Tuesday 19 February 2013

"Akweya elders should bury their differences"--Akor

Marcus Edibogi Akor is the Project Director of The Bridge Organization. He is passionate about development of Akweya youths and his organisation is putting together leadership training programmes for the youths. In this interview with Isu Media Ltd's Odoh Diego Okenyodo for Akweya.com, Marcus talks about leadership and the role of Akweya youths

Tell us about yourself and how you came to found The Bridge Organisation. 

First of all, thank you so much for this great opportunity to contribute to Akweya.com. I am a Nigerian, a native of Akweya in Otukpo Local Government, Benue State. I am 24 years old. I am passionate about positive
social change in the area of youth development.

I graduated from Kanthari International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs, India. In Kanthari, I gained leadership, project management, public speaking, fundraising and communication skills. During the training, I attended two months internship in The Apparel Source, Tamil Nadu, India. I am a current student at the International Institute for Global Leadership, USA.

I have experience in working with youth, children, women and people who are differently able from the age of 19. I love volunteering because that is what made me who I am today. I have experience working with nongovernmental organisations and faith based organisations.

I am an advocate of using traditional & social media for public relations and for improving access to information in Nigeria. All the above put together are the motivating factor for me founding, The Bridge Youth Development Foundation.

Who funded the training programme you attended in India? 

Braille Without Borders Foundation, an International Foundation based in Switzerland funded the training programme.

Was it easy for you to have stayed the one year in India? 

Honestly, in the beginning it was as if I was dropped in space because I didn’t understand anything. The language, the culture, the food and in fact the weather of the people. But with time, I loved the stay because all the aforementioned, I learnt to adapt and I even became a “Nigerian Indian” because I was fully behaving like Indians in terms of how they eat (even rice) with bare fingers, wear Dhoti (men tying wrapper around their waist in place of trousers) and so on. It was a remarkable stay in India for me.

You are back and you decided to situate your office in Otukpo. Why the choice of home? Others would have moved to a bigger city.

I believe in thinking globally but starting locally. I believe for change to happen, changing location is not the issue but facing the change of mindset is important.

I decided to situate my office in Otukpo because I discovered that there is a huge need for solutions to several problems confronting the youth in Benue State. Therefore, for The Bridge programmes to be impactful in the lives of the youth, we need to be easily accessible and also to partner and leverage existing resources in target communities for monitoring and sustainability.

Although, in my long term objective, we plan to have The Bridge offices across the country and abroad.

You are holding two leadership programmes in Akweya land. What is the rationale for these programmes? 

Empowering women is at the core of Marcus's efforts
The “Value of Education & Youth Leadership Summit” to be held on 20th February, 2013 at Akpa Community Secondary School hall, Allan-Akpa, is targeted on the Students to understand the basic reason for being in school and life beyond school.

I believe it is not enough going to school, it is equally important to school oneself. Therefore, we want to create a renewed mindset regarding education and its value to students of Akpa Community Secondary School, Allan-Akpa.

The second leadership programme “Youth Leadership, Understanding Democracy and Good Governance Conference” to be held at same venue as above on 23rd February, 2013 intends to bring together young people in Allan Ward of Akpa community, members of the National Association of Akpa Students to deepen their knowledge of democracy and foster active youth participation in governance processes.

What role do you see the youths playing in the development of Akweya land? 

The roles of youth in the development of Akweya land cannot be overemphasised because the youths are important contributors in the development of Akweya land. When the youth of Akweya are empowered positively, I believe they will be developmental conscious and shun the negative vices they indulge in, thereby restoring peaceful and dignify living for Akweya people.

The youths will channel their energy into building a sustainable Akweya. I believe when the youths are positively empowered, they will engage themselves in productive ventures, like starting up businesses which will help reduce poverty and boost the economy of Akweya land, learning trade which will develop their skills, interest to learning which will reorganise our education system and young people will be able to come up with impactful projects to better the well being of Akweya people.

What do you see as the biggest threat to Akweya's development today and how can The Bridge Organization help? 

Marcus Akor discusses with The Bridge Ambassadors
As the popular saying goes “United we stand, divided we fall”. I think the biggest threat to Akweya’s development today is lack of peace and unity. As a result of the reoccurring issues related to lack of peace and unity in Akweya, to gain knowledge to contribute to Akweya’s development, I attended the 4th Annual International Interfaith Conference themed "Harnessing the Creative and Innovative Capacities of Youth and Women for Peacebuilding" organised by New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation.

After the conference, I have been opportuned to speak at the annual national convention of National Association of Akpa Students, and the National Convention of Akpa Progressive Youth Forum where I emphasised strategic steps we as young people must take to restore peace in Akweya which will effect rapid development of Akweya land.

Otherwise, we have plans on ground to hold seminars on peacebuilding in Akweya.

Are there words of advice to the older generation? 

I wish to say let the learned people of Akweya in Diaspora come together with one voice to move Akweya forward. I believe in the creative and intelligent abilities of Akweya men and women. The development of Akweya, especially her youth, should be a thing of great concern for the older generation.

Therefore, I suggest that the older generation should bury any differences of the past, forget about the “me” culture and start thinking and practicing the “we” culture. Akweya is great, also is the people and older generation of Akweya. Together Each Achieves More (TEAM).

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