By Onifade A Bello
Many never knew that the young man whose stories in the media have been characterized by success had trodden on a rough path. Encapsulated in the saying of Friedrich Nietzsche, that “Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal,” Chude Jideonwo, has since his early years been hardy in the pursuit of a meaningful life for himself.
Driven by the desire to do better and the fear of poverty, Chude has been dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in bringing to the fore the potentials of youths in Africa. However, unlike many who see poverty through the lens of lack of finance; his is fearing poverty of various resources, poverty of social capital, poverty of relationships and ideas. It was the kind of poverty that if he saw a problem and wanted to solve it, he wouldn’t be able to find the people, resources, knowledge, ideas and the goodwill; which a lot of people have suffered today.
In a bid to overcome these fears, he needed to tell his success story earlier in life. He started by hustling in the commercial hub of Lagos; and those times of hustling have made him the man he has become.
Chude, who graduated as the best Law student in his set from the University of Lagos, holds a masters degree in Media and Communication from the Pan-African University, Lagos. However, his interest in the media predated his studying law. Between the years 2000–2005, he worked as a TV presenter with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as well as a researcher with some TV show syndicate like Celebrating Jesus (MBI) and also featured on New Dawn for three years. Eventually, higher responsibilities embraced him as he rose to become an Associate Producer as well as the Head of the Special Projects division.
The common belief by many youths today is that money is everything; that money is needed to start any business venture or company. On the contrary, Chude started the pursuit of his goals without a dime. All he started with were his ideas and meeting various people to sell those ideas. Selling those ideas, he sent letters to Managing Directors of banks; going out to meet as many as possible and at times he met their secretaries, some of whom were rude, others nice and some nasty. But that didn’t matter to him; what mattered was achieving his goals.
The co-founder of RED Media Africa, the company behind well-known brands like YNaija, Rubbin’ Minds and The Future Awards, Chude has worked with his colleague, Adebola Williams, to help unseat two incumbent presidents in Africa. Aside his fascination with the media as a veritable tool to revamping youths’ lives in the continent; he has also been actively involved in political movements. In fact, his concern for the horrendous situation Nigeria has found herself stimulated him to organize a group of like minds to initiate Enough Is Enough (EIE).
According to him, while in a car discussing with a friend, he became perturbed about the frustration and indifference of young professionals in Nigeria towards things that matter and affect the lives of the youths. This eventually prompted the EIE initiative. In his words, “This is how it happened, I got upset and said how can we be driving in the car listening to P-Square and Wole Soyinka is fighting. We should be ashamed of ourselves. I felt that we, the so–called professionals should be the one making this noise because it is our Future. I just thought we should do something and God bless my friend, she said whatever you decide, I will support. Then we stepped into Planet 1 where we were having a meeting and I presented it to my friends. I was looking for the biggest thing you could possibly do and we decided to do a rally and get the kind of people who usually don’t attend rallies to be the ones attending this rally so that the government can know that we mean business and that is how Enough is Enough was formed.”
In a country where financial strait has become a national identity, one would have thought the young man should have used the EIE initiative as a means to gather some ephemeral benefits. The initiative did scare some big guns in government such that they were looking for ways to pacify or perhaps bribe him and his colleagues. But he quite understands that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
In his life, Chude has always believed that pursuing one’s dreams or goals should not be a casualty of excuses. “I had known early that I’m the CEO of my own life and so excuses are not going to be made,” he once remarked. He advises youths to discard excuses and face the reality of life. To him, “excuses are so powerful because they limit and justify us.” Despite Nigeria being a difficult country, it is an open secret that there are people still surviving. Hence, he opines that even though Nigeria is hard, people are succeeding every day because opportunities abound around us every day.
The 32-year-old media expert has garnered reputable awards nationally and internationally; some of which include the Nigeria Merit Award, the Green Yaggy Achievement Award, the Life Changers Award, the Young African Leaders, the Just U Awards, the Inside Out Role Model Award, the Sowanbe Awards and the Olive Award for Media and Production. In addition, he alongside his business partner, Adebola Williams, was included in 2012 by BusinessDay in a 40 under 40 list. In 2013, they were both named in Forbes 30 Under 30 as Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs.
It is noteworthy to state that Chude and his partner, Adebola Williams, have been dealing with each other based on honesty and mutual intelligibility for more than a decade; a rare act among Nigerian youths today. In fact, they both ran the media campaigns which led to the electoral victories of the current Nigerian and Ghanaian presidents; making the latter to defeat their incumbent predecessors.
Away from the media, Chude is also a public speaker and has authored and/or edited over fifteen publications. One of such invaluable publications is “How to Win Elections in Africa”, a book which he co-authored with his partner, Adebola Williams.
It is no gainsaying that Nigeria has over the years suffered from dearth of leadership. Many attribute this to lack of empathy and political will from the political elite. Meanwhile, Chude believes this menace has crawled into followers too; especially youths. In his view, competence is the key to good leadership. “I have been preaching a message: Competence over passion. You can have competent Chinese people who have no passion for your country come and build roads. They don’t need passion. They need competence, we need competence. That’s why I’m emphasizing knowledge, capacity and learning. Many young people making noise do not even have the capacity if given leadership positions,” he submitted.
What can be learnt from the story of Chude Jideonwo is that a knack for excellence in anything has to be catalysed by competence and selflessness. Likewise, it is high time youths realized that the greatest poverty in the 21st century is not lack of money but poverty of ideas. Therefore, there is dire need to prepare because if youths don’t prepare before they appear, they will disappear ahead of time.