When I received an invite to attend an all-expense-paid summit in Lagos, I was excited. I saw an opportunity to play and, hopefully, get some work done.
To add a topping to the cake, in filling out the form, I was asked to suggest ways to make the summit better.
Without missing a beat, I suggested a strong element of play. After all, all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. And I am nothing if not a Jack at heart.
When the program came out, I was pleased to see that there was going to be a reception party with the Consular General at his home.
You see, the summit is for U.S. Government Exchange Program Alumni.
My ticket was bought, my bags packed ahead of time. All that was left was to get myself to the airport and board my flight.
Then the devil came knocking.
A group of young, hardworking men were sent to a rural area to inspect an erosion site for intervention by the U.S. Government.
They were going to undertake a project the Federal Government of Nigeria or the state (or the local) government could and should have undertaken but failed to do so.
Evildoers decided that no good deed should go unpunished and, therefore, ‘punished’ these good folks by killing all but two of them.
Killing them was not enough for daring to help where all others failed to. They went a step further and desecrated their bodies by burning them beyond recognition.
The horror of that incident still churns my stomach even at this moment. When the news hit, it hit like a wrecking ball.
It was devastating.
The reception party was immediately cancelled. The summit could not be cancelled but a deep pall had been cast over the entire event.
We soldiered on as best we could, trying to keep our spirits up to an acceptable level. When we received the good news that two members of the team, who were abducted, had been rescued, it briefly felt like Christmas in the hall.
Needless to say that the resilient American spirit combined with our tough and unbreakable Nigerian hearts to make the summit a roaring success.
I had always fancied myself a decent enough grant writer but I was taught grant writing in a way that revolutionalised my understanding and approach to the skill. It was the best grant writing training I’ve ever attended. Kudos to Doyinsola and Idowu.
It was richly rewarding to coordinate my team and make our presentation, which earned us a winning slot in the race for a decent-sized grant. Our project was on maternal health.
Kudos, Team Bloom!
I must greatly commend the U.S. Mission in Nigeria for their dexterity in holding on to their program alumnis and providing us unique avenues for funding our projects.
I passionately implore the Mission to not relent in funding projects in the South-East because of the actions of a few anarchists.
South-Easterners are generally peaceful, kind and law-abiding people who suffer a prolonged and excruciating lapse in leadership, which has birthed the rascality that has spared no one in the region.
And to the perpetrators of these unholy acts, my one big question is: WHAT EXACTLY IS THE END GAME HERE?