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Catholic Youth & The Commitment To Common Good ―By Oseloka Obaze


Remarks By Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, MD/CEO Selonnes Consult Ltd. At the Investiture of the Patron/Patronesses of the Awka Dioceses Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students and the Launching of “The Colossus” Magazine  At St. Joseph the Walker Chaplaincy, UNIZIK, Awka  Saturday 29th April, 2017   

Protocols

President Francis Nlang, Executives of NFCS, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Okafor, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to thank Mr Francis Nlang and the executives Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFSC) Awka Dioceses for their gracious invitation during the Investiture of the Patron//Patronesses of NFCS and the Launching of “The Colossus” Magazine.  

I decided to accept and honour this invitation because of the importance I attach to Nigerian Youths and the role I sincerely believe that they can all play in building a just egalitarian society.   

Moreover, as Catholic students, I can identify with you and the values you hold dear, being myself a proud product of a Catholic legacy school, Christ the King College Onitsha. 

What I will say here is nothing new. They are issue I have raised elsewhere, in my speeches, policy briefs, books and interaction with those in leadership positions. Because you are students, let me start with education. 

NIGERIAN YOUTH AND LEGACY SCHOOLS

The colonial masters who gave us Western education laid a solid foundation with a view to fostering leadership.  To strike a balance, they established public or government schools and the missionaries also established parochial schools.  

What is important is that these two category of schools yielded tangible results.  Hence you have legacy schools owned by the government, like the renowned Kings College Lagos, Government College Umuahia, Government College Ibadan, Government College Ugheli, Government College Afikpo, Edo College Benin City, etc. 

You also have Anglican legacy schools like Igbobi College, Lagos,  Baptist Academy and Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha.  Inevitably, you have Catholic legacy schools like Christ the King College Onitsha, St. Patrick’s College Calabar, and St. Finbarr’s College Lagos, etc. 

Today, we also have Catholic Universities.  There is Peter University in Achina, and another Catholic University is planned in the Onitsha Archdiocese, I believe in Ojoto.

What did the establishment of these missionary schools mean? First, they struck a balance.  Faith-based education was an imperative for qualitative leadership. 

Second, education is too important to be left to government bureaucrats. And third, intellectualism devoid of religious grounding and moral values is nonsensical.  

And what could be the highest moral value for any Catholic student within the broad context of our dogma – it is to love your neighbour.  Loving one’s neigbour translates the pursuit of common good, which is the theme of my remarks today. 

YOUTH AND COMMON GOOD

In 2015, I came across a newspaper advert in The New York Times of July 12, 2015, by Josh Tetrick, the CEO & Founder of Hampton Creek, in the United States. Josh Tetrick’s letter was addressed to “Dear 23-year-old”. 

The second paragraph was revelatory as it was poignant. It said: 

“And more than any generation before, you have a commitment to common good over individual gain – an ethos that reaches across traditional divisions such as race, ideology, partisanship”. You will agree with me that his observations resonate and relate well to our gathering in Awka today. 

As students, as Catholics, and as future leaders, what are your common goals, beyond making our world a better place?  

Can such goals be accomplished without qualitative education and high moral and leadership values and a commitment to common good? 

In the fullness of our reflection, it will all begin to make sense why our “commitment to common good over individual gain” matters. 

YOUTH AND QUALITATIVE EDUCATION

Qualitative education is the foundation of any nation and civilization. Regrettably, in our country, Nigeria, the quality of our education has slipped markedly.  Similarly, the financing of our education remains well below the 26% of GDP recommended by UNESCO.  

It is obvious therefore, that the Nigerian government alone cannot underwrite and manage our education.  Space must then be created for Missions to run parochial schools as they did in the colonial days, but the collective support or individual endowments will remain crucial.  

Government and Mission must continue to collaborate in the education sector. Only such a concerted partnership can uplift our schools and educational system across new frontiers and guarantee that our youths are adequately prepared for the leadership roles they are destined to play. 

NFCS is a congregation of youths domiciled in Nigeria.  The differentiating ethos, is that you collectively retain the adjectival qualification of being Catholic students and therefore, Catholic youths. But the challenges you face and the realities are hardly different from those faced by the average Nigerian youth.  

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