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

YOUTH INITIATIVES 2: CHARITY

“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 http://www.thebsefoundation.com/. 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 http://pinkpearlfoundation.com/index.html. 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 http://naturalsaturdays.blogspot.com/p/project.html. 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 twitter.com 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 http://www.tweet4charityng.com/. 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 http://fairlifeafrica.org/SCAS%20brochure.pdf . 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 http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=37862853519&v=wall&viewas=0


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 http://lotscharityfoundation.org/

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      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 www.deccoonline.org or via twitter @tfaniro

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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 http://beyonddclassroom.blog.com/. You can also get in touch with them via twitter @BTC_INITIATIVE.

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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.

HIP HOP EMBRACES THE CULTURAL ICON : FELA .

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”

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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

@playbackgenius

The 2011 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS.


Before the previous weekend, I was only certain of one thing that could unite Nigerians – football; but with the National Assembly Elections which held in most of the states last weekend, I came to realize that we have so much more in common.

With all the Twitter movements, the Nigerian Youth became very well acquainted with political happenings. Not only did we know who our candidates were, we (and I refer here, using the word we, to the Nigerian youth in general) actively participated by voting, and many stayed to monitor their votes being counted.

However, what impressed me the most was the publishing of results on Twitter and Facebook from individual polling units. This not only helped verify the results that were eventually announced, but it showed that we are passionate about our country, and about who leads us!

In a democracy, one of the things that I think is most important is for the people’s votes to count; and largely this is happening.  Surely, some people somewhere are doing their job right, however what I seek to highlight is that if the right stage is presented, our people will act right; with the right leaders, Nigeria will progress, and we are on our way there

[ Thanks to ‘Kayode Adegbola and Stephanie Okafor for their input to this post]

Below are results of the  National Assembly Elections as announced by INEC.


YOUTH EMPOWERMENT: INITIATIVES.

I read a tweet yesterday from a smart young lady,that caught my attention and i felt there was no better time to Blog about this : ” RT  @Miss_Jayla @dreeee1 what kind of compassion? The type the west has for Africa? Where they just see us as hungry ppl who can’t do anything 4 themselves? “

She had a point.We have always been termed “consumers” (Eg in Russia) because we hardly produced nor rendered any major services BUT things are changing for the better.

I read about a businessman from the Eastern side of Nigeria who now runs a company making cars en mass,just to say the least.These things can definitely mean one thing.PROGRESS.

As the Yoruba people say “Nkan ti a n wa ni SOKOTO,o wa ni apo SOKOTO” — what you seek in Sokoto state,is probabaly right there in the pocket of your trousers (close to home),this post pin-points the few, that we come across  in our day-to-day life.

ENJOY !

We live in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the Future are represented by suffering millions; and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British politician and author.

“The youth are the future of tomorrow.”

Many of us are familiar with this phrase. In truth it has been drummed into our ears right from primary school where we heartily chanted it every morning on the assembly ground. In secondary school, we are further exposed to this concept in subjects like Social Studies. We use it in passing without realizing the full potential of our words until something snaps. Then we realize that the future we so often talk about is now. Now is the time to act and be relevant. This heralds the drive towards self empowerment.

For some the motivation is unemployment, for others its a hobby they suddenly decide to take on full time. For some it emanates from dissatisfaction at work and for others, money or the search of it, is the breaking point. For whatever reason Nigerian youths in recent times are coming into the full realization of the need to be self employed. Suddenly it dawns on them the greatness inside of them which will benefit the country at large should it be allowed to manifest. So much so is their romance with this notion of self empowerment that some have quit their jobs and started up enterprises all in a bid to have something they can call their own.

In a country like Nigeria where a large number of people fall between the age bracket of 18-35, we live in a youth populated economy. With a high percentage of youths veering into one business/project or the other, the gap between employers and employees has been bridged in such a way that the employer and the employee are one and the same. He or she works for him/herself and as such becomes both owner and staff. With the proliferation of businesses owned by youths comes the need to equip themselves in such a way that they will stay ahead in their chosen fields. This is done through workshops and seminars on entrepreneurship which most times have a large turnout of participants. And so it spreads. Other youths catch the fire and seek for ways in which they too can set up themselves and a cycle is formed. This cycle produces entrepreneurs who motivate and mentor other potential entrepreneurs and the wheel is oiled so much so that the process of training and turning out entrepreneurs becomes business in itself.

