The Journey of Preserving Nigeria’s Future

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Eromosele Abiodun writes that corporate organisations should take a cue from Indomie Independence Day Award, which celebrates acts of heroism in Nigerian children

Children under the age of 15 account for about 55 per cent of the Nigerian population and they possess great skills, virtue, character, courage, bravery, and innocence; these attributes guide their judgment and reaction to experiences they face daily.

Courage and bravery manifest in different forms. There is the courage of speaking the truth, that of taking the road less travelled and also that of defying all odds. Risking one’s life to save another is also an act of bravery; a noble and heroic feat. Spectacular acts such as these are carried out by children but are often ignored; their strength and valour go unnoticed in the society because the focus is on adults.

Dufil Prima Foods Plc, makers of Indomie Instant Noodles, noticed this gap and decided to bridge it, this led to the birth of Indomie Independence Day Award (IIDA) in 2008. The award is a unique way to celebrate unsung acts of courage in Nigerian children aged 15 and below in the month of Nigeria’s Independence.
For the past 10 years, Indomie has used Indomie Independence Day Award, its biggest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform, to find, recognise and publicly celebrate acts of heroism in Nigerian children.
The organisers of the award disclosed that IIDA extols the exemplary accomplishments of children who have shown courage and determination in situations that ordinarily would bring fear; it is also to encourage excellence and reward merit.

According to the Head of Marketing, Indomie Instant Noodles, Mr. Manpreet Singh, “The goal of this award is to encourage the acts of heroism in children across the length and breadth of Nigeria by rewarding them with scholarships to facilitate their education so that they become empowered and more productive to the society at large. It is not just for the privileged, but also those who live in obscurity, lack and insecurity. A lot of these children do extraordinary things without being noticed, recognised or celebrated.

“Nigeria is indeed blessed to have young people with this nature of service and milk of human kindness flowing in them. The future of this great country is secured with them as citizens. The impact of their bravery stands as an irrefutable endorsement of the exceptional human ability. To this end, we see a need to groom, recognise and reward these children in our own little way.
“IIDA is a laudable initiative, a one of its kind enterprise that has never been done anywhere else in Nigeria and to Indomie we say this is a job well done for finding and bringing these children to the forefront.”

Over the years, IIDA has changed the lives of 27 recipients of the award; it has given their dreams wings to soar. Treasure Obasi a 2010 recipient of IIDA revealed that the award has boosted her morale. “The award helped build my self-esteem and has impacted my life positively in ways I can’t begin to explain,” she added.
Some of these young kids stared death in the face and lived to tell and inspire others. They make the nation proud, with their various inventions and discoveries, their courage shines on
At a moment like this, it is worth doing a reality check and emulating the extra ordinary acts of these children who by their efforts have raised the nation’s collective pride.

To further widen the reach of this award in getting to and impacting more Nigerian children and to draw participation from all the geo-political zones in the country, Indomie introduced categories during last year’s event, namely Intellectual, Physical and Social Bravery categories.

The Intellectual category recognises and awards children who have performed remarkably well academically despite physical, mental, emotional or financial limitations. The Physical category acknowledges children who at great personal risk, saved lives or by their actions prevented extensive damage to life or property. The Social category celebrates kids who work against social evils in the society such as child marriage, illiteracy and environmental damage in a sustained manner.

Despite its financial implication, the remarkable successes of previous editions, coupled with the lives that have been touched have motivated Dufil to make each edition better than the preceding, making each IIDA a memorable one for the winners and the guests.
For courageous people, the propensity to help others is not always based on rational calculations, they are impulses that are followed spontaneously. Every one of these ‘Indomie Heroes’ showed a spontaneous inner compulsion to help others even when the odds were stacked high against them. It is only right to celebrate those that are forgotten.

One of the children Indomie celebrated this month of Independence is 11-year-old Chibuoyim Nnakwe, who risked his life to save his mother and sustained third degree burns in the process. Chibuoyim was six years old when a fire broke out in his mother’s shop; while trying to stop his mother from getting burnt to death the fire spread to him. “I ran to save my mother, I did not want her to die,” he said. Chibuoyim as the most outstanding winner of the night went home with N1, 500,000.

To mark the anniversary of IIDA for the past 10 years, Indomie awarded 10 heroes from the three categories. The top three went home with a scholarship of N1 million each, with a consolatory prize of N250, 000 for the remaining winners alongside a crystal plaque to show for their defiant resolve to put others first.
In his keynote address, the Executive Director of Caleb Group of Schools, Mr. Graham Stothard said, “the youth of a nation is its power-house; they have a boundless store of energy, zeal, will, capability and enthusiasm. They have the power to mold the destiny of your Nigeria into their Nigeria. If our society is careless about its youth and fails to engage them in a productive manner, then our society is in danger of facing a destructive and violent youth.”

Indomie has consistently called to remembrance the timeless value of bravery acts through this world class event that has placed Nigerian kids on a high pedestal for the world to see. They have inspired heroism in our younger generation who will become the leaders of tomorrow. Indomie has been entrenched in the heart of Nigerians as a brand that will go to any length in empowering young Nigerians.

Although there are timeless, universal qualities referred to as heroic, the idea of heroism today is amorphous, overshadowed by the cult of celebrity. This is the reason why the search for modern heroes is all the more important, the reason why Indomie uses IIDA to celebrate the acts of these children who risked their lives to help others. These children have against limitations created something extraordinary out of nothing and are lending their voices to speak against social ills.