“I would like you to apply for this,” said one smart looking man holding a brown envelope as he approached me. Bringing out a handbill from his envelope, he continued.
“I have worked with this NGO for some time and I’m sure you’d benefit a lot from us”
“If you are inducted into our Emerging African Leaders Program, you will be opportune to travel within and outside Nigeria to attend our events”
“You will also meet many undergraduates with great potentials during our Foundation Conferences and Mid-Year Leadership Summits.” He added as I scanned the flier.
Mr. Nwaegbu Oluebube, whom I had subconsciously taken as my Mentor had not only helped me solve academic challenges by introducing me to Ekeh Miracle but also gave me the opportunity to apply for CSAAE’s Emerging African Leaders Program (ELP) in 2014.
When I applied, I was skeptical about the content of my essay. I didn’t write as much as I wanted to because I was constrained by the word limit. The topic exacerbated things. I was asked: “what can you do to make Nigeria a better place”.
I knew I could write three pages of what I could do, but the truth was that some of those things I would have written would have been built on mendacious and deceptive grounds. I wrote in explicit terms, what I would do for Nigeria, veraciously stating my roles and fortunately, I was one of the finalists inducted into the program that year. Since then, I have been growing into a great person each day.
The Center for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics, Inc. (CSAAE) has not only provided a safer space for me and my fellow Nigerian youths to make Nigeria a better place but ensures that we utilize the opportunity to the maximum level. This space didn’t only annihilate my exasperating political insouciance but inspired me to contest for Speaker of Nigerian Economic Students Association (NESA) at my department.
CSAAE Founder and President, Rev. Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa kept reminding us that Africa’s problem is a failure in leadership and this we must fight. I wanted to solve this problem in my department and I needed to start somewhere. This was why I contested for the speaker position. I wanted to be part of those that will bring positive changes to my department.
My determination to practice all I have learned about leadership from CSAAE when I joined departmental politics did not go well with some people who wanted to maintain the status quo. But I was determined to never give up. One of my political achievements I cherished the most was reviewing the departmental constitution to reduce the administrative powers of the President, gave more powers to the Vice President and empowered the NESA House of Assembly.
Our aim was to help the new members of the House of Assembly checkmate the excesses of the executives and this we started by reviewing the Constitution with the hope to get it signed by the new administration. I should have graduated with a First Class Degree but for some reasons, I didn’t. This might as a result of my active involvement in “student politics” at the departmental level.
CSAAE made me believe that I can do anything great. This inspired me to initiate a Community Development Project, Pragmatic Economic forum (PEF) with the objective to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s economic problems through policy formation and expert recommendations
Through this community project, I have organized an Economic Conference in June with over 100 participants from Imo State University and Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education in attendance. I and my team have also developed the Error Corruption Index– a new index for measuring corruption objectively using Econometrics. Our monthly economic bulletin, PEF Smart-leaves is impacting on thousands of Nigerians each month and our subscription keeps growing.
All these would not have been possible without the unending support of CSAAE. This organization is one of the best things that have happened to me.
Thank you, CSAAE.
Together, we can make Africa a better place.
By Samson I. Okolinta (EAL)
Imo State University, Owerri.