In a bid to produce leaders of the next generation with disruptive thinking, School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG), over the weekend held a graduation ceremony for 133 students for the 2022 academic year in Abuja Nigeria.
Speaking at the ceremony, 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 underwent 10 intensive months of training and learning.
“For the Class of 2022, there are about 133 students graduating. The pioneer class was 160 and they have gone through 10 intensive months of training and learning. They studied 140 topics, 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 leader’s and we are very pleased that we have 133 graduates.
“A lot of them are already doing great work. They are already community organizers, 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 scaled through the primaries conducted by parties.
“Our 10 months course stretches and strengthens one’s leadership capacity and our students who were aspirants demonstrated that what we are teaching is not just possible but practicable and we have people who are running the race already,” Aida-Otobo said.
Meanwhile, a former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has linked the root cause 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 economic and security challenges in the country.
Ezekwesili, who is also the Founder of SPPG, observed that character, competence and capacity was the missing link in producing good leaders 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 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 them. So, in order to correct that, you have to basically customize 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 of 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 Nigerians.
According to Ezekwesili, there is a need to educate and sensitize 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 enough influence sufficient enough to influence political outcomes. So, the role of the citizens in democracy is part of what the SPPG promotes and, again, we must have the office of the citizen, the community organizing 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.
Former US Secretary of States, 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.
The best graduating students were Joyce Daniels (female) and Musa Ali Baba (male).