I Resigned From Oando To Build Rise Network To Strengthen Nigerian Youths ~ Toyosi Akerele @toyosirise

I Resigned From Oando To Build Rise Network To Strengthen Nigerian Youths ~ Toyosi Akerele @toyosirise


By Sun

Toyosi Akerele
Who is Toyosi Akerele and what are your goals?
A lot of people know me as a social entrepreneur that works
with the youths. I’ll be 30 soon. My colleagues and friends think
I’m a happy-go-lucky person but some of them think I am a
workaholic. I have a passion for social work, but I am also
talented in many other areas especially in business. I am
passionate about leadership, because I believe things can
really change when our leaders are genuinely committed to the
cause of our people. I’m not a politician, but I do hope to be
relevant enough to offer professional advice to people in
authority and government.
Tell us a bit about your education
I attended Ebunoluwa Nursery and Primary School, Oregun
where I was the head girl. I attended Lagos Model College,
Badagry for my secondary education and the University of Jos
where I studied French and law. I also attended Pan-African
University as well as Cambridge University.
You must have been a very brilliant student, weren’t you?
Well the race is not for the swift neither is the battle for the
strong. I usually don’t like saying I’m brilliant, but I’m
grateful for the modicum of wisdom, knowledge and
understanding that I have. I’m what I am today not because I’m
a brilliant student, but because I had mentors.
I was at a forum where you shared some of your experiences
and the one that struck me was that you resigned from a
prestigious oil company. Of course, you were castigated for it
even by your mum. Can you tell us about that?

