Nigeria: NFL star Obada to youths: Don’t let your past rubbish your future

Press Release

American Football (NFL) star Efe Obada has challenged youths across the globe including his Nigerian brothers, to aim for the sky irrespective whatever life throws at them at formative age.

The Nigeria born player who made NFL debut for the Carolina Panthers four years ago reasoned that if he could overcome his unfortunate past and achieve a respectable future, anyone who dares and is determined can equally make it.

Obada who is a mentor with the BIGKID Foundation, a London-based charity which helps youngsters pressured by gangs, crime and deprivation insisted that it is possible to rise from nothing to something.

‘I just want to be able to help them and show them that coming from inner-city blocks where you feel no one cares about you and no one is watching you, that you can actually achieve and make it regardless of whether it’s football or anything.

‘This is my way of taking that light from my story. My story is nothing compared to some of these kids. I’m just someone who’s been given a platform to talk about it.

‘If I can use my platform to inspire or motivate other people, and let them know, even subconsciously, that by chasing my dream they can achieve theirs, I’m OK with that. This is what I’m passionate about; this is what I want to do.’

In 2002, Obada and his older sister were trafficked by a family friend from their native Nigeria to London via Holland, in the hope of a better life. But they were deserted and left homeless. The siblings fended for themselves and eventually moved between foster homes.

In his mid-teens Obada became involved with gangs, but turned his life around. He went to college and was working in a factory in Welwyn Garden City unpacking boxes.

It was a chance meeting with a friend who set Obada on his second astonishing journey: from novice to professional sportsman.

Obada from all indication is enjoying the game and his new status a complete departure from ugly past. In January this year, 26 year old Obada signed a one-year contract extension worth $570,000 with the Panthers and currently spending off-season between London and America improving his understanding of the game.

Source The Nation Nigeria


South Africa: Will the youth turn up to vote? Let’s not be over-optimistic


In less than two months South Africa will be holding its fifth democratic elections and political parties have hit the ground running with campaigns, hoping to strengthen their voter base.

As generational replacement occurs and younger potential voters enter the system in growing numbers, political parties will ramp up their charm offensives to woo this demographic in the run up to the country’s 5th general elections on May, the 8th.

As the 2019 general elections approach, it is no surprise that the political engagement of the youth has come into emphasis amongst political parties and the media.

Regardless of how they will vote, it is critical for the country’s democratic wellbeing that they become part of the voting public. Young people make up a substantial proportion of the voting age population, which means that their vote can potentially shape the society within they pursue their aspirations.

In light of this, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) last year embarked on an extensive campaign to stimulate democratic political participation amongst young people, by launching a digital communication and education campaign which utilises the catch phrase “Xsê” – a play on the Afrikaans phrase “ek sê” meaning “I say”. This campaign primarily served as a vehicle to encourage young people to register and vote in the upcoming general elections.

The campaign seems to have been successful. According to the IEC, over 81% of the new registrations recorded at the final registration weekend in January were under the age of 30. To encourage further voter registration amongst youth, the IEC intensified its registration drives at university campuses and other higher learning institutions.

Although the Commission can be satisfied with the overall registration level, recent research cautions against over optimism about the actual turnout of young people on election day.

Findings from the latest Afrobarometer Survey for South Africa, which was conducted in 2018, show that more than half (53%) of South Africans say they do not feel close to any political party. The comparable figure for the previous round of the survey, which was conducted in 2015, was 23%. When disaggregated by age, the data for the 2018 survey further shows that more than half (59%) of these respondents are below the age of 35.

Youth turnout is not guaranteed and should not be gauged from mere registration numbers. As political parties proceed with launching their manifestos, they must be prepared to innovate in their attempts to address key youth concerns. One such key concern, is the question of skyrocketing youth unemployment. Those who fail to present convincing solutions to this scourge, will also fail to attract the attention of this key demographic.

Other equally pressing issues that affect them include, the state of the country’s public education system, poor delivery of basic services, and crumbling or non-existent infrastructure.

