For the first time, Africans in the U.S. have resolved to take decisive steps to effect the long desired change in Africa. This decision was taken at the joint meeting of CSAAEINC board members, mentors, staff and volunteer appreciation dinner held in Maryland on Sunday, February 12, 2017. The team was made up of the clergy, medical professionals, entrepreneurs and technocrats from various walks of life including delegates from CSAAEINC Nigeria Board of Trustees.
Highlighting the activities of the Center for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics Inc., the founder and president, Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa stated that the Center is set up to address issues of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa. He reminded the group that positive change demands action, and that Africa can only change for good if those who have the capacity, character and competency get actively involved in leadership. To raise such leaders, the Center annually recruits intellectually and morally sound undergraduates with leadership potentials. The Center trains these for leadership positions in the future through a three-year structured ethics, excellence in leadership and innovation program known as Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).
A key part of the training is one-on-one mentoring. These students – drawn from various universities, colleges and institutions of higher learning across Nigeria – are excited to have mentors – mostly U.S. based, for guidance and mentoring. That’s a great privilege for any young Nigerian, and for which they are willing to commit to hard work and creativity. Obviously, Africa’s problem is corruption, says Fr. Agbagwa. Then Africa’s challenge is getting the right people actively involved in the fight against the age-long systemic monster. The CSAAEINC president remarked that corruption has affected the socio-economic and political structure in such a way that the only way out is to groom fresh minds, to mentally and attitudinally reorient them from the negative norm. Partnering with men and women of high credibility would therefore give CSAAEINC the needed human resources to bring about a lasting change that would guarantee freedom from poverty and hunger in Nigeria and Africa at large.
The commitment from the board members and mentors toward bringing the change was unanimously emphatic. Each member bared her mind on how they have been unfortunate victims of corruption in Nigeria, and how they have grieved for years without getting actively involved. Sharing their different experiences, they agreed that Nigerians in diaspora have not done the country any good by sitting on the fence till this moment. With the platform provided by CSAAEINC, these Nigerians affirmed that the opportunity to contribute to change has been provided for them. The first step in this effort is to empower the future leaders morally and academically through ELP. Each mentor thus resolved to take up at least one student and to serve as the future leader’s guide. The mentors promised to be in constant touch with their mentees through phone calls, emails, chats on social media as well as physical contact when necessary. The aim of the one-on-one mentoring is to groom, encourage and motivate these future leaders to do things in a civilized manner, to inculcate fairness, integrity, accountability, solidarity, punctuality and creativity, as well as to imbibe hard work, and to shun the mendacious ways of doing things which seem to have become the order of the day around them. The target is to have them become high profile leaders with the capacity to effect significant positive changes within their areas of influence.
The Center admits about twenty-five of these future leaders annually. The Center supports their education, engages them with year round book reading, inspirational film viewing and research while also inspiring them to initiate innovative community development projects. Through their projects, these emerging leaders demonstrate leadership abilities and competence to change the status quo. With the guidance of mentors, they receive moral strength to swim against negative academic and political tides that characterize their environments. Indeed, the rare involvement of the seasoned mentors, volunteers and board in CSAAEINC is a big step towards addressing issues of poverty and underdevelopment in the most populous nation of the African continent. The symbiosis between established Nigerians in diaspora and Nigerian undergraduates at home is something not only new but exciting. Thanks to CSAAEINC for this great stride. Undoubtedly, the results are not far-fetched.
Present at the event include Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa, Founder and President, Fr. Vincent Arisukwu, Vice President, Dr. Patrick Nwakama (Board Member), Mr. Uzo Onyemaechi (Board Member), Dr. Camillus Ezeugwu (Mentor), Dr. Clement Anyadike (Mentor). Others are Dr. Funke Panox (Mentor), Dr. Akintade Ajoke (Mentor), Mitch and Patti Rubin (Administrative Support), Donna Saftko (IT Support) and Bridget Kenah (Volunteer) and Dr. Aina Halliday who made a powerful presentation to the guests. Delegates who flew in from Nigeria include Chief (Comrade) Olusola Abuachi (Secretary, Board of Trustees) and Rev. Dr. Asma’u Usman (Board Member).
In an address delivered through an audio channel and read by the Group Secretary of the Emerging Nigerian Leaders, Ms. Chisom Ekezie of the Federal University of Nigeria, Owerri, they thanked the board, mentors, staff and volunteers of CSAAEINC for their sacrifices and for the privilege granted them to be part of the noble program. The future leaders reported that they are all excelling in both their academics and community development projects, attributing their successes to the inspiration and support from CSAAEINC. According to them, they are determined to be best leaders wherever they are. CSAAEINC, they said, has invested so much on them, and that invariably bestows great expectations. The address was signed Priscilla Igwe (Group Lead, Ebonyi State University), Valentine Momoh (Deputy Group Lead, University of Benin) and Chisom Ekezie (Group Secretary) on behalf of the emerging Nigerian leaders drawn from universities and higher institutions across Nigeria.
Rev. Fr. Vincent Arisukwu
Vice President, CSAAE