By Victor Gotevbe
Abiodun Dominic Odunuga is a development consultant, a public speaker and an International Youth Ambassador for Peace. His interest spans across Youth and Sustainable Development. His involvement in developmental issues has made tremendous impacts beyond the shores of Africa.
He is the project manager for iBreathe, an organization based in Lagos with a branch in the United States set out to empower youths with platforms for development beyond academic degrees. He also serves as the project manager of Youth Vision Alliance. He is a member and a representative of some leading world organizations such as 350, Earth Charter Institute etc. Recently, he told Youthful Vibes about his expertise and motivation. Excerpts:
Early life and Career
I must remain grateful to God for being born into a wonderful family. Growing up for me was challenging and fun. I attended Rita Titi Lakanu Memorial School (RITOL), Lagos for my nursery and primary school education where I was the Head Boy of my set. (1997).
I moved on from there to Government College Ibadan (GCI) for my secondary school education. I was Library Prefect of my set (2003).I emerged best student in Industrial Physics, and overall best student in the Department of Physics (2010)at Covenant University. I am a member of Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), Associate Member of the Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria (ISMN)and Alumnus of Daystar Leadership Academy.
Motivation for Developmental issues
I am passionate about Sustainable Development (Economic, Social and Environmental). However, I am bothered that critical mass (youths) with the largest percentage of our population is marginalized. I have empathy for the millions of young people who grope on the streets in a nation full of so much potentials and resources. I can’t really place my finger on what exactly aroused my interest in Youth Development especially.
Perhaps, the report of the British Council that predicts “doom” for Nigeria if the government does not maximize the 60% youthful population by the year 2020. Or could it be the tears of fellow corps members who were terrified about “a bleak future” in a country like ours during my National Youth Service Corps?
In June 2012, I was privileged to participate as a Nigeria Representative and delegate in what has been said to be the biggest United Nations Conference in history (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I engaged with world leaders, stakeholders and youth delegates around the world to defend and chart the future of the world regarding Sustainable Development across sectors such as education, health, environment and renewable energy. That exposure has also strengthen my motivation to do some more work. I would still say there are a couple of other motivating factors which I am sure will settle what the real motivation in no distant time.
My present work.
Currently, I am working on an event to commemorate the Commonwealth Youth Week coming up on November 4 to November 10, 2013. It is a conference that would bring youths together from different background with consultants, human development professionals and variety of youth workers. The theme of the event is:“Building Skills for Employability”.
As a speaker at the last Commonwealth Conference on “Education and Training of Youth Workers’ held in Pretoria, South Africa, I believe demand is placed on me to go beyond paper presentation by also joining in to commemorate this laudable initiative of The Commonwealth. The aim of the conference will be to highlight the role of youth work in national development with emphasis on job creation, entrepreneurship, employability and productivity to be held in Lagos, Nigeria. The event will have a press briefing integrated within it to reiterate the role of Youth Workers and amplify the great effort they play as far as development is concerned and it has been slated for November 9, 2013.
My Role Models
I have lots of role models from different fields. They all inspire me differently. In no particular order, some of them are: Jeffery Sachs, Koffi Anan, Frank Nweke Jnr. , Pat Utomi, Hakeem Ogunniran, Sola Oladele, Victor Adeyemi, Oby Ezekwesili, David Oyedepo, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Leke Alder, Fela Durotoye and Tayo Olosunde.
Impact of my work
I am also involved with series of platforms that develop youth. Aside Advocacy and training in the area of environmental sustainability and capacity development, one major one is in the area of Social Entrepreneurship. My team and I have been creating pedestal for youths to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship within them and also helping them in areas of funding and mentorship to ensure sustainability in their ventures. This is our own practical way to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. We have youths who have moved from being job-seekers to job-creators.
Advice to other youths
Focus on the goals you want to achieve. You will succeed. We are born to make a difference. See you at the top!
YOUNG NIGERIANS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
Vweta Ariemugbovbe Edo State
Vweta Ariemugbovbe is a Disability, Girls and Women Rights Advocate. She graduated with a distinction from the diploma in social work programme from the University of Benin in 2009. She is currently in my 300Level , studying Peace and Conflict resolution at the National Open University of Nigeria.
Upon graduating from secondary school in 2003, she became very ill, making it impossible for her to pursue her university education until 2007. Subsequent surgeries in Nigeria left her unable to speak audibly for four years. The challenges she had as a young girl unable to speak in an environment that was very hostile redefined her purpose and life’s direction.
She has been volunteering for social change projects for several years. Since 2004 till date, she has worked voluntarily with women living with protracted illnesses and who have had life altering surgeries. Also, with women living with HIV, orphans and vulnerable children.
Vweta is a Peer Educator for the Illegal Migration Awareness Project (IMAP) and Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), an ongoing project of an NGO called Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA). (2012-Date). She also leads a Psychological Group, which explores the psychological effect of violence and being an illegal immigrant.
In 2012, She initiated the Empowering Women of the Future Project, a women value re-orientation program designed to help teenage women living in underserved communities harness and hone their abilities and capabilities, thereby reducing gender-inequality, gender based violence and abuse, financial and economic dependence, illiteracy and teenage pregnancy, while promoting girl-child education and her sexual reproductive health and right. This project is ongoing in Ajegunle, Ikorodu, Lagos State.
In February 2013, she was accepted into the prestigious Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative. Her team is working on the promotion of the rights and civil liberties for marginalized populations using social media. Last June, she was accepted as a correspondent for the Voices of Our Future Program. Nearly 600 women from 96 countries applied, only 30 of them were selected for this year’s programme.