Nigerian native helped to steer engineering firm into powerhouse .

Montana was not what Robert Agbede had in mind.

A Nigerian native, Agbede long wanted to move to America, and in January 1976, he got that chanceImage. He excelled in science and math at a private American high school outside his hometown of Lagos, and universities offered scholarships: Stanford, Penn State and the Colorado School of Mines, among others.

Agbede chose Montana Tech in Butte because the school would let him start at once.

“I wanted to leave so bad,” said Agbede, whose father died when Agbede was 8, leaving him to head the household that included his mother and three younger brothers. “I had been taking care of my family. It was time to leave and enjoy myself.”

When he arrived in Montana, Agbede stared at the bleak, frozen landscape and wondered if he’d made a mistake.

“I had black platform shoes, a two-piece suit, bell bottoms. I grew a big afro. That was the era of ‘Shaft,’ and I learned how to walk like ‘Super Fly,’ ” Agbede recalled. “But I didn’t even have a coat. Of all the places I could have picked… .”

Better days awaited him.

Agbede today heads Chester Engineers Inc., headquartered in Moon. On March 31, the National Society of Black Engineers will present him with its 2012 Golden Torch Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. The society said Chester Engineers is the largest black-owned environmental and engineering design company in the United States and the largest water and wastewater treatment plant design and management company in Western Pennsylvania.

“Every so often, I ask myself, ‘Why me?’ ” Agbede said.

His unlikely rise strikes longtime friend Glenn Mahone, senior partner at the Downtown law firm Reed Smith, as mythical. In any good story, Mahone said, the hero comes from nothing. He embarks on an arduous quest, ends up in a strange, foreboding land and overcomes the odds through sheer determination.

“For a black guy from Lagos, looking like Shaft, to end up in Butte, Montana — I mean, Butte, Montana! — and eventually buy Chester Engineers? That takes courage, and it takes confidence,” Mahone said.

Agbede spent six months in Butte before his uncle, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, convinced him to transfer.

“They said ‘Pittsburgh is the smoky city,’ but it was heaven to me,” Agbede said. “I loved it. My reference line was Butte. I said, let me get out of Butte, and I just left. I had an AMC Pacer, one of the worst cars ever, and I just left it there. In Pittsburgh, the cup was half full.”

In 1979, he graduated from Pitt with an engineering degree and entered the doctoral program while working for the research arm of the National Coal Council. Through most of the 1980s, he worked as an engineer with Babcock Co., and in 1987, his life changed, he said.

U.S. Steel called, seeking help with reducing dust from the longwall mining machine at its coal mine in Alabama, he said. The Mine Safety and Health Administration threatened to close the mine if U.S. Steel couldn’t fix the problem.

“They asked how much I would charge to help,” Agbede said. “I didn’t know; I said $1,000 because that number sounded nice to me. They agreed, and I came down for the weekend.”

In a Birmingham hotel room, Agbede could not sleep that night.

“I left the television on, and there was Jimmy Swaggart,” Agbede said. “He was on one knee, he was crying and saying, ‘Lord, I have sinned; forgive me.’ Well, I got down on my knees, too, and I prayed: ‘Lord, don’t use all your energy on Jimmy because I need your help, too!’ “

Underground the next morning, he quickly determined how to fix the dust problem, he said. Agbede designed a device he called a scrubber, which uses water sprayers to remove dust. He patented the design, one of several patent notices framed in the Chester Engineers offices.

“We walked out of the mine, we were wearing coveralls and gear, everyone was celebrating, and I was walking like Rambo,” Agbede said.

Two days later, U.S. Steel asked for a proposal to work on seven other problematic mines, Agbede said. He was unsure whether he wanted to start his own business.

“I never prayed that hard in my life,” he said. “I called them and said, ‘I need an advance’ — I was trying to make them tell me no. They said, ‘How much?’ and I said $17,500. They said, ‘OK, go pick it up at Ross Street.’ I went to pick up the check, and that’s how I got started.”

He bought gear, rented an office in Monroeville and started Advance Technology Services Inc. The company grew steadily, and in 2003, Agbede bought Chester Engineers from U.S. Filter Co. Chester was founded in Pittsburgh’s North Side in 1910. Today, Chester Engineers has offices throughout the country and does projects around the world. Agbede spent 225 days on the road last year.

He won’t release financial numbers, for competitive reasons. He wouldn’t even say how many people he employs.

He is more forthcoming about his efforts to help students. Agbede has not forgotten his roots. He established the Robert O. Agbede Scholarship at Pitt to help black students pursuing engineering degrees and has given more than $3 million in other endowments.

His desire to give back is one reason former WQED President George Miles Jr. took a position as chairman of Chester Engineer’s board of directors when he and his wife planned to retire to Florida. Miles knows little about engineering, both men acknowledge, but Agbede wanted him as a mentor and moral compass.

