Co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls (#BBOG) Campaign, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili yesterday said her group, which is advocating for the release of the 219 girls who were kidnapped from Chibok Secondary School, Borno State in April 2014, will be civil in their agitation but would resist any form of oppression.
Ezekwesili, who was former Minister of Education and pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (nick-named Due Process Unit), also frowned on the wanton looting of the nation’s public treasury, which has a dire negative impact on the livelihoods of the poor, who cannot afford to get basic items from anywhere else.
She spoke at the launching of a new faith-based non-governmental organisation named Catalyst for Global Peace & Justice Initiative (CPJ), which was founded by the popular clergyman Abraham Sam Aiyedogbon, at a well-attended event at the Golden Tulip hotel in Festac, Lagos.
Ezekwesili, who was the Chairperson of the occasion, said “only a nation that has lost its way will put the issue of 219 people to debate. The issue is that children of this nation went to school and disappeared. Rather than decry this act, people sat in their little corner and began to discuss. I am looking to that day when every child born in this nation gets a sense that the people will defend their rights to justice if anything happens to them.”
Responding to insinuations that the #BBOG group is being paid for their advocacy, the former Minister of Solid Minerals and Vice President of the World Bank’s Africa division said, “BBOG doesn’t take a dime from local or international donors. We made it a critical decision. That is what is keeping us. BBOG is a non-violent group and will remain so. We will stay civil but we will resist oppression.”
Ezekwesili who said the recent sealing of the mouths of the BBOG members during a sit-down protest in Abuja was a symbolic gesture which spoke more than their voices, warned potential catalysts for social justice to refrain from corrupt acts and be ready to take sustained action to effect true change.
Speaking on the CPJ launch theme which is ‘Activating credible commitment for good governance and social justice’ she said, “as long as there are people, there will be problems. Under any bedrock of good governance is institution building. Institutions can only be built under democratic rule. Being a Christian is not enough credential for being a catalyst. There is huge percentage of Christians in government and business sector many of who inflate contracts, lie, oppress those not from their tribes”.
She called on those gathered at the launch to do a self-assessment on how ready and capable they are to influence change, adding, “To be a catalyst is extremely costly. Nigerians don’t like cost, especially non-financial cost. Those who cannot pay the cost cannot be catalysts. Those who take from the poor are robbing God. The public treasury represents a lot to the poor because the rich can afford all luxuries of life. Anyone who violates the public treasury cannot be a catalyst.”
Ezekwesili’s views were echoed by the keynote speaker Dr. Sam Amadi, former Chairman of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) who affirmed that the world is in a helpless age because “we have run out of major ideas. Nigeria is also afflicted by helplessness. CPJ has come to fill a void. In the global arena, the Christian voice has not been heard on the issue of peace. The church is punching below its weight on the matters affecting social justice in Nigeria”.
Also, the Executive Director of the Centre for Leadership and Development (Centre LSD), Dr. Otive Igbuzor, who gave the second keynote address on ‘Commitment towards becoming a member of Value’ said CPJ is meant to bring Biblical perspectives to a secular world, adding that Christians must follow the example of Jesus Christ.
He urged Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals to go back to the basics. “It is an aspiration that CPJ will be embraced by the Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals to promote social justice. CPJ is a faith-based organisation. God demands that we resist oppression as CPJ members, by speaking out against it and by overcoming slavery mentality by knowledge.”
Igbuzor urged CPJ members to be involved in the social dynamics to demonstrate commitment and urged them to build their skills and be ready to take action when necessary through advocacy.
The visioner and convener of CPJ, Calalyst Aiyedogbon, said the NGO started as an idea, and promised to work hard to sustain the idea and movement in Nigeria and on the global scene. The event also had a fund-raising segment where church members and both current and potential catalysts and well-wishers gave freely for the sustenance of a faith-based idea formulated to bring social justice and good governance to Nigeria in particular and the world in general.