It’s been two weeks since the 11th Edition of The Platform Nigeria. For those who do not know of it, it’s a biannual event organized by Pastor ‘Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Centre (C3), Lagos, Nigeria.
It is a non-denominational and non-partisan event aimed at promoting good governance and nation building.
I first heard about it two years ago on TV, while in my final year at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. I wished I could attend. I longed for it, and even considered traveling over the weekend for it but gave it up in the end.
Last year, I watched the event on TV and followed online as much as I could.
This year, I traveled to Lagos for a different event, and completely unaware that the 11th Edition of the event was around the corner.
I heard of it in a Sunday service I attended in C3. When I saw the flyer for the event, and it was two weeks away, even though I only planned to stay the weekend, I thought, “I wouldn’t be back to Lagos for this event in two weeks. I could extend my stay in Lagos by two weeks. It’s two weeks… I can stay.”
I must tell you, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. But somehow (I hope to write about my waiting process) I stayed, and attended the event. I took the photo I used for my birthday post at the event.
You can tell it was as fantastic as promised. It was, as one of the speakers put it, “a festival of ideas.”
Pastor ‘Poju Oyemade:
Pastor ‘Poju Oyemade, the convener of the event, gave the opening address. He started by explaining the theme of this year’s event and gave an illustration using a certain specie of fish that is carnivorous; this specie of fish feeds on other fishes and does not feed on the regular fish food.
An experiment was carried out in which this carnivorous fish was put in a glass aquarium, and this glass aquarium put in a larger aquarium. So, this carnivorous fish could see its food, the other fishes but could not feed on them as the glass created a barrier between them.
There was, however, a provision to put fish food into the glass aquarium but this carnivorous fish refused to feed on it. It kept attempting to reach for the fishes in the larger aquarium, which it could see through the glass, but could not get across to.
Over time, the carnivorous fish began eating the fish food that was put for it. When it was brought out of the glass aquarium, and put into the larger aquarium with the other fishes, it simply swam with them. It forgot its true nature.
And this is the current reality of the majority of Nigerians. Most of us have learned helplessness – a feeling of low expectation as a result of past experiences of defeat and repeated failure.
“Our future doesn’t have to submit to our past experiences. That we have failed historically where we once tried shouldn’t mean that we surrender our future to past experiences.
If the enlightened ones get to a place where they think they cannot influence or affect the nation, then those who are in control have actually won.
If educated, young and enlightened people get involved, things will change.”
With this, he laid the foundation for this year’s guest speakers.
Prof. Kingsley Moghalu:
Prof. Kingsley Moghalu was the first speaker. His session was emotionally stimulating and thought-provoking. He painted the Nigerian situation in vivid colours and attempted to get us out of the state of “learned helplessness.”
“We are condemned by our conviction,” he said. “We say ‘they’ will not allow us. Who are the ‘they?’ he questioned. “The bigger ‘they’ is you and I.”
Prof. Kingsley will be running for the office of the presidency in 2019. You can check him out here.
Pst. Francis Adebayo:
Pst. Francis Adebayo was the second speaker. He is the senior pastor of Harvest Place, Lagos.
Pst. Francis has been involved in Lagos state politics. He says it is only by participating that one can understand the dynamics of politics; there is a lot you would not understand by merely standing on the sidelines.
“Politics is not as dirty as they make it seem. It is in the interest of the ruling party to keep you away from participating.”
He explained that all of the issues we are scared of such as betrayal, killings and theft are also done and perpetuated in boardrooms and even our religious houses. Why then we are scared of getting involved in politics, he questioned.
Pst. Francis wrote a book So You Hate Politics, which you can download here. In it, he also documented all the intrigues and dramas he faced contesting in the last elections.
Mrs. Sola Salako Ajulo
Mrs. Sola was the third and only female speaker. In one word, her session was enlightening.
Mrs. Sola spoke about citizen engagement and the importance of youths staying focused rather than being swayed by distractions and dramas.
She spoke about the Nigerian constitution and about it being the DNA of Nigerians and the blueprint for Nigeria’s success. She emphasized the importance of knowing the constitution and teaching it to our children from as early as their kindergarten years.
Her session inspired me to speak up and take action where I would have hitherto been silent and accepted the status quo. She gave her talk using a slide which you can download here.
“Citizen engagement is a contact sport. It’s not done on Facebook or Twitter. Organized citizen action involves leaving your comfort zone. What do you care about? Stand up and do something about it!
Dr. Charles Omole
The fourth speaker was Dr. Charles Omole.
Dr. Charles demystified leadership and politics in Nigeria. He commented that the problem Nigeria has is the problem every nation of the world has. He said that every politician in Nigeria is behaving the same way as those in other nations, but the difference is an effective rule of law that curtails the excesses of leaders.
