Monday 25 November 2019


A book, 'Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe' was launched in Abuja. It is a publication of UNDP. Why would anyone sell all his belongings and borrow money just to travel into the unknown? Migration itself is a good thing, but when it is 'irregular' and young Africans die in droves on the high seas before they reach their destination, then something is wrong.

Photo above L-R: Sunday Dare (Nigeria's Minister of Youth & Sports), Mrs. Adejoke Adefulire (SSA to Nigeria's President on SDGs & Fmr. Deputy Governor of Lagos State), Mrs. Amina Mohammed (UN Deputy Secretary-General & Nigeria's fmr. Minister of Environment) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (Independent Consultant/Conflict Transformation Expert) @ the launch of 'Scaling Fences...'

The 124 page book is easy to read and well illustrated with maps and compelling photos. The references are distinctly annotated to the delight of any seasoned academic! There are 4 major chapters in the book:

*Life at home
*Motivation & drivers
*Life on the other side
*Attitudes to return

A dismal picture is painted of 'life at home'.   Poverty levels are very high. Unemployment is rife. There is a lack of basic facilities like - water, electricity, housing, etc. Poor governance is a major factor. 'The core message arising from this study, that migration is a reverberation of uneven development and particularly of a development trajectory that is failing young people, sends a strong signal to policymakers'. (Scaling Fences, p. vi).

What are the drivers of irregular migration? 'Irregular migration for those interviewed, is an investment in a better future. This view is embraced by individuals whose development trajectory is already in ascendance, enabling a radical rejection of the constraining circumstances at home. This mindset enables them to scale metaphorical and even physical fences in order to attain personal fulfillment and better opportunities'. (Scaling Fences, p. 5).

Life on the other side. Humans always believe that 'the grass is greener on the other side'. But in reality, this adage is not always right. The illegal migrant soon finds out that he/she might just be better off at home. But this reality check is rather late in the day, since he/she is not ready to leave the host country immediately. There is always a desire not to return empty-handed.

The following observations were made by the panelists:

*'Ungoverned migration needs to be transformed into governed migration to halt the many dangerous mishaps that take the lives of some of these migrants.
*Good governance in African countries is a sine qua non for halting the exodus of youths from the continent.
*There should be transformative  development that expands opportunities and choice for African citizens within their nation states.
*African nation states should build inclusive economies.
*The legal pathways for becoming a regular migrant need to be expanded beyond 'asylum'.
*There should be constant public engagement that defines new and positive discourse on migration.
*The 'Global Compact' for Migration should be constantly fine-tuned.

It was indeed a rewarding time for me being in the room with the UN Deputy Secretary-General and other eminent personalities, discussing 'irregular migration.'

Related Links

*Internal migration in Nigeria: A positive contribution to human development
*Libya: Bound for Libya, then resettlement, refugees tread dangerous path>middleeast >bound-libya-then...
*Recognising the high value of Africa's migrants
*The story of migration is more positive than we are led to believe
*Covid-19 has left many refugees & IDPs in despair
*Human trafficking
*For refugee girls and women, the prospect of attaining higher education is very slim
*Refugees' return should be quickly followed by re-settlement
*Record 29 million Africans are forcibly displaced
*MADE 51: Supporting Refugee Entrepreneurs  #WorldRefugeeDay 
*Nigeria's displacement dilemma
*Migration is a safety net during climate change disasters
*When the Polish were refugees in Africa
*Not just a crisis: A conversation on Africa migration
*Putting the citizens at the centre of good governance in africa
*Managing trafficking in Niger
*The security implications of human  trafficking
*Immigrants and their positive contributions in the CoV era:
*Migration: A critical climate change strategy
*Trailer: Europe's Achilles Heel: The asylum and migration regime unpacked
*Portugal gives migrants full citizenship rights during CoV outbreak
* California to give illegal migrants hurt by Covid-19 $125m in cheques
*Covid-19: Migration & Africa's eternal lock-down
*Refugee debates have an African history problem   https://africasacountry/com/2020/10/refugee-debates.../
*Time to make the world a fairer place for refugees
*Voices in the wind: Perspectives on the refugee experience
*17 year old Cameroonian displaced by regional conflict builds remote-controlled toys
*How to address Africa's displacement crisis
*Essentialism and the making of African refugees


Thursday 21 November 2019


I was at Liberty Radio 103.3FM Abuja on the 20th of November 2019. The LEAD Radio Show is the initiative of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy & Development (SCDDD). 'SCDDD is an authoritative NGO committed to research, advocacy training and policy analysis in the areas of conflict prevention, management, democracy and sustainable development in Nigeria and Africa. It was founded in 1993 by Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, OCORT, CFR; a renowned scholar and seasoned Diplomat, former Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister and former UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs. SCDDD began full operation in 2014...' (Source: SCDDD Pillar Series Manual on Leadership Effectiveness & Accountability Dialogue - LEAD). LEAD is a flagship Project of SCDDD. I was invited to the LEAD Radio Show to speak about 'Character & Ethics in Public Service'.

            Photos below: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa in the studio of Liberty Radio 103.3FM


With the impressive pedigree of the Founder of SCDDD, it is not surprising that the Centre is making positive impact in Nigeria and beyond. Lest I forget, a tree cannot make a forest. Therefore, the day-to-day running of SCDDD is in the capable hands of the Executive Director, Ambassador Abdullahi Omaki, ably supported by eminent professionals. Did I digress from the content of the particular Radio Show in which I featured? Let's get back on track.

The LEAD Project has 7 pillars:

1) Political Party Funding & Primary Elections
2) Character & Values in the Public Sector & Governance
3) Fostering Citizen-Government Collaboration
4) Legislative Oversight & Social Auditing
5) Effective Governance & Funding Mechanism in Nigeria
6) Recruitment into Public Office & Remuneration
7) Freedom of Information & The Media

I was in the studio to discuss Pillar number 2: Character & values in the public sector. I made it clear that in an environment where you watch your superiors cart away looted funds, it is very difficult to preach about good character and values in the public sector. It is good on paper, but in reality some things need to change. The lowliest worker should be entitled to a living wage. A situation where it has taken so long to review and actually pay the minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000 is unacceptable. The workers know what legislators and other highly placed government officials earn. In my opinion, the salary of the highest paid worker in any establishment should not be more than ten times that of the janitor.

Besides, the selection process into the political class should be overhauled, starting from transparency in Political Party Primaries. There should always be credible elections, where violence is unheard of and the vote of the average citizen counts. There should be no discrimination on the basis of gender or any other consideration. Politics determines the economy. When political decisions do not positively affect the lives of the people, then the economy follows suite.

For us to restore values into the public service, a national re-orientation needs to occur. The National Orientation Agency has a huge role to play in this regard. The family, also has a role to play in this regard. Most lifetime values are picked up from the home. The schools need to teach morals via civic education, so that by the time the individual becomes a Public Officer, he/she is appalled by corruption and similar negative behaviour.

Two principles that need to be upheld for the Public Officer to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number are:

*'Do no harm' which implies that you do not leave the situation worse than you met it.
*The principle of 'Pareto Optimality' says every intervention should  improve the life of at least one citizen in that community. Related qualities for the Public Officer are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility. fairness. caring/empathy and citizenship/patriotism.

A major aspect of character is the temperament of the individual. There are four major temperaments:

1) Sanguine - Enthusiastic, active and sociable.
2) Choleric - Short-tempered, fast and irritable.
3) Melancholic - Analytical, wise and quiet.
4) Phlegmatic - Relaxed and peaceful.

Different Public Officers have at least one or more of these four types of temperament. The temperament could affect his/her character and by extension values in the course of his/her work. On the whole, we should remember what Montague said: 'It is not human nature, but human nurture that is the cause of human aggression'. My opinion is different from Montague's. I believe both the nature and nurturing of the individual affect behaviour. Hence the nature and nurture of the average Public Officer would determine his/her character and values.

                                   Photo above: Publicity poster for the Lead Radio Show

May we have more men and women whose nature and nurture engrain in their DNA the positive attributes that would make them effective, efficient, empathic, emotionally intelligent, incorruptible, diligent, patriotic, selfless and indeed believe in a higher being. However, I have a critical observation that could improve future editions of  The LEAD Radio Show. Special guests like me should be allotted more time to speak. That is why we are labelled 'Special Guests'. Since the 'Analyst' is a member of staff of SCDDD, he should just listen and go and do the required analysis in the office. That's my token two kobo.

