Today after the mass on Trinity Sunday, Mr Oseloka H. Obaze (OHO), held an interactive session with the Young Catholic Professionals (CYP) at St. Joseph the Walker Chaplaincy UNIZIK, Awka. Speaking during the session, he urged the youths to stay focused in a very distractive world, where gadgets, like phones, tablets, TV and social media have become useful but also negative tools. Said Mr Obaze, ” In life, there will be challenges and you will face them. Your resilience, strength of character and commitment will make all the difference. The greatest challenge you have in life is your conscience. Be truthful to yourself. You must commit yourselves to having an aspiration, where you want to go and who you want to be. The darkest hour of the day is around 5am and after that is dawn. Do not give up, even when life seems so bleak, you may be on the verge of your breakthrough.” The read out from his off-the-cuff remarks follows: ………….
Read Out from The off the cuff remarks By Mr Oseloka H. Obaze to the Young Catholic Professional (CYP) at St Joseph The Walker Church Awka, 11 June 2017.
It is a pleasure to share some views with young professionals, since Many years back, I was a youth. I have been blessed to travel around the world, all I can do now is add value and pass on knowledge by mentoring and sharing my various experiences. I do not have any formal remarks but will speak from the heart.
I have been blessed because I was born into the Catholic faith and trained in Catholic schools. Attending CKC Onitsha was the best thing that ever happened to me. I am proud to be a product of that Catholic legacy school. Value your faith and protect it.
Our people must be globally marketable. Our University students, our professionals must be globally marketable. What does it mean? If you work in Nigeria you should be able to work in Britain, you should be able to work anywhere in the world.
We live in a very distractive world. We are challenged globally, nationally, in the state and even locally. As young people and youths you need to stay focused in a very distractive world, where gadgets, like phones, tablets, TV and social media have become useful but also negative tools. In life, there will be challenges and you will face them. Your resilience, strength of character, commitment and values will make the difference. You must strive to uphold your integrity against all odds.
Our politics has also become very negative. Everyone thinks that if you are a politician you are crooked, I am a politician and I am not crooked. I can say that anyday and I can defend it. I have worked for the State government; I have worked for the federal government and in the international society. At the risk of sounding immodest or self-rightoues, I live in Awka, and I have an office in Awka; if I had stolen government money I would have run away. I made a commitment to stay here and serve here.
Go and ask anybody when I was the SSG, I warned my staff if they accepted even a bottle of water from anybody on my behalf I will fire them. No gift, nothing! And that took care of somebody thinking you can come and compromise me. When I was the SSG, there was a lady that came into my office, I gave her a job to do insurance for government vehicles and she came to say thank you. And she opened her wallet and brought out an envelope containing money, I said “Madam what is that?” she said “money”. I said “Madam, get out of my office”. She started crying. You may have heard the story because it is one that people tell regularly. And I said “I didn’t ask anything of you, I gave you the job because you are competent to do it, I don’t need anything from you, not your money.”
The problem we have with governance today is that people come to government thinking it’s their turn to make money. For our part as a society, our people want dividends of democracy, but they don’t pay their taxes and they think they are not hurting anybody, but they are hurting all of us.
Don’t take God’s mercies and blessings for granted. Be thankful for your good health. What being healthy does for me is not to take it for granted, but to recognize that there are people who spend more time in the hospital; women who do not have a life because their children are sick; there are people who have food but cannot eat.
We must make sure that the aged/elderly and indigent are catered for by the government. That’s why one of the first we did when we came into office with H.E Peter Obi was to establish a welfare system for all the people who were 75 years and above so that every month they get five thousand naira. That’s what civilized societies do; we must provide a social safety net for the vulnerable groups.
I have benefitted immensely from people I don’t know. That is why I strive to give back. My father died during the Biafran war, my mother had six of us. She was a school teacher. How she managed to put six of us through the University is still a miracle. It was her Rosary that she prayed every day. That reality shaped me. God will never let you down.
There are imperative of good governance we must uphold. Because of the person of H.E Governor Peter Obi, he is somebody who has humility, has the courage, has the conviction and is able to internalize what you tell him, he made my job SSG a lot easier. And that was why we were able to work for this state and finished strong. In our 177 communities, with our MDG and ANIDS programmes no community’s was left behind. And we were able to save and leave enormous funds in the treasury.
As I look here, I see many pleasant faces; what I do not see is what is inside your head and I know there’s a whole lot there. There’s a lot of talent, there’s a lot of energy, ideas and creativity. Make use of them. Please don’t be a loner. Don’t work alone. As you see, I could have come here alone to speak to you; but I have my colleagues around me. We are also gender balanced and youth friendly. If you have two people with similar mindsets and ideas get together. Work as a pair. Team work pays in the long run.
One of the things H.E Peter Obi did when he was in office was that every Senior Prefect in every school in Anambra State had his number. Today, I am no longer in government but Senior Prefects call me “SSG, we are taking exam.. when are you coming to visit” and even as a private citizen, I go. We used to go to schools at 7 am in the morning, with Peter Obi, sit down and eat food with them. That’s the only way you know whether the Akamu they gave them is sour; that’s the only way you know whether the plantain they gave to them was fried last night instead of that morning and that’s the only you know whether they are getting balanced diet. You have to be involved, you have to be engaged.
What was it the Bible say: Do not be afraid! There will be challenges and difficult moments. Do not ever despair. Your resilience, strength of character and commitment will make all the difference. The greatest challenge you have in life is your conscience. Be truthful to yourself. You must commit yourselves to having an aspiration, where you want to go and who you want to be. The darkest hour of the day is around 5am and after that is dawn. Do not give up, even when life seems so bleak, you may be on the verge of your breakthrough.
Thank you all and God Bless.
Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.
Selonnes Consult Ltd. is a Strategic Policy, Good Governance and Management Consulting Firm, founded by Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze who served as Secretary to Anambra State Government from 2012-2015; a United Nations official from 1991-2012 and a Nigerian Foreign Service Officer from 1982-1991.