Prince Nnagozie Ochi
Taking cognisance of the fact that a nation can only develop when the people are developed character wise and otherwise, an organisation has decided to focus on the development of young minds that would turn out to be a critical mass of a new generation of Nigerians.
Chief Social Architect and Project Director, Good Character Development Initiative of Nigeria (GCDI), Prince Nnagozie Ochi, believes that our character is grossly underdeveloped and that is what makes us who we are.
He noted that character is actually “who you are, the core of you,” adding “that for Nigerians, if anything, it is all in the negative direction– greed and corruption.” Ochi feels however that it can be done differently, where young people can be made to see life through a character programme.
To this end, he has through his programme, Character Counts, decided to focus on young minds where their characters are molded from the foundation and they turn out better Nigerians in the future with minds free of corruption and greed.
“The problem in this nation is so huge that you cannot solve everything. So, we have decided to start with the young people because that is where we still have people whose ways could still be amended. And what we have found is that when the children become good, when they come home, they can also impact on their parents,” Ochi explained.
Ochi, who disclosed that his organisation is affiliated with Character Counts International in the USA and also with the Josephson Institute of Ethics, said there isabig problem in Nigeria regarding the massive underdevelopment in the country.
He said that this could be narrowed down to one simple thing, which is that we have a huge character deficit.
“A people or a nation can only develop when the people are developed and one of the key things we tell people is that the level of development of any nation is directly proportional to the level of the development of its people. If a people are underdeveloped, their country would be underdeveloped and you cannot come to develop a nation by just building infrastructures. That is not enough. The first step is to develop people and when you develop people, they can now develop their communities and the nation at large. You find that there is something fundamentally wrong with our system and then you realise that the key problem is character,” Ochi said.
The Character Counts programme, according to Ochi, is not just about the regular oral instruction. “It is a culture-building programme, which aims to build a new culture so that when it begins to happen, we would begin to see the result and then you would see young people who are conscious of themselves, committed and competent and making their daily decision based on character.
“Young people must understand that one is responsible for any decision that one makes. You have found that an average Nigerian child would break a glass and you walk in and ask who did it and all he says is, ‘it’s not me o!’ Meanwhile there is nobody in there. So, we must start from the foundation to build good and honest character because if we fail to pick up at that level, we have lost it.
“In Character Counts, therefore, the major focus is on decision-making and how to make one’s daily decision based on character. A child must understand the consequences of his action and the stakeholders in his decision – who and who are affected by the decision he takes at any given time. If at a young age, a child can learn these, then we are on our way to a better future,”