Kudos to SCDDD for this wonderful initiative. The discourse continues every Wednesday at 4pm on Liberty Radio 103.3FM...

15th March 2022

The Validation Workshop for the LEAD Project desk review was held in Abuja on the 15th of March, 2022. Five groups discussed the desk reviewed national documents. The documents are: The National Political Reforms Conference Main Report 2005 & The National Conference 2014 Main Report. The documents were to distill 'common actionable recommendations or plans towards attaining genuine national reconciliation, healing, cohesion and revival' of our country, Nigeria.


                                                   Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa @ the workshop

The five groups discussed the following themes:

*National Development
*National Security
*Electoral Reform
*Fight Against Corruption

I believe what each group came up with useful suggestions that could guide SCDDD's 'Council of the Wise' as regards their interventions when they tour various parts of Nigeria to engender reconciliation and peaceful co-existence...  

Sunday 3 November 2019


The DBL Bold & Beautiful Dream Girls Project - DBLBBDGP (1st - 30th November 2019) is the brain child of Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi (DBL), Managing Director Doxa Digital (a multi-media & events management company) based in Abuja. Dayo is a front-line Voice-preneur and Enterprise Communicator who is passionate about mentoring and empowering humans and girls in particular. I am a valued member of the DBL Dream Girls Project Team. The pilot scheme for the DBLBBDGP is anchored in Government Girls' Secondary School (GGSS), Dutse, Abuja.


Photo above: DBL (a.k.a. 'Awu Sisi') with the Dream Girls @ the gate of  GGSS, Dutse

          L-R in the midst of the girls: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi

What is the DBLBBDGP all about?

*The Dream Girls are 50. How did we arrive at this number? At least 500 girls indicated interest in the project by writing short essays on 'My passion and my ambition in life'. The scripts were marked by a carefully selected team and the writers of the best 50 essays were chosen for the project.

*Of the three major domains of learning (Cognitive, Affective & Psychomotor), too much emphasis is placed on the cognitive (mental skills/knowledge) to the detriment of the affective (growth in feelings or emotions - attitude/self-awareness) and psychomotor (manual/physical skills). The project is about filling this lacuna by giving the girls the opportunity to develop psychomotor and affective skills not emphasised in the curriculum. That is why dressmaking, photography, painting, writing/public speaking, solar panel building skills, etc are embedded in the project designed for the girls.

*The development of the well rounded female is a sin qua non for the acquisition of Emotional Intelligence (EI), which beyond intelligence makes the individual self aware and able to effectively interact in public in a seamless manner. This, to a large extent is a hallmark of success for the average individual.

*The curriculum comprises the acquisition of various skills -
- Week 1: Photography
- Week 2: Dress Making/Stoning/Beading
- Week 3: ICT (Information/Communication/Technology) & STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics); Financial Literacy (Money-Matics)
- Week 4: Make-Up; Nail Technology
- Week 5: Public Speaking; Etiquette; Solar Panel building, etc.

Photo above L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi (MD Doxa Digital Nigeria Ltd) @ the latter's office for the meeting to plan activities for the Dream Girls project

                              Photo above: The Dream Girls 'lifting up' their D-R-E-A-M!

*The project engages the girls every weekend (1pm - 5pm on Fridays & 12noon - 3pm Saturdays) throughout the month of November 2019.

On the first day of the project, the girls watched the award-winning film, 'Black Panther' where many of the girls identified with the strong character, Shuri (Lupita Nyong'o), a young lady who used the available technology to do exploits in many spheres. Many of the girls wanted to be like Shuri - their essays indicated this. The girls also saw many of the facilitators, especially DBL as role models. Each weekend, the girls are given assignments to be submitted the next Friday.

The transformation of the girls is palpable even after the first week. GGSS Dutse is a boarding school. The teachers report that since the beginning of the project, the girls are neater both in the hostel and the classroom. They paint and draw fellow students holding the microphone and speaking to the public like their mentors! They are a lot more confident!

I wish I had this type of grooming as a girl child - I would have shattered innumerable glass ceilings! Kudos to DBL and her formidable team for this life-changing initiative. Beyond this pilot scheme, it is envisaged that by 2020, more schools would have been adopted for this programme. Congratulations to these exceptional 50 Dream Girls!

Photo above: Notebook for the DBL Dream Girls Project: This notebook, some books (to inspire the girls), instruction & writing materials were given to each of the 50 Dream Girls.

1st Week: Photography (1st - 2nd November 2019) 

Between the 1st and 2nd of November 2019, the Dream girls learnt how to take world class photographs. They learnt from the best - Trainers from Studio 24, Abuja. They learnt sequentially under the following sub-themes:

*Choosing a camera: There are two main types - 'Point & Shoot Camera' & 'Single Lens Reflex' (SLR)

*Important Camera Controls:
-ISO Speed
-Camera Shooting Modes: A, S, M, P, B, etc
-Exposure Meter
-The Histogram
-File Type (to store your images)
-Storage Cards
-Colour Space (refers to the number of colours your camera will store)
-Lenses & Focal Length (focal length refers to the distance from the sensor to the centre of the front lens element)
-Holding your camera steady
-Filters (Do you need them?/which ones are important?
-White balance (refers to the 'colour' of the light you are shooting in)
-F-stops & Apertures

                            Photo above: A Dream Girl handling a camera for the very first time

                                       Photo above: Dream Girls & their instructor, Tobi Oke

*Camera Accessories
-Camera Bag
-Lens Cloth or Paper
-Extra Batteries
-Tripod (Do you need one?)
-Camera Manuals

                                                      Dream Girls & another instructor

A Dream Girl backing the camera taking the photograph of her colleagues

*Recommended Books:
Freeman Paterson: 'The Art of Seeing' by Key Porter Books
Tim Fitzharris: 'Landscape Photography' by Firefly Books

*Recommended Websites:

The material above on Photography is from the Manual given to the Dream Girls by their instructor(s). The contents of the Manual are originally by Robert Berdan

Photo above L-R: Nathan Shaiyen (Multi-Media Specialist & official film maker for the Dream Girls Project), Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi & teachers from Government Girls Secondary School, Dutse) 

5th November 2019


The grooming of the Dream Girls does not end within their school premises (Government Girls Secondary School, Dutse, Abuja). They are also exposed to real life events that have positive impact on their lives, like the NCIS they attended at the Congress Hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on the 5th of November, 2019. During the breakout session while some participants were involved in the Agriculture parley, the girls were in the 'Education' session where they watched some of their teachers receive awards alongside teachers from other parts of Nigeria!

  DBL with the Dream Girls @ the doorstep of Congress Hall, Transcorps Hilton Hotel, Abuja

Besides, the girls listened to the administrators of various Sixth Form Colleges and Tertiary institutions roll out requirements for studying in Canadian Universities. They were also told about the admission process. The Dream Girls had the opportunity to interact with some of the delegates!

Photo above: DBL, (who the Girls insist is their mother & role model) in an emotional hug with a Dream Girl

 Photo above: L-R: Mrs. Emarieta Amina Suleiman-Takuma (Principal Consultant, Horizon Techniques Concept & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa watching the awardees on stage)

                              Photo above: DBL with the teachers & some of the Dream Girls

                                           Photo above: DBL with some awardees on stage

Still at the NCIS...What goes on behind the scenes? DBL, a 'fashion-forward' multi-media personality, appears glam and well put together always. Sometimes, indeed often, she puts the icing on the cake of her appearance by allowing professionals do her make up. I was present live when two delectable ladies from the world renowned 'House of Tara' (Tara Fela-Dorotoye is the founder/CEO of the outfit) did what they knew how to do best. They completely transformed Dayo's face positively! This was after the first session, during the interlude before dinner and the Dream Girls were safely back in their school. DBL anchored the dinner also where 10 winners were awarded  the Nigerian Young Entrepreneurs Awards 2019. Their prizes were in three categories: $500, $1,000, $1,500 & $2,000. Now the big one: These cash awards were anonymously doubled by a conference participant in the audience! The awardees almost broke the stage in excitement.

