I Am Change (IAC) Humanitarian Organisation – Leading a worthy life

 By Hafsatu Shinkafi & Dirisu Yakubu

          Arguments advanced for the slow pace of development in our nation are abundant, with many respected voices singling out the failure of leadership as the most potent cause of the problem. Plausible as the arguments are, I Am Change (IAC) Humanitarian Organisation, a Non-Governmental Organisation and Non-Profit Initiative, believes that until the vulnerable population amongst us are integrated into the society through the instrumentality of empowerment and enlightenment schemes, the gap between the rich and the poor would only get wider.

Registered a year ago with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), IAC’s broad-based mandate of bridging the socio-economic gaps among vulnerable Nigerians is borne out of the imperative of harnessing the dormant potentials of the less privileged with a view to empowering them to contribute their quota towards nation building. IAC is committed to fostering partnership with government, local and international bodies and similar organisations to stem rampant violations of the rights of the less privileged, particularly   youths, women and children.

It is gratifying to the IAC team that incumbent administration through the Change Begins With Me campaign, emphasised the boundless mileage of character reformation and attitudinal change on the part of Nigerians to back off the old path which glorified corruption, lawlessness, nepotism and similar vices. Today, IAC is working to build, nurture, support, promote and manage Behaviour Change Communication (BCC); a gesture aimed at inculcating the right values in youths and vulnerable persons among us.

In the last couple of years, a good number of youthful Nigerians in their desperation for quick money and due to lack of opportunities got involved in drug trafficking, prostitution and other associated illicit businesses, with some paying the ultimate price upon arrest and subsequent conviction. Only recently, mind-boggling pictures of 35 year-old Nigerian executed in Malaysia for drug trafficking, were published in traditional newspapers and online tabloids; much to the shame of the entire black race. But then, have we really done enough to sensitize the youths, especially those out of schools, on the danger of drug abuse and trafficking? As a humanitarian organization, IAC is doing its bit to rehabilitate and provide succor for victims of drug abuse, and reintegrate them into the society.Today, the target groups of our initiative include the Almajiri children, out of school kids, unskilled/semi-skilled youths, unemployed but employable graduates as well as graduates to expand the frontiers of their knowledge via skills acquisition through social volunteering and internship windows. The world has today become knowledge-driven and for anyone regardless of his status to play a part, basic knowledge at least in one area of endeavour or the other is imperative. It is for this reason IAC is prepared to help out in the spheres of financial literacy training, poverty reduction, leadership at both the micro and macro levels, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), advocacy, amongst others.

Since registering our organisation, we have provided training on the use of computers to 10 youths whom are now ready to put the skills to good use to earn a living for themselves and their respective families. This is the change we preach–that no one is born useless but circumstances made difficult by choices of under privileged parents may have left their vulnerable children incapable of taking their destinies in their own hands. So, how prepared is IAC in driving the change message which incidentally, is the focus of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari? According to the founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees of IAC, Hafsatu Shinkafi, the NGO’s core competence is in the areas of capacity building, leadership development, advocacy, financial management, social development, resource mobilization, programme development and management as well gender and human right matters. “We are ready to go into partnership with corporate bodies, agencies of government and other organizations to enable us deliver on our mandate,” she says, adding that that the task “is quite enormous and financially burdensome.”

Going forward, Hafsatu says the future is bright for Nigerians regardless of today’s pain. “We are not relenting until we give a voice to millions of outcast out there in the street. We can do more if we come together in the spirit of one love for Nigeria and Nigerians,” she stressed.

It would be apt for such government agencies like the Small and Medium Enterprises Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, National Directorate of Employment, NDE, to name only a few, to assist this unique NGO which had the vision of change years ago and took the initiative to start small, without a grant whatsoever from any quarters. With support across board, there is no doubt IAC would expand its area of focus to all the six geo-political zones of the country as poverty, depravation, lack, illiteracy and  rights abuse-the core issues it seeks to address-are not the peculiarity of any particular region in the country.

As change drivers, we call on government to elicit our service in propagating the Change Begins With Me to Nigerians in their places of work, schools and other social places.

“Rather than sit back and complain endlessly,” President Buhari charged, while launching the Change Begins With Me initiative, “we have decided to act pragmatically, with the launch of this National Re-orientation Campaign. The campaign will not be a sprint but a marathon that will run the course of our tenure. We are under no illusion that the changes we seek will happen overnight, but we have no doubt that the campaign will help restore our value system and rekindle our nationalistic fervor.” I am Change Humanitarian Organization; IAC is set to drive this patriotic initiative with zest and commitment even as we look forward to enduring partnerships across board.

Last year before the presidential election IACs Executive Director sat with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the major issues that are currently facing Nigeria’s youth from education health security and the main socio-economic problems. Please visit our website at iamchange.org to find out more about our organisation and to see the mind opening interview with the president concerning our youths today.