Dr John Maxwell, a notable American leadership expert and writer, observed that a leader without followers is just taking a walk. This aphorism did not fall far from comments by personalities that graced the second convocation of School of Politics, Policy and Governance held recently in Abuja.
The comments point to the fact that good leaders, who command actual following, are known for their circumspect and analytical mindset.
Good leaders do not gamble with the fate of their subjects, as they analyse every situation before taking policy decisions to avoid or minimise risks.
Obiageli Ezekwesili, Hillary Clinton, Karen Losse,Alero Ayida-Otobo and Fola Adeola were among the persona that advised graduands of SPPG to be circumspect and analytical in all circumstances, especially in leadership matters.
Ezekwesili, who is the Convener, #FixPolitics Initiative and founder of SPPG, urged the graduands to adopt an analytical mindset.
The former minister of education in Nigeria said, “In God we trust, but everyone must bring their data. You should be analytical in all circumstances.”
According to Ezekwesili, research revealed that the missing characteristics of good governance were character, competence and capacity.
Noting that character and integrity are insufficient unless they are consistent, she noted the timeliness of SPG’s second convocation.
She emphasised the importance of preparedness for the arduous task of leadership, while encouraging the graduands to be worthy of their calling.
“Miriam Williamson said our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; it is our light, not darkness, that frightens us,” she added.
Ezekwesili 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 fix the dwindling economy and security challenges in the country, observing that character, competence and capacity were the missing links in producing good leaders in Africa.
The former vice president of the World Bank, Africa Region, therefore, stressed the need for disruptive thinkers in the nation’s political space as well as to educate the citizens on the consequences of making bad decisions during elections.
She said, “What we found is that not just Nigeria, but across Africa, there is a political culture that is distorted. It is the political culture where those in public leadership subordinate the public good for their personal and narrow interests. What it means is that the common good is not served by people who should be serving. To correct that, you need a new leadership mindset.
“So, the training that we gave at SPPG is one that has the content to reset the mindset of those who wish to lead. They lead by serving and place character at the foundation of the knowledge that we give them by improving on their competency and the capacity to articulate sound policies, design institutions that enable society to advance and to make the right investment choices that countries need in to grow.”
Delivering the keynote address, Adeola, the Chairman of FATE Foundation,stressed the need for African leaders to think deep and harness the vast resources available to develop Africa.
According to him, Africa has more of a future, as it has history. “But the future cannot be achieved if we remain in the static pace of the past. We must find a new future by learning from the past, where digging into the ground is the only way to survive,” he added.
For the Dean of SPPG, Yetunde Anibaba, the students have undergone some sort of positive genetic mutation and physiological upgrade to prepare them for the world into which they will be released.
Ayida-Otobo, who is the Chief Executive Officer, noted that the institution was designed to transform the quality of political and public leadership in Africa.
She disclosed that the Class of 2022 comprised 133 students who underwent 10 months intensive training.
“The Class of 2022 studied 140 topics in seven thematic areas. Research shows that there were certain gaps in the knowledge base of lots of public leaders. So, this is our own contribution in building the knowledge base of future leaders, and we are very pleased that we have 133 graduands.
“A lot of them are already doing great work. They are already community organisers serving at the community level and recruiting individuals that have the potential to be part of our community. We also have among them at least three that scale through the primaries conducted by parties,” she said, adding that the 10-month course would stretch and strengthen one’s leadership capacity.
She praised the graduands as potential leaders set for impact.
Losse, who heads the Governance Fund of GIZ, spoke about the significance of working for the citizens, while urging the students to exhibit good character while showcasing their talents.
“It is your job to go out there and make governance work for all citizens,” she encouraged.
Former United States Secretary of State, Clinton, in a short video message, stressed the need for Nigerians to exercise their franchise, noting that participating in electioneering would strengthen the country’s democracy.
Clinton told the graduands to apply the lessons learnt from SPPG to change the paradigm for all Nigerians.
The lead compere, Oseni Rufai of ARISE TV, urged the Class of 2022 to continue making a difference in all spheres of life.
“I believe, very soon across every state of the federation, you can take this as a prophecy; we will see in the government house of every state of the federation the alumni of SPPG,” he said.
As part of the #FixPolitics Initiative’s values, the SPPG aims to transform African politics. The institute’s goal is to build a massive base of a new value-based, disruptive-thinking political class equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively lead.
Accountability, respect and tolerance, stewardship and responsibility, social justice and inclusiveness, ethical leadership, moral compass founded on integrity and honesty, and adherence to the rule of law are also guiding principles.
SPPG, which is based on the #FixPolitics mission, is critical to the group’s goals of elevating the ‘Office of the Citizen’ to its proper position in society and creating a political class of servant-leaders.
The school’s goal is to attract, nurture and produce a new generation of political leaders, who will listen to and serve a new class of informed citizens. It also aspires to produce 21st century politicians known for their values-driven personalities.
Other personalities that spoke to the graduands on the issue, include Dr Yetunde Anibaba.