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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Vision Alive; 60 minutes with Ikenna Ogbudimkpa and Onyinyechi Ojiaku.

This is a transcript of my round table conversation with Ikenna Ogbudimkpa and his closest partner, Onyinyechi Ojiaku as we discussed Vision-Alive, a None-Governmental Organization being run by the two, and how they answered my questions.
Ikenna Ogbudimkpa is a native of Anambra State, and holds a B.Sc. in economics from Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma. He is the founder; Vison Alive.  
Onyinyechi Ojiaku is an Abia born B.Sc. holder from Abia State University, and she is the coordinator, Vision Alive.
Below are my questions about how Vision-Alive began, the dreams, stated goal, willpower, partners’, limitations, millstones and how they answered them.

(Cbl’s Blog);
Great ideas have been born and developed from bedrooms and some from garages. So first of all, I’d like to know how it all began.

Onyinyechi;
Vision-Alive is not like other profitable businesses that are planned and done for any financial gain. It is a vision; a God sent message that needed to be carried out. Mr. Ikenna should say more on that.

Ikenna;
Vision alive is a simple two words; “Vision" "Alive” and the goal is to make visions come alive. The first part of it is to identify the vision and the second is to work towards it, that’s is making the vison alive. As she said, Vision-Alive itself is a vision. It wasn’t a result of a brainstorm nor was it planned or calculated. It was an assignment by God, one which we were not prepared or ready enough to carry out. Not that we were good public speakers, or we had government contacts or we were government “pikin”, or we knew how to code up together; no; those things where never in place. But when the assignment has come, every other thing came; the ability came, the responsibility came, the contacts came, the finance came and the partners also came. It all began in 2013 and our first project was in Imo State Polytechnic. There, we had our fist program tagged “Success Unlimited”. Our vision is to raise a visionary generation. Our motto is building destinies. Our mission is to take people from mediocrity and ignorance into excellence; and that’s what we are doing. That is why one of the things we preach is “purpose”. Because most time we see youths walk on the streets without purpose in life and that, we try to counter. So we first took the Gospel to the students of “Imo-Poly” and from there we came down to Aba and started talking to youths in all sector, both in secondary schools and tertiary institutions and started organizing, educating and engaging them.

(Cbl’s Blog);
 So Vision-Alive is an assignment you were given by God, and you stood up to do it.

Ikenna;
Yes.

(Cbl’s Blog)
So all the way till this time, passion have not been a driving force, it has been a simple obedience to the assignment?

Ikenna;
Well, before the assignment, there was no passion. Like I said, everything came after the assignment came, including the passion. The assignment kicked off the vision. But the truth is that only passion can sustain it. Because most assignments are not sweet and easy and sometimes are sacrificial. Even when the assignment may seem to be hard, it is the passion that have sustained it till this time.

(Cbl’s Blog);
So when the assignment came, every other thing needed to carry it out came including the coordinator?

Ikenna;
Not really. As a Christian and as bible scholar, I know that God sets you from one level to the other, and I know that he doesn’t introduce to us everything at that same time. Just like when one is born, he or she doesn’t get to meet every of the family member at the point of birth. First of all, one meets his or her mother and then probably father and siblings. And one day, when at 3 or 4 years old, one may get to meet his or her cousins and nephews and continuously until even when one may be at his thirties, he or she may still get to meet one of his or her uncles for the first time. That doesn’t mean those people weren’t there before the person’s birth, but one just have to discover new thing as a process of growing. So I believe that both the coordinators and every other person am working with to actualize the vision of Vision-Alive were all there when the assignment came, but then had to come in, when the need for them arose.

(Cbl’s Blog) to Onyinyechi
Though I understand the word “Coordinator”, but I’d like you to expound more on what you do for Vision-Alive.    

Onyinyechi;
What I do is project coordinating; we run a lot of projects and do a lot of things. If you heard about “Abia Guber Debate”, Vision-Alive organized the debate for all the Guberitorial candidates in Abia State, at Binez Hotels Aba in 2015. Though I didn’t coordinate it, but in 2016, I coordinated the “International Youth Day” conference (IYD) also at Binez Hotels Aba. So every year, we have a mega project and when projects come up, i with the team, we coordinate them. And what I do is direct them on what to do and oversee what is happening and make sure the project comes out a success.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Bringing Ben Murray Bruce down to Aba was a very big project I guess. How did you manage to pull that one off?       

