The 4th National Leadership Dialogue Series (NLDS), hosted by Nigerian Prize for Leadership and Partners, held via zoom on Friday August 28th, 2020, with the theme, Rethinking Leadership: Focus on Diversity, Integration and Inclusion.
The webinar was well attended by partners and participants from within and outside Nigeria, with Senator Ibrahim Ida, CON, (Sardaunan Katsina) Member NPL Governing Board and Chairman Committee on Finance and Funds Mobilisation; Iyom Josephine Anenih, mni, Former Minister of Women Affairs and Founder Women Foundation in Nigeria; Mr. Jake Epelle, CEO/Founder, Albino Foundation; Lady Ekaete Judith Umoh, First Female President, Joint National Association of People with Disabilities; Mr. Ken Ugbechie, Veteran Journalist/Representative, Nigerian Guild of Editors; and Mallam Akoshile Mukhtar, Vice President, National Youth Council of Nigeria, as panelists.
The edition was moderated by Dr Rotimi Oladele, Chairman NPL Communication Roundtable and Former Managing Director, Tribune Newspapers.
Arising from submissions by the Panelists and contributions from the Partners and Participants at the Webinar, the following conclusions and resolutions were adopted as part of measures to harness the positives of our diversity through sustained inclusive leadership for effective national integration policy and programmes.
- Governments at all levels should embrace, through legislation and programmes, a culture of managing diversity and the promotion of inclusiveness in all its ramifications. It should also adopt a policy of tackling all biases through sensitization, public enlightenment and affirmative actions. It is not enough to act once and stop, it should be a sustainable part of our governance system and nation building.
- To promote inclusiveness, leaders in Nigeria should initiate policies and programmes to train different segments of the society, including the vulnerable groups, women, youth and people living with disabilities, to learn the ropes of leadership. Leadership should initiate affirmative action as a means of promoting inclusiveness and integration in a healthy competitive environment. Systems function best when there is healthy competition.
- Leaders should make people to have a sense of belonging and encourage individuals to bring out their best self forward, feeling that one can be one’s self results in greater engagement and creativity, which is a psychological therapy and a critical first step for sustainable development.
- Governments at all levels should fashion our education system towards creating the right education and enable conditions that could give sense of belonging to our diverse groups. We should promote an education system that focuses on building mutuality amongst multi-divided groups in society so they can have ‘ownership’ of their affinities. We must also promote inclusive policies that will bridge the gaps between groups at different levels and nurture notions of human rights and citizenship for those who feel marginalized and the groups that feel excluded.
- Absence of genuine moves to embrace the culture of inclusiveness and integration in the management of our diversity is what is causing the growing ethnic agitations, tensions, conflicts and extremism; and these have now become the only means of voicing out agitation against domination by one group over the other
- Federal, State and Local Governments must all stand to be counted, and laws should be enacted and International Conventions adopted to ensure that the treatment of our people, especially the most vulnerable groups in the society, the women, youth, children and people with physical disabilities, is in accordance with international best practices.
- The current culture of leadership by endorsement, right connections or a chest full of money; without regards to right orientation, disposition, mental aptitude, the right education and right inclination portends a challenge to our efforts in nation building.
- Inability to harness our diversity, achieve national integration and enjoy inclusive leadership is traced to the fact that over time since we became a country, we have not had the right kind of leadership that focus in building national cohesion.
- In a multi-ethnic and heterogeneous country like Nigeria, there are certain prerequisites for good governance, and Inclusivity should be one of them. Where people feel excluded from the affairs of State, it becomes difficult for them to be committed to its cause, and it is near impossible for such people to accept and be loyal to its leadership
- A proper management of a country’s diversity involves convincing people to respect and appreciate what makes them different from one another, as well as their similarities.
- A leader must have the ability to influence those he leads, to the extent that any decisions and actions taken are governed by a set of values and ethical standards, and in the interest of the majority, if not all the people.
- The growing differences among Nigerian ethnic nationalities, occasioned by the absence of an inclusivity culture, impact negatively on attempts at developing and promoting inter-group, inter-ethnic, and inter-religious understandings. The social implication of the situation is the growing sense of insecurity, with the attendant escalation of social vices such as insurgencies, violent extremism and crimes of all sorts. Security of life and property has now become a very scarce commodity in the land.
- Leaders should be sincere enough to say what they mean, and mean what they say. They should embark on programs only when they have the determination to see the programs through.
- Promoting Inclusive form of leadership at all levels of governance gives relevance to our shared national values and goals, where every citizen accepts to live for, and, if need be, also prepared to die for a national cause.
- In building the new Nigeria of our shared dreams, diversity should be seen as an asset that speaks against discrimination, and we must first understand our diversity as a source of strength and every citizen carried along through inclusive leadership in nation building.
- Inclusiveness must be proper and complete if we must move the country forward. Inclusiveness that we yearn for would involve for instance, having women, who are mostly affected by violent conflict and insecurity, in the National Security Council discussion and security decision making. We must consciously recruit women into leadership positions if we are serious about rewriting the leadership wrongs.
- We need leaders who must find the picture in the future of the people in the structure through effective collaboration and participatory leadership.
- In multi-ethnic, rigid and notoriously heterogeneous societies such as ours, there are certain prerequisites for good governance; inclusivity, is an avowed, and fundamental part of these prerequisites.
- All-inclusive governance means that all tiers of government must recognize all tiers of people; and we cannot achieve open society if we don’t have inclusive leaders.
- In achieving open society, where everyone is giving the opportunity in spite of political affiliation, religion and ethnicity, leaders must lead with conscience and consciousness of being accountable to the people; and must be careful how they use power, money and the desire for illicit sex against the people they lead.
- In rethinking leadership, we must also rethink disabilities. We must take our eyes away from impairment, and since diversity is beautiful, barriers are a necessary part of our journey, it requires our collective efforts to remove these barriers and harness the rich deposits in every one of us.
- Reasonable accommodation of people with disability in line with Article 29 of the UN Convention of Persons with Disabilities should be part of our process which must be entrenched in our system as critical steps in rethinking leadership.
- Based on the principles of consultative participation, the youth which constitute larger part of our about 200 million population must be carried along in the decision-making process.
- Inclusion is never accidental, so the leader must be intentional and deliberate about their drive for inclusiveness in their daily decisions and policy implementations.
- Leaders must be emotionally intelligent by turning our diversity into collective strength, through taking deliberate actions that are inclusive of every segments of the society.
- NPL should continue to partner relevant organisations and international agencies to intensify the ongoing crusade for inclusiveness and integration, because bringing the issues to front burner is key to creating the necessary inroad for inclusive leadership, governance and political structure.
- As we go forward in our quest to build a nation where peace, unity and progress reign, this is the right time for governments at both federal and state levels to seriously consider creating a Ministry, Agency, or Commission, with primary responsibility for promoting and managing national integration.
Dr Ike Neliaku, fnipr, ficmc
Executive Secretar, NPL
August 30, 2020