Twitter has been a great platform for connecting like minded people and businesses together, but for us as Africans, it has been a great tool for amplifying our issues, both good and bad, in real time. This resourcefulness is what led me to find this young man on twitter, during the Olympic season.
Ohimai Godwin Amaize, better known by his twitter handle, @MrFixNigeria is a young man from Nigeria actively involved in bettering the future of Nigeria, through active involvement in social advocacy programs and initiatives-passionately so, I might add.
My timeline was ablaze with questions pending Nigeria’s dismal performance at the Olympics. Folks wanted answers to the 2billionN spent on the team, and not one medal to talk of. It seemed all the questions were being fielded to and handled by a Mr.Fix Nigeria. Mindlessly, I clicked on his handle-thinking it was your usual government representative downplaying the situation. Surprise, surprise, it was a twenty something year old, with an impressive resume to boot, who was holding his own, honestly amidst the pressure! He became the world’s youngest presidential campaign manager at 26.
Curiosity killed the cat, but best believe this cat, yours truly, lived to have nine lives. Intrigued, I silently monitored his responses for an entire week, as he calmly addressed the people’s queries and at times challenged them with questions, which required solutions. That is how he landed an exclusive interview on these pages! He definitely is pushing it to the limit [ cues Rick Ross grunt]
54interviews: Who is Ohimai Godwin Amaize, and why is his twitter handle name Mr.Fix Nigeria –What is it you are fixing that was broke/broken/breaking?
OA: A young Nigerian who is very passionate about Nigeria. He was born 27 years ago and has devoted over a decade of his life organizing individuals and communities for social change. My Twitter handle, @MrFixNigeria exemplifies the mission and the values that I stand for. It is not just a name that I have come to be known with. It is a lifestyle that I have committed myself to living. It is about doing the right thing wherever I find myself irrespective of all pressure to go the other direction. Anyone who truly loves this country can see that there is a lot of fixing to be done. In virtually all sphere of our society, there are broken walls that need to be rebuilt. Mr Fix Nigeria is a promise and a hope in a Nigeria that can be rebuilt.
54interviews: In view of your numerous advocacy contributions during your undergraduate studies at the University of Ibadan, social advocacy, seems to be ingrained in you. What inspired this drive into a road less traveled by our generation?
OA: You see, the mere fact that we are not where we ought to be should give anyone passionate about this country some deep concern. I don’t know anyone who is currently satisfied with our present situation, whether rich or poor except that person is a thief. Our generation is perhaps the only generation that has not enjoyed half of what the older generation enjoyed in terms of education, social welfare and infrastructural development. Now that should give us some real reasons to be concerned. But what are we doing about our woes? Many of our youths seem to be content with where we are. We are busy complaining on Twitter, watching Big Brother and singing D’Banj Oyato while our future is at stake. We are docile. We don’t care. We hate government, politics and politicians. We do not want to get involved. We just want to graduate, get a job, marry, raise a few kids and live happily ever after. We forget that the future is a battle that is won and lost on the altar of the present. I have made hard choices in this life. I have walked away from many temptations of compromise because I believe in the power of the future. Money is not everything and yes, striving to remain focused in a society that worships money is a tough thing to do. But I’m doing everything I can to make my love for God and country count. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
54interviews: Corruption is rife in Nigeria, as an anti-corruption advocate what are some of the challenges you face. Any success stories?
OA: Challenges I face? You suffer sometimes. You struggle hard to pay your bills while others around you are living “the life.” But like I said, money is not everything. I have struggled hard to build a name that I cherish more than money. Money did not earn me my good name and money cannot preserve it. Only character, principle and integrity can preserve the good name that I have. I probably would never be opportune to talk to you if I was just a young Nigerian with money in his pocket. For me, working in government, everyday comes with its peculiar challenge. My biggest success story would probably not be how many bribes I have refused or how many opportunities of compromise I have rejected. My biggest success story would be that at the time I am called to take a bow, I would leave with my name untainted.
54interviews: Tell us about your experience as the presidential campaign manager at only 26, to the Dele Momodu Presidential Campaign in 2010. What were your key responsibilities? How did you end up being part of the campaign?
OA: My responsibilities as a presidential campaign manager were huge. From strategy development to execution, to monitoring and managing our social media platforms to mobilizing and recruiting young people across the country. It was one hell of a task but c’mon, I’m young? What am I doing with my time? (Laughs). You need to give it to Bashorun Dele Momodu who had the vision of making a Nigerian youth his campaign manager. It broke the jinx about the Nigerian youth taking its rightful position in politics and political leadership. My campaign manager experience exposed me a lot to the intricacies and reality of politics as it is in Nigeria. Not even a PhD in Harvard would have given me the first-hand on-the-field experience that I garnered throughout that period. Many of the lessons I learnt are documented in a book I have written but yet to be published.
54interviews: Prior to the presidential campaign, you held other visibly high profile positions which focused on youth initiatives and development in Nigeria, such as being Creative Director at Youth Media & Communication Initiative, YMCI [now Africa Centre for Media Literacy ] Abuja. Impressive. What advice would you give the African youth in not just Nigeria, but regionally that are dejected by employment prospects/opportunities?
OA: The loudest ovation will always go to the man who succeeded in spite of the overwhelming challenges. As a young African myself, I can imagine and feel what young people across Africa face on a daily basis. There will always be challenges. Even in developed societies, there is the challenge of unemployment. But you see, our world is gradually migrating from a generation of job seekers to job creators. My advice to every young African out there is to discover the Mark Zuckerberg, Toyosi Akerele, Banky W, Usain Bolt and Linda Ikeji within. That job you are looking for is already in you. Discover it and fulfill it.