Their turnout at the polls on the 8th of May, should, however, not be seen as a gauge of their interest or apathy.

Most young South Africans acknowledge the importance of voting as a means to bring about the change they want to see. However, they also seek to be made part of the solution. As a country we need to reach common ground with an agreement that any discussions about the future of South Africa needs to include its largest population segment.

This involves their inclusion in leadership positions in areas that directly affect them. Fostering youth leadership primarily requires creating a space for the youth to live up to their full potential and this is what political parties and government should now set out to accomplish leading up to the elections. Failing to draw on this important constituency, will come at the price of prosperity and advancement of the country.

* Gugu Nonjinge is a Project Leader at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Source Voices360

South Africa: National Youth Development Agency Welcomes Decision to Settle NSFAS Students’ Historic Debts


The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor to allocate nearly a billion rands for scrapping historical debts for National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funded students.

Executive Chairperson of the NYDA, Mr Sifiso Mtsweni has applauded Minister Pandor and says that “The decision is in line with meeting the demands of students across institutions of higher learning who have been raising this issue for many years, as historic debt served as the basis for exclusion of students from poor and working-class background”.

We commend the bold decisive action by the Ministry that will see over 52 414 NSFAS funded continuing student complete their studies within projected record time.

“We are confident that this decision will enable access and success since students will be able to continue with their studies and change their lives for the better” added Mtsweni

Issued by: National Youth Development Agency

Source South African Government

Child and youth care centre enjoys visit from South African Navy

Members of the centre are grateful to the SA Navy for giving off their time, and to the Ubuntu Community Chest for their long-standing partnership with the centre.

The Ethelbert Child and Youth Care Centre, which is based in Malvern, was a hive of excitement when a troop from the South African Navy visited the organisation for a fun day, recently.

The team of 12 representatives got down to business early morning prepping, priming and painting the outdoor play area for the centre as part of the Ubuntu Community Chest’s Day of Caring initiative.

The naval team were on point, methodically working to create a beautiful area for the children of Ethelbert CYC centre to enjoy.

Team leader for the day, Buppy Naidoo said, “We are inspired by the work of this organisation and are so happy to be here today, contributing to making this an even more inviting place for the children.”

Members of the centre are grateful to the SA Navy for giving off their time, and to the Ubuntu Community Chest for their long-standing partnership with the centre.

Director of the centre, Vanessa Theophilus said, “Partnering with like-minded individuals and organisations is fundamental in sustaining the work we do. It is through collaborations such as this, donations and in-kind support that we are able to offer an impactful experience of family life for our children; creating a caring community at large.”

Source RGCS

Nigerian Democracy’s Uncertain Future

By Udo Jude Ilo

Last month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, a 76-year-old former military general, won his second term in an election marred by low voter turnout, legal controversy, and violence—which left at least 50 people dead. The outcome of the process was not merely a travesty for Nigeria; it was a warning sign to advocates of democracy and open society everywhere.

Just hours before polls were scheduled to open, the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the vote by a week. By then, thousands of registered voters had made long journeys to their home districts to cast their ballots and literally could not afford to wait idle for another week. Threats of violence by Islamist extremists, logistical breakdowns, and deliberate intimidation of voters played a role in the low turnout of voters across the country. Worrying cases of intimidation of officials of the election management body added to a pattern of orchestrated attempts at undermining key democracy institutions.

When Muhammadu Buhari won his first election in 2015, he became Nigeria’s first political leader to succeed an incumbent via the ballot box. This was a milestone for multiparty democracy in Africa. The recent election, on the other hand, represents a setback for Nigeria—and for Africa as a whole. Indeed, there is reason to fear that if the decline in standards is not urgently addressed, it could be the beginning of a progressive decline in the quality of elections throughout the region.

In the face of these challenges, civil society groups throughout the country still worked diligently on behalf of Nigerian democracy, partnering with institutions focused on the nuts and bolts of the electoral process. They also developed a so-called threshold document to outline a set of conditions that electoral institutions, political parties, and security agencies must fulfill to give credibility to the electoral process. Despite these laudable efforts, however, there is no denying that, by the standards of an open society, the election was a failure.