“A lot of people work and make a lot of money, and then later on, they realize that their lives made no difference at all,” Miles said. “I’m about trying to make a difference. So is Bob. This company, if we’re successful, we’re going to make some money. But we’re also going to make a difference. … Bob takes that seriously.”


Read more: Nigerian native helped to steer engineering firm into powerhouse – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Looking at Nigeria and the prospects for 2012, the natural and easy outlook would be to expect doom. Two issues especially make that view understandable: Boko Haram and fuel subsidy arguments. There is more to a year than these duo though.

As a people, we would be doing our country and ourselves a lot of good by focusing on what could be better instead of what has been made bad. Where is the best place to start the process of national development? You probably guessed right, the individual. Whether or not a country attains its goals and visions is primarily a function of its people. We have a responsible to develop our individual capacities in the coming year. It is not enough to go ballistic when those at the helm get things wrong when on the personal level you are not doing the right things too.

If Nigeria is good it is the people, if it is bad it is certainly the people. That is the truth. Our country is blessed and we must begin to focus on self-development and never give up on our nationhood. The government may not always get things right – no government in the world has that ability but we must help to improve governance by positively contributing our quota to national development.

This is a positive way to look at the year. Look at it from what you expect from your end. Yes, you are one of only hundreds of millions of Nigerians but look at yourself as a nation in itself. Imagine, taking up the challenge of communicating the strength and beauty of our country with fellow Nigerians and people you come across. That communication would always be more effective when it is done via your actions.

Nigerians are shining across the world despite our country’s not-so-good global image. We are her ambassadors not those paid to do the job. We are the people that define the perception people have of our country. We have a responsibility to start redefining that perception. Will Nigeria be great again? Better ask will I be a great Nigerian? If your answer is yes, then you stand a good stead of believing in the future greatness of Nigeria.

Through all the days, months and years of corruption, bad governance and conflicts , our country remains one. We will be one even in the years ahead. Every country has been through times like these. Some lost their identity after that while others stayed strong and stayed as one. So far, Nigeria looks like it is staying strong. The least you can do as a citizen is to believe in the future of our great country.

Belief comes with action. In 2012, be the Nigerian you desire to see in every Nigerian. You are the greatness Nigeria looks forward to.


Dignified, Though Disabled.


According to Harry Emerson Forsdick –

“Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world – making the most of one’s best”

This is the story of Mohammed Dahiru.

Adversity is normally an excuse to submit one’s self to the mercy of others, and worst still in the case of most of sub-Saharan Africa, disability is an excuse to depend on others for your daily bread. But some people have chosen to rise above that and doggedly preserve their dignity.

In a world, where even some of the able bodied amongst us have chosen loafing around and milking the resources of the system instead of applying their God given abilities to eke out a living, a few men, though with disabilities that obviously should normally put them at a disadvantage in a fast paced world like ours, have chosen to, against all odds, not sink to the depths of become a drag and a dreg in society.

Mohammed was born in Kano in 1978. He was born a healthy, bubbly, and vivacious kid. He cried normally like many normal kids, he ate and slept like infants should. Then misfortune struck. Mohammed fell sick. Unfortunately for him, his parents where to poor to afford the appropriate kind of health care for young Mohammed. The illness got worse, and in the end he lost his limbs due to complications. The sun of his future seemed to have set prematurely and it looked like he will end up like most of the other physically challenged people around him.

In 1982, Mohammed moved to Lagos with his parents, probably in search of greener pasture.

As he grew into a man, Mohammed quickly picked up ideas that instilled in him the need to survive on his own and to do so with dignity. Instead of going into the act of begging for alms, Mohammed decided to go into trading. He raised some money and bought pens. All along the Lagos Marina and CMS, Mohammed will, with his cargo of pens tied around his shriveled legs, crawl on the asphalt, weather it is wet or scorching hot. It didn’t matter to him if he made little or much, what mattered to him was that he made enough to feed and put a roof over himself and his wife and their child.

Fortune smiled on him, when one day, a passerby who has been seeing him ply his trade day in day out, felt very impressed and bought him a wheelchair.

Instead of Mohammed to see this as a tool for comfort, he saw it as a means of expanding his business. So from his meager savings he bought more pens and turned his wheelbarrow into a “Pens-on-wheels” shop.


Today, Mohammed serves as an example of the resilience of the average Nigerian. In the face of negative stereotypes, Mohammed, like many Nigerians strive to make an honest living, add value to their lives and add their quota to the nation’s development. They should be encouraged. If you pass the Marina and CMS, you can’t miss this hardworking young man. When you can, stop by and say hi to him, it surely will go a long way. And if you, like the Good Samaritan who bought him a wheelbarrow, feel like encouraging him even further, please do not hesitate. You would by that have encouraged more physically challenged to make use of whatever they have left to earn a living in dignity.

Celebrating Nigerian achievers.