I quitted my job at Oando Plc , because I knew I had the
capacity to do more than sitting behind the desk from 9am to
5pm making money for a group of people. I wanted to be at
the helm of affairs of an organisation providing voluntary
service to people. Trust me, I have travelled to different parts
of the world and I have never met people as smart as
Nigerians. I thought being rich is not everything. The richest
people in the world are not people that did things for
themselves. Winners of the Nobel prize are not the richest
people on the surface of the earth, right? The most celebrated
might not necessarily be the wealthiest people. It’s not enough
to be rich. No country named an international airport after
someone just because the person was rich, no country named a
school or hospital after a person simply because he or she was
wealthy. These amiable and honourable people were honoured
because of their contribution to the lives of other people. My
priority is not to become rich.
What have you been up to lately?
I just got back from South Africa where I attended a forum.
I was the only Nigerian in that gathering. I was at the Africa
Leadership Academy, where their Vice President of Strategic
Relations, Dr Frank Aswani told me that after Americans
others that have been incredibly supportive of the academy
and have contributed the most are Nigerians. I was proud when
I walked into the foyer and found out it was named after two
Nigerians, Gbenga and Aisha Oyebode. When I got to Nigeria, I
sent an email to them, telling them how proud of them I am.
This year, I founded the first technology in education
platform in Nigeria for secondary school students. It’s called
PassNowNow. For the first time, we have domiciled the entire
syllabus from JSS1to SSS3 on mobile phones and the web. All
past WAEC and JAMB questions are now on-line. What that
means is that these students don’t have to go under the
bridge to buy past questions. It’s all free. If you have a
phone , whether it’s yours or your parents’, you can peruse
that platform. Our goal is to democratize education by
making available online for children in public schools, what those in private schools learn. So like I said, education is great for people like me that did not go to Harvard. I’ve given speeches
in places that people that went to Yale have not been able to
set their feet on. It’s about your personal ambition, your
aspiration. It’s about your commitment to your personal
development. I read books and dream and I learn from people
I deliberately and carefully chose as my mentors.
What’s your motivation?
Grace, God’s grace, that’s what keeps me going. Also, I’m
motivated by the power of tomorrow, because it holds so much
promise. I’ve never been afraid of failure. I have failed many
times. The significance of failure is not something that any
human should not experience, because it will sharpen you and will give you the impetus to be able to understand that no man is
perfect and when you have that understanding, it expands the
scope of your humility. When you are humble, you don’t think
too highly of yourself and you find yourself living for the joy of
other people more than enriching yourself. The things that
give joy in life are not what most people chase. How much money can you spend? When I was younger, people used to say “Toyosi, I’m sure when you have money you will change”. When you have this and that, you will change. They watched me acquire all those things and they still see that I have not changed. I still wear my jeans and T-shirt and I’m still happy. I still chat with people around me, because I know I’ve got to be on that journey of grace with the cautiousness that He that gave me the power, the ability and knowledge can take it away and give it to the next man, if He finds I don’t use it to turn lives around.
Former President of United State Bill Clinton and Toyosi
What’s Rise Networks all about?
Rise Networks is a social enterprise. We’ve committed our
resources to it and also tried to secure support from other well
meaning institutions and individuals to do several things. Its
focus is the youth and education development with the
influence of technology. A lot of people know us to regularly
host the largest youth forum in different towns and
universities in the country and the idea is to create a viable
platform for engagement and acquisition of knowledge for
young people, connect aspiring protégées to existing mentors
and be able to groom the next set of people that will take over
the judicious management and deployment of Nigeria’s vast
resources. We do that by organising daily programmes, periodic
programmes and consistent engagement on-line and off-line.
For example, we are the only youth organisation that maintains
the back page of a newspaper, The Guardian , tiled Youth
Speak. We aim to give youths a strong sustainable platform to
be able to be their best. The real stakeholders in government
and private sectors that we want to speak to are not people
who I can say we can ping. They read the newspaper more, so we decided to use that platform and the response has been
incredible and unprecedented. It’s the first and only youth
column in Nigeria. Our work leans a lot more towards knowledge, because we believe when people have the right knowledge, they can make the right decisions and they can engage themselves gainfully. At the end of the day, our work focuses on knowledge, its application and how it can be of good use.
You’ve dedicated a lot to the youth, but a larger percent of
them are into nefarious acts. What’s your perception of the
average Nigerian youth? Do you think they can really manage
the future of this nation?
The more you look the less you see. It depends on what you want
to look at. I always choose to look at the bright side. I know
some young people in this country, who if given the roles of
leadership, will bring our nation to ruins in 24 hours, and
irresponsibility is their second nature, but then I also know
young people who if given the opportunity to serve, will lead
our country to a point where we become the most enviable in
Africa and the world. It’s because some of us have seen some
of our elders fail and you cannot use wrong to undo wrong. For
me, giving young people the opportunity to manage the affairs
of this nation is not just because they are youthful. They have
to be qualified, genuinely passionate, committed and able to
understand the fundamentals of leadership and governance to
solve the nation’s problems and advance our collective interest
to a level where the world will reckon with us. We need to build
strong institutions, we have strong individuals, we don’t have
strong institutions. That’s the road to destruction.
What are your challenges at Rise Networks?
Young people are our greatest challenge. In every country,
there are always youths who chase books and others who
chase skinny jeans, fast cash and fast wealth, but if we look at
the history of great nations like America, Germany and
Malaysia, they were poor and were transformed by serious
minded people. I want Nigerian youths to be more serious
minded. I would like us to make sure that our priority is on
important things, because you see, our generation will be taken
seriously when young people seem to have in depth knowledge of nation building, when we can engage older people and make an impression. I would like to see more young people of my country take the lead in several sectors of the nation. We are already doing that, but the greatest challenge today is not money. 
The challenge is to teach young Nigerians to embrace the right path and that is where the private sector comes in. What do you air on the TV for people to watch? What’s on the radio? What do
they have for our youth?
So, when do we expect to hear your wedding bells?
You won’t even know, it would only be me, my husband, family
and a few people.
Why, considering your social status?
There are a few things that make a complete woman. One of
them is the ability to separate your personal life from the
public and not subject your family to unnecessary scrutiny by
the public. I made a choice, I’m very private. Apart from my
work, I’m not sure if you Google it, you will find anything about
me. I rarely talk about my personal life.
Are you fulfilled?
I hear young people say phenomenal things about me and that
gives me joy and fulfillment, but I’m still craving more. I have
not done enough. There are still children who have not had a
meal, children who are not yet in school. I have not done
enough. I would like to be given the opportunity to do more, I
would like to be supported to do more. I’m grateful that I am
in a good place, but I have not done enough.
************
Send your articles for publicationto editor@paradigmshiftng.com. You can also sendyour eye witness reports, photos and videos toiwitness@paradigmshiftng.com

