Luke… Touching Lives One Step A Time

Posted January 7th, 2014 in Press Release


The NLI Factor In His Success

PERHAPS, one of the strongest debates today is how to break the unbalanced age mix of those saddled with public responsibilities. Unlike what obtains in the corporate world, not many young people have opportunity to understudy the older hands manning public offices.

Interestingly, such uncommon opportunities are hardly properly ultilised when they occasionally come. Hence, the older generations merely mock at the request for more chances while the youth are left with few success stories to push through their demand.

Still, there are a couple of outstanding youths in political and corporate circles whose track records are beginning to challenge the old order. By sheer determination to leave the society better than they meet it, they are making unusual impacts in their area of calling in different parts of the country. One person who belongs to this select group is the former Speaker of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, Onofiok Akpan Luke, who has embarked on mind-boggling initiatives in Akwa Ibom State.

Of Course, Luke must have benefitted immensely from the moral tutelage the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI). As an associate of the initiative, he must have learn that political itself does not make a superman but the number of lives that have been touched as he walks through the passage of life. That singular philosophy is setting new frontier in Akwa Ibom.

The beauty of NLI, like its chief executive, Yinka Oyinlola, disclosed, over 320 fellows and associates of the Initiative are doing similar things across the country. And they are taught that accountability is the hallmark of responsibility; hence they go back to the people to render account of stewardship, albeit personal sense of success. That, Oyinlola said, distinguishes those who associate with NLI, including Luke.

Recently, the social media went virile with the allegation that Gov. Godswill Akpabio supervised an assault on Luke, who currently chairs Akwa Ibom House of Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriations. The report, which Luke later denied as unfounded, said the lawmaker got into a trouble with the governor for his rare bravery to stand up against Akpabio in defence of his colleague, Victor Udofia. His effort speaks of the boldness Luke is made of, dating back to his days in the University of Uyo as President of the Students’ Union Government.

In 2002, he rallied students to confront the management of the university, in a non-violent manner, in protest of increment of tuition fees and other unfriendly tendencies. The action would turn out to earn him a one-year rustication. His activities at the youth parliament, an organisation he molded as pioneer speaker, were also loaded with unusual courage.

Yet, his boldness for confronting issues that have potential for improving the ordinary man is just an aspect of Luke’s DNA. In 2011, when he was elected to represent Nsit Ubium Constituency, Luke, unlike most parliamentarians, knew clearly the most pressing issues of his people – education, agriculture, health, environment and youth/social development. He weaved his legislative interests around the issues in line with his belief that the voice of a lawmaker is a mere megaphone of his constituency.

Two and half years into his tenure, he has sponsored five bills out of which two have been passed into law – the enabling law for the establishment of the Akwa Ibom State HIV/AIDs Control Agency and that of the amendment of Magistrate Courts Laws 2000 were sponsored by the lawyer. Also, a bill to guarantee the safety of construction workers in the state and a related one aimed at protecting the physically-challenged against discrimination sponsored by Luke are at various stages of legislation. Moved by the environmental hazards posed by mining and dredging activities in the coastal state, Luke also proposed a bill (which is undergoing legislative process) that will regulate the activities.

In many cases when a representative goes to the parliament, he is expected to be a legislator as well as a representative. When he performs one role exceptionally without doing the other creditably, a section of the society expresses reservations. But Luke does lawmaking very well, in the estimation of those he represents without leaving the other to suffer.

At his second legislative briefing held at Nsit Ubium Council Secretariat, he described lawmaking as a critical part of his debt to his people. And so accepted is he in his constituency that thousands defied heavy rainfall on the day of his account of stewardship held recently. His fame among the public comes not from the number of laws he has promoted but because he has touched the lives of others through his commitment to broad-based constituency projects.

Within the past two years, Luke has attracted a number of projects to the area. The nature of the projects clearly demonstrates his passion for socio-economic development of the society. Most of the projects executed in phases border on market development, education, water and feeder roads.

The lawmaker cherishes his job but does not believe legislative culture should be the exclusive of those who sit in hallowed chambers. He opts for democratisation of the processes leading to lawmaking. And his devotion to the development of legislative ideas is rooted in the belief that “the arm of law is the basic avenue from which other forms of human advocacies can derive real meaning.”

This conviction led him to institute what is today known as The Onofiok Luke Legislative Internship Programme (TOLLIP), an initiative he instituted based on the values he learnt from NLI, a fold that nurtures future leaders.

TOLLIP provides opportunities to Akwa Ibom youths to learn basic legislative engagements through direct interaction with lawmakers. The interns, drawn from the three senatorial districts of Akwa Ibom, also receive training in community development, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, peace making/conflict resolution and talent hunting.

Luke understands community mobilisation. In the same breadth, he believes the brand of political leadership Africa needs is the one that pays attention to individual needs of the family units. Hence, he instituted a structure that is targeted at giving succour to the needy long ago and made it the soul theme of his campaign. The structure revolves round two schemes — the Constituency Transport Scheme (CTS) and the Seed Fund for Business Start-up (SFBS) — that are gradually mainstreaming into life in his senatorial district.

