A staff of Sahara Group, Africa’s leading energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Chinonso Izuka is blessed with a gift that brings melody to the hearts of many. It’s a uniquely textured powerful voice. She’s the voice behind the #NigeriaStartsWithMe theme song and her vocal chords have the potential to propel her to global stardom. The #NigeriaStartsWithMe initiative is one which seeks to rally young people to own major stakes in efforts aimed at transforming Nigeria. In this interview with Peter Uzoho, she speaks passionately about her dream for a new Nigeria and expresses her desire to see the song ignite creativity, innovation and a sense of patriotism in Nigerian youths
What is the #NigeriaStartsWithMe initiative about?
The #NigeriaStartsWithMe initiative is a drive geared towards rallying Nigerian youths to develop practical and innovative ideas that would enhance the transformation of our country, Nigeria. It is a movement to instill a desire for innovation, creativity and patriotism. It is an innovative drive to revive the Nigerian dream and place it in the hands of our youths who are Nigeria’s future. I am passionate about the initiative and see myself as an ambassador of everything great we want to see happen in Nigeria. I am so happy that Sahara Group where I work is championing this cause as it has given me a platform to contribute meaningfully to the initiative. That new Nigeria we all seek is attainable; but to realise the dream, it must start with each one of us; especially the young people who will occupy leadership positions in Nigeria in the coming years and decades.
How did you get the inspiration to write and sing the #NigeriaStartsWithMe theme song?
The actual origin of the theme song is from a song I composed for my organisation, the Sahara Group late last year which I sang at our 20th Anniversary End of Year Party in Abuja. When we flagged off the #NigeriaStartsWithMe initiative in March 2017, I thought some aspects of the message in the song were appropriate for the campaign. After some tweaking, I came up with theme song. The inspiration came from my experience in Sahara where you’re driven to look inwards to come up with solutions that can change the world, whilst believing that it takes togetherness as well to achieve bigger and more sustainable goals.
The song captures the essence of togetherness and deciding to give one’s best to Nigeria in spite of the seemingly insurmountable challenges we have as a nation. We are a creative and resilient people. In fact, each Nigerian has what it takes to come up with that idea or solution to our challenges as a nation. All we need is to see ourselves as agents of positive change. I believe the message of not giving up on Nigeria is one I had to share with every young Nigerian. It is disheartening to see brilliant youths being employed as trolls on the Social Media where they do the bids of people who would rather see Nigeria go under. We can direct our energies to confronting societal ills and contributing our quota to the development of our great nation. That’s the inspiration I hope the song transmits to every Nigerian – that at the end of it all, Nigeria starts with each one of us.
What do you think are the issues that we need to urgently address in Nigeria?
I think the issues that need to be urgently addressed in the country are security issues in which I believe that there should be major investment in ICT, intelligent building management systems, audio-visual processing and transmission systems, network-based control and monitoring functions in order to enhance security in the country. Also, the defective educational system, healthcare, youth unemployment and poverty are critical issues that need to be addressed.
What’s your impression of Nigerian music? Which aspects stand out the most for you and which areas do we need improvement?
I think the Nigerian music industry has evolved as a whole in recent times as diverse music genres are currently being accepted in the country. It’s a true mix of entertainment and culture.
Who are the Nigerian musicians that you look up to for inspiration and why?
Wizkid is number one! He inspires me a lot because, besides his unadulterated talent and zeal for his career, he started from barely nothing years ago, pushed diligently all through the years and as we speak he’s the biggest Nigerian artiste recognised in the world. Another Nigerian artiste that inspires me is Tiwa Savage, I admire her drive and her as a person.
How long have you been singing? What is your genre of music, have you recorded any tracks?
I have been singing since I got to be aware of myself, since I was a kid. I started singing and writing my own songs at an early age. However, professionally, I released my first official debut “Sunny Bobo” late 2014. I major in RnB, Afro Pop, and soft RAP music. I have my latest recording, “Escape” which is currently available in the market. It consists of an intro and four tracks on, with all songs written and composed by me. I also released a music video for “Sunny Bobo” which is being played on various platforms till date.
Seeing that you currently work for Sahara Group are you considering going into full time music?
Music is a huge part of my being and I don’t see myself living without it, on the same page I love my career with Sahara Group so I take it a day at a time and observe how it would all unravel with time.
If you were invited to perform at a national event in Aso Rock, which Nigerian artiste’s song will you sing and why?
If invited for a National event in Aso Rock to perform, I would perform TY Bello’s “Green Land” because the song speaks positivity and fruitfulness. Something I believe #NigeriaStartsWithMe drives. I would definitely want to send a message across to the dignitaries that I have the opportunity and pleasure to entertain.
What message do you have for Nigerian youths on how they can transform the nation?
Don’t wait for the government and anybody to set the platform for you. Take a step everyday towards your dreams and towards contributing to your environment positively. Every great movement and success starts with one step, one idea, one song, one meeting, one prayer, one partnership, one experiment, one speech, one invention, I could go on and on. It starts with a desire to stop whining and start seeing ourselves the solutions to challenges. The level of creativity being propelled by young people in Nigeria is amazing. You cannot imagine the impact we would have when we channel our creative energies into realising the #NewNigeria dream – I can’t wait to live in that Nigeria!
Every artiste aspires to make global impact. Do you see yourself gunning for the Grammys someday?
Most definitely! Lol….I will add that to my collection of something sparkly! We never say never at Sahara, so I will give my singing career my best shot. Beyond the Grammys, it is my desire to impact lives with my songs. That’s one achievement that will be invaluable to me.