Flipping through stackedly-packed pages of a chequered history, one would readily posit that Nigeria, like almost any other country of the world, has had her own fair share of post-independent ups and downs .If the wave of internal issues rocking the nation at the moment are anything to go by, saying the stakes are below par would amount to saying the obvious. However, It’s worthy of note that an integral part of the Nigerian nation has been the dynamics of her people. A Rational thirst for success, resilience, and a great deal of optimism sum up the symptomatic hallmark of the Nigerian people.

This page mirrors a handful of prominent Nigerians, who have excelled in their different specters of interest, leaving behind indelible tales of their successful exploits. With the cream of renowned world Writers talking the Soyinkas, the school of effluent Journalists thinking the Okes, the academia of broad-minded Engineers celebrating the internet breakthrough of the Emeagwalis, the crop of distinguished Medical Personnel puzzled by the success story of the Kutis and world fashion super stars ruminating over the exploits of the Daregos, there is no gainsaying in the fact that, a ‘Nigeria’ that works hard enough, making success a hallmark, clenches in her fist the keys to becoming the focal point in a world of growing economies! That working, pragmatic Nigeria, devoid of all forms of ‘malactions’, starts right here, with us. The Nigerians featured on this page are/were the quintessence of a working, successful Nigeria. We all can make it work!


Engineering/Inventions and Discovery;

 Philip Emeagwali, referred to by Bill Clinton as the “Bill GATES of Africa”, is a supercomputer genius, who played a major role in making today’s  internet a reality. He was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum field His achievements were quoted in a speech by Bill Clinton as an example of what Nigerians could achieve when given the opportunity.

Medicine and surgery;

Dr. Elizabeth O. Ofili was the first woman president of the Association of Black Cardiologists.  She is nationally recognized for her expertise in the field of echocardiography, the use of sound waves to study the heart and how it functions. She received the Young Investigator Research Award from the American Society of Echocardiography and Mallinckrodt Cardiology in 1993, for her echo studies of myocardial blood flow. In 2000 she became the first woman to serve as president of the Association of Black Cardiologists.

Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti
(1927 – 2003)(Nigeria’s Minister of Health and Human Services, 1985-1992). It was during his tenure as health minister that a law against smoking was enacted and manufacturers were compelled to carry warnings such as “Cigarette smokers are liable to die young,” and “The Federal Ministry of Health warns that tobacco smoking is dangerous to health.”  Professor Ransome-Kuti has also served as chairman of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board (1991-1992) . He was a guest professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
Law and Justice;

Gani Fawehinmi, (died 05 September 2009) was a Nigerian author, publisher, philanthropist, social critic, human and civil rights lawyer, politician and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) (the equivalent of the rank of Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom). His supporters have called him “the scourge of irresponsible governments, a sphygmomanometer with which the blood pressure of dictators is gauged, the veritable conscience of the nation and the champion of the interests and causes of the masses”.Many Nigerians called him the people’s president.

With his boundless energy he tenaciously and uncompromisingly pursued and crusaded his beliefs, principles and ideals for the untrammelled rule of law, undiluted democracy, all embracing and expansive social justice, protection of fundamental human rights and respect for the hopes and aspirations of the masses who are victims of misgovernment of the affairs of the Nation.


Femi Oke is a Nigerian-born British television presenter and journalist. A graduate of Birmingham University, England, Femi currently lives in New York and appears as a daily newscaster, contributor and interviewer on Public Radio International/WNYC’s morning public radio news program, The Takeaway. She is a former anchor for CNN International‘s World Weather service at the network’s global headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. She presented weather segments for the programs Your World Today and World News. She also regularly hosted Inside Africa, now fronted by Isha Sesay, a programme that looks into the economic, social and cultural affairs and trends in Africa.


Wole Soyinka (born 13 July 1934) is a Nigerian writer, poet and playwright. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, the first African to be so honoured. In 1994, he was designated United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communication.  

Fashion, Style and Modelling;

Agbani Darego (born 1983), is a Nigerian model, best known for being the first black African to be crowned Miss World in 2001, She did so at record age 18!
She is signed to Next Model Management, and is currently pursuing a modelling career in Europe.  She has modelled for the renowned L’Oréal cosmetics.


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Nigeria’s World Bank Magnate. (born June 13, 1954) She was a former Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of Nigeria and was notable for being the first woman to hold either of those positions. She served as finance minister from July 2003 until her appointment as foreign minister in June 2006, and as foreign minister until her resignation in August 2006. Okonjo-Iweala was considered as a possible replacement for former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. On October 4 2007 she was appointed as Managing Director of the World Bank by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

Education and Youth


Paula and Peter Imafidon: Youngest kids ever to pass the A/AS Mathematics papers at record age 7, and more stunningly enough the widely-acclaimed University of Cambridge’s Advanced Mathematics paper at record age 8; set to make history by being the youngest to gain admission into High School. Watch out for these promising Nigerian kids!!!



