants with skills necessary for self-sufficiency. He believes that the war against abject poverty and hunger can be conquered by developing, encouraging and supporting Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the grassroots.
The organisation takes its beneficiaries, who are artisans through a training workshop which includes role-playing and other practical and interactive activities that facilitate efficient learning. The workshops are designed using the Competency-based Economy Formation of Enterprise (CEFE) model – a practice-oriented training methodology used in over 40 countries in the world. Given the unique language dynamics of the beneficiaries, training programmes are conducted in Pigeon English or the local dialect of the participants.
To date, 29 small-scale business associations, four of which were set up as a result of Project RED’s training, have been trained. in Abuja, Borno, Nassarawa, Niger and Kano.
Babafemi strongly believes that with proper guidance, social enterprises, cooperative bodies, women and youth groups in the rural communities can use their limited resources to contribute immensely to the economic development of Nigeria. His experience with Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in rural communities has given him the unique opportunity to partner with several organizations that work with business owners.
Babafemi Oyediran was nominated by World Bank as one of the two Nigerian youth to participate in the World Bank Global Youth Against Corruption, GYAC Forum April 2011, in Nairobi Kenya. His pioneering project on business ethics and anticorruption got him selected as a Global Changemaker, 2011 by the British Council. He was also nominee of the Top 12 Awards by Youngstars Foundation.
For more information about Rural Enterprise Development (RED) Project, contact Babafemi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INITIATIVE: The LOTS Charity Foundation
Tolulope Sangosanya is a graduate of Mass communication from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. She is also a graduate of the Social Sector Management Programme of the Pan African University Lagos.
While in her final year in the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Tolulope was deeply disturbed by the sight of a young street girl that she observed on her way to her campus. As Tolulope prepared for her final examinations that year, she kept wondering about the physical and emotional abuse the little girl must have suffered. Having grown up in a broken home, Tolulope was well aware of the importance of love in a child’s development. She also realized that she could have ended up like the girl if she had not been given the opportunity to have an education. This realization and strong desire to give love to vulnerable street children, gave birth to The LOTS Charity Foundation (LOTS) in 2006.
Since 2006, Tolulope has focused her efforts and energy on providing this often neglected group with the support they require to fully develop. Unlike orphans in orphanages who are provided with the basic necessities of life- food, clothing, medical care and shelter, street children do not have access to basic amenities and are often victims of abuse. The LOTS Charity Foundation was set up to fill in this gap. The initiative, which started off as a medical outreach project, has evolved into a more comprehensive empowerment and leadership organisation. It currently promotes education and socio-economic empowerment with the aim of transforming disadvantaged youth into productive members of the society.
LOTS is presently focused on a literacy programme, which it started in Dustbin Estate, Ajegunle, in 2009. The programme has 125 registered children and 980 unregistered children who attend the literacy classes.
In 2009, LOTS Charity Foundation was formally registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission [C.A.C]. In 2010, Tolulope partnered with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jubilee Parish and community members to raise funds for LOTS’ Multipurpose Resource Centre. Through a musical concert, the church and its members raised over N2million, which was used to establish the facility in January 2011.
Tolulope was the recipient of the “Best Use of Advocacy” Future Awards in February 2010 for her work in Dustbin Estate, Ajegunle.
For more information about the LOTS foundation, please contact Tolulope at email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Priscilla Ikos Usiobaifo
INITIATIVE: Brave Heart Initiative
Priscilla Ikos Usiobaifo holds a National Diploma in Public Administration from Federal Polytechnic Idah, Kogi State. She is currently a final year student of Political Science at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State.
Priscilla’s concern for the high prevalence of teenage pregnancy in her community in Akoko Edo Local Government Area in Ondo State motivated her to start the Brave Heart Initiative (BHI) in 2007. She found it very disheartening that young girls were expelled from school when they got pregnant. In addition, they were ostracized and were not reintegrated into school after childbirth. Their families and communities no longer recognized these young mothers as adolescents in need of nurture and guidance; rather they abandoned and expected them to fend for themselves and their children. This unfortunate trend violates the right of teenage mothers. BHI seeks to empower and develop youth between the ages of 10 and 25. It provides them with the information and skills required to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive rights. BHI also engages in advocacy and intervention on sexual abuse issues in Akoko Edo L.G.A. It partners with the Judiciary, Police and Medical Practitioners to protect, treat and seek legal redress for disadvantaged youth exposed to sexual exploitation.
BHI is currently working in twelve (12) Secondary Schools in Akoko Edo LGA. Through collaborative efforts, it has trained 36 teachers in Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) to educate and counsel the children on sexual education. The training strategy was adopted as a valuable tool for preventing unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STI’s among youth.
To date, Brave Heart Initiative (BHI) has empowered over 4000 youth with sexual and reproductive health information through their outreach activities in these 12 schools. Through their practical and interactive workshops, youth learn to protect themselves from sexual abuse. They also make informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health behaviours.
So far, over 90 rape cases in Akoko Edo have been reported to BHI, 27 cases in 2011 alone. However, due to family denial and fear of stigmatization by parents, BHI has only been able to act on 18 of these cases. BHI is funded yearly by the International Women’s Health Coalition, New York, U.S.A.
Priscilla served as a panelist at the Guttmacher Panel on Reproductive Health at the 54th CSW, New York, USA. She was also invited as an African Youth Delegate to a consultative meeting with policy makers at the White House, Washington DC, March 2010.
For more information about Brave Heart Initiative (BHI, please contact Priscilla at email@example.com
Congratulations to the winners, an of course everyone else who was shortlisted!