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Hiya! Just a quick intro :) I lived in Nigeria for more than half of my life (so far) before moving to England and I have seen the best and the worst of both worlds. I was greatly inspired by the #OccupyNigeria protests and this blog is my way of #occupying. A lot of us compare African countries to the Western countries and I will mainly be talking about the positive things that I have observed and learnt in my few years of living here. Payme’s 2Cents is for all who dare to dream to see changes in their lifetime. It is for those who dream to see environments where 'helping' thrives. I will be giving my2cents worth on how we can work towards getting things to change for better. It would be great to know your opinions, so please leave comments. Remember to keep sharing posts that you enjoy. Follow @payme_my2cents. Thanks a lot for visiting!!! Enjoy my2cents :).

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Interview with Oluwaseun Fakuade (BEACONS Nigeria)

BEACONS TEAM
        "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world" Anne Frank

Payme’s 2Cents is all about promoting citizens’ participation in the development of Nigeria. I am excited to introduce Oluwaseun Fakuade, the Project Director of College Board, Nigeria. He has been working hard to raise awareness about the power of the citizenry in improving the development of our communities as well as the political system of our country through his BEACONS Nigeria group. He has been really generous as he took some time out to answer some of my questions. I hope you get inspired. Enjoy!!!

Hello Seun, tell us a bit more about yourself please.


I am Oluwaseun Bamikole Fakuade. I grew up in Ilesa Osun State, where I had most of my education with exception to tertiary which I had at OAU, Ile Ife. I am a product of public institutions (although a short-lived time at Agnes Nursery) – CAC Pry School and Obokun High School. My hobbies: Reading, I love Brands, Football (Man Utd), Chess; I relax well with movies; I write songs (about 76 now), I play the drums professionally, a bit of the piano and guitar. I really do love music (Direct Choirs until recently) et al. 
  
You sure are involved in a lot of activities! When was BEACONS Nigeria established?

Deliberations started in November but we officially came to light on 1st December, 2011.

What motivated you to start BEACONS Nigeria and what exactly are the organisation’s aims?
 
I had been worried by the incessant talks on twitter, most obviously the ones engaged on by my friends and me (Japheth Omojuwa, Chinedu Ekeke, Yadoma Mandara, Gbenga Sesan, amongst a whole lot of inspiring young men and women).
                          
I was worried that
1.)   Our talks not backed by a formidable strategic action may result in less belief by others in our ideals in the long run.
2.)   I felt there was need to complement efforts being made by NGOs and other CSOs in ensuring good governance and that Nigerians adequately knew, understood and were ready to pursue a Nigerian cause.
3.)    I felt CHARACTER was essentially lacking in our leadership institutions in the country and there was need to invest quality time in building that (however painstaking it may be).

‘BEACONS’ is an acronym for Builders Enlightened Advocates of Change Of Nigerian Society. The aim of the organisation is to “invest leadership core values in young people by building human capacity through mentorship and community service”. Our main purpose is to build core values in young people, directly and indirectly. At present, we use the CITIZENS PARTICIPATION & The BEACONS CLUB to achieve this. Character is critical and very much in the deficit given the leaders we have in the nation. 
Is BEACONS Nigeria affiliated with any political party?

No. ‘BEACONS’ is a non-political and non-religious organization. It is open to people of all tribes, colours, religions and political affiliations.

There is the stereotype that most Nigerians do not want to do anything without getting paid. How true do you think this is? Do you easily get volunteers?
 
We have been very fortunate in BEACONS to have inspiring models and patriotic young enthusiasts, fresh and wanting change. We do not pay volunteers. We do not even have the means. As said, we are young and new but growing fast. We are thankful of where we are.

How do you get funding for your projects and events?

We are just about finalising our registration. That has prevented some funding. All of what we do come from our unbelievable volunteers. We voluntarily pick up needs as our strengths can. It is unbelievable. Apart from the occupynigeria period in January, the period of existence of BEACONS and certain projects has made us realise how noble Nigerians are!
Share your experience about your most recent project with us please 
We started in December with the Almajiri cloth project. It was designed to raise clothing help for those children on the streets. The CITIZENS PARTICIPATION project in #Karu and #Bariga are results of the discussions since February via twitter (the #LetsTalk #LetsAct discourse). The idea is to become a citizen-inspired pressure point for leaders to do the right thing. The first challenge is to ensure citizens do know their rights, their roles, and what is expected (from job description) of leaders in their communities.

Karu satellite town in Abuja has been an eye opener to most of the envisaged but unbelievable rot in the system. We have had many promising encounters so far: the Community service started on 10th March 2012, the meetings with the Local Government AMAC (Abuja Municipal Area Council), enlightening engagement with citizens in the community, and meetings with the AEPB (Abuja Environmental Protection Board). Presently, we are planning a massive town hall meeting with members of the community. We believe an enlightened citizenry is an army that cannot be coerced easily.

