The 3rd documentary in Aljazeera’s My Nigeria series tells the story of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria’s Gbenga Sesan who recalls how a teacher in his secondary school days, on noticing his enthusiasm for computers, told him that he could never use a computer; that the device was not for people like him. However, in 2001, Sesan was appointed Nigeria’s first IT Ambassador.
In 2007, he raised funds to start the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, PIN, where he empowers young, often indigent, people through Information and Communication Technology; using a 4-prong programme – ICT, Financial Readiness and Entrepreneurship – for instruction. Well, Sesan does not mention the 4th component of the programme.
PIN produces 1,080 graduates annually after the trainees undergo a 7-week training in Ajegunle, Lagos, where PIN is located. It is commendable that the programme goes in search of young people from poor backgrounds like Michael Udochukwu Okereke and Prisca. Prisca’s desire to impart the knowledge she acquired from PIN to others is exceptional. The fact that she goes to Yaba once a week to train female students is awe-inspiring.
The PIN model of training individuals and encouraging them to train others is strategic because in the end, a large number of people acquire the needed knowledge. Prisca’s comment on government schools is an indictment of the public school system, a sector, which needs urgent transformation for effectiveness and efficiency.
Connecting a Million serves as admonition for teachers and parents whose words and actions serve to diminish the self-confidence of children. Rather than calling children names like ‘coconut head’ and ‘basket head’, they ought to help these young ones to discover who they truly are and aid them to develop their latent talents.
On a personal note, during the filming of the documentary, Gbenga’s wife is delivered of the couple’s first child after six years of marriage and Gbenga opens a Twitter account for his son, which he (the father) manages for now.
The pronouncement that PIN is involved in the Bring Bank Our Girls Movement indicates the organization’s readiness to show that the training it offers is not just for personal development, but also for the promotion of the common good.
Having said that, a number of questions arise from the film. How did Sesan become an IT Ambassador and which organization made him the ambassador? What did he do to merit the position? Did he win a competition or earn the appointment through his achievements and what could those achievements be? How did he raise money to start PIN in 2007? In how many schools does Prisca carry out her trainings: one or more?
The production team visits Ajegunle for Connecting a Million, but fail to do so for Basketmouth Trash Talking; though Basketmouth spent his formative years in that Lagos slum where his talent was also nurtured.