#IMP May: “I am Not An Activist” – J. J. Omojuwa

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    Japheth Omojuwa, Alpha Reach

    IMP – IMPERIAL MEISTER PRINCE/PRINCESS – is one of the highest forms of eulogy/recognition conveyed by Meister Republic.

    It is borne out of sheer respect, appreciation and admiration for the person (their personality and craft) headlining at the time.

    #IMP is designed for a select category of young men and women who are distinctively good-looking and are actively contributing to the development of their immediate community either through their handiwork or other worthwhile endeavour. In short, #IMP seeks to honour youths with beauty & brains.

    Checkout out our #IMP, May Issue;

    Japheth Omojuwa, FUNAAB

    The variety of evolving stand-alone and built-in social media services introduces a challenge of definition. The idea that social media are defined by their ability to bring people together has been seen as too broad a definition, as this would suggest that the telegraph and telephone were also social media – not the technologies scholars are intending to describe. The terminology is unclear, with some referring to social media as social networks.

    Social media technologies take many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, microblogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds. The development of social media started off with simple platforms such as sixdegrees.com. Unlike instant messaging clients such as ICQ and AOL’s AIM, or chat clients like IRC, iChat or Chat Television, sixdegrees.com was the first online business that was created for real people, using their real names. However, the first social networks were short-lived because their users lost interest. The Social Network Revolution has led to the rise of the networking sites. Research shows that the audience spends 22% of their time on social networking sites, thus proving how popular social media platforms have become. This increase is because of the invent of smart phones that now characterize the daily lives of most humans.

    Before I lose you, this is not a social media briefing but an insight into a man whose exceptional use of social platforms and other diligent endeavours has placed him in company of Kings and Queens.

    Born Japheth Joshua Omojuwa on 3 October 1984 is a Nigerian blogger, public speaker, socio-economic and political commentator and social media expert. A columnist with The Punch newspaper, Leadership newspaper and Naij.com, His articles have appeared on CNN, ThisDay, Metropole Magazine, Sahara Reporters, BBC, The Financial Times  and other platforms across the continent and beyond. Some of his works have been repeatedly translated into several languages including various platforms for German, French, Portuguese and Greek audiences.

    He has been a regular guest at several conferences and symposiums.

    The leadership of the African Union invited Omojuwa in 2014 to be part of the Africa Re-imagination Creative Hub (ARCH) to fashion an agenda for Africa 2063 project. He participated as a panelist at a side event during the 2013 United Nations General Assembly in New York City where he spoke on the need to use data and facts as tools in activism and policy making.

    In 2012, YNaija named him one of the most influential young Nigerians under 35 in Business, Fashion, Media, Entertainment, Technology and Politics, with writer Ifreke Inyang describing him in particular as “king of the click.” Omojuwa was named by Credit Suisse Bulletin as one of the 50 Movers and Shakers of Africa in 2015.  In June 2016, Omojuwa was named the Best Twitter Personality Of The Year in the annual African Bloggers Awards. The 2016 African Bloggers Awards were sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    In August 2016, Omojuwa successfully completed the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) in the United States. The International Visitors Leadership Programme, which started in 1940, is a professional exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and boasts of 35 current and 300 former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government as alumni.

    In August 2016, global Cognac brand Rémy Martin unveiled Omojuwa as a brand influencer for its One Life/Live Them campaign in Nigeria in recognition of his status as a public speaker, political expert, ideologist and strategic mastermind.

    Mr. Omojuwa is a close friend to Lagos Mainland Local Government Chairmanship aspirant, Dayo Israel and an active supporter of the #NotToYoungToRun campaign.

    Cnmeister.net caught up with Mr. Omojuwa recently at his alma mata, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Abeokuta, Ogun State where he honoured an invitation to feature on a monthly showcase of young achievers tagged “Chronicles of Legends” where he shared his story as a life and career influencer and life as a FUNAABite,

    He also received and responded generously to questions from the students and gave out several career-shaping materials.

    CnMeister: You studied Agricultural Economics and Farm Management at FUNAAB, have you ever practiced in that field?

    No, I have not. Getting a university degree for me was not because I wanted to use the certificate to make a living but because I wanted to fulfill all righteousness.

    That’s box that says this is what you should do.There is nothing wrong in operating within that box but I am not very patient with working within limitations. I am restless and was born to always do more. Studying the course has been useful in my analysis of national economic issues. It’d always be a actor in my understanding of the fact that you cannot truly be a developed nation without being food secure. Let us also not forget that nobody knows what tomorrow holds. There is still time to do something directly about agricultural economics. I haven’t even collected my certificate. Who knows maybe when I collect the certificate I’d then begin to truly see myself as one. Lol.

