Naturally, the exploits of great men, when told, tend to be spurring. This time, however, I was more than inspired and motivated learning about and meeting this great individual at the Centre for Women in Abuja during the 2015 National Youth Reform Conference which had my organisation as a partner. I was a member of the planning committee at this event where Mr. Adebola Williams was a speaker. I must confess, I bloated with admiration at the personality of this simple yet sophisticated and awesome man. From my short encounter with this media mogul, I could boldly tell that Debola Williams is a personification of altruism. He is a selfless, charitable, and large-hearted man. Ever since then, I have always been his greatest admirer.
It was this kindled interest in Mr. Adebola Williams that glued me to my phone and patted me up when I slumbered off to listen to this man’s speech on the second and last day of the recent Obama Foundation leadership summit held in the United States. At this two-day summit, which kicked off on Wednesday, November 1 2017, a handful of speakers delivered wonderful speeches and a number of distinguished and promising youths stood by the lectern to tell inspiring stories of success. To keep track of this auspicious event, I sat up late at night and intently stared at my mobile screen following the trend of the event on Bellanaija. As beautiful as these speeches were, the breathtaking story of greatness which was kindled by hopelessness and fueled by despair, as told by Adebola Williams, unusually caught my attention. His thunderously applauded eight-minute-six-second speech at the event was expectedly engaging and extraordinarily inspiring. For anyone who listened to his speech, it was a narrative of how this ingenious young mind built an empire of hope for the hopeless African youths and how this empire has engaged more than thirty million youths in the past eleven years of its existence. Indeed, like Adebola Williams said, “In despair lies several opportunities; especially to be pioneer, especially to be great”.
After listening to the speech, I was forced to further re-think the opportunities that lie in the seemingly ‘god-forsaken Nigerian land’. It was amazingly inspiring to hear that at 18, Debola and his friends rose to the responsibility of converting the African youths’ hopelessness and despair in government to a flourishing media business under the name RED – a social business that inspires young Africans to take social and political action through the power of storytelling.
Going through the chronicles of this rare genius’ life, I was most marveled learning that Debola and his friend, Chude started their business with zero capital. And by this, I am not saying that in a metaphoric sense – the prospering RED Media was literally kick started with #0 and it has never got a capital injection. This is incredible considering the fact that lack of fund or its inaccessibility is the foremost bottleneck to entrepreneurial success in this part of the world. At this point, my heart desired nothing than a mentoring session with this veteran entrepreneurs. I couldn’t be more surprised that the brains won the 2014 CNBC Young Business Leader of the year award.
At 31, Debola Williams is an uncommon greatness having scored unmatched points in the media profession, entrepreneurship, civic advocacy, and human capital development. At this relatively young age, he has co-founded Red Africa which houses The Future Awards Africa, Ynaija, and StateCraft Inc. In addition, this illustrious entrepreneur has founded the Lagos Business Transit and has chaired the Enough is Enough initiative. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Adebola Williams also boasts membership of the British Council Global Change maker and simultaneously sits on the board of Slum to School initiative. He is an uncommon embodiment of greatness.
More astonishingly, Debola Williams has made revolutionary and remarkable contributions to governance across Africa through his Political Communication Agency, StateCraft Inc. Owing to his media expertise and communication strategies that have worked wonders, he was described as ‘the man with the golden touch’ by the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo having won the 2016 election through Demola’s campaign intiatives. This is not an exaggerated praise on the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the StateCraft Inc., Adebola Williams, who had also previously helped both President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammad Buhari won the 2011 re-election and the 2015 elections respectively.
According to Martin L. King Jr., life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others’. In a painstaking effort at answering this great question, Adebola Williams, forms a part of the award-wining Slum-to-School, an initiative that goes out to pick teens and youths from the wanderings on the street to a better and educated life in a school. He is a humanitarian par excellence.
Perhaps, one recurring factor in the narratives of great men and leaders is their quality training, rich knowledge, and intrinsic motivation. A probe into the formative years of this young African pride bore witness to this fact. Debola Lagos, as he is fondly called, has a rich educational background and training and a brilliant track record in entrepreneurship, advocacy, and activism. He read journalism at the prestigious London School of Journalism. Though he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it is was pathetic and shocking to the young Williams when, at nine, he watched his family’s wealth vanished into the thin air before his eyes. Surprisingly, the young Debola took charge of his life and, at fifteen, started working.
For ages, the popular saying, ‘Show me your friend, and I will tell you who you are’, has always been true and the case of Mr. Debola Williams is another proof. He wines and dines in the midst of equally great minds like his friend and business partner, Chude Jideonwo. Perez Tigidam of the Nerve has described this duo ‘as the Moses of the 21st century leading fellow youths out of a bleak socio-political and entrepreneurial past’. He (Debola) walks with Japheth Joshua Omojuwa, a prominent blogger, public speaker, socio-economic and political commentator, social media expert, and twitter warrior. And, he is a friend to Samson Itodo; one of Nigeria’s foremost youth think tanks on governance and citizens’ participation and the brain behind Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA).
With this brilliant track record in governance and advocacy, entrepreneurship, and humanitarianism, the entire team of Brain Builders International thinks it would not be over-ambitious to recommend this renowned, bright, smart, prudent, marvelous, inspiring, philanthropic, visionary, and exceptional Nigerian entrepreneur for a national award of recognition on contribution to nation building and human capital development. We believe that if something like merit exists in Nigeria of today, it should be conferred on exceptional minds like Adebola Williams.
Olasupo Abideen Opeyemi is a young fellow of the Young Africa Leadership Initiative (Regional Leadership Centre). He is the executive director of the award-winning Brain Builders International; a United Nations recognised and certified SDGs group. He is also the CEO Brain Builders IT Firm, OPAB Global Consult, OPAB Gas Station, and OPAB Farms. He hails from Osun State. Abideen tweets at @opegoogle. You can shoot him a mail at [email protected]