The Future Awards meets Vice President Goodluck Jonathan… hits Abuja and Kaduna with Town Hall Meetings

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The organisers and selected winners of The Future Awards recently met with all the key government officials in charge of youth matters in the country when they paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Also present at the meeting were the Minister for Youth Development, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi and the Senior Special Adviser to the Vice President on Youth, Mrs. Morenike Soyinka-Onijala.
The delegation was led by Dr. Reuben Abati, chairman of The Guardian Editorial Board as well as chairman of The Future Awards Independent Audit Committee. Dr. Abati, after expressing the regrets of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Prof. Pat Utomi, who was initially billed to be at the meeting, introduced the project and its organisers. He mentioned that the organisers started this project when they were all under the age of 20 – the youngest of them was even 17 – and they have grown from strength to strength. You would be proud of them.”
The 5th edition of The Future Awards is presented by HiTV and RedSTRAT, with support from the Federal Ministry of Youth and the International Finance Corporation. It is the flagship platform under The Future Project, Nigeria, which is an umbrella of projects and programmes that seeks to inspire hope in young Nigerians, direct them to work for change and to add practical value to society.
After an introduction of the idea by its Creative Director, Chude Jideonwo; the PR Director for the Awards, Emilia Asim-Ita, briefed Dr. Jonathan on the plans for this year. She spoke about the town hall meetings in 8 states, as well as the UK and Ghana in October and November, the awards’ relationships with international organisations and other countries, and its other outreach projects like The Future Enterprise Support Scheme (TF-ESS), The Future Mentorship Programme, The “Do Something” Conferences and The Future TakeAction, amongst others.

The Vice President, who has shown something of a soft spot for The Future Awards having sent a representative for its 2008 edition, as well as helping the awards open a relationship with the Ministry of Youth, noted his admiration for the work that it is doing to present a new face for Nigeria. “This is the true way to re-brand the country,” he said. “Because you cannot say you are re-branding and not have the youth in the forefront. We need to show the world that all those negative news that goes around is not representative of Nigerians. I promise you the support of my office through the Ministry of Youth."
After the visit, the town hall meetings began in earnest that evening – where young people in Abuja were told about the award categories, the nomination process, and this year’s judges, amongst others. Amidst performances by some of Abuja’s hottest singers and comedians, including Lindsey, Yoye, El Nathan and The Governor, the campaign theme for this year’s season “I represent Naija” was also presented, with its TV/radio promos, and the merchandise.
Last year’s Business Owner of the Year (Mosunmola Umoru), Style Entrepreneur of the Year (Uche Nnaji), Magazine of the Year (Ace, whose publisher is Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi) and Screen producer of the year (Onye Ubanatu) winners also spoke about all the work they have been doing with the awards over the past year, especially the School Seminars, amongst others. “The opportunity to share my story with other young people and to see their earnest reaction made my heart glow,” Ms. Umoru told the guests. The event held at JB’s Place, Maitama Amusement Park.
“This is first phase of the town hall meeting in Abuja; for young people that control processes and wield a measure of influence in their sectors,” said Chude Jideonwo. “What we are working towards is a ripple effect. When we interact with these youth leaders, they become ambassadors and spread the word to the young people they employ or work with. The second phase is in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Youth – and will involve a mass of more young people, especially students.”
Guests included broadcasters Tyeng Gang, Chioma Chuka, Alu Azege, Bennie Arc; advocacy professionals Linus Okorie, Ohimai Amaize, Alkassim Abdulkadir; convener of the Sardauna Awards, Hassan Rilwan, PR consultant, Ijeoma Okeagu, amongst others. It was held in conjunction with Chocolate City and naijaborn.com.
The organisers and winners also went on a blitz of media interviews in the nation’s capital, and then went on to the town hall meetings in Zaria, Kaduna, courtesy of HiTV. The organisers also visited youth events - altogether speaking to about 1000 young people.
The town hall meetings now move to Yola in Adamawa State and Enugu in Enugu State. Nominations are still ongoing at www.thefuturenigeria.com – with categories including Best Use of Science, Best Use of Technology and Excellence in Public Service. The awards hold on the 7th of February 2010.

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