Nwankwo Christian Nwosu Kanu He is the most decorated African footballer in history, having won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year awards amongst others.
Out of the hundred of players that ply their trade in the English Premier League, Kanu of Nigeria remains the only player to have won the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Premier League, FA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal. How Glorious! He is also a UNICEF ambassador.



When it comes to music we are so represented it will have to occupy a whole post from Fela to the latest news of our own Mohits crew being signed on to G.O.O.D music label.



One thing you cannot take away from Nigeria is her affluently diverse cultural outlook. Saying its rich and highly-varied would be saying the least. From East to West, North to South, Nigeria’s rich heritage speak volumes of the versatility and industry of her people. Let us  introduce you to the breath-taking beauty of a motley of Nigerian cultural festivals. Nigeria indeed, is a paradise on earth!



The Arugungu fishing festival

Call it the Fishing-Frenzy Festival. It’s one of the most famous cultural festivals in Nigeria, and is celebrated to mark the beginning of the fishing season in Arugungu, a river-side town in Kebbi state. Celebrated between February and March every year, AFF sees most local men and boys entering the Argungun river, armed with large fishnet sccops. They are joined by canoes filled with drummers, plus men rattling huge seed-filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters. Vast nets are cast and a wealth of fish is harvested. This is followed by Canoe racing, wild duck hunting, bare-handed fishing, diving competitions and swimming. There is drinking, singing and dancing into the night afterwards. A fun time indeed you would say!



Eyo Festival

Eyo is not just unique, but central to the city of Lagos, Africa’s largest Metropolis. It’s widely believed that Eyo is the forerunner of a mod­ern day carnival in Brazil. How Interesting! On Eyo Day, the main highway in the heart of Nigeria’s traditional capital and Africa is closed. That establishes the importance of this festival to the people of Lagos!

Here, the participants all pay homage to the Oba of Lagos. Eyo festival takes place whenever occasion and tradition demand, but it is usually held as final burial rites for a highly regarded chief.


The Sango

The Shango festival celebrates the god of thunder, an ancestor who is said to have hanged himself. Sacrifices are made at the shrine of the god for 20 days, right at the compound of the hereditary priest. On the final day, the priest becomes possessed by the god and gains magical powers. He ‘spits’ fire and swallows gunpowder.  Interesting, you would say!The procession goes off to the Oba’s palace and the feast begins, accompanied by palm wine, roasted meat, and more dancing.

In the past, the priest of this cult would have been a very rich and powerful man. With the decline in power of the Obas, and the large numbers of people who no longer profess to believe in the old pantheon of gods, the priests of such cults are now much poorer and less powerful than they once were.



The Benin festival

Benin Festival is held at the end of every rainy season after harvest has been gathered. This festival also serves to get eligible young men and women acquainted, mostly in the village square. Both boys and girls have elaborate markings painted on their bodies. The boys also take part in a tug-of -war contest, a test of their strength.

The new yam festival

New Yam Festival (a.k.a. Iri-ji) – is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by the Igbos. It is celebrated in the month of August every year. Each Igbo community has a specific day in the month of August for this occasion. The day symbolizes the conclusion of a work cycle [farming season] and the beginning of another. Invitation to the new yam festival is usually open to everyone that is, there is abundant food not only for the harvesters, but also for friends and well-wishers. Cultural dances and a host of other festivities mark the eating of new yam.



Thanks to 5 points Magazine Moscow.


Did you know that John Dabiri, who won the prestigious $500,000 McArthur fellowship award for his work which touched on a wide range of fields to unravel the secrets of one of the earliest means of animal locomotion is Nigerian?

Biophysicist John Dabiri was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010. The Fellowship is a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more.

Did you know that the first black African and second black writer ever to receive the United States of America’s most prestigious literature award, the Medal of Honour for Literature, Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe (born 16 November 1930) popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian?

Did you know that the first ever 8-year-olds (Primary school Kids) to pass the University of Cambridge’s Advanced Mathematics examination, Peter and Paula Imafidon are Nigerians? Meet twins Paula and Peter Imafidon – they’ve just passed the University of Cambridge Advanced Maths A level and they are just 8 years old! They chat to GMTV’s John Stapleton

Did you know that multi award winning and norminated hollywood star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who acted in “Salt”, 2012 and many popular movies is a Nigerian, born to Nigerian parents (Arinze and Obiajulu) on the 10th of july 1977, in Forest gate, London?

Did you know that Blessing Okugbare, born on the 9th of October, 1988, the
fastest female athlete in Africa, Olympic bronze medalist, Consistent
former NCAA champion, and the 100m World record holder in April 2010 is a
Nigerian born in Sapele, Delta state?

