The Dream Project of Africa is a non-profit organization, formally known as the “African Democratic Dreams Project” founded by business analyst Michael Oluwabukola Nelson, who grew up in Nigeria facing the same issues faced by so many in the African society.
Their members and volunteers relentlessly advocate on behalf of oppressed Africans. They’re creating programs to educate Nigerians, both in Africa and East Texas. They teach them about their rights as Nigerians. The group ultimately acts as a government watchdog to protect those rights in Africa.
In this interview with Abiodun Alade, Nelson educates us more on the project.
Activities of The Dream Project and the successes it has recorded
Dream Project for Africa (formally known as African Democratic Dreams Project) is an advocacy group with its headquarters in the United States of America. Dream Project for Africa is established to educate Africans on their democratic rights, inspire them to take actions and influence government’s actions for social and human development efforts. We are committed to promoting social equality among all people, and we believe that we can help elevate African countries to become fully-developed nations.
In addition, we promote awareness on existing laws that, if enforced, would clear the path for Africans to achieve their dreams. We partner with youths to embrace and participate in nation-building programs and conduct research on democratic avenues for change. The current standard of living in many parts of Africa involves coercion, blackmail, bribery, and physical and sexual violence and it is the goal of Dreams Project for Africa to upset that standard using diplomacy, education, and peace.
Our country of focus for now is Nigeria.
Although we fully commenced activities in April 2015, we have attained remarkable milestones as an advocacy group. We have been able to secure a stage on the international community by partnering with the international media to promote awareness about the plight of many common Africans. We partnered with NBC and CBS television station in the United States and we were able to correct the impression left my most African leaders about the common man in Africa being individuals who are doomed to suffering and who mostly no do-gooders. We clarified this area by helping the international community to understand that Africans are hardworking people, who are subjected to subhuman conditions by the greed of corrupt politicians and insensitive governments.
In addition we have two ongoing projects. One is the “How Effective is Buhari Campaign”. The essence of this campaign is to keep a close watch on government activities that negate the expectations of the people. We are able to measure in real time the progresses or the failures of the government. Gone are the days when a government will sit idle until election times before deciding to toss some crumbs at the electorates for their votes. We offer a 3-month measurement of the effectiveness of all levels of government. And our facts are based on submissions of common people. This helps us achieve validity in the eyes of our publics.
We have also embarked on the “End of Sexual Harassment and Bribery in Nigerian Colleges” campaign and we create online meeting and events where participants do not have to worry about geographical barriers. We are at the awareness stage, and will commence a tour of the country to awaken the students and government to both their failings and their responsibilities. We would involve the Ministries of Education and Justice as times goes on. The program is scheduled to last a year.
Both events are hybrid – meaning that we hold virtual events as well as physical events.
Unstable government, bad policies in Africa
Unstable government is the bane of unsustainable development in Africa. Unstable governments are primarily an offshoot of the greedy focus to control power and economics resources. We have witnessed all across Africa where a government opposition finally gets control of the government and end inflicting incredible evil on their supporters. Examples are rife across Africa: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Charles Taylor of Liberia, Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Mohammed Gadhafi of Libya, these were leaders who promised the people heaven on earth, but who ended unleashing hell on the country.
Even for African governments that spend out their tenure, you realize that there is the constant fear of losing political power. So rather than focus on making policies that benefit the society, these governments rather find ways to control all economic resources as a tool to retain power at all cost. African governments are mostly clueless as to what their primary functions are. In most developed countries, each governments always tries to outdo the other by implementing great programs that benefit the people and as well positioning the country as a leader among other nations. This is not the case in Africa.
The best way to attain stable governments is to create an atmosphere where standards are set in place to measure the activities of the government. The people must set expectations for each government and follow up on these expectations to ensure that they are met.
On the issue of bad policies, research has shown that governments that make bad policies have no respect for its people. People in societies where bad policies are common are usually less democratically enlightened. Such is the case in African countries, where people discuss politics than they discuss peopletics (issues as it relates to the common people).