Onyinyechi;
It was very big to coordinate and each time I think about it, I just know it was God’s doing. It’s not like we know him or we had seen him anywhere or have met him before, no. we were just passing and saw a billboard that invited Coscharis, (Cosmos Maduka) to a program. And we were already planning IYD so we thought “it would be good to bring a national figure to it too. But then, who would be? First, we thought of Ikonne and tried, but it seemed it wasn’t perfect so we decided we bring Ben Murray Bruce. From there, we started asking questions upon question just on how to get his contact. One day I called a friend from Bayelsa and requested that she help us go to the Government house and see if she can get us Ben Murray Bruce’s contact, his PA or anything that can get us to him. After we got his contact, we started calling and texting bunch of messages. Sometimes it took weeks for them to reply our messages, and sometimes no reply at all. But we continue sending messages and calling. The preparation was a long one. A very long one, and that was where God came in. When God gives you an assignment, he must provide a way; one you may not see at the beginning of the assignment. We continued calling Senator Bruce’s PA without any intention of quitting. Two weeks to the IYD, we were not sure if the senator will be coming or not. But just one day, we got a text from the PA confirming the senator will be coming to the 2016 IYD conference Aba. It was exhausting, but well worth it.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Wow! So how did he say it; I’ll come?
           
Ikenna;
We did not hear I’ll come from him. We heard he’ll come from his PA.

Onyinyechi;
Yeah because we rarely spoke with him directly. It was mostly his PA.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Wow! Ben Murray Bruce was going to come to your invent. How was it? 

Onyinyechi;
She just said “Okay, the senator will be attending the IYD.” And I was like; did she just say that? But even at that, even after his PA said “he’ll come”, we still did not believe it. The day we believed it was two days to the IYD day when his PA started asking us how long he will be speaking, what he should specialize on, if we had a program, if we had a projector, and things like that. That was when we became convinced the senator was going to come. Notwithstanding the senator’s humility was tested the day of his landing in Owerri Airport as a result of some irregularities and unforeseen occurrences, he was very happy during his attendance. You were there that day, you saw how excited he was that a thing of that worth was organized by the young people. Honestly It was a good experience but it wasn’t easy at all. The stress was there, the hope that almost died and all that.

(Cbl’s Blog)
He came anyway!

Onyinyechi;
Yeah! And we were all excited.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Okay… So the purpose of inviting Senator Bruce was to motivate and inspire young people, and that is the core goal of Vision Alive?

Ikenna;
Yeah “core”. When we launch such projects, sometimes people who are concerned would call me and say; is there no other thing you can do? Most time I would like to answer them but sometimes I just don’t. The first motto we first used was; claiming your world will be yours but you know, basically, it would be nice to give five million naira to a youth who is productive. That’s not bad. But better yet, you can give that same youth words that can help him get hundred million naira of his own. You know, God made the world yours; that’s the basic foundation of the world. So though we try to go extra mile to support the young people, if we can, give them some sort of grands. If we can, organize skill acquisition programs, but still the vision is to empower them with words that would propel them to go out and get those things they desire much more by themselves. And beyond getting Senator Bruce to inspire the youths, we also know that Aba has been run down in some elements. People see Aba as a dirty, cowardly run and stupid place of illiterates, market people, untrained youth, touts and criminals. So we said, “One of the ways to salvage these things is to start pushing Aba to a good light and how, we thought is by bringing eminent national personalities to Aba. Because when some people come to Aba, they see that this is not the Aba we’ve been hearing of and with that, they also spread the news. When Senator Bruce was coming to Aba, a lot of people knew he was coming and they all were waiting and watching to see what happens. But then, it was peaceful and glorious. When he made the post of the project; the 2016 IYD Aba on his twitter wall, the wave was amazing. Our video had up to 1000 shares and well over 22 thousand views as at then; the last time we checked. So imagine where 1 million people has seen this video and also seen Ben Bruce’s comment, Vision Alive has certainly gone beyond Aba and Abia state, putting Aba, where it emanated from, in a good light because he said many beautiful things about Aba. So beyond to inspire the youths, we also want to put Aba in a good light. That is why beyond Ben Bruce, we are also planning to bring other eminent personalities nationally to come to Aba to speak to youths and also see that Aba is not what people call it and with that, we spread the news that Aba is also a fertile entity.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Great! You’re really working. So the next thing I’d like us to go into is; “your stated goal”. In every business, or struggle, when you go out for sponsorship, the first thing companies or personnel would want to know is the specific goal you want to achieve. If you can make them see your goal, and if it’s worth it, then maybe they can do something. So my question is simple; what is your stated goal and from now till when did you plan to achieve it?

