I grew up with low self-esteem due to my humble background and this retarded my optimal performance during my elementary education. Then, I would not contribute in class nor ask questions, whether or not I understood the concepts I was being taught. I preferred the back seat because I didn’t want to be selected by my teachers to provide answers to questions or be ridiculed, if peradventure I didn’t know the answer to a question.
I saw wisdom as a gift or talent and I believed that leaders were born. I also blamed the government and other invisible hands for societal problems and felt they were solely responsible for providing the required solutions. Still, I had an inner quest to change the status quo but lacked the mentorship I needed to discover myself.
At the end of an entrepreneurship course in my 2nd year at the University of Ibadan in the year 2006, I received a letter of recommendation from my Head of Department, Professor Adedoyin Soyibo, to attend LEAP Africa’s Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) in Ibadan. This inspiring programme unleashed the leadership potentials, bringing me out of my introverted life style and provoking me to challenge my traditional ideologies as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King did. I was also re-oriented that leaders are made and not born. Our discussions on patriotism, citizenship and nationalism through case studies of Obafemi Awolowo, Odumegwu Ojukwu and others left me with the belief that the African problem is Africa and the solution is Africa, hence, I must prepare to positively impact my community.
The “Hotel Rwanda” movie we watched at the programme informed my decision to always help the poor. The academic prowess and intellectual understanding of our facilitators, coordinators and my fellow participants gave me a stronger quest for knowledge. The pair-tutoring activities and group work at the programme strengthened my belief that two are better than one. Lessons on CV writing and the core differences between a mission and a vision statement (which I still use as a business facilitator today), guided me to craft mine. I also learned fund-raising skills for community projects, sustainability, collaboration and professional ethics among others skills which I still credit to LEAP Africa.
Honestly, this YLP programme was the turning point of my life.
After the spirited experience, I set out to do great exploits as a community change agent. I first went back to my secondary school as a volunteer teacher and mentored 80 students. 90% of them today are university graduates. More so, I became the financial secretary of my department at the University of Ibadan (Undergraduate students’ Association) and I was able to collaborate with co-executive mates and corporate organizations to finance various inspirational programmes and international excursion for students. I was also able to set up a reading programme for the JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) students at my hall of residence, as the chairman of the hall.
When I got to Kano State as a corp member during my service year (NYSC), I joined the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) advocacy team. My community development service group and I were able to positively impact over 200 teenage girls at Hassana Sufi Government Girls Secondary School (Kofa Nassarawa, Kano). I was later appointed as the Corp Member Liaison Officer (CLO) of my local government and this afforded me the opportunities to motivate others to render more personal social services for their host communities and this effort yielded the commissioning of various social projects in my district.
Today, I am the team coordinator of Unveiling Africa Organization, a Scout Movement trainer and a co-founder of Save Our Education (SO-EDU) Initiative – a local non-governmental organization (NGO) that seeks to improve the quality of education in impoverished communities within Lagos and Ogun States, Nigeria, through the provision of learning aids to public elementary schools.
I cannot but appreciate LEAP Africa for preparing me for my leadership roles in life.
Have you attended our programmes? Do you have an inspiring story to share? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll love to hear from you.