To curb the spate of bad policies by government, the people must begin to criticize governments objectively. The people must awaken to the realities of the dangers of bad governments policies and must stand up against them at all levels. In Nigeria for instance, why do we have thugs controlling parks and beating up commercial bus drivers and individuals at will? Why do we have robbers invading citizens on their properties to demand money without bases? Why would lecturers in colleges demand sex and bribe from students for grades? Why would PHCN ask consumers to pay for electricity not supplied? One answer … the people, will not question such actions.
We do understand however that it is not that people do not complain, but complaining will not put an end to bad policies, boycotting and using the press and the courts could limit the occurrence of willful declaration and implementation of bad policies.
At Dream Project for Africa, our approach to addressing the issues of unstable governments, bad policies and other social anomalies is to start with education. Not the kind of education that are offered within the four walls of schools, but the kind that awakens the mind of the people to their plight. However, we quickly follow up on awareness by pointing out democratically aligned options through which people can address such issues. We have an event coming up in August around the International Youth Day where we can meet with Nigerians face to face to discuss the ways to eliminate some of these issues.
African youths and nation-building
The glory of Africa lies in its youth. Only the youths can create the future that is relevant to the age we are in. They are the ones that can help set the pace for greater things to come. Unfortunately, the elders and leaders of our age do everything to ensure that this goal not attained easily or at worst not attainable at all. How can a nation with a substandard educational system produce the youths that would take the nation to the next level?
How can a society where unemployment is 100% certain for each individual ever dream of producing the Bill Gates, Mack Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs of Africa? I am not talking in terms of wealth accumulation as that of Dangote or Otedola, but championing global change.
First, we must find a way to restore hope in the hearts of our youths and work with them in opening gates of opportunities that will stimulate their creative minds. As well we must provide links through which they can gain access to resources that can make them come up with mind blowing innovations across the fields of arts, science and medicine. In Africa it is almost impossible for any youths from all social levels and walks of life to access such connections without travelling out of the country. And when they do so, they naturalize and never return home, or return as foreigners.
Dream Project for Africa is partnering with youths across the globe to exchange ideas that could produce opportunities and avenues to empower our youths. The government can help, but as it obtains in the obvious, there is no will by most African governments to tap into the huge raw resources of potentials of youths.
Youths are basically full of energy. As you would agree, energy cannot be created nor destroyed but can be transformed into different forms. Energy most times propels whatever element is prevalent around it. If our youths are daily exposed to hardship and disregard for human lives, their energies are more than likely going to go into such activities. Most alarming is the fact that Africa is gradually becoming a good recruitment base for most terrorist groups, because youths in Africa can live a fulfilled life by embracing radicalism and seizing by force what was due to them but not made available by those entrusted with resource allocation.
Examples of these scenarios are the events leading to terrorist groups such as Niger Delta militants groups, Boko Haram and ISIL. Worse even is the fact that most politicians control an army of youths who are encouraged to embrace destructive tendencies to scare opponents or to take life at will. It is not undeliberate that African leaders destroy all avenues that youths could have otherwise put their energies to good use.
Bad government must be eradicated and education strengthened to reduce the spate of juvenile delinquencies and youth crimes.
Improved education and living standard in Africa
At Dream Project for Africa, we understand that education is the first step to rebranding a nation or rebuilding our continent. Education is the first step in influencing a people to embrace processes that could improve the standard of living.
With regards to education, our first project “End of Sexual Harassment and Bribery” is a step in this direction. The project is expected to last a year. During this period, we will host hybrid events to cover the all zones in Nigeria (since Nigeria is our first country of focus). At our physical events we will be bringing individuals that could inspire youths to talk with them. We will encourage a face to face interaction between these leaders and the students and youths at these events. At this event, we will create awareness on the current deplorable situation of the educational system in Nigeria and the implication for the nation and for students.
