•In Lagos, blind reporter motivates youths with life story
By Perpetua Egesimba
Recently, a visually-impaired broadcast journalist, Solomon Abiodun Elugbaju, took some youths through what it takes to succeed in life, even in the face of disability. He brought to life the age-long aphorism that being challenged in life is inevitable but being defeated is optional.
At an event organised by a non-governmental organisation, Child of Destiny, Elugbaju, who works with Radio Nigeria, proved that nobody was in a better position to speak on motivating the youths to discover and maximise their potential than himself.
Elugbaju told his inspiring life story at a seminar in Agege, Lagos, with the theme “Discover Your Potential.” The programme was organised for children and youths aged between five and 18.
In his presentation, he challenged his listeners to be productive by first discovering their talents and maximising same for great benefits. He urged them to always stay focused and make up their mind to achieve whatever they set out to achieve despite the challenges that might come their way.
Elugbaju narrated how he became visually impaired, recalling that he was not born with the disability. He said he only became blind at 19.
His words: “I became blind in 1990 at the age of 19 years. I was on my way to the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Zaria. I was on the verge of becoming a soldier but, along the line, I had this challenge.
“But I didn’t give up. I had to do other things. So, if you were not born blind but eventually became blind, there is still hope for you.
“You know, most persons with disabilities were not born that way. They might have encountered the challenge like I did.”
He said that he had worked with Radio Nigeria for over a decade and had an NGO that catered for persons with disabilities. He advised that, for the youths to unleash their potential, they first must discover that such potential exists.
“When you discover your potential, nothing can become a challenge. Even your disability cannot be a stumbling block,” he said.
According to Elugbaju, disability meant more than an individual being deformed. He stressed that when a person was financially incapacitated, he was disabled and hence could be said to be financially handicapped.
“Take me as an example. I want you to know that despite the odds, you can make it. Even if you feel you are less privileged, if you discover your potential, you can change your life’s story. Know that nothing, no one except you, can keep you from succeeding.
“So, know that your disability or your family background should not be a barrier to you. Don’t say because you are an orphan and you did not go to school, you cannot succeed. Every child has a destiny. But you must first have an interest to become something. Then be determined, focused and work towards your goal.
“When I discovered my potential, I was discovered. Today, I am a journalist,” he said.
The founders of Child of Destiny, Mrs. Olufunke Fayemi and Mrs. Adedigba Mopelola, regretted that youth unemployment was one of Nigeria’s biggest economic problems. They explained that the organisation was established to engage and encourage youths by providing the necessary skills they needed to survive.
Fayemi stated that the organisation was concerned about youth empowerment, which was the reason they invited Elugbaju to motivate the youth. She said she wanted them to note that, if a blind man was able to attain enviable heights, they had no excuse not to succeed.
“He was blind at 19, but he rose above his challenges to obtain a master’s degree.
“His life story will encourage our youths to know that they can achieve whatever they set their minds on despite the odds that might be in their way,” she said.
The seminar was meant to ensure that the youth acquired skills and so did not have to depend on white-collar jobs after leaving school.
“It’s all about helping youths, as many of them are unaware that they have some potential in them. This programme will help them know that God deposited one thing or the other in them that they can utilise to help themselves, their communities and the country at large.
“We bring the youths together once in a while and get some professionals to teach them skills,” the organisers said.
A 14-year-old Senior Secondary 1 student, Arijaje Rukeme, said she was inspired after listening to Elugbaju.
“I was inspired hearing Mr. Elugbaju’s story, how he became blind and still struggled to succeed in life. The fact that he was blind and still struggled to become a journalist shows that nothing is impossible in life.
“This youth empowerment programme is really helping us. I have learnt to make chin-chin. This will go a long way in helping me to make money and not depend on my parents for everything.”
Another youth, Ojo Bolarinwa, said she learnt that what one chose to do in one’s youthful years could go a long way in determining what one would become in the future.