By Austin Oyibode
Austine Okorodudu, a young and revered broadcaster, is a trail-blazer in youth advocacy and talent development in Nigeria. Fueled by an incurable passion to better the world of youths around him, Okorodudu finds pleasure in taking initiatives that have increased the prospects of youths.
He is a graduate of Mass Communication from the Delta State University, Abraka. He is a media expert cum strategist, an On-Air Personality with one of Nigeria’s most talked-about radio station- Trend 100.9FM. It remains one of the leading youth oriented radio stations based in Asaba, the oil rich Delta state capital in the south of Nigeria.
As a youth advocate, he has been involved in the design and implementation of far reaching programmes that addresses the diverse needs of youths, assisting them to rediscover their potentialities with a view to harnessing their skills and innate abilities for developmental evolution with various societies in the country.
Okorodudu’s quest for impactful youth development and growth are both a passion and concern borne out of the desire to redirect the mind of youths towards productive ventures adding to the national value chain.
As a way of driving his dream for the youths, he founded a social development organization called Ideals and Realities Youth Empowerment Foundation (IRYEF).
His inspiration stems from an ugly experience he had while still undergoing his basic basic education His moral subject teacher got one of his friends pregnant which led to her quitting school.Thirteen years later, Okorodudu ran into the said ex-student hawking water cannons made of sachet in a popular market in South-Eastern Nigeria.
The thought of that inspired him to begin the organization which has inspired many young people to aspiring to greatness. He has worked and still working to equip vulnerable young persons with basic life building and vocational skills in order to assist them to make well-informed decisions for a better and greater tomorrow.
He said he has chosen to work on the radio because it gives him a platform to amplify his voice, reach out to more young people, providing the much needed mentoring, coaching, counseling and healthy lifestyle techniques. He recalls: “I want to see a productive and prosperous Africa, starting from her young people.”
“Using the peer-to-peer mentoring model, I started the School Invasion Project (SIP) which entails disseminating age appropriate sexual and reproductive health information for free. After visiting a few schools and interacting with the students, I discovered that the issue was beyond the lack of sexuality education; there were cases of young people in my community seeking self expression through gangs, drugs, cultism and other vices that are inimical to their well being…“
To tackle these hydra-headed challenges, Okorodudu and his team developed a multi-platform approach which included Students Productive Life Initiative (SPLIN), focusing on self discovery, mentorship, leadership, career readiness, financial literacy and talent development.
He also established “I Need to Know- TeenzSummit’, an annual leadership summit which allows teenagers and youths to meet, connect, learn and network with high profile mentors. The likes of Professor Pat Utomi, have interacted on his platform to inspire young Nigerians with requisite stories.
In the same vein, Okorodudu established The “Equip the Future” radio series on Trend Fm. a programme which targets teenagers and adolescents, with information necessary for their well-being.
Okorodudu mentors, speaks to and coaches young people who want to achieve clarity of vision and direction in their life’s journey. He is very passionate about helping young people build the skills needed for tomorrow’s economic and social challenges.
Since inception in 2014, IRYEF has provided leadership development training estimated to have impacted over 8000 teenagers and youths across Nigeria.
The life of Austine Okorodudu speaks volume of selfless service, dedication and commitment to the cause of humanity. This is a vital virtue that young people should emulate. The craze for money and material wealth without commensurate work and integrity should be really frowned at.
Yes, he may not have made so much financially, his impact is resounding and beyond the foresight of man! Little wonder the American Government through its Department of State programme known as The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) selected Okorodudu to participate in the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Okorodudu got selected out of the 11,000 that applied from Nigeria. We are proud he made Nigeria’s #team56.
On how he got selected, he said he put his impact stories together in essay pieces when the application opened, made sure they were his words, read the rules of the programme and he was very optimistic that he would be chosen.
I got the necessary recommendations.
And so it happened.He quiped: “when I saw the invitation email for the second phase of the programme at the US consulate office I was overjoyous, I went for the interview, I brought my story to the table again and I scaled through.
So what does this portend for him, Delta state and Nigeria?
“This programme will help me build capacity for a greater impact. I don’t want to thrive in mediocrity, I want to learn global best practices and bring them home. I have a very fantastic opportunity to scale up the impact around the country and continent working closely with other fellows. I look forward to collaborating with strategic partners and governments, corporate organisations and individuals. If we don’t equip our young people, who will?”
Okorodudu sees the programme as an encouragement of his little efforts to contribute to humanity.
According to the US officials, the fellowship is a life transforming one. “So, I’m looking forward to it. And I want to assure young people out there that we can do the right things and still be successful, using my own story. It is not about complaining about our society, it is about using our initiative to create impact in society.
“We know we have issues in Nigeria. But what are you doing yourself? Are you just adding to the problem or you are creating solutions? I can assure you that people that have attended our trainings, some of them are great leaders already.
“This is five years now we have been on the training programme and we have made significant impact in the lives of young people. I’m excited seeing and hearing stories of young people who have participated in our programmes. When I see them, they say uncle Austine, that programme you had with us has changed my life, I feel very happy about it.”
Okorodudu is an active member of the Rotary Int’l. He is a UN volunteer and pioneer coordinator of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Delta state. He is also an associate member of the Common Wealth Youth Council (CYC) amongst others. He served as a judge and mentor in the Senior School debate category Nigeria, in 2018.
As a strategist and communications professional, Okorodudu developed “Save the Future Now” a state wide campaign project against drug abuse in public secondary schools in Delta State for “05 Initiative-Youth On a Mission”, a pet project of the First Lady of Delta state in 2018.
He is a recipient of many notable awards including the prestigious NYSC State Honours Award as the “Most Outstanding youth corps member for Batch B’ 2012” having initiated and executed 47 community development projects including a cassava farm for indigent widows in Abagana community, Anambra state, a rare feat in the annals of the NYSC scheme.
He also received the Delta Unsung Heroes Award 2018 amongst others. His target is to raise a new crop of global leaders and world changers through these initiatives.