Click here to subscribe to The Paradigm Newsletter

Comments

comments

Share your thoughts


By Sun

Toyosi Akerele
Who is Toyosi Akerele and what are your goals?
A lot of people know me as a social entrepreneur that works
with the youths. I’ll be 30 soon. My colleagues and friends think
I’m a happy-go-lucky person but some of them think I am a
workaholic. I have a passion for social work, but I am also
talented in many other areas especially in business. I am
passionate about leadership, because I believe things can
really change when our leaders are genuinely committed to the
cause of our people. I’m not a politician, but I do hope to be
relevant enough to offer professional advice to people in
authority and government.
Tell us a bit about your education
I attended Ebunoluwa Nursery and Primary School, Oregun
where I was the head girl. I attended Lagos Model College,
Badagry for my secondary education and the University of Jos
where I studied French and law. I also attended Pan-African
University as well as Cambridge University.
You must have been a very brilliant student, weren’t you?
Well the race is not for the swift neither is the battle for the
strong. I usually don’t like saying I’m brilliant, but I’m
grateful for the modicum of wisdom, knowledge and
understanding that I have. I’m what I am today not because I’m
a brilliant student, but because I had mentors.
I was at a forum where you shared some of your experiences
and the one that struck me was that you resigned from a
prestigious oil company. Of course, you were castigated for it
even by your mum. Can you tell us about that?