From politics to photography to cosmetology; architecture to fashion designing, hardly will one see a profession in which a youth hasn’t dabbled into. So much have youths permeated into industries that youth owned businesses now pose a threat to the existing ones who are ridden with corruption and mismanagement and if care is not taken will be run out of business by youths in the same field of endeavors.

Take fashion, names like iamisigo, Fablanebyderin, ,Jo Black Craze, Onyx and Pearl, Ayaba Creations, Fablanebyderin and Laba.Lábá are some of the names to look out for. On the the photography front we have Lakin.O,Taemib Photography, “wotn” (we own the night) movement- a group of young talented photographers from the motherland “who got their lenses on you” as they like to say, Isi Gaaga and a host of others doing big things in that area, Obi Somto, Faridah Kekere-Ekun,Kayode Adegbola.


On the entertainment scene,, we have artistes like Funbi, Beazy,Seun Oni,Adey,Kanebi and Rilwan, to name a few, already hitting the airwaves.Producers like Kidkonnect, Adey, Samklef, Ife (Headphones),

In cosmetology we have Itunu umar-Lawal of Naturalsaturday.

In the political arena, Enough is Enough Nigeria nonpartisan coalition of individuals and youth-led organizations is committed to instituting a culture of transparency and public accountability in Nigeria by using technology for advocacy, activism and youth mobilization, RSVP.

Outside the box, we have projects like Gidilounge an online Radio station making headlines,Funturf Soccer Fiesta, a football tournament organised by Tactics IQ Limited mixing the elements of sports and entertainment into a fun package; The Underground, an initiative by the Inner Circle group which provides a platform for up and coming talents to showcase their gifts; The M.A.D fashion charity show, a fusion of fashion and music for a charitable course; all these at the same time doubling as a social ground in which youths can gather, meet and network.

I for one, am very impressed with the strides Nigerian youths are taking to ensure they stay relevant. At this rate, I will not be surprised in the near future to see youths breaking grounds in which our fathers only dreamed of. The likes of the Wilbur brothers, Bill Gates and Martin Luther King Jnr are in our midst and like soldiers they are marching forth in all their glory poised to take Nigeria to greater heights.

I’m proud to be a Nigerian youth.

Tomiwa Oladele

@ms_tomiwa

Nigerian NFL Players.

 

A friend of mine once said “A Black Man will excel at anything he sets his mind to”. I say “Now imagine adding Nigerian to that”. This is not to say that one race is superior to the other, as we are all equal in the eyes of He who created us. Looking through the book of life, today, yesterday and even many years ago, one thing is constant – Nigerians have proven time and time again that IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING. We’ve broken barriers over and over again, as though they never even existed. There’s an astounding quote from a speech by Rtd General EmekaOdimegwuOjukwu that is descriptive of my thoughts. Permit me to share:

“In the three years of war, necessity gave birth to invention. During those three years, we built bombs, we built rockets, we designed and built our own delivery systems. We guided our rockets, we guided them far, and we guided them accurately. For three years, blockaded without hope of imports, we maintained engines, machines, and technical equipment. The state extracted and refined petrol, individuals refined petrol in their back gardens, we built and maintained airports, we maintained them under heavy bombardment. We spoke to the world through a telecommunications system engineered by local ingenuity. The world heard us and spoke back to us. We built armored cars and tanks. We modified aircraft from trainer to fighters, from passenger aircraft to bombers. In three years of freedom, we had broken the technological barrier. In three years, we became the most civilized; the most technologically advanced black people on earth.”

