Raising children as young leaders [Transcript]

The Good Citizen Radio Show – Raising Children As Young Leaders [with Femi Taiwo]

Host:     Hi guys. I keep saying Happy new year because it is still the new year. I still feel new; I still feel like I am settling into my new year resolution of social networking, no more doing mad stuffs. Anyway, I am Bekeme and you are listening to the Good Citizen Radio show. Today, we are talking about a very important topic that has been on the lips and mind of everyone in recent times. The show is funded by ACT Foundation – ACT Foundation is a groundbreaking organization established in 2016, with a focus on health safety entrepreneurship and leadership – they sponsor the Good Citizen Radio show for obvious reasons. We are driving leadership; leadership among the youth, leadership among those of us who have formed the elderly because there is still opportunity for value system reorientation. Nigeria evidently remains on the course of greatness, but leadership keeps on being the death of us. So today we are talking about raising young children as leaders which is interesting because this week on our WhatsApp platform, we started off with a story of a woman who had reported on Facebook that literally she would kill her daughter because she found out that her daughter has joined a certain cult at school. So she says “I am a God fearing woman, I have raised God fearing children and my daughter is a God fearing person and then one day I hear that she has been sent back from school why?” Because she is a member of a cult and because some girls where late to school, they were stopped and whilst they were being punished, they found out that some of them had their underwear in their bags. It turned out that on their way to school they take out their pant and put them in their bag. So she was very pained and then it led to a heated discussion because these children apparently are part of the “M” (marlian) cult, everybody knows them, everyone who calls themselves the ‘M’, you know what the M is because we are not helping to promote that, and you also hear things like we of the ‘M’ we don’t wear belt: no belt gang, no finish-school gang. My take on it when we had the discussion was, obviously we have a lack of inspirational leaders for young people to look up too so much so that, they are willing to follow any philosophy that comes up. Our leaders are bad that’s a given but it doesn’t mean we should allow our young people to be led astray because our leaders are bad, so it’s very important that we have this discussion. As Sydney Bremer puts it “the minds of little children behaves like a photocopier machine and they emulate what they see”  if many parents are not parenting this days and are allowing their children to consume whatever is out there on social media, the children would become everything that they take in. Another story was shared today just before the show, one of our most prolific user of the WhatsApp group said, I think you would find this useful, they shared this story about a young girl who started a new school and her classmates where trying to bully her and in a week, like three times in a week they called her ugly and apparently she was unfazed because she knew who she is right, she knows who her parents tell her she is that she was beautiful confident and intelligent, so it reminded me of my youth, those days when guys would want to ‘chyke’ you and you tell them they have told me at home tell me something new.

                So, we have somebody here who is an expert at this, because Nigeria is in a dire situation. With the poor education that we have, we really need to do something about training children intentionally because we don’t look at children as leaders of tomorrow anymore. Every child needs to know what climate change is; it’s not those times when they say ‘go and sit down we are talking adult stuff’, now everyone needs to contribute their little bit because it’s the little bit that we do that makes the big difference. Femi Taiwo is our very special guest and he serves as the executive director of Leap Africa – Leap Africa is one of the most renowned youth leadership programs – and in his role he oversees the organization’s administrations on raising strategies, implementation and program delivery and they work in six African countries. Prior to Leap Africa,  he was the founding Executive Director of Eagles Hope Foundation aka helping other people excel which is a non-profit initiated by Covenant University alumni association, there he led the organization to create and execute world winning youth programs that reached over 12,000 youths in major cities in Nigeria over the 5 year period.

Welcome to the show, Femi. So, you have been listening to my conversation, so tell me what are your thoughts generally on our youth of today?

Femi:     I think one word that struck me was we need to be intentional and that’s the entire journey of leadership development. As we are thinking about young people, as we are thinking about our children, as a society, as parents, as people, as citizens, we should be asking ourselves what’s the intentional way or how intentional are we in helping to shape the mindset, the values, the mentality and ability of young people to be able to demonstrate leadership? As you were speaking, we need to even ask what is our understanding of leadership? The common understanding of the word; when we hear leader, people start thinking political leadership immediately. I think the conversation should also start from what is leadership? Is leadership position or is leadership an act? Is leadership the title you bear or the value you add to other people and the value you add to society? So, if we are even going to be very intentional in raising leaders, we need to first of all reflect on how we define leadership and what we think leadership is. So I would say that is a starting point; we need everyone out there to understand that they can be leaders, that leadership is not just the exclusive reserve of those who are elected to powers, that everyone of us have a jurisdiction that we can exert influence over, we have people around us that we can serve, we have values within us that we can add to other people.