Did I digress from DBL's make up by the House of Tara? Lest I forget, DBL is officially a delectable face of Tara. What did the professionals do? They sprayed DBL's face. I was informed that this was preparing her skin before the application of foundation. Then the brows were 'filled'. The eye shadow was applied with 'correct intensity'. Then the relevant areas were highlighted. With DBL's kind permission, I share with you in the photo below, the 'finished product' - DBL's face on the night of the 5th of November 2019, just before she changed her clothes to the sequined traditional Yoruba attire: Iro (wrapper), buba (top/blouse), gele (wrap round head gear) and ipele (sache)?

The make up artist spent at least three long hours on DBL's face. When I looked at her done up face, I asked DBL if she would leave the make up on for the next three days or one week. Her answer: 'I must wash it off after the NCIS dinner tonight before I sleep to prevent the clogging of my pores'. What do I know? All that effort just to look good for one glamorous night? What women go through to look glam! Multi-media personalities like DBL are always in the public eye. They need to look exceptional one day at a time. Enough description? I can't wait to unveil DBL's photo below: Enjoy the 'stainless ambiance'.

                   DBL with make up by 'House of Tara' just before the NCIS dinner! Whao!

                                                              DBL @ the NCIS dinner

Photo above: DBL & Ms. Martha Adeboye (Member, Team DBL) saying goodbye to the Dream Girls in their school bus when they embarked on their journey back to the campus.

2nd Week: Sewing/Fashion Design/Cutting/Sketching (8th, 9th & 11th November 209)


D - Dare to dream
R - Reach for the stars
E - Excellence is a choice
A - Aspire for higher (how? The girls hold hands 'up' simultaneously)
M - More is who I am

The short rendition above has become the slogan of the girls. The wordings inspire them at strategic moments during this unique five-week programme. The second week is dedicated to learning to sew! DBL bought many brand new machines for the school. These were presented at the School Assembly on the 8th of November.

On the 8th and 9th, the girls had instructors from 'The Fashion Academy' (Mary Adeboye, Shipinen Tseayo & Deby Amaga); Ma'ateh Tehila Ltd (Mrs. Esther Onaiko); Desire Glitz (Dr. Mariam Ahmed); Mitai Creations (Ms. Mitaire Igugu); The Skin Care Centre (Ms. Foalshade Samuels a.k.a. Mama Jazz) & Mavdals Fashion (Ms. Mavis Obi). The instructors and indeed the girls gave good accounts of themselves because at the end of the first day, I saw some of the girls already sewing after learning measurement; fashion design/sketching and introduction to the sewing machine. The Fashion Academy gave each of the Dream Girls a tape rule, needles and thimble.

Photo above L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa explaining 'something' to Mama Jazz before the latter gave her speech. Mrs. Nike Ajakaiye (she spoke to the girls about the integrity of the body & how to plan one's life)

Photo above: The Dream Girls learning to sew with their instructor, Dr. Mariam Ahmed, CEO Desire Glitz

                               Photo above: Dr. Dayo Ouyemi-Kusa addressing the Dream Girls

                                          Photo above: The Dream Girls learning to 'sketch'

          The Dream Girls learning to sew with their instructor from the Fashion Academy

Photo above: Trainers discussing strategies to be employed for the effective training of the Dream Girls

                  Photo above: The Dream Girls listening with rapt attention to their instructor

             Photo above L-R: Mrs. Edith Attah (Member, Team DBL) & Dr. Mariam Ahmed

           Photo above L-R: A Dream Girl with Ms. Mary Adeboye of the Fashion Academy, Abuja

Before the training of the girls to sew, Mrs. Nike Ajakaiye (a Consultant from Lagos) gave a talk on navigating life as a female. The next day, Nike addressed 'Maintaining the integrity of the female body. Both lectures were well received by the girls. On the 9th, Dr. Benjamin Wayo (a Public Speaker), lit up the atmosphere with his admonition about the processing of messages, especially verbal ones. According to him, by the time you encode and decode a message and transmit same to the next person, most of the original meaning is lost! Ms. Novo Isioro (CEO 'Anisza Foundation' - the very first Unity Photo & History Gallery in Nigeria) was there to inspire the Dream Girls with her speech titled: 'There is no limit to what you can achieve'. See my Blog post on the Anisza Foundation initiative via this See also: How Generation Z is altering the face of entrepreneurship for good 

Photo above L-R: Mrs. Nike Ajakaiye (Consultant), Ms. Novo Isioro (CEO Anisza Foundation) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

                           Photo above L-R: Ms. Novo Isioro & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

At the end of the second day, many of the girls had finished sewing their 'wrap-round' skirts, to the admiration of all of us. But some of the girls were yet to complete their assignment. We were in luck! The teachers agreed that since next Monday is a public holiday, the girls could continue their training, and hopefully finish sewing their clothes with 'beading/stoning' as embellishment. For the uninitiated, 'stoning/beading'' is when you strategically embed little ornaments/beads on clothes to beautify them.

11th November 2019

Before the class beading class, the girls listened to motivational speeches from a number of persons: DBL, The Principal of GGSS Dutse - Hajiya Rukaya Husseini), Mrs. Ruthies Davis-Ibiamu (CEO Ruthies Clothings), Mrs Bolanle Jibril (Businesswoman/Choreographer), Ms. Nife Laniyan (CEO Pots of Love) and VP Academic GGSS Dutse - Mrs. Elizabeth Imoroa.

DBL said 'every woman's right is her happy right' and that she would rather be defined than deformed. No matter how old you are, a response ability is a responsibility. A global woman must have a local connection. No one is a leader until he/she can be a player in a team. The weakest link would destroy any team.' She reiterated the fact that the girls were going from Dutse to the UN and admonished them to be humble, teachable, obedient and respectful - only then can they be beautiful inside out and authentic. Mrs. Ruthies Davis-Ibiamu said she was impressed about the cleanliness. of the school. According to Ruthies, when she entered the school, she thought it was a private school! Ruthies and her team taught the girls to dead.

The Principal, Mrs. Rukaya Husseini started with the slogan: 'Dutse leads, others follow'. She went down memory lane. She told the girls that she attended a public school also - GSS Dela? At that time, there were no private schools apart from St. Louis Secondary School. Lasting relationships were built in school. Rukaya is a mother of seven - five girls, two boys. She wished she had the kind of grooming the Dream Girls Project is bringing to the school while growing up! She encouraged the girls to pay attention to all they were being taught and 'the sky would be your starting point'.

Ms. Nife Laniyan (CEO Pots of Love) said her company uses food to reach humanity and create sustainable communities. Nife said nobody was born shy and so get out of your cocoon. The DNA of the woman is kindness 'and that's why I began to cook'. She told the girls that their dreams are valid. Nife develops healthy recipes from everyday cheap ingredients which even the poor can afford!

After the speeches, the girls were taught beading by the competent team from Ruthies Clothings.

   Photo above: One of the Dream Girls wearing the wrap-round skirt she made and beaded

Photo above L-R: DBL & Mrs. Ruthies Davis-Ibiamu (CEO Ruthies Clothings). Ruthies and her team taught the girls 'beading/stoning' of clothes.

Photo above L-R: VP Academic - Mrs. Elizabeth Imoroa & The Principal - Hajiya Rukaya Husseini admiring one of the wrap-round skirts made by the Dream Girls (held by a member of the DBL Team backing the camera

3rd Week: ICT (Information, Communication & Technology); STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) & MoneyMatics (The Mathematics of Money) 
15th-16th November 2019

The established tradition of  starting each training session with inspirational speeches by accomplished professionals continued with Dr. Benjamin Wayo, an Inspirational/Public Speaker told the Dream Girls the 'story of the potato, the egg & the teabag'. The three food items were put in the same pot to boil. The potato softened, the egg hardened while the teabag changed the colour of the water. When you are 'boiled'/stressed out/under immense pressure are you a potato that softens and easily gives up? Are you and egg that hardens, becomes tougher and resilient in the face of the challenge? Are you a teabag that changes the colour (affects your environment) in spite of your challenges? Whichever you are - potato, egg or teabag determines your reaction to the challenges you face, hence your level of success!

