22-year-old UN volunteer is Nigeria's Kofi Annan in the making
Ebenezar Barisua Wikina, the next Kofi Annan, started his blog with a Nokia phone. He has grown from there into an international blogger. Now, when many Nigerian youth are crying about the unavailability of jobs he is turning down job offers that he did not have to write a CV or apply for.
That is the favorite quote of 22-year-old Ebenezar Barisua Wikina, a young Nigerian from Kono community of Rivers State, the first chiild in a family of five kids.
Wikina has an impressive resume as a Writer for The Huffington Post, Copywriter & Co-Founder of Write Paragraphs, a United Nations Online Volunteer, Contributor at the Global Voices; Net Opps; Opportunity Desk and the Organizer/Primary Licensee, TEDxYouth@OrdinanceRoad.
At first glance, all you see in Wikina is a lanky, dark-skinned and very shy young man, just like any other lanky young man of his age.
Converse briefly with him and you would be left in awe of his intelligence and maturity.
Wikina is indeed an ordinary Nigerian.
His father is a baker and ex-footballer who played for the defunct NPA football team in its hey days and his mother is a horticulturist who Wikina says "has a great passion for plants and cooking."
But there in his ordinary environment, Wikina found a dream and is living it as a world renowned UN volunteer.
"I discovered the UN Online Volunteering service in 2013, and since I had a little Nokia phone that gave me some access to the internet, I decided to sign up," he said.
He started blogging with a small Nokia phone and a Blogger blog he called 'Write Paragraphs'.
But two years down the line, he has strolled (interviewed) big names from every walk of life and every field of endeavor worldwide, including Malala, Al Jazeera's Femi Oke and Mr Owen Benneth Jones of the BBC World Service, and CNN Freedom Project.
It is easy to attribute his success to the situations around him, but like many Nigerian youth, Wikina was pushed along the lines of the sciences by his parents and it was only after a Diploma in Electrical/Electronics Engineering between 2010 and 2012 at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt that he "decided to make the very hard decision to change from science to pursue what I was really made for."
"I was a science student in Secondary school because, somehow my dad felt a career in the arts wasn't really economically viable in Nigeria.
"I don't blame him though, he meant well. But I later grew to discover there was much more to life than a steady income."
But, true to Wikina's positivist attitude, he saw the delay as a learning time, rather than wasted years as many would.
"In the process, I "lost" a lot of years academically, and It was a really tough and confusing time in my life.
"I'm saying lost in quote because, in the end it wasn't really a loss.
"One of my favourite quote says "Direction is more important than speed. Some people are going nowhere fast".
Wikina started volunteering long before he got into the UN program.
"At 10, I was already a member of voluntary organizations like the Royal Ambassadors of Nigeria. So when the opportunity for UN Volunteering came, it was already natural to me."
The interesting is that Wikina and his small team have taken UN volunteering to a new level with their dedication.
"In a way, you can say we disrupted UN Online volunteer work description, and with entrepreneurial-eyes we looked at the UN system to find any problem we could help with solving using our talents.
"We discovered the UN list of Observances or International Observance, was not getting enough engagement on social media.
He found the problem no one cared about and became the instant solution.
"With Write Paragraphs we inform the online community about the observances and also drive the conversion that leads to action for development."
His diligence and doggedness earned him a licence to organize, alongside the team, "West Africa's only TEDxYouth event in 2014--TEDxYouth@OrdinanceRoad."
Student Pulse was at the highly successful event.
And his rewards are piling up.
"The major plus for me is the fact that I've gotten so much experiential knowledge in the area of my passion and my value has increased so much that, even when people now cry about the unavailability of jobs, I think I've turned down a couple in the past month alone, and I didn't have to write a CV for them."
Noting the God-factor, he revealed however that the bed has not being all rosy.
"God, is the actual secret behind everything I've been able to do," he says.
"It's not really been easy, but I keep telling myself that no one will believe in my dreams like I do.
"So I keep pushing, even when we hit a road block.
"When I switch on the bulb in my room at night, it reminds me that I have no excuse to back down until I have been rejected at least 10,000 times."
Wikina, a devout Christian, says his mother's influence played a major role in his development and success.
"Her entrepreneurship spirit makes her indulge in businesses here and there, and because Dad works offshore--2 weeks in, 2 weeks out--we are all closer to mum," he said.
"She also contributed in raising us with the fear of God."
Extending his wisdom to youth like him, Wikina advised youths to "discover themselves and the reason God created them" because "life is more than getting a job to make an income."
"First find yourself before you find a job. When you find yourself, the next step is to build yourself.
"Youths need to learn that the theoretical knowledge we gain from school is no longer enough.
"Apply to be an intern at that field you desire and learn as much as you can--whether you're paid or not.
"In the long run, your value will increase and the organization will have no choice than to employ you."
Wikina is presently studying Journalism at the International Institute of Journalism. He has also completed a Basic Broadcast presentation course at the Alpha Institute of Broadcasting and Communication, Port Harcourt.
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