Ibraheem Bukunle Sanusi from Nigeria, Is the Deputy head, Africa Governance architecture secretariat at African union commission, Addis Ababa. A dynamic, result- oriented project and programme development expert with more than 7 years track record of performance in national, regional and international organizations. He was a Governance and Democracy Analyst with the African Union Commission Addis Ababa May 2013 to sept 2014. A Programme Officer, Africa leadership forum Jan 2011 to Feb 2013. Executive Assistant with the African leadership forum Ota Abeokuta April 2009 to Feb 2013. Program Assistant with the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Foundation Abeokuta Feb 2009 to April 2009. Personal banking officer with Diamond Bank Plc Nov 2007 to Sept 2008. Ibraheem bukunle sanusi is known for Excellent political and personal relationships developed over the years with senior representatives of African governments, regional and international organizations. He’s one of Africa’s many success stories.
Q1. Can we meet you as a person? Birthplace, Education and so on?
ANS: My name is Ibraheem Bukunle Sanusi, I was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, I was born October 11, I had my primary Education at Richmound Nursery and Primary School in Ibadan, and I proceeded to high school at Layo Grammar School, Oshogbo. From there, I went to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology for my first degree In accounting, and then I had my second degree, masters in business administration/financial management from the same university.
Q2. What has been the most challenging part of your job?
ANS: The most challenging part of my Job is reflecting on what that would be. I mean, what I could say is the most challenging part of my job would be the fact that I work In an interconnection, which means that I’m in an environment where your focus is on states, countries, and relations between them, as a youth who is vibrant, idealistic who is looking to want to change things almost immediately, the reality dawns on you in such an environment because things take a long time to crystallize into result. I can say that the major challenge is working in an environment where your job is to ensure that citizens are in the know of what is happening in policy making processes in a way that would be the most challenging part of nature.
Q3. What challenges have you faced in your career path and how did you surmount those challenges?
ANS: It’s been an interesting experience, like I normally say, “you win some, you lose some” some days are very good, your arguments are received with the kind of attention that they require, and sometimes, you have to go the extra mile to try and get the issues right. I think one of the things I have learnt in the past few years is that, in this kind of job, you need to build some kind of consensus, you need to convince as many people as possible, so that they can be on your side. So yes, we’ve had tremendous progress in the last few years I’ve joined the organization, but we’ve also had a few setbacks, but we are not the type that are set back, if we get no today, we go back tomorrow
ANS: I had early contact with my grandfather who was a politician, stories about him from my father where he would talk about experiences of my grandfather and his early days in the action group. I got fascinated in politics early enough. For several other reasons, I never had the opportunity to study anything political at the university, but to be honest with you, I knew my calling. Infact In SS3 , while I was doing government. The teacher at a time had looked at me and said “you should study international relations”. I filled international relations for first choice and for my second choice, I chose demographics and social statistics. My father looked at it and said “any stupid person can study these courses”. He said I should study a professional course. I studied a professional course for my first degree and for my second degree, I could study what I wanted. So that in a way redirected my attention. I also had a soft spot for banking and finance, accounting, but that is a different story entirely.
Q5. As a young person who works with and around youth development, how would you rate the enthusiasm of young people?
ANS: I’ve had a fair share of working with young people from different countries, from several backgrounds and I would say it’s a mix. In some instances you’d find very inspired, self-motivated young people who are clear about what they want in life and how they want to get it, and you’d find others who are very much engaged in policies of government, democratic governance In their countries, and they are eager to change it, they are quite aware that things have to change in their daily lives and they know that government is responsible for whatever situation they are at the moment. Also you meet some young people who don’t understand fully what the challenge is, people who are easily swayed by peanuts so to speak, people who are easily swayed by autographs with presidents and the next big man next to them, individuals who are easily swayed by soft spoken words without really engaging them to understand what they are saying. So it’s a mix, if you ask me on a scale of 1-10, it becomes difficult. I would say that because of the prevailing situation we have in the global community today, young people are preoccupied with their survival. There’s school, there’s job, there’s money to survive and pay bills and the rest of it, I can say that there is a bit of awareness. On a scale of 1-10, I will say a 7, but out of the 7, those who have an interpretative understanding of their situation, I would say 5.
