By Emmanuel Benson:
Ms. Natasha Akpoti represents many good things rolled into one. She is a lawyer, an investment consultant, a social advocate, a philanthropist and most importantly, a Nigerian woman with an agenda for social change. I first came across this amazon in 2014 by mere coincidence when Facebook’s “people you may know” popup showed her profile to me. As I read through her “about page”, I was enthralled by her academic qualifications and most importantly her involvement with The Builder’s Hub; a movement which she pioneered and still champions. Ms. Akpoti would then graciously accept my friendship thereby giving me the opportunity to closely observe her relentless, numerous campaigns for social change as well as the direct [positive] impacts her activism has on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
There is no doubt that this Kogi-born/Abuja-based professional is a mover and shaker of our society. One of the things that have made her prominent is the course she champions. With relentless effort, she urges governments at all levels (specifically the central government) to revitalize Nigeria’s faded and overlooked industrial base, while encouraging the discovery and sponsorship of local artisanship as a means to “kick-starting the much needed industrial revolution in the country from the grassroots”. In this regard I classify her as a true nationalist who advocates for a refocus on Nigeria’s productive past. Her message is clear- we do not have to be dependent on foreign-made goods for our survival as that can never sustain our economy. And mind you, she does not merely advocate, she also lives by example starting from the way she dresses to the strong relationship she has with the people at the grassroots level. Can you imagine that she even quit a lucrative job with a major oil industry in order to effectively campaign for this social/economic change which she strongly believes will make Nigeria great!
Indeed, Ms. Akpoti is a fascinating human being. At a time when there are not many people interested in bettering the lots of the ordinary Nigerian on the street, she has taken it upon herself as an agenda. In a country where not many rich and successful people would like to relate with or even advance the economic lots of the average Nigerian, she clamours for and represents the hope that the common man on the street may one day have economic success through the revitalization of Nigeria’s productive base. She uses her high connections to press home her point, meeting with the presidency and practically demanding for the revitalization of such industries such as the Ajaokuta Steel Company which by the way a friend of mine visited once and described it as a sorry site. But more than that, Ms. Akpoti also [through the Builder’s Hub] showcases the ingenuity of Nigerian artisans to the public while giving them the much-needed publicity and financial aid. She tours the length and breadth of our great nation in search of ingenious local craftsmanship, and has on several occasions helped with the marketing of products designed and produced by artisans in the interiors of Nigeria to big cities such as Abuja and Lagos. She does all of these because of her simple but imperative belief that the industrial revolution we so much desire in this country lies in the hands of artisans.
There are simply many fascinating attributes possessed by this woman. Perhaps the one that stands out most for me is her concern for Government to actually translate Nigeria’s purported economic growth from the papers to the transformed living condition of the ordinary man. She has the professional understanding of how economic diversification impacts positively on a country’s economy; after all she has an MBA from the University of Dundee. But more than that, she has a passion for development which is the driving force behind her campaign. There is no doubt that this passion will enable her achieve the agenda she has set even as she goes about pressuring those at the helm of affairs to take action. It therefore belies every well-meaning Nigerian (and particularly those in charge of public policy) to rise up to this task by realizing that no economy can grow when a large percentage of the population is not actively engaged in the act of production. It is unfortunate that the Nigerian situation is such where very many able-bodied men and women find themselves unemployed simply because of negligent policies that have consistently failed to tackle important issues such as those advocated by Ms. Akpoti. It is therefore high time we position Nigeria towards becoming an economic powerhouse in the global economic arena especially especially with the impacts made by The Builder’s Hub as well the anticipated contributions of Government.
Finally it is important to mention at this juncture that Ms. Akpoti is a mentor to so many Nigerians especially young people whose interests she represents by clamouring for economic integration and job creation. There is no doubt that her name will someday go down in history as the woman who saved Nigeria’s artisanship from the brink of collapse; the woman under whose watch Nigeria’s middle class had roots.