Saturday, February 09, 2008

Its important to give back


What is the concept of Doin Sumthin Positive for Africa?

Doin Sumthin Positive for Africa is a youth inclined NGO I started two years ago; it basically reaches out to disadvantaged youths and the less fortunate. For the past year we have been working on a programme for the physically challenged at Isale-Eko, we hosted a charity show which was more like a Christmas party on December 23, 2007, and that was just to raise awareness for the disabled and also help raise money so they could run their own projects, too. It was quite successful. This year we are going to do a project with "These Genes", which is Tosin Bucknor’s outfit, and we are partnering with her project to raise awareness on sickle cell and try to bring people together to help sicklers and give some kind of support system because, unfortunately, that is what is lacking in Nigeria – having strong support system and infrastructure.

And the vision behind it?

It was just a conversation my dad and I were having, and we felt like people in Nigeria are not considering the youth in the development of Nigeria; the adults are doing whatever they want, forgetting they are going to move on and the youths would be left with all the chaos and problems. So, I thought if we have a project for the youths they can relate with, then I can try and start getting them involved in projects that would develop their level of responsibility and leadership skills so that later we can build a group of young professionals who can say "I want to run Nigeria" or other positive aspirations. That was the main reason for Doin Sumthin.

What has been achieved so far?

I am not really focusing on what the achievements are; I have created the awareness of what Doin Sumthin is all about, created the awareness of the physically challenged in Nigeria, but other than that there is still a lot to do. So, I am not really counting any of these little things for now because it’s still new. Though we have been nominated twice at The Future Awards, which is quite good, but I think I am still looking ahead to see what is going to come out of it.

What has been your source of support?

We have set up a DSPA board, which has my father, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), it also has Victor Banjo of Virgin Nigeria, and Opeyemi Agbaje. So, what happens is that if there is a project we want to run I speak to the board and they give their input, they give their support and then tell other people they are affiliated with and that is just how we get support. As the years go by we are looking to get support from government and other corporate organisations and intergovernmental organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO). If only I could get the support I need, I think DSPA would move a lot further, but I believe there is time for everything. What I mean is that there are not many females who do this, or should I say, not many females I know in my age group are doing this and so when I talk to people about this and they meet and find out how young I am, they are normally very surprised that someone as young as I am is doing this, but I do this because I enjoy it. I think it is important to give back to people. Also, my parents support me in anything I do as long it makes sense, and it is not bad or hurting anybody, they are fine with it. They give me moral support and tell me this is right that is not right. I ran the disabled persons project and they liked it and told me to go for it.

Are there any criteria for joining DSPA?

You have to have a good balance of being fun, being formal and informal; you have to be a go-getter. With me, I am quite aggressive when it comes to marketing, I market my brands, DSPA and Dakou; you have to be a strong person and willing to listen to criticism. Of course, if you have lived abroad then you are open to a new culture, so you will learn other things people here might not necessarily be open to, but that is not a criteria to be part of Doin Sumthin, because I am the only one who actually is abroad, the rest of the team – Temi, Olamide and Dapo – all live and work in Nigeria.

Who do you partner with to realise your objectives?

We have partnered with Now and Friends of Disabled Society, we have also partnered with These Genes, The Sickle Cell Project, and there are other projects we support with the universities in London, but I think for now, we are just limiting it because it is easy to build a one on one relationship when the projects aren’t too much and we do not stretch ourselves too thin and become ineffective. So, right now it’s just two main bodies – These Genes and Friends of the Disabled.

What are DSPA’s plans for 2008?

We have a disabled persons project we want to run and we want to have a two- day programme maybe at the University of Lagos, we intend to bring together young professionals and young people who are disabled and create an opportunity for them to live a normal life because, unfortunately, here in Nigeria, people see disabled persons as useless people or a waste of space, which is wrong. I have worked with them and I absolutely love them; they are funny and intelligent. I mean last year they modelled at a fashion show and nobody knew they were physically challenged until I actually said, "hang on, this guy has a hearing issue, he doesn’t speak," and people were really shocked. That is the kind of impact we are trying to make. One of the things we plan to achieve this year is for companies to recognise that it is not only able-bodied people that can get jobs, physically challenged people can get the same jobs; they might not be as quick, but I think they should be given an opportunity.

How did Dakou clothing line come about?

