“ Everyone has the power for greatness – not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
It was just like yesterday when the journey began. Before my husband, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was elected governor of Lagos State in 1999, he had been actively involved in the pro-democracy struggle that eventually led to the collapse of military dictatorship inNigeria. Of course, I was by his side during the struggle in a painful and prolonged exile that took its toll on our family. It was at this time that the seed of the idea for a foundation to inspire, encourage and build the youths, particularly the disadvantaged ones, started germinating in my mind.
I had observed that in the developed democracies of the West, no effort is spared both by government and voluntary civil society organizations to provide pillars of sustenance and support to the youths. This is understandable. The future of a nation depends on the quality of its youth. Those who are disadvantaged must be encouraged and given support and this I was determined to help actualize through a Foundation whenever I returned to Nigeria. My becoming First Lady of Lagos State offered just that opportunity and I immediately began to work at it within the psychological and moral support of my husband. That seed has blossomed handsomely today as the New Era Foundation (NEF).
To God be all the glory for the provision of reputable, resourceful and eminent members of both the Board of Trustees and Governing Council. They have all been the engine room of the Foundation and I thank them for all our achievements. I specially want to thank Sir Chief Dr. Alexander Molade Okoya Thomas who has always been there encouraging me. Also, Mrs. Patricia Otuedon-Arawore who started with me when the idea was conceived.
The idea and purpose were right and beneficial to society making the challenges we encountered to be bearable. I would never forget Mrs. Stella Okoli’s seed money on the New Era Youth Camp (NEYOCA) Project; it came when I was most discouraged to go on. Someone once said that you only know God is at work when you engage in something you know you can never accomplish by your own strength and resources.
This is our story in NEF, especially the NEYOCA Project. It is only someone who believes in miracles that can ever venture to build a 50-acre land debt-free. I believe it is possible, our intention has always been around the indigent youth with little or no opportunity but endowed with the gift of intelligence. Ours is a way to bring about positive change in our society, where a child who dares to go the extra mile through education is given the opportunity to reach for the stars.
For over 10 years, we have produced several one-day governors, seen more than one first class graduate, past winners of the Spelling Bee competitions graduating in various fields of endeavour, and few waiting to get into universities. We see a youth camp rising up from the forest. I feel so privileged and honoured to join the league of those who are proponents to build a better future for our children.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu OON
President, New Era Foundation