Host:     So how do we help the youths realize this potential? Because, in today’s world when you try to correct people, when you try to guide youth aright, it often feels like you are being stuck up. Now it seems that parents are now being a lot more permissive. For the middle class parent for instance, they try so very hard to be like the western world and they don’t stop to think or to realise that it’s not even working in the western world, children are seriously derailing, they are falling prey to drugs and are falling prey to different sorts of philosophies. Then for the people who are not much fortunate – the preliterate, you also have a situation where parent don’t just seem as parent in the past, whether it’s the struggle for survival, there just don’t seem to be a lot of parenting and I wouldn’t say its education like formal education because in time past they didn’t have formal education but there was a certain culture that you need to propagate, to carry yourself with dignity, to act in a certain way. I was having a conversation with a lady on a trip back recently and she was saying you know those days when you would go for a party and you sat at a table with people, the people who did not make money legitimately where looked down upon, you hear the situation now where people are shouting yahoo boys and they flaunt it everywhere and people are rushing after them. Look at these guys on social media, all the boys want to race after them saying “show me the way” knowing fully well they are doing illegitimate stuffs.

Femi:      That’s the evidence of a vacuum in the society. So, in one way they have described leadership as influence. If parents and other positive influence are not shaping young people, young people would be influenced by other things, so that’s just speaks to the vacuum, it speaks to the relevance of shows likes this (referring to the Good Citizen show) and programs like what ACT Foundation, Leap Africa and others are doing. Yes, we have a lot of problems: poverty, climate change and all manner of things, but we have not really described our problem as a leadership problem and when we describe it as political problem we stop at political leadership, we don’t talk about leadership in the homes, in our organizations and community. I mean whose gutters are dirty, it is our gutters.

Host:       Absolutely! They canceled sanitation because we would not clean our gutters; we leave them clogged up and then sleep at home

Femi:      It’s not just the parents also I know we are going to talk about the parent and the parent have a huge responsibility but even as a community, as a village as society, and so we have to be back to the word ‘intentional’ about the influence. We have a huge opportunity in Nigeria and most part of Africa, the median age in Nigeria is 18. That means we have 50% of us below the age of 18 and they are very much impressionable, and we can be very intentional with how we shape and influence their mindset because the beginning of leadership is mindset. The mentality before ability, so how are we going to shaping as parent, how are we shaping It as a media to leave that level of positive influence.

Host:       Absolutely. So, let me remind us the number to call is 0700-923-923-923. We would start taking calls after the break, but right now we would go on a short break from the good citizen radio show.


                Welcome back to the good citizen radio show, I’d remind you of our number which is 0700-923-923-923, we already have a caller,

                Hello? Good evening, who is calling please.

Caller:     Its Miss Martha

Host:       Martha thank you for calling the Good citizen radio show, what do you have to say to us today.

                {Call drops}

                And Martha hangs up the phone.


Caller:     Good evening and happy new year to you

Host:       Hi, Ndidi Good evening and happy new year, we have missed you on the show, what happened?

Caller:     I have missed you too. Happy new year to you and happy new year sir

Femi:      Thank you, happy new year to you too.

Host:       We are talking about children as leaders; like preparing children to be leaders of today not just leaders of tomorrow; developing leadership capacity in children

Caller:     That is very important. It actually starts from when they are young; as in teaching children how to sweep and do house chores. They become responsible from there and it also teaches them to be responsible for themselves. So, no one should say ‘this child is too young or too small for them to learn’. Most times parents focus on female children and the male child is left behind in terms of domestic chores.

Host:       Thank you so much Ndidi, that last part had to come in, because I remember saying Oh God, just give me boys so I can teach them some home training.  As a younger person growing up, because I felt very strongly that only the girl children were being disciplined, where being taught to leaders and be responsible and for the boy-children, parents are like ‘they are boys… they can’t get pregnant… so go out and do whatever you like’ and that’s what happens when you become adults. You see women often times try very hard to be contained and you see a lot of men quite reckless and I know I am not generalizing it but I know I am saying the truth especially when you come from some certain regions. Coupled with what Ndidi said, you don’t underestimate children, don’t say that they are young and let them grow. I got 4 children; when I had the first one, I was just starting my business and I had a lot more time to be there and shape her as I wanted. By the time I had the second, it was still a lot like that but by the time I had the third I was a lot busier and I noticed that when she was two, if you ask her not to do something, she would look at you like you can’t be talking to me and I remember consciously stepping back and being more available at home because I noticed that. I have to become more intentional about bringing her up and that’s something I have tried to maintain through. For instance, my two year old walks into my room –  you know how a baby wakes up in the night – and he stops and shuts the door behind him because mummy is always shouting “shut the door”, so clearly, he is listening even though he walks in sleepily he knows to do the right thing and that’s what we need to do because people take it for granted that you are too young, don’t give them responsibility, don’t worry when they grow, but you know what the bible says clearly ‘teach the child in the way they should grow and they will continue’ so how can people be more intentional because its not a matter of wealth, people think when they have money they have time to do this but we see a lot of badly behaved people.

