An activist by example: Meet peace activist Angela Uyi, Nigeria

Angela Uyi is from Edo State, the Southern part of Nigeria. I am a Social Critique, Social Justice Activist and also a micro-credit expert. I am the founder/National Director of The Counsellor Organization. A youth based NGO presently in Lagos State Nigeria aimed at empowering the youth so they can transform their society in a peaceful manner and also committed to fighting for the welfare, interests and emancipation of the Nigeria People from poor governance and failed leadership. We have a Facebook page with the address: fb.me/thecorgng where we update our activities and a group of over 26,000 members 

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/250901337823/)

I am the convener of Project 11 and 11 days of National Peace event with it main focus at strengthening the ingenuity of unity, equality, oneness above all advancing the culture of peace nationally. Project11 focus on Unity, Interdependence, Environment, Economic Justice, Health, Children & Youth, Women, Human, Rights, Freedom, Disarmament and Peace and it will run from 11th September, 2017 through 21st September, 2017.

PROJECT 11 aims to expressively abridge all forms of violence, and work with governments and communities to find lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity. Strengthening the rule of law and promoting human rights are the key instruments to this process, as is reducing the flow of illicit arms and strengthening the participation of other Non-governmental Organizations in National advancement and society inclusion.

2. Could you describe the first moment when you realized you wanted to do this work?

My activism stated in 2009 when my friends and I were attacked by some gunmen on our way back from the airport. It was a horrific and frightening moment for me and my friends especially when I saw how long it took my best friend to get over the phobia. Thats when I knew what the people in the warring states could be passing through. People dont engage in violence and crimes due to their ages, gender, ethnicity, religion or for the fun of it but because of hunger, poverty, corruption, criminal leadership and bad governance.  I asked myself, what can be done and what can I do to change the orientation of young people who think crime is the best path to success? After much meditation, I started my online blog later in 2015 I created the group called The Counsellor  where I counsel and motivate people on how to heal from traumatization. I started an initiative that teaches young people how to love one another, engage in peaceful dialogue, conflicts transformation, Human rights advocacy and to embrace the core values of peace in their daily lives.

I took my activism offline to where it matters most and since then, I have been travelling to states advocating for Good governance, accountability and transparency, Non-violence is life, Youths against violence, terrorism and crimes.

3. Could you take us through a day of your work? Where do you put most of your time and energy?

 

On a daily basis, especially now that we are critically planning towards the project11 awareness walk and since we dont have access to financial support, I do more of online interaction and publicity; I update my Professional page on LinkedIn, my organization website, my personal blog, the Twitter pages, Instagram, the Facebook pages and group. 

The thing I do most, is writing. I love to write because it gives me the opportunity to express my mind and to talk about what is happening in the country. I somewhat admire the feedbacks I get from my readers online. It is a confirmation that Angela Uyi is affecting lives positively and speaking the minds of million Nigerians by the little I put out there for people around the world to read. I figure myself out through the internet, which is going fine.

4. What are your key achievements in your work?

One of my greatest achievements is getting out of my comfort zone and doing the things I never thought I could do.

I am the founder of The Counsellor Organization with more than 26,000 membership strengths.

I was awarded the 2016 Social Media Personality of the year.

I have reached out to more than 5 universities and 15000 youths advocating for No To Cultism on campuses across the country

The testimonies I read from people who I have mentored and how they are changing their world in their chosen career and as well as impacting lives positively.

5. How does your organization promote inclusive participation of youth from diverse backgrounds?

The Counsellor Organization is a platform with “Equality, Fairness and Justice. We believe in the spirit of collaboration and it has been helping us grow. Advocacy demands the active participation of the people irrespective of their upbringings, genders/sexual orientations, ethnic groups, religious backgrounds, and age in achieving a common cause. We are a group of nonpartisan and nonreligious so we embrace the youths from diverse background. The country is failing today, because everybody is not granted equal rights and justice. Discrimination is one of the cancerous cancers causing global unrest so we tend to avoid that in my organization.

