LEAP Africa Honors 10 Young Nigerian Achievers

The Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards organized by LEAP Africa aims at identifying young people in Nigeria who have initiated change projects that are focused on improving lives of others as well as encouraging and supporting young people in their efforts.

At the 4th annual award on November 22, 2007 at the Shell Hall, Lagos, 10 outstanding young Nigerians were  recognized for impacting positively in their communities in the area of Business and Economic Development, Environment, Education, Law and Human Rights, Health, Media, Arts and Culture, and Science and Technology.

In his welcome address, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, Executive Director, First Bank Ltd., who is also a board member of LEAP Africa, called on more concerted effort geared towards building the capacity of young people as this would enhance their development. He said this event was also an occasion for the recognition of LEAP Graduates from the integrity institute and the Youth Leadership Programme.

Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Fela Durotoye, a motivational speaker, called on young on young to initiate action towards the development of mankind. To achieve this, he advised young people to be focused as intention and desire alone cannot “give them the crown”. He reiterated the need to turn their passion into action and be more committed in their endeavor.

Earlier, LEAP Graduates from all over Nigeria who had taken part in the Integrity Institute and the Youth Leadership Programme were given a standing ovation for completing the LEAP training and were subsequently inducted into the LEAP Alumni Association. Various awards were given to the “Most Outstanding LEAP Participant”, Mr. Nasiru Ahmed and the “Most Valuable Service Award”, Mr. John Abibi who went home with a Desktop Computer.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of Awards and Certificates to the 4th Annual Youth Leadership Award winners who each went home with Sixty Thousand Naira (60,000.00) prize money, a plaque and certificate. The winners included:

Mr. ABIODUN AJIBOLA, a 27-year old Electronic and Electrical Engineering graduate from the Obafemi Awolowo University who is currently pursuing an MBA from the Business School Netherlands, Nigeria was given an award for developing entrepreneurial skills and the financial empowerment of African youth;

Ms. TOYOSI AKERELE, a 23-year old and a Law graduate from the University of Jos and the publisher of RISE magazine and the consultant of RISE Interactive, a youth advocacy and development firm for empowering young people to develop business – building initiatives that will enable a viable Nigerian economy and for creating a springboard for young Nigerians to explore their talents and express their creative voices.

Ms. EMILLIA ASIM-ITA, a 20-year old freelance writer and a Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos and the producer and host of the popular television show, YOUTHTALK on NTA Network was honored for providing young people with a platform to discuss issues affecting them.

Ms. AMINAT ALLI, a 27-year old Mechanical Engineering graduate from Yaba College of Technology and the Founder, Positive Youth Initiative of Nigeria (PYIN) for educating and enlightening youth on life skills that will encourage them to make behavioral changes and also create a safe space and sense of camaraderie for many young people affected by HIV.

Ms. AMINA CEPHAS, a 28-year old English Language and Literature graduate from the University of Maiduguri and the Founder of Act for Conceptual Change, an NGO which provides which provides accurate information about HIV/AIDS and which mobilizes communities to take responsibilities for their own development.

Mr. JOHNE ELILE, a 25-year old Public Administration graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka for being a strong advocate of reproductive health, specifically HIV/AIDS awareness and the provision of counselling for those living with HIV as well as well as encouraging sexual behavior.

Ms. OLUBUNMI JEGEDEa 28-year old Biology graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure for teaching young girls to be financially independent by equipping them with skills such as bead-making and cake-baking to reduce their vulnerability to engaging in high risk sexual behavior.

Mr. KUNLE ODEYEMI, a 21-year old student of Physical and Health Education from Bayero University, Kano for empowering youths who will carry out community based extension programmes geared towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mr. AYO OLUWALUYI, a 28-year old graduate of Civil Engineering from Yaba College of Technology and the Federal University of Technology and the Federal University of Technology Akure for positively impacting the social and physical development of the next generation of Nigerians through instilling a code of morals into young Nigerians through counselling and mentorship.

Mr. GBENGA SESAN, a 30-year old Electronic Engineering graduate from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife for his desire to increase the ICT exposure of Nigerian youth with the hope that exposure will lead to socioeconomic opportunities.

The well attended event was interspersed with musical performances by Cobhams Asuquo, a visually-impaired Nigerian musician and instrumentalist, who was nicknamed “Nigerian Ray Charles” for his dexterity on the keyboard as well as his ability to keep the audience spellbound with his wonderful rendition of soul-searching and classical music.

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