Kebetkache board members, staff at the ceremony
A frontline development expert and founder, African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Center LSD, Dr Otive Igbuzor has decried the absence of leadership schools despite the challenges posed by poor leadership in the continent.
He was speaking at the graduation ceremony of the first set of graduates from the school’s Port Harcourt Center hosted by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center at Aldgate Hotel, Port Harcourt, August 17, 2019.
“Poor leadership is a challenge in Africa and leaders can be trained on core leadership but there is no core leadership training center. We received curriculum of leadership schools around the world and found only one Leadership University in the world in the Mongolia area”, the chief of staff to the deputy Senate president pointed out.
Tracing the state of affairs in the country to a lack of persons with core leadership knowledge at the helm of affairs, he stated, “Nigeria hosts the largest number of poor people in the world in the midst of many mineral resources and the Niger Delta brings the worst candidates to be its political leaders. Leaders are people with vision, not those struggling for self-interest but those who are strategic and bring influence and productivity to the table to change the narrative of what we have in the country.
The Center which commenced in Abuja in 2009 and has now branched out to Warri and Port Harcourt is building a body of leaders that will eventually transform the country. “We have had enormous testimonies about how the school has changed lives. Many fail in life because of not having experience to share. Our goal is to build a crop of transformative leaders that will change the trajectory of leadership in Nigeria.”
According to him, the school is carefully fashioned, qualitative and compares with Havard School with professionals of renown and repute are faculty members giving back to improve society.
Urging the graduating students to go and make a difference, he said, “Freely have you received; the purpose is not for you to keep what you have received. In your church, community, state, turn your lecture notes around and use that to help this country”.
Dr Otive commended the Comrad Adenuar Foundation for partnering with ACSLD in the last 10 years, to drive the Leadership School project with special appreciation to the representative of the country director, Mr Samson Adeniran.
In her remarks, director of the Port Harcourt SLD Center, Emem Okon thanked Otive Oguzor for the opportunity to bring the school to Port Harcourt, pointing out she had always desired a leadership school for women.
Emem Okon expressed appreciation to Otive for the opportunity and privilege to be part of the Leadership School system. She explained that she had aspirations for a women leadership academy but did not know how to go about it until she overheard Otive discussing with two other civil society colleagues at a programme in Owerri in 2017. The Port Harcourt Center took eventually off in June 2018.
“It has been challenging but successful, I commend all the students who kept the fate. I was encouraged by the doggedness of people coming from outside- Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Ahoada”.
The Kebetkache executive director reminded the graduating students of Prof Odinkalu’s charge that leadership is about making sacrifices
“Make up your mind and commit to influencing your own space. The certificate is not for employment but looking out for changes in behavior, outlook and networking. Harvard lesson teaches us to try and understand the question O. If everybody involved in a process understands the question O, it is easy for the leader to make changes.
“It will not be easy to make change but you are a leader to make change. Change yourself, your family, your organisation, state and nation. You are here as a leader,” she advised.
Key note speaker, Hon Nimi Walson-Jack, who delivered a lecture on “Leadership and Good Governance”, said good governance should be practiced at all levels. “Leadership involves strategically developing and implementing plans and policies with accountability and transparency. Good leadership, which requires the ability to face challenges to achieve results in complex conditions, can and should be practiced at all level.
He said the concept of good governance has gained prominence as interest in improved economic performance and poverty reduction in developing countries has risen and outlined the characteristics of good governance.
“Good governance is characterized by competently directing resources, performance, and stakeholder participation toward set goals and in doing so, it must be open, transparent, accountable, equitable and responsive to the needs of the people. For good governance to work, countries need effective policy making, transparent rules, open information and collective participation by all stakeholders in the various spheres or sectors”.
The former Nigerian Bar Association national secretary and governorship candidate said it is not only those in authority that should exercise leadership.
“As citizens, you can and should exercise leadership at your level. This notion of leadership at all levels often surprises people, because they confuse leadership with authority. Authority is a role that people assume because of their position, but it is not synonymous with leadership. Leadership is about enabling people to identify and face challenges and achieve results. Facing a challenge means ringing about positive change in the way things are done. Leadership helps an organization, institution, society to be successful and create its desired future”.
Selected qualities of an effective leader according to him, include, competence, honesty, communication, self-confidence, transparency, accountability, good governance.
To the students he said:
“You have joined an elite select corps of citizens who have dedicated time and resources to study what leadership is all about and how to utilize same in your interaction with the private and public spheres of society. By the nature of your training you have an edge over millions of Nigerians who lack the basic civic knowledge, skills and dispositions that are necessary to enable them function effectively in our democratic governance. You have the intellectual tools to influence, motivate, guide, mentor, and inspire our people on the numerous issues that threaten the quality of their lives, thereby helping them secure their rights and remain progressive.
By virtue of your training, you have the opportunity to lead hundreds of people in your communities, thousands of persons in your local government areas, millions of people in your states, and even the nation, and change their course, creating history Your work would be better and you would leave a legacy if you can instill leadership qualities in your subordinates to generate future leaders.
Walson-Jack urged the graduands to shun authoritarian leadership style. Whatever model of leadership you may choose to adopt, I plead with you in the name of the Almighty God not to be autocratic leaders. We are already suffocating under leaders who know it all.
“Too many leaders are the most intelligent and wisest in the land. They and not the people are the focus. Our democracy would do better with leaders who do not hold all the authority. They take decisions solely at their discretion without consulting their team. Executive Council meetings are mere formalities that rubber stamp the leader’s position on issues, including those they are not experts or professionals in. In contrast, I charge you all to be democratic leaders who are committed to your words to discharge your responsibilities as leaders and as individuals. Commitment is the foundation for all other responsibilities.
“Walk your talk, be men and women whose word is their bond. Let your choice not bring grief to the Center. Let your choice bring joy and pride to the Center. Let the day come when you will be good ambassadors,” he charged.
A total of 37 students passed out from the school.