Joachim MacEbong: The Platform 10.0: A platform, but for what?

Living in Nigeria is difficult. The daily struggles of people tend to weigh them down, causing a loss of inspiration and belief. Similar to church services on Sundays, the Platform Nigeria has become a place where many go to revive their flagging spirits, seeking the motivation to go to the next level in their lives.

Since October 2007, the Platform, organised by the Covenant Christian Centre has held in Lagos and its tenth edition took place on  1st May, with the title: ‘Cultural Innovation’. Over the years, the Platform has become a well-known event in the format of a TED talk, trying to address Nigeria’s manifest problems. The events every October focus on national issues, and the May events concentrate on personal development. A two-pronged attack on what the organisers see as issues the nation needs to solve.

The problem with such events is this: speaker after speaker mounts the stage, to talk about how they have overcome personal obstacles to make their mark on the world and after nearly five years, it is time to look at what the impact of the programme is on those who listen to it, and what they do with all that motivation. Nigerians love to talk. They talk everywhere: in the buses, the bars, the offices, and they mostly talk about Nigeria. Everyone agrees that things need to change.

However, more and more people are experiencing speech fatigue. They realise that all the talk in the world is not going to replace action, especially as things seem to be going from bad to worse.

It is not entirely true that the Platform is about all talk but no action. After the seventh edition in October 2010, two initiatives came out of it: Governance 500 and Enterprise 500. The aim is to train 500 people per year to become change agents in governance and enterprise. It was in partnership with Alder Consulting whose principal, Leke Alder, is a regular speaker at the event.

The positive results of such an initiative will visible for a while to come, but in the meantime, the evidence of state failure continue to abound and it still comes back to the citizens to do something about it.

January’s protests and the results of it—like the subsidy probe—have shown what we can if enough of us come together and ACT. It will be very interesting to see the results of a poll, in which regular attendants at the Platform were asked what they have done with the inspiration they have received over the last few years.

All the speeches mean nothing if they are not converted to action, and only the listeners, not the speakers, can make that happen.

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