Chude also speaks about the source of funding for The Future Awards.
Chude Jideonwo is the Executive Director of The Future Project, organisers of the annual Future Awards that recognises the achievement of young Nigerians in various fields. The Awards has since gone continental to become The Future Awards Africa and will now see young Africans who are successful in various fields being recognised.
Chude speaks on the awards, the successes, the partnerships and the reasons for involving the federal government in this year’s edition.
1. What is the philosophy behind the future awards?
Our mission at The Future Awards Africa is to inspire leadership and build enterprise, with a focus on youth.
2. Can you briefly explain how winners emerged in the Future Awards this year?
Generally the same way winners emerge every year. Nominations are launched sometime in the 2nd quarter – this year, due to changes in our calendar, at the beginning of the 3rd quarter; the 9th of July to be precise – and collected online over a period of two months. The process is always such that anybody can nominate anyone they think deserve the awards. The Central Working Committee then reviews all the nominations, conducts independent research and selects 5 nominees per category; which is the long list. This is followed by a 2-week period during which this long list is published online and in the media so people can formally make complaints about age, false claims, and public policy concerns amongst others. During this period, nomination forms are sent to all nominees to get details of their work and achievements. We also visit the offices of certain nominees, especially in the entrepreneurship categories, to inspect and confirm claims.
This list also goes to the Independent Audit Committee made up of 30 distinguished Nigerians. They look at the profiles, vet it from their professional distance, and select 3 nominees per category. The Board of Judges, made up of 25 young journalists – drawn from leading media organisations like The Guardian and ThisDay – assesses the profiles and decide the winners. Note that when any member of the board of judges is made a nominee, he/she immediately steps down from being a judge. This happens a week before the event, we want young people to be the ones to make the final. The only difference this year was that the public voting process for winners was removed.
3. Why did you scrap the public voting process for the Future Awards this year?
I will answer this on a personal level. I have always been a bit squeamish about voting. The idea of it was to get public participation more actively in the process – however as we always reminded people, voting accounted for less than 20 per cent of the total and that’s why the most popular candidates never win. It worked – there has always been a public intensity behind the voting process – across the globe. However, the essence of a decision is one thing and public interpretation another. Once people here voting they don’t look at the fine print, the perception by the mass is that voting is the singular determinant. So after a while, since we were internally not completely convinced, we brought it up for annual review at the Central Working Committee level and decided to return to our initial prices. There was no voting for TFAA for the first three years, and we are glad to be able to return to its foundations.
4. Should we expect a different award this year, now that it has gone continental? What will be the marked differences?
Oh yes the awards this year will be a bit different. This is a very special year that marks 100 years of the existence of Nigeria, as well as the 50th anniversary of the AU so we have to acknowledge these huge milestones for our heritage as well. In line with that, the Nigerian Government will be hosting an event honouring 100 of the Awards’ most distinguished alumni from the past 7 years. This event will kick-off the week-long celebrations across the continent to include a special event at the African Union (AU) head quarters in Addis Ababa, where The Future Project will present a documentary showing 50 of Africa’s brightest young leaders under the age of 35. The event in Addis Ababa will celebrate the 50, including the 10 nominees of the ‘Young Person of the Year – The Africa Prize’, given in partnership with the African Union Commission and awarded to a young African whose work sets them apart as a role model, setting the pace for other young leaders on the continent. The winner of The Future Awards Africa’s most coveted award will be announced at the event. The week of celebrations will conclude with The Future Awards Africa awards ceremony.
5. How do you fund the numerous activities of the Future Awards and your other projects?
The Future Awards Africa, as stated earlier, is a subsidiary of The Future Project, the largest sponsor of which is our company, Red Media. Funds that we made from doing work for Google, Nigerian Idol, Celtel, and many others, are what we have ploughed into driving this vision. Support has become much more solvable in the past few years but we still have a long way to go, considering the depth and scale of our vision, particularly the Youth Opportunity Centres across 24 states. But we are thankful for that we have been able to achieve thus far.
6. You appear to have expanded your partnership base to include British Council, the AU and even the Nigerian government; why is this so?
It really is just a testament to the strength and respectability of the brand that The Future Awards Africa has grown into. The recognition of these organizations simply speaks to the fact of what The Future Awards Africa represents among young people in Africa.
7. In your nomination for African young person of the year 2013, the Nigerian there was a singer while other African countries had people from other sectors. DO you think a musician was the best Nigerian youth had to offer?
Permit me to answer your question with a question; are you implying there is something about musicians that prevents them from properly representing the best of Nigerian youth? We are talking about P-Square here. If these young men are selling out stadiums across Africa do not represent the best of the Nigerian youth, and the power of vision, dedication and hard work, then who does?
8. What have been the highs and lows so far since you started the awards?
There have been so many high points that I cannot even begin to imagine how to properly articulate how overwhelming they sometimes feel. Remember my partner and I started this when we were teenagers, with nothing but ourselves and a room in Efere Ozako’s office in Yaba (God keep his soul). So coming from that to a point where we have been able to visit and spread our vision to over 26 states, over 15 African countries, reaching millions of young people is certainly more than a high point. The simple fact that the platform itself has become so much bigger than any of us, and is as respected-for-impact that we have this year partnered with the British Council, the US Government, the Africa Union, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, the Nigerian Federal Government, and others is definitely a great thing indeed. But of course most important will always be the people. Just hearing stories from people who have been inspired either by attending a town hall meeting or by nominees and winners of the awards is a thing of utter pride.
9. What is the age limit you consider in selecting an awardee?
Nominations are open to all between the ages of 18 and 31
10. What role is the Nigerian government playing in this year’s Future Awards?
This is a very special year that marks 100 years of the existence of Nigeria, and to celebrate that, the Nigerian Government will be hosting an event honouring 100 of the Awards’ most distinguished alumni from the past 7 years. This event will kick-off the week-long events culminating in the final awards ceremony.