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HomeNewsWhile Africa continues to struggle with governance, Ezekwesili and others provide alternatives.

While Africa continues to struggle with governance, Ezekwesili and others provide alternatives.

While Africa continues to struggle with governance, Ezekwesili and others provide alternatives.

African countries continue to face under-development, a situation directly linked to leadership failure and poor governance systems.

Apart from some of the countries currently being ruled by military dictatorship, others are also struggling even in their democracy, with poor electoral processes always marking the transition of power from one government to another.

This has been largely blamed for the dearth of focused political leaders, hence the stunted growth in most of the African states.

One of the persons irked by this situation is Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former Education Minister and one-time presidential candidate.

Ezekwesili, who is also famous for her Bring Back our Girls’ Movement, has been concerned with the worsening leadership question in Africa.

She, however, feels that the only way forward was to mould young men and women across the African continent who would stand tall and take over their countries.

Speaking recently at the graduation ceremony of the School of Politics, Policy, and Governance, she described it as an unconventional school designed to attract, develop and produce a new generation of political leaders who will listen and serve the new class of citizens, who know their rights.

According to her, SPPG’s mission is to educate future leaders and public officials, who are dedicated to the good of the nation and ready to serve the well being of all citizens.

“It has, for years, built a reputation for equipping leaders with the right values, knowledge and skills required to solve complex public problems.

“The first of its kind world-class institution for shaping new kinds of public leaders, the school’s 33-week programme offers a unique opportunity for prospective leaders to be equipped with the requisite knowledge, skills and values required for effective, disruptive, and progressive public leadership.

“The programme includes a wide range of carefully selected courses comprising 24 modules that are analytically and empirically relevant to solving Africa’s complex development problems,” she declared with passion.

The former minister added that, “SPPG is focused on building ethical, competent and capable leaders and producing at scale a new genre of public leadership that serves the people and delivers on governance.”

“Leadership for results and positive impact is a mission SPPG has determined to make the most important conversation in the public space of Nigeria and the rest of Africa,” said the Founder of SPPG, Ezekwesili.

She tasted African leaders on the need to leverage technology and the current disruption to enhance economic growth across the continent.

Ezekwesili, who is also the Convener/Chair of #FixPolitics, said the continent continues to experience an increasing leadership deficit in the areas of policy analysis, development and good governance, disclosing that SPPG is determined to bridge the gaps experienced in these areas with a well-tailored curriculum for African students with a global perspective.

On leadership deficit in the continent, Ezekwesili, stated that the world needs Africa and Africa needs the world.

She said, “The existing multilateral order is broken and must be urgently fixed, so that our world can make critical decisions and take the right actions on issues that affect us all.

“Africa must be at the centre of conversations on global governance, economic growth, poverty and inequality, climate change, disruptive technologies and related issues of human and social development.

The world will do better with Africa actively at the table of the redesign of today’s global architecture for a future that provides equal opportunity for everyone anywhere to excel.”

To be ready for this, she stressed, Africa needs disruptive leaders, who are constantly interested in finding better solutions to problems of their communities, countries and the world.

The former Minister of Education linked the root of Nigeria’s leadership problem to distorted political culture, where leaders place personal interests above public good.

According to her, there must be a change of mindset by leaders to tackle the growing economy and security challenges in the country.

She observed that character, competence and capacity were the missing link in producing good leaders in Africa, stressing the need for disruptive thinking in the nation’s political space.

“We found that not just in Nigeria, but across Africa, there is a distorted political culture. It is the political culture where those in public leadership subordinate the public good, that is the common good, for their personal and narrow interests.

“So, what it means is that the common/public good is not served by people, who should be serving. To correct that, you have to customise a new leadership mindset.

“So, the training that we give at SPPG has the content to reset the mindset of those who wish to lead.

“They lead by serving, they place character at the foundation of the knowledge we give to them by improving on their competency and the capacity for them to be able to articulate sound policies, be able to design institutions that enable society to advance and to have the capacity to make the right choices of investment in the goods and services that countries need to grow,” she said.

Analysts are united on the fact that Africa, especially Nigeria, needs exemplary leaders and followers to build its polity and make the citizenry enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Regrettably, it has been observed that failure at providing good governance has been the lot of almost every Nigerian government, whether military or civilian.

Several scholars posit that Nigerians collectively lack a clearly defined vision championed by their leaders, and that this has remained the country’s political albatross since it became independent more than 60 years ago.

Nigeria’s multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society would arguably do better if anchored on a well-defined national vision.

But that has not been the case. The cost is evident in the serial failures of the country to evolve into a nation and realise its enormous potential.

She is not alone on this push for the advancement of quality leadership in Africa.

The Chief Executive Officer of SPPG, Alero Ayida-Otobo believed that there was urgent need to groom a new set of leaders with policy development and good governance mindset, while educating a new cadre of political leaders dedicated to the values of good governance in and out of Nigeria, based on the values the school upholds.

“We want to contribute to instilling in politicians and public administrators a deep sense of moral commitment to the common good as a foundation for Nigeria and Africa’s future prosperity.

“SPPG aims to strengthen the bonds between government, public administration and citizens by fostering dialogue, accountability and transparency,” she stated.

She added that most African countries have the same developmental problems like Nigeria, stressing that “this is why Fix Politics and SPPG are propelling us across the continent. We started in Nigeria but we are going to cover the 54 countries on the continent of Africa.

“SPPG is one of the three pillars of the Fix Politics Initiative; what we are doing is very pivotal to the future of Nigeria; the mission is to elevate the office of the citizen; we want to enlighten the citizens of this country.

“Our goal is to equip 21st century politicians that will be value driven, character, unquestionable competence and undeniable capacity,” Ayida-Otobo stated.

Meanwhile, Barr Olu Omotayo, who is the President of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network, CRRAN, believes that beyond building men and women as future leaders, there was the need for strong institutions in Africa.

He told DAILY POST that irrespective of strong leaders, Africa lacks strong institutions.

“In the Western world, anybody that comes to power, his action does not affect institutions; institutions are strong already.

“When Obama visited, I think Ghana, he said what Africans need is strong institutions and not strong leaders. Once the institutions are strong, things will be working.

“But we don’t have strong institutions; that’s why a president can sit down in the villa and ask the Central Bank Governor to go and bring a certain amount of money.

“It cannot happen in developed countries; you must pass through procedures; the president is the head of government but he doesn’t have power over those institutions; the institutions are separated from the running of government.

“But here, we the institutions feel that they are subservient to the executive; even the judiciary when you come to Nigeria for instance, you see that the judiciary and the legislature have not been able to actually stand on their feet and these are the problems that make Africa to still be under-developed.”

While hailing the efforts being made by Ezekwesili and others, he, however, said more efforts should be channelled towards raising more citizens who could stand and challenge the status quo and defend the institutions.

“I have always been of the belief that the problem of Africa and of course Nigeria, is the lack of collective effort of the people.

“If the people are determined that our institutions must be strong, they must be strong; so we should not be focusing on leadership; if the citizens say this is what we want, they should demand for it.

“Look at the FOI Act in Nigeria, it was enacted to make people always demand accountability from their leaders, but how many cases have you seen? Those are the problems.

“So, there is the need to groom the people to take their destinies in their hands; they must be able to challenge the authorities, they must be able to demand accountability; it is not just training some few leaders, who will turn out to become overlords. We need to train citizens who will stand on their feet.”

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