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This time around, the crowd had gathered to watch the scene, it was unbelievable. Buyers and sellers in the market looked on in amazement, curiosity was written all over people’s faces. It was the sight of insanity: a display of madness. The young man had torn himself apart, screaming at the top of his voice, taking no consideration of people’s opinions of him. Everyone gazed in shock. I was there myself, and I knew the young man – the lunatic. “I know him!” I said, all eyes were fixed on me; they were willing to hear, and I was more willing to share the story. Yes, I know that young man who has gone really ‘mad’ in the labour market: he is Making A Difference. Terrific, intriguing, and energetic young man. I know a Nigerian star – Olugbenga Ogunbowale.
My room was in utter darkness, I was ready to lie on my bed and rest from the day’s work. I had to light a candle; the darkness was unbearable for me to stay in. It had been like this for months, blackout every night. I observed keenly the burning candle, something struck me. There was something about the candle that reminded me of him. I remembered the words of my father: “A great leader is like a burning candle, he consumes himself to light the way for others.” And that describes Gbenga, he is a burning candle. Olugbenga Ogunbowale C.E.O Epower is a vast, fast rising ICT trainer, brand strategist, copywriter and nation builder. In 2013, he graduated from Psychology department, Obafemi Awolowo University and was nominated as the most outstanding young Nigerian by Junior Chamber International. He facilitated at 10/10: a regional impact tour by Global Paradigm Shifters to over 1,000 Secondary School students, delivering Powerful Lessons in Purpose and Leadership for the emergence of Africa’s next vibrant and visionary young leaders. He coordinated a FeedOne project which fed and empowered over 4,000 families in Akure, Ife and Lagos Nigeria. Under his leadership, Epower has created 500 stunning PowerPoint slides, 900 fantastic graphic designs with over 2,800 people trained in live seminars. I know a Nigerian star – Olugbenga Ogunbowale.
I tried reading a book, the illumination was bleak. “When in the world are we going to stop having power outages in this country?” I mused to myself in disgust. My eyes ran over a few lines in the book, I needed something to engage myself with until I fell asleep. A statement in the book seemed to have ministered to me: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask instead what you can do for your country.” I read the statement aloud. That was Gbenga! He had lived, and is still living every word in that statement to the letter. Olugbenga Ogunbowale is a proactive Nigerian: controlling situations by making things happen, rather than waiting for things to happen. During his service year in Kogi state as a corps member, he was a zonal coordinator of Nigerian Christian Corps Members Fellowship. Within two weeks of his arrival in Kogi state, he initiated a multimedia unit at Royal Grace Chapel.
Gbenga has organized inter-school debates, quiz competitions and skill acquisition trainings for over 400 students from over 5 schools. No challenge in the community escaped Gbenga’s eagle eye as he was ready to tackle them in his capacity. Gbenga had distributed 110 charts of different significant scientific diagrams to 11 secondary schools in Omala local government. He initiated the ‘Start to Finish Initiative,’ a scholarship scheme for 10 brilliant indigent students across 7 schools; and he also renovated Ife community secondary school library and donated books. Gbenga’s light could not be hidden; it had shone before all men, and everyone could see his good works. Consequently, in July 2015, he won the NYSC state merit award as an outstanding corps member in Kogi state. I know a Nigerian star, he is Olugbenga Ogunbowale.
Okay, I was not willing to endure any longer, it was becoming unbearable and uncontrollable – the heat of the night. I could not sleep, and I could not read the book any further. The heat was killing; I felt I was being baked in an oven. I needed some air; I ran out of my room in discomfort, I needed to feel the fresh, breezy air on my black skin. Suddenly, it twinkled! They looked so beautiful – the stars in the sky. Then I asked myself, “What makes that young man such a star?” I could imagine myself seated in my Geography class several years ago. My Geography teacher had once said: “The nearest star to the earth is about 39trillion km away and it takes 4.2 years for the light from the star to reach Earth.” The statistics made more sense to me now: when we look at the stars in the sky, we are literally looking back in time.
I gazed sternly at the stars in the sky; it was amazing to know that I was actually looking at how the stars looked thousands of years ago. Yes, I found another justification for my statement – Gbenga is a star. My father had told me, “Success is an Iceberg.” And indeed, it is – Gbenga’s life is proof. People see the achievement on the outside, the twinkle and its beauty; but deep down, far away, many years ago, lies the risks, failure, habits, persistence, goals, focus and sacrifice. So, when you see this Nigerian star, you are literally looking back in time: who he had come to be over the years. At age 25, Olugbenga Ogunbowale is one the youngest fellows of Africa’s most prestigious and longest running youth democracy training programme, DESPLAY Africa, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC. Olugbenga Ogunbowale is an astute business man and a bastion of change and innovation; who combines experience with excellence to deliver astonishing results – every time.
I Know a Nigerian Star – Olugbenga Ogunbowale.
Oluwafunto Koya is a 400 Level student of Economics department at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. She has great human relations skills as she has been awarded the most charismatic person in her class right from her 100 level. She has handled the finances and statement of accounts of students in her departmental society, comprising of an average of 700 students, for the Leadership Qualities and Entrepreneurial Development (LQED) conference. Funto is presently the chairperson, the only female ever, for the same LQED conference.