Thursday, December 27, 2012

Between Job Seekers and Loan Seekers

I was a quiet spectator of an open debate between two young men at the Pan-African University’s cafeteria one Wednesday afternoon during lunch break at the School of Media and Communication and I found out that in setting career targets, there are two major categories to which Nigerian youths can be classified.

The details of their debates I find hard to fully recollect, as they do not really matter to us right now as much as the image of the characters involved and the impression I got of each of them.
I saw two different people that disagreed on almost everything, two people that could not understand why the other believed what he believed, two people irritated by each other. They remained polite as they tried to outdo each other and win the argument but I really felt the argument should have been over a long time before it did because I was able to quickly see that there was no way either of these guys would admit anything. Though they were both young graduates with some confidence about their future plans, they were two different people with totally different approaches to life.

One was a young graduate who had been seeking a job and spent the past years of his life studying  job interviews questions, writing and rewriting his CV at the discovery of every new style with which CVs are written anywhere in the world, someone who had prepared himself for the challenge of convincing any CEO or Human Resource manager how productive he can be if employed, he had mastered all the theories of how to get a dream job. The other was also a young graduate but one who had spent the past years of his life studying the problem solving concepts for successful business, someone who writes and rewrites proposals and business ideas fantasizing about “that big break”, someone ready to prove what he can do here and now, he had mastered all the principles hidden in the autobiographies of the world’s most successful men.

The first guy knows how to sit, talk, smile and even how not to smile during an executive management meeting though never had the opportunity to be part of one, and the other guy knows how to get senior management executives off their seats with his personality. Our first guy comes across as the collector of vacancy announcing newspapers, magazines and websites while the other one seemed to be more of a collector of self help books and publications.

Neither of them is yet to live the dream, the first guy is yet to land that dream job and the second is yet to hit the big break we all dream about. My question to you; who has the better chances between them? Well, if it were in the developed countries my answer would have been delivered with so much enthusiasm but in a Nigeria where some people value certification more than knowledge, I am sadly made to suppress my confidence.

A country that places the University degree above the Polytechnic HND even if the HND holder has more practical competence, the country where the NYSC certificate is the major prerequisite for landing a job and it doesn’t matter if that young man that studied through a part time degree is smarter with more to offer. The same place where a potential mother-in-law would prefer to be told you work in an oil company or even some state ministry of Transport than to be told you run your own business, especially when there are no signs that the business is already paying bills. Even the lady you want to marry prefers your shirt and tie with the guaranteed monthly pay that fills her table right now rather than standing by you bearing a little sacrifice while you achieve your dreams. A country where telling your parents you plan to resign from a job and focus on personal business is like suicide to them, why? To the old folks, an ideal guaranteed future is working 35 years, retiring someday and collecting pension till you die!

At the end of the day we have a society that insists on building in us youths the “give them what they want and get the job”, “do what is expected and be accepted” or “just pay my bills” mentality without any consideration for independent creativity, productivity and vision for entrepreneurship. Yes, I strongly agree that some things must change in many African countries for us to be able to handle the entrepreneurial challenges we face every day as young people, from access to funds, patent and copyright issues, power, nepotism…etc, but we cannot wait for these before we find our joy in life. I found out that if one has a real dream and cannot identify challenges against his dream, he is probably just day-dreaming.

Trust me guys, I know about that post graduation feeling of uncertainty, anxiety, and in some cases anti-climax. I also asked those questions - what’s next? And mine was just few years ago! And if I am happy to share thoughts about these issues then it’s not as difficult as it seems. I expect you to either leave here as a millionaire or as a millionaire waiting to happen. I am the latter.
All said, either as a job seeker or loan seeker, I am still sure continuous self development is never a bad way to build and prepare yourself for a dream future especially through professional education, skill acquisition, research and very importantly, positive mentoring. This was the only way I think the two young men agreed, though they both failed to acknowledge this in the course of their argument, perhaps they did not realize that being participants of the same program meant they still had something in common. But then like I said earlier, “there was no way either of these guys would admit anything” to each other and it would make no sense trying to make them do so. Whose opinion I share is obvious now but it makes more sense to simply say good luck my friends!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Fight Back At Atlanta - Director's Note

As a young Nigerian, sometime in 2009 I published an article about some of the heartbreaks we have experienced in our football as a nation, the article expectedly generated a lot of debate and as I engaged many of my readers, I discovered how much Nigerians yearn for more of such glorious moments in our past which made us proud to be Nigerians. I wished I could help them.