    Photo above: Dr. Benjamin Wayo facilitating a 'practical session' with some Dream Girls

                                    Photo above: Dr. Benjamin Wayo & some Dream Girls

The above analogy set the tone for the training sessions. There were trainers from various companies/organisations in Nigeria.

*Mrs. Esther Onaeko - CEO Malateh Tehilla Ltd/AIUVON Hub
*Israel Fasanlade - Malateh Tehilla
*Muyiwa Aderiato - Brainyville International School
*Mrs. Felicia Olojede - Terra Mart Nigeria Ltd
*Jessy Dan Yusuf - Fireworks Ltd
*Peter Yarama Ndirpaya - Chief Technical Officer, Fireworks/Designer, Digital Products

The Dream Girls were divided into five groups in line with the letters of the word: D-R-E-A-M. The five groups were: Groups D, R, E, A & M. Mrs Esther Onaeko fired the first salvo by asking the leader of each group to present their research idea that would solve a contemporary societal problem. The groups came up with the following innovative proposals:

Above photo L-R standing: Mrs. Esther Onaeko (CEO Malateh Tehilla/AIUVON Hub) & Muyiwa Aderiato (Brainyville International School) instructing the girls.

Group D: To develop an App which could rescue victims of Domestic Violence (DV). They would also empower such victims to enable them start a new life by teaching them beading, dressmaking, etc.

Group R: To develop an alternative source of electricity, powered by the wind. Their instructor fine-tuned the idea for the group by asking them to come up with a timeline and prototype. The group was advised to seek the counsel of an Energy expert.

                               Photo above: The Dream Girls with their instructor, Israel Fasanlade

   Photo above: The Dream Girls listening to their instructor, Peter Yarama Ndirpaya (Fireworks Ltd)

                                           The Dream Girls absorbed in their computer

                             Ms. Martha Adeboye (Member Team DBL) & some Dream Girls

      Photo above L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Martha Adeboye (member Team DBL), moments before ICT classes started.

Group E: To develop an Educational App. Their instructor asked them to fine tune this proposal by defining exactly what level of education they wish to focus on in the App. The girls were told to seek necessary counsel in this regard from their teachers.

Group A: Plastic is not bio-degradable. To develop technology that would 'melt' plastic without further depleting the ozone layer.

Group M: Turning Trash to Treasure (T2T). The sewing skill learnt last weekend was used by this group in the STEAM/ICT class. A jacket and raincoat were made from disused carrier bags and discarded cement bags to the amazement and delight of the audience. Remnant pieces of cloth from the dressmaking class became mini fascinators for beautifying the head/hair etc. For me, if I was to donate a trophy for this 'contest' among the five groups, I would give it to Group M for two reasons: 1) They effectively utilised the sewing skill they learnt last weekend and 2) They displayed at least one 'finished product', a jacket/raincoat made from scrap material.

                     Photo above: Volunteers all: Some of the Volunteers for the Dream Girls Project

 Photo above L-R: Ms. Martha Adeboye, Mrs. Deborah Bonire a.k.a. 'Awu Mama' (Teacher GGSS Dutse & Coordinator, Club activities in the school) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Then came the tutorial on branding by Israel Fasanlade. He distinguished between a brand and an identity. An identity simply tells you something about a product, but a brand has 'something' beyond identity. It tells us unique things about the product that make it outstanding and sets it apart from others in its class or milieu.

Jessy Dan Yusuf then told the girls more via 'Brand Story-Telling' - BST. Hear Jessy: 'A brand is not just a name, a brand is a reputation'. Examples of enduring brands are: Google, Apple, Jumia, Ruthies, etc. You can actually use stories to push your brand. Some narratives used to produce a movie can be used to 'push' a brand. BST sets your brand apart. There are three main types of BST: Origin BST, Teaching BST & Brand Value BST. For Origin BST, you tell the story of how your brand started. People and potential customers connect when you tell your own story. In Teaching BST, your company teaches people how to be successful with their brands. Such teaching should be based on your experience. In Brand Value BST, you lay bare the 'values' of your organisation and relate same to your relative success.

But how do you convey these three types of BST? A viable way of doing this is via ICT - Information, Communication & Technology. Peter Yarama Ndirpaya said Information is data processed. Communication is interaction, discussion sending and receiving messages/information. Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. What is ICT? It involves computers and other electronic equipment for the storing and sending of information. ICT is the technology required for information processing, especially the use of electronic computers.

What then is the internet? It is a network of computers that connect to one another to share information and allow people to keep in touch. Safety on the internet is of utmost importance. Never give out unnecessary information about yourself on the internet. No bank details, please. Th girls were also told never to go and meet anyone they have been chatting with in person without the knowledge of their parents.

The training continued the next day, 16th November 2019. Dr. Benjamin Wayo began by making a member of each team D, R, E, A, M mime what she reads from a statement/sentence given to her. Lest we forget, miming entails acting out a story through body motions without the use of speech. The following are the 'tasks' given to each team for miming:

                                         Teachers, Facilitators, Volunteers & the Dream Girls

D - A tall man running away.
R - The little girl is very strong.
E - My bib sister is very smart.
A - The food was delicious.
M - Big girls are beautiful.

Team M won with their near impeccable use of body language! Benjamin used this exercise to teach the girls the importance of body language, even while you are speaking. Focus on your message. Your message is more important than your mess. Your message is more pungent than your fears. The speaker should consider what matters to him/her and indeed what is useful to the audience.

                        Dream Girls explaining their assignment during Group discussion

Then came the discussion of money matters via 'MoneyMatics' by Joshua Ibeazor, a Mathematics teacher who describes himself as a 'Mathivational Speaker'. Then came the relevant song via the loudspeaker: 1 + 1 = 10 (binary system). Archimedes said: 'Give me a place to stand, and I'll move the world!'. We all need to change our mindset about Maths, because Maths could be romantic! Joshua then asked the girls the negative narratives they they know about Maths. These were some of the responses:

*Maths teachers are wicked
*Too many formulas
*Always looking for 'x', etc.
*Who Maths don help?
*Maths a scam?
*Maths na hot!

Photo above: Author of two Maths books, Joshua Ibeazor (in the middle) with Members of  Team DBL posing with copies of the books.

Joshua explained that some of the Dream Girls have had negative interaction with Maths because they had not encountered teachers who would break down the subject matter in a simple way. We apply Maths in every situation. For example, in fashion designing, you measure your client - waist, skirt length, trouser length, bust, hip, etc - that is Maths! There is a great connection between money and Maths!

The following are some of the 'Mathivational Words' from Joshua:

*Maths is a life skill, learn it.
*Maths helps us understand the world and vice versa.
*Everything in life is governed by the law of Maths, e.g. the earth is Mathematically construed/governed.

When you wake up in the morning and start to think about the day's activities, you are calculating - using your knowledge of Maths. You calculate how to manage your time. You are an embodiment of Maths. Sometimes, we don't realise when we embark on 'Mathematical activities'. Maths is about solving problems, and...wait for it: For any societal problem you are able to solve, you get paid for it while using Maths to solve those problems!

Teachers should show the connection between real  life situations and Maths. This brings the subject home to the students. This leads to a much more positive self-image for the student, including every Dream Girl. When you solve problems Mathematically, money automatically comes into your pocket. All the money you need is in the solution to problems. Maths exposes our weaknesses, fears, which we need to conquer! Patterns in life are similar to Mathematical patterns. If you want to improve at anything, keep adding - and that's Maths. There are many other avenues apart from teachers to learn Maths - the internet, books, etc. Your life is bigger than any exam.

By the time Joshua finished interacting with the Dream Girls, many of them were saying: 'I am a Mathematician'! Many thanks to Joshua Ibeazor for making some of the Dream Girls with a phobia for Maths become lovers of Maths in just a few hours. I am confident they would become terrific Mathematicians if the girls had more months or even years to interact with Joshua, a teacher born ready made for his rewarding assignment on mother earth!

Then came Dr. Jobi's inspiring lecture about 'The Power Intro'. When you are asked to introduce yourself, don't make it lack lustre by spewing your name, school, class, parents, etc. You need an elevator pitch. Mention what you are doing presently that has some positive impact on your environment or what you aspire to do that is worthy of note. This brings 'life' into your intro and indeed speech.

