Nigeria must struggle with the question of how it will respond to the needs of those whose condition of life is untenable. Acting on a promise he made to his late father, U.S. based Ope Sanni made it clear that borders are irrelevant to his moral obligations and there is no uncertainty about whether his aid will reach the needy. His obligation to give is also unaffected by whether others are giving their fair shares. City People chatted with Ope Sanni recently to talk about the Sanni Foundation:
Tell us about the Sanni Foundation
The Sanni Foundation is a 501(3)(c) organization whose primary mission is the alleviation of poverty in rural Nigeria through the funding of education, healthcare & public service infrastructure. It was incorporated in 2018 by Tola & Ope Sanni, who reside in Bowie MD. It held its first charity fundraiser in November 2019.
Tell us about your breakthrough career-wise in the U.S.
I relocated to the United States in 1999 with my wife and 2 sons. I worked as an independent Information Technology Consultant for 15 years, and in 2014, I started my own Real Estate & Construction company which specializes in the development of condominium buildings in and around the Washington DC area. This has been successful beyond my wildest imagination in spite of the obstacles I have faced. And I have been able to grow the business at a decent pace over the last 5 years.
When you mentor young Nigerians who look up to you on how they can make it in life, what advice do you give them?
My advice to young Nigerians are the following;
Education is the great divider. And one must never stop learning or be afraid to take on any challenge in a new area.
Honesty and Integrity must be their watchword. Success at all costs is not an option. One must remember from whence one came
Hard work and perseverance are the key to long term success
Tell us about your schooling. You were born here in Nigeria. Why did you relocate to the US
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I attended both primary and secondary schools in Lagos before proceeding to the University of Ibadan to study Medicine. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete that degree and ended up transferring to the Ogun State University to study and obtain a degree in Computer Science. After which I relocated to the United Kingdom to study and receive a Masters’s degree in Information Systems.
I worked in the UK for 5 years and in 1999, I relocated to the US in search of better career opportunities.
What were the major challenges you encountered along the way?
The major challenges I encountered along the way include Obtaining the Green Card.
The African bias from African-Americans.
Rising in Corporate America
How do you see the current negative image Nigeria is suffering from?
The negative image that Nigeria suffers from has plagued us in the diaspora for as long as I know. It is a reality that I have come to accept since it is of our own making. But I believe Nigerians are doing great things quietly and eventually, the era of embarrassment will be replaced by a new era of stunning success across all endeavors as the Gen Y kids take their rightful place and do Nigeria proud.
Why have you remained proud of being a Nigerian?
I have no choice but to be proud since that is my only identity. I am however not in denial of the realities created by other Nigerians that soil the name of Nigeria, I, however, expect to be judged on my own merit in spite of the fact that I am a Nigerian. So I always put my best foot forward and do the little I can to help promote a positive image of Nigeria.