    CnMeisterSo I take it you’re one of those who believes that what one studies in school has absolutely nothing to do with how successful he’ll be in life.

    Yes, Yes of course. Take a case study of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma who was self-educated from a tender age after losing his Father. He has little to no formal education whatsoever but he sits as the No. 1 citizen in South Africa today

    I do not want to be misinterpreted okay, It is good to go to school and even more important to finish with great grades. I finished with a second class upper even though during my school days I was involved in a number of extra-curricular activities within and outside the state. I do not subscribe to messages that suggest that even if you graduate with a pass or third class, it does not matter. It does matter.

    It is in fact imperative for one to try his best to finish with the best grade possible so you can have an absolute influential stand point upon which to encourage and gear young minds to do better, educationally and otherwise.

    CnMeister: Brief us about the Alpha Reach

    The Alpha Reach is my umbrella company. A platform where we help turn potential to enterprise. I registered it on the 8th of August, 2008 as a student while omojuwa.com started February 2009 again as a student.

    CnMeister: With nearly half a million Twitter followers & over 22k on Instagram, how is social media paying?

    It has not been easy. We started from a point where most young people thought social media was a place for them to have fun and discuss unserious stuff often related to entertainment and their personal lives. We had to find a way to get them interested in politics and governance. We did that by getting interested in what they were ordinarily interested in, so we talked football, discussed mundane things together and shared opinions on movies, music videos and the like. We adjusted ourselves to their interests and we then added politics to it. Eventually politics became a top issue on their minds and today, it has become the norm. It was tough, it took years of strategic planning but it worked in the end. Young people helped to deliver the chance to make the change Muhammadu Buhari promised to happen. I can say social media brought about the desired change Nigerians needed.

    Overall, one needs to employ the following;

    Competence. – You have to know what you are about.

    Prescience. – You have to be
    able to look at the world and know where it is going before it gets there. Long before the Internet became a fad I recognized the fact that it’d inevitably become one.

    Persistence.- Knowing that things will not always work the first time.

    Doggedness and courage. – Life is not a plate of rice and plantain. You have to get yourself into the field
    and ball hard.

    Divinity. – There’d always be the place of the divine for those who
    recognize it.

    Ambition. – Without this there is nothing to dream to.
    Creativity. – You have to look to do new things or do old things
    differently.

    CnMeister: Has your foray into political blogging and your Twitter profile opened doors for you?

    More than doors, it has opened hearts, families and territories. I have met people willing to pay my bills in Canada. I have met teenagers and mothers in Kaduna telling me how much they appreciated what we do with social media and conventional activism. In terms of financial reward, to some extent because I am an ambassador for several brands but the real benefit has been in the opportunities and privileges to meet so many great people across so many countries. It has paid bills without a doubt. We reach millions of people every day via our social media accounts, companies want to reach this people and they trust us with the message to reach them. We reach them. The companies win, the public wins, and we win. Everybody goes home happy.

    CnMeister: Having mobilized youths to fight for their rights and change via social media, what are your expectations from the new government concerning youths?

    My expectations are like those of many Nigerians who agreed Nigeria needed change! As at July 2013, I had written about how “anyone who wants to be voted for as president in 2015 must come on the altar of change!” Change would mean going after those who have rendered our people poor and helpless from security threats and terrorism. Change would mean appointing ministers first on merit rather than paying attention to regional distribution. Change would mean managing our debts and bringing about development in the country. Many Nigerians would expect that the administration would help grow our wealth and our foreign reserve which is at its lowest in over a decade. As for young people, we will not be carried away by tokenism, we would be impressed by the government making the economy work so as to provide our people well-paying jobs and restoring the dignity of the internally displaced people in the North-east by not just helping them return home but building their villages. There is a lot to do, the administration has its work cut out but if they set out being sincere, if they set out working with the right people, if they start out understanding that the reward for being a politician is totally unacceptable in a country where poverty is the norm rather than the exception, we would have started the journey towards genuine change. That is why we supported them and that is how we will judge them.

    CnMeister: Over a decade ago, the Abacha government spoke about vision 2010, when Yar’adua came (God rest his soul), vision 2020 was introduced. What is your take on the socio-economic position of Nigeria especially with respect to the younger generation?  

    Thing is, Nigeria, as it is presently set up, has no chance of thriving. The idea of certain countries today as “emerging economies” instead of “developing countries” as it was just years ago is proof of the fact that while political realities continue to define economic realities, the outlook of countries will first be defined by their economic realities before anything else.

