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Hopeful for change, Tari Taylaur dared to head for the polls

Tari Taylaur is a media professional and TV producer with fourteen years’ experience serving clients in the private sector, social development and government.

She is passionate about improving the welfare of young people and has served as a volunteer in projects across education, food security, voter enlightenment and environmental advocacy.

She established Content Factory Ltd in 2012, which provides bespoke audio-visual solutions for private sector companies, SMEs, social enterprises and government agencies.

She has worked on landmark projects including YouWin Nigeria, Deesperate Housewinces Africa, Apprentice Africa, Dragon’s Den Nigeria, and the official centenary documentary for Nigeria.

Tari is currently the Secretary of a Lekki subzone and is an active member of the Environment Committee for Lekki Estate Residents Association (LERA).

She is a member of the Youth Party, who ran for the office of Councillor, Eti-osa LGA Ward A (Lekki 1 – FemiOkunnu), whose strategy from her campaign was to transform the environment and create jobs for the many unemployed youths milling the streets.

The intention was to hit the ground running as Councillor, implementing innovative solutions to improve the general quality of life in Lekki using technology, public orientation techniques, and an inclusive style of leadership.

She did not win however, her desire to inspire the youths and continually build the spirit of optimism in them towards Nigeria remains sure.

Read Also: Why Eti-Osa is recording increased Covid-19 cases

Formative years and impact till date

I grew up in a large family house, surrounded by my siblings, cousins and relatives from all sides. My parents were always very accommodating; I learned from them the culture of embracing everyone regardless of differences. My upbringing enabled me to be well-rounded and gave me the open-mindedness to engage people from all walks of life. Volunteering in public service initiatives began since my teens; I have always been involved in one way or another whether through church or my family’s influence. This awakened in me the desire to contribute my time and skills to the benefit of those around me. My parents also made me see the value in using one’s God given blessings and opportunities to create a path for others who are not as fortunate as I have been.

Read Also: The ‘hidden’ story of Eti-osa, a marshland turned investment destination

Getting into TV production and journey so far

I got my first job in TV as an assistant on the set of Apprentice Africa, a local production which was a franchise of the original Apprentice show. Right after that, I worked on several more international productions including Dragon’s Den Nigeria, Desperate Housewives African and more. I served as Media Director for seven years at Guiding Light Assembly, where I produced a talk show called Heart of the Matter, with Pastor Wale Adefarasin. The programme shed the spotlight on individuals and organisations doing great social work on the continent. In 2012, I started my company, The Content Factory Ltd, to focus on serving clients within government and the social development space. The journey so far has been one of progressive learning and collaborations, which have deepened my knowledge of the global media industry, as well as given me a thorough understanding of how to create maximum value productions, in a timely and cost-effective manner. I am also the creator and show runner of LAGOSA, a radio drama set in the fictional Eko Atlantic city, which tells the story of its first Mayor, Michael Babatunde, played by Femi Jacobs. The radio drama also stars Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva, Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Michelle Dede, Adeolu Adefarasin, Oludara Egerton-Shyngle and Kemi Lala Akindoju.

How are you improving the welfare of young people?

By constantly engaging young people and working with them, I have a good understanding of their needs and challenges. Being a young person (millennial) myself, I know what it’s like to have noble aspirations, but lack the enabling environment to fulfil your potential. Young Nigerians need the confidence and support of our governments and private sector to thrive in their areas of specialisation. We must not shy away from giving youths the platform and authority to execute the disruptive ideas we carry in our hearts. Mentorship is necessary for the growth of our young professionals. I believe that if every well-established person takes on a young mentee, development will be accelerated across sectors. I have been part of initiatives in education, technology and environmental advocacy and financial empowerment of young Nigerians, to help them advance into the levels they deserve to operate in.

What do you do as secretary of a Lekki subzone? What subzone is this?

My subzone is part of Zone IV in Lekki 1. Two years ago, we were notoriously marked as the ‘slum’ of Lekki due to rising levels of crime, vagrancy and the prevalence of illegal refuse dumping grounds within the residential area. In May 2020, a few residents and myself decided we were no longer going to accept the status quo and galvanised our neighbours to come together to address the deterioration. Less than a year later, we have succeeded in transforming our subzone to a consistently clean and secure one, which serves as a model for others. We dug out all the dumpsites, cleared our gutters of all refuse, and emptied out the abandoned buildings that were hybrid grounds for crime. We also identified some street boys who were willing to work, and geared them with the right tools, giving them stable jobs as cleaners. For the last 14 months, these boys (and girl) who hitherto used to be regulars at malls and other places to beg for alms, have been earning up to N30,000 monthly. The initiative is sustained by contributions from residents, who are willing to keep it running as they can see the transformation happening in real time. As Secretary, I manage our administrative structure and disburse funds for our monthly overheads and special projects.

Being a member of the Environment Committee for Lekki Estate Residents Association (LERA). Why did you join? Experience so far?

I joined the Environment Committee due to a personal desire to achieve a clean and healthy environment for all. So far, it has been a journey of hard work with good results. I work closely with Chairman, Toyin Lara Adesanya in tirelessly making sure that our streets and gutters are clean. However, the appalling state of our environment makes it a continuous task of sensitising residents, engaging government agencies, and working with them to enforce sanitation laws. We need to do better with regards to our environment. For too long we have neglected this basic aspect of our wellbeing, allowing overflowing waste bins, refuse filled gutters and illegal dumping sites to become the norm. The condition of our environment doesn’t speak well of us as a people, and we must do the needful.

