The training day was like any other regular session we have had in the past until the ‘how are you lighting the Nigeria torch’ question popped up. I was asked to explain this question in layman’s language by my fellow Accountapreneur, Funke Adeoye, who was moderating the session. It dawned on me while explaining my answer, that in no small measure has the Accountability Lab Incubation program, contributed to lighting up the Nigeria torch. Many times we are all so busy with activities as individuals and institutions that we forget that what we need to do is consciously contribute to lighting up the torches for ourselves and our organisations.
My name is Charles Omofomwan and I lead the team at Noble Missions (www.noblemissions.org.ng). We are currently using web technology at www.itakeactions.org to amplify citizens’ voices in their demand for accountability from the government in the provision of quality education. I am among the first set of ‘accountapreneurs’ in Nigeria — the term that the Lab gives to all the social entrepreneurs working on accountability issues who are accepted into the Lab’s ‘Accountability Incubator’. The incubation program is the Lab’s “flagship program for young civil society leaders to build sustainable, effective tools for accountability, participation and social impact in their societies”. Founded by Blair Glencorse, Accountability Lab is trying to create a world in which people with power are accountable. According to the organization’s website, selected accountapreneurs undergo an “accelerated one-year program with hands-on, comprehensive support for their ideas and initiatives”. The Incubator provides mentorship, fundraising and management support, as well as access to a global network of leading institutions, foundations, and donors. The program is run in at least 5 countries and in Nigeria is funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The Foundation was founded by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur to support creative people to make significant progress on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including reducing corruption in Nigeria.
Now back to the ‘how are you lighting the Nigeria torch’ question. We had a full day Life Coaching session at The Eugenia Abu Media Centre in Maitama, Abuja, and it was part of the closing capacity building activities of the incubation. If you grew up in Nigeria like me, you will never forget the name and face of Mrs Eugenia Abu on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). She is one of Nigeria’s notable broadcast journalists who has won several awards and has authored two published books titled Don’t look at me like that and In the blink of an eye. She currently writes weekly columns in two national dailies, Tales from the main road, in Business Day on Fridays and Five favourite books with Eugenia Abu in The Sunday Trust.
So you can imagine the joy and sense of fulfilment we all had after spending an entire day with her and her team, including Dr Akin Oke. It was during the life coaching session with her that we had an exercise titled ‘The Big Question’. And one of the big questions was: “How are you lighting the Nigeria torch?” This question made me reflect on how Accountability Lab and MacArthur Foundation are lighting up the Nigeria torch through the incubation program, by simply empowering young social entrepreneurs. They mobilize resources globally and work with local partners like the Eugenia Abu Media Centre, to empower young people and institutions in Nigeria for one purpose; to make life better for every Nigerian, especially the most vulnerable.
After my reflection, I concluded that the best way to light the Nigeria torch permanently was to keep empowering people. By doing that, the number of people lighting the torch increases at a fast pace and the torch grows and glows bigger until it overflows to the world. So my dear friends, as you read this short piece, spend some time reflecting on how you are lighting up the Nigeria torch. And if it seems blurred and you can’t see how you’re doing, then it is clear that you need to start empowering others NOW.
I cannot end this piece without thanking everyone that contributed to my experience during the past few months of being part of the Accountability Lab Incubator. Thank you also to the Accountability Lab global team led by Blair Glencorse, and the Nigerian team led by Odeh Friday with his team (Omojo Adaji, Samuel Emenogu, Prince Chimaroke, Obinna Ejiiogu, Peterson Okoro, Grace Okpara, Stella Chinedu, Rita Ozioko, Alfred Agu and others). To my fellow accountapreneurs: Anisah Ari, Chioma Henrietta Okoli, Bukola Ogunsina, Chidinma Ilechukwu, Erhisohwode Assurance Ovie, Izuchukwu Offiaeli, Isaac Joshua, Tosin Victoria Apiriola and Funke Adeoye, I say thank you for the experience and knowledge you have shared with me and I wish you all better years ahead. My sincere appreciation also goes to Mr Kole A. Shettima, Co-Director of On Nigeria and Director of the Africa Office at the MacArthur Foundation; Oludotun Babayemi, Principal Lead of Cloneshouse Nigeria and Co-founder of Connected Development; Amy Galigan and John Crysler of the High Commission of Canada in Nigeria, Mr Joseph Amenaghawon, Program Coordinator of OSIWA; Mrs. Eugenia Abu, CEO of The Eugenia Abu Media Centre, and many others I couldn’t mention here. It has been a great learning journey experience for me and I am grateful for the opportunity. I look forward to continuing lighting the Nigeria torch with you all.