I thought of Dakou about a year and a half ago; I wanted to do something with myself, and what I want to achieve in my future, because that is very important. I just thought about going into fashion. I know it sounds really silly, but that is basically how it happened. I created the name out of my family’s name – D for Dumebi, A is for Amaka, K is for Keke, O is for Olisa and U is for Uwanne. So, that is how Dakou came about and I do not want to be like other designers. I do not want to create heavy pieces or too fashionable pieces or too trendy pieces. I just wanted to create simple, chic, trendy clothing that is comfortable and which everybody can relate with. That is what Dakou is all about. Dakou is for the everyday woman, you find pieces in Dakou and it is simple dresses with good detail, good finishing and when you wear it, you are like okay, I am wearing a Dakou outfit; it’s simple, chic and ideal for anybody. Anybody can wear a Dakou piece, I don’t limit it to the high class; Dakou is for the masses. I want Dakou to be a brand, a household name for university students, for young people, young kids and young professionals.

How is the journey so far?

It’s okay; I mean I am still learning, because there is still a lot of things to learn, but the first one I had was part of the Doin Sumthin ball, which was in 2006, and that was quite okay and was very well-planned. The main fashion show we had here was mainly about Dakou and I think it turned out very well; people loved the clothes, they loved the experience. It was a dance and fashion show. It wasn’t just a straight runway back and forth; it was more about creating the experience and the environment of Dakou.

What was the guests’ reaction?

It has been really good, it’s been few days after the fashion show and my phone has been constantly ringing with calls of ‘oh, I like this piece, I like that dress or I want this dress, it’s really comfortable and trendy’. It’s been very good so far and I am quite happy. It has given me encouragement and the boost to carry on, because normally, when you start something new, you are still a bit unsure whether it’s going to work or not, but given the response from people, I think I can carry on. So, I am going to have the clothes placed in different boutiques on the Island and the Mainland.

What influences your designs?

I am influenced and inspired by flowers, life, culture, and family. I do not necessarily have one particular thing, wherever I go I could get this energy or I look at something and it inspires me. But my family inspires me most because Dakou is derived from my family’s name. I don’t just use it, I take each person’s personality and make use of it, so I add my personality to my clothes. I take my sisters’, my mother’s and my father’s personality; put all together and create the Dakou line. Also, I travel a lot; I go to different places and watch a lot of fashion programmes. I like all the big American and Italian designers, but I also like Nigerian designers like Deola Sego and Henry Dapa. I do a lot of research, I am constantly doing research online and I buy a lot of fashion books and read a lot of fashion magazines. I find out what people like because everyday you see what people are wearing and what colours they like. Also, I look at colour palettes and choose the colours I’d like to work with. In terms of fabric, I go for fabrics that stand out, but it must be soft. I do a lot of chiffons, a lot of soft lace; I also go for soft organza, soft silk and things like that. Culture has also inspired the kind of fabrics I choose, so when I travel to places like India, I look at the way Indians use sari and I say ‘okay, I can use a bit of that in my clothing line.

What are the plans for your clothing line?

Lagos, London and Accra, but it is not limited to these places. After our show, people were like why not South Africa or even America, so I was just getting all sorts of suggestions from different people, so it’s certainly not limited to Lagos, London and Accra. These are the three places I have been to and like working in; that is why I chose them, so maybe in the next few years I will reach out to other places.

Are your prices affordable?

Dakou clothing is affordable to university students and young professionals; I mean the age bracket I discovered during my research is something like 18 to 35. The basic pieces like young trend pieces sell for about N6,000 and that is just a simple shift dress, more embellished dresses are N10,000, and the more detailed highbrow pieces like lace and organza are N13,000, so basically, it ranges from N6,000 to N13,000. Anybody can get it and I believe it is still reasonable compared to what I have seen with other designers and I think it’s reaching out to the masses.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Future: Youths

Youths form a vibrant part of any populace. Their input in society is vital and an integral part to any country’s economy. But this is not always the case in a country like Nigeria where the youths feel disappointed and have lost hope due to a failed system. The input and effects of leaders on youths is vital, if our leaders do the right thing, naturally the youths will follow suit. The mentality of corruption and stealing needs to be addressed, gone are the days when people worked hard for their money and made a good name. But these days all we see are people trying to make fast money. To make a change, the right orientation needs to be in place. Service to humanity should be addressed; creating a good health care system, a good education system, good roads.

