Name: Odoji Oluwafemi Stephen
Date of Birth: September 27, 1984
Education: B.edu in Physics , PGD in Customer Relationship Management
Occupation: Volunteer and women and youth empowerment developer
Please describe your vision of a world that works for everyone.
My Vision is to help build a Nation where people can live in prosperity, good health, peace and harmony and to bridge the gap of Leadership & Entrepreneurship skills by developing and transforming the minds of young people for positive change. That is why I founded the Security, Health, Entrepreneurship and Peace, (SHEP) Africa group. that is planned to be an annual knowledge based and activity oriented Security, Health Entrepreneurship, Peace and good governance training academy program for women and youth in Nigeria and West Africa at large. SHEP- Africa endeavors to improve the National peace building, Crisis Prevention, Conflict Management, socioeconomic well-being and the inclusion of women and youth in Nigeria in democracy process so they can live their lives in dignity.
What do you see as the most pressing problems facing the world today?
The problem facing the world today is innumerable ranging from climate change, inequality, insurgency, civil wars, communal clashes, irregular youth migration, poverty just to mention a few, taken my country as a case study, Nigeria has a population of over 168 million population and one third of the country\’s population is young people between the ages of 10-24 years. The potential contributions of young people in Lagos alone is compromised by a host of challenges including but not limited to high vulnerability to poverty, low value orientation, restiveness, increasing level of drug addiction and usage, general breakdown in moral values and norms. In the competitive culture today, more youth are confused and does not know what in Life they are on Earth for. As a result of this, and also because of the uncertain future, most youth in the world today are pushed to engage in criminal livelihood sources such as cultism, stealing, lying, idleness, disrespect at all levels, high level of sexual activities and other social vices. All these make young people to live a life without focus. That is the reasons I am to embarking on a project that will enable young people to set goal in life for themselves and stay committed to achieving the goal and help other young people do the same. Most training programs run by most NGO’s in Nigeria are not specific to local resources, local needs and local talents and aspirations. Rather, the trainings are given in particular area which are already saturated for example HIV/AIDS Prevention, Vocational skills like tailoring, computer etc.. These programs do not facilitate the transformation of under developed youth into individuals who see a new perspective for their future and into people who can harness their creativity. That is the reason I am working day and night to see that I create the awareness and campaign to change the mindset of the people around me and negotiation and involve powerful influencer s that can bring about social policy change that will make better for the people in my community.
How do you feel these problems could best be solved?
The problems identify above does not have a one way method of solving them but a combination of methods but mostly through second order social change, community coalitions and campaign, education, policy change. In addition , what we have to do is to empower the youth through training in leadership and entrepreneurship skills, we have to unleash their creative potentials and we have to give them the chance to experience that they can and will be important contributors in their surroundings. I want to give them confidence, dignity and identity to believe in their dreams and never allow their background to put their back on the ground. Young people in the world can aim for the top in any area of life they feel passionate about. I want them for example, to learn to celebrate their differences by discovering their own purpose. I want to empower them to become pathfinders, and to be able to create their own identities, with the renewal of their minds.
I am a an educationist, a volunteer worker, project manager, founder of Odotech Resource Network, a mentor and advocate for gender equality with strong passion for promoting opportunity for women and girls. I am a state ambassador of the Olusegun Obasanjo presidential library, I believe that to achieve the SDG’s women and youth leadership inclusion and entrepreneurship must be encouraged because most women face barriers that limit their contribution and hamper their progress. That is why the issue of women and youth empowerment is important to me because I believe that providing opportunities for women to better their business, education or health and general well-being have multiplier effect, because a woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her life by extending the benefit to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a stronger community. As a visionary leader, I have well over six years track record of training women, youth and children in my community on entrepreneurial skills and women right. Working in close partnership with public secondary schools, Religious organizations community leaders with over 2000 youth and women have been the beneficiaries. I am working effortlessly to promote new advocacy ideas and educational policies that will produce equal opportunities and better the future the youth, women and the vulnerable families in my community, state, my country and the world as a whole. Looking back I understand that my life so far can be divided into three very different phases. I was born into an average family and I enjoyed all I needed as a kid growing up, However, My father took in two other wives and as they keep giving birth, things begin to take a different turn, and suddenly, the good life was over. My second life started when I gained admission into the university and my Dad was not able to pay my tuition fee because he was affected by a layoff in his place of work. He was paid some money but the money was to no effect be we are now a polygamous family with 15 children, life became really difficult for us and I experienced what it means to be poor and marginalized. But I was determined to be educated as non of my mother’s children had a higher education, and I know to fulfill my dream as a change maker and putting beauty in every life around me, I must be educated, so I picked up a job at that early age at a construction company where I worked for two years and save up some money to pay up my school fee. During my years of study at the University of Ibadan I have to work as a part-time teacher at a nearby secondary, to be able to pay my concurrent tuition fee I have to negotiate with the owner of the school to pay me my salary for the whole term in advance, so that is how I was able to pay up my tuition fee for the rest of my years of study at the University. Being the only University graduate of my mother’s children, I became the breadwinner for my family at such an early age. My focus was changed and I had to reduce my daily wishes, goals and needs to only the basics. My siblings needed to go to school and our stomachs needed to be filled. But my childhood dreams are not forgotten to become a change-maker.