OBAMA INSPIRED BY TOYOSI AKERELE written by Japheth Omojuwa
Published:25 Jun, 2011
Hello Nigeria!!! This one will excite every Nigerian, everywhere across the world. Considering the endless tweets last night, you’d not need a two faced dibia to predict my next post. I had sent her a screen shot of the many Google searches of her name which had brought a lot of folks to omojuwa.com. I tried to explain that the numbers over the past few days was nothing to be disregarded considering that one of the articles had been written almost two years ago and the other was written in January. Then she said may be it had to do with First Lady Michelle Obama mentioning her name and being with her in South Africa. This is Toyosi AKERELE.
I was neither shocked nor surprised by that revelation. If you know her well enough, you’d know that she was and is capable of anything. But in truth the revelations did not sink until I watched this video where the first lady twice mentioned her name as a personal inspiration and her RISE National Youth Forum event as the biggest youth gathering in Nigeria. Mrs Obama mentioned Toyosi along with South Africa’s Annah Tseko, a teenager making positive change a norm in the country. I felt the cells in my body literally move and my eyes gave way to the emotion. I watched alone so I was free to respond to the inspiration myself. It is a shame for Nigeria to have allowed such to go through without a national recognition. If America had referred to her as a fraudster, we’d be all over the place as a government and a people saying a lot of crap and bullshit, but here a young Nigerian girl was being referred to by the First Lady of the United States on national and global television via a youtube video officially posted by the White House as an inspiration to the First Lady. If this is not news worthy, then the fact that we inaugurated a new president is not news or even event worthy.
Placing things in perspective and history, that singular act by the First Lady Michelle Obama is the biggest achievement by a Nigerian this year, especially because our country was not even considered for a visit when the American First Lady decided to come to Africa. We can continue to sidetrack well meaning and wave making intelligent individuals in the running of government but for how long? Who better to be named the Minister for Youth and Social Development if not this young lady from Lagos?
When the Minister for that port folio gets named, I’ll wager my integrity that that person has not done half as much as Toyosi for the young people of Nigeria. Since 2007, Miss Akerele’s RISE Initiative has been at over 22 states of the federation including Abuja and of course covering all the geo-political zones helping to sow seeds of greatness in the hearts and minds of young Nigerians. This she has consistently done and improved upon in terms of intensity and content over the past few years. This year she spearheaded a youth biased political programme on Channels TV where Debaters’ Champion Chinedu Chidi hosted individuals on issues relating to young people and the elections. She was the most vocal and most effective voice of young Nigerians at the Bring Back the Book Campaign organized by the president last December. She did not mince words when she handed out the challenge of improving the lot of young Nigerians to the soon to be reelected president Goodluck Jonathan. RISE home page
Let us call a spade what it is and stop looking for connotations that’d render the truth a well spoken lie. Our standing with the United States is currently poor and far from where even the much maligned president Obasanjo left it. This has been mostly due to the limbless and shameless way we have since gone about fighting corruption. Rather than fight the menace, we’ve been cheering corrupt officials to well furnished hospitals for ‘well earned’ holidays after which they are allowed to go and pounce on their loots. Despite the hoopla about corrupt governors, they all handed over and left as free men and are still free. If that is how to fight corruption, then I imagine what we’d do if we became friends with the menace. As it is, there is no fight against anything in Nigeria except the opposition and people offering useful advices to the government.
In the light of our fractured relationship with the Americans, you’d think the Nigerian government would milk the American recognition afforded one of its young people but instead they are passing the buck of a bomb blast that has already done the greatest shame that could be brought on a country’s security outfit. It is time to focus on what matters Nigeria.
As a people, we’ll continue to have difficulties finding good people because we have since developed a culture of hate (what young people would call “beef”) whereby we look to bring people down as soon as their character get shot by a single act of misdemeanor. When that happens, the public feeds on the carcass of such people, tearing them apart and offering no room for redemption. When it’s time to cherish and celebrate those bringing honour and recognition to our country, we look the other way as if nothing has happened. Take up your torch young people, let our generation deliver the future. It is possible. Toyosi Akerele has proven it over and again and if she inspires Michelle Obama who in her own right is worthy of being the president of a nation even America, then she must inspire you. If she doesn’t inspire you, I have no words for you. That’d be a foregone conclusion. This is the only person whose head the cap of Minister for Youth development fits but if this is still the Nigeria I know, she won’t be, at least not this term. We don’t allow square pegs in square holes, we force inept charlatans into positions of repute and importance. This must and will indeed change!
PS: @omojuwa : Jonathan’s hat inspired a Clinton, Toyosi’s work inspired an Obama (I tweeted this and more yesterday and you can watch the video by clicking on these words )
*** You can follow the writer on twitter @omojuwa is the handle.