Then in 2010, the urge to encourage Nigerians to enjoy the World Cup in South-Africa irrespective of the results made me write about our joyous soccer moments and how much of heroes our footballers remain. Readers spoke endlessly about my record of Atlanta 96 and the night we beat Brazil with fond memories. However as the good went on I had others that felt nothing good has ever come out of Nigeria or Nigerian football and our sports generally. Some of these sad displays of amnesia and myopic sentiment had gone on for too long. I wished I could remind them.

My motivation are numerous but the emotions that come with every discussion about Atlanta 96 and the legendary Dream Team was the main inspiration I needed to make this film about the tournament and the great fight backs and that unforgettable Nigeria versus Brazil match. I am still not happy that I lack the talent to play football, so I am glad doing this riding on my special love for the game. Realizing that London 2012 makes the Olympics that gave us such moment 60 years in Nigeria became the final proof that this was the right time for a film on Nigeria's Olympic history, hence the celebration of Nigerian Olympians irrespective of the sport in which they participated.
I reckon that digging from the past helps one to build strength for the future and there is no better way to do this than true stories of our lives and the people we know. I have the passion to tell a story that will encourage you that life, like the spirit of the Olympics is not over until it is over. Perhaps you watched Chioma Ajunwa’s long jump victory, or if you are one of us that sat through the 94 minutes and cried along with Dosu Joseph that night after Kanu’s golden goal against Brazil, if you do not shed those tears again, you will wish we were all young again to relive the moment, but if you are under 15 years of age, this will make you wish you were born before 1996.

A young teenager once argued that the late king of pop Michael Jackson was white and he stuck to his pitiable ignorance. I knew the young man only needed to see just one of the many biographic documentaries about MJ to be educated that the legend was a black man like him, but what happens to the many heroes of Africa whose lives and proofs of greatness are hardly documented?

This is a deliberate blend of inspiration, education, tears and laughter for a 100% entertaining package – a true worth of your time and money. My joy is that you will believe more in yourself after watching it and your word of “thank you” will go to the great Nigerian Olympians of yesteryears and the heroes of Atlanta ’96 - our best moment till date.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Dear Mr. President,

I believe you must be embarrassed by the reactions trailing your renaming of the prestigious University of Lagos to now bear Moshood Abiola University Lagos in honour of the late Chief MKO Abiola. As a youth that witnessed the late Bashorun's struggles, I feel more embarrassed than I could ever have imagined but then, my embarrassment is based on the fact that MKO seems to have been given an honor whose impact does not quite do justice to the values he died for.

While there have been a lot of criticisms, I expect our arguments to be that MKO represents our democracy as a whole and not so much of our education sector like a Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka or an Obafemi Awolowo that stood for 'free education' and is the reason many of our parents, uncles and aunts today have formal education. Therefore, a symbolic brand, prestigious and more synonymous to our democratic history as a country could have been chosen for MKO.

I remember MKO in 1993 won what has been adjudged the first ever and till date the only free and fair presidential election in Nigeria. Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion massively voted him and his running mate both muslims to make history. The story of how his victory was annulled, how he was arrested, how his wife Kudirat that led the struggle for his freedom and mandate was assassinated under the then military governments is well known. A year after he also died in detention and presidency was seeded to the South-West Nigeria, home of the Yoruba tribe which MKO belonged to and retired army General Olusegun Obasanjo was voted president, the call for MKO’s immortalization started with the feeling of liberty that Nigeria have finally come off military rule.

