TPM: Good afternoon ! Please could you introduce yourself to us?
Louis Oke: Hello, I’m Louis Oke
The president of the Coalition for Youth Development, a youth run organisation based in Lagos, Nigeria
TPM: Wow that’s a brief but! intriguing bio Mr Louis
Do you have any title or nickname you would like to go by during this interview?
Louis Oke: Haha I haven’t had a nickname in ages
I think Louis would be fine
TPM: Okay Louis, Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself, your favourite meal, movie, stress relief, place to eat fun fact anything really?
Louis Oke: Sure
I’d like to describe myself as a simple person
My favourite meal is the usual jollof rice and barbeque chicken
Choosing a favourite movie would be tough because there are so many movies I love. But I think my favourite movie is Lord of the Rings
For me the best way to relieve stress is to play FIFA or watch football
Fun fact: I have 6 sisters and 5 brothers
TPM: Hmm that is a fun fact. OK Louis when you said your name you mentioned something along side it could you please tell us a bit about it?
Louis Oke: Yes!
So the Coalition for Youth Development is a youth run organisation which was established in January 2016. The main purpose of the organisation is to inspire and encourage the Nigerian youth to take an active role in the reformation of our nation. We believe that once the youth are inspired and motivated, the development of our country would inevitable
TPM: how do you achieve this?
Louis Oke: The first step towards solving a problem is to identify the problem. We try to sensitize the youth on societal issues through the use of campaigns. Then we have threads and discussions on our social media platforms which give people an opportunity to provide practical solutions to the issues raised.
After this has been done, we try to implement these solutions through events and other physical activities
TPM: Events and other physical activities could you expatiate on these please?
Louis Oke: For example, we launched a campaign titled ‘I am a concerned youth’, this was done to give people an opportunity to highlight problems affecting the Nigerian society. One of the issues raised was the apparent lack of knowledge of Nigerian history among the Nigerian youth.
We tackled this issue by launching a campaign titled ‘Roots’. This campaign was launched to inform and educate people about Nigerian history and culture. The campaign was followed up by an event, ‘Roots Festival’. The ‘Roots Festival’ was made up of discussions, musical performances, art displays, quizzes and other activities which helped to fulfil the objectives of the ‘Roots’ campaign.
The problem highlighted was a lack of knowledge of Nigerian history. We tried to solve the problem by launching a campaign and organising an event
TPM: I must admit I’m positively shocked at your response. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such problem solving first hand and articulated so eloquently. Are there any of such campaigns or events coming up any time during the course of the year?
Louis Oke: Yes, the ‘Roots Festival’ is an annual event which takes place during the summer holidays.
We have a few campaigns coming up later this year as well. One of the campaigns will focus on mental health and how Nigerians should treat the mentally disabled.
We also plan to work together with other organisations to plan events or assist other organisations at their events. So this is sure to be a busy year
TPM: Before Coalition for Youth Development became this practical positive force in our generation It was either a thought,dream day dream or something. Louis what sparked this brilliant idea?
Louis Oke: Well, I had a gap year before I got into uni. During the gap year, I started moving around much more than I used to before and this allowed me to notice things. I saw a lot of people suffering, in the most pitiable conditions, in a word I realised that our nation was in a mess. I realised that sitting down and blaming the government was not going to solve our problems, we have to do what can to help as well because this is our country. I also realised that we have a very large population of young and talented people. So the idea was to gather these people to bring their talents and resources together to solve the problems we can in the society and to educate future generations so that we never get into this mess again
TPM: Well Louis, like pregnancy every thing has a gestation period, how long did it take this realisation to move from mind to reality?
Louis Oke: Would say it took about four months because of recruitment and planning
TPM: How did you go about recruitment? Did you ever had to disband and restart?
Louis Oke: I got in touch with people I knew would be enthusiastic about the project. Those people also referred me to other people. After we launched, we advertised positions in the organisation and interested people contacted us.
TPM: Nothing good comes easy Louis, what would you say was / is the biggest obstacle you face with regards to running Coalition for Youth development and how did you/ do you plan on overcoming it?
Louis Oke: I think the fact that most of the members are in university makes things a bit challenging. People are really busy most of the time so we can’t get as much done as we would like but it’s understandable. Most of the members also school abroad so we don’t really have people on ground except during summer or Christmas holidays.
I think that can be solved by recruiting more people in Nigerian universities or who live in Nigeria at the moment
TPM: Please permit me to ask what course you are studying ?
Louis Oke: I’m currently studying Biomedical sciences
TPM: Wow I’m simply awestruck by your sentence structure and choice of words. It’s like I’m reading a really really good novel. But back to your work do you have any sharable long term plans that we can look forward to?
Louis Oke: Thank you! Yeah, in the long term we would like to be more impactful on communities. For example, we would like to provide basic social amenities like constant water supply to communities, support young entrepreneurs and businesses and possibly become more active in politics
TPM: We look forward to seeing this especially the politics bit. Louis what would you say keeps you going with this work especially on tired or down days? Do you have any scripture watchword or mantra of some sort to keep you going?
Louis Oke: Yes! Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time, that what we’re doing is inconsequential. On those days I remember this quote from Mother Theresa:
“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” This quote keeps me going.
I’m also motivated to do my best in honour of our co-founder who passed on last year. She was a strong believer in the project
TPM: Wow that’s one long quote. I’m sorry about your co-founder
TPM: So, just for fun Louis – it’s a TPM thing – I’m going to ask you some rather unconventional questions. Is that fine?
Louis Oke: Keep ’em coming
TPM: Yellow Garri or white Garri, as regards drinking?
Louis Oke: Ahh white garri of course
No argument here. The sugar mixes better with the white garri
TPM: That is very true.
Amala or pounded yam?
Louis Oke: Hmm amala, pounded yam can be somehow sometimes
TPM: Okay I’m really shocked now…
Louis Oke: Plot twist, I like neither of them
TPM: So you don’t like swallow? Or you prefer Eba?
Louis Oke: Eba is the only manageable one
TPM: “Wow!” Is all I’m going to say about that. This is the end of the interview, Louis. Thank you so much for obliging our request and devoting your time we are stupendously grateful.
Louis Oke: It was my pleasure! I really enjoyed it
TPM: Me too!