Femi:     What you were saying about children is actually a general example of leadership. In the study of leadership or even in just seeing how leadership plays out, people, whether they are young or old, are more likely to be leaders when they see leadership being modeled in front of them. It’s moreso when people are young or when they are children. Young people, particularly children, are very much impressionable and that places a responsibility on the people around them, the first point being parent and the second point being schools and society to model leadership. Children need to see you take ethical action and you need to explain, don’t say “they are too young”. One major thing is to help them understand what you are doing even when you discipline them, you need to help them understand and part of the example is, you should go out and volunteer with them, go out and serve other people with them

Host:       Servant leadership, as you said that I remember something that happened this week at the office. We have a weekly knowledge sharing session and at the end of it we typically just go through our core values and then we appreciate people who have exhibited our core values. So someone, said I want to appreciate somebody for team spirit and it turns out that our very own Dammy have been in a situation where he overheard people quarrelling who used this toilet and didn’t use it well – you know how some people can be radical about things like that – he heard them talking about it and he cleaned it and I was like yahhh! And we were all praising him because often times people dwell on the problem and not solving it and leadership is about problem solving. That’s exactly what we are trying to promote on this show, so how can parent and educators and everybody else really ensure that young people see themselves as leaders?

Femi:      So apart from modeling, we need to also reward good behavior; we need to put good behavior on the pedestal for other people to see and you know we started this conversation talking about influence, so we need to reward and celebrate the values we want to see in the society, and so when it comes to raising children to be leaders, as you are giving them the opportunity to nurture themselves in leadership, you need to celebrate every good thing they do as much as possible because it really about the conditioning of the mind, another thing I would always recommend because we keep hearing leaders are readers, we don’t ask ourselves what does that really mean, what does reading have to do with leadership. I grew up viciously where I have to read books and write books report, that’s a powerful thing to do with your kids, reading does a lot, it helps them to build capacity and also become more knowledgeable and that means they can start operating in leadership more, so I would recommend reading and beyond reading, have conversation with them about what they have read.

Host:       I agree. Thank you, I really love that. It reminds me of my youth as well and you do learn a lot, there are so much that you get out of books that nobody would ever tell you and there are places you would have visited through a book and you enter a situation and you often times just have an idea of whatever is being talked about and that’s how outliers are created.

Femi:      It empowered you to be a visionary, it empowers your vision, your mind just flows with possibilities, you can problem solve and be more innovative because your5 knowledge base is wide and increased

Host:       So you have heard that. Your tips again in summary,

Femi:      1) We need to model leadership, so be an example 2) Reward good behavior and celebrate it 3) I would also say education and education not in the sense of normal education but education as an influence on the mind so through reading, through coaching and having conversations just to help shape the mindset and the way they think.

Host:       Absolutely, you know coaching, we actually covered coaching last week, and I still have my mummy brain. We covered coaching last week and there was an emphasis on saying things consistently in other to make sure that you follow through on them so we cannot over emphasize the need to reiterate the right values amongst young people at whatever opportunity be it home, school, church social activities, never ever think that it is a good idea to exposure your child to something that you do not want them to be, your child or other children we must be intentional.

                Thank you so very much Femi Taiwo for coming on the show and you all are doing wonderful thing at Leap Africa, thank you for coming.

                So, you’ve been listening to the Good Citizen radio show and we’ve been talking about how to develop leadership amongst young people. I hope you have learnt a thing or two and I hope that you listen to this show next week Friday at 8pm on the number one family radio station, Inspiration FM, you can continue this conversation at GoodCitizenng on social media and I am @Bekemeo, you can also send WhatsApp  messages to us on 09062634111, if you want to join our prolific think tank of a WhatsApp group do send a message to that number, so until next week, thank you for listening to Good Citizen radio show brought to you by CSR-in-Action and funded by ACT foundation.

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