There are a people interested un service to humanity in Nigeria, they are examples of good leaders who have the people’s best interest at heart; the Minister of FCT Abuja, Mr El Rufai, Donald Duke and the Governor of Cross rivers state. These are well meaning Nigerians who have each done something good in states across Nigeria. Abuja boasts of an organised and clean environment but what has happened to Lagos? In Lagos, you find youths hustling and struggling just get through the day but youths should have dreams and aspirations. When a child is young, you can tell them anything and the child will believe. Why? Neither limitations nor barriers exist in the child’s mind. It can be the same for youths if they lived in a disciplined and organised environment where education and careers are made widely available to them.

Civil conflict has affected development both directly and indirectly and has contributed to the overall suffering of the people especially where there is high level of involvement of youth for instance in the Niger Delta. These challenges, despite efforts to ameliorate them are becoming more complex in nature and have come to be identified as major obstacles to positive development of the Nigeria youths and the society in general. They include poor parentage, poor infrastructure developments, lack of maintenance culture, corruption, crime and success at all cost syndrome, which has often necessitated the agitated tendency towards emigration.

The following are some of the objectives, which can effect change in youths:
1.Apply participation process to ensure the broad-based ownership of policies and programs by the citizens especially the youth as both implementers and beneficiaries;
2. Encourage youth participation through information and communication technology especially in rural settings.
3. Scale up investment in education that is skills intensive, and effectively deploy human resources in provision of social services
4. Effective execution of Universal Basic Education program to ensure access to quality and basic education.
5. Promote gender parity in education system at secondary and tertiary levels, especially in boarding and transportation facilities for girls
6. Match vocational training and education to public and private sector employment needs
7. Promote HIV/AIDS systemic programming
8. Vigorous pursuit of public/private partnerships in the provision of efficient services for delivery of electricity, water, and sanitation services.
9. Build strategies for involvement of Youth in governance institutions of public administration, law and order and collective security
10. Facilitate dialogue and networking among young people to promote greater awareness and understanding of youth employment issues in general, and urban youth employment in particular;
11. Involve young people in policy discussions relating to the formulation and implementation of national strategies to address urban youth employment in Nigeria
12. Build the capacity of young people to participate in policy discussions relating to urban youth employment.
13. Identify obstacles to creating jobs for young people in urban areas, particularly in Africa;
14. Share regional and develop new approaches in addressing Youth problems and challenges;
15. Motivate Knowledge sharing in good practices for achieving decent and productive employment for young people in Nigeria
16. Examine strategies for effective role play by Government and Agencies in particular, can play in these processes.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Youths making a difference

Heard about SADD before?

If you haven't, SADD is an organisation run by Maria and Marita Ayodele... SADD stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions (Nigerian Chapter)

SADD encourages students to


No to Drugs
No Smoking
No to Alcohol
No to Cultism
No to other destructive behaviours

For more information visit

Sunday, December 31, 2006

What are you passionate about?

Do you love fashion? Do you admire Tyra Banks or Gischele Bundchen on the catwalk strutting their stuff and wearing the hottest clothes?

Why not join our team; we are looking for the next generation of young and talented fashion designers to feature. Nows your chance, we will be introducing a scheme whereby you will be coached on how to be successful in Fashion design by top designers in Nigeria, you will be able to do this one on one and also get to meet top models in Nigeria. We featured Joke Ladoja in the Charity event in Bristol so don't be shy, other people have done it. Sign up, email me and show us your designs, the best designers will feature in our show in December.

Please email,,,

Whatever it is you are passionate about please let us know and DSPN will show the world what you are made of.........



Your Determination to Succeed, the affirmation to exert the energy and time to sacrifice immediate pleasures, to fight oppositions, to overcome obstacles and challenges in the pursuit of your goals, is an essential ingredient on the road to success.

If you want to succeed in life, assert your individuality, independence and style so that you will not be lost in the crowd. No one else can solve your problems, or work your riddles. You stand or fall by it. Your happiness, your well being, your success and your destiny depend on your carrying out your own programme.

The only world you will ever know anything about; the only world is true for you at this moment; is the one you create mentally. The environment you create out of your thoughts, ideals, beliefs and philosophy is the only one you will ever live.

You cannot afford to be less than God intended you to be; to be less than you feel you should be and cannot be….
Remember, if it is going to be, it is up to me! It is up to you!!!

“When u’re down to notin God is up to sumthin…”

By Chris Egwuatu of DSPN

Sunday, December 24, 2006

DSPN Charity Xmas Party - 23rd Dec 2006

Its over!!! Thank God it was a success. I would just like to say a big thank you to the models, dancers and people who made it for the Xmas Party. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the youths at the friends of the disabled also wish to express their gratitude for giving them a good Christmas.

