CELF Enhancing Seven Key SDGs

By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju-Unique.

Many of renown heroes have been small men, people who have changed the world one tiny act at a time. Real change is unusual, it never happens like we think. Rarely is life transformed by something grandiose — it is always small and unassuming, something quite personal. This is the unexpectedness of change. It’s human nature to want to create some type of legacy—to not just do good things but also be known for them.

It must have been an exciting news to all those who have heard about the first batch of Fellows of the Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship (CELF) who will be admitted into camp between December 1 and 14, 2020, as announced by the Haashim Initiative for Community Advancement (HICA), the initiator of the programme.

So much is uncertain in life, particularly what happens after we die. We can’t understand or control where we’re going, but we can influence what we leave behind. Why feel guilty for natural human instincts when those same instincts contribute to a lot of the good in the world? That being said, we can simultaneously make major contributions to society—both to help other people and feel good about our choices—while making a difference in our everyday lives. We can do things both large and small, for others and ourselves, every day if we choose to.

Scott Berkun noted, “We rarely need big things. As soon as someone starts talking about changing the world or radically reinventing something odds are as good as he’s talking from his ego, not his heart. Unless he’s working on bringing safety to the scared, health to the sick, or opportunity to the poor, the reinvention serves a want (or an ego), not a need.” It takes a better man to acknowledge goodness in others than it does to merely be good oneself. Anyone can criticize or accept praise, but initiating a positive exchange is a hallmark of a difference maker.

It is crystal clear that Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship is not only coming as a novel initiative in Kwara State, it is also unequivocally building its strength on key Sustainable Development Goals. This has put beautiful colouration to the program as the general public feels good about the happenings that embedded in it.

CELF builds on Goal 1, No Poverty; Goal 4, Quality Education; Goal 5, Gender Equality, Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; Goal 10, Reduced Inequality; Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 17, Partnership for the goals.

Goal 1, No Poverty: HICA as a reputable organization commits herself in line with the Global goals by “Leaving No One Behind” to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere. Underlying the goal is a “powerful commitment to leave no one behind and to reach those farthest behind first”. Eradicating poverty is not a task of charity, it’s an act of justice and the key to unlocking an enormous human potential. Still, nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty, and lack of food and clean water is killing thousands every single day of the year.

HICA, with her objectives and vision for the future through CELF, believes we can feed the hungry not just by giving them fish but equipping them with the necessary transformational leadership and entrepreneurship skills, wipe out disease and give everyone in the world a chance to a prosper, productive and rich life.

Eradicating extreme poverty requires a strong economy that produces jobs and good wages; well equipped schools, hospitals, roads, and energy; and healthy, well-nourished children who are the future human capital that will fuel economic growth – sustainably managed environment is a prerequisite for socio-economic development and poverty reduction.

Goal 4, Quality Education: “Education is an empowering right and one of the most powerful tools by which economically and socially marginalized children and adults can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in society.”– UNESCO

Quality education is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and is essential for the attainment of all Sustainable Development Goals. The goal seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Governments and the rest of the members of community have the primary responsibility to ensure the achievement of SDG 4. Quality education includes the promotion of smart, innovative measures to reach younger students. It also includes relevant education and training that can help address common social, environmental and economic challenges across the world which the CELF is taking front in realizing such objective.

The arrays of events that would take place in the camp will definitely remodel, refine and redefine the intuitions of the participants towards being productive in their respective communities. Especially important is the need to ensure that girls and women have access to equal educational opportunities as boys and men. HICA upholds a sincere notion that when a girl has the opportunity to be educated and healthy, she thrives and the whole society benefits. Educated girls marry later, have healthier children and take an active role in their communities to ensure the rights of other women are upheld.

Goal 5, Gender Equality: One of the most fascinating and mind soothing emblems embraced by HICA is religiously and judiciously giving credence to equal participation of gender. 16 females and 16 males across the 16 LGAs would be beneficiaries of the Countryside Emerging Leadership Fellowship – a pointer to raising stars across-the-board.

Education is fundamental to achieving the vision of a world where every woman, man and child leads a healthy and fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity, which is why it is at the heart of all their work. It takes a truly holistic approach to end hunger and poverty. And when this includes access to quality education without gender bias, everyone thrives.

Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth: The SDGs promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men.

Notably, over the past 25 years, the number of workers living in extreme poverty has declined dramatically, despite the lasting impact of the economic crisis and global recession.

However, HICA, through CELF, is working towards raising young minds who will not be educated and broke, not only seeking white collar jobs but rather be creative enough to be job creators. In line with the objectives of the Camp, the participants will graduate as minds who understand the importance of building a productive network and effective ways of leveraging digital space to identifying opportunities and utilizing it to benefit themselves and the entire mankind.

Goal 10, Reduced Inequalities: As the global economy continues to recover, we are seeing slower growth, widening inequalities, and not enough jobs to keep up with a growing labour force. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 204 million people were unemployed in 2019. Children from the poorest households are up to four times more likely to be out of school than those of the richest households. Disparities between rural and urban areas also remain high. Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development.

Interestingly, Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship ensures that all girls and boys who have been certified as diligent, brainy and focused shall be beneficiaries which in turn reduced the level of low morale, zeal and enthusiasm they might posses due to their respective very humble background. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.

Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities: In Kwara State, the initiative of HICA in giving birth to this wonderful fellowship would be forever cherished and appreciated. I could remember a father figure who once told me that, “Our People are leaving rural areas for urban areas in the guise of unbarnization but it is in real sense, slumization”. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. The rapid growth of cities—a result of rising populations and increasing migration—has led to a boom in mega-cities, especially in the state capital, and slums are becoming a more significant feature of urban life.


Making cities sustainable means creating career and business opportunities, safe and affordable housing, and building resilient societies and economies. It involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in participatory and inclusive ways. Alas, it would equally increase the livelihood of inhabitants of rural communities as the beneficiaries would be charged to identify certain need of their Local Government Areas and initiate a project fully and duly supervised by the Community Development Experts. There is no time to start appreciating the organizers than NOW!

Goal 17, Partnership for the Goals: A serious minded individual must understand the importance of working as a team and building more network. SGDs cannot be accurately overemphasized, and likewise, the real and sincere implementation cannot be well appreciated if it fails to welcome others to work together; no wonder the United Nations in the Goals ended it with Partnership. Partnerships and Goals refers to the need for cross sector collaborations in pursuit of all the goals.

This is a call for all and sundry to align policies, support the initiative and work on the success of the project. It is about strengthening and streamlining cooperation between organisers and sponsors, both Home and Diaspora, using the SDGs as a shared framework and a shared vision for defining that collaborative way forward. The Project in its uniqueness and loftyness would enjoy partnership with KWIRS, 7Up, Kwara State Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Kwara State Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Kwara State Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, and All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools amongst others.

In conclusion, Kwarans should appreciate the thinking of the brain behind this innovative idea. His attention to detail puts him at the top. It’s a huge thanks to him for bringing the initiative and working greatly in making it done. The way he handles the project showed resilience, experience, knowledge, and critical thinking. We would love to have more of this in the nearest future.

Undoubtedly, Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship will bring a lot of insights into solving our next problem, give birth to youthful and useful young minds who will in turn change their respective societies positively. Haashim Initiative for Community Advancement (HICA) level of quality work remains unprecedented in our dear state.

Basheer writes from Ilorin.

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