Mrs. Oluseyi Ifaturoti, former Managing Director of Crystalife Assurance Limited is the Promoter, Steps to Greatness Foundation. She speaks on what the foundation is out to achieve and other issues. Excerpt.
By ROSEMARY ONUOHA
How did Steps to Greatness Foundation come about?
The Steps to Greatness Foundation was registered in October, 2013. I realised that registering a foundation was more tedious than a company. The process took a while because they did their checks, we published the name of the foundation in the newspapers, as well as the names of the chairman, members, for them to verify and they leave it for a period of time to see if anybody will come forward and lay claim to the name, before they finally approved. But we thank God we eventually got it and started working with the youth.
We have a family standard of transparency, integrity and not a life of corruption. We realized that there is so much moral decay in the system, so, we were prompted to come up with the Steps to Greatness Foundation.
A major area of prompt for starting this foundation was during the time that I was the President of the Professional Insurance Ladies Association, (PILA). We had this seminar where Prof. Grace Alele-Williams came and said that she was giving us a responsibility. She said that there was so much moral decay in the system, and was not happy seeing girls who are supposed to be university students on the street. She gave us the charge saying, although she is old and there is not much she can do now, we should go ahead and fight the decay in the system. That is the background into steps to greatness foundation.
What is the foundation out to achieve?
The Foundation is out to empower youth because if you are saying to them, ‘don’t do corruption, don’t do this or that’, you need to empower them, mentor them, role model them, inculcate in them the right attitude and ethics so that they begin to see things the right way. When they see role models of people in this country that have not stolen, abused office and have succeeded in their line of businesses, they get motivated.
When they see people who have attained greatness out of excellent values, not people who have attained greatness based on doing the wrong things, they get motivated. Not people who made money out of stolen goods, illegal means, abuse of office, abuse of the finances in their offices, beating the process, beating the system and all of that. We are saying that there can still be people, who either professionals or trade people, carpenters, mechanics, when they do it well, they still have the future, opportunity to be great.
Do you have specific targets?
Whatever one is doing, one has to start from somewhere. Some of the things that were overwhelming each time we taught about the foundation kept on looking bigger but the journey of a thousand miles start with one step. We have started talking to schools, interacting with schools and asking for audience. A lot of schools are partnering with us. We have sessions with these children; we have seminars with them about leadership. Some of these children that we are still talking to quite a number of them are ‘privileged,’ but we know that they are the ones that are even not privileged.
The whole idea is to create forums at different sections of Lagos. We can take this part of Lagos now, another time, we take the mainland, and we take them like that and begin to reach out to them. We are calling for youth to join us to answer questions about their age, level of education and where they are now. For those that have finished education, their background, what challenges they are having, what do they aspire to be. The whole idea is that when we aggregate all of this information, immediately we create a data.
What category of youth are you focusing on?
Nigeria defines a youth to be someone below the age of 40 years. So anyone who falls within that capacity and is having issues falls into the category of youth, but how do you bunch them together? That is why the issue of schools comes in. Everybody knows what internet is now, even the less privileged. So we are using the internet to reach out to everybody. As many as they are that call themselves youth is free to access our website, www.stepstogreatnessfoundation.com.
Our foundation is not just about a youth being less privileged, there is also the issue of corruption, moral decadence within the system, the issue of sexuality, so there are so many issues that have to do with ethics of a youth. It is a total thing. We will be having seminars in various sectors. But first, we must have a means of having data, which is why our website is supposed to help us pull as many of them as possible. Youths are getting more aware of their rights and their future.
The reason we are starting from Lekki area is because some of their parents are very corrupt. Some of them believe that you can only live a corrupt life. And if these are the ones going to lead us tomorrow, we should not let them continue with such ideas in their minds. So that is the whole idea of beginning to re-orientate them, disabuse their minds of some of these issues. Somebody’s mother became a judge, she said that she is happy and excited that her mother is a judge because her mother will be richer as people will give her more bribe.
Do you have plans for single parents?
We didn’t put that into package. But one of the things we mentioned is that some of them that got derailed along the line should be allowed to fall back in. Our objectives talks about those of them that are dropouts and how to help them fall back in line. The thing is that we don’t have all the answers here, but when we gather them, we will be able to interface with people who are already set up to render such services. We have a bunch of data about people who are on the streets and are willing to get back on line. Some women that are dropouts are the ones who end-up with prostitution. Some of these young girls that got into prostitution say it is because they didn’t have opportunity to go to school, they have a thousand and one reasons, but those reasons are not enough to justify them being there.
Any plans to set up small businesses for the less privileged that might need it?
We know that some of them will learn trades and these are areas where we will gather data. There are series of empowerment programmes which government tends to be promoting. Sometimes government is just paying lip service with these programmes. But we have people here that need those things. If you really say you are, then we are a foundation, non governmental, non partisan, non political, non religious, we are just here to make sure that these youth have something to hold on.
These youth have a future in the scheme of things. If Nigeria is set for greatness, we should begin to set our youth in the right path where they can benefit and if you look at the demography of this nation, a bigger percentage falls within the lower age and it means that we are fresh. This is unlike in some European countries they have more of the population in the older generation because they are not giving birth to children the way we are.