At the end of the yearlong project, we will public a report of our findings and engage the Ministries of Education, Justice and Youth Development as well as the Legislature in talks on implementing the recommendations that we have been able to reach together at those events.
Laws passed and implemented by a nation go a long way to determine the standard of living of the people of those nations. For Africans who have had the opportunity of living as permanent residents of countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, France and United States, they would tell you that the difference between such nations and African nations impoverished by government greed and corruptions are the laws.
In the course of our research, Dream Project for Africa found out that a country as Nigeria for instance has laws that make provisions for sexual harassment, child labor, child support, education aid, religious freedom, fairness in taxation etc, but few Nigerians realize that these laws exist. This is because the government likewise does not ensure that the purposes of these laws are achieved. So Dream Project for Africa promotes awareness on existing laws that, if enforced, would clear the path for Africans to achieve their dreams. We bring to the attention of the government the neglect of these laws and try some of them in court for the benefit of letting people know their effectiveness.
Collaboration with government, agencies
At the moment, we are establishing our stand with governments at all levels. We are setting standards to let the government know that we will not be sucked up into politics, but that as much as we serve as watchdogs on the government on behalf of the people, we can also serve as government ears on ground and assist government in connecting directly to the people for the purpose of delivering dividends of democracy.
Non-profit groups such as NLC and NANS as well as other trade unions have been heavily adulterated by the government and politicians. We are extremely cautious of how much we collaborate with government and on which grounds we collaborate with government agencies. At the moment, we are not getting any form of support from the government. I doubt if governments of Africa has any form of funding for organizations that might end up exposing their limitations.
However, we ensure that our processes are democratically aligned and respectful of government legitimacy. We however are not scared to open up can of worms that can assist the people in understanding negative intentions or flaws of governments. We believe though that any reasonable and well-meaning government will find Dream Project for Africa a good partner in creating goodwill based on evident implementation of programs that are meant to better the lives of the people.
We initially faced the issue of trust from communities and individuals. Most people in Nigeria for instance at first mistook us as a PDP tool against APC. However, with time, we are beginning to gain the trust of people locally and internationally. We are also challenged by funding. At the moment, all funding is personally provided. So far we have invested over N2.5million into our projects.
We ensure that we engage professionals in the design of our processes. The money invested so far has been privately raised from personal savings of less than 5 individuals who believe in a great Nigeria, but we have begun to reach out for public support from organizations and good hearted Nigerians. We are seeking cash donations from individuals both locally and in the international community to help sustain our projects.
As we seek support, we are careful not to be lured into groups or interests that might taint our goals so we are skeptical of what sources of support are available to us.
We have launched a “Go Fund Me” campaign for our “End of Sexual Harassment and Bribery” project and we’re getting some responses; however, we are nowhere close to the $100,000 target for the project to be implemented. We still need a lot of support.
We understand that it takes a great deal of trust for people to donate to such causes such as this especially at a time when there are lots of organizations defrauding good-hearted people by luring them to insincere projects. Dream Project for Africa however believes in the goodness of humanity and the assurance that God Almighty who has put such noble cause in the hearts of a group of men and women to restore the glory of Nigeria would as well have provisions in place to sustain the project.
We are also challenged by poor access to internet services to common people. Most of our activities are for now electronically transmitted on the internet, and it is a huge challenge for our publics – youth, workers, parents, etc to access the informational materials we provide to them.
Dream Project for Africa will no doubt outlive its founders. It will be the channel for greatness to be restored to Africa. It will become a household name and a force of good for to all humanity.
In the future, we plan to be able to provide gainful employment and offer welfare services that can help complement government provisions of health services, educational services, sports, transport services, and sustainable human development for Africans. We have begun discussions on how to ensure we lay a good foundation so that when we hand over the baton to the upcoming generation, out labors would have not been in vain.