ActionAid Nigeria, the country’s arm of a global non-governmental organisation, has stepped up its campaign towards building patriotism, selflessness and a culture of integrity among Nigerian youths in particular, and all Nigerians by extension.
The organisation said it is worried by the rising cases of criminality, especially following the recent incidents of arrest and listing of many young Nigerians among suspects of global internet fraud by security operatives in the United States.
Speaking during a week-long boot camp held for 101 young men and women in Lagos, ActionAid Nigeria’s country director, Ene Obi, expressed the commitment of her organisation towards rewriting the country’s story for the good of her people.
The participants at the boot camp, who were drawn across 36 states and Abuja- the federal capital territory, were taken through rigorous mental and physical training on leadership and endurance skills.
The programme held at the citizenship and leadership training centre, otherwise known as sea school, Apapa, Lagos.
According to Mrs Obi, the organisation is mobilising youth across the federation under the umbrella of its youth wing named ‘Activista.’
She said Activista is a group of young volunteers who meet regularly via online platforms and mobilise resources to execute community development initiatives such as anti-corruption campaigns, campaign against all forms of malpractices and social vices.
She said; “Activista is the youth platform of Actionaid. We have brought 101 of our youths across the country to this centre, which is owned by the government of Nigeria. Many of us were once trained on patriotism here.
“So bringing them here is to make them to believe in themselves, overcome their fears and go through endurance training so that they can be able to withstand hard times and be able to manage good times as well. What we are doing here is to ensure that these youths understand what it means to be citizens and what leadership entails. They are taught about virtues of probity and accountability, and the dangers of corruption, sexual harassment. They are also taught what they need to fight these vices.”
Mrs Obi said her organisation believes in the capacity of the youth, adding that without enhancing their capacities, not much can be done to either lift them out of poverty or dissuade them from crime. “To be good change agents, they need to be transformed.”
“Some of them are students, workers and employment seekers. Through the platform, we have built future leaders who now work with developmental organisations contributing to nation building. And as a former youth leader, as the first female students’ union president at the University of Jos, I have come to share my experiences with them and to tell them what Actionaid expects of them,” the country director said.
Meanwhile, some of the participants have commended ActionAid for guiding their steps, saying their contributions to their various communities in terms of youth capacity building, educational development, among others, have been through the support of the NGO.
Twenty-five-year-old Sanusi Ahmad, a final year student of Adamu Augie College of Education, Argungu, Kebbi State, said since he joined Activista in 2015, he has been involved in various humanitarian activities including human rights campaign, strengthening citizens’ engagement on electoral processes, among others.
Mr Ahmad said as the incumbent coordinator of the group in Kebbi State, he has worked with other members to grow the group’s membership and spread the gospel of patriotism among the youths of the state.
“We have grown in number and our impacts are now felt more, even in the remote communities,” he said.
Similarly, Udemah Dooufanter from Benue State said through the group, students of junior and senior secondary schools have benefited from free holiday coaching. She said members usually volunteer to take part in the free lessons.
‘A few bad eggs cannot define us’
Also speaking, the program manager for ActionAid Nigeria, Adewale Adeduntan said the organisation’s local rights programme (LRP), which he noted is currently running in 12 states of the country, is another initiative of the group to instil the right values in the younger generation.
According to Mr Adeduntan, the war against corruption, violence and other social vices in Nigeria cannot be fought by government alone.
He said; “Because we are all victims of the criminality of a few of us, we should not allow them to define who we are. Many Nigerians are embarrassed abroad by the activities of these very few, while many of our roads have suddenly turned danger zones due to the incessant cases of kidnapping and assassinations.
“Therefore, to change the narratives is what all of us must rise to do. And, at ActionAid Nigeria, we are committed to building an army of youths who would rewrite this country’s story through their stories of excellence. LRP currently runs in 12 states of Lagos, Sokoto, Enugu, Kwara, Kebbi, Ondo, Kaduna, among others.”