“Nigerians can behave well if the institutions are strong.”
He itemized seven reasons why countries fail, some of which we can identify in our nation. They are:
- A lack of effective and strong institutions of state.
- A lack of change in the mentality of leaders.
- A lack of effective democratic competition/choice.
- An absence of effective rule of law or the existence of a weak legal system.
- A lack of effective and competitive private sector of the economy.
- A lack of internal security.
- A lack of engaged citizens.
He also suggested several ways to get engaged as a citizen:
- Be an informed citizen.
- Be registered to vote and vote.
- Become a political evangelist – get people interested in politics.
- Become an activist; political activism is necessary and healthy for politics – boycotts, civil protests.
- Become a mobile political activist.
- Stand as a candidate to be voted for.
- Become a campaign donor.
- Join a political party.
- Become a political lobbyist.
- Engage with institutions.
- Become a reliable and formidable source of information.
- Become a community organizer.
- Be strategic; vote an individual not a party.
- Take on formal electoral education.
- Become a constructive critic.
- You can start your election monitoring group. Register and get accredited with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr. Fela Durotoye:
Mr. Fela Durotoye was the fifth speaker.
He is a nation builder. He communicated the duty of a nation builder in four easy to recall sentences.
A nation builder:
- Accepts responsibility for the well-being of the nation.
- Believes in the greatness of their nation.
- Commits their scarce resources, valuable time, network and net worth.
- Delivers the future of the nation.
Mr. Fela Durotoye believes Nigeria has a legacy of greatness; we have been a great nation once even if many people challenge the fact that we are a great nation today.
“We may not be responsible for the nation we inherited from our parents, but we will be responsible for the nation that we hand over to our children.”
Mr. Fela Durotoye will be running for the office of the presidency in 2019. You can check him out here.
Mr. Leke Alder:
Mr. Leke Alder was the sixth speaker. When he started, his preference for bogus words was almost a turnoff, but a few minutes into his session, the wisdom in his words was evident for all to see.
The title of his session was SHIFT.
“We need a new vision for Nigeria. The original vision for Nigeria was crafted by youths. And it has since expired. Most of the leaders of the older generation took on responsibilities at very young age.”
He provided practical solutions to some of Nigeria’s pressing challenges. He suggested, for example, that the north could use solar energy to generate power because of the abundance of sunlight, that the north should be driving solar cars and not fossil fueled cars, and this would, in turn, create a solar energy industry and new jobs for people.
He made another brilliant suggestion and asked a thought riveting question:
“Why are we voting by the prehistoric method when we can vote with our phones? If we transfer money online, shop online, pay bills online, why can’t we vote online? If we want democratic representation, then online voting is a must, since the youths are mostly online.”
Thankfully, he made available his slides for this presentation and you can assess it by clicking here. Oh, yes, Mr. Leke Alder is a Nigerian with his thinking hat on!
Prince Donatus Okonkwo
Prince Donatus Okonkwo was the seventh speaker. He spoke on rigging elections in developing countries and how to protect our votes.
Prince Donatus made it clear that getting involved does not stop at obtaining your permanent voters’ card (PVC) and voting, but extends to protecting our votes.
“Get your PVC, and be prepared to see your votes through after voting.”
H. E. Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, GCON:
Prof. Osibanjo was the eight and last speaker, and the reason I started to develop this post.
I was writing a different post and made reference to his session at The Platform. I went into many details that I thought, “You know what? I think there’s a story in you to tell about The Platform, why not write it?” And I began writing this post.
In his session, Prof. Osibanjo celebrated notable Nigerian youths across the different sectors of the economy.
He gave his almost one-hour long presentation by heart. But that was not his greatest display of brilliance or the source of my admiration for him. It was his versatility and knowledge. He was accurate with the information about the youths he celebrated – their names, achievements, and respective organisations. He even went as far as quoting an entire poem, and an excerpt from Chimamanda Adiche’s Half Of A Yellow Sun when he got to the literary sector.
He made me wonder how much time he spent committing the information to heart, how it was that he was so informed, and how he found time to read novels with the demands of being a country’s vice president. For me, his session was inspiring. He made me want to be more and do more.
“We can contribute in profoundly transformative ways in changing our society by doing our own bit with excellence.”
Did you attend, watch on TV or follow The Platform Nigeria online? Who was your favourite speaker and what information distinguished itself in your mind? I would love to hear your thoughts on any or all of this. And also, please, spread the knowledge by sharing.
Ps – You can find/follow The Platform Nigeria;
On Facebook – The Platform
On Twitter – The Platform Nigeria
On Instagram – The Platform Nigeria