    “Nigeria, as it is presently set up, has no chance of surviving”

    I believe that one cannot appreciate the cost of Nigeria’s structural set-up without looking at it from the economic angle. Politics makes certain structural realities look essential but the economics of these realities reflect the bitter truth without the emotional appeal of political exigencies. A business that goes from having four executive leaders; as we had the leader of the national government and the elected Premiers of the four regions between 1960 and 1966, to now having 37 executive leaders in the President and the 36 elected governors, has no chance of thriving without a corresponding increase in its productivity. This alone would have dented an entity’s chances of profitability and survival but this was the least of the structural changes that cost our children their future. Those children are the adults who are today poorer than their parents were.

    We are that country where the system of governance more or less demands that virtually all its revenue, including borrowings be spent on running government while whatever pittance is left can be spent on building infrastructure and providing health services. Nigerians like to ask, “Where is this country going?” It may look like a tough question but it is quite easy; if Nigeria continues with its current political structure and the same type of politicians running the structure, we will have it worse in the 2030s and 2040s than we do today.

    We already know Nigeria is a tough place but we also know some young people are making the best of it. Which would you rather be? Amongst the statistics of the jobless or those making things happen? Your destiny will always be in your hands. You must pay the price today for the greatness that’d come tomorrow. The future is HERE.

    CnMeister: …and your opinion on the governmental structure till date?

    The structure is bad enough but the structure would have just been okay if we had not made a bad situation worse by mostly electing or appointing the worst of us into public offices for successive years. At the dawn of this Republic, ministers and lawmakers had houses they could move into in Abuja as soon as they were appointed. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s monetisation programme changed that. Monetisation essentially meant that the government would stop managing such properties so the government sold them at giveaway prices to the ministers occupying such buildings at that point in time. That move was meant to help reduce waste in government. Over time, as it is the case with this country, the lawmakers felt, if the ministers could get that, why not us? So they huffed, puffed and eventually got to buy their own houses. At first, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives couldn’t buy their official residences because it just could not stand to reason that the Federal Government would sell such assets. To a certain extent, it would more or less be like the government selling the Aso Rock Villa to the President. So, the Senate President and the Speaker did not get their wishes.

    This did not last for long though because in Nigeria, politicians often get their wish, irrespective of whether such wishes are in the collective interest of most Nigerians. More often than not, the interest of the nation is butchered once it clashes with the interests of certain powerful individuals. And so it happened. A certain President wanted to run for office and needed the support of his party’s big wigs. When the time came, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House amongst other requests asked the President to sell their official residences to them. The President traded these national assets for his own ambition without blinking an eye. Today, Senator David Mark lives in what was the official residence of the Senate President as built by the much battered military government and Dimeji Bankole, who didn’t even win re-election himself, owns the then official residence of the Speaker of the House. His successor, Aminu Tambuwal, had to make do with living in a rented apartment.

    The following election cycle, there were no government houses to trade so people “managed” millions of dollars as incentives to help ensure the re-election of a man who said, “my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.” As the dollar revelations continue to unravel, it appears that that ambition did not just cost Nigerians a life in 2015; generations yet unborn will pay too. And to think that this particular ambition was so expensive Nigerians refused to buy it in the end.

    That was not a one-off, today, the future of Nigerians goes into paying the salaries and allowances of 36 governors and 36 deputy governors, those governors and deputy governors have aides who have their own aides. In fact, there are some governors with aides in the thousands and several hundreds. It is easy to blame them but you only need to take another look to see that the politics of ethnicity and “na we turn” requires that you give everybody something, whether or not there is need for such offices to be created. Our 774 local government chairmen draw salaries and allowances. Their aides don’t collect sand at the end of the month. Councillors are in the thousands. Let us not forget the commissioners. As the 1999 Constitution burdens us with the need to appoint ministers from each state – irrespective of the economic sense – so do the states appoint commissioners to satisfy local yearnings for the unfortunate national cake. These commissioners have their aides. How can one even forget “the big gorilla in the room”, the National Assembly? They cost Nigerians so much, the numbers baffle them too, so they have refused to release their budget for scrutiny. This body is empowered by the constitution to appropriate the budget and to have oversight functions over its spending by the Executive but has in reality a budget of its own that is the most opaque of any legislature in the world.

