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Distorted political culture responsible for Nigeria’s leadership problem

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
09 October 2022   |   7:12 am
Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili has linked the root cause of Nigeria's leadership problem to a distorted political culture where leaders place personal interests above the public good.

Oby Ezekwesili

Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili has linked the root cause of Nigeria’s leadership problem to a distorted political culture where leaders place personal interests above the 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.

Ezekwesili stated this on Saturday at the 2022 Graduation of the School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG) with the theme: “Designing Our Global Future with Africa in Mind” held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.

Ezekwesili, who is also the founder of SPPG, observed that character, competence and capacity was the missing link in producing good leader in the African continent.

She, therefore, stressed the need for disruptive thinking in the nation’s political space.

She said: ” What we found is that not just in Nigeria, but across Africa, there is a political culture that is distorted.

It’s the political culture where those who are in public leadership subordinate the public good. That is the common good for their personal and narrow interests. And so what it means is that the common good and public good is not served by people who should be serving. So in order to correct that, you have to basically customise a new leadership mindset.

“So the training that we gave at the School of Politics, policy and governance is one that has the content to reset the mindset of those who wish to lead in public service.

“They lead by serving, they place character at the foundation of the knowledge that 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 in order to grow”.

The ex-Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa Region, said ahead of the 2023 elections, such distorted political culture could be corrected with sufficient information on the part of the Nigerians.

According to Ezekwesili, there is a need to educate and sensitise the citizens on the consequences of making bad decisions during elections.

“I think that one of the things that our research shows is the important role of citizens, which is why a critical pillar in the research of fixed politics is the pillar on empowering and enlightening the electorate so that they would have influence sufficient enough to influence political outcomes. So the role of the citizens in a democracy is part of what the SPPG promotes and again, we must have the office of the citizen, the community organising approach, and all the other things that lead towards an empowered citizen that can push back and demand accountability as well as the emergence of the right kind of leadership for our public space”, She added.

On her part, the Chief Executive Officer of SPPG, Alero Ayida-Otobo, said the institution was designed to transform the quality of political and public leadership in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

She disclosed that the 2022 graduating class comprised 133 students who she said underwent 10 intensive months of training and learning.

“For the class of 2022, there are about 133 students graduating. The pioneer class were 160 and they have gone through 10 intensive months of training and learning. They studied 140 topics and seven thematic areas. Research shows that they 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.

“Our 10 months course stretches and strengthened one’s leadership capacity and our students who were aspirants demonstrate that what we are teaching is not just possible but we have people who are running the race already”.

Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in a short video message, stressed the need for Nigerians to vote during elections, noting that participating in electioneering activities would strengthen the nation’s democracy.

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