For the 13 years we have remained in democratic leadership thanks to the general feeling of the need to right the injustice done to MKO and the Yoruba tribe, past leaders have failed to immortalize MKO for his martyrdom for our democracy so your decision to finally do this now should be highly commended. Sincerely it should be, except we want to be hypocritical, but what we have now is not quite what anyone could have expected.

MKO was known as the 'pillar of sports' in his lifetime; maybe a sports structure would have been more befitting for him but then we have Moshood Abiola Stadium in Ogun State already and if it has to be education, we also already have Moshood Abiola Polytchnic in Ogun State. You will be right to say MAPOLY is not a federal institution but then making us have two tertiary institutions a few kilometers apart named after same man seems awkward. Whether UNILAG was as prominent as the likes of UI and OAU among the schools that led the June 12 struggle is an issue for another forum.

UNILAG is a good brand at least in Nigeria and there are some values you do not want to lose especially when it comes to one’s Alma Mata. I can identify with this because some certificates should be easily identifiable globally no matter how old or new they are but it was with pain that I watched some ignorant UNILAG students that cannot even spell right on their placards talking down on Bashorun MKO Abiola with words like "a whole us, named Moshood Abiola". As a youth I do not blame them, if only they knew better or were made to. Most of them were toddlers during the June 12 struggle.

That said, Obafemi Awolowo University was once University of Ife but was renamed in 1987 after the great Papa Awo's passing on and I do not think there was this kind of opposition to it despite Great Ife's place among schools in Africa. So this is a sign that something must be wrong somewhere; the most obvious being that when we leave a good act undone for too long, it loses its values. Only few UNILAG students would have frowned at this if it was done in 1999.

I do not have a degree in Political Science, I am not an expert political analyst and of course I'm not old enough to tell Nigeria's history from scratch, I'm just another young Nigerian trying hard to think right. I am not sure the Federal Government will be willing to name Eagles' Square Abuja after MKO but I feel it is not a bad choice. With a few more thoughts, I am wondering just like the Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos, what about the National Theatre Lagos? If it has to be education, why not rename Nigeria's National Library? Or is there a constitutional barrier to the National Open University being named after an icon like Chief MKO Abiola?

Mr. President, you said in that same broadcast on May 29th 2012 that a new national museum is to be built in Abuja to preserve the history of our country, can we not have that foundation laid from the onset as a dedication to him and be called The Moshood Abiola Museum? Or why not rename our Abuja National Stadium after the late pillar of sports? This will even emphasize the fact that he was not just a south-west hero but indeed a national hero whose name transcends tribe and religion.

Perhaps I am wrong about all these structures I have suggested, perhaps there are more to these executive decisions than a young man like me would ever know, perhaps your decision is actually the best if only the UNILAG community comprising of the school senate, students and staff was carried along in the decision making, perhaps I am just expressing myopic sentiments with everything. I know it may be ambitious to think the decision will be reversed but then, someone should please educate me and millions of Nigerians on the rationale behind the decision to turn UNILAG to MAULAG. I write with the belief that you did not make the decision alone.

While we expect action on life threatening issues like security, power and corruption which to me will be the truest honour and immortalization for MKO and all the lives lost in Nigeria's journey to democracy, I hope the UNILAG...sorry MAULAG students will learn to live with the new nomenclature and avoid doing anything stupid for the sake of our peace. I also hope their feelings would be understood and respected, and they will be pacified rather than coerced. We have seen enough tears and blood already.

Nigeria is now or never, we either love it or lose it for ever
Nigeria is now or never, I’ll rather win it and keep it for good

May the soul of Chief MKO Abiola continue to find rest.

Yours Truly

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

OPEN LETTER TO MRS SARAH JUBRIL (Senior Special Adviser to the president on Ethics and Values)

Dear Madam,

It is with great sense of responsibility and all humility that I write this letter to you, and I hope it meets you well even in the midst of all the challenges we face at this moment in the history of our beloved country.

