Selflessness: Nigeria as we know it by John Oluwadero

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[Analyses]–Late March this year, myself and my Co-Regional representative Adeola Taiwo Diya for CYSDP launched a #Sport4DevelopmentNG Campaign. Prior to that time, I have been getting some emails and calls from young people expressing their interest in CYSDP activities. The response was inspiring to me as I see it as a vast human resources we can probably harness towards achieving our campaign objectives.

We did a Call for applications for Organising Partners after which calls and email started rolling in. Prior to that time, there was a Call for application by Commonwealth Secretariat Sports for Development and Peace Unit for a CYSDP Coordinator. The position is actually a paid Secretariat position.

While the Call for Application for #Sport4DevelopmentNG Campaign was still on, I tried replying certain mails and messages, gave the best of my time to passionately explain the campaign objectives to those making enquiries and those showing interest in what we do. During the course of my chat with some of them, I noticed this trend on funding and this ‘what is in it for me’. Some were after certificates; others were after any possible funding opportunity from CYSDP considering the brand name ‘Commonwealth’. Some were of the opinion that we do get paid for serving as CYSDP Rep, considering the paid CYSDP Coordinator CommSec position. I then briefed them that my engagement as CYSDP Representative is voluntary, no financial support or benefit.

Anything you see us do is from our pocket as individuals and the support from friends and other organisations we do partner with (Resource mobilization). I also tried to hint some of them that I work as a Pharmacist and CYSDP is just one of those platform where I fulfill my passion of making my society better than I met it; so that they will understand that I do what I do as a way of giving back to the society and not as a way of getting from the society. When we started the Online Campaign, I took time to check the timeline of these set of people and I noticed they never shared not a single campaign tweet or Facebook post.

However, I must acknowledge that there are other very passionate, selfless and committed young people who are genuine in their commitment. They are currently with us on the campaign. I have learnt from my past experience of working with young people that sometimes ‘few’ is stronger than ‘many’; ‘Two’ is better than ‘Twenty’.


Recently, we hosted a Public Forum on Sports for Development and Peace in Lagos, some of our Organising Partners had to travel down to Lagos from Abuja, Kwara and some from far North. That is selflessness and commitment!

The other side to issues like this is the rate of unemployment in the country and young people trying to find opportunity towards meeting their needs. However, I have over and over again advised that community service is not a platform to meeting your financial needs. I strongly believe that acquiring and deploying skills is the best way to empower yourself financially. While engaging in community service can build your skills especially when it comes to leadership, planning, advocacy, project management, fundraising etc however it shouldn’t be taken as an opportunity for an immediate financial gain. Moreover, there is a difference between well established NGO that recruits to pay you salary and voluntary youth led organizations that request for your voluntary service.


Why do Nigerians do what they do? Do we genuinely care about making this country better? Do we actually believe in selflessly giving back to the society without us expecting anything in return?

I believe the reason why some Nigerians do pay offering and tithes in Churches and perhaps give to the poor is because they believe God will bless them by doing so. So in actual sense, they are not giving as a form of worship or service but rather for their selfish reasons. That is why you see that we can conveniently donate N1 Million for religious activities but cannot fix the pot holes on our street or even let poor neighbors have access to our tap water/well.

Our Government even went ahead to harness our selfish lifestyle into formulating the ‘whistle blowing’ policy. Before now, some Nigerians knew about the whereabouts of some of the looted funds but they never report to EFCC because they knew there is nothing in it for them. When the whistle blowing policy came into play, we started hearing about recovery of looted funds here and there. I strongly believe that any whistle blower is not a patriotic Nigerian. Such person is selfish and if given same opportunity as politicians will likely embezzle public fund as well.


I have always maintained that Nigeria will never, I repeat, never, get better if we continue with this selfish attitude of ‘what is in it for me’ when it comes to joining hands together to make our community better. Until we get rid of the corruption and selfishness in us, that is when Nigeria will get better.

The only way to get rid of this selfishness and corruption is by promoting national and community identity through Citizenship, moral/values education and civic engagement of young people from tender age in their respective communities, and Sports is a veritable tool that if effectively harnessed can be used to teach all the aforementioned values. This is the main purpose of my engagement in Sports for Development and Peace (SDP) practice.

John Oluwadero is the Africa Regional Representative at Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group – CYSDP

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