                                Dr. Jobi explaining some concepts to the girls via flip chart

4th Week: Make-Up/Nail Technology (22nd - 23rd November 2019)

Ms. Precious Richards, CEO 'Creat - ive Kids' told the Dream Girls that she grooms girls within the age bracket of 1-16 years, so that by the time they are 17 years old they could become entrepreneurs and indeed CEOs of their companies! There is no limit to the dreams of any girl and indeed person. It was creativity at its peak watching the girls make decorative items like 'fascinators' for the hair/head and roses, etc from little bits and pieces of material. Some of these items were made from different colours of petals. Via colour matching, the Dream Girls used petals (various colours), glo stick, glue gum, etc to make roses, 'head dresses', etc.

                  Ms. Precious Richards (CEO Creat-ive Kids) speaking to the Dream Girls

                 Photo above: The petals used by the Dream Girls to make fascinators, roses, etc.

                              The Dream Girls & their instructor working 'with' the petals

Then came the 'real deal'. Trainers from 'House of Tara', the proudly Nigerian brand and globally acclaimed make-up line were on hand to train the girls! Other brands that sent trainers are: Subjoz Beauty World and House of Pelaj. The girls were then divided into 5 groups: D, R, E, A & M. Ah! Groups D&R were instructed by Patience Akunibo (House of Tara). Group E was 'manned' by Seyitan Abolaji (House of Pelaj). There was Dr. Minachimsu Eneanya (a freelance make-up artist and Medical Doctor) was the trainer for group A. Zuzu Mamman from Subjoz Beauty World trained girls in group M.

Photo above L-R: Dr. Wunmi Hassan (CEO High-Tech Lab), Pastor Toyin Matthews, Rep. BoI, Principal GGSS Dutse, DBL, Ms. Ene Ede

Photo above: Dr. Minachimsu Eneanya (Medical Doctor/Make-Up Artiste) @ work on a teacher's (Ms. Amarachi Njoku) face.

   L-R: Ms. Ene Ede & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (in hat) with make-up artistes from 'House of Tara'

What motions/processes did they 'graduate' from?

I garnered the following:

*First wipe the face with facial cleaner on clean cotton wool.
*Various 'tools of the trade' for the standard make-up artiste:
-fan brush for the face.
-mascara wand.
-beauty blender or foundation brush (to blend foundation). When soaked in water, the beauty brush becomes soft and ready for use.
-Face primer (controls oil and settles foundation on the face). Everywhere you apply the primer, you apply foundation also.
*After the primer and foundation, fan the face for about one minute to eliminate excessive sweat.
*Foundation achieves coverage of the entire face - under the eyes, forehead, middle of nose. The beauty blender ensures the required even distribution.
*Then the 'pencil rule' - start with the brows and eyes. If you can't achieve a balance, hold the head of your client.
*Brush eyebrows. Use brow gel. The angle brush highlights the brows. Make sure your brows are always high and contoured downwards. The brows should be symmetric.
*Then 'define' the face with more implements.
*Use glow powder or highlighter.
*Blend so well that observers don't get to see where the transition processes connect.
*Line the eyes.
*Fix the eyelashes.
*'Stain' the lips.
*Apply the concealer.

L-R: DBL & Mrs. Ibukun Odusote (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment). Dr. Benjamin Wayo is in the background. Mrs. Odusote paid an unscheduled visit to support the DBL Dream Girls Project.

           L-R: Ms. Ene Ede & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa with 'House of Tara' background

                                              The Dream Girls as 'mini' Nail Technicians

Many of the girls made up their friends' faces. They were positively transformed instantly! Ms. Ekaette Umoh (Business Growth Strategist & Author) talked about entrepreneurship as a mindset. Without money, you have no voice in the society. You should have multiple streams of income. Explore opportunities. Solve a big problem to acquire big money. Nigeria is virgin land - there are numerous opportunities. What lies have you been told about yourself? You should know you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it. Everyone needs passive income. If you wish to earn money, think creatively. People may/will say 'no' to you, but you must persevere! It's possible that one of the girls in this room would design the next Nigerian car!

                                                               DBL in her element

Ms. Ene Ede (a.k.a. Mama Gender of Nigeria/Immediate past Gender Advisor SFCG & Deputy Governorship candidate of People Trust in the 2019 elections in Nigeria) told her audience that she was a child bride at 10 years! In spite of this initial handicap, she has gone on to make exploits! She encouraged the girls never to be limited by their contemporary circumstances. She said 'DBL had built a generation of girls the world would celebrate'.

Ms. Toyin Matthews (Pastor/Lawyer/Politician) said she actually attended 'finishing school' in the UK. She told the girls they were lucky because DBL was providing such grooming within their school premises. She reiterated the fact that her faith is her passion.

Dr. (Mrs). Wunmi Hassan (A Computer Scientist & CEO High-Tech Institute) introduced what she would be teaching the girls next week: Making bags which have solar panels on them that could provide electricity at night! Wunmi would also teach the girls how to assemble mobile phones, etc

Dr. Benjamin Wayo continued with his passion for public speaking by telling the girls that whenever they speak in public, they should make eye contact. The girls should not fidget. gesticulate when necessary and use the microphone correctly. They should try to understand their audience and watch what they eat before the speaking event so they won't embarrass themselves with running stomach(s).

Saturday, 23rd of November was dedicated to 'nail technology'. The trainers were Chime Azubuike (The Headquarters Beauty Salon) and Christian Sunday (Hair Palazo).

                  Nail Technician surrounded by some Dream Girls demonstrating his 'art'.

                                          Photo above: The Dream Girls learning 'Nail Art'

                                                   DBL addressing her Dream Girls

Photo above L-R: Victor Benjamins-Laniyi (DBL's eldest son), Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Ms. Georgia Adeyemo

                                            DBL in an excited mood with the Dream Girls

From the professional Nail Technicians, the girls learnt that there are different types of artificial nails - White/French/Glass/ombre (comes in at least two colours) nails, etc. Some of the ubiquitous elements of the trade are: stick on, designed nails, Acrylic nails fixed on natural nails to make them last long. There are also buffer nails. There are designs with stones on nails e.g. BD and flowers. Gel polish is in different colours. More of the needed tools are: base (foundation), filler, remover and top coat. Done nails are then put in the 'nail polish machine'. There are techniques for filig natural nails to eliminate pain. Then apply glue. You should determine the shape of your nail.

Photo above: Bidemi Treasure (Saxophonist & Convener of 'Abuja Jazz & Fashion Show') entertaining the Dream Girls

   Photo above: Mrs. Modupe Oyedepo talking to the Dream Girls about their 'Personal Philosophy'.

Mrs. Modupe Oyedepo, a Social Entrepreneur, addressed the girls about their personal philosophy. It is necessary to have a good group philosophy, but it is even more important to have a personal philosophy (PP). You should write down the PP that guides and would eventually guard your life. Your PP enhances your leadership skills. A good leader needs to be patient, calm and tolerant. You should be self-aware via your PP. As a leader, your behaviour should impact people positively.

Dream Girls, you are the world changers of tomorrow. But the change has to start from your school. Modupe then told each of the groups - D, R, E, A & M to develop a group philosophy around their slogan:

D - Dare to dream
R - Reach for the stars
E - Excellence is a choice
A - Aspire for higher
M - More is who I am

Then the debate which featured the philosophy of each group, 'professionally articulated' by the girls! The Dream Girls gave an excellent account of themselves to the delight of their assessors.

Photo above: The terrain of the Dream Girls training session through the mirror of their training outfit - 'House of Tara'.

28th November, 2019

Guess who came calling on an unscheduled visit to GGSS, Dutse on Thursday, 28th November 2019: The Global President of WIN (Women International Networking) - Ms. Kristin Envig! A little profile of WIN tells us how privileged the Dream Girls are to have Kristin with them. "The WIN Conference was founded in 1997 by Norwegian Social Entrepreneur, Kristin Envig. In collaboration with a group of corporate women and expatriates, she invented the WIN Conference which was held at Palazzo delle Steline, IBM Centre, Milan  in 1998. The conference is attended by business women/men, executives, academics and NGO representatives. WIN Conference also conducts research into women in management/business and work/life balance. The Guardian has described WIN as part of a trend they named 'Sisterhood'." (Source: Vanity Fair, Retrieved 29/11/19).

