Each year, the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics, Inc. (CSAAE) kicks off its Emerging African Leaders Program (ELP) with a Foundation Conference designed to address Africa’s leadership problems, challenge emerging leaders to seek solutions to community problems and orient them towards moral values that enhance the greater good for Africa. The conference which holds every November provides emerging leaders the opportunity to engage critical actors in development and nation building, showcase their various community development projects, social/business enterprises and network. New emerging leaders are formally inducted into ELP at this conference and are educated on the vision, mission, programs, activities, rules and regulations of CSAAE.
The 6thEmerging African Leaders Foundation Conference (EALFC) which was also used to commemorate the 5thAnniversary of CSAAE held on Thursday, November 22, 2018 at Top Rank Hotels Garki, Area II Abuja with “Leadership for Common Good”as theme.
The conference featured two panel discussions on “Leadership for Common Good”with Dr. Cosmas Maduka (Chairman, Coscharis Group) as a keynote speaker and Professor Chidi Odinkalu (Open Society Foundation) and Lara Owoeye-Wise (Special Assistant on Media to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly) as panellists. In addition, the impact reports of community development projects inspired and supported by the Centre were presented to the general public as well as CSAAE’s status report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), United Nations Universal Human Rights and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In his opening remark titled, “The Founder’s Dream”, CSAAE Founder and President, Rev. Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa, informed all that the poverty he suffered as a teenager, discriminatory treatment he received on several occasions because he is a Nigerian despite his status as an American citizen, a catholic priest and a university lecturer inspired him to establish CSAAE. The ethics professor known for his love for Nigerian youths expressed his conviction that a better Nigeria is possible with the millennials, if they can be properly guided. “The Nigerian youths if provided with the right training, tools and mentorship can fix our country in such a way that we can be respected across the globe” he emphasized.
In his keynote address, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, shared his personal experience on how he progressed from a young business apprentice in Lagos state to become one of the most successful businessmen in Africa. He stated that, his dedication to God and following a career path in line with his talent and passion are the secrets of his outstanding rise from penury to affluence. He went further to say that vision(which must include service to the people), faith(which has to be a strong belief in one’s vision) and courage(which is the ability to take calculated risks, even in the presence of fear), are significant for survival in life especially in Africa. In his words, “the young people should discover their gifts and operate within their gifts.” In addition, “they should build reputation on things they do, by seeking to be persons of value.” He further admonished Nigerian youths to quit cursing the country, because “no matter the level of success you attain in life as a Nigerian, you will be identified with the shame and glory of Nigeria.”
Aligning with the keynote speaker, Lara Owoeye-Wise during the second panel discussion on“Civil Society Leadership for Common Good”, called on the emerging leaders to utilise the technologies (social media) that abound in the internet era to develop themselves, for themselves and by themselves, so as to make a name for themselves. In her view, the competition among youths for recognition in this 21stCentury is now global and no longer limited to intra-country competition as people all over are aspiring to be the best and if any youth does not have the best to offer, such a youth will have challenges carving a niche for himself/herself.
Also speaking during the second panel discussion, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, frowned at the culture of placing ethnicity above nationality, an action he said has continually marred the progress and development of Nigeria. He went further to emphasize that with the dwindling price of oil as a result of alternative energy sources, investment in human capital development should be a priority in the country since no one can perform at optimum level if they lack the basic skills required to excel in their careers/vocation. Thus, the emerging leaders were called to learn skills and improve themselves.
Other key events during the conference were the induction of the 2018 Emerging Nigerian Leaders into CSAAE’s ELP by Chief (Comrade) Mrs. Olusola Abuachi (CSAAE Nigeria, BOT Member), presentation of the CSAAE’s status report on the SDGs and UN Universal Human Rights to the Special Assistant to the President on SDGs represented by Dr. Bala Yusuf Yunusa and Professor Chidi Odinkalu (former Chairman, Nigerian Human Rights Commission) respectively. They also include the cutting of CSAAE’s fifth anniversary cake, presentation of award to guest speakers and most loved Emerging Leader for 2018 (Martha Ebiala Emmanuel) by Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa, the founder and president of CSAAE.
Other dignitaries at the event were Comrade Francis O. Johnson (President, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN), Zainab Mangga representing IMF Director of Missions in Nigeria, Mr. Ejike Chukwu (ADC Governorship Candidate in Imo State), Leah Babatunde of NTA Abuja and a team of senior staff members from the Ministry of Youths, Abuja. Others include, CSAAE Nigeria, BOT Members – Rev. Fr. Dr. Jude Ike, Mr. Victor Obinna Peters, Mr. Chris Nnakwe and Mr. Dubem Agbakoba. Over 150 future leaders from across Nigeria were sponsored to the conference by the Centre including transportation, lodging at Top Rank for two nights, meals and conference materials.
Launched in 2013, CSAAE is dedicated to harnessing the potential of young people and providing the kind of tools and trainings that endow them with the capacities, competencies and character necessary to sustain themselves, create opportunities that help others sustain themselves and embrace their roles as critical actors in building a better Africa. CSAAE is registered as a non-profit organization in Nigeria and a 501(c)(3) in the United States. The Founder, Reverend Father Godswill Agbagwa grew up in Nigeria. While studying abroad as a college student, he was struck by the contrasts he saw between the levels of poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria compared to Western countries he visited. That experience became the genesis for CSAAE, its programs, and the core values at the foundation of his work.