The immediate past Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jos, Most Rev. Dr Benjamin Kwashi has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to organise themselves into a powerful entity towards ensuring accountability in governance.
Kwashi stated this at the weekend in Jos during the maiden National Conference on Social Justice organised by the International Organisation for Peace and Justice.
The cleric, who is also a Former CAN Chairman in Plateau State noted that the time has come to question the activities of leaders to enhance good governance.
He said that the nation was in dire need of reformers to initiate reforms that would change the lives of Nigerians for the better.
“Nigeria needs reforms. Nigeria needs men and women now who are young, because when Wilberforce began to fight against slavery, he was just about 26 years old, but he did that for 43 years.
“So the young people must no longer sit down and look at politicians who damage their future. That means the future, not only their future but the future of their children and grandchildren and do nothing.
“This is a time to rise to question leaders who are watching people being killed while they’re drinking tea. To question leaders who are spending 116 million on their cars when most Nigerians cannot pay school fees.
“But when reformers are questioning, they must question with a sense of justice. But when you’re asking questions as a reformer and you’re thinking of justice, that means you’re looking at equity.
“In other words, we’re not against rich people. justifiably, but we’re, I guess, people who are the risk of our future and blow it in our face on justice,’’ he advised.
According to him, reformers should ask for justice for the poor because the best system on earth is one that asks about the welfare of orphans and widows.
He expressed worry that it was mostly the poor in the villages who were being killed by bandits and terrorists.
PSJ Executive Director, Mr Inuwa Durkwa, said that addressing the challenges facing the country requires comprehensive and coordinated efforts from the government, CSOs, and the private sector.
Durkwa pointed out that the country is facing trials but stressed that the strength of the country lies in its unity, transcending differences and forming a bond that no adversity can break.
“Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive and coordinated efforts that involve implementing effective policies, improving governance, investing in infrastructure, and fostering social cohesion.
“Despite facing numerous challenges, there is substantial hope for a better, brighter, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria. One key factor is the country’s youthful and dynamic population, which presents a demographic dividend.
“With a large percentage of the population under the age of 30, there is immense potential for innovation, entrepreneurship, and positive societal change.
“Many young Nigerians are actively engaged in various fields, from technology to the arts, demonstrating resilience and determination to contribute to the nation’s growth,’’ he stated.
PSJ executive director said that the maiden national conference was for the participants to invoke the spirit of unity and harmony and delve into critical conversations to propose solutions to the nation’s challenges.
He expressed optimism that the conference may be a beacon of inspiration and a guide towards a future where transformational leadership and social justice are not just aspirations but tangible realities.
A public policy and governance specialist, Hajiya Khadija Iya, who spoke on “The Role of Women and Youths in Nation Building,” emphasised the need to prepare children for leadership positions at an early age.
Iya said that in preparing children for leadership positions, parents must stop thinking their children are for them instead of the community.
“Stop thinking about what that child will bring to you in materialism. All of us are suffering because we have put materialism ahead of values.
“We no longer have leadership that thinks about selfish gains instead of the general good of the community. We need visionary leaders that will look beyond themselves but have the responsibility on their shoulders to make society better,’’ she added.
Prof. Zacharys Gundu, Vice Chancellor, University of Mkar, Benue State, said the country was facing numerous challenges and that Nigerians should be able to address the challenges themselves.
“The problem is that we allow other people to think for us. What they think is not necessarily in our best interest.
“We must begin to imagine the type of world we want to live in a peaceful world, a just world, a world that will be fair to each one of us,’’ he added.