Can we meet you?
I am Chukwuma Ephraim. Okenwa popularly known as C.E.O due to my initials, a writer, youth administrator and the artiste of the Great Nigeria album.
Some time ago, you mentioned that you were into value re-evaluation. Tell us about it.
That is the Values Project. Sometime ago, I observed that every aspect of our lives and the society in which we find ourselves attaches so much importance to rules, but cares far less about values; there is no corresponding reformation with the levels of rules we see everywhere. There are traffic rules, rules guiding schools, rules guiding different professions and a number of others. Unfortunately, the society finds it quite difficult to conform to the value system. This is why I came up with the Values Project.
My objectives were sculpted by a number of questions about what kind of Nigeria our children grow up to live in and the sharp decline of patriotism. There are four instances when you see raw, unfeigned patriotism amongst Nigerians; during games involving any of the nation’s national teams, when our celebrities are making Nigeria proud, in our politics and when our colours are flown globally by our fellow citizens. But patriotism is beyond these things; integrally, being patriotic is obeying the laws of the nation. Occasionally, we must ask ourselves how some of our actions impact on the nation, as ambassadors of our great nation. This is the crux, the concern of the Values Project [VAP].
In your album there are seven tracks revolving around nation-building and patriotism. How did you come about these ideas which you wish to share with the public?
Actually, the idea stemmed from my search for better ways to reach out to a greater number of Nigerians with these values. Before now, I had the opportunity to reaching out to NYSC members, youths in higher institutions and students in secondary schools. In all, I have written about four books which are purely National; Vis a vis: our flag shall be a symbol, redefining our core values, celebrating our natural heritage and good people; great nation
Along the line, last year, to be exact, I asked myself how I can reach out to a greater number of Nigerians as soon as possible. So, I decided to do a song – I noticed that I can sing, as well – and set about recording the first track, Make Nigeria Great, which was the only song found fit to be played before the presidential speech during the 2013 Independent Day celebration. Also, it was broadcast on national television (AIT and NTA) and, I think, that gave the song a huge boost. It also got support from the Nigerian community in Canada, as they played the song when they celebrated Nigeria’s independence over there.
When I saw that, I got to thinking that I could also work on other songs for the nation. A couple of other ideas popped into my head, to release a couple of songs which will come in handy when the nation is preparing to host a national event. To be candid, I was not looking forward to coming out with an album along the line.
Since the release, what has the reception been like, especially from young Nigerians who rarely listen to these kind of songs?
It has been met with mixed feelings and I stand on the observation that some Nigerians have lost interest and faith in this country. It is unfortunate that sometimes, when you meet some people and show them what you have done for the nation, they feel that you are wasting your time on a country that can never be good. Introducing the work to people has not been that easy, but it is also an opportunity to tell people that Nigeria can be better.
Our young people rarely listen to the local television; they prefer the social media (YouTube, Face book and others). Hence I have equally made the work accessible on such platforms
What do you hope to achieve through this album?
I hope that when young Nigerians all over the world look at this, they can understand that a vital message is being passed through music, a universal language which everyone understands.
People have heard a lot about national transformation and all, but they have not heard it coming in this regard and form. It will come as a surprise that a young Nigerian is doing this; not the usual ways of mentioning names and wanting to score some cheap political points and interest, but based purely on patriotism.
The point is to inspire young Nigerians to have faith in Nigeria and believe that the future starts now and that national transformation has to do with corporate responsibility. With the partnership of well meaning Nigerians, I hope to get this work across to a good number of Nigerians.
What are your laid down projects?
Currently I am working on partnering with firms to see how the album could possibly be adopted as souvenirs to their clients this season. There are also plans to take advantage of the numerous platforms at my disposal this to .
Where do you see Nigeria and the youths of the nation in the nearest future?
Top of Form
Nigeria will certainly get better, but all must work towards having informed citizens with the right value system. Any great nation has simply learnt to tap into her strength-the youths. The change we need in this nation will certainly be pioneered by youths and this will happen when our youths, who are currently distracted, become rightly focused. I am talking about youths who will conscientiously demand their right to good governance and inclusion.
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
I see a Nigeria that will represent Africa amongst the seven best nations in the world; if there are seven continents in the world, certainly Africa must be represented amongst the seven best countries in the world. I am not comfortable with Nigeria being the 26th economically; we have all it takes to be the very best.We must represent Africa in the inner circle of the UN. How on earth can we be comfortable that no African country is represented in the core policy making unit of the UN;that indeed is a big challenge for ‘Big brother Nigeria’. Nigeria remains the hope of the black continent.We should be a voice not an echo