54interviews: As a communication strategist, you have embraced media as an advocacy tool for social reconstruction. This is very apparent in a tweet you said “My life has always been that of a constant pursuit of social advancement and self-development. It’s a continuous journey. No destination.” How effective has the media (social media platforms) as a tool been in affecting change? Secondly, what tangible results can you outline to us in reference to the mentioned?
OA: In our modern world, it is impossible to reach out with the message of change without using both traditional and new media platforms. The new media space itself has become a bubbling arena of conversations centered on social change. Any serious-minded change agent must harness the power of the social media for social reconstruction. Back home here in Nigeria, we still have a long way to go in terms of engagement and mobilization through social media. The social media space is still largely seen by young people as a tool for just networking and maybe, insulting and abusing people. My sincere hope is that we move from this point to that point where we can identify in measurable terms how far our social media has helped us in our quest for national transformation.
54interviews: You are currently the SA to the Minister of Sports. Currently, your timeline is flooded with folks taking your ministry to task for the dismal performance by Nigeria at the Olympics. The bone of contention is the N 2.2 billion spent and no medals to show. Mr. Fix it, what is the 2016, Rio action plan? (just so you know, my heart kept dying and reviving in hopes of medals, but eh….yeah!)
OA: First of all, I am not Mr Fix It. I am Mr Fix Nigeria. There is a clear difference between the two. (Laughs). Well, to your question, you see I’m an ardent believer in the philosophy; Victory loves preparation. And like my boss, the Honourable Minister of Sports stated, we have depended too much on chance in the past and that is what has brought us to this abysmal level. But the biggest tragedy of London 2012 would not be the fact that we failed woefully. The biggest tragedy would be our failure to learn from this experience. We have kick-started the preliminary processes for Rio 2016. We cannot afford to waste time. Countries who want to win medal at the next Olympics have already started preparations. I am confident that my boss, being the relentless reformer that he is will get the job done as long as he remains the Minister of Sports.
54interviews: In your interview with Rise Networks on twitter, you mentioned that you are part of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Youth Circuit, which you helped form with other like minded individuals passionate about Nigeria. What positive changes are you planning on effecting internally within the party? Secondly, how do you plan on integrating the youth in terms of policymaking and the like?
OA: Like I always say when I have the opportunity to make this point, it is not an overnight process. Currently, we are at the most critical phase of our work, which entails building the foundations for systems and structures that are sustainable. Our plan is to contribute to the consistent development of the party in order to make it more democratic, transparent, accountable and service-driven to the people of Nigeria. We will be engaging the Nigerian youth in the months ahead using traditional and new media platforms from town hall meets, tweet meets, debates to lectures etc. It is going to be participation and engagement like has never been seen in the history of our nation. We are aware that the little we have done is already sending jitters across the opposition and they are planning to replicate what we have done. We are happy to take the lead and welcome all constructive opposition and engagement.
54interviews: Naturally, you have progressed or should I say transitioned well into politics. Are you looking to one day contest for presidency?
OA: The future is long. Time will tell.
54interviews: Let’s talk opportunities. For Nigerian youth living in the Diaspora, how can they effectively contribute to Nigeria’s economic, political and social growth?
OA: Nigerian youths in the diaspora have a role to play both at home and abroad. Often times, they are Nigeria’s window to the world. The diaspora youth should consistently seek ways to transfer and share knowledge with their contemporaries back home in Nigeria. There are myriads of problems waiting to be solved back home and instead of contributing to the problem by complaining about how things could be much better at home, the diaspora youth should take the initiative to become solution providers. Through business and social enterprise initiatives, the diaspora youth can help build capacities at the home front. They also need to visit home regularly and constantly engage their government through advocacy.
54interviews: What is the future of Nigeria, touch on corruption elimination possibilities?
OA: No society can eliminate corruption. But we can reduce corruption when we rebuild our collapsed values system and develop a socio-economic system that prioritizes the welfare of the people. We must put in place systems that make corruption unattractive to the average Nigerian. We must do something urgently about a system that insists you must pay your rent 2 years in advance when you do not collect your salaries 2 years in advance. We must also treat corruption as a disease and not just as the symptoms of a disease. Making scapegoats of few big people will not work. We have to go to the roots. We have to go to our homes, our communities, our schools. That is where the rot begins.
54interviews: In one of your many social profiles, I came across one which you described yourself as a future media mogul. Choi! Talk to us about this one!
OA: (Laughs) I admire the guts of a man like Rupert Murdoch who has built a colossal media empire. But for me, I want to be known, not just as a man who built a great media empire but a man who changed the lives of many through media.
54interviews: When you are not busy saving Nigeria, what do you do for fun or rather how do you relax?
OA: Hmmm…when I’m not busy saving Nigeria, I’m busy saving myself from stress and trouble. I go swimming with my friends or go to the cinemas. Once in a while, I read a book or waste some precious time on Twitter! (Laughs).
54interviews: Family-Where did you grow up? Parents, siblings-the whole wax!
OA: That is a long story but to cut it short, I grew up in Agenebode town in Etsako East Local Government of Edo State. I’m the last of 5 children.and was raised in a serious Christian environment where watching TV was prohibited. So I grew up without TV. (Laughs). While my mates were watching Cock Crow at Dawn and the likes, I grew up reading books, novels and encyclopedias. But look at me today, I see myself on TV these days. (Laughs). God bless my parents who were ready to give their all just to give their kids sound education. I didn’t go to the best of primary or secondary schools as my dad, being a secondary school principal was posted around a lot from one village to one town or the other. But as God would have it, I crowned it with a university education at Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan where I studied English and French (Combined Honours) and graduated in 2007 and later in 2009, Managing for Integrity at the Central European University, Budapest Hungary.
~Thanks Mr.Fix Nigeria~