I wish to state here that as a young Nigerian, I admire your personality. I consider you the definition of tenacity of purpose. Irrespective of how your attempts have turned out, to be the first and only serious female presidential candidate in a male dominated country like Nigeria says a lot about your attitude to life.

However, this letter is a product of months of thoughts and counter-thoughts about the country, our leadership and our people; a system in which you have been a relatively dominant player considering that you have vied for the presidency a record four times since 1991 when you sought the ticket of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP)! What that means to me is that I have seen you as part of my adult life 3 times since you have been asking for my vote since 1999 but then I ask myself, do you think of me and my problems as a young Nigerian when you’re not out trying to be president? Do my plights ever cross your mind?

The beginning of this year was filled with anxiety. I watched as the fuel subsidy removal subject degenerated from being a regular national issue into a major crisis for all of us and saw many Nigerians give different analysis of the situation. Information and opinion leaders from different sectors and different geo political zones of our country have shared their views; blunt, candid, diplomatic and some biased all for our “benefit”. Using different platforms from the traditional media to the now highly potent social media, Nigerians have been educated, pacified, angered and mobilized to fight depending on which side you’re on. All through it, I waited for that motherly voice that represents the influence and significance of our women and our mothers to make a statement to help the situation but heard none.

I remember with sad memories, April 2011. With tears in my eyes, watching the news channel Aljazeera, I saw images of the dead bodies of National Youths Service Corp members that were killed in the post election crisis in Kano and other northern states. It was with more pain that I listened to a live telephone interview with the CPC presidential candidate Gen Muhamadu Buhari in which he avoided making any statement to call the angry rioters to order for the sake of saving the lives of innocent youths whom he aspired to lead and who supported him massively down south from being butchered.

Traumatized mothers cried from all over the country for something to be done to stop the killing of my fellow young people but your voice I found missing. Maybe I was missing something or you used one of those media we all don’t follow but then I asked myself if you were not the one that seemed to represent the Nigerian women or that seemed to fight for the women’s place in Nigerian politics a few months earlier leading to that election. I just did not understand why you didn’t find that situation to be one you should take upon yourself to be fully involved as a mother. Then I ask these questions:

Why do you seem to wait until you need us before you start to take a major visible stand on issues that affect our lives?
Have you imagined how it feels when the next election comes and your names surface again vying to be the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Don’t you think I feel taken for granted when you re-emerge from years of silence asking me to vote for change and give the woman a chance?

I have read some of your past comments on the Boko Haram bombings but coming back to the latest crisis on the Fuel Subsidy removal, I wish to say sincerely that the side of the divide you belong really would not have been a problem to me and many Nigerians as I do not expect you to be against the current PDP led government since you work for them (or with them) even if your conscience was with the people. Suffice to say the Nigerians of today view things beyond political parties but then, as Senior Special Adviser to the president on Ethics and Values, I’m sure you know what Nigerians fought for was actually not just about the fuel subsidy removal but corruption - the degeneration of ethics and values in governance? All through the January ‘Occupy Nigeria’ shutdown I kept wondering if your office really has an influence on governance? Do you really talk to the president to listen to Nigerians?

In one of your very few interviews you stated that the “one vote” you recorded in the PDP primaries in 2011 will continue to haunt Nigerian women, as published by This Day Newspapers you said “That vote was of me, by me and for me. That vote has been seriously pricking the conscience of women, Nigerians, PDP Board of Trustees and the political class. I thank God for not allowing any other vote to cause confusion. I sympathize with the ignorance of the women which is till now affecting the conscience of women in Nigeria. Why are the womenfolk trying to use the media to call me serial contestant sarcastically? I have forgiven them. The political class should stop hijacking the conscience of Nigerian women who constitute the engine of the nation.” Very well said ma, but in addition, maybe the women need to offer more than rallying during elections and consider standing up for issues that matter when the elections are over.

