Adedayo Adeniyi, popularly known as Dayo Nigeria, is the Executive Director of Matadors Leadership Institute, an organization that is committed to redefining the concept of leadership as service rendered in the society, not the titles acquired. He is a Fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. He spoke with Rasheed Adebiyi on the roles of the youth volunteerism in combating the COVID 19 and other issues on youth leadership.
Here are the excerpts.
Tekedia: Could you tell us about yourself.
Adeniyi: My name is Adedayo Adeniyi, popularly known as Dayo Nigeria. I am a development worker and leadership trainer with about a decade experience in preparing young people for effective and responsible leadership.
Tekedia: The advent of COVID 19 has again brought to the limelight the importance of volunteering. Do you think Nigerian youths are rising to the occasion?
Adeniyi: Honestly, it is neither here nor there. We have a handful of youths in different parts of Nigeria who have risen up to the responsibility and contributing in diverse ways to either aid the effort of Government and the health workers in containing the pandemic, while some others have chosen to approach from the economic and livelihood point of view where they have raised money to get palliatives for people hit by the effect of Covid-19. It is however sad to admit that a large proportion of Nigerian youths, just as with most other issues, are looking at this through the lens of political sentiment or religious agenda, which has led to the propagation of unfounded conspiracy theories that are unfortunately hampering the work that Government is doing.
Tekedia: You are interested in youth leadership and mentorship. In the face of Not Too Young to Run Law, do you think the Nigerian youths are ripe to rise to leadership positions at all levels of government?
Adeniyi: This issue is relative. At the moment, we have a lot of Nigerian youths who are doing well in the leadership position they occupy. If this category of youths is given opportunities in government, I believe they will do well. On the other end, there is a teeming population of youths who have not sorted out their priorities and do not even know what being a leader entails. It is sad but true, we have them all around. This category of youths does not deserve a chance at leadership because it would end up in a disaster that could have been avoided by not giving power to them. When you look at a lot of youth led initiatives, we can only conclude that it is best that we look at leadership more from the angle of competence and preparedness, than age.
Tekedia: Rising incidence of fake news and misinformation on the social media has made governments to seek to control internet communication. Do you believe that these efforts are justifiable?
Adeniyi: The challenge of fake news is beginning to pose more threat to our existence than any other challenge that the world has seen and the sharp rise can be linked with the advent of the social media becoming the fastest platform of news dissemination. We all must choose to be more responsible as citizens of the world and ensure that we don’t just share news without confirming, especially if it looks as if those fake news support a bias in our minds. The government on its part should also prioritize developing a responsive and timely communication process that will ensure that authentic news is disseminated. The best weapon to fight evil is good. If we want to curb misinformation and spread of fake news, transparency must be promoted and people who deliberately spread falsehood should also be made to pay for their crime within the ambit of the law without stifling press freedom.
Tekedia: During the ongoing lockdown, emphasis has been on skills acquisition online. Do you also agree that anyone who emerges from this lockdown without a new skill is not focused?
Adeniyi: It is a good notion but we should be careful about over-generalizing. For me, the goal should not be coming out of the lockdown with a new skill. This is just a means to an end. The end in itself is that you become a better person and more valuable. Why do you need a new skill? It’s to develop yourself and be able to add more value. Luckily there are many means to this end i.e. a new skill is not the only way to self development. So, I will advise that instead of focusing on a new skill, let us all just come out of the lockdown a better person than we were when it started. The realities of individuals are different but everyone must strive to be more and do more.