International Organisation for Peace Building and Social Justice (PSJ) has urged the Nigerian’s youth to confront the challenges hindering progress and development for a transformative impact that an empowered youth can have on the nation.
The group asserts that the time is ripe for Nigerian youths to actively engage in addressing pressing issues from terrorism, kidnapping and insurgency to infrastructural deficits, the call is clear – the youth must play a pivotal role in steering the nation towards a prosperous and peaceful future.
“Throughout historic transformations, 95 percent of social justice changes were spearheaded by the younger generation. With the crisis gripping Nigeria, there is an urgent need for rethinking strategies to guide the nation towards transformation and knowledge is crucial in national development and it is significant in empowering youth,” says Ishaya Inuwa, executive director, International Organisation for Peace Building and Social Justice (PSJ).
Inuwa speaking at the 2nd edition of Maiden National Conference on Social Justice in Jos, held on Thursday, with the theme ‘ the role of civil society organisations in transformational leadership and social justice’. According to him, young people in Nigeria are currently held back by a deficit of knowledge.
“Nigeria is faced with systemic problems, ranging from terrorism insurgency, banditry, kidnapping to infrastructural deficits. Despite the gravity of these issues, we call to action the young people for collective determination and sacrifice to usher in a prosperous and peaceful nation.
“Nigeria’s demography is quite saturated with young people, we have this desire in our hearts that we must change this nation, create a movement of young people and reason is simple because youths are the energy of the nation,” he stressed.
Emphasising on organisational and leadership vision, Inuwa stated that as a dream fuelled by a heartfelt desire to reshape the nation, he advised the urgency of creating a movement among young people and they need for them to know their pivotal role as the nation’s driving force.
Inuwa stressed that lack of peace in the city could lead to insignificant growth. Political power necessitates elements like a museum palace lighting. “We need the youths to know, become intentional and have ideas of systematic approach, in so doing, we will be able to change the nation.
“I want us to create a movement of young people across the nation in every state. We make a demand for good governance, our leaders are not listening, we are much uninformed, we do not have awareness,” he highlighted.
He pointed further that the youth’s role in shaping the nation is trajectory, stating that using youths to be change in a nation’s course is crucial, especially for nations on the rise.
“Our commitment is to mobilising and creating awareness among the youth, aiming to instil the belief that knowledge is power. PSJ is dedicated to breaking the shackles hindering the youth from taking a leading role in transformative initiatives.
“However, by empowering their minds and instilling confidence, the goal is to position the youth at the forefront of positive change, making them catalysts for societal transformation,” Inuwa added.
On importance of civil society organisations, Inuwa said their role cannot be overemphasised as is in shaping the conscience of the nation. “This summit is focused on the role of civil society organisations in transformational leadership in social justice, and aims to mobilise and train youth.”
“The objective is to equip them with knowledge and skills necessary to actively participate in advocating for change, addressing issues such as stopping violence, promoting inclusive governance, and nurturing new leaders for the nation. The overarching vision is to contribute to a Nigeria that is on the path to progress and positive transformations,” he said.
Also speaking at the summit, Benjamin Kwashi, retired archbishop of Anglican Diocese of Jos advocated for three pillars in nation-building, using illustrations on the critical roles of soldiers, farmers, and athletes in building a nation, highlighting their unique contributions to social justice and lasting peace.
According to Kwashi, there is need for leaders who embody the spirit of a soldier, willing to defend the integrity of humanity regardless of tribal, religious, or gender differences.
While speaking on the role of CSOs in transformational leadership and social justice, he stressed that leaders should be ready to sacrifice for the nation and its people, lamenting that there is lack of such leaders in both the public and private sectors of Nigeria.
Turning to the metaphor of farmers, Kwashi urged individuals to invest in future generations, emphasizing the long-term nature of nation-building. He drew parallels between farmers planting seeds that may not yield immediate results but contribute to a sustainable future. The call was for leaders to sow the seeds of justice, honesty, integrity, and a deep regard for humanity.
Kwashi also invoked the image of athletes in the marathon of achieving national peace and justice. He encouraged perseverance, likening the struggle to a relay race where each generation passes the baton to the next. Drawing inspiration from historical figures like William Wilberforce, who spent 43 years advocating to end the slave trade, Kwashi urged individuals to view nation-building as a continuous effort, acknowledging that results may not be immediate.
Kwashi expressed his commitment to these principles, emphasising his involvement in the pursuit of Peace and Social Justice (PSJ) in Nigeria and this a call to action.
Earlier, Emmanuel Ibeshi, member of board of directors PSJ, calls for youth political education, “there is a critical need for education among Nigerian youth to empower them in advocating for societal change.
“It is important to understand government expectations and societal needs. A prevalent lack of independent education leading to a bandwagon effect. There are educational disparities and the absence of role models in various sectors, leaving Nigerian youth without guidance in areas such as politics and leadership.
“The youth’s lack of political ideology, Ibeshi questioned the absence of a clear political philosophy since Nigeria’s transition to democracy in 1999. He criticized the current political landscape, describing it as a shabbily plagiarized presidential system without a defined ideology.
Ibeshi urged the youth to seek political education, exploring different systems such as communism or federalism to develop a well-rounded understanding of governance. “With the complexity of underlying problems facing Nigerian youth, there is need for a balanced and educated approach to political philosophy and ideology.
“I suggested that drawing from diverse sources, including religious teachings and family values, could provide a foundation for youth to influence positive change in society,” he said.