Looking at the qualifications of past Nigerian presidents and yours as a successful educationist and entrepreneur, I believe you have the rights to lay claims to that position as your suitability for the top job cannot be doubted just as I believe there are also many capable women in Nigeria today who can do the job; and whether they admit it or not you have given us a reason to believe that the special moment may come in Nigeria someday for a female President to lead us.

Madam, whether you’re part of this government or not, whether you’re for subsidy removal or not, whether your opinion will be popular or not, I believe your point of view being heard on these major issues will make me believe more that your quests to lead Nigeria are borne out of genuine love for our land. Tell Nigerians how sensitive you are to their plights, tell them how much you believe in their rights to make demands of a government they voted, tell them you know they have the rights to protest. Tell us as a mother why you feel we should try to stay alive in the midst of this protests, tell us how you feel pained by the deaths of the young men from the days of protests, identify with our mothers that call us every morning to say “please stay at home my son”. Then can you ask us to listen to your side of the story.

I believe this is a letter to a true African mother and not to another stranger that claims to know my economy more than I do and wants to confuse me with jargons of macro-economics with little or no regards for my role in driving the micro-economic engine that sustains Nigeria. I believe in Nigeria and will stay here to fix it.

Thanks for your time ma.

Yours Truly,

Keni Akintoye

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year 2010 - My Figurine that never showed

I do not hide my love for well made Nigerian movies, Nollywood or regional, especially some wise unexaggerated stories of the Yoruba movie makers. That said, it has therefore been a painful tale of missed opportunities for me to see the movie “Figurine” during its premiere and subsequent showing at the cinemas. With the usual Lagos traffic and hustle, what you get is finding yourself at the cinema somehow and watching whichever movie was available, but with the nice comments drawn by the movie from some antagonistic critics of Nigerian movies, I knew I really wanted to see the movie. So I guess you should understand the excitement when I saw the promo on HITV that Figurine was showing in Ibadan on the 1st of January 2010. Despite being the first time ever I would voluntarily go out daringly to publicly see a movie in Ibadan, it was a decision instantly and effortlessly made with my twin brother in unison. It had to be Figurine!

We got to the venue quite well on time for the 3pm showing, and Ife my lovely friend with whom I planned to share the evening got there a few seconds before us, Deji, our friend on our invitation also drove in with his date obviously looking forward to the unique feeling of giving her that unusual native treat but I knew something was wrong from the car park that surprisingly had only our cars, no event was going on obviously and so ridiculous was it that there was no official correspondence to let us know why the whole place looked like a cemetery, all we had were the security guys speculating that the show was to hold somewhere else in “Jericho”! We tarried a while to see if it was just another case of African time but the only shows we saw were the few lucky road side chickens in a loud praise and worship session to their creator for making them escape death for the season and of course the few families driving in and out of the event center disappointed! No show, simple.

It felt bad that we had invited others to be part of this, for we would have quietly accepted the disappointment without wahala if it was only TY and I, but then, standing under that scorching January sun was definitely not the kind of treat we set out for. You know disappointments are easier to deal with when you have no one to blame but yourself; we went straight up to chill at a popular bar not far away, ordered for some drinks, thank God they were cold, then for some barbeque, only to be told that the kitchen was closed till 5pm! Thinking of the plenty “come-chop” (buffet) invites we ignored to watch the “feem”, I was irritated but then on a day like that, only few businesses run fully.

We should have known…
We saw our first warning, looking back critically at the production of that promo on Hi Nolly, the voice over seemed to seize after the details of the Lagos shows were well spelt out while the Ibadan and Akure shows and venues were merely added by graphics. That can only mean one thing; neither Ibadan nor Akure was part of the plan initially, they were obvious after thoughts and good organizing was not guaranteed. This is Naija and that should be the sane assumption, Tywo also drew my attention to the omission of a gate fee in the graphics for the Ibadan shows! This too can only mean Ibadan hasn’t been planned for and as a matter of fact it is a more unpardonable error to ignore such omission. I felt so too but then looking at the advertised venue – a ready made event centre at Idi-ape, one would expect that putting up a film show shouldn’t be too difficult there. Our “smart” heads decided to be optimistic and waited for another slot of the promo, in which we saw that the two shows in Lagos were 5oo and 1000 naira, this meant the Ibadan shows couldn’t have been more than 1000 box. “Patapata 1k”, good enough!

