By Patrick Obia
Center for Social Studies, Research, and Advocacy – We The People (WTP), has reopened its Rights Academy in Calabar, the Cross River State capital. Seventeen pioneer students were inducted.
The Rights Academy is a platform to create a framework and opportunity for young people in Cross River and Nigeria, to come together and learn needed skills for human and ecological rights campaigns.
In the inauguration ceremony held in Nnimmo Bassey Conference Hall of We The People’s office, Calabar, the Executive Director of WTP, Ken Henshaw said the academy was necessary because the realities of the country have made everyone in present-day Nigeria an activist.
Ken posited that everyone in Nigeria is angry but anger can’t make a change rather, zeal and passion does.
“Human Rights is not a bunch of people getting angry and dissatisfied; activism is also about people who are prepared to get the skills and get the protocols right and fight for transforming their society.
“We started the Rights Academy because we understand that at this point in the history of our country, the fight for rights, whether human or ecological, is at an all-time low and it’s important for people to put hands together and fight the realization, and no better generation to do so than the young generation,” he said.
Human And Ecological Rights
The pioneer students of the academy will be exposed to human and ecological rights – rights to life, association among others in the course of the 22 classes within 12 weeks.
Henshaw while intimating participants on the overview of the academy said participants when groomed, will challenge some patriarchal and other issues infringing on the rights of citizens.
“The Academy will train these 17 people who have been selected through 22 classes within 12 weeks, giving them those skills. We will follow their progress and ensure the learning they have gotten a culture and custom to actually transform into real societal transformational actions.”
He charged the students with the task ahead adding that if revolutionaries such as Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr among others can affect a massive change in their various communities and the world all over, then they can do it also.
Sustainability Plan For The Academy, Support For Students
Fielding questions from Journalists shortly after the official inauguration, Mr. Ken said there is a sustainability plan for the academy for at least five years. But disclosed that it will be a permanent school that will last the test of time.
He said at the end of the training, students will be supported in any project of their choice that will affect positive change in the communities.
“The Academy is sustainable. This is called the raining season Academy, we will have the harmattan academy sometime in August/September. We intend to sustain it for at least five years in the interim.
“We are going to follow up with each of them and after the academy, we are going to support them to carry out their own projects; not the project we gave to them but the project they believe in to transform their communities.”
Earlier, the NGO’s Project Officer on Human Rights and Climate Justice, Grace Appolos welcomed and thanked the students and guests for availing themselves.
She said they will be equipped with the necessary skills to stir them for the real change they desire.
They were also enjoined to open up their heart to learn, unlearn and relearn some things.
High points of the inauguration were goodwill messages from partners, music, and eat and drink sessions.