    Nigeria has a corruption challenge but apart from that, we are a small business expanding its branches and appointing executives to manage such branches, increasing the cost of operations even as the losses of the company get bigger. And we actually hope that somehow, these disastrous inputs will yield prosperous outputs, so we pray for miracles instead of simply altering the inputs. There are far more poor Nigerians today than in 1980 and before you excuse that on population increase, how will you excuse the fact that our poverty rate today is far higher than it was in 1980? That fact is even scarier when you see that our birth rate remains potent even as our national productivity has declined over the years.

    What that means is that we will continue to be poorer except we change our socio-political and economic structure. What we are currently doing is replacing the bandage every four years on a body that requires surgery.

    This system is broken; we all know it.

    The question is, are we even willing to go through the pains it’d require to truly change it when we can’t even admit the glaring facts staring us in the eyes? To start with, how can a system change when those who challenge the current order of the system are demonised for stating the obvious? Just take a look at the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Muhammad Sanusi II, there are rumblings about the possibility of him being dethroned. Why? He decided to speak the truth about poverty, maternal and child mortality, health challenges like the VVF amongst other avoidable unwholesome realities that have bedevilled Nigeria, especially the North for several years. You would think such a message would be popular, but not in Nigeria, where a lot of people do not know how and what to think, so they are told what to do by the same people who took their dreams and future away.

    CnMeisterHave you flown Arik Air ever since the iPad incidence?

    Of course, I have. We have no issues. Matter of fact, ever since then their security measures and protocols have been seriously beefed up, a very welcome development.

    You know sometimes the media tends to exaggerate some headlines then the populace read other meanings into it. There was this one time, the guy who handles my flights booked me on Arik Air, so while trying to board the woman denied me access saying I had been banned from flying them. Imagine that, an issue that had been settled nearly over 4 years now. When I insisted, she went ahead to check with boss who in turn had to check with another high ranking officer before I was cleared. All that is in the past now.

    CnMeister: The tragedy of the Nigerian youth

    A young person was appointed as a special assistant to a minister. Sending his congratulatory tweet, another young person used the opportunity to gloat as a retired special assistant to ministers. There are special assistants with special mandates, there are special assistants being specially rewarded for their politics. This reality is a reflection of the collective ambition and obsession with making do with whatever goes and assuming just being named the paper carrier to the minister of something makes them part and parcel of the political class. That who was named aide to the minister has since been named special assistant to the president. Essentially, one had gone from one minister to the other in the same position for years without a telling mandate, while the one that had just been mocked started in public service as an aide to a minister and was immediately poached by the president, within a few days, with a telling mandate on each count. There is a tragedy of youth in Nigeria; a tragedy that is defined by the complex unwholesome realities surrounding young Nigerians across the entire social class. At the foot of the pyramid, you have young people being consequences of Nigeria’s failed system of education, with over 10 million of them out of school. The soldiers of the terrorist group Boko Haram, militants and evolving gang of kidnappers are predominantly young people. Some steps above the foot you find young graduates battling for jobs that are not there, and when they are, those jobs hardly pay enough for the average young person to survive the increasingly expensive realities in the average Nigerian city. At the two levels already mentioned, camaraderie is tough because survival is the only reality that counts. Then there is the growing population of young people with more than enough power and influence to determine the political conversation in Nigeria. What they are instead focusing on made it so that the political class can take them for granted and not fear a collective reprisal. There are two main divides: the group of young people who made their living off the previous Goodluck Jonathan government and/or the then-ruling PDP government, against the group of young people who formed the movement that swept the Jonathan administration out of power. It has been 11 months since the elections but the divides have only grown bigger. Those who focus conversations on issues that matter are soon attacked and accused, I’d assume, based on the survival reality of the average young person in the political system.

    You can be guilty of silence so there is no day off. Your silence is likely to be attacked as “they have paid you to shut up! During Jonathan’s government, you could not shut up for a day!” You can be guilty of supporting a good move made by the government: “Shut up! What will you say before? Is it not your people’s government?” You can be guilty of criticizing the government: “Why are you criticizing them? Oh, they have not paid for this month? Is it not you people that voted for change?” Wherever you stand according to the logic that requires that you stand based on the issues involved, the ultra-partisan group of young people will have a negative word to share with you. It takes a unique mental strength, a continual focus on the big picture and an extraordinary level of thick skin to ignore such puerile antagonism to focus squarely on what counts: the progress and prosperity of the Nigerian people. The Goodluck Jonathan administration was a very bad government. Those who supported it thought it more important not to lose face than they thought a bad government needed only to be showed the way out. The Buhari administration is yet to find its feet nine months after its inauguration. Some refuse to understand a mandate has already been given, so criticisms to get the government going will not take away the president’s mandate. These criticisms are not seen as what they really are: attempts to keep the government on its feet, to focus on what counts and what matters.

