NOA: LAYING A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR A STRONGER SOCIETY
It is a consensus among sociological experts that values are the foundation stones upon which societies are built. A valueless society is a society without identity and consequently non-existent or destined for extinction. The National Orientation Agency (NOA) takes full cognizance of this fact and uses every available opportunity, both the regular and the unconventional, to reinforce those values that form the fabriques of our society. Examples of such opportunities that the Agency has leveraged in recent times to address various aspects of our national foundation are the various foundation laying ceremonies for the Agency’s State Directorate Permanent Offices which it has begun to development in three States.
The first of the three foundation laying ceremonies which took place in Oshogbo, the Osun State capital was performed by the State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by his Deputy, Otunba Titilayo Tomori.
Nasarawa State was the second beneficiary while the third State to have its foundation stones laid is Kogi State. The three State Office of the NOA have been situated in rented apartments gulping sums of money that could have been useful in developing permanent structures for the Agency. It was a result of the foresight of the Director General of NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri that the initiative of constructing permanent offices for the Agency was conceived. This initiative has enjoyed the support of the various State Governors in the affected States.
Speaking at the foundation laying ceremony in Oshogbo, Governor Aregbesola stressed the relentless commitment of the State Government to the ideals of the Federal Government intended to move the country forward. He explained that the policies of the State Government are similar to those of the National Orientation Agency, especially in the task of promoting national value orientation and patriotism; hence his administration had no reservation in supporting the work of the Agency in the State.
The Director General of NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri who led members of staff of the Agency at the foundation laying ceremony reiterated the commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan to promoting national ideals believing that governance must galvanize every opinion and political belief.
According to him, this was evident in the President’s approval for the first of such construction projects of the Agency to benefit a state not governed by his party. He commended the massive support of the Osun State Government for the NOA and was confident that the building, when completed, would save the Agency much cost and inconvenience.
During an earlier courtesy visit to the Governor, the Director General had disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the renaming of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) Brigade of the National Orientation Agency to Community Support Brigade (CSB).
The NOA Director General explained that the name change was necessitated by the need to de-emphasize the perception of Nigerians as an undisciplined people and that of the Brigade as one meant to harass the people into compliance with acceptable norms of society. He further explained that the Brigade, which is, essentially, a support system for the people as they conform to desirable orientations, would work together with the recently launched Civic Responsibility Volunteer Scheme (CRVS) of the Agency to provide relevant guidance for Nigerians to do the right thing in their various spheres of interest to transform the nation.
He also bared his mind on the issue of policy summersaults in the country, advising that government and its agencies should have sustainable development plan and have their initiatives registered trademarks as panacea to ensure continuity even after a change of administration.
The Osun State Governor seized the opportunity of the visit to clear widespread misgivings about the various State symbols in Osun. He reaffirmed the faith of the State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the superiority of the national symbols such as the National Anthem, Flag and Coat of Arms over those of Osun State. He refuted claims of intended secession by the state as unfounded, explaining that the State symbols were merely motivational for the people of the State as they represent the history and aspirations of the people of Osun State. He also restated the State Government’s support for the Federal Government as the leader of one united and indivisible Nigeria.
Aregbesola, in a warm reception of the NOA delegation commended the Agency’s revival of volunteerism in the country, describing volunteerism as a virtue the nation needed direly for its development. He was of the view that any society where the people’s conscience is dead to volunteerism was doomed to fail and therefore urged NOA to do all in its power to ensure the success of the scheme. “Nigeria as a nation and Nigerians as a people require guidance in their appreciation of self-worth and their relationship among themselves and with others. Our nation needs those things (guidance) that NOA must provide”, he concluded.
In Lafia, Nasarawa State, the foundation laying ceremony for the Nasarawa State Directorate of the Agency also served as a peace advocacy forum which ended with a call by stakeholders for politicians to desist from inciting the people to violence.
This came in the wake of recent outbreaks of communal violence in parts of the State, the most recent being the attacks on Agyaragu Community in which several people were displaced and many houses burnt including the palace of Zhe Migili, the traditional ruler of the Migili people. The peace parley and foundation laying which was performed by the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Tanko Al-makura attracted several royal fathers from across the State led by the Emir of Lafia, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Mustapha Agwai.
Addressing the forum, the Director General of NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri stressed that once elections are won, politicking must give way to governance while all politicians, irrespective of political and ethnic leanings, must unite to deliver development to the people as a collective responsibility. He condemned the violent crises in Nasarawa State as “abominable, reprehensible and condemnable” to all well-meaning people. Consequently, he cautioned politicians in the State to “desist from inflaming passions of hatred amongst the people because nemesis is coming”.
Agreeing with the NOA boss, Governor Al-makura identified the urgent need for ethical re-orientation to woo people of the State to embrace positive values of peace, tolerance, and mutual respect among others as an antidote to recurrent conflicts. “If politics could be used to affect the lives and properties of the people of Agyaragu in such a negative manner, then it is not worth its sort”, declared Al-makura. He added that “if the messages of the NOA are imbibed, those politicians with negative values will find other places to practice their kind of politics other than Nasarawa State because Nasarawa people have always been a peace loving people”. He further pledged that anyone found to be using the people’s disadvantage positions to incite them to violence would be brought to book.
Traditional rulers including the Osana of Keana, His Royal Majesty, Emmanuel Elayo also learnt their voices to the call for restraint by politicians and their followers. He condemned the do-or-die approach of politicians as immature and inimical to the development of the State urging them to retrace their steps. He also pledged the commitment of traditional rulers in Nasarawa State to ensuring that such acts of violence remain a thing of the past in the State.
It is evident, therefore, that as the Agency lays foundations for its permanent offices, it is also laying and reinforcing the foundations of peace, justice, equity, tolerance, faith, love, unity, mutual respect and freedom for the Nigerian society. Little wonder State Governments and men of goodwill are throwing their weight massively in support of this initiative of the NOA. As the motto of our nation is “UNITY AND FAITH, PEACE AND PROGRESS”, it follows that there can be no meaningful progress in the absence of unity, faith, peace and other positive values inherent in Nigerians. It is for this reason that NOA under Mr. Mike Omeri is exhuming and expunging from our society those character traits that are inconsistent with the visions and aspirations of our nation and preparing the grounds, through attitudinal transformation, for the much desired progress to a leading world economic power.