Did you know that Jelani Aliyu, Senior Creative Designer for General Motors and Project Team leader for the Design of the Chevrolet Volt is a Nigerian? Jelani Aliyu, Senior Creative Designer for General Motors and Project Team leader for the Design of the Chevrolet Volt. Jelani talks about growing up in Nigeria and his life as a car designer.

Did you know that the best African artist in the Music of black origin awards is a Nigerian called Nneka Egbuna (born 24 December 1981) and
grew up in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria?

Did you know that one of the most beautiful tourist attractive, lush green highlands in the world called Obudu cattle ranch is in Obaniku L.G.A, Cross river state, Nigeria?

Did you know that according to the University of Michigan’s World Values Surveys (WVS), which has compiled data on the happiest countries in the world for over twenty years (Their results are considered the most authoritative by happiness researchers), Nigerians are the happiest people in the world?

Did you know that multiple grammy awards winning musician Sade Adu, {Helen Folasade Adu, OBE, (born 16 January 1959)}, is a Nigerian that was born in ADO-EKITI, Nigeria?


Though you might have known a few of these facts,i bet some Nigerians didn’t know at least two of them.

We have so much to be proud of.

NIGERIA DECIDED:2011 Elections.The Positives,The Gains,The Future.

With the comprehensive defeat of the bragging incumbent Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, the electioneering curtain was drawn on the 2011 General elections. How the elections went still remain a matter for personal conviction, but on the whole, it has been adjudged the freest and most credible elections ever held in Nigeria, eventually laying to rest the record set by the June 12, 1993 elections that produced Bashorun MKO Abiola as the presumed winner.

Many things are quickly noticeable about how this exercise went and about the issues it threw up. Many of these issues are positives and give a lot of hope that Nigeria is on the road to rebirth in our national life. Let us now look at some of these positives in detail:

  1. 1.        Political Awareness of The Electorate Has Grown

Before now, the general opinion was that votes do not count in Nigeria. People, due to experiences of the past, had the preconceived opinion that “they already know who will win”. For that reason they stay home and not vote and allow the ignoble politicians have a field day stuffing ballot boxes with pre-thumbed ballot papers. That was not allowed to happen this time around. Civil society groups, religious leaders and institutions, youths on social media, and the popular uprisings in the Middle East raised the level of awareness of the people. The electorate now found its voice, it found belief that it can force change, that it can demand for accountability from its leaders and it can by its sheer number withdraw the mandate given to such leaders and give it to another to go represent them. This level of awareness and determination has not been seen in the Nigerian in a generation. Non-performing governors and assembly members fell left, right, and centre, including the ones who boasted that the rigging and intimidation structures they have on ground will outlast the people in the streets chanting for change.

  1. 2.      INEC Stayed Largely Independent

Unlike the elections of 2007, the Independent National Electoral Commission was allowed to work as a truly independent entity. At the top, it was led by a man of noble ideals, a man who valued his name above all the wealth he could have left for his generations unborn, a man who was out to defend his constituency, the academia, who it’s shameless, and greedy member Professor Maurice Iwu, the former chairman, had led down the road to perdition. Even under fierce criticisms for the sloppiness the Commission exhibited at the beginning of the process with the postponement of the House of Assembly elections, the Commission still rose up to the occasion and portrayed transparency and good faith throughout. It didn’t allow the bad eggs within to sidetrack it; it forged on and on and delivered as was expected of it at the beginning of the process. INEC served as a viable partner to the people in their determination to bring about change and true democracy.

  1. 3.      The Electorate Has Become More Discerning

The winners and losers were voted in or out due to proven track records and non-performance. Alao Akala, Ikedi Ohakim, Dimeji Bankole etc where all given the sack by the people for abysmal performance and mismanagement of the wealth of their States or Constituencies. On the other hand, Babatunde Fashola, Rotimi Amechi and the likes were returned and asked to continue the good work they had started for another 4 years. That was true democracy in action, not the charade of 2007 which the judiciary tried so hard to correct. Party affiliations where left in the background while choosing these leaders. In areas where a certain party performed the people analyzed its candidate and made a judgment on his suitability and duly returned him or her, and in places where the incumbent’s or the hopeful’s political party had been adjudged to be non-performing, the people simply affirmed their desire to have both kicked out of office or not even allowed in to begin with. Nothing beats that.

  1. 4.      The People Can Now Hold Elected Leaders Accountable

Considering the fact that this past election was the people’s election, where millions of Nigerians defied rain and shine, exhibited courage in the face of the threat of danger from bomb blasts, thugs and the likes, and came out to vote in or out leaders, as the case required, then the members of the political class should expect a people that will be out to demand accountability, transparency, and true service from them. The danger of not delivering on campaign promises is simply a much more energized, educated, and determined electorate voting them out at the nearest possible time. Things have taken a different turn. Gone are the days when an Ikedi Ohakim will get on CNN and pay for fancy 3D adverts while in reality he has been busy scamming the people, gone are the days when Goodluck Jonathan will continue to promise Nigerians 400Megawatts of power and uninterrupted electricity without stop, gone are the days when a Dimeji Bankole will utter total balderdash and feel the people are too docile to raise an eyebrow. This is the new Nigeria, the Nigeria where the people will not hesitate to gang-up and kick you sky high if you do not perform.