–          ChukwuemekaOdumegwuOjukwu

If this does not best explain my point. Perhaps we’ll break it down using other aspects of life that we can all relate to  — Music, Fashion, Sports, Movies etc ?  How many Nigerians do you know that have excelled and continue to raise the bar in these various industries ?   Talk about Music and we’re quick to scream the Legendary FelaKuti, Sade Adu, Seal, ChiwetelEjiofor, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jay JayOkocha, KanuNwankwo,Alexander Amosu …. The list is quite endless. Talent is TALENT, doesn’t matter where you’re from. Some folk will even argue that soccer is in our genes. But then take a sport like American Football, ranking around the globe, as one of the top games to play and watch, a sport that has absolutely NO business on our soccer monopoly that is African Soil.  Run through the NFL list and voila!!! Nigerians! Nigerians! Nigerians! They’re everywhere… and guess what ? They’re not just getting by as ordinary players…. These guys are setting records everyday and we’re ignoring their existence.  Today, I’d like to take time out to send a major shout out to all Nigerians making a mark in Sports all across the globe — Swimming, Ice Hockey (uh huh! We know y’all are there), Boxing, Volleyball, Basketball, Racing, Cricket …. We might not hear about you but keep making us proud!

SPORTS FOCUS FOR TODAY  —- NFL (AMERICAN FOOTBALL)

Nigeria – the hub of African football, or “soccer” as the Americans call it.  It is the national religion. Transcending ethnicity, politics or language group, football united the country.  We will always remember winning the Atlanta 96 Olympic Gold medal on American soil, so also we will always celebrate our soccer stars. But we must remember, there was once a time when sports did not equate soccer alone, a time when our sports legends were not necessarily soccer players, but athletes in all sporting fields.

Nigeria had its first appearance in the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952, and its first victory in 1954, when Emmanuel Ifeanjuna won a gold medal in the high jump at the commonwealth games in Cardiff.

Fast forward to 2011, there are a host of African players in the NFL (American Football League) and in college football.

Where is Nigeria in the American Football League ?

Not only is Nigeria a predominant sports nation in Africa, but a legion of athletes either Nigerian –born or of Nigerian descent are setting new standards in American Football.  In 2008, the NFL draft recruited about 6 new Nigerian players who were phenomenal in college football. Last years draft saw the influx of quite a number of Nigerian players in the first round, and this year a few more are projected to be signed into the NFL. There are currently about 40+ African players in the National Football League out of which 70 percent are Nigerian.

The list below is a fraction of players we currently have in the NFL

Ositadimma “Osi” Umenyiora (born November 16, 1981) is an American football defensive end in the National Football League for the New York Giants.Umenyiora is one of three players to have won a Super Bowl ring, joining Scott McCready and Giants teammate Lawrence Tynes. Umenyiora has been selected for the Pro Bowl twice, and holds the Giants franchise record for most sacks in one game, coming against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007.

NnamdiAsomugha is an American Football cornerback for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders. He was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Raiders and played college football for the Golden Bears at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.


AmobiOkoye (born June 10, 1987) is an American football defensive tackle for the Houston Texans of the National Football League. Okoye was drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft. He is the youngest player to ever be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft at only 19 years old. He was the highest draft pick to come out of the University of Louisville since the AFL-NFL merger.

James UgochuIhedigbo (born December 3, 1983) is an American football safety for the New York Jets of the National Football League. He was signed by the Jets in 2007. He played college football at Massachusetts. He is the son of Nigerian immigrants to the United States.

Oshiomogho Isaac “O. J.” Atogwe (born on June 23, 1981) is an American football safety for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Stanford.

AdewaleOgunleye (born August 9, 1977 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American football defensive end. He was signed by the Miami Dolphins in 2000. He played college football at Indiana.Ogunleyewas named the “NFL’s Defensive Player of the Day” for the 2008’s first day after recording one safety and made a key fourth down stop against the Indianapolis Colts.

Israel Idonije (born November 17, 1980) is a Nigerian-Canadian defensive end for the National Football League’s Chicago Bears. He was signed out of the University of Manitoba. A draft pick of the now defunct Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League, for whom he never played, Idonije spent the start 2003 season on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad prior to his release in September. He was subsequently signed to the Bears’ practice squad for the final six weeks of the season.

Brian Orakpo (born July 31, 1986) is an American football linebacker for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Redskins 13th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at Texas.

