Iyinoluwa Aboyeji: Change the nation by starting from where you are (Y! FrontPage)

by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji


Yes, you want to change Nigeria but you don’t need to boil the ocean. Start somewhere. Pick one problem. Study it, till you can explain and solve the problem in your sleep. Attack it.

You don’t even need to listen very well to hear the Nigerian youth’s cries for political, social, and economic change. In fact, now more than at any point in our nation’s history, we are seeing young people come together for the noble aim of making Nigeria better. However, one big challenge in translating this “noise” into action is that I find that for many of us young people, our efforts are not focused at all.

One day, we are voicing concerns about power, the next day; it is health care or Igbo presidency and on any given Sunday, the cause may vary, from payola to assistant madams.

This lack of an advocacy focus on Nigerian youth gives the more devious of our elders the assurance that although our youthful protests may last for a night, they need not worry because our ADHD cometh in the morning.

As a result we are never able to invest enough time in understanding any of our front line issues not to talk of communicating and implementing a coherent and realistic plan of action for fixing them. We seem content to simply “appeal to the government” to resolve the multiple issues our society faces forgetting that the government is least likely hotbed for the kind of innovation and solution implementation that we require to get out of the hot mess we find ourselves in.

One very common example of a Nigerian cause driven by young people that expanded with hot air until it blew up into nothingness was the #LightupNigeria project. The advocacy campaign started out as a very simple effort to voice young Nigerians’ concern over Nigeria’s terrible power situation. Millions of hash tags and celebrity endorsements later, we are still still moving at snail’s pace towards stable power in Nigeria. Despite the government many failed promises on the matter, we’ve moved on, but the generators have not moved on with us.

So what can we do to solve this problem?

Well, the solution I am suggesting isn’t that all of us should close shop on every other important issue, social, political and economic facing our country and face front on power. However, we all need to become single-issue advocates. In fact, some of the people I consider Nigeria’s most effective social change agents in Nigeria are single-issue advocates. Like Bosun Tijani and Gbenga Sesan whose organizations explicitly focus on technology and the need for the government to invest in broadband and a vibrant technology ecosystem, or Temie Giwa who has redefined narrow and simply gone with Blood banks through her OnePercent Foundation, or my friend Tola Somonmu has staked her ground in Agriculture and youth. Even Chude, who tends to get pulled into everything that matters in Nigeria has clearly staked his ground in leadership development for young people through The Future Project.

I have learnt from these very wise people and I have staked my ground in education. I want every African child between 18-25 to get access to the same quality of education I spent $150,000 acquiring for less than $6,000 and I am building technology and hustle to make that happen.

So here is my advice. Yes, you want to change Nigeria but you don’t need to boil the ocean. Start somewhere. Pick one problem. Study it, till you can explain and solve the problem in your sleep. Attack it. Then you can move on to the next one.




Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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