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Pinch The Person Next To You: I’m the problem of Africa
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By Segun Adeleye
December 6, 2017 21:47:56pm GMT      |      Views: 347
Segun Adeleye

I have to specially appreciate your coming to this lecture today. We all have something in common here, in that we are all credited with the same 24 hours every day for us to use the way we want, unlike our relationship with mobile phone service providers where we are only credited with data based on what we can afford, rather than what we need. 

Spending your time here may not necessarily be because you know me, after all, I have never met the governor of my State before, nor all the very accomplished people, including the ambassadors that are here, but the value you attached to the theme of this lecture, ‘The Youth and the Challenge of Bridging Credible Leadership Gap in Africa’ that we have in common.

There are people out there that believe in the topic and would have love to come, but are discouraged because all the past talks in similar fora have yielded little or nothing. 

Let us look at life from the beginning when the first man, Adam was created; even for those that will prefer to look at it from the point of view of science, there is still one general understanding that it started from somewhere, the DNA linage to all what we have today. In summary, we all came from the same source. We are all cousins. Can we look back at home, the cousins we love and what we will do to keep them happy?

Successful individuals and organisations around the world that have this understanding of common heritage have been reaching out to support one cause or the other either during crises or to avert them, or to tackle poverty and avoidable deaths. 

Talking about the first man and other great individuals after him whose exploits the world adopted to arrive at what we have today. Record has it that the first billionaire in the world was Nimrod. He was a hunter, the first on earth to be a mighty man. After him, there has been several others. 

According to a report by Oxford in, last updated November 2016, the top ten in the list of  the “People who changed the world” are Jesus Christ, Thomas Jefferson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lord Buddha, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Muhammad, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. Also in the list, but not in order of merit are Sir Isaac Newton, Pope John Paul II, Mohammed Ali, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.

Talking about the uniqueness of individuals as in every one of us, we have the power to manage our thoughts which determines our feelings, actions, results and the our lifestyle, in which case we have the choice to be happy, sad, lazy, rich and poor through our reactions to what our environment and life generally throws at us. Then how come we keep addressing the challenges facing our country from the expectation that they should change, when the only control we have is over our individual self?

The most common complaint we hear around us today is something like- ‘the people in government are corrupt, Nigerians need reorientation, whereas the people who changed the world did so through individual exploits while we’ve not witnessed anywhere is history where God spoke to the masses to take action.

There is also the law of attraction, where we attract things we think about. When we combine this with our wishful thinking as a nation, we can now understand why the things that manifest are corruption, poverty, disunity and hopelessness.  

You can take your mind to all the conferences you have attended in recent time and look at what were discussed. Even at the the top level of government, they keep talking about corruption and it continues to wax stronger. Can’t we talk about good things like green energy, modern airports, electric cars, superhighways, Blockchain technology, and entrepreneurship? When we start talking about these good things, people that have or are producing them will start noticing us, asking how we need them and will eventually be attracted. This understanding could even be the way forward to world peace. 

Why it’s understandable that many are frustrated and would rather stay away from a forum like this in the absence of nothing to show for similar ones in the past, I think the task before us should be about how we can make this one different by first searching our mind to reflect on who we are and what capacity we have to act over our thoughts to achieve positive results. 

I think our discourse here or in other places should first establish our individual connection to the issue at stake and how our understanding and action can bring about changes. 

I was fascinated by a recent interview granted by a Nigerian born Chris Imafidon, a Professor at Oxford University, England. Imafidon, an autistic, whose children have been described as world’s brainiest kids shed light on how he had repeatedly turned students judged to be the worst to the best performers. He said every child is a genius and it shouldn’t matter if a child is at the top of the class, the bottom or middle. 

What struck me was how he made the process of achieving this looks so simple. He said, “I didn’t even teach them all the subjects, I just SPOKE TO THEIR PERSONALITY, and I used one or two subjects as samples and they were flying. In one year, they beat the best.”

We all were once children, which means our geniuses could not have been denied, or dormant somewhere due to lack of discovery. Could it be too late or impossible to go back and rediscover?

We can say that as for the children, their cases are easily redeemable because of the fewer premonitions to deal with.

 Talking about misconception, do we really know who we are? As simple as that question may sound, it’s still a tragedy that Africans still don’t know who they are, so how are we expected to know where we are going? 

If all what people and organisations around the world can focus their efforts on is to help Africans discover who they are in this 21st century, I think the greatest misery of human existence from poverty, corruption, hopelessness among others will just disappear. 

The approach should be to seek for the few with the knowledge of the truth and persuade them to save the world.

We all were once children  born with neutral mind and grew up to become who we are due to all the conscious and unconscious programming of life. Our leaders that are thought to be corrupt and incompetent were not born to be wicked, but in a way, they too are victims. Victims of lack of knowledge. 

For Africans, it has been a long journey. Along the way, we took the little things that matter most for granted and we lost them. Things like the virtue to love, prosper and be our brother’s keepers. We slumbered and dozed off. When we woke up, we did not bother to examine the account of what happened when we were asleep. Up till today, most people are still saying, does it really matter for us to know? They don’t want to know that we are made in the same image of God, that we share the same DNA and have the same power of creation to live a world without impossibilities. 

Imagine what our children can do with information and understanding that the first man on earth was an African, and that his genius is in all of us from generation to generation, to the latest baby that is being born as we are here today.

Was it not said that people perish because of lack of knowledge? Thou shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free? How come people disregard knowledge when it’s so obvious as the savior? Could it be a conspiracy? May be it was then, but now, I think it is more out of uncared attitude and lack of motivation. 

