Interview: 2022 NCDMB Winner Debunks The Myth of Laziness in African Culture

This week, the Prosperity Ark's Correspondent met with the 2022 winner of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Ayo Elesho. He describes the process of his win and how he has made it through this far.

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GWC: Can we meet you?

AYO: My name is Ayotomiwa Elesho. I, however, prefer to be addressed as Ayo-Elesho. Ayo-Elesho is a combination of a part of my first name and my surname. I feel the name is unique, just like me, and I’m building a brand around it. I was born on August 17, 1999, and coincidentally share the same birth date with former Nigerian Military President, Ibrahim Babangida. I am a Nigerian, precisely an indigene of Odogbolu town in Odogbolu LGA of Ogun State.  I am a second-year Political Science student at the University of Ibadan. 

I am also the founder and executive director of Homeless Not Hopeless Nigeria, a student-led non-profit that seeks to reduce the suffering of the homeless through alleviation projects while simultaneously advocating for a reduction in the rate of homelessness in Nigeria. I am also a serial volunteer, as I have volunteered with no fewer than 10 organisations both locally and internationally, on a remote basis.

GWC: What were your aspirations regarding your future as a young child?

AYO: I remember vividly when I was in primary four, I wanted to become either an astronaut or a pilot. I just wanted to fly. But I didn’t like Mathematics or Quantitative Reasoning. Basic Science fascinated me and I loved Verbal Reasoning. My dislike for Maths and any subject that involved calculations reached a higher level when I got to secondary school, and by the time I got to JSS 3 and prepared to graduate to senior secondary school, I knew that I couldn’t go to science class. I opted for Arts.

Just like almost every Art student in my class, I wanted to study Law, but by the time I got to SS3, Law no longer interested me. I had fallen in love with Government as a subject because it explored the rich history of Nigeria’s pre-colonial, colonial, postcolonial, and contemporary political systems. I wanted to learn more and also wanted to positively contribute to Nigeria’s development.

So, I researched the best course to study at the university to help me achieve this, and Political Science presented itself. This is why I am a Political Science student today. I hope to graduate summa cum laude shortly.

GWC: You got an extra feather to your cap as the winner of the NCDMB essay contest in 2022, what were the processes you went through?

AYO: I was surfing through Twitter in late July when I came across a flyer announcing the 6th edition of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board Essay Competition. The essay topic, ‘Strategizing For Transformation To Clean Energy In The Global Energy Landscape: The NCDMB Intervention’, caught my attention as I felt that I knew some strategies that the NCDMB could deploy to transition to clean energy and I was eager to share them with the Board. Nevertheless, I delved into deep research, articulated my points, wrote the essay, and submitted it early. I hoped for the best but expected the worst.

Then on 29 August, I went to the essay website and I was delighted to see my name as one of the ten best-shortlisted essays nationwide. All ten essayists were invited to Bayelsa for an interactive assessment (defence) with judges. The NCDMB paid for the journey and also accommodated us in a nice hotel in the heart of Bayelsa. 

I prepared vigorously for my defence and left no stone unturned. I wanted to satisfy my conscience so that if I ended up not winning, I would be able to take solace in the fact that I had tried my best. I defended my essay to the best of my ability and patiently awaited the result.

GWC: Did you have fears during the periods of awaiting results and defending your essays?

AYO: Of course, it’s normal to be scared. I was among nine other students who had emerged in the top ten positions among over 2000 applicants. So, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I conquered that fear by preparing hard for my defence. I also derived comfort from the fact that I had written my essay myself and I could defend everything in it, even if I was woken up from a deep slumber. Also, as soon as I started defending my essay, all feelings of trepidation disappeared, as I was too focused on giving my opinions to the five academics who served as judges to be scared. I was asked deep questions and answered them as accurately as I could.

After the defence, I felt relaxed and waited for the results which were announced the following day at the award-giving ceremony.

GWC: How did you feel when you realised you were the winner?

AYO: I had put my best into the essay writing and defence and I hoped to be the winner, but I was contesting against nine brilliant students from different universities.

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So, I felt grateful to God after I realised that I was going to be the winner.

GWC: What are your present aspirations for the future? Do you have fears regarding them?

AYO: I hope to complete my undergraduate studies summa cum laude and move to a world-class university for postgraduate studies. Then, I will see where that leads me to. No, I don’t have any fears about my aspirations, as I have committed them to God’s hands.

GWC: Who was a role model figure for you as you grew up? How did they influence you?

AYO: My father was and is still my biggest role model. This is because he worked so hard to ensure that his children got tertiary education which he didn’t have an opportunity to get.

I consider the great writer, John Grisham, a role model too. In fact, John Grisham’s Best Seller, The Street Lawyer, is the inspiration behind my non-profit organisation.

GWC: Whenever you felt like quitting, what or who has stood as a source of motivation for you?

AYO: I am my own biggest motivation, and I have also failed many times in the past to realise that the world is tough for failures. So, because I don’t want to live in a tough and unkind environment, I get up every day and work hard to achieve success. Whenever I feel like quitting, I set all my work aside, and have a good sleep. After waking up, I feel renewed and energetic to take on any challenge. 

GWC: You are a big fan of investing, what do you think about the trend among youths today who think it's safer to spend all without saving?

AYO: I see no sense in spending everything that one earns. One must always save or invest.

GWC: So many youths in Nigeria find it hard to be involved in publicly open competitions like the NCDMB because of the mentality that a winner must have been picked in-house, what is your take on this? How can more Nigerians be encouraged to get actively involved?

AYO: No, that is a wrong mentality that must be discarded by all and sundry. Most of these competitions, as far as I can tell, are based on merit. At least, I didn’t know anybody before I was shortlisted and finally declared the winner. The process was very transparent and anybody could have won it. Nigerians should not refuse to participate in life-changing competitions due to a belief that is not even true. This is also a reminder that Nigerians should take advantage of this year's essay contest as the topic is out at the moment.

GWC: Wow! Thank you for the information sir. What is your take on the mindset going viral that "Most Africans are lazy", how can this be corrected?

AYO:I don’t think most Africans are lazy. The NCDMB competition, which I won, was written by over 2000 students, and this applies to many other essay competitions. So, I don’t know where that notion that Africans are lazy originated from.

GWC: Awesome, from Mr Ayo, we know fully that Africans are great. Thank you so much, Mr Ayo.

We appreciate this and we look forward to hearing more about your exploits.

AYO: You're welcome.


  1. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Gbemi Writes.

    1. You're welcome sir. Thank you for honouring us.

  2. Elesho of the government. It was great reading this. You're one who is visionary and diligent. I admire you so much my brother. Keep rising!


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