ANS: I have benefited from so many early experiences that made me take a few decisions early enough. The first is my engagement with NASFAAT in Nigeria. At that time I had very huge roles to play as a member of the youth wing and as such it was the first place I was able to really express myself and try my hands on so many things. It was a place where my early ideas as a young person got the much needed space to thrive. The second was a group that myself and about 8 or 7 of my friends started when we were in the university, it was called the intellectual group. We were passionate about youth development and so we did a lot of work around HIV/AIDS, ICTs, Entrepreneurships, policies and so on. It was one place I was able to practically put my policies and ideas into work. The group exposed us to a lot of individuals we then called advisers. All of those experiences accumulate to what you see today in what I do and the engagements I work with.
Q 7. What advice do you have for young people who want to make a difference and don’t know how?
ANS: I think one of the most important things in life, based on my own very limited experience over the last thirty going to thirty one years now, is that you are responsible for whatever you become in life. You can choose to take the bull by the horn and keep trying, for me that is the most important thing. The world is not designed to how you feel or what you want, you have to go grab it. The number one for success to me is internal self-validation. Number two is you will remain the same person you are in the next five years except for the books you read and the people you meet. Books will expand your knowledge and teach you so many things in so many fields likewise the people you meet. And the last but not the least but Of course the first is God, I am one who believes so much in prayers and in the supreme being of God.
ANS: I think what is extremely important is to look at our own prevailing situations here in the continent and to be honest with ourselves to say will there be a value in regional integration. I think there’s a lot of value in economic regional integration in the continent and the reason is Africa today don’t trade with ourselves, we trade a lot more with Asia, Europe and America. There is a huge margin on the continent that we need to take advantage of, and we cannot do that if we don’t industrialize and open up the borders and take advantage of our comparative strength in various areas as individual strong countries of the continent. This will have a multiplier effect with us getting to know each other as individual countries and the continent. Trading with ourselves and freedom of movement doesn’t mean that everything would become indiscriminate, it only means that all the barriers that make it easier to trading with US than our next door neighbor has to be removed. For me, that’s the only way that this continent can transform significantly and this can be seen in our entertainment sector and we should be able to do this with our business, education, fashion and so on. I think that for Africa, at the stage we are, that is the way to go.
Q9. About the AGA Youth Engagement strategy: Can you highlight how this will impact on youth development in Africa and if there are some early successes to celebrate or flagship programs in the pipeline?
ANS: The idea of the AGA Youth engagement strategy is to ensure that we give interpretation to several of the Au commitment to youth political leadership and democratic governance extension around the continent. Several decisions have been taken including the African youth charter, the Charter of democracy, elections and governance, the Charter of political participation and so on. They have said about how young people should take a leading role in civic education, in participating in governance, in elections, in ensuring constitutionalism, rule of law and so on. What is yet to happen for a long time is putting in place structures and mechanisms for implementing all of this decisions and that was exactly what we intended to do and tried to do with our youth engagement strategy. In terms of the impact I think the last almost three and a half years that we started this engagement, we have seen tremendous progress in the way that several youth led organizations and youth networks relate with the African union with mandate on democracy, elections, human rights and constitutionalism, rule of law and so on.
Q10. It’s a given that a number of young Africans look up to you as a mentor, but for lack of time, you are unable to mentor these youngsters directly, in this minute what words do you have for such young Africans?
ANS: The sky is your limit. However one common thing with this generation is comparison, you know, comparing yourself to the next person. Comparison is good, but it should not be in a way that makes you feel inferior and desperate. You can review yourself with people at your level to challenge yourself, but never do it to ridicule yourself, and never do it to become desperate because our trajectories are different.
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