I am very excited and overjoyed just posting this interview with Seun- the Nairaland creator and administrator. Why? You may wonder. His story depicts a 24-year old Nigerian who decided to cause a change rather than being influenced by a society surrounded with all manners of issues. Seun has become an icon of “anything is possible if you believe”. I rubbed minds with him, on himself, his dreams, his popular site that registers more than 56,000 Nigerians and friends of Nigerians and on issues surrounding unemployment in Nigeria. Â Please, read on
1. May we know your full name?
ANSWER: Oluwaseun Osewa
2. May we meet you; primary, secondary, and university
background, where you come from, etc? ANSWER: I’m a capitalist, and I come from Nigeria.
3. Would you say your educational background influenced your
4. Who (anyone that influences you) would you regard as your
source of motivation?
ANSWER: Milton Friendman, the Nobel Prize winning economist. I admire his
well-researched views on the role of government, which is to maintain
law and order only.
5. What inspires you?
ANSWER: A strong desire to be financially independent and achieve good things
that will affect millions of people and last even after I’ve died of
6. When did the idea of Nairaland come to you?
ANSWER: I learnt that one could make money by starting a popular website and
placing adverts on it, but I couldn’t make my blog popular enough to
be profitable, so I decided to start various forums where people can
post on various topics that I have no personal interest in.
When the offtopic forum of my mobile phone forum proved popular, I
decided to start a new discussion forum named Nairaland which would
cover all topics that Nigerians care about. I was able to get enough
traffic on this new forum to earn a decent income.
7. What challenges did you face and kindly give strategies
adopted to overcome such challenges?
ANSWER: Spam and scammers are a constant nuisance on the forum. I try my best
to remove members who engage in such acts and their posts. I also
have private messaging disabled so spamming and scamming can’t be done
Well-intentioned members who ignore the rules of the forum are also a
problem. I find that I have to ban them frequently to convince them
to either follow the rules or stay away.
The ‘best’ problem I experience as the administrator of Nairaland is
that sometimes, during peak periods, there’s so much traffic that my
web server can’t keep up. This is very frustrating because it
prevents further growth of the Nairaland Forum. After upgrading my
hosting plan once, I’ve resorted to constant modification of the
software behind the forum to make it fast enough to run under my
current hosting plan.
8. Before Nairaland, what other projects have you undertaken?
Would you say they were successful?
ANSWER: All my business projects before Nairaland were failures, except the
one that became Nairaland. My web hosting business failed after just
3 months because I ran out of money, while I couldn’t execute many
other projects I researched due to shyness and lack of capital. My
blogs and the mobile phone forum that preceded Nairaland were
successful but not profitable. However, it was on that foundation
that Nairaland was built.
9. Would you say your passion and strength as a programmer
helped you create a world-class forum that Nigerians can be proud of?
ANSWER: All the programming I do today involves modification of PHP scripts
and SQL queries. And you know what? As a programmer, I looked down
on both languages and ignored them! My programming experience wasn’t
very useful. Even if I wasn’t a programmer from the beginning, I’ll
have learnt just enough PHP and SQL to make Nairaland a reality. My
determination was and is much more important.
10. Nairaland has been a sort of refuge (information, knowledge
sharing, escapism, etc) to Nigerians especially Nigerians in diaspora.
Would you say you foresaw this when building this project?
ANSWER: Yes. Â Before starting Nairaland, I noticed that other Nigerian
websites had more Nigerians abroad than Nigerians at home as members.
In fact, I sought to reverse this trend, and to a certain extent I
succeeded. The country with the highest number of Nairaland visitors
at this time is Nigeria. Earlier this year, it was the USA, as it is
for most Nigerian websites.
11. I remember speaking with you five years ago and you spoke of
developing software that will beat Windows? Are you still holding that
ANSWER: No. It was a foolish vision. Linux has already beaten Windows and few
12. I also remembered how much you loved Linux that you refused
to install Windows in you computer. Do you still have that passion for
ANSWER: Even though I still use Linux from the command line on my web server,
my desktop operating system is Windows. I want to experience the
Nairaland Forum the way others experience it, so when they have
problems I’ll be able to help them.
13. What has been your driving force?
ANSWER: Survival, a strong desire for independence, and a desire to be influential.
14. The job situation in Nigeria is getting worse and worse?
Secondary School Students are dreaming of universities and avoiding
polytechnics. There is a great imbalance in the system. Jobs are few
compared with the job seekers. Would you advocate entrepreneurship?
ANSWER: I always tell job seekers to create their own jobs, because nobody
owes them a job.
“Look for a painful problem that others are facing, and then devise a
way to make people pay you for the solution. Look for problems that
don’t require much capital to solve. In a developing country like
Nigeria, there are so many problems waiting to be solved. One man’s
problem is another man’s profit! Competition is often weak which
means you’ll make a lot of money. So what are you waiting for?”
Unemployment is a problem of highly regulated and unionized countries
where job creation is made difficult by politicians and labor leaders.
Nigerians should not be talking about unemployment at all. There are
so many obvious opportunities around us waiting to be exploited.
Being jobless in Nigeria is a big shame indeed.
15. Taking Nigeria into consideration, you have been successful
as an entrepreneur. What secrets (strategy) would you share with
ANSWER: With only one success so far, I am yet to prove myself. If I am able
to start 2 or 3 other business projects and they succeed, then I will
feel confident enough to teach others how to succeed (I’m currently
looking into movie production).
However, one thing I know is that as a businessman, you have not
failed until you run out of capital or give up on your business.
Hence, one should be very careful not to spend money unecessarily.
And one should keep trying until one succeeds.
16. Just one word, phrase, clause, sentence for youths in Nigeria
ANSWER: Create your own job today.
17. What’s the address of your website?