Chinedum “Nedu” Ndukwe(born March 4, 1985, Charlottesville, Virginia) is an American football safety for the Cincinnati Bengals professional football team. He was drafted by the Bengals in the seventh round, 253rd overall, in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Ovie Phillip Mughelli( born June 10, 1980 in Boston, Mass.) is an American football fullback for the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. He signed a 6-year, $18 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus on March 2, 2007 with the Falcons. The contract was the largest given to a fullback in NFL history at the time.

Remilekun “Remi” Ayodele (born April 22, 1983 in Grand Prairie, Texas) is an American football defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League. He was signed by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He played college football at Oklahoma.

Ayodele has also been a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons. He is the younger brother of NFL linebacker Akin Ayodele.

Akinola James “Akin” Ayodele (born September 17, 1979 in Irving, Texas) is an American football linebacker for the Buffalo Bills in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He played college football at Purdue.

Ayodele has also been a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and the Denver Broncos.

Ikechukwu Nelson “Ike” Ndukwe (born July 17, 1982 in Powell, Ohio) is an American football offensive tackle for the New York Giants of the National Football League. He was signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2005. He played college football at Northwestern.

Ndukwe has also played for the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, and Kansas City Chiefs. He is the older brother of NFL safety ChinedumNdukwe.

Busari “B.J.” Raji, Jr. (born July 11, 1986), nicknamed “The Freezer” is an American football nose tackle for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft (9th overall). He played college football at Boston College.

Franklin NonyeluOkam, Jr. (born October 16, 1985 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas) is an American football defensive tackle who is currently a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played college football at Texas.

HALL OF FAME

Christian EmekaOkoye (born August 16, 1961), is a former American Football running back for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1987 to 1992. Nicknamed “The Nigerian Nightmare,” Okoye was known for his powerful running style and ability to break tackles. Okoye’s six seasons in the NFL saw a league rushing title in 1989, two Pro Bowl appearances (1989, 1991), and three playoff appearances. He voluntarily ended his NFL career due to multiple injuries. He wore number 35.

MBELU ADAORA.

@tweetadaora

Female Empowerment : The Judiciary as a case study

As we all know the general stereotype is that in this part of the world “Africa”  ,women are still not fully empowered.

Here is a personal article embedded in so much truth, showcasing how women are being empowered in one walk of life in our great nation..

“The journey of a thousand miles,begins with a single step” ours started a while back.

ENJOY as you read.

Women lawyers usually have to work much harder than their male counterparts, juggling both career and family, to make a mark in the legal profession. Nonetheless, many have been able to succeed. On November 16, 1936 when Mrs. Stella Marke was called to the bar as the first female lawyer in the country and this paved the way for many other women.  On March 5, 1980 Mrs. Folake Solanke became the first woman to be admitted to the distinguished rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Significantly too, on Monday, April 12, 2010, the esteemed rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria was awarded to more than one woman at a time. This brought the number of female SANs from seven to ten, which compared to the 300 men is almost insignificant, but is definitely a huge stepping-stone for female lawyers in Nigeria.

The women among them were Dorothy Udeme, Nella Andem Ewa and a woman who I am proud to call my mother, Sylvia E. Shinaba (RIP). After being in practice for 24 years, Shinaba applied thrice before she was eventually decorated at the fourth attempt.  She was quoted to say, “I was shortlisted and interviewed but at the end of the day, there was a limited number to be picked, invariably, those in the Privileges Committee decide who gets to be conferred. The conferment with the rank is a privilege; it isn‘t the right of any legal practitioner.” She also lists the criteria for recognition; ”One must have achieved distinction in legal practice, have a certain number of cases and appearances in the higher courts of law, including the high court of appeal and the Supreme Court. One must have a standard chamber, a certain calibre of library, equipment and things like that. You must also be a lawyer of integrity. “

Despite the male dominated nature of the legal profession, the recognition of hardworking female lawyers in Nigeria has evidently improved over the years. I am truly inspired by my mother, and I hope to one day become half the woman she was- a great lawyer, housekeeper, wife and most importantly, the best mother.

Born, resident and a citizen, it is with pride that I call Nigeria my country.”

Adiat Shinaba.

@MissShinabA

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