Ojobo Agbo is an Engineer by training and experience but by passion, he is a Human Capacity and Business Developer. He’s also a certified Life and Emotional Intelligence Coach and Therapist. He is driven to help others realize and achieve their potential in all aspects of their lives.
Due to his determination to help others excel, Agbo created “The Ideal Man.” Agbo tells me that this idea came about through meditation and reflection on what holds men back. He believes that just as women empowerment groups are prevalent, the men need their platform too. However, the Ideal Man is not about fighting for equality or rights. Rather, it is about the development of the boy-child. In order to have a better society and workplace, Agbo believes we must pay attention to the male figure because they play a prominent role in the success of this.
I sat down with Agbo to discuss more on the Ideal Man Initiative, his mission and vision for the platform. We discussed his stance on supporting parts of feminism, as well as the perception of what it means to be a man in the society and community.
What are your goals and vision for the Ideal Man platform?
Our vision is to raise boys into responsible and stable men for the society, family, and workplace. It’s not just about the boy and man, but also about how he affects other people’s lives.
How do you aim to empower and inspire the boy-child into a stable and responsible man?
As a group, we’ve come up with what we call our primary and secondary targets. Our primary target is geared towards the teenage boys and the young men in their twenties. We want to reach out to these boys through their schools. We will reach out by creating platforms for them. We will create awareness on social media.
Our secondary target is stakeholders. That’s everybody that plays a role in the life of the male be it the family, society, school and religious institutions. We’re going to have seminars in partnership with school bodies and gender-based groups. We’re going to institute certain programs in schools and in religious organizations. It all boils down to how the boys and young men learn, develop and are educated by the family, school and religious institutions.
The message we are sending out is that we should pay attention to the development of the boy-child into the man that he will become. If he is brought up properly, we will have a better family and workplace. Our primary and secondary target is how we intend to achieve these goals. It’s going to be a long journey but little by little, we will get there.
What are some challenges that affect the man and the boy-child in Nigeria?
As a society, we believe that a man is a man and so he can always figure things out for himself. He feels no pain and has no right to show any emotions. It seems like once you are a man, you are already empowered. I don’t know where that thought comes from. We don’t allow boys and men to be human. We need to question certain misconceptions and beliefs we have about the male figure.
What are some things that might be misconceptions about the way men are perceived?
Men are perceived to be super-human and that’s a problem because it is dysfunctional. We expect the man to show no emotional pain. To show no sign of weakness or fear. To be violent and physical. To gain control. We teach them these things from a young age and then they grow up and we blame them for it.
We also have this perception that the man should figure things out for himself with no proper mentoring and guidance That’s why men can’t ask for help. Therefore, if they can’t overcome a difficult situation, they turn to drugs or commit suicide. They look towards these channels because they have been taught and told to “man up.” We have not created a system that allows boys to know that they can have emotions. We’ve attached the show of emotions to weakness in a man. However, emotional learning is the building blocks of life.
How Can We Fix the Problems and Challenges that the Man and Boy-Child Faces?
One of the things that we try to do with the “Ideal Man” is to create awareness and advocate for the boy-child development. In order to fix the problems, we have to first accept and acknowledge that the man and the boy actually face challenges. We then need to get to the root of the situation by evaluating how the boy becomes a man.
In the Ideal Man, we say that when a man beats his wife, he is not doing it to be wicked. He is not doing it because all men are scum. He is doing it because that is all he knows to do. That is how he knows to communicate his emotions. He learns that the only way to show his emotions is to be physical. From a young age, he equated respect to power.
We therefore have to be concerned with the boy and man’s mental and emotional well-being. We mustn’t shame or destroy the man’s career. How is the man supposed to be responsible when he hasn’t been taught that since childhood?
You’ve said that your platform is supporting the feminist cause?
We are not out-rightly supporting all ideas of feminism. What we want to do is address some of the issues that the feminist movement are advocating for. We believe that some of the strategies they are using are wrong. We hear things like a girl needs to speak out about sexual abuse. That strategy is short-term. How many people are going to speak out? Why don’t we talk to the possible perpetrators of this act? Why don’t we educate our boys on how they relate to girls and women?
The way we support feminism is that we are trying to be preventive and not just corrective. We want to educate the men to understand their emotional and mental well-being. We want to educate them right from the family, to the school and other areas. That way, we eliminate some of the issues that the feminist movement are fighting for.
What do you believe is the man’s role in the society and home?
The man has been the protector, the provider, and the procreator. The man is supposed to be the leader and the mentor. He is supposed to be a guardian and the head of the family.
The problem in the society is that we just have a boy who is a child, and then he is a teenager. After, suddenly, he is a young man that is about to get married. He gets married and we expect and assume that he should just know things. We need to train the boy-child into the man that he should be as a leader, teacher, and mentor.
Lastly, what’s a fun fact(s) about you?
I’m the only son among six sisters. I enjoy watching movies, playing soccer and reading. Also, I can sing “to remember.” Overall, I’m a happy man that’s always smiling.
If you enjoyed reading this interview about Ojobo Agbo on the Ideal Man, you can keep up with him by following him on Instagram. You can read about his views and experiences on Medium and learn more about his work in his site at >>http://www.ojoboagbo.com/
For more inspiring stories on Nigerian men, you can read my other blog posts like Isaac Jude on Leading the Nigerian Youth to Great Heights and The Shoe Designer Who Took the Made in Nigeria label to a New Level
What are your thoughts on Agbo’s perspective on the boy-child development? Let me know with a comment below.