United Kingdom-based Nigerian, Samson Adeyemi, is one of the ambassadors projecting Nigeria to the outside world. With his wide experience and exposure, Adeyemi has impacted younger generation across the world through his ‘Positive Change’ campaign. The entrepreneur and investor is also an author of two books: ‘Lessons From My Father’ and ‘Undisputed’. In this interview by OYEYEMI OKUNLADE, the international motivational speaker talks about life and advises Nigerian youths. Excerpts:
What’s your background like?
I’m a Nigerian I am the last child of six children.
I was born in Ejigbo, Lagos State. However, I originate from Iyalode Compound, Afijio Local Government Area, Fiditi, Oyo State. I had my primary school education at Binta International School, Ejigbo, Lagos, Nigeria. I continued my secondary school education at De-Ayo International College, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Following this, I continued my education in the United Kingdom where I attended Lewisham College, Lewisham, London. Then I attended Shootershill Campus, Greenwich, London for my A Levels programme and Kingsland College of Business Studies Stratford, London. BSc Business Administration (Major: Banking and Finance). I am currently an entrepreneur and investor, a self-published author (two books so far – ‘Lessons From My Father’ and ‘Undisputed’) and an international motivational speaker.
Could you let us know how your career has shaped your life?
The truth is that my career is not very separated from my life. It revolves around what my life is about – changing lives. Every morning, I don’t wake up just because I hear my alarm go off. I wake up because I have a purpose to fulfill, I have a need to meet and because I have lives to change. Although the entrepreneurship and investor part of my career is still evolving, my aim is to reach a point in my life where people will tell their success stories and mention my name in the process.
How have you been able to impact lives, especially the younger generation?
I grew into my formative years whilst I was in the United Kingdom. From my teenage years, I have embarked on the journey of making positive impact in the lives of young people. I have led young people in different capacities for over 10 years of my life. I have done this, politically, socially and spiritually too.
At age 16, when I was barely a year in the United Kingdom, I was the first Nigerian to be voted as the Youth Member of Parliament for Lewisham Council in the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP). In my two years in office, I actively represented over 20,000 youths of my constituency at the Houses of Parliament in the UK during UKYP sittings and debates and during other council planning meetings and events. We were the very first set of young people allowed to have a full sitting and debate in the Houses of Parliament. We made history.
I was also appointed as a Youth Advisor for London Youth (a large network of over 400 youth organisations in the UK) and Greater London Authority (led by the Mayor of London). I served as a voice for young people and represented a huge amount of Young Londoners who could not speak for themselves.
For my outstanding work with young people in Lewisham Borough, London, United Kingdom, I was given a Star award by the Borough’s Director for children and young people.
In the short time, I have been in Africa, I have paid visits to orphanages to deliver motivational talks and gave gifts to the young people. I plan to create an academic support group to help them consistently with their school-related challenges.
What do you think could put an end to unemployment In Nigeria?
I don’t think we can totally eradicate unemployment. However, I strongly believe that we can reduce it by a whole lot. I will address this from the foundational level. I will focus more on what the people can do and not what the government can do. Hence I suggest the following:
A change in mindset. This will take a while to accomplish. We need to stop asking our children, ‘what do you want to become?’ or ‘what company would you like to work for?’ Rather, we ought to ask them, ‘what problems do you want to solve?’ Businesses are birthed from the mindset of meeting a need and providing a solution. We need to train our youngsters from primary school to be solution providers and not job seekers!
In our educational institutions from the early stages, we ought to incorporate into our curriculum skills acquisition and entrepreneurial-related modules. Our young people need to become more creative and not just wait for office-based jobs. In many cases, those creative jobs can bring you more income than the office jobs would bring.
A number of young people need to be ‘employable’. Having a first degree or even a master’s degree is not enough. There are numerous skills required on the job that some young people do not possess. Skills such as excellent speaking and listening, basic computer literacy skills, being organised and even how to work in a team setting.
What is your greatest challenge?
I believe that my greatest challenge is having great plans and visions to help others but not possessing the financial prowess to make them happen. Many times this is quite disheartening.
You are resident abroad, how did you attain these successful positions there?
Seriously, I owe a lot of my achievements to God and to the grace of God at work in my life. Yes, I have an ‘I can do it mentality’ and I believe I am a talented young man but many talented young people may not have achieved as much as I have achieved. That’s what God’s grace did for me. It singled me out of many.
More so, for one, I’m not a person who is intimidated by the colour of people’s skin or the country I am in. Yes, it’s a white man’s country, but they breathe the same air like the black man, they have the same red-coloured blood like the black man and could actually easily die like the black man. So please, where lies the difference? The skin is just a colour and to me, that is blatantly insignificant. I remember one event I found myself addressing an audience of many ‘whites’ and I actually didn’t see it as some daunting task or a challenge.
Well, from the comments I have heard from people, people see me as genuine, smart; one who loves to help, selfless, gifted, one who thinks out of the box, one who does not know how to give up and one who can see gold in a stone, i.e I always believe the best of people.
Do you think you would have made a success of your dream if you had stayed back in Nigeria?
I have a personal conviction that success is not all about a place; rather, success is in a person. As they say, a lizard in Nigeria cannot be an alligator in the UK. If I were in Nigeria, I would have made a success of myself as a result of the winning mentality that I have developed over the years. I have been in Nigeria for some time now and plan to be resident here for a while and I am already making successful moves, even within a short time frame. Many Nigerians abroad are not necessarily succeeding either. So for me, it’s not about the geographical location, it’s about the substance I am made of.
Why did you travel out of the country?
Travelling out of the country was actually quite unplanned. When I travelled to the UK, my dad who is now late just came out of a comma after a fire outbreak at his residence in Catford, London. One of his first wishes after his miraculous recovery was to see me (his youngest child) and my mum. On getting to the UK, after seeing my dad’s poor health state, he requested that my mum and I live with him as him living alone would only make conditions worse. It was a miracle to see my dad alive again after doctors said he might not make it. Agreeing to his wish for me to stay with him in the UK was the least I could do.