6. What has been your hardest struggle so far, and how did you get over it? 

My hardest struggle so far, was our last event #SocialJustice in February, 2017. We had less than two months to organize the Social Justice Awareness Walk. The resources needed were not forthcoming, my teams were giving up or almost gave up because they thought we would not be able to pull through but I said to myself: “I am going to use all my savings to make sure that this event happen” I know that failure is not when we fail but when we give up without trying.”  Whether we like it or not, failure is necessary stepping stone to building our dreams. That was how I got over that moment and serve the community a remarkable awareness campaign on social Justice even though it was a small rally but it impacted lives and attracted volunteers on the day of the rally. That event meant so much to me.

7. What is the biggest challenge you currently face? 

The biggest challenge I am currently facing is finance. All our projects are self-financed and I have always depended on my team for financial obligations and this has limited our campaign outreach to just a state and the extent to which we intend to reach.

Our upcoming 11 days of National Peace awareness campaign was designed to cover all the 36 states including the F.C.T in Nigeria. Mostly the rural areas and small communities but finance is our major constraint and the event might be taking place in Lagos State only due to lack of access to sponsors and financial aids, therefore we would be glad if we get people who would be ready to co-sponsor Project11.

8. What has been your biggest surprise on this journey so far?

My biggest surprise was when I thought I have seen a lot around until I started visiting new places that break my opinion about peoples religion, ethnicity and culture. I found out that violent radicalism is more of political but religious fundamentalist are misusing religion as a cover to pursue violent political agenda.  This must stop and it will take the unity of the people to fight against violent radicalism and violent political.

9. What keeps you going and give you inspiration in your work? What gives you hope?

What inspires my activism are the hunger, anger and frustration I see in people every day especially those who have lost one family or the other due to terror attacks, the involvement of the youths in crimes and the violence campaign going on in the country. I asked myself, what can be done? 

In Nigeria you are well aware of the situations around us. We have seen terrorism, killings among different faiths and ethnicity, hatred within families, bombings almost on a weekly basis. We are surviving in a country that is progressively alienated. Some regions enjoy continuous heights of peace, security and prosperity while others fall into superficially endless cycles of conflict and violence that causes some region to ruminate that they are being marginalized. This is by no means unavoidable and must be addressed swiftly.

What gives me hope is the fact that I am alive, strong, courageous and I can work with youths who are peace builders to change the world for good. I see a world where we can actually sit together irrespective of our religion and ethnicity differences and tell peace a love story.

10. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

I dont regret my past because it is my area of reference and not residence but I can only advice my younger self to be more courageous, focused, committed to my dreams and take life a step at a time, do those things that would have made me a better me that I procrastinated so much about and ended up not doing. Read more books, Engage my time in capacity building and self-empowerment programmes so that after my youthful day I can be an area of positive reference to the next generation.

11. What words of encouragement would you give to women, children, minorities, and other disempowered groups when they are facing rejection because of the prevailing cultural norm?

To women: You are not the weaker vessel just as the world has described you to be, you are one of the key instrument to peace and nation building. Let it be that you are among those who saw challenges and does something about it. You must have confidence in yourself, your chosen career and when you stay put, it means you are making progress. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cant do it. Women all over the world are changing lives and you too can do it. Get out of comfort zone, empower yourself and start changing your world.

Children: Every child deserves a fair start in life though not every child has the opportunity to get a decent life but I would encourage a child not to give up. No matter the family background, you have a bright future dont let the negative things happening around you to determine what you become in life. You have the power to create and recreate your life.

Minorities: The word minority doesnt exist in reality. It is just a word used by the political leadership to make the people feel less important. Dont let the notion that you are one of the minorities bring down your self-esteem. You too can be great, do exploit and be more recognized than the majority.

And to the disempowered, I would say everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you dont know what how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish and what your potential is. (Quote by Anne frank). Dont be discouraged.

12. How can people interested to connect you reach you? (E-mail, blog, website, LinkedIn etc.).

To find out more about how to partner, collaborate, sponsor my work and projects contact me via

Tel: +2348082153046

E-mail: Inf.thecorgng@gmai.com

angelaeuyi@gmail.com

Website: www.tco.org.ng

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/angelauyidpa

www.facebook.com/comrangelauy

www.facebook.com/thecorgng

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/angelauyi

I look forward to connecting with more Peace Builders around the world.

In the spirit of peace and love.