If anyone deserves to be awarded with a lifetime achievement award in the Nigerian Tech Space, it should be none other than Seun Osewa, the Founder of Nairaland.
Nairaland, arguably Africa’s largest forum is an online community that is ranked 7th in Nigeria on the Alexa ranking and boasts of about 1.3 million registered users and about as much or perhaps more unregistered users. It was created in March 2005 by Seun Osewa who runs the site till date.
Seun Osewa is a Nigerian in his early thirties who resides in Ota, Ogun state Nigeria.
He is sometimes referred to by tech enthusiasts as the Mark Zuckerberg of Nigeria and here is why; other than Nairaland’s little functional similarity to Facebook, Seun dropped out of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University to pursue his dream.
Like almost every young Nigerian, Seun aspired to be his own boss but unlike most young Nigerians, he never backed out even after hammerings of frustrating magnitudes. Judging from the movie, ‘The Social Network’, Mark Zuckerberg may have had an almost rosy journey to entrepreneurship, but not Seun.
Nairaland was neither the first nor second project embarked upon by Seun, but he never stopped until he got it right.
In an interview with Dipo Tepede, he stated bluntly,
“All my business projects before Nairaland were failures, except the one that became Nairaland. My web hosting business failed after just three  months because I ran out of money, while I couldn’t execute many other projects I researched due to shyness and lack of capital. My blogs and the mobile phone forum that preceded Nairaland were successful but not profitable. However, it was on that foundation that Nairaland was built.”
Seun stands above most Nigerian big-shot site owners in so many ways, but one of which struck me is his online presence and personality. Despite the increasing success of Nairaland, Seun has continued to give customer satisfaction the greatest priority.
1.3 million Persons can comfortably constitute a country and Seun runs a site with that number of persons (I will like to know how that feels). Despite the numbers, Seun continues to strike every person fortunate enough to cross his path as a down-to-earth young man.
Seun through Nairaland has provided a portal which in turn has provided jobs for a huge number of Nigerians. A friend of mine described Nairaland as the largest supermarket in Nigeria and perhaps Africa. I agree. Cars are being bought and sold on Nairaland, real estate and other properties too. Business deals are being brokered every day, (I had my first business meeting through Nairaland).
On jobs, Seun’s words on marble are timeless. “I always tell job seekers to create their own jobs, because nobody owes them a job.” He says.
“Look for a painful problem that others are facing, and then devise a way to make people pay you for the solution. Look for problems that don’t require much capital to solve. In a developing country like Nigeria, there are so many problems waiting to be solved. One man’s problem is another man’s profit! Competition is often weak which means you’ll make a lot of money. So what are you waiting for?” Nigerians should not be talking about unemployment at all. There are so many obvious opportunities around us waiting to be exploited. Being jobless in Nigeria is a big shame indeed.”
The literature section is filled with potential Nobel laureates and I even noticed a new scholarship scheme too. All this and I still can’t begin to highlight all that the site does. And to think that all these was made possible because one man dropped out of school is just magical. I have no apt words to describe the man; still I would say he is a gallant African that deserves every accolade. He is truly a tech superhero.
Efose Ikhalo is a Reader, Writer, Idealist, Poet and a potential Motivational Speaker. He owns the Writers Tab blog and is currently a student of Civil Engineering at the University of Benin.
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