The city of peace and justice – The Hague in the Netherlands – hosted about 1,800 young people from no fewer than 180 countries for One Young World (OYW) Global Summit. In a pool of young entrepreneurs, peace ambassadors, human rights activists, on whom the baton of the future will fall, I was privileged to be an attendee at the event, which coincided with my 25th birthday. My birthday was not the only special thing about my international engagement last week, but it definitely was an icing on the cake.
Although I was earlier denied a visa by the Netherlands Embassy, the intervention of One Young World, as an organisation, saw the Netherlands Consul General delivering my visa to me, along with an apology letter. This allowed me to attend the global summit for which I got sponsorship of about N1.7 million from the organiser. It is necessary that I mention this in order to encourage fellow young people who have honest causes to pursue that cause. It is a legacy that never goes out of fashion, and as long as we are consistent and show commitment towards the cause, the doors will open, eventually.
At The Hague, I couldn’t contain my emotions when professionals whom I had only seen on social networking sites appeared in person. It is important to state that I have attended a lot of conferences where the past, the present, and the future of the world have been discussed, and at Brain Builders International (BBI), where I serve as the Director, we have, on various occasions, pulled resourceful personnel from around Nigeria to help educate young people on the need to work for the future.
But none of these fora that I had attended in the past or that we organised at BBI could be equaled to the One Young World Summit. To put it simply, I’ll say it was an assemblage of stars. These stars shone in physical presence and not just on television or social media.
The event was attended by numerous global icons and professionals from various walks of life. They include professionals in the fields of entrepreneurship, humanitarianism, and other causes, ranging from domestic violence, peace, justice to international crimes.
One of the fascinating attendees was Akon, a Senegalese-born American hip-hop artiste whose iconic feats in music, entrepreneurship, and humanitarianism continue to open doors for numerous young Africans. The icon, who announced his intention at the event to run for president in Senegal, filled our cup of experience by talking about social development, planning for the future today, and global growth which can only be secured through collaborative efforts.
While we may suffer some setbacks as a nation, I believe that the collaborative efforts of Nigerians can re-tell the story of a great nation yet again. Even more so, this narrative can extend to other African nations, and eventually mix with the rest of the world effectively. I feel sad when I attend global conferences, and the situations in Africa become the crux of discussions. It is a brutal blow that demoralizes me as a Nigerian and as an African. But this future can only be retold by the African youth of today.
As part of efforts to change the African narrative, I engaged young Africans on the issue of Africa Beyond Aids. Though it might seem like a white elephant project today, I know that with collaborative efforts, young men and women of Africa will be able to set the continent free from aids that tend to sink our economies.
While we appreciate some of these aids, most of them are traps that will entangle the future of Africa. Alternatively, I believe that an intra-country trade and transport system that supports a symbiotic trade relationship will further strengthen African nations, especially with lowered taxes, and government aids to motivate and push forward Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). I know quite well that I am one African from Nigeria, but I also know that I am not alone in this task and desire to see Africa become a giant in the global economy.
During the event, I was able to participate in sessions on “Running successful elections”, “One planet, communicating the global goals”, “Bridging the future skills gap where I live”, “SDG start-up challenge”, and “Enterprise for peace”, amongst others.
Prior to my participation at the global summit, I was able to, with the help of colleagues, use BBI to work on bridging future gaps in Nigeria, as well as give training on electoral practices as a YIAGA ambassador. While my private entrepreneurial endeavors at Soup ForMe, OPAB Global Consults, Fast Ride, and OPAB Oil and Gas have been beneficial towards helping young professionals actualise their potential in entrepreneurship, One Young World was an eye-opening opportunity for me to do better.
More than ever, my resolution in the development of the Nigeria of our dreams has been rekindled with the contact I made at The Hague. While the hectic activities at the event might not have allowed me to fully communicate with all other young ambassadors, we have an opportunity to mail postcards for free, opening a room for more collaboration. I am excited at this prospect as I am an ardent believer of “collaboration being the new competition”. In this regard, I’ll love to appreciate the efforts of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Erik Parriger of the One Young World for the skills we have been equipped with. There’s a central lesson to learn from all of these and that is: the future rests with the youth.
I am immensely happy and overwhelmed by the overall experience and the euphoria of possible collaboration to further move Nigeria, and the world forward. I have traveled to The Hague as OYW delegate and left as ambassador alongside other ambassadors from other counties, and we can only say that the story of the future is about to be retold.
The excitement of OYW attendance is not only in being known as an ambassador but being able to activate social development in our respective countries. This is something I had hitherto been engaged in, and with this new opportunity, we can expand and grab the future now. All of the training and lectures at The Hague would not go down as a waste. My passion and excitement, along with my colleagues who are ever resolute towards social development will help towards ensuring that we make Africa and the world safe and productive.