      L-R: Deputy Head Girl, DBL, Ms. Kristine Engvig (Global President WIN) & Head Girl

L-R: A Dream Girl, Ms. Kristin Engvig (wearing a wrap-round skirt made by one of the girls during the dressmaking class) & Principal GGSS Dutse

                              Photo above: Volunteers & Kristin + DBL (3rd & 4th from left)

 Photo above: Kristin Engvig being decorated by DBL (with a sache in Nigeria's national colours)

            Photo above: Kristin Engvig being decorated by the Head Girl & Deputy Head Girl

                      Photo above: DBL in an emotional moment with a student of GGSS, Dutse

                                                           Photo above: Vintage DBL

5th Week: Building Solar Panels/Public Speaking/Etiquette (29th - 30th November 2019)

On the 29th of November 2019, Minister for Youth & Sports, Sunday Dare came calling at GGSS Dutse to see how the Dream Girls were 'faring'!. Lucky Dream Girls. The Minister was very impressed with what he saw, and promised to intimate the Federal Executive Council with the Dream Girls' exploits. Furthermore, Mr. Dare is willing to put Federal might behind the DBL Dream Girls project by replicating same in the 36 states of the Federation plus the FCT! The Minister was particularly interested in the multiplier effect the DBL Dream Girls Project. Each of the 50 Dream Girls is impacting at least 5 other girls on campus and it goes on and on...

        DBL & Others welcoming Minister of Youth & Sports (Sunday Dare) to GGSS, Dutse

Hon. Minister, Sunday Dare speaking to the Dream Girls, their teachers, volunteers for the DBL Dream Girls Project & others @ GGSS Dutse

                                         The Dream Girls displaying the letters D-R-E-A-M

               L-R Sitting: Principal GGSS Dutse, Hon. Minister Sunday Dare & the Dream Girls

Sitting L-R: Mr. Odusote, Principal GGSS, Hon. Minister Sunday Dare & DBL surrounded by the Dream Girls

Then came the training of the girls in personal hygiene, poise, sex education, leadership, etiquette. Mrs. Anita Ogunleye educated the girls about the integrity of the female body. Priscilla Ihenacho (CEO Perfumery) talked about cultural diversity/etiquette/communication. Enoh Inieke of Soigne Image Consulting & Management addressed them on 'management of self'. The Abuja Leadership Centre represented by the Team Lead, Lucy Reuben-Adah told the Dream Girls that 'leadership is for solving problems'. Being a President does not automatically make you a leader. Leadership is not an activity, it is actually activation. A good leader impacts his/her followers by making them better.

Nikki Khiran said the way the girls present themselves in public determines how they are evaluated/perceived. Dress modestly. Be mindful of your overall look. You have 'presence' with your poise. Be clean. No matter how well-dressed you are, if you emit bad odour, then you are treated with disdain. We are Africans who are noted for showing respect for elders. Genuflect while greeting elders. Be conscious of your attitude to others.

Photo above: Facilitators all! L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Ms. Ene Ede, Nikki Khiran & Dr. Wunmi Hassan (CEO High-Tech Centre for Nigerian Women & Youth). Ene Ede survived Gender-based violence (GBV) as a child bride @ 10 years old! Ene was the Deputy Governorship candidate of People's Trust in Benue State during the last general elections! Ene is also the immediate past Gender Advisor of Search For Common Ground (SFCG) in Nigeria. Lest we forget, the 5th & last weekend of the DBL Dream Girls Project fell within the 16 days of Activism Against GBV...

L-R: DBL & Hai Iran (Came to Nigeria for 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence). Hai was a source of inspiration to the Dream Girls.

An undergraduate and final year student of the University of Abuja & a member of the DBL Dream Girls Club on Campus, Blessing John taught Dream Girls what DBL had 'implanted' in them as young adults. This is interesting inter-generational knowledge transfer activated by DBL at the University and Secondary School levels!

Then came Chef Felicia Olojede, who taught the Dream Girls how to make healthy fruit drinks without additives/preservatives. She told the girls that if they don't eat right, they can't think right. Even with all the achievements in this world, if you don't eat healthy food, you are likely to be in poor health and probably be unhappy. Felicia used a combination of tiger nuts, pineapple, apple, orange, etc to make various healthy drinks to the delight of the Dream Girls and others. Felicia taught them the importance of hygiene for any cook.

       Photo above: L-R: Chef Felicia Olojede teaching a Dream Girl how to make a healthy drink

A Dream Girl in full regalia as a cook (Apron et. al.), excitedly carrying a water melon she used for her healthy drink

Then came the Solar Panel building class! Dr. Wunmi Hassan (B.Sc Computer Sc, M.Sc Computer Sc & Ph.D Technology Mgt.) taught the Dream girls how to build a solar panel (SP)from scratch! Wait for it...there was even a table dedicated to older women volunteers and facilitators, including myself for the practical solar panel - building class. Wunmi wanted the older women in the room to take advantage of her presence to know something about solar panels. At 61 years young, I (Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa) can now make my own solar panel, courtesy of Dr. Wunmi Hassan!

Photo above: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & other mature ladies @ their 'special table', learning to build solar panels!

There are four items needed for any solar system: solar panel, battery, inverter and charger controller. A solar panel is what you put facing the sun that emits 'photo-voltanic' (renewable) energy. The power generated by the national grid is insufficient for almost 200 million Nigerians. The battery stores energy. When the sun is hot, the inverter absorbs the energy. For the inverter to work, it must be connected to the battery, which then converts Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). The charger controller regulates energy.

               Photo above: Dr. Wunmi Hassan teaching the Dream Girls how to build solar panels

                           Photo above: The Dream Girls excitedly building their solar panels

                                  Photo above: The Dream Girls still building their solar panels

Photo above: Esther (a volunteer) looks on while the girls continue their work as solar panel 'mini gurus'

Hear Dr. Wunmi Hassan: After the DBL Dream Girls programme, each Dream Girl can become a Consultant and manufacturer of solar panels! That could be an alternative and steady source of income. How do you know the capacity of the SP you are trying to build? You should know the wattage of every appliance (load) in the building or apartment. The sum total of the wattage is the capacity of the SP that would serve the building or indeed apartment. The technical term for this is 'rating' every appliance.

Then you need DC bulbs. What then are the items needed for the manufacturing of a standard SP?

*Solar cell (very fragile, so handle with extreme care: grey is the positive side, blue is the negative side). The blue side faces the sun and transfers it through the grey side, while passing current.
*Tag the wire - transmit energy from the positive to the negative side.
*Then the 'Bus wire'.
*Soldering iron is used to weld your material. Note that electricity from the generator does not do a good job of the soldering. Electricity from the grid does a better job.
*The the 'Multi-metre' for accurate measurement.
*The cells are then laid on the white bulb.
*A plastic glass is than used to cover the panel.
*You then need the following: Rulers, Razor blade, Brush, Silicone Gum/Evostik, Drilling machine for nuts & bolts, etc.

The manufacturing process for the SP

*Padding of SP cell. The terminals on the cell are where the current flows from. Never solder the terminals! Be careful, don't break your terminals, your cells are extremely fragile. Note that your cell is your panel, be careful when handling it.
*Place your cell on your board.
*Dip your brush into the silicone gum (sealant) while brushing your cell. Your brush should not extend beyond your cell! Your hand must not touch the gum.
*Only the white terminals should be open.
*Put your white board in the frame.
*Soldering iron should be very hot.
*Measure the entire wire and cut your cells.
*Use lead on iron to melt on terminal.

Dr. Wunmi does not give manuals. The student has to listen attentively to her tutorials. I listened to her creatively, and gained a brand new skill! The SP class was the icing on the cake for the DBL Dream Girls Project. DBL is currently facilitating the manufacture of custom-made school bags (ruck sacs) for each of the Dream Girls, in which they can embed the SPs made by them! This would enable them do their homework even if there's no electricity! That's the end of the 5 week (actually 10 + 1 days - two days every weekend) intensive learning experience for the Dream Girls. Thank you DBL, for making this happen!

Precious Akiba (A DBL Dream Girl) developed an App that entails a 'Tracker' - Emergency Button that could help anyone in trouble: It facilitates contact with those who can help!