Ikenna;
Okay it’s simple; by 2020, it may be big or small, but we want to raise a group of 100,000 visionary youths.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Directly or indirectly?

Ikenna;
Directly, and the work is progressive. People may not see it now but it’s progressive. So the plan is, we are building a platform; we are building a structure and a brand. And we’ve been able to build it to an extent that you, Bethel, knows about Vision-Alive much more this year than before. So and we are about to hit that climax point when works becomes a little bit easier. Now we are still struggling and working hard to make it happen. Where we have the majority of concentrated youths, are in campus and tertiary institutions. So from next year, we want to do a rapid tertiary institution storm to be able to get this ones where they are. So directly we want to be able to raise, mentor, teach and train 100,000 visionary youths by 2020. When we talk about youth development or empowerment, it has to do with direct impact. Not only this one, we have some other projects that we want to run, like ‘Train the Trainer’ and others alike where we not don’t just train these young ones to go on their way, but we train them to go train others. So that’s it, but until we hit that climax point, then we can begin these other projects.

(Cbl’s Blog)
If I must describe Vision Alive and its goal of positively impacting 100,000 young people by 2020, with just one word, I’d use the word, spectacular. And sure that’s what it is. With that in mind, I hope am not repeating any question here but I’d like to know, what is your willpower?

Ikenna;
God

Onyinyechi;
And another thing is when you are putting up a struggle and you see how much you are accomplishing, you’ll be motivated to do more. So our past experiences, watching as we struggle, Vision-Alive go from noting to something, and then passion for what we are doing have been a driving force too.

(Cbl’d Blog)
Okay good; God and passion and experiences have kept you moving.  Now what about partners, let’s talk about partners.  
I can see both of you here which I know of course are the main engine and highest contributors to Vision-Alive programs. And also I raise my hand to say somehow, am a partner too. Having said that, who and who have you been able to partner with, that have supported to keep the good work going, financially and otherwise; any person, or company?

Ikenna;
That’s is where we have an issue, because the environment of Abia state is not welcoming to empowerments and sponsorships. Most of the cooperate bodies here aren’t doing anything; sorry to say that. And those who are doing something, could do only but very little. Most of them come up with the excuse that the headquarter office has to get notification and send approval for any sponsorship. And most of the time when this requests get to the headquarters, they won’t approve it; they’d say it’s Aba. But they do much there at the headquarters but extending it to other states, regions and areas of the country becomes a very difficult task for them. That is why when projects like this comes up, it lacks sponsorship. You, Bethel, came to the IYD conference, how many companies did you see there, even though it was a grand braking event? None! So talking about sponsorships, there has not been any response from any company. We went to 7up bottling company for sponsorship and what they could give us was three crates of 7up drinks. It’s sad to say it, but it happened. We’ve observed our environment and noticed that sponsorships comes mostly from privately individuals. And during the course of last year, we had a few who were and have been very supportive. We have the person of comrade Dannie Ubani the MD of ‘Fortune-well Projects and Services’, Honorable Roland Nwakamma the MD of ASEPA, who tremendously, have been supportive. We also have the deputy speaker; honorable Cosmos Ndukwe. He has also been a great helping hand to us. And then majorly, we have few young people who are doing their best to make sure that projects like this continue to go on. Apart from this few people I just mentioned, nothing more. It will surprise you that we’ve been shouldering over 90 percent of our bills and financial involvement in projects. So right now, Sponsorships, partnerships is not encouraging at all. But we are never stopping. We are ready to continue to carry the loads of Vision-Alive the best way we can, with hope that things will get better. And I want to use this opportunity to call on indigenous cooperate firms, because I believe there are multinational and national cooperate firms in Abia state, the likes of Tonimas and other big companies as well who are based in Abia state. So am using this medium to call on them to support projects like this one. Sponsor projects like this and look into the community who have made them who they are. It is called cooperate social responsibility, so they should get to fulfill their cooperate social-responsibilities because there is much more in it to who they are and where they come from. It’s not dashing money to anybody but about making impacts.

(Cbl’s Blog) to Onyinyechi
You have anything on that?

