By Magnus Eze
The National Orientation Agency seemingly got more than it bargained for recently when it assembled 300 students from 10 secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Arena, Area 11, Garki.
The students came from Government Secondary School, Tudun Wada, Wuse Zone 4; Government Secondary School, Wuse II; Government Secondary School, Wuse Zone 3, Pacesetters College Wuye, Modern Secondary School, Maitama, Stella Maris College Area 1, Garki, Word of Faith Group of Schools, Area 1, Garki and Fouad Labadidi Islamic Academy, Wuse Zone 3.
And the programme was the flag-off of ethical rebirth campaign targeted at youth in secondary schools christened “we embrace change”.
Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and renowned motivational speaker and life coach, Mr. Linus Okorie, had barely admonished the students on the need to stay off social vices and indiscipline.
When it was time for the students to ask questions and make comments, what began as child’s play eventually saw a barrage of questions pouring in.
Many of the questions centred on corruption and the anti-graft war of the present administration. While some of the students called for severe punishment for culprits of corruption including long jail terms, a few others wanted to know why the cankerworm had remained part of Nigeria. In fact, one of the students wanted to know whether corruption was a Nigerian.
Similarly, two of the students also asked what the Government had done with the billions of naira so far recovered from looters.
Meanwhile, Abari lamented the erosion of long cherished family values in the country; saying that the agency was poised to change the trend by positively repositioning the attitudinal disposition of the Nigerian youth.
He emphasized that the various social safety net programmes of Government would be meaningless if the issue of failing values among the youth was not effectively addressed.
The NOA boss heaped blame of failing family values on the door step of parents, whom he indicted of abandoning their responsibility to their children.
Abari said: “I will not fail to call upon parents and guardians to wake up to their responsibility of laying a sound foundation for socialization of young persons in Nigeria. There is no gain saying the fact that if the family, as the primary agent of socialization, had not failed in the responsibility of inculcating moral values in the youth, there probably would not have been need for an agency such as NOA in contemporary Nigerian society. The Nigerian family must therefore get its act together in the area of value inculcation.”
The DG also said that all NOA state directors, orientation and mobilisation officers in the states as well as local government areas had been directed to robustly engage the youths with the message of change in schools, clubs, worship centres, neighborhoods and even on the streets.
Before then, Director of Political, Civics, Ethics and Values in the agency, Mrs. Ngozi Ekeoba, who set the tempo for the day, charged the youth to see the programme as a call to duty to serve their fatherland.
She enunciated the objectives of the programme to include, building the right character in the youth at early age; building the right foundation and culture for future generations and; discouraging social vices among youths in secondary schools.
Ekeoba enjoined them to embrace change with their youthful energies by imbibing positive values and espousing same to their peers, adding that this could be the single most important act of patriotism they will ever do, “but it will go a long way in deepening the culture of positivism among Nigerians in line with the dictates of our Constitution”.
In her presentation titled “There is no place like home,” Dabiri-Erewa noted that it was the collapse of values that prompted the president to make anti-corruption one of the cardinal thrusts of his administration.
She urged the students not to emulate vices, stressing that “Success is not about age; not about how much money you have in your account. But how many lives you have been able to affect positively.”
Also speaking, President, Guardian of the Nation International (GOTNI), Mr. Linus Okorie charged Nigerian youth to have vision if they must make a difference: “In you, I see institutional change agents…You must have a vision, if you must make a difference. I know you live in a period where many of your friends want to derail you; but remain focused”.
He also harped on the importance of value system and called on Nigerians especially the youth to stop celebrating looters of public treasury.
Some of the students who spoke to Daily Sun commended NOA for organizing the programme and said that they looked forward to the inauguration of the ‘we embrace change’ club in the various schools.