At JCI, we train youths to own their future, says Babatunde

Ojo Babatunde Richard, President of Junior Chamber International

Ojo Babatunde Richard, an insurance broker, is the national President of Junior Chamber International, an organisation that trains young people between age of 18 and 40 to take charge of the future and create lasting values. In this interview with DORCAS OMOLADE ORE, he spoke on the essence of the organisation, among other issues.

What is Junior Chamber International (JCI) all about?
JCI is a nonprofit organisation of young active citizens aged 18 to 40, who are engaged and committed to creating impact in their communities. JCI is an international organisation with the vision of creating world peace globally. We believe that with our network, we can make young people take charge of the world’s future and create everlasting peace wherever they are.

Our organisation is 102 years old and in Nigeria, it is our 60th year. So far, in our 102 years of existence, we have been able to produce a world president. It is a very robust organisation that helps young people become active in their society. We also develop skills at JCI, the knowledge and understanding to make informed decisions and take action.

As globally minded young people, we all have rights, responsibilities and shared goals. We find targeted solutions to local issues, thereby benefitting our communities, our world and our future. We have the passion and courage to address the critical challenges of our time.

Why young people in particular?
We believe that the future of the world lies with young people. It is only when you are active that you will dream about what your future looks like. We believe that among new sustainable development goals, one that has to do with peace is the most important. If the world is at peace, then there will be prosperity. If the world is at peace, there will be social justice.

Young people are the ones that can decide right now on what the future would look like. So, if it is young people that can do all this, we are concentrating on them to secure our future, by making sure we impart in them the right frame of mind and the rich sense of responsibility.

You are celebrating 60 years of existence in Nigeria. What impact has JCI made on the Nigerian society so far?
Every community has its own peculiar challenges. As active citizens, we have tried to identify with those communities, where we find ourselves and to find solutions to the problems in those communities. Part of these is the National Sanitation Day, which was started by JCI members in Lagos, and the distribution of mosquito nets all over the world.

Despite so much talk about peace, a lot of young people are still agitated. How can their mindset be changed?
Our message is clear and simple and we will not keep quiet until the last man living on earth believes in peace. We understand the challenges of mankind and know that in every society, there will always be one or two that differ in best practices all over the world. But we must also understand that peace is the solution to all of man’s problems.

Does JCI Connect with other sectors?
JCI, as an organisation, has been able to connect with other sectors through engaging those sectors to come together and partner with us in creating solutions to the serious and urgent problems of the society. Once the problem is identified, we reach out to the three major sectors of the society, and we believe that every individual belongs to at least one. It’s either you belong to government, the business sector or civil society.

JCI stands in the loop to connect these three together by bringing them together to find solutions to the problems of the communities to which they belong.

What are some of these societal challenges, and how have you been able to address them?
As an organisation, we strongly believe we do not have to be in elective positions or at the helm of affairs in government before we come together in our communities to solve their problems. In the course of creating sustainable solutions to the problems of the society, we encounter such challenges as the fact that though young people in Nigeria are expected to be the future of Nigeria, but how many of them are really ready to take up that responsibility of becoming active citizens of Nigeria?

But some youths believe the Nigerian society does not have anything to give them, so they don’t feel any obligation to the society… In life, we cannot have it 100 percent. We must have one or two that are defiant. We must be able to give back to the society. As young people, we must be able to take challenges upon ourselves. One thing that has always worked for a number of people is the fact that if you look around, even amidst all these challenges, there are lots of opportunities that can enable you actualise your dreams and goals.

Young people just have to take up that responsibility, and say, ‘this community is ours and we must build it together.’

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