What lessons can civil society groups, in Nigeria and beyond, draw from this experience? How can civil society organizations broaden their constituencies and bring leaders from business, labor, and organized religion into campaigns for credible elections? With more than one-third of the world’s population set to vote in elections this year, these are not abstract questions.

First, there must be a comprehensive audit and review of what happened in the 2019 elections. This process must be independent and driven by the Nigerian people (in close collaboration with international experts). It is imperative to identify what went wrong with the electoral process and to examine the influences in Nigerian political society that makes electoral malpractices acceptable.

Second, Nigeria’s government should establish an electoral offenses commission which is empowered to hold accountable those that committed offences during the election process. To be sure, given the government’s obvious interest in avoiding scrutiny, the international community should join with those in Nigeria who are calling for such a commission. The international community should consider sanctioning individuals guilty of inciting electoral violence, as well as applying political pressure to the Nigerian government if it continues to reject accountability.

Along the same lines, and because no real democracy can exist without the rule of law, domestic and international pro-democracy groups should closely monitor President Buhari’s policies with regard to Nigeria’s judicial system, which many observers fear is being compromised by those who want to shield the election results from scrutiny.

Finally, civil society groups in Nigeria must resist the temptation to retreat into apathy and cynicism. We must not forget that serious and systemic change is a long-term process, and that the fruits of today’s efforts may take years to fully ripen. Initiatives focused on bringing more Nigerians—especially young Nigerians—into the political process should be encouraged. The Not Too Young to Run campaign, for example, which was launched by a coalition of youth organizations and successfully lowered Nigeria’s age limit for seeking office, is a crucial investment in changing the dynamic between Nigeria’s citizens and those elected to serve them.

Civil society must work to ensure close collaboration amongst its ranks and consistency in its values. This will help it sustain the respect and trust of the citizens, and it will make mobilization easier in the future. While international organizations and domestic civil society groups have an enormous role to play, ultimately, the country’s political landscape can only be reconfigured by a popular movement of Nigerian voters demanding reform. That is the promise of democracy—in Nigeria, and around the world.

Source Open Society Foundation

Beauty Queens Inspiring Young People In Uganda

By Jacky Achan

Having the beauty Queens share their stories is powerful in shaping the lives of other young people who look up to them.

“Your life is your responsibility, no one has the right to belittle or intimidate you unless you let them, they don’t deserve that privilege,” reigning Miss World Africa Quinn Adenakyo on Friday in Kampala encouraged a group of youths.

The Miss Uganda Foundation together with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has embarked on a campaign to have young people, especially girls, interact with their Miss Uganda role models, draw inspiration and also reach their dreams.

Adenakyo was joined by Miss Uganda 2016/17 Leah Kagasa and Miss Uganda 2012/13 Phiona Bizza in Sharing their personal stories with curios and adoring fans equally keen to shine in their space.

Telling their stories is a question and answer session in the ‘Live Your Dream Moment’ the, Miss Uganda beauty Queens talked of how they have managed to overcome peer and social pressure to succeed.

They also spoke up on teenage pregnancies. According to the Uganda 2016 demographic and health survey, 25% of girls age 15 to 19 either have a child or are pregnant.

Adenakyo who is the reigning Miss World Africa said teenage pregnancies are stopping girls from reaching their full potential.

Kagasa disclosed how teenage pregnancies affected members of her family including cousins and aunties. She said young people need to be grounded in their beliefs to achieve their goals.

“Do not turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve life pressures, turn to a reliable support system, in family and friends,” she said.

UNFPA country representative Alain sibenaler says having the beauty Queens share their stories is powerful in shaping the lives of other young people who look up to them.

Miss Uganda Foundation will be moving to different parts of the country with the beauty Queens to raise awareness and fight teenage pregnancies.

Source New Vision