Barrister Janet Alonge is a lawyer and she doubles as the founder of Ample Life Foundation, a registered Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that assists corporate bodies, groups and individuals who want to emigrate from Nigeria – for work or study. In this interview with OLANIYI AKINBODE, she explains why the NGO was established and the giant strides they have recorded over the years. Find excerpts of the conversation below:
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Janet Alonge and I am married with two children. I am a legal practitioner and I have been working with Niger Insurance since 2001. Besides that, I have my personal business.
I studied Public Administration at the University of Calabar, diploma level, after which I attended Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye. It was at the latter I got my first degree. As expected of anyone who studied law in Nigeria, I attended the Law School in Victoria Island, after which I was called to the Nigerian Bar Association.
I later went to the University of Lagos (UNILAG), where I graduated with a Master’s degree in Law. I practised briefly in two chambers viz Sadik & Co as well as Ubani & Co. It was after that I went on to set up my own law firm. Over the years, I have specialized in commercial law and arbitration.
I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators of Nigeria (ICMC) and a member of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom.
I have a travel agency and I am also an immigration lawyer. It is this combination that has equipped me adequately to offer consultancy services on how best to secure permanent residence, study, visit or work abroad without being scammed.
Apart from the travel agency, I have an NGO under the auspices of Ample Life Foundation. This NGO is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and we are in business to help people who want to emigrate to other countries – for work, study or other reasons.
N5,000 registration fee, you can become a member of our NGO and you
will only be required to influence at least two people to also become members
of the NGO. The more people a member is able to introduce, the more the
At the NGO, we are able to offer legal advice, carry out leadership training, and skill acquisitions programmes for the benefits of our members. We have also helped individuals to find sustainable sources of income by teaching them different ways to earn a residual income within or outside the organisation. We also provide jobs and scholarship opportunities within and outside the country for members.
Consultations done under the aegis of our Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has been free. Under this arrangement, people come in, spend as much time they want with me without paying a dime. We also do free assessments for those seeking permanent residence in Canada and Australia from any part of the world. Distance is not a barrier!
What does “Ample” stand for in the name of your organisation?
The dictionary meaning of “Ample” is enough (sufficient, adequate, plenty of, abundant, more than enough). This means by becoming a member of our NGO, you will experience an increase. Like our slogan “Giving You A Better Life”, it is our commitment to help you upgrade and we are certain that you will get a better life once you become our member.
As an immigration lawyer, what is your role in society?
I help people who have been scammed to take the right legal steps and those willing to just visit or relocate to other countries, to know the right steps to follow. I also help them to know what the requirements for securing permanent residence or other travel options.
I do visa advisory services, assist people to get admission, open their eyes to realities that match their aspirations. There are several travel agents out there who are only after money and would not care even if the client does not have the right criteria to study or travel abroad.
Online applications for many people have been messed up because some agents used false information for them in a bid to get them a visa. They only understand the gravity of the actions when they start to push for permanent residency. So, what I do mainly is to educate people on how to have the right criteria for whatever travel option they desire – international studies, permanent residence, conference, seminars or even tourism.
What inspired you to start this NGO?
Before I started the travel agency, I have been assisting people to emigrate because my family and I have travelled to different parts of the world. People would come to me for assistance and I would offer pro bono services. However, when the demand became overwhelming, I decided to open an office and take it up as a business.
Starting out, many disadvantaged but brilliant young people who wanted to study abroad reached out to me. They asked if we could sponsor them to travel with the agreement that they would work and pay back later. I was very sceptical about that arrangement and I told them that it may not be feasible as it would be very difficult tracking them once they are abroad. So, I was looking for the best way to help people without the business going through financial stress. This challenge brought about the establishment of this NGO.
How do you manage this NGO in terms of finances or do you get help from the government?
There has not been any encouragement from the government, individuals, groups or associations. We have only been able to manage this NGO with membership fees. With these fees, we have been able to send some of our members abroad for tourism and those who do not want to travel got cars in return.
Recently four people qualified for a
trip to Dubai through a promo. We are running another promo activity now where
some of our members will qualify for trips to Ghana, Kenya, Dubai and the sum
of one million Naira (
are a few of the methods we employ to give our members a better life.
You organised an award recently, what is the significance of this award?
We organised an award this year, precisely on 20th of April, 2019. However, it must be stated that it isn’t our maiden award ceremony. In the past, some of our members have won cash prizes as well as televisions, refrigerators, fans and many other electrical appliances. In fact, we have organised this kind of awards ceremony three times already, however, this recent one is for those who are qualified for trips and cars. We did this to encourage our members and to stimulate outsiders to give us a chance to offer them a better life.
Has the NGO recorded any positive result? What are some of the challenges you face in running the NGO?
One of the challenges we have been facing is that we have a lot of people who want to change the NGO into an investment platform. However, I try to make them understand that this NGO was set up for those who can’t afford to travel or study abroad. So basically, it is not for the rich. If you have your money and you would like to travel, you can come to us and we will prepare your travel package.
Another big challenge is finance since there are no external sponsors. The membership fee is quite low and can barely cater for the overhead costs let alone other expenses. At the moment, the NGO has over 5,000 members and we are still growing every day.
We have been able to empower members and launch them successfully into different small- and medium-scale businesses. We assist them with little start-up capital and they pay back later. Some of these members are doing fine now and we thank God for that.
This programme was started in 2016 and was registered in 2017 with the CAC. I will say from 2017 up until now, we have touched many lives. The foundation has trained over two hundred persons so far in different skills and most of them now have a sustainable means of livelihood.
We want to ensure that this platform is sustainable, so we need assistance and donations from the government, corporate organizations and individuals to be able to do more. We want to help children who cannot afford to go to school especially primary and secondary school children. We also want to help single mothers and widows who are lost and don’t have a sustainable source of income.
We have gone to orphanages and have been able to donate materials and little amount of cash but we still want to do much more.
Do you think the youths are losing focus; if yes, what advice do you have for them?
I have noticed that a lot of people want to travel out of the country and the major reason for this is that things are not really working well for them in this country. We have problems with electricity, roads, employment among others. Even businesses fold-up quickly due to lack of patronage. So, a lot of people are frustrated and eager to leave the country.
If anything, my advice to young Nigerians is that they should try to learn a skill so that by the time they get out of school, even if they have not secured a paid employment, they could use this skill to sustain themselves until then.
I foresee a time when skilful people will self-sufficient and would not even want to seek paid employment. So I encourage parents and school managers to let children learn skills even while they’re in school. In fact, the foundation here is planning to take our skill acquisition programmes to schools.
As a traveller and tourist, what are some of the benefits of travelling?
I don’t know if you have come across the saying that “you are happier when you travel”. I can say that each time I travel to different parts of the world, I learn new things.
Travelling exposes you as an individual to see things in the lens of other people. Going to other parts of the world will help you gain new experiences, it deepens your knowledge about things you don’t know and you can never be the same person when you return.
What can make travelling easy?
First, I think the government should sure the local economy is better. They should provide employment opportunities, good roads and means of transportation, uninterrupted power supply so foreigners can come to Nigeria for tourism and even Nigerians who travel abroad will want to return home, knowing that their home country is fully loaded.