We had the third chance to change plans while talking to Ife a day before the show, I found out she had seen the promo and was nursing the idea of watching it too and so I suggested we go see the movie together, her’s was a straight yes and Tywo’s was like “waoh! That’ll be cool”. We had not seen in a while and that seemed like a good way to start the catch up. She really liked the idea but not without pointing out the flaws in the promo, she is just too smart not to notice all these details. Again I waved it aside. I really wanted that time out on New Year’s Day, maybe I should have listened to her alternative plan. Unpardonable error!

Listen listen listen!!!
Meanwhile, earlier that morning on New Year’s Day, while getting ready for the day, Tywo was on the phone with a friend and old classmate who works in Ibadan. He asked what the plan was for the day and Tywo shamelessly said “we’re going to see a movie”
Deji asked “haha? Cinema don dey Ibadan?”
“No, na for Idi-Ape civic center dem dey show am” Tywo replied.
“Guy! dat one no be movie jare, na feem show una dey go”
“Na you sabi, just come make we hang out, you know that Kunle Afolayan new movie? Na him now...”
“But which kind cinema be that? No be cloth dem dey tie? Popcorn no go dey, na soso pikins, noise go plenty, light fit dey even enter person eye like those “Jesus of Nazareth” crusade wey dem dey do those days sef!”
Deji went on and on but trust my brother, he succeeded in convincing him, plus Deji himself didn’t mind seeing the movie too having heard a lot about it and truly, this was an alternative kind of fun for him. Maybe we should have listened to his initial bad mouthing, oh! Figurine…

He said enough with his Ibadan mouth to make us change plans but I must say curiosity more than anything else was responsible for our doggedness and now looking at how it all played out, we took for granted and fumbled big time! This isn’t Lagos meeen!

If only!
Come to think of it, could this have happened if there were the ready made structures for an evening like this in Ibadan? As far as I am concerned, the whole mess has nothing to do with the organizers of the “feem show” and most definitely not with Kunle Afolayan the director. If only Ibadan had a decent cinema like the Genesis deluxe or the Silverbird cinemas? If only we had something like those halls at the MUSON centre used to stage dramas, if only just one of the many classy Ibadan night club owners can think of the prospects of building a cinema in Bodija, if only one of the many people here running after broadcast license for TV and radio stations can plough their resources into having a cinema in Ibadan, if only the Scala cinema, Queen cinema, Baba sala cinema… that ruled the south-west back in the days were repackaged to still exist and function, if only the Silverbird group saw the economic vibrancy of Ibadan, if only you all know the prospects of the closest city to Lagos in distance and metropolitan features, if only I was Oyo state governor, if only I had the money and power, if only I was Harry Akande, if only… perhaps people won’t have to be moving into Lagos in thousands, perhaps some of these “life threatening” Lagos traffic would have spilled over the more into Ibadan!

…and back to my story
An entertainer has to learn how to entertain himself for once, at least in preparation for days like this right? And that we did. We ended up having great fun in one another’s company, I found out about the crazy movie titled “Hangover” and later in the evening we were able to honor one of our numerous come-chops which also turned out so very nice with a lot of jibes, backslapping and those never boring relationship jokes, but then Ife had to leave us to take care of other business but trust me, we saw a day after and really had a better time to catch up. The evening turned out to be an experiment that paid off in an unbelievable way. By the way, Hangover is a Hollywood movie, not Nollywood and thank God I only needed my flash drive to enjoy it, thanks to Ife. As for Figurine, my time will come; this is still January 2010 and I’m just waiting for Mr Kunle Afolayan to tell when the movie is going on DVD. Sir K, over to you, holla at your boy!

You may like to see the movie trailer, check out

Happy New Year ladies and gentlemen.