By Victor Gotevbe
Weekend Youthful Vibes had a chat with an interesting young leader who is making positive impact in the Nigerian Society. Igbekele Tope, is an orphan but a dynamic young man with great insight about the economy of Nigeria and the international community.
I was born on the 14th of January, 1982 meeting three siblings. I lost my mother who died mysteriously when I was just two years old. Shortly after, we all moved into our mother half-sister’s home who took care of us even though it was very rough at that time because I never set my eyes on my father till his death. Since then I have been an orphan.
Living with my aunty, I needed to fend for myself and had to resort to going back to the village to do several things in order to prepare for the next school year. I recall I started making ‘garri’ for sale when I was just ten years old. I learnt how to pick palm kernel nuts from farms, then crack them which I sold so as to survive. As a matter of fact, I acquired a lot of survival skills. I suddenly became a young entrepreneur.
My primary and secondary school education were done in Lagos. Getting out of Secondary School, my results were withheld so I had to reseat my papers at another school. In the course of my preparation to reseat the exams, I had to pick up several menial jobs in order to pay my bills. I taught at a college and offered even private home coaching.
After I repeated the exams I started work at a cyber café where I served as the manager.Gaining admission into the University became my biggest challenge as I wanted to study medicine to be a gynecologist.
I passed my examinations and thereafter I eventually gained admission into Lagos State University where I bagged a second class upper degree in Biochemistry after eight years of incessant Labour strikes which interrupted the academic calendar. Presently, I am studying International Management for my masters at the University of London (distance learning).
Working with several Non-governmental organizations still left a lacuna that bothered me until after my encounter with a clergy who implored us to pray to become a nation’s solution. After this meeting, I had some quiet time for days reflecting and seeking for ways on how Nigeria can be revolutionized.
The answer came when I watched a TV programme wherein the speaker provided answers to several socio economic questions from various students. It suddenly dawned on me that the solution in bringing about this transformation lies in the involvement of young people in the economic polity.
I realized that many young people were disinterested in the economy of the state.This gave birth to Student’s Economic Forum (SEF) on September 7, 2009 aimed at creating platforms that will build active youth participation in policy formulation and decision making as it affects the economy.
We believe that the youths are the oil of motion and their early involvement, will allow them to use the zeal towards the development of the
Passion in action
On the 27th of January, 2009, Lagos State University, Ojo, Campus hosted our first programme sponsored by First BankPlc, tagged“The role of Nigerian students in the development of the economy”.
The event had in attendance selected student delegates from all higher institutions of learning in Lagos and distinguished personalities such as Celine E. Loader (Former Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications First Bank Nig. Plc.) and Prof. IyaboOlojede (Dean, Faculty of Management Science, LASU) amongst others.
Again, on the 14th-16th of April, 2010 in the University of Lagos main auditorium the organization held her maiden national programme tagged “Repositioning the Nigerian Youth for National development”. It had in attendance students from tertiary institutions across the country.
Also, on the 21st of July, 2010, we decided to organize a programme for the community as a way of giving back to the society. It was tagged “Corporate Management strategy”. It was a compulsory task for every employee to participate in carrying out the vision of SEF.
To this effect, several places were visited such as Campus Fellowships, Churches and Mosques and Schools and so on were visited in order to enlighten the youths more about their roles as major assets in economic development. November 29th and 30th, 2010 witnessed the Ogun State Programme.
Our 2nd National Students Economic Forum took placed on the 4th to 7th of April 2011, at Benson Idahosa University. We had four main highlights; Meeting with great minds, Round table Talk, Students committee meeting and Students Panel. The theme for this year was “Improve the state of Nigeria: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild and Rebranding of the youth”.
I believe in change and the change we need in Nigeria is inside of us, waiting to be delivered. I want to see in my life time an economic revolution in Nigeria. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: