Exclusive Interview With Oluwatomiwa Elijah Faniyi

Can we meet you? 

I am Oluwatomiwa Elijah Faniyi, also known as Tommy Brian. I reside in Oyo State. I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering at the prestigious Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. I am a young graduate, writer, and great communicator.
I'm an experienced freelancer with a demonstrated history of working in the Information and Communication Technology and Service industry. 

I enjoy the challenge of problem-solving and share a love for technology. I'm passionate about self-development and continuous professional growth.

We know you as a poet, writer, brand ambassador, coach and many others. But how will you describe yourself? 

I see myself as a Nation builder that seeks to empower, motivate and help others unleash and maximize their God-given potential. I am committed to building people that will build the nation. I am an ambassador of a generation that is empowered, motivated, and stirred to operate in natural excellence.

As a graduate of Chemical engineering, who's currently in his service year, what's your take on the educational system in Nigeria? Is school a scam? 

This is a question that plagues the minds of young learners in our country today. Many young people have now lost faith in education. To many people, upward social mobility and fulfillment in life through education are gradually becoming a mirage. But at a close examination, is school a scam? Despite the failing standard of education and the other never-ending means of upward social mobility, is school a scam? In this present digital world, is school a scam? This answer to the question is dependent on the choice of the individuals involved. You can make school work for you if you want and if you are willing to put in the work needed. You can decide to be among those who will not lament at the end of their school days that school is a scam. You can decide to put into practice the following points and maximize your stay in school.

To start with, school, particularly University education, is meant to lead you to the threshold of fulfilling your potential. School is not meant to directly solve your challenges or take away your family afflictions. Rather, it is a custodian of knowledge that exposes you to the right path and to information beyond what you already know. It will be a waste of time to think that your certificate translates to financial success. What will make you wealthy is using the knowledge you acquired in school to solve a problem and make money from the venture. But this is for those who decide to take the bulls by the horns and live life for themselves. The rest, however, keep waiting for manna to fall from heaven. Eventually, no or little manna falls, and their standards of living drop. For this set of people, is school not a scam?

Furthermore, school is an avenue to expand your social network, and explore the opportunities that come with them later in life. In school, you meet different classes of people. Naturally, you gravitate towards those with like minds and intentions. Being a lone ranger in school does not augur well for you. No man is an island; no man can succeed without the input of other men. In University campuses, apart from academic activities, some social clubs and organizations make room for your all-around growth as a student. It is among the people around you that trailblazers, market giants, big names in the media industry, governors, senators, presidents, kings, queens, ambassadors, etc., will come from. If you build relationships with this set of people while in school and you maintained such contacts, succeeding in life will not be as tasking as building the Tower of Babel. In the words of Porter Gale, your network is your net worth. For those who see value beyond the classrooms and their places of worship and go for it, school is not a scam.

Likewise, while in school, there are volunteering and internship opportunities you can explore. By doing so, you gain practical experience in a standard work environment while learning simultaneously. When you graduate, you will not be a greenhorn. In your years of study, you have also gained a certain level of experience. If you put this on your CV, an employer will consider you over those who have nothing to offer beyond their certificates. 

Also, volunteering is another way to get to where you are going fast with little or no financial cost. Of course, you will have to devote your time and efforts but they are always worth it. I once heard of a story of a lady, now a big name in the media industry, who had no money to register for seminars and workshops. So she would offer to carry the bag of one of those coming to speak at the seminar or offer to serve as an usher for free. As such, she will gain entrance into the venue and gain the knowledge she seeks. What a passion! A school is a place where such opportunities abound, but you will only see them if you look beyond the classrooms.

In addition, take time out to think and create solutions to problems while in school. Develop yourself to be a solution-oriented and intelligent masterpiece. Let the essence of learning within the four walls of a classroom or through the means of digital tools be seen in your lifestyle. School can be a catalyst for success if you allow it. Most world-class ideas today were stumbled upon in school by their owners. A famous example is Bill Gates who learned what he needed to start Microsoft in high school. Another example is Mark Zuckerberg who started Facebook in school. Through individual or group brainstorming, you can develop ways to solve some societal issues. For instance, you could come up with how to provide funds for entrepreneurial ventures for students, and connect them with buyers/customers/clients while making sure they pay taxes simultaneously, all at an affordable cost. Doing this will endear you to employers of labour and organizations that help to fund business start-ups. In return, you move out of the class of people who are deemed clueless with nothing reasonable to offer. As such, school is not a scam for you.

