Nigerian journalist committed to serve young people
As a student in the lower grade years ago, Austine Okorodudu watched his close friend, Diana* drop out of school. For him, growing up was fun with his father an army officer and mother a business woman. But for Diana* life did not turn out as such. She was forced to drop out after the Religious Education teacher who was also a pastor in a local church got her pregnant. With no voice to help his friend, the then young Okorodudu could only observe as the ugly situation unfolded. Diana’s life became more miserable as she had to start a journey she was never prepared for. She had to trade her education with early parenting.
Years later, Okorodudu would meet Diana* in the streets of Nigeria. She had learnt to survive the hard way in order to fend for her baby. And with no education like her peers, life could only get tougher. “This is what inspired me to start Ideals and Realities youth Empowerment Foundation (IRYEF),” says Okorodudu.
To him, an accomplished young person is one who has discovered their purpose and using same to better their world. This is what IRYEF has done with over 8,000 young people across different states in Nigeria. The social enterprise founded five years ago seeks to equip vulnerable young persons with basic life building and vocational skills, entrepreneurship, mentorship and life skills development in order to assist them to make well-informed decisions for a better and greater tomorrow.
In order to reach as many young people as possible, IRYEF holds a number of events including the Student’s Productive Life Initiative (SPLIN), I Need to know-TeenzSummit and Equip the future radio series. “Some of these programmes have helped us to provide the much needed training, mentoring, coaching, counselling and healthy lifestyle techniques for young people. We believe in a productive and prosperous Africa, starting from her young people.”
With a WhatsApp platform, the organization is able to track the impact of most of the beneficiaries, these young people also offer to volunteer in the IRYEF activities. “More recently, I am speaking with my team to also put in place an alumni conference, I think this will also go a long way,” says Okorodudu.
The Mass Communication graduate from the Delta State University Abraka, Nigeria is an anchor for a couple of programmes on Trend 100.9fm; a youth focused radio station based in Asaba, the capital city of Delta State. “Papers Today” is one of such programmes, a 45 minutes breakfast show that gives incisive and in-depth, insight into the Nigerian dailies. The robust feedback on the programme has become a guide to policymakers in governance.
“Trend-Talk, commonly referred to as the “people’s parliament” is another of such programme that gives our listeners the opportunity to air their voices on a variety of burning and topical issues in the political space.”
Okorodudu, a multiple award winner and member of Rotary International believes that radio has got the potential to influence the lives of both the young and old. “With this understanding, I keep advancing the cause of the youth by using my platform on the radio to advocate for civic engagement and youth inclusion in governance through other radio shows like the “equip the future” radio series,” he says.
Okorodudu is currently a Mandela Washington Fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a programme he says has been a very big eye opener for him in advancing his leadership skillset and professional networks. “I will recommend it for any young change maker out there in Africa who aspires to do more.”
“As that person who influenced the lives of others positively and made a remarkable contribution to humanity.”