Interesting! In addition to the various skills the girls acquired, they were also very creative. Precious Akiba developed an App. A major feature of the App is the Tracker (Emergency Button) that would facilitate immediate contact with family and friends when in emergency situations. The App is named: 'DBL Dream Brought to Life.' The main features of the App are:

*Daily environmental info like weather forecast.
*Tracker (Emergency Button).
*Motivational Chat Room for Counseling (On-line mentors can be anonymously reached to proffer solutions to issues that may be difficult to share with parents and teachers.

The App  can be downloaded on Android, IOS and Windows. To 'perfect' the concepts in the App, the DBL Dream Girls Project has elicited the services of 'Civic Innovation Lab' (CIL) to work with the girls and eventually have an App useful to the average phone user. Two persons: Steve Chidi (Software Developer) & Oyindamola Ashaolu (Programme Developer) are currently working with the Dream Girls...

DBL Dream Girls @ Bank of Industry (BOI) - 4th December 2019

Why the visit of the DBL Dream Girls to BOI? The answer is simple. BOI gave DBL seed money to convene a Summer Camp for teenagers. This did not come to pass because DBL's youngest and only female child, Aanu whispered the following to Martha Adeboye: 'Auntie Martha, I'm unhappy that mummy will not have time for me this holiday because of the Summer Camp...'). Martha was now in a dilemma as regards how to gently convey Aanu's message to her mum (DBL) without betraying the trust of the former.

Lest I forget, Martha Adeboye is DBL's Trainee Personal Assistant (TPA) who became Director of Logistics (DoL) within a year! When Martha was hired, she was minding her business as TPA. Then came the DBL Dream Girls Project, which has been very challenging, with unforeseen hurdles along the way. Besides, Martha's boss, DBL, a global personality, had to travel on official engagements during the Project. Martha rose up to the occasion, exhibiting outstanding leadership qualities even in the absence of her boss. It is for this and many other reasons that DBL promoted Martha. Hurray, Martha. Please keep up the good work!

Let me get back on track about the Aanu ->Martha ->DBL tango! After ruminating over the matter for some time, Martha decided it was important for DBL to hear Aanu's concern about the Summer Camp. When Martha told DBL what Aanu said, that was the end of the Summer Camp idea. Although Aanu persuaded DBL to go ahead with the Summer Camp idea, DBL, the responsible mum that she is, decided to spend the Summer holiday attending to her daughter, Aanu's needs. Aanu even developed a flyer for the Summer Camp to encourage her mum to go ahead with the idea, it was too late. 'No Summer Camp a.l.a. DBL', pronto! But I'm happy to report that Martha still has the trust of Aanu! For details of how DBL achieved this delicate balance between Aanu and Martha, readers may need to contact DBL for tutorials (lol).

What then would DBL do with the seed money given to her by BOI? The result of brain storming and relevant consultation is the DBL Dream Girls Project, which has become a huge success! The Keynote Speaker for the Closing Ceremony, Dr. Chanita Foster arrived in Abuja on the 4th of December, 2019 from the USA and was picked up by DBL & Co straight to BOI! The Dream Girls were already in BOI, waiting for Chanita and DBL. There was a loud ovation from the Dream Girls when Chanita arrived BOI. The Dream Girls were then taken on a tour of the various departments in BOI.

The section of  BOI I found most exciting was the Government Enterprises Empowerment Programme (GEEP). GEEP has been labelled Africa's largest micro-credit scheme. The Dream Girls were informed that 'women given micro-credit back always!' This positive piece of information was particularly heart-warming for me because GGSS Dutse is a Public School where some of the students were and still petty traders after school hours and indeed at the weekend!

 Photo above: DBL welcoming Amb. Dr. Chanita Foster to Nigeria @ the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

             Photo above: DBL placing a badge of honour on Amb. Dr. Chanita Foster @ the airport

           Photo above: DBL embracing Dr. Jasmine Pega (Chanita's business partner) @ the airport

Photo above L-R: DBL; 3rd from left Chanita; 4th from left ED Micro Enterprises, BOI - Ms. Toyin Adeniji; Extreme right Principal GGSS Dutse

                          Photo above: Amb. Dr. Chinata Foster speaking to the Press @ BOI

Closing Ceremony of DBL Dream Girls Project @ GGSS Dutse - 5th December 2019

On the 5th of December 2019, the grand finale of the DBL Dream Girls Project 2019 was held in the School Hall of GGSS Dutse, Abuja. It was indeed a grand event with DBL's husband, TBL in attendance. There was a documentary on the activities of the DBL Dream Girls, which excited the audience. The girls performed a hit song just like the original. There were a number of skits depicting their activities during the five weekends in November that the Project lasted. There were skits which combined what the girls learned in photography, solar panel building, dressmaking, baking, cooking, basic computer, etc.

    Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: DBL Dream Girls make a presentation to DBL

 Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: Amb. Dr. Chanita Foster in a playful mood with the DBL Dream Girls

Chanita went poetic/inspirational while addressing the Dream Girls thus:

When you fail an exam and think that is the end of your academic life,
When you have a failed relationship and you are badly hurt,
When your loved one is critically ill and you can't afford the hospital bill,
When your best friend betrays you and you feel like a fish out of water,
When you are broke and have no Cent or Kobo left,

Chinata's inspiring words resonated with the Dream Girls and indeed the whole School. Chinat gave the 50 Dream Girls as seed money for any business they wish to embark upon based on the training they received during the Dream Girls Project. Chinata bought the Portrait bought in Kenya by DBL for $10,000 on the spot at the Closing Ceremony! Who is Amb. Dr. Chinata Foster? The source of Chanita's Bio is:

"Amb. Dr. Chanita Foster is a Social Change Philanthropist focusing on marginalised and disenfranchised communities. She is an Entrepreneur, Best Seller Author, Speaker, Success Coach & Moderator with experience as a Policy Advocate, Communications Specialist & Social Sector Expert. She is the Founder of BEYOND THE GAME (BTG), a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity also registered in South Africa & Swaziland as an NGO.

BTG currently feeds 1,000 children daily, has built two orphanages with the assistance of associate donors. Chinata currently runs 3 'Care Points'. She provides sanitary napkins for girls in rural areas across Africa. Her motto is: 'A menstrual period is not a punishment'. Her awards include:

*Swaziland Award - Best Humanitarian Award 2012
*Black Celebrity Giving - Best Celebrity Giver Award 2013
*The Pink Awards - The Pink Samaritan Awards 2014
*Women Who Give Back Award 2015
*The Legendary Awards - Best Philanthropy Award 2016
*UN Ambassadorial Appointment 2019
*UN Global Award - Global Chairwoman Award, 2019"

 L-R in front @ the Closing Ceremony: Aanu Benjamins-Laniyi (DBL's last child & only daughter) with her mum, DBL. DBL explained how Aanu was the inspiration for the DBL Dream Girls Project

         Aanu (DBL's last child & only daughter) in a 'cuddly' moment with the Dream Girls

 Photo above: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa on stage @ the Closing Ceremony of the DBL Dream Girls Project

 Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony L-R: Dr. Jasmine Pega, Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Dr. Chanita Foster

Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony in the midst of the Dream Girls L-R: DBL, Dr. Chanita Foster & Dr. Jasmine Pega

Photo above L-R @ the Closing Ceremony: A guest, Principal GGSS Dutse & Director Secondary Education FCT Board (a.k.a. 'Awu Grandma')

    Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: Head Girl GGSS, Dutse delivering her speech

 Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: Amb. Dr. Chanita Foster, Director Secondary Education FCT Board & Dr. Jasmine Pega

 Photo above: DBL in hat hugging the Principal of GGSS Dutse & Director Secondary Education FCT Board

 Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: Always supportive husband of DBL, Tunde Benjamins-Laniyi (TBL)

 Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: DBL Dream Girls during their star performance. Note that the girls made the wrap round skirts worn by them. The girls beaded & stoned their skirts.