More so, the school will not likely be a scam if you learn digital skills relevant to this 21st century. Skills like copywriting, marketing, coding, programming, web development, and graphic designing, are required of students. These skills are now so integrated with almost all professions that you have no choice but to learn them. Acquiring these skills can even serve as a source of income apart from your chosen career. They can also help you scale higher heights in your field of discipline. In school, there are avenues you can explore to learn these digital skills and become relevant in today’s world, even amidst the technological advances that have become constant. Besides, learning these digital skills will enable you to cope with any technological faces your career puts on. You will not be at risk of losing your job because your computer skills are valuable to the company or firm you work in. As such, school cannot be a scam. Also, school is a fertile ground for launching your talents, skills, and handicrafts before you get to practice them in the work environment. 
For instance, there are ghostwriting gigs that you can get if you are talented in writing. You can even start a blog. You can perform at shows as an upcoming comedian or singer if that is what you know how to do. You can find the time when you are less busy to coach students of lower educational levels than yours if you love to teach.

If you are a fashion designer, you can start your clothesline in school. You can emcee shows and events at school. Doing these will create an extra source of income as well as an avenue to be proficient and professional in what you do. In all of these, school is not a scam. Finally, the proposition that school is a scam has a lot of loopholes. One must know that school is beyond reading and writing. Just like one of my lecturers (Dr. A. O Alade) said, you should graduate from school as an intellectual engineer not as an intellectual carpenter.

You recently won the New Man Gospel writing contest with the poem category. Congratulations. You've many other accomplishments and success stories in your journey as a poet. To poets reading this, what do you think is the basic ingredient to writing a mouthwatering piece 

There are many ingredients needed to spice up and cook a mouthwatering piece. I'll love to itemize them.
1. Write for a purpose 
2. Your message should be well expressed 
3. Craft a compelling headline 
4. Hook your readers with an interesting intro 
5. Provide the knowledge that readers want 
6. Write for your audience 
7. Write in your unique brand voice

The bulk of our audience is students... Can you share with us, some basic simple tips on how a student can make money because SAPA is real? 

Identify and maximize opportunities, and use them to your advantage. My friends are readers and I noticed they are always making demands on books. So I located a bookstore where I can get books at a cheaper price. All I had to do was to get a list of books from people, supply them, and get paid. I sell at an affordable price and still made a profit. There was a time I tutored some secondary school students and prepared them for WAEC. Paid internships, digital marketing, and Youtube are other ways to make money. But I do advise students to learn a skill, stay consistent, gain mastery and monetize it. There are a lot of tech skills, writing skills, and digital skills you can learn.

Also for a writer, how do you monetize your skills? 

By gaining mastery and expertise. When you become valuable, your value will attract people that are willing to pay for it. When I started writing, it was all for fun. I was writing for free, yet consistently. I gained mastery through consistency and much value was placed on my work. It will be easy for you to monetize once you gain expertise, and you will be free to use your creativity in many ways.

We all need mentorship, how do we approach someone that you want to mentor you? 

If you love to have someone as your mentor, take your time to do a background study of the person. Learn about their values, career, and goals. Ask yourself what you want out of the mentor. Be clear and direct. Ensure that you're clear about specifically what you will like advice on. Take some time to brainstorm questions. 
Pose the mentoring questions and clearly describe the guidance you are seeking. Confirm your willingness to do the necessary work and follow through. Acknowledge and respect the individual's time. Give feedback.

The current wave of youths in the political arena is the "OBIDIENT"
While some are skeptical about the move, what do you think about it? 

The obidient movement as it has been termed by many started with young people who are considered very strong-willed, independent-minded, and contemptuous of older politicians who they say have done nothing for us. It's not Igbo, Yoruba, or Hausa, it is beyond the tribe. It's about voting for a competent leader to rule Nigeria. Nigeria is in a mess right now, if we have someone capable of steering the ship forward, why not vote for him? They should not be moved by the temptation to collect bribes or money. They need to walk their talk by going all out to vote on election day.

It will be total and complete wickedness controlled by darkness and evil intentions to vote for people whose plans are to jeopardise the present of the current generation and sabotage the future for unborn generations. 

For someone interested in politics, how do one go about it? 

As a student, don't be too much in a hurry to dive into politics. Work on your ability to lead yourself, and build value. One of the problems we're facing in Africa is bad leadership. True leadership is an attitude rather than a title. Once you can lead, the platform will come. I've been privileged to serve people since I was 12, and I've never begged for a title. Build leadership strength before you go into politics. 

To our audience.
What's that your golden advice that you think is worth a million dollars? 
We are all a work in progress, with so much still to learn. Always remember that your progress is forward, keep working on yourself.