Onyinyechi;
Well, I think he has said almost everything. That’s basically the level of partnership and sponsorship we have right now. It hasn’t been easy because our environment here is not that sponsorship friendly. And the few that can really support would want see that we have done something big enough that they hunger to be part of. So we just try to strive to keep getting to a level that can impel someone to want to partner with us. And we plan to raise partners too. For example during our monthly meetings, in our forms, we urge the youths who feel they can to partner with us to do so. Because I believe that if the big people feel they don’t need to support us, we the young people can do something. We are a body of youths. We can say; let’s partner and this is what we’ll be bringing out for this program. No matter how little we bring out, if we continue to bring it like that, little drops of water can make a mighty ocean. So among us as the registered members of the organization, we also partner; we have a token we bring in every month to get the vision going while we wait for the social or cooperate bodies or anybody to really look into what we are doing for the youths.

(Cbl’s Blog)
And those little things you bring out have been carrying 90 percent of the Vision-Alive work?

Ikenna;
Yes! Amazingly it turns out to do so much.

(Cbl’s Blog)
So when you tell this eminent personnel or cooperate bodies that you want to positively impact 100,000 youths by 2020 in your request for sponsorship, it don’t move them?

Ikenna;
You see, that’s our vision. And the vision of the organization is written on the proposals, but it’s not the program. Now a company like Nigerian Breweries sponsoring you, they are not concerned about the vision per say’, they are concerned about what you do for them in that event. They are not sponsoring you for a life time, but probably for a particular event. If the vision is to build plastic chairs and we are able to invite or bring Innocent Chukwuma who is a pace setter in building plastic chairs in Nigeria to a conference, and Nigerian Breweries are be able to advertise their brands in that event, why won’t they sponsor it? That’s what every company wants; they want their products to be seen, they want their brands to be seen. So our goal to impact that number of youths is not excluded from our proposals but also importantly, we try to include how the cooperate bodies we are seeking sponsorships from, will benefits from our events.


(Cbl’s Blog)
Do you have limitations? What have held you back?

Onyinyechi:
Well, we don’t see limitations.  I don’t think we have any limitations because talking about funds that should the limitation, we have a way of exceeding or going pass it. Though we might have issues with it, but at the end of the day, we still have projects done the way it should be done. So fund should be our major limitation but it’s not a limitations.

(Cbl’s Blog)
No limitation at all?

Ikenna;
We don’t see limitation. That’s why I always tell people that Vision-Alive is a vision from God. And if you are involved in anything that is from God, limitations becomes passion. Mike Ruddock said; “pains make goals”. When limitations come around, it turns around to build up the fire and the passion. Because if we don’t have limitations and sets a project, and someone comes and gives us two million naira, the fire wouldn’t have been that much. So those disappointments, those negligence from people were the factors that gave birth to the passion to achieve. So beyond the surface of the projects, the coordinators and team, we are strengthened, we are empowered, we are trained to look beyond disappointments. So there is no limitations.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Wow! So by 2020, the lives of 100,000 young people somewhere out there, will be positively affected by Vision-Alive programs and yes, by inviting eminent personalities to impact these youths. So who are the prospective invitees, especially this year 2017?

Onyinyechi;
It’s not one person anyway. But till that time comes, we don’t really have something on that one for now because discussions are still ongoing with these people. But they are always national figures with great and motivating stories that people would love to listen to. Some might be in your field too, but we can really say for now. Until then, when we are sure and ready for the 2017 IYD conference.

(Cbl’s Blog)
Okay... good to know.

We'll be drawing the cutting here, and thank you so much Mr. Ikenna Ogbudimkpa, founder Vision-Alive and Ms. Onyinyechi Ojiaku, coordinator, Vision-Alive for joining Cbl’s Blog today.

Also, thank you for reading this interview and keep coming back here for more inverviews like this. for sponsorship, contact the coordinator of Vision-Alive, Ms. Onyinyechi Ojiaku on +2348073339051.  

“I hope the world at large hears and reads about Vision-Alive. And I hope your goal to meet and impact positively, the lives of 100,000 youths by 2020 becomes a reality. In the same vain, I wish you all of you at Vision-Alive the best”. – Lawrence Bethel for CBL’S BLOG.

1 comment:

  1. Nice one CBL. I think this vision will really go far. Long live Vision Alive

    ReplyDelete

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