    Either way, there is a challenge. Not many young people have the mental strength to withstand the hatred that gets spilled against them — those who insist on speaking truth to power. So their voices are silent. Safety first. A sizable chunk of power is lost to the petty group that insists on taking issues from the point of their electoral losses at the 2015 polls. Because once criticism becomes petty, it loses its potency and you cannot define petty without the group that insists on hash-tagging their way to irrelevance by dedicating one hashtag a day to embarrassing the government, mostly based on pettiness. The “occasional N10k” will go along way towards a plate of rice or two, but after that? In the end, you have a seemingly potent force for good, an army ready to make a claim for greatness but an army that insists on imploding before the battle for greatness even gets started. That is the tragedy of youth and politics in Nigeria. Credit to the few who know and do better, but how far can the voice of a few be heard when thrown in the midst of a barbaric reality?

    Notwithstanding, let us endeavour and make conscious effort to be the change that we seek. Yes, President Buhari and APC government promised us change but let me paint you a picture.

    When you’re walking on the street you see the floor littered with all sorts of things, was it President Buhari or Prof. Osinbajo that threw those biscuit wrappers or pure water sachets on the side walk? Ask yourself that and let the sanctity, the peace, honesty and unity begin with you.

     

    CnMeister: What are the major challenges faced as an activist?

    I am not an activist. There is no office of people who should speak up about their country. I am just another vocal citizen. There is nothing special as to call me an activist.

    “I am not an activist”

    If you would say an active citizen I’d understand. I have always been interested in the affairs of the state. I have always felt we as a people could do so much more. As a 9-year old I had been introduced to the country by the glory tales of the military regime and the active citizen was being formed.

    I don’t know the major challenges activists face but I’d tell you active citizens are soon put in a box and called names like “activist” as though a certain office was reserved for those who care deeply about the country. A lot has happened in this country that makes one wary of the word “activist.”We have seen people make so much noise only to be invited to join government and they eventually turn out to be worse than those they criticized. I’d rather be an active citizen. Most of us can become active citizens. That is what JCI prepares you to be. That you can have a life of your own, a professional life and still contribute your quota to national development.

     

    CnMeisterShare with us about  your time as President, JCI, FUNAAB Chapter

    It was a phase in my life and now I have since moved on to other things. I am a still a part of it but it is not the entire whole as it was at a time in my life.

    “It was a time to test one’s ability to lead. It was a time to see how much individuals who had something to prove to the world always turned out to prove something. It was a time of friendship and a time to celebrate. We took JCI FUNAAB to the zenith of national recognition. It was a beautiful learning experience.” He recalls.

    CnMeisterSometime in March 2017, South African border police authorities held you for some reason. Kindly share with us the underlying truths surrounding this event.

    All I will say with regards to that is it was all just a case of gross misunderstanding. I and the young man who was held alongside me were released in no time.

    CnMeister: Share with us something about yourself that we won’t find on google

    “LoL”, he laughs. After a brief pause, “one thing about me you might never find on google will be my love life. I like to keep that private by design.

    CnMeister: Speaking of love, you’re a well-read. established and good-looking young man making a tonne daily for a living, why have you not gotten married?

    “sigh”… I will get married soon, it will happen soon, very soon.

    Marriage is not something a man should rush into or walk into with the available partner at hand, no. I also do not subscribe to parents trying to match -make their children, the world as we know it as moved way past that.

     

     

    More photos below;

    japheth omojuwa, cnmeister, meister republic
    Japheth Omojuwa (m) alongside the two anchors at the April edition of Chronicles of Legends

    Japheth Omojuwa

    japheth omojuwa
    Japheth Omojuwa at a Leaders’ Summit

    Editor’s Remark: It is wise to note that Mr. Omojuwa is a very disciplined and focused young achiever. A major observation we made from interacting with “oga JJ” is that he cares very little about all the hype, awards and paparazzi he receives, all he’s interested in is making a difference, however big or small.

    We would have gotten more on him but for time constrains.However, we’re proud to feature this social icon and share his success story so far.

    Catch him on Twitter & Instagram @omojuwa

     

    Editorial Team 

    Creative Director: Chuks Amahia
    Editor: Charles Omoijuanfo

    Stylists: –

    Photography: SAFE Photography; Image Tweaking: Zeem Designs & T.A.A

     

    Click here to contact the editorial team

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