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    Wednesday, September 27, 2017

    A different shade of the North

    IYF, Nigeria

     By Elias Gbadamosi

    My moment of epiphany started immediately after I arrived Kaduna on the 14th September, 2017 for the Initiative for Revival and Sustainable Development's #IRSD2017 youth seminar. It was my first time in the northern part of Nigeria but I'm certain that after exploring the beauty of this Giant in the Sun, it would surely not be my last time in the belly of the north. 

    The north that I experienced is quite different from the north that I have heard and read a lot about. As I entered the city of Kaduna, I was greeted with the sight of industrial establishments. During the sighting (which was part of the seminar), I saw in Collab a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and tech stars working and growing together. 

    The other side of the northern part of Nigeria
    The 19 northerners with whom I spent four days and three nights exchanging ideas and working on projects are a far cry from the typical northerners comedians joke about. They are innovative entrepreneurs, intellectual academics and dynamic public servants all aged between 20 and 35 blazing the trail in their different fields of endeavor. 

    My Kaduna experience showed me the other north that we do not see or hear much about and foregrounds the rationale behind the insightful recommended pre-seminar readings sent by the IRSD team prior to the seminar. A good example which relates directly to my northern experience is Chimamanda Adichie's THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY which talks about the pitfalls of prejudice and stereotypes. 

    Seminar overview: Entrepreneurship, politics and governance
    This year's IRSD seminar covered the three broad areas of entrepreneurship, politics and governance. Through intellectual readings, stimulating engagements and incisive discussion sessions led by seasoned facilitators, the seminar exposed us to the importance of the aforementioned areas, to the progress and entrenchment of sustainable development in Nigeria. 

    Our facilitators stem from the business, political, civil society and public service landscape. Dr Joe Abah, former Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms; Dr Mandara, Country Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Ayisha Osori, a lawyer and politician; Dr Dahiru Sani, Founder of the Kaduna Business School and Nasir Yammama, the farmer who is taking jollof rice to space were some of the facilitators. Their experiences, triumphs and challenges across their fields show that there is so much radiance in Nigeria's perceived darkness. 

    The cherry on top of a great experience
    One of the major aspects of the event for me and the other 23 participants was the surprise appearance of Mallam Nasir El Rufia, Governor of Kaduna State and Professor Attahiru Jega, the immediate past chairman of Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Their separate sessions echo similar messages as both of them challenged us to become active participants and not mere armchair critics of Nigeria’s affairs. They harped on the need for young Nigerians to stop agonizing and start organizing; to eschew ethnic chauvinism and religious jingoism while fostering unity and development across all strata of national life. 

    At the end of the seminar, I left Kaduna with a strong sense of duty towards my country and with renewed hope in the greatness that is latent in Nigeria and which IRSD, as an organization, is working hard to revive. 

    Thank you IRSD for the priceless opportunity and thank you Kaduna city for the warm reception and mental re-engineering. Cheers to more trips to the north. 

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