Lack of mass information, I mean ignorance, amongst the masses led to the sudden demise of occupyNigeria in January. The people are massively ignorant of the agitations on twitter. It’s why we must leave the arm chairs and go to the grassroots. That is where the army is situated.

Do you face challenges with regards to issues like transportation, access to communities etc.?
 
So far, our volunteers ensure there are less problems encountered with getting to Karu site. Many who came there with vehicles went back with other volunteers. It was amazing that our first act so far in Karu brought people from Port Harcourt, Lagos and Kaduna. It is inspiring. We have also had the cooperation of the village chiefs in the community so far. So it has been good.

What impact do you think increased involvement from the public will have on your organisation?
 
Increased interaction, continued enlightenment of the public and strategic alliances with all and sundry (citizens, groups, and organisations) may be the way out for Nigeria. Visualise what army of informed Nigerians we will have when everyone takes up the importance of educating members of the community. If the middle class or low class are massively engaged, using all logical means possible, looting party leaders/governors, etc. should be ready for a big fight in 2015. We may not know it, but this is war: a battle for the soul of Nigeria. All hands must be on deck.

What do you think of Nigeria’s political system?
 
Chaotic: Given the fact that PDP is intending to stay in power at all levels by all means possible.
Unfortunate: Many bright young folks choose to ignore or abandon the idea that change may ultimately come through it.
Hopeful: I know of friends and loved ones, who are passionate enough to ruffle feathers daring the obvious.
Saddening: Unless we plan our strategy well and maybe the alignment of the opposition. The country may perpetually be governed by many of the insensitive leaders therein!
  
What do you think can be done to right these wrongs?
 
One of the ways (which I pray happens) out of the mess is the alliance of the opposition. For me, ACN and CPC should get to the drawing board as soon as possible. They may not be totally different from PDP but at least their ideologies differ and probably (hopefully) not as corrupt as PDP. 

Another option that I’ve thought of for a while now is the formation of a YOUTH LED PARTY. But there are obvious constraints: party financial resources (the largest), ideologies (for instance operating a no-zoning policy in which competence is chosen over geographical inclination: that nonsense divisive practice has to stop someday), amongst others. Besides, politics is a full time job! (Smiles)

 Do you have specific ways in which you would like people to assist BEACONS?
 
Volunteering is key for us. Also, we need ideas and other endearing support that may help us perform or operate better. Our first community service was very successful. We provided food/comfort at the end of the event, but this may become increasingly difficult as we are growing massively and we need finance to sustain this policy. Several Nigerians want to volunteer, but can they even feed? Can they get to the locations where we are? These are some basic challenges to fix.
 
Finally, what word of encouragement do you have for people who are looking to invest their time or money in honest politics and/or community work?
 
Many have successfully believed the lie that they are not affected by politics. Every individual is a political animal, and most of the decisions our leaders make affect our lives. This is the reality. Until we take politics serious, starting with joining political parties (carefully though) and then working our way upwards, we may have less say on how things run. Do you know that even the pessimist is a retracted optimist? The cynic and frustrated Nigerian today loves politics so much it has been disappointed by different outcomes from the political scene.

There is hope for Nigeria. That is what BEACONS stands for. In our communities, as we arise as BEACONS of change, we bring hope to others and inspire others to follow the path to reclamation and rebirth of a new nation. It is not ours to give up, a New Nigeria beckons. We must do ourselves, and posterity, a service of standing up to fight. Arise Oh Compatriot!

 
Thank you very much for taking time out to answer these questions. Thank you for your commitment to the organisation. It is great to see it growing. Hope to speak with you again. 

Twitter: @BEACONS_NG
Facebook: BEACONSNIGERIA


@payme_my2cents


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5 comments:

tope said...

Fantastic Seun. You motivate and inspire me. I hope to join BEACONS very soon.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, nice one

Judith said...

An inspiring story, if we all do our bit to brighten up our corners it'll have an impact & surely make the wolrd a better place.

Anonymous said...

9ice response from seun but can i question your reasoning on "what can be done to fix the wrong" cus to me it looks as if you are fighting PDP not tackling the problem and the other 2 parties mentioned not properly scrutinized. May i remind you as a Nigerian we r not looking for ideas but RESULT. except you have your facts to prove that other people coming into power have their strategy on achieving these desired result figured out, then of what use is it changing the party in power if the intentions of making 9ja unbearable are still there? and is it safe to assume that this "Group" will not by any means get involved or be used by any anti-PDP party as a form of campaign strategy if they become a huge success?

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