At every gathering of the Abuja Global Shapers, there is the palpable passion for humanity, for change, and for development that can be felt deep inside. And even when we are not present in person, whether at retreats, meetings, social gatherings, or what have you, the vibe from our WhatsApp groups are telling: a carefully curated potpourri of geniuses in various fields, but with a singular passion for the betterment of our immediate environment.
Every year, as we cannot all be a herd of geniuses with multiple directions, we come together to vote in a Curatorship. These team are two members of the hub elected to offer leadership, direction and harness the collective genius and passion of the hub to fulfil the Global Shaper’s Community’s goals, its ambitions and ultimately transform the city we live in into a better place.
About five years ago, I clicked a link to fill up a form to join the Abuja Global Shapers Hub. That click has made all the difference today. I entered into the hub a fresh graduate from the law school. Shaped by unique experiences that defined me, from being a Google Student Ambassador, to being the Editor of my University’s Campus Magazine, to joining the APC Presidential Campaign Council at just 22 – its youngest member – and joining the President’s Media Team subsequently.
These five years have been transformational. I have seen the hub grow from strength to strength; put up projects that were from scratch thought unthinkable, designed goals and birth them into reality; stir up confidence and provide rare opportunities to its members; I have seen the impact of our programmes through the improved lives of those who have come in contact with the hub. And yet the passion and fire that made all of these possible still burns. These have been made possible through effective, strong, determined and a resilient leadership – supported by a passionate, creative, brilliant and dedicated team of shapers.
One of the most tangible items that I have taken from the hub in all these years is the family that each and every shaper has become to me — those who I share my greatest hopes, my wildest dreams, my most cherished moments and even my ugliest fears.
The hub is today at that point of its life-cycle where the baton of leadership must be passed from one team to another.
I have been elected to serve as your curator, not your CEO, but your co-worker and at best a coordinator. The role is honouring as it is requesting, it is as rewarding as it is demanding. I do not need to be told. I have watched closely the journey of five curatorships whose leadership have inspired me to this very moment.
One thing I saw that got them through every obstacle, through every circumstance or challenge, was the sheer determination to succeed, a passion for humanity and most importantly a family of shapers that provided the backbone and bolster for the successes the hub richly boasts on its profile. This is what I have come to know as Shaping. It is my hope and determination that the next 12 months would be no different—we would do even more and better.
The times are unusual. A pandemic came to our doorsteps with no advanced notice. Cities across the world are in lockdown, television screens are constantly reeling out numbers – of infected populations, fatalities and broken economies. Social/ physical distancing is the new normal; face masks are now compulsory attire, not for fashion but for safety; and sanitising fluids are compulsory fluids for our day to day lives.
Even our handover is barely attended—not because Shapers and well-wishers are shying away. We cannot exceed the prescribed number of people that the National Centre for Disease Control has stated as the maximum for any gathering.
The consequences of this pandemic has hit hard on many families, and the economy of our country. If there has been any time the boots of Shapers have been needed to step into battle, it is now. And we have.
Within this pandemic the hub has risen to the occasion of leadership time after time. We have hosted the stakeholders and critical actors in the health sector to a dialogue series on the corona virus; we have partnered with the NCDC to produce guideline videos for health workers at the frontline; we have more recently hosted a dialogue series on the burning issue of Sexual and Gender Based Violence; we are helping our fellow citizens to cope with the mental health challenges that have come more brutally with the pandemic; our partnerships have fetched us face-masks which we would be sharing to communities of those who are in dire need of it during this pandemic; our hub has made strong unequivocal statements on the things that matter so much to us: inclusion, equity and protection of vulnerable groups; we are coordinating the planting of thousands of trees across the Federal Capital Territory; even with all these achieved, in no sooner than 6 months, the energy of the hub is yet burning, passionate and ready to do more.
Indeed, there is still an abundance of interventions that we are yet to make.
The Global Shapers Community has set for all hubs the Three Impact Areas for the year 2021: Equity and Inclusion, Employment and Education and Climate Change.
This curatorship will take these three areas with the seriousness they deserve. We have identified three items, two projects and a new office that overtly align with these three pillars, and we would dedicate energies to delivering solid impact. This would in no way reduce dedication to our other projects and programmes we have our hands on.
The Tree Planting Project falls on all squares with the Climate Change agenda of the Global Shapers Community. Thankfully, the hub under the exceptional leadership of Tola Onayemi and Queen Nwokenneya have set the ball rolling in class and sophistication. This curatorship has the mandate to see it to a graceful and commendable finish, and consequently build further on it.
My first contact with the Abuja Global Shapers Hub was the Abuja Shape Up Mentoring Programme. It gave me an opportunity to inspire a younger generation, all too often left without worthy role models. This programme is ever dear to me. A proposed programme: Meet the Future has been packaged. It seeks to create a mentoring and inspiring model for young secondary school students to meet with role models, experts and industry topshots, interact with them and be inspired by their lives and character. This programme aligns with the impact area of Education and Employment. My hope and proposal to the hub is that we drive this programme passionately to the grassroots and provide young students with a dose of inspiration, even ambition, as we prepare them for leadership roles for the years to come.
Having consulted with some shapers, this curatorship would be proposing the office of the Gender, Equity and Inclusion officer. It will be one of a kind. Its first assignment would be to draw up a policy document, guiding the hub on how we must deal with gender, equity and inclusion matters more consciously and deliberately.
This office would also propose campaigns, statements and directives that the hub should take on. At a time when COVID 19 hits hard on everyday people, the disadvantaged among us are in fact worse hit. The hub must be even more conscious at these times to drive policy, reforms and activities that pull these disadvantaged ones into an inclusive fold. It is our hope and expectation that this office would provide the drive for this and more.
Our hub faces an embarrassing behaviour that many are guilty of. It is the non-payment of dues. This matter has lingered on for years. Some shapers have owed dues for as long as three years — and they still hold proudly the badge of being Global Shapers. Over One Million One Hundred Thousand is owed in dues. This does not align with the Shaper spirit and values we hold as our ideals.
While I urge shapers who owe to pay as soon as practicable, this curatorship would be proposing measures including an amnesty package for shapers owing who are transitioning to Alumni Status, as well as stringent measures for shapers owing above an unholy threshold amount. Our dues are our obligations to the hub, as much as we enjoy the floss of Shaping, we equally must live up to the commitments we owe to the hub—such as our dues.
This curatorship desires that the hub taps into the vast and rich resources of experts we have among us. We hope to create opportunities to tap from this rich diversity we enjoy.
I am grateful for this opportunity to serve. Without your support, fellowship, ideas and participation all these hopes, ambitions and targets – and more – would not be possible. I crave and beg you for it.
I am human, I have my foibles, I may not be available at every minute I would be needed, but I pledge to do my best, to give my passion and all to this role.
Please, my dear colleagues, never hesitate to correct me if ever you see me in the path of error.
Thank you for this honor bestowed on me, I am grateful.