The Nehemiah Apostolic Resource Centre has convened a political and leadership roundtable event under its School of Government and Politics, which according to its founder, Apostle Obii Pax-Harry, is where discussions that will provoke change are held.
The three-day event with the theme, ‘Towards Sustainable Transformation,’ was held at the Nehemiah Apostolic Resource Centre in Wuse, Abuja from Monday to Wednesday.
The first day of the event was dominated by conversations concerning women and their role in politics and governance.
The first session was led by Senator Rose Oko, who represents Cross River North Senatorial District in the Nigerian Senate.
She spoke about the role of women in politics, and gave her personal experience in order to motivate others who may want to go into politics.
Speaking also was Mrs Ify Akerele, former director-general, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping. She spoke about her position in government and what she experienced as a woman.
Discussants highlighted issues that are necessary to look at regarding women in politics and government, and one of the most important issues raised was the need to mentor more women, so that they can become familiar with the challenges and learn how to avoid them.
There are localised hindrances to women participation in politics, the speakers said. Issues like resources, late meetings and its associated stereotypes tend to discourage a lot of women from venturing into politics.
Nonetheless, women were encouraged to become more active in politics, seek mentorship, be courageous and persistent, and work twice as hard as the men in order to bridge the obvious gender gap.
The second day was centred on the role of the youths in systemic and social development.
The first speaker was Hon. Jones Chukwudi Victor Onyere, a member of the House Representatives, who spoke on need for the young people to understand the importance of service and how it can elevate them.
Drawing from his own personal experience, he revealed that he rose to his current position because of his decision to take up the responsibility of attending political meetings and offering his services, which caught the attention of the man who would later become a governor and his first political employer.
Himself and other speakers like Hon Yusuf Ayo Tajudeen, also of the House of Representatives; Daniel Ikwenobe, Special Adviser to the President; John Etim Bassey and Mrs Kema Chikwe, an astute politician, among others encouraged the youths to always learn to take the initiative and aspire towards positive values.
They all spoke about their personal experiences and the contradictions they experience as Christians in politics. There are a lot of things in Nigerian politics that don’t seem appropriate, they said, but Christians must learn to handle these situations while also maintaining their standards and values without compromise.
They encouraged more young people to go into politics because they cannot bring about any change from outside, but from inside.
Mrs Kema Chikwe spoke on the need to remain steadfast and be futuristic about every agenda.
The third day had Mr Peter Obi, who is incidentally the PDP Vice Presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2019 election. It was an opportunity for the School of Government and Politics to see and hear his views about Nigeria and what he intends to do if he gets into government.
The organisers of the event wanted him to speak as a Nigerian who had been in office and had accomplished a lot. In acknowledging his performance as a former governor, they believe that they will be able to consider some of the points he considered vital in bringing about change.
In his interactive session with the audience, Mr Peter Obi bemoaned the sad state of Nigeria and the need for an emergency action.
’Nigeria falls very low in all the development indices in the world. From every indication, Nigeria is clearly underdeveloped. We have very low human development, we have the highest inequality rate in the world, and have overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world,’’ he said.
Speaking further, he stated that over 10 million Nigerians have lost their jobs in the past three years, and that this year alone has recorded four million jobs loses.
‘’We have incurred so much loans with little or nothing to show for it,’’ he said. ‘’We are our own greatest problem as a nation. Infrastructures are not being built or working as they should because of human errors.’’
On corruption, he stated that only lip service is being paid to the fight against corruption, and that people still glorify corruption and those who benefit from it.
“Somebody is opening a new house built with stolen fund, and people are going there to celebrate instead of calling police,” he remarked.
Going forward, he said that Nigeria ought to be able to restore hope in her people and build new values because many are disappointed and have lost their sense of patriotism.
In her closing remarks, the founder and convener of the event, Apostle Obii Pax-Harry stated that the School of Government and Politics is more or less a pioneering work by risk takers who are doing what they are doing, which is inspiring young leaders, on a Christian platform.
As they evolve, she said, they will cooperate with everyone driven by the passion of nation building, irrespective of their religion.
She said: ‘’We ought not to be waiting for God when He is also waiting for us to take action. We are a community of reformers and over the last 10 years, we have been able to raise a lot of reformers who are now doing well in several walks of life.
‘’We believe that we have the right authority to develop leaders. It is a divine mandate. We intend to build a strong foundation. It is a learning environment where we all share experience. We pray for God to give Nigeria burden bearers, because that’s the purpose of this.
‘’School of Government and Politics is organised with the aim to train Nigerians who want to get into politics, and it is an opportunity for us to interact with those in government offices and in politics to see how we can influence some of their activities to help bring about a greater Nigeria.
’We are going to have a communiqué, from which we can see how we can have an action plan based on the recommendations from the event. We intend to continually have this program that will indeed open up to Nigerians what really is happening and to demand accountability from our leaders. We are a non-partisan organisation and only concerned with having a great Nigeria. We intend to have another session in Calabar and in Lagos very soon.’’