Monthly Archives: September, 2015

2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship application opens Oct. 1

1,000 young Africans to benefit

Credit: Presidential Precinct

Credit: Presidential Precinct

The United States’ Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria on Wednesday announced that applications for the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship will begin to be accepted on Thursday, October 1, 2015.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship programme of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, and a key part of the US commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

Beginning in 2016, the fellowship will bring together 1,000 young African leaders across three tracks – business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management – for a six-week, in-depth academic and leadership training at 20 top American universities.  Afterwards, the fellows will converge in Washington, D.C., for a Presidential summit, featuring a town hall with President Obama.

According to the statement, eligible candidates should be between the ages of 25 and 35 and have a demonstrated track record of leadership in a public, private, or civic organization, and a commitment to contributing their skills and talents to build and serve their communities.

It said, “Interested candidates should visit to apply and seek further information.  The application deadline is November 11, 2015.

“Prospective fellows needing access to the Internet may visit the Information Resource Center at the US Embassy in Abuja or US Consulate General in Lagos or one of the 11American Corners in Nigeria to complete the application. “

According to the statement, nearly one in three Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and around 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.  The Mandela Washington Fellowship initiative is part of the President’s overall effort to encourage investment in the education and training of the continent’s next generation of leaders.

In 2010, President Obama launched YALI as a vehicle to support an emerging generation of African leaders.  In 2014, the programme was expanded to include 500 young African leaders from sub-Saharan Africa.  In 2016, 1,000 young Africans will participate in the fellowship.

Since its inception, 86 young Nigerians have participated in the fellowship, and over 26,000 young professionals in Nigeria have joined the YALI network.  In 2016, approximately 100 young Nigerians are expected to participate in the fellowship.  Grace Jerry, a Nigerian fellow and an advocate for people living with disabilities, introduced President Obama at the 2015 presidential summit.

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SDGs: UN dreams big, you should too!

Personal Development

‘Femi Asu

This past weekend, world leaders met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and adopted new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious agenda that aims to end poverty, promote prosperity and to protect the environment over the next 15 years.

The SDGs replace the eight Millennium Development Goals, which were adopted in 2000 and expire this year.

The UN came up with a 17-point agenda of goals to build a better world. But some analysts have described the goals as too ambitious and unrealistic.

As I was going through the global goals over the weekend, I could not agree more that a number of them are highly ambitious. They qualify to be called BHAGs – Big Hairy Audacious Goals — a term coined by Jim Collins and Joe Perras in their book ‘Built To Last: Successful Habits of Successful Companies.’

Or what do you say about goals that seek to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere; end hunger, achieve food security…; ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, among others?

I’m sure it was not for nothing that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: “We need action from everyone, everywhere. Seventeen sustainable development goals are our guide. They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success. To achieve these new global goals, we will need your high-level commitment. We need a renewed global partnership.”

As the UN SDGs are meant to guide development priorities around the globe over the next 15 years, I believe each one of us should have clear-cut written goals to guide our personal development.

I call them Self-Development Goals. These SDGs are as essential to your personal success as they are to the betterment of the society you live in.

If we all have SDGs to pursue and are determined to achieve them, then the accomplishment of the UN SDGs will not be a tall order.

To improve the world, we must begin by improving ourselves. To improve ourselves, we need to have goals, dreams and visions, and ensure they are big enough to inspire us to break out of our comfort zones and stretch ourselves. We only grow when we stretch.

You must dream big to do big things. When you aim high, it helps you to maximise your God-given potential.

Orison Swett Marden said, “All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”

The late personal development legend and American author, Jim Rohn, who passed away in 2009, defined success as the steady progress in reaching your own personal goals.

Do you have personal goals to achieve in the next one, three, five, or 10 years? How committed are you towards improving yourself?

Rohn said, “Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you’ve got. You can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are.

“Why not see how far you can go, how much you can earn, how much you can share and how much you can give? Why wouldn’t you want to discover all that you can become?”

It is true that too often people forfeit future success by not continuing to invest in their own development.

Some people reach a certain level and wrongly believe they’ve peaked. Success is a journey, not a destination. You can always become more, do more and share more.

As a stickler for personal development, I believe we can all achieve outstanding results in our lives by constantly seeking to improve our knowledge base and skills set through continuous learning.

Marie Curie, a two-time Nobel Prize winner, said: “You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”

How much time are you investing in your personal development?

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