By the way, who are our mentors and role models? The Chris Imafidon, Professor Wole Soyinka and many other outstanding Africans who have the knowledge of the truth are living abroad. It’s a monumental tragedy and loss to Africa not to feel concerned that its best brains are guarded jealously abroad when institutions should have been built around them to inspire our children every 24 hours of our days are deprived of needed resources. 

When I contacted Professor Wole Soyinka to be part of this lecture earlier in the year, you know, his reply was, "kindly let me stand excused however, as I am unable to guarantee my physical presence in Nigeria during around that date.” But he sent his "most sincere wishes for the fulfillment of the goals of your foundation." 

You know what that means? Imagine if he is a Residence Professor at this prestigious University of Lagos? We would have all be blessed with his presence like that of Professor Ralph Akinfeleye today.

We are always quick to say that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow with an illusion that in the worst case scenario, those who are there now will  one day be old and die to create  space for those coming behind them, but we have been proved wrong over and over again like in the case of Zimbabwe in the last few days that the tomorrow may not even come for our youth, unlike in places like Canada, France and Australia where they are already living in their tomorrow today. 

Africa has lost yesterday and today while tomorrow is still left at the mercy of wishes. For Africa to ever have any relevance at all at any time in the future, the youth have to be DELIBERATELY PINCHED now to start having completely different understanding of the self and the capacity required to transit to selflessness that is expected of any leader.

It has to be a completely new understanding of the tragedy and unsustainability of the continuous measurement of our strength by our efforts and hard labour, and that our wealth as nations and continent should no longer be measured by the volume of our oil reserves, gold deposit and foreign exchange reserves, but by the quality of the content of our thoughts. 

DELIBERATELY PINCHED. Who will DELIBERATELY PINCHED our youth? Chris Imafidon has demonstrated that the genius in us can be reawaken, but who and how will it be done? 

This thought inspired the theme of this year’s SAFFGLIA lecture,

‘The Youth and the Challenge of Bridging Credible Leadership Gap in Africa’ 

How can we DELIBERATELY PINCHED the youth for them to be conscious of the level responsibility they will need if Africa will ever exist in the future. We need to start pinching now.

I want us to perform one simple experiment by standing up. Pinch the person next to you and make these affirmations. Say after me: 

1 I am myself, I surely know who I am 

2 I am an African 

3 I am the problem of Africa because, before now I didn’t do anything about it thinking that it will just go away 

4 But now, I have a new awareness that only me can solve the problem of Africa 

5 The problem has disappeared now that I have stepped into the position of a leader to inspire and not disappoint the person I’m pinching now

6 This pinching is to serve as a reminder when next time we meet that I have not defaulted on my pledges

7 So help me God

We can sit down.

This lecture today is not being sponsored by any organization, deliberately to drive home the point that the project was not conceived to make extra bucks or seek any relevance, but to bring to our awareness that our hopelessness is self-inflicted and a mindset, and that within us lies the solution from those that have seen the light. 

Going forward, the foundation will require all the support it can get to achieve its objective of getting Africa to embrace good governance in order to uplift the standard of living of our people. Like my mentor, Ugo Omeogu would say, any imagination, no matter how big has its physical equivalence. I’m inspired by this that one day we will have an Africa that we will be proud of. 

At different time in life, people do have an unforgettable encounter, either through reading of a book, watching a movie, preaching that will bring about a lasting change. But the majorities are still there wallowing in darkness without  any opportunity of exposure to the right knowledge that will change their life. Imagine the change we can impact if our youth are exposed to the truth through the right mentoring, for them to know who they are and the essence of life. When did you see your own light to become what you are today? 

 In 2018, this foundation will be organizing a three day leadership mentoring retreat for about 500 youth from all part of the country with two representatives from the 153 universities in the country, one representative each from all the 83 polytechnics and the 82 college of educations. 

The foundation will need all the support it can get for the success of this programme. The United States Government through its Embassy in Nigeria has been sponsoring young Nigerians for entrepreneurship and leadership training in Mandela Washington Fellowship every year. We love this and will need similar support in the area of providing competent facilitators for our leadership mentoring retreat. We will equally need the support of the UK and other governments that are well represented here today. I know I can also count on my mentor, Mr Omeogu in that regard. We will also need financial support for hotel accommodation, transportation and feeding.

There is this Bible quote that “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. As for the youth that will converge for the retreat, the idea will be to SPEAK TO THEIR PERSONALITY as prescribed by Dr Imafidon. We will let them know that their life is not by accident, that they are uniquely created for a purpose. When we give them the right leadership training and exposure, they will go back to their schools and communities and transfer the knowledge, after all, while one will chase one thousand, two shall chase ten thousand. And if we can do it successfully in Nigeria in one or two years, we will then extend it to other African countries. With this, we can say that the journey to prepare the youth to bridge the gap of credible leadership in Africa has started. 

As I round up, I want to say that we should never ever doubt the power of the spoken words. When God created the earth, He spoke, let there be light and there was light. Imagine, we can achieve a great deal if we say the right thing to touch the right cord in the right person at the right time. So let’s start the talking now.

 Once again, I thank you for sparing your precious time to be here today. 

May God bless you all.

*Being the address by Mr Segun Adeleye, Chairman, Segun Adeleye Foundation For Good Leadership In Africa (SAFFGLIA)  at the 2ND Annual SAFFGLIA African Leadership Lecture with the Theme: ‘The Youth And The Challenge Of Bridging Credible Leadership Gap In Africa’ at the University of Lagos on Thursday, December 7, 2017. 

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