I quitted my job at Oando Plc , because I knew I had the
capacity to do more than sitting behind the desk from 9am to
5pm making money for a group of people. I wanted to be at
the helm of affairs of an organisation providing voluntary
service to people. Trust me, I have travelled to different parts
of the world and I have never met people as smart as
Nigerians. I thought being rich is not everything. The richest
people in the world are not people that did things for
themselves. Winners of the Nobel prize are not the richest
people on the surface of the earth, right? The most celebrated
might not necessarily be the wealthiest people. It’s not enough
to be rich. No country named an international airport after
someone just because the person was rich, no country named a
school or hospital after a person simply because he or she was
wealthy. These amiable and honourable people were honoured
because of their contribution to the lives of other people. My
priority is not to become rich.
What have you been up to lately?
I just got back from South Africa where I attended a forum.
I was the only Nigerian in that gathering. I was at the Africa
Leadership Academy, where their Vice President of Strategic
Relations, Dr Frank Aswani told me that after Americans
others that have been incredibly supportive of the academy
and have contributed the most are Nigerians. I was proud when
I walked into the foyer and found out it was named after two
Nigerians, Gbenga and Aisha Oyebode. When I got to Nigeria, I
sent an email to them, telling them how proud of them I am.
This year, I founded the first technology in education
platform in Nigeria for secondary school students. It’s called
PassNowNow. For the first time, we have domiciled the entire
syllabus from JSS1to SSS3 on mobile phones and the web. All
past WAEC and JAMB questions are now on-line. What that
means is that these students don’t have to go under the
bridge to buy past questions. It’s all free. If you have a
phone , whether it’s yours or your parents’, you can peruse
that platform. Our goal is to democratize education by
making available online for children in public schools, what those in private schools learn. So like I said, education is great for people like me that did not go to Harvard. I’ve given speeches
in places that people that went to Yale have not been able to
set their feet on. It’s about your personal ambition, your
aspiration. It’s about your commitment to your personal
development. I read books and dream and I learn from people
I deliberately and carefully chose as my mentors.
What’s your motivation?
Grace, God’s grace, that’s what keeps me going. Also, I’m
motivated by the power of tomorrow, because it holds so much
promise. I’ve never been afraid of failure. I have failed many
times. The significance of failure is not something that any
human should not experience, because it will sharpen you and will give you the impetus to be able to understand that no man is
perfect and when you have that understanding, it expands the
scope of your humility. When you are humble, you don’t think
too highly of yourself and you find yourself living for the joy of
other people more than enriching yourself. The things that
give joy in life are not what most people chase. How much money can you spend? When I was younger, people used to say “Toyosi, I’m sure when you have money you will change”. When you have this and that, you will change. They watched me acquire all those things and they still see that I have not changed. I still wear my jeans and T-shirt and I’m still happy. I still chat with people around me, because I know I’ve got to be on that journey of grace with the cautiousness that He that gave me the power, the ability and knowledge can take it away and give it to the next man, if He finds I don’t use it to turn lives around.
Former President of United State Bill Clinton and Toyosi
What’s Rise Networks all about?
Rise Networks is a social enterprise. We’ve committed our
resources to it and also tried to secure support from other well
meaning institutions and individuals to do several things. Its
focus is the youth and education development with the
influence of technology. A lot of people know us to regularly
host the largest youth forum in different towns and
universities in the country and the idea is to create a viable
platform for engagement and acquisition of knowledge for
young people, connect aspiring protégées to existing mentors
and be able to groom the next set of people that will take over
the judicious management and deployment of Nigeria’s vast
resources. We do that by organising daily programmes, periodic
programmes and consistent engagement on-line and off-line.
For example, we are the only youth organisation that maintains
the back page of a newspaper, The Guardian , tiled Youth
Speak. We aim to give youths a strong sustainable platform to
be able to be their best. The real stakeholders in government
and private sectors that we want to speak to are not people
who I can say we can ping. They read the newspaper more, so we decided to use that platform and the response has been
incredible and unprecedented. It’s the first and only youth
column in Nigeria. Our work leans a lot more towards knowledge, because we believe when people have the right knowledge, they can make the right decisions and they can engage themselves gainfully. At the end of the day, our work focuses on knowledge, its application and how it can be of good use.
You’ve dedicated a lot to the youth, but a larger percent of
them are into nefarious acts. What’s your perception of the
average Nigerian youth? Do you think they can really manage
the future of this nation?
The more you look the less you see. It depends on what you want
to look at. I always choose to look at the bright side. I know
some young people in this country, who if given the roles of
leadership, will bring our nation to ruins in 24 hours, and
irresponsibility is their second nature, but then I also know
young people who if given the opportunity to serve, will lead
our country to a point where we become the most enviable in
Africa and the world. It’s because some of us have seen some
of our elders fail and you cannot use wrong to undo wrong. For
me, giving young people the opportunity to manage the affairs
of this nation is not just because they are youthful. They have
to be qualified, genuinely passionate, committed and able to
understand the fundamentals of leadership and governance to
solve the nation’s problems and advance our collective interest
to a level where the world will reckon with us. We need to build
strong institutions, we have strong individuals, we don’t have
strong institutions. That’s the road to destruction.
What are your challenges at Rise Networks?
Young people are our greatest challenge. In every country,
there are always youths who chase books and others who
chase skinny jeans, fast cash and fast wealth, but if we look at
the history of great nations like America, Germany and
Malaysia, they were poor and were transformed by serious
minded people. I want Nigerian youths to be more serious
minded. I would like us to make sure that our priority is on
important things, because you see, our generation will be taken
seriously when young people seem to have in depth knowledge of nation building, when we can engage older people and make an impression. I would like to see more young people of my country take the lead in several sectors of the nation. We are already doing that, but the greatest challenge today is not money. 
The challenge is to teach young Nigerians to embrace the right path and that is where the private sector comes in. What do you air on the TV for people to watch? What’s on the radio? What do
they have for our youth?
So, when do we expect to hear your wedding bells?
You won’t even know, it would only be me, my husband, family
and a few people.
Why, considering your social status?
There are a few things that make a complete woman. One of
them is the ability to separate your personal life from the
public and not subject your family to unnecessary scrutiny by
the public. I made a choice, I’m very private. Apart from my
work, I’m not sure if you Google it, you will find anything about
me. I rarely talk about my personal life.
Are you fulfilled?
I hear young people say phenomenal things about me and that
gives me joy and fulfillment, but I’m still craving more. I have
not done enough. There are still children who have not had a
meal, children who are not yet in school. I have not done
enough. I would like to be given the opportunity to do more, I
would like to be supported to do more. I’m grateful that I am
in a good place, but I have not done enough.
************
Send your articles for publicationto editor@paradigmshiftng.com. You can also sendyour eye witness reports, photos and videos toiwitness@paradigmshiftng.com

Click here to subscribe to The Paradigm Newsletter

Comments

comments

Share your thoughts

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