This is a time to be proud of Nigeria, a time when we should wear the cloak of patriotism and nationalism and rally round to get us firmly on the road to true greatness, greatness which has been derailed, but which remains our true destiny.

God bless Nigeria.

Henry Okelue


Nigeria’s Billion-Dollar Lady Defies Skeptics

Amina Az-Zubair

At the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Amina Az-Zubair smiled and said, “You’re probably wondering, ‘Who’s this lady in the Nigerian clothes with the English accent?’ “

Not exactly -the question was more, “Who’s this lady Bill Gates thinks is brilliant?”

A large crowd had gathered with the same query. TED, a set of talks designed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading,” is known for gathering innovative thinkers. But this particular session, curated by Gates, brought together four people the billionaire philanthropist thought are especially innovative.

Az-Zubair, one of the chosen four, undersold herself as a lady in Nigerian clothes. Back home, she also had one billion dollars and a mandate, as a special assistant to the Nigerian president, to achieve her country’s Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). More importantly, she’s made huge strides toward realizing that set of eight United Nations indicators aimed at eradicating extreme poverty by 2015 -all while giving hope to other African nations that they can move past a calling card of corruption, and into a better future.

We started to see what caught Gates’ attention.

“Progress made (in Nigeria) not only affects tens of millions,” said Gates onstage about the country that represents one fifth of Africa’s population. “It also sets an example for the rest of the continent.”

Az-Zubair was raised in northern Nigeria, the first child of an English mother and a Nigerian father. Part of a small minority of educated girls, she went to England for university. After obtaining her degree, Az-Zubair’s father called her home “to give service to Nigeria.”

The troubled nation of 150 million has a history of conflict and about 70 million people living in poverty. Az-Zubair saw this while criss-crossing the nation designing schools and hospitals. She was disturbed by the rampant corruption that left unfinished water projects in communities and schools with only one textbook to every five children.

In 2000, the new millennium gave birth to the MDGs. Az-Zubair was put in charge of achieving them for her country. The first step was tackling goal eight -developing a global partnership for development. In 2005, the country’s president negotiated debt cancellation, a move that saved Nigeria $1 billion annually in interest payments. Az-Zubair lobbied to have that windfall allocated to her office for the MDGs.

“The international community was very worried that we were going to put this in a black sinkhole,” she says. “But Nigerians were even more worried. . They had lost confidence in our ability to do the right things.”

Az-Zubair estimated that for every $10 in aid allocated to state governors for distribution, only $2 reached people in need. Local officials pocketed the cash and corrupt contractors accepted money for work they didn’t perform.

Az-Zubair wanted to change that, and she knew “naming and shaming” wouldn’t help anyone.

“While you’d like to take a big stick, you just might use that big stick and affect more than the governor or the corrupt civil servant. In fact, it just might be to the detriment of the young girl,” she explains. “What we chose to do was . fix government. It was ambitious, crazy. But, that was the only way we were going to reach the millions who needed help.”

Az-Zubair distributed bonds rather than aid to the governors. Each bond was accompanied by a very detailed (and very public) list of items the money needed to be spent on over one year. The governors were required to a submit reports detailing how their compliance while a group of 82 NGOs served as an independent monitor.

If Az-Zubair’s office couldn’t follow the money, she recalled the bonds forcing local leadership to pay outof-pocket for their waste. In her first year, she issued three recalls. Delinquencies reduced as word spread that Az-Zubair meant business.

Surprisingly, so did the feelings of hopelessness. Az-Zubair said one contractor who had previously left jobs unfilled called her to say, “Thank you for showing us the problems and the challenges were so huge.”

Afraid of not getting paid, the workers actually headed out to a remote village to drill a well. Upon arrival, they realized one wouldn’t be enough for the desperate community. So, they voluntarily drilled a second. “We were looking over their shoulders. We were making them part of the family to address the huge challenges of the poor in Nigeria,” she says.

Since their inception, the MDGs have been met with cynicism and called unachievable in the face of apathy and corruption. That’s exactly the attitude Az-Zubair faced when Nigerians and the international community assumed her billion-dollar windfall would fall into a sinkhole.

Today, you can see in the money in the form of a 27-per-cent reduction in the under-five mortality rate and the 32-per-cent reduction in the maternal mortality rate. As well, 20 million people have gained access to clean water.

In that way, Az-Zubair has achieved a ninth, unspoken MDG -the restoration of hope in Africa’s most populous nation.

That’s an idea worth spreading across the continent.