Photo above @ the Closing Ceremony: Amb. Dr. Chanita Foster leaving the School premises in an excited mood

                          Photo above L-R: Dr. Jasmine Pega, DBL & Dr. Chanita Foster

 Photo above L-R: DBL & Ms. Naomi Isimemen (holding a copy of her book). Naomi is a survivor of Gender-based violence (GBV) after the demise of her husband. She came all the way from her base in Dublin, Ireland to support the DBL Dream Girls Project! Naomi tells her captivating story in her book: 'Before Dawn - A young widow's struggle through loss & her eventual rebirth'

                                             DBL Dream Girls & their D-R-E-A-M

The Dream Girls holding up a photo of DBL which they framed & presented to her as a gift! On the right is the portrait (named 'Shuri' by DBL) brought by DBL from Kenya, which Amb. Dr. Chinata Foster bought for $10,000!

Presentation of Solar Panel Bags to the Dream Girls - 15th January, 2020

We recall that during the five weekends of intensive knowledge transfer to the Dream Girls, they were taught how to build Solar Panels by Dr. Wunmi Hassan (Ph.D Technology Mgt) and her team. But the job of implanting the solar panels in the bags had to be completed in Wunmi's laboratory. She is the Founder of 'High Tech Centre for Nigerian Women & Youth'. Alas, GGSS Dutse was agog when the finished solar panel bags made from 100% local content were presented to the Dream Girls on the 15th of January 2020 at the School Assembly! The 'Solution Hub' moved to GGSS Dutse!
 Photo above L-R: Cathy Lativa Amato, CEO Lativa Development Foundation (Congo) & DBL

 Photo above L-R: Dr. Wunmi Hassan (CEO High Tech Centre for Women & Girls, Nigeria), DBL & Cathy Lativa Amato

 Photo above: Presentation of the Solar Panel School Bags @ the GGSS Assembly

 Photo above: Dr. Wunmi Hassan (Trainer for Solar Panel + Bag) holding up the finished product

                                                      Photo above L-R: DBL & Lativa

Many thanks to Cathy Lativa Amato (CEO Lativa Development Foundation), all the way from Congo. This is a perfect match: Lativa Development Foundation meets STEAM Girls/DREAM Girls (DBL Project). Young girls and indeed boys could begin their: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Development/SDG Relevance right here! According to Lativa, 
'Little girls with dreams become women with vision. Every woman needs that beautiful soul by her side to hug her, believe in her, pull her up, encourage her and give her space to blow and shine. In 2020 and beyond, we need networking and sisterhood.'
#Education  #Technology  #DreamGirls2020   #Innovation  #DBLTheVisioner  #ShatterGlassCeilings

DBL Dream Girls' Project Health Outreach Wrap Up Event - 8th February, 2020

When you thought it was all over after the 'Closing Ceremony'. Alas the Dream Girls and indeed all students of GGSS Dutse got a bonus: 'The Health Outreach' where a medical team comprising Medical Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses, Social Workers, Gender Activists, etc came to attend to students and indeed members of staff who had health issues. The doctors were there at their doorstep to listen to their complaints and perform necessary tests before prescribing/dispensing drugs on the spot! Many thanks to Emzor Pharmaceutical for the incredible support for this process.

Some of those who came to support us at the event are:

*Dr. Patrick Lukulay - Representative of Dr. Stella Okoli, MD Emzor Pharmaceuticals
*Mrs. Jumai Idonije - Representative of the Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen
*Tosin Akubu -Programme Manager, UN Women
*Kene Mbajiorgu - Programme Analyst, UN Women
*Chike Okoli Foundation - Represented Emzor Medical Team
*Society For Family Health
*Civic Innovation Hub
*Doxa Digital

Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa gave an overview of the DBL Dream Girls' Project. She told the audience that if she had this type of grooming as a girl child, he would have shattered many glass ceilings. Dr. D informed the audience that the five weeks of Leadership & Entrepreneurship training for the Dream Girls was very intensive - On Fridays after school & Saturdays. The girls were taught how to use the camera (Photography); Dress-making/Stoning/Beading; Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) & Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM); Make-up & Nail Technology; Public Speaking & Building Solar Panels! An unintended benefit was the fact that the interested mature women and men in the room while the girls were being trained, acquired the same skills as the Dream Girls! Dr. D then called upon some of the facilitators present to reminisce about their experiences with the Dream Girls...

                     Photo above: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa @ the DBL Dream Girls Wrap Up event

Photo above: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa on stage introducing some facilitators: L-R Mrs. Modupe Oyedepo (Philosophy of the Girl child), Dr. Minachimsu Eneanya (Medical Doctor & Make-Up Artiste), Dr. Benjamin Wayo (Public Speaking) & Joshua Ibeazor ('Mr. Moneymatics')

Photo above: Princess Jumai Idonije delivering her speech on behalf of the Minister for Women Affairs - Dame Pauline Tallen

                           Ms. Tosin Akubu delivering her speech on behalf of UN Women

Photo above: The DJ doing what she knows how to do best - Dishing out melodious tunes throughout the event.

Goodwill messages were presented by the invitees. Tosin Akubu (UN Women) told a little story of a young girl who came to Abuja in 2002 for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) post graduation. She met DBL, and in 2006 DBL 'ceded' (allowed her to take over) the slot: 'Oil & Gas News' on Network News! That little girl given visibility in 2006 is Tosin Akubu, who is now Programme Manager, UN Women! Tosin said: 'Auntie D is responsible for who I am today...' So touching. Thank you, DBL! This shows that DBL has been involved in the 'art and craft' of mentoring the next generation for decades!

Above photo L-R: Tosin Akubu (in red top), Princess Jumai Idonije, Mr. Mulero, Ms Kene Mbajiorgu, Dr.Patrick Lukulay (behind)

Dr. Patrick Lukulay (Rep. Emzor Pharmaceuticals) is the President, 'Technology Solutions for Global Health/Specialist in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing in the USA & Africa'. Patrick noted that the biggest Pharmaceutical Company in Nigeria is owned by a woman, Dr. Stella Okoli! This implies that there is no limit to what the girl child can achieve. Your humble beginning does not dictate your end. He said: 'I honour the contributions of women to nation building'.

Princess Jumai Idonije (S.A. Technical to Minister of  Women Affairs) started with a beautiful song: 'If you're special and you know it say I am'. Response: 'I am'...This enervated the girls.She said that during the Schools' competition at the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), GGSS Dutse emerged the winner. This made the students ecstatic... Jumai admonished them never to let anyone make them feel inferior.

The Dream Girls then 'dramatised' The Philosophy of the Girl Child. There were five teams: D-R-E-A-M.

Photo L-R: Dr, Patrick Lukulay, Ms. Tosin Akubu, & Princess Jumai Idonije inspecting the 100% local content Solar Panel Bags & other items produced by the Dream Girls

*D - Dare to Dream by Wisdom Eneja (Head Girl). This is who you are and how people see you - your qualities and characteristics. Total team work and cooperation is germane to success. Never give up.

*R - The Reality (by Mariam Alfam) is that you should always make a positive difference wherever you find yourself.

*E - There is a nexus between the girl child's personal philosophy and moral values by Maimunat Aliyu. Assumptions are ideologies that are not verified. Beliefs are things you assume to be true. It is important to assist one another. We are dedicated, that's why we excel.

*A - Aspire for higher by Dorcas Oyetunji. What goes around comes around (karma). Bad character is like a bad tyre, it would continue to let you down until you change it.

*M - Good manners would see you through! by Stephanie Abdulmalik. From Dream Girls to Reality Girls. We are making DBL's dream come through.

The event ended with an inspiring, age-appropriate film for all the students in the school!

                   A member of the Medical Team attending to one of the students   

Unintended but desirable benefits of the DBL Dream Girls Project

*Mature ladies (members of the DBL Dream Team) also acquired every skill the Dream Girls were exposed to. I am particularly proud of my being empowered to build solar panels!
*As a follow up to the DBL Dream Girls Project, a similar programme for boys is in the offing. The tentative name for the project is 'Boys with a dream'.
*The success of the DBL Dream Girls Project has been noticed by the FCT Secondary School Education Board with positive consequences which are gradually unfolding.
*GGSS Dutse is more visible because of the DBL Dream Girls Project.
*The 'Dream Team' for the Dream Girls Project & the facilitators now form the core of the Think Tank for the Project.
*It is not only the 50 Dream Girls that are impacted by the Project, indeed all the students at GGSS Dutse have benefited!
*Observers cannot wait to have the Dream Girls Project replicated elsewhere.

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