We still have many t-shirts on sale, all 1500 Naira so please get urs to support the disabled community. If you would like a copy of the video please let me know.

Stay tuned for the next DSPN Event.......

Monday, November 13, 2006

The basic human right

Freedom of Speech is a basic human right. Like every fundamental right it has its origin in the very nature of man. In many countries, awareness about the Freedom of Speech is increasing. In some developing countries like Eritrea, Freedom of Speech is suppressed. Authorities do not allow independent media to thrive. They also use law enforcement as pretext to crack down on any dissent, spoken or written. Eritrea is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa. It plays host to a prison where over 15 journalists have been imprisoned without trial for their views.

Freedom of Speech is important in developing countries because the society would be able to speak openly and freely about the Government. People would be free to comment on whether the Government is making the right choices and decisions for the people. It gives the possibility and hopes that things will change for the better, young people especially who have newer ideas may be able to contribute to the building of the society.

In developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America the people and government are more aware of the right to Freedom of Speech. In such countries the right is more robustly exercised and respected. In the United Kingdom the people play a big role in public administration as the Prime Minister or other MPs by freely expressing their views on public matters. The result is that it is more of a give and take society where everyone benefits in the long run. In a country where right to Freedom of Speech is respected the society is strong.

For a long time in developing countries like Nigeria and South Africa, human rights were generally suppressed and people could not talk feely or openly about problems and issues. This led to a society where public opinion was gagged and trampled by the few in control of power and instrument of violence. The result was a debilitating setback in development and myriad of societal problems.

At International Law, the contemporary right to Freedom of Speech was formalised as far back as 1948 with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This was a mere declaration although it gained a lot of persuasive power over the years as guide to countries. The right to free speech later became enforceable law with the emergence of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1966 followed by the Optional Protocols. The ICCPR became enforceable in 1976 a decade after it became open for signature. The United Nations has therefore played a pivotal role in setting the standard for municipal laws that allow people Freedom of Speech.

Now both at the United Nations (through the Human Rights Committee) and in Europe, individuals whose right to free speech are repressed by governments can bring personal complaints for redress. Elsewhere in the Americas and Africa (for example the West African Community) the right to free speech is becoming more enforceable by individual citizens against their Governments under international judicial frameworks. These multinational arrangements complement or reinforce existing frameworks under municipal laws for redress of denial of the right to free speech and other fundamental rights. For example in Nigeria, Section 46 of the 1999 Constitution invites any person who alleges that his fundamental right including the right to free speech has been, is being, or is likely to be infringed to apply to a High Court for redress.

It should be noted that Freedom of Speech, like every other right that inures to man, is not absolute. For example a white person cannot under the pretext of Freedom of Speech openly abuse a black person in relation to his colour. This is very sensitive and may provoke other black people and lead to insecurity and even anarchy in the society. The need for an orderly society will in that situation rank higher than the white individual’s right to Freedom of Speech. Laws are therefore necessary to curtail the application of Freedom of Speech to ensure public order and security. In many developed countries Freedom of Speech has led to issues that were hitherto considered anathema like the issue of gay marriages to the fore. In many places children and youths are becoming increasingly disobedient and standing up to their parents because they feel Freedom of Speech also means freedom to talk to their parents as they wish. A parent will also feel he or she has the freedom to raise his or her ward the way he or she feels right. At the end there is a whole gamut of confusion over the extent of the guaranteed rights vis-à-vis competing rights also accruing to the State and the individual. The conflicts are usually based on state security, public order, health, morality etc.

There is therefore need to balance the right to free speech with these equally important needs. Section 45 of the Nigerian Constitution makes provision for laws that may derogate from the right to free speech to balance these needs. It is the same in International Law and in other countries. There is no place where any body is free to say whatever he likes and in what manner he likes in the name of Freedom of Speech. Also a person who is defamed by another person’s exercise of right to free speech will go to the civil court and institute an action for defamation against the person who defamed him. The right to free speech should be exercised responsibly. It is usually said that one’s right stops where the other person’s right starts. Some people put it this way: “Your right to swing your arms stops where your neighbour’s nose begins”. The right to Freedom of Speech should be effectively handled so that its exercise does not lead to a disorderly and chaotic society. Article 19(3) of the ICCPR provides that “the exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
However, Governments, especially in developing countries, should realise that the right to free speech is necessary for development and strive to expand instead of narrow the frontiers of that very important fundamental right.