By Marc And Craig Kielburger,

Edmonton Journal


“If you are not poor enough to take charity, you are rich enough to give it.” 
– Anonymous

In the spirit of celebrating all that is good about Nigeria, it would be unfair not to acknowledge young people involved in philanthropy/charity/empowerment/volunteering. These people are committed to giving back to the society they were brought up in, I’m talking about young people trying to do something positive for their society and trying to make a difference in people’s lives, they have different causes of course and I have compiled a list of some of these non-profit making organisations/charities/foundations/projects/initiatives that I know personally detailing what they are about. I’m sure there are more and you can leave them in the comments section.

1)    The Bola Soyode foundation:

Founded by Kikelola Soyode in the summer of 2004, this educational foundation is dedicated to helping young children who have lost one or both parents get ahead with their education.  The Bola Soyode Educational Foundation was started to help a few of these young people by making a little change in their situations. The foundation currently supports nine children, 4 of which are orphans. ‘A friend of mine once said, “One man cannot do everything, but he can do something”. This is my own “something” and I can do more with your help’- Kikelola Soyode

To read more about the BSF visit You can also get in touch with Kike via twitter @Kikelola.

2)    The Pink Pearl Breast Cancer Foundation:

Founded by Orode Jade Uduaghan in October 2007, Pink pearl foundation is a breast cancer foundation focused on improving awareness of breast cancer among Nigerian women. It is also involved in donations of Mammogram machines to hospitals around the country and providing free treatment for women who can’t really afford it.  Its major aim is to improve the state of breast cancer in Nigeria and make breast cancer history.

To read more about the pink pearl foundation  visit You can also get in touch with Orode via twitter @Orodej

3)    TEP (The Empowerment Project):

Founded by Itunu Umar-Lawal, Sabirah Oniyangi and Funlola Animashaun in December 2010, the driving ethos of The Empowerment Project (TEP) is the belief that underachievement is unacceptable so therefore it is designed to help underachieving girls realize their true potential. The objective of the project is to provide girls within the target demographic which is girls from lower income backgrounds aged 13-15 with necessary tools for success as well as create awareness on various opportunities available to them. This is achieved via annual workshops and a mentoring scheme where one on one support on a range of issues is provided for the girls by their appointed mentors. To read more about TEP visit You can also contact the TEP ladies via twitter @Juiceegal, @Sabirah0 and @19aries9.

4)    Tweet4Charity:

Tweet4charity is an initiative of some Nigerian users of the social networking site to give back to society. They solicit for donations via twitter and organise periodic visits to various motherless babies’ homes and orphanages in Nigeria. To read more about Tweet4Charity visit You can also search the Hashtag #Tweet4charity on twitter to learn more about this initiative.

5)    The Care Continuity Challenge Initiative (Fair Life Africa Foundation):

Founded by Ms Ufuoma Emerhor and Rev Austin Ezenwa in January 2011, Care Continuity Challenge Initiative is a holistic initiative that offers packages of care and support to street children, struggling single mothers and vulnerable young women in Nigeria.  CCCI provides clean, comfortable and child-friendly environments for street children to meet others of like experience, to make friends and to rest from the inappropriate demands of homelessness and poverty.  It also offers an outreach facility for single mothers and young women caught up in abusive environments, providing them with basic services and resources to help prevail against their constrained circumstances. To read more about CCCI visit . You can also get in touch with them via twitter @CCCInitiative

6)    The Street Project Initiative:

Founded by Rita Omovbude in December 2006, the street Project initiative is focused on building centres for youth development and empowerment. Their mission is to raise funds through profit making business ventures and voluntary donations for the consistent execution of strategic projects in performing arts for youth development. You can read more about the street project by visiting their facebook page

7)    LOTS charity foundation: Founded by Tolu Sangosanya in 2006, LOTS charity foundation is a registered charity organization that caters to the physiological [feeding, clothing and shelter], social, educational, psychological, medical, and emotional needs of street kids and vulnerable children. Their area of focus now in Ajeromi-ifelodun local government is a community called ‘DUSTBIN ESTATE’ in Ajegunle, Lagos state. To read more about LOTS visit



      8) Dada-Etti Children Care Organization :

Founded in February 2010 by Elizabeth Faniro-Dada and Dupe Durosinmi-Etti as an idea that relates to the present condition of the underprivileged children of our society. As the idea sprung upon the President of this organization, she was able to speak her mind to people who would be interested in helping the community, hence, the 11 Executive Board Members. DECCO focuses more on supporting the homeless shelters. We will do so by raising funds for them so that they can have sufficient resources to be able to admit more kids into their homes; hence getting them off the streets. Our long term goal is definitely to shelter each and every child on the streets, this way they are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow. We want to expand as an organization that reaches out to children that are underprivileged, first in Lagos, Nigeria, then further more to other parts of the country. We want to work in collaboration with prospective sponsors to enable us achieve our aim. Even though we are beginners, we hope to host events that will involve and evolve around distinguished members of the society. With annual events, we hope to get the word out about DECCO  and involve a lot of youths like us.

