Hope came alive for Nigeria at a recent conference in Owerri, Imo State Capital, when 47 young, bright, hard working, confident and thinking university students stood up for a better and responsible nation.
These are Emerging Nigerian Leaders (ENLs) who attended a two-day Emerging Nigerian Leaders Foundation Conference (December 16 – 18), as part of their three-year nurturing programme under the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics, INC (CSAAEINC). Among other things, the youths showcased over 25 innovative Community Development Projects inspired and supported by the Centre.
ELP Community Projects aim at providing ethical and innovative solutions to community problems. The students engage in a variety of innovations from novel farming ideas to recycling ventures. But some of its greatest contributions are the humanitarian projects. CSAAEINC leads by example through showing the value of every person and the students have responded with great love. From encouraging dropouts to remain in school to teaching ethics in primary and secondary schools, the students have done amazing work. One of them took three orphan children under his wings, working to raise money to provide school uniforms and tuition for them. Many of the students struggle financially but they do not allow that to stop them from making an impact in their community.
The students also made a commitment to live the Centre’s core values of Accountability, Solidarity, Integrity, Creativity and Consistency, virtues which are desperately needed by Nigerian leaders.
Speaking to the emerging leaders on Accountability, Techinical Director, Addax Petroleum Chike Nwosu assured them that one could get to the top decently, without cutting corners or getting involved in dubious deals.
“Everything has gone bad and everybody is saying the right way of doing things will get you nowhere. I am telling you that it will, except that you are not consistent,” Nwosu told them, drawing from his own experiences and exposing the decadence in the country. He gave instances where companies wanting to invest in the country were forced to leave due to corruption.
Nwosu told the ENLs not to underestimate the problem facing them but to work hard, be consistent, focused and commit to making a change.
Professor Abubakar Momoh, Director General of The Electoral Institute of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), gave an informative State of Nation address, taking the youths on Nigeria’s political journey and how it landed in its present predicament.
He maintained that there is hope for a better tomorrow through divine intervention and collective effort. “If we become despondent, there is no reason to live. All through history truth has always been in the minority. Let nobody tell you, if you can’t beat them join them, there is nothing good about joining falsehood,” he said, lamenting the decline in education and intellectual debate.
Speaking on Solidarity, Rev. Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa, CSAAE Founder and President encouraged the youths to stay committed to common good because all are related to one another. He urged them to stick together and also not to give up on Nigeria, stressing that a better Nigeria and even Africa was possible with hard work and a changed mindset.
In his opening remarks at CSAAEINC impact dinner held at Bencon Hotel on December 17, Rev. Fr. Dr. Godswill Agbagwa explained that the aim of ELP is to nurture future African leaders for ethical and innovative leadership. ELP is made up of potential African leaders selected through a competitive process. Through a combination of conferences, leadership-building experiences home and abroad, one-on-one mentoring, research, community development projects and scholarships, emerging leaders develop the habits of highly effective leaders. While in the program, they promote ethics and excellence in leadership on campus while providing innovative solutions to community problems.
Upon completion of the program, at which time they have also graduated from the University, CSAAEINC works with them to secure jobs or initiate enterprises in areas of market demand. The Centre supports them as they work their ways to influential positions and works with them to effect positive changes within their spheres of influence. They mentor other emerging leaders and work with CSAAEINC on various community development projects.
Majority of the emerging leaders are young men and women from simple backgrounds, attending tertiary institutions in the country, including Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Universities of Benin, Ilorin, Jos, Calabar, Imo, Ebonyi and Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
CSAAE and its youths are determinedly working towards the creation of a new Africa, with sound ethical and innovative leadership. The international non-profit organisation believes that poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria and Africa are largely due to failure of leadership and decline in African spirit of entrepreneurship, social and moral sense. To facilitate development in Africa, it provides free excellence in ethics, leadership and entrepreneurship programs, aimed at helping undergraduate and graduate students build the capacities, competencies and character to achieve sterling success and bring positive change.
Besides the Emerging (African) Leaders Programme, CSAAEINC also provides free integrated career building and entrepreneurship programme known as CSAAE Opportunity Fair (COF). The aim of COF is to help undergraduate and graduate students build the capacities, competencies and character to launch lucrative careers and contribute African socioeconomic development.
Today, COF has trained over 2000 students from four Universities in four states on how to: become successful entrepreneurs; secure dream jobs; secure educational and training opportunities at home and abroad; create, manage, save and grow money; get involved in civic activities; fight for their rights; be ethical in various occupations; and lead from any chair.