The night of Wednesday, September 4, will remain indelible in the minds of several youths who attended the 2019 edition of the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) booth camp, at the FCT Youth Center, Nyanya, Abuja.
Dr Obiora Okonkwo, founder, Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, and Chief Executive, The Dome, Abuja, was billed for a time out with the youths, tagged, “An Evening With Dr. Obiora Okonkwo.” The idea was for Okonkwo to use the story of his life to motivate the youths, among whom were about 100 from Anambra State, whom he sponsored to the camp.
The night was unwrapped before him with drama and dance performances by the youths who were drawn from different parts of the country. He led them through the story of his life from childhood through his days in Onitsha where he combined schooling with trading.
He told them the story of how he almost lost his chance to get higher education because of trading which put loads of cash in his pocket. Then, he took he youths through his battle with reality and his decision to seek further education in Russia.
He said Russia opened the doors to big business for him and he saw the opportunities presented by his studentship in the country. He lectured the youths on how he set up his first business in Russia even as an undergraduate and how the business blossomed.
He encouraged them to always strive for the best. He led them through the understanding that hard work pays and that good name is better than tons of cash. He also reminded them of the need to develop skills that will lead them through life as well as of the need to always be good and responsible citizens.
Before he rounded off the night, Okonkwo, who was decorated with the Rotary Youth Leadership Icon, announced the offer of university scholarships to 10 indigent youths from the camp. He also announced another 10 scholarships to 10 youths, from the camp willing to develop their skills.
He dropped another one; start-up finance to 10 youths who are willing to set up workshops from the camp. Finally, he assured the youths that 10 of them would be employed in any of his organisations.
Encouraging youths to strive to be the best, he reminded them that to grow to become useful citizens, they must imbibe, and live with, positive values that enhance their lives. He cautioned them against negative vices, which he said have derailed many.
Good morals, he said, open doors of progress and development for youths: “No matter what you do, you must also put God first. “You are the future of our country and for you to take advantage of that future, you must stay away from negative vices and aspire to become positive role models through your lifestyles and the choices that you make.
“I always tell youths in my village that Chinua Achebe wrote ‘Things Fall Apart’ in his 20s. He wrote that book in the village using kerosene lamp. He had no internet. He had no cell phone. He had no computer and no electricity. You have all these things and are therefore better equipped. So, you have what it takes to achieve much more than he did.”