Inspiring is multitalented Effoduh’s last laugh

Inspiring Jake Okechukwu Effoduh

Inspiring Jake Okechukwu Effoduh

From EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – LAUGHED at by other children and made to feel out of place because of his stammer, coupled with the challenges endured growing up as an orphaned, last-born child, one would expect Jake Okechukwu Effoduh to be having the last laugh.
Today, about three decades later, he is one of the most inspirational youths of his generation and a source of motivation to young and old whose lives he has touched as an actor, broadcaster, lawyer, philanthropist and an adviser to some politicians in the continent.
In an interview, the 29-year-old, who, as a teen had to endure losing his mother, the most influential figure in his life, reminisced growing up in the Niger State, Nigeria’s biggest state by land size.
“Growing up was quite challenging for me,” he reminisced.
“I was the last out of four kids. So, I served as errand boy for all my siblings. My mom was the only one who made me feel special as a last-born. She usually called me the ‘baby of the house’ even till I got to secondary school.”
However, the challenges faced at home would appear child’s play when he attended school.
“Other pupils laughed at me because of my stammer,” he recalled.
Only when his father enrolled him into the Lay Readers Association did life improve and Effoduh show potential.
“Unlike in school, none of the members of the Lay Readers Association laughed at me when I stuttered. At rehearsals, they encouraged me, maybe because they were far older than I, or maybe because it was church, but that was very helpful in shaping my confidence whenever I spoke. I took my first reading on the altar when I was seven and I sometimes sang in the choir.”
Childhood then became exciting.
When I was done with school for each day, I would spend hours with kids in the neighborhood playing “Catcher”, “Police and Thief”, Monkey Post (local football), Suwe (hop-scotch), relay racing and even Gidigbo (wrestling),” said Effoduh.
“At school, we had this game (Statue) whereby you would choose a partner and agree with them to always keep your fingers crossed always. If you were caught with your fingers uncrossed, you will be told stand still until whenever the person chose to release you at their convenience.
“It was so funny how seriously we took that game. If one were on ‘stand-still’ and one’s parents asked one to move, one literally wouldn’t. I cannot overemphasize the value of how playing shaped my development as a kid.”
It however would occasionally enrage his mother.
“I remember my mom scolding for constantly scratching my body at night each time I rolled in sand and grass during the day.”
However, the excitement would later turn to tragedy after the death of Effoduh his death.
“I was just 15 at the time. It was a very difficult loss and after more than a decade later, I am only able to talk about it, My mom played a major role in my life. She made me proud of my achievements no matter how insignificant and accepted me for who I am,” the multi-talented Effoduh said somberly.
“She always repeated these words to me: ‘You are special, you are not like the others. Never apologize for who you are. Be bold, be confident and remember you are God’s gift to me.’ I wrote these at the back of almost every notebook I used in school.”
True to his mother’s words, Effoduh has grown up to stand out from his peers, with broadcasting a stepping stone to an admirable stint in a number of sectors.
In 2006, he began hosting the community radio show, Flava on BBC Media Action.
A weekly youth lifestyle radio magazine programme that covered issues around sexual reproductive health and lifestyle that saw 24 million listeners tuning in frequently.
“It was almost as if every young Nigerian listened to the show because there was all the rage about it for seven full years.”

He attributed the success of the show to heavy messaging coupled with exciting, uncensored and very participatory undertones.

“Young people around the country, especially middle and lower class Nigerians owned the programme because they decided what the topics would be on through their contributions via text messages.”
As someone derided for his stammer as a boy, he has exceeded even his own expectations in this fiercely competitive industry.
He has gone on to present another programme, Talk your Own: Make Naija Better, which has broadcast on over 100 stations and has reached millions in Nigeria.
As the anchor of the show, he has travelled to all 36 states of the country to gather content and to meet listeners of the programme, addressing their issues while recording in markets, mechanic stations,
bus stops, traffic go-slows, parties, school environments and even secret joints.
He finds it all a humbling experience.
“Not every interview is easy but I always took something from every experience. I remember visiting a dreaded drug cabal inside a thick bush in Jos, Plateau State to uncover stories on drug use and trafficking. This was informed by a research finding on the increasing levels of drug use in the north and how it affected the sexual reproductive health of young people,” he reckoned.
“From dealing with the fear of the unknown that day, I took listeners on a journey to this cabal as we uncovered personal stories from drug dons who shared insights on the research findings. These are only a few examples.”
While investigative, the programme had a large focus on HIV/AIDS.
“Week after week, I interviewed several individuals, families and experts who were affected by HIV to share their experiences, many of them from different works of life, living in different parts of this enormous country,” said Effoduh.
He attributes childhood games as instrumental in cultivating his creativity, alertness and dispute resolution, the attributes that have garnered him awards including Best Community Radio Presenter in Nigeria in 2012 and Presenter of the Year (2013).
Apart from loving life behind the microphone, Effoduh is enthusiastic about the legal profession having studied at the Federal Government College Minna in Niger State between 1998 and 2004, eventually graduating with a University of Abuja-endorsed law degree.
He rates earning a Masters in Law from the University of Oxford a great achievement he is extremely grateful to God for.
“I am a lawyer. I solve problems for a living,” he said cheekily.
“Being a lawyer in Nigeria is very stimulating especially from a social justice or activist lens. There are many issues that require serious legal attention in Nigeria and lawyers as social justice agents have a lot to contribute. For me, ‘lawyering’ is all about skills and tactics. I have been trained to think differently about people and problems,” said the advocate.
“I think of myself like a chef: the ingredient we use, that is the law, is the same for everyone but it is what I do with it, especially the how, that creates a different result. For me, it is not only solving my client’s problems but also how I make them feel in the process, and the more difficult a case is, the more excited I tend to be. I am equally as motivated about radio programming and acting; they are also powerful tools for social change and I make use of them all as an activist.”
Effoduh currently serves as the Curator of Abuja Global Shapers Hub, one of 453 hubs existing in 172 countries and in the world. An initiative of World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a non-profit collective of exceptional individuals under the age of 30 committed to improving the state of the world.
In addition, he also serves as the Assistant Director of the Council on African Security and Development (CASADE). CASADE is a non-profit research-driven collectivity of experts and academics that carry out specific projects, and offer guidance and counsel to African ministries, agencies, universities and international organizations.
Recently, in partnership with some colleagues, they have set up a non-governmetal organisation, The Climb Charity, which seeks to ensure no child under the age of 12 in the capital Abuja is out of school by 2032.
Such selfless acts have seen him redefining a lot of things about his life including the idea of community service and philanthropy.
“The notion that you have to be rich in order to give others is antithetical to humanity. Philanthropy is not only promoting the welfare of others with monetary donations but also with service, time and advocacy.”
Is there anything this jack of all trades can ever put a foot wrong?
“My father was a football coach whereas my elder sister was a long distance runner and the other was in the military cadet. My brother won several national medals for high jump and also got endorsed into the state basketball team. I was the odd one out. I wasn’t gifted in any sports. I couldn’t even do five push-ups to save my life.”
CAJ News

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Posted by on Feb 28 2018. Filed under Africa & World, Exclusive, Featured, Finance, National, News, Regional. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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