On residential associations, how efficient are they?

Residential associations are a very necessary body for micro-development in our communities. Many of them make up for the void created by the inefficiency of local governments to address the sanitation, drainage and public safety challenges. They comprise of ordinary citizens who out of concern and a desire to improve the conditions of their community, volunteer their time (and sometimes resources). I believe a law should be passed that recognises the existence of these associations and allows them the authority to carry out petty sanctions where necessary. In Lekki, we have committed high-calibre individuals serving on various committees within the Lekki Estate Residents Association (LERA). The huge responsibilities require most of us to devote many hours of our already busy days to addressing the needs of our community.

When and why did you join the Youth Party? What is their goal?

I joined in 2021. The party’s goal is to build a Nigeria where there is a decent and acceptable standard of living for all. We have also broken down the barriers to youth participation in the political space and encourage people with a sincere desire for public service to run for elective offices. It comprises of well-meaning young Nigerians who are thriving in their various fields and want nothing more than to see Nigeria work for everyone.

Why did you decide to run for the office of Councillor, Eti-osa LGA, Ward A (Lekki 1 – FemiOkunnu)?

Through my capacity as Secretary of my subzone and member of Environment Committee, I already carry out a level of representation for my community. I liaise with government agencies on their behalf, and attend to issues that enhance their quality of life. If I could be making some impact as a private citizen volunteering, I believe that I can make much more impact with a public office, as Councillor. The local government is the closest government to the people and has the capacity to make the most impact in the lives of the people at the grassroots.

Experience of the entire process from when you picked your form to the day of election?

The entire journey spanned 8 weeks in total. I thoroughly enjoyed going into the local communities around Lekki, bonding with the people and sharing my plans with them. My campaign team and I were very well received by the people, especially as we went into the communities already deploying our environmental solutions. We cleaned out Itedo, Ikate and Igbokusu, thereby endearing ourselves to the people, while demonstrating to them what youth leadership looks like. The climax of our campaign was a road walk which saw us marching around the entire perimeter of the constituency with a large entourage of youths. I am honoured to have answered the call to service which afforded me the opportunity to connect with my constituents in a way I could never have as a passive observer. I have been awakened by the experience and have become deeply invested in mapping out the solutions required for unprecedented grassroot development.

How did your friends and family respond to your declared intention?

Everyone was very supportive of me. They believed it was the right move, especially since they are all aware of how active I already am in public service. It completely made sense to them and my loved ones remarked about how I am the right fit in terms of personality, experience, compassion and dedication to the welfare of the common man.

When you realised you did not win, how did that make you feel?

The jury is still out on the elections, as it was marred by tons of irregularities. Our case is being prepared for the Election Tribunal. Nonetheless, I was disappointed by the fact that voters were not allowed a free and fair process to select the leaders of their choice.

The Youth Party has presented evidence of all these irregularities, and we ask LASIEC to cancel those elections that were held on the 24th of July, 2021.

What next?

I will continue to present myself to my community for service. The people need me and other like-minded Nigerians to take up leadership mantles at the local level. My entire campaign was centred around improving the quality of life of my constituents; clean environment, building public toilets and other sanitary facilities. I find it unacceptable that a large majority of our people live in these unhealthy conditions, so I will keep working to give them the quality of life they deserve.

 

Advice for women who want to go into politics

Just do it. Be clear on the value you want to offer, and the people will support you.

What is it about Eti-osa LGA, WARD A that people need to know?

It has great potential to be the center of excellence in Lagos and the model for environmental transformation. We also have the capacity to engage all the unemployed youths with a sustainable model for training and job creation. Ward A Eti-Osa (Lekki and environs) is a melting pot for all the diverse people that make up Nigeria. Therefore, if we can make Ward A work, we can make Nigeria work.

Share on the support you received when you declared your intention

Overwhelmingly encouraging. I was supported by my family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, Lekki stakeholders, the Church, market women, CDA leaders, royal fathers, okada riders and street boys. It was remarkable! I was truly humbled by the outpouring of love, prayers, financial contributions and vote of confidence invested in me.

What has the entire experience taught you?

It taught me never to relent in my conviction. God places a burning desire in our hearts; we must not ignore it. But rather, listen to that still, firm voice within that says to us “this is the way, walk in it”.

2023 is around the corner, what do you hope for?

Good governance at all levels. Youth domination at the polls. It’s time for young Nigerians to rise up and take control of our destiny. We have the most to lose if this country falls apart, therefore, we must guard the unity of this nation at all cost. Generations ahead of us have enjoyed some good from our land. Unfortunately, we have borne the brunt of all the dysfunction. Now we must put our heads together and figure out the way into our glorious future.

October 2020 is still fresh in the hearts of many youths. What do you wish to say to them as 2023 draws nigh?

Let’s be more strategic and less reactive. Focus on mobilising towards election, instead of protests. I would like to encourage every young Nigerian out there: there is light beyond this present darkness. We must persevere with the strength and resilience we are known for. The future is ours.

Final words

GOD bless Nigeria!

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