For more information, visit or via twitter @tfaniro




9)  Beyond The Classroom Foundation:  is a non governmental organization, that ministers to young females in the society.  They are devoted to Training,  Educating, Inspiring, Equipping, Empowering and Motivating the girl child. They believe that every girl regardless of her age, background, dream, race, tribe and nationality has the potential for greatness.

To read more about beyond the classroom visit You can also get in touch with them via twitter @BTC_INITIATIVE.



As I said earlier above, these are just a few of these kinds of Projects/initiatives/NGO’s that are run by Nigerian youths. Do leave a comment with whatever ones you know about. Also if you’re interested in volunteering/donating/contributing to any of these organisations listed above. Do contact them, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

As was earlier quoted “One man cannot do everything, but he can do something” .We have so many young Nigerians actually making positive moves, adding value to human life in Nigeria and beyond it’s boarders.

In the next post, I will gladly highlight a few of how we are affecting the world. I know too well THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF GOOD THINGS ABOUT NIGERIA.

Thanks to  Itunu Umar-Lawal (@juiceegal) for her contribution to this post,highly appreciated.


Fela and Hip Hop

Anybody who knows me would tell you I’m a big fan of HipHop, not just the music but the culture, how it came to be and why it was born. Early rap songs were all about the struggle of the streets, the oppression of “The Man” and why “Niggas” have to live in ghettos. Some rappers still give that same story today however you might also peep them in their Bentley talking about being Ghetto Fabulous.

Anyway. I took time to focus on the “story of the struggle” and I believe no other man has been able to give it a better description other than the late great Fela Kuti. Listening to his lyrics you were able to get a vivid description of the nature of the gully Nigerian environment as the country was ushered into military rule. He was like a foreshadow of Tupac Shakur, Nigeria’s answer to Bob Marley. Hmm it’s funny how these great men die in unusual ways…. However this is not why we are here.

So indeed why are here? Let’s just say it was one of my very boring days listening to Fela’s “Beast of No Nation” amongst other songs and I decided to search on his influence on other forms of music. Of course my “best friend”, Wikipedia had a lot to say about him being the pioneer of Afrobeat and how he was influenced by the Funk sounds of the 70s in the United States. However hardly anything was written about Fela and his influence on urban music, hiphop to be more precise.

Fela today is being celebrated today as a cultural icon and a revolutionary leader. Online you can find stores that sell Fela merchandise like T-Shirts, however I wonder if his family gets paid royalties…. Many Nigerian artists, like Dbanj and Sauce Kid cite Fela Kuti as a major influence in their music. However you might expect that given that they are all from the same country. However, what is Fela’s influence on Hip Hop Culture overseas? Let’s take a look:

–        The Roots referenced him off one of their critically acclaimed albums, Rising Down:

Look, my squad half Mandrill, half Mandela// My Band ’bout 70 strong just like Fela


–        Talib Referenced him on his song Joy off his Quality Album in 2002:

Kweli, I know how you feel, say bro’ I know how you feel (Fela, be my joy, yo)


–        Lupe Fiasco dropped one of the dopest Freestyles BMF- Building Minds Faster and mentioned the great legend:

I think I’m Malcom X, Martin Luther, Add a King, Add a Junior //Some Bible verses, couple sunnas, An AK-47 that’s a Revolution// I think I’m Tupac, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Marcus Garvey


–        Red Hot Organization created a Tribute album: Red Hot + Riot: The Music and Spirit of Fela Kuti. This album was used as a fund raising tool for AIDS awareness and featured prominent artists like D’angelo, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli and Common

–        On August 18, 2009, award winning DJ Period released a Free Mixtape to the general public via his website that was a collaboration with Somali born hip hop artist K’naan pay tribute to Fela, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan titled “The Messengers”


Common in his critically acclaimed album; “Like Water for Chocolate” had the first track track titled “Time Travelin’ (A Tribute to Fela)” and the second track is called “Heat” which contains a sample from “Asiko” performed by Tony Allen, Fela’s drummer

Nas sampled “Na Poi” by Fela for Kuti for Warrior Song featuring Alicia Keys off his God’s Son album

Mos Def sampled Fear Not For Men by Fela Kuti for his track Fear Not of Man off his Black on Both Sides Album

–        Mike Love released The Nigerian Gangster Mixtape which features lyrics off Jay-Z’s American Gangster album and Fela Kuti’s samples

Last but not least, The Fela Broadway show funded and produced by HipHop icons Jay-Z and Will Smith

These are a few of the many influences Fela Kuti has had on Urban Hip Hop music. I believe in years to come, this great man will be celebrated more and the world would truly recognize him for his contribution to music.

Tunji Akinbami


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