Recently, Luke would further prove that there are a few politicians who are still faithful to their promises. He gave out 10 brand-new Hyundai cars to members of the local government in promotion of the transport scheme while 170 individuals, including 10 physically-challenged, received N100, 000 each as business seed funds. Two different interest groups were also given two buses to facilitate their activities.

Earlier in its first phase, 40 people benefitted N50, 000 or N100, 000 each from SFBS. The donation came just as 11 other constituents were given brand-new Hyundai cars to help them earn decent living while easing transportation challenge in the local government.

Like every other politician, Luke may have eyes on a higher office. But his career comes behind the desire for a peaceful co-existence. As a mammoth crowd waited to hear his scorecard during the event, he shocked everyone when he announced a dramatic plan to reconcile warring factions in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He invited a cleric to take his vacated seat, which was flanked by former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Obong Umana Okon Umana and Effiong Bob, a one-time Senate member.

Amid the tensed moment, he urged the cleric, a professor, to hold the hands of the two prominent politicians (involved in a political dispute) in a symbolic manner and prayed for the peace of Nsit Ubium. He warned those who might impute political motives into the directive that he was only guided by the desire to see peace return to the area and that he would not mind sacrificing himself  “as the sacrificial lamb.”

Other prominent politicians including the Akwa Ibom State PDP Chairman, Paul Ekpo, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Sam Ikon and Nsit Ubium Council Chairman, Ekpedeme Akpan and several others who had split along political divides, forgot their differences in a moment and joined the solemn assembly. It turned out the political leaders agreed to bury their misunderstanding in order to work together for the common good of their countrymen.

Yes, his generosity endears him to many but more people would agree his simplicity and humility makes more of the better leader they see in Luke. His attitude and conduct at the event only reinforced the mystery surrounding how the lawmaker has been able to damn the influence of power and retain his simplicity. While it was raining, Luke moved around confirming arrangements while ushering his guests with his umbrella. Unlike typical politicians who would rather relate with people via aides, he mingled and danced freely with the physically challenged and other less privileged citizens of Nsit Ubium.

Born on March 16, 1978, Luke had both elementary and secondary education at his home state during which he nurtured the desire to contribute to the liberation of mankind from self-imposed oppression. The desire informed his choice to study law. His deep interest in humanity started during his days in the university when he took to campus unionism.

Those who know him understand that his craving only found expression in politics. And perhaps, the presence of labour union, religious bodies, opposition parties and several social organisations at his recent briefing speaks of the scope of Luke’s genuine constituency.

Source: The Guardian

Fostering Good Leadership

Posted January 6th, 2014 in Press Release


Onofiok Luke, a member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is bringing to his work the lessons he has learnt as a fellow of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative, writes Ojo M. Maduekwe.

Among those who sat in a serene environment somewhere in Lagos a few years ago to listen to lessons on leadership, drawing knowledge from examples of leadership by former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela and many others, who achieved greatness was Onofiok Akpan Luke. That single attention paid to lessons on leadership organised by Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI) is helping Luke to be an example to others in his home state of Akwa Ibom, where he’s now a legislator.

So when in 2011, during his campaign, Hon. Luke pledged to honourably represent the people of Nsit Ubium constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly , he did it with an insight of who should be called a leader.

And though, many people must have rated him as just one of the politicians and his words as the rhetoric rambling of the usual politician jostling for the peoples vote, Luke has changed all that.

Two years down the line, it is obvious that this NLI Associate who was inducted in October 2009 and has previously served as past Speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament, meant every word he said about ably representing and delivering the dividends of democracy to his constituents.

On Friday December 13, 2013, stakeholders comprising of the political and business-class, the media along with the residents of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State gathered at the Nsit Ubium Council Secretariat field, for the second time, for the constituency briefing of Hon. Luke.

The event which was attended by the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Sam Ikon; past Secretary to the State Government, Obong Umana Umana; the State Peoples Democratic Party chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo, and a host of others, was almost marred by heavy downpour.

After the rain had quieted down and praise singing which were done in their native language amidst resounding cheers from the crowd were ended, Hon. Luke took to the podium to deliver his prepared address, titled, ‘Consolidating on the Gains of Robust Legislative Engagement: a Mid-term Report.’

In the course of speaking, Hon. Luke highlighted his achievements in the areas of law making, oversight and representation, to an attentive gathering. From what he listed as part of his successes in a little over two years, and the reaction he got from those in attendance, one can call Hon. Luke an achiever.

A man of the people, Hon. Luke has empowered his constituents and created jobs for them through several infrastructural and human empowerment projects such as a Town Hall at Ikot Etobo, Market Stalls in Ikot Akpan, Market Stalls in Nnung Obong, Primary School Block in Afia Nsit, Market Stalls in Ikot Eyo and Water Project in Ikot Enwana.

There have also been road constructions. But, Hon. Luke only doesn’t see all of these as having achieved and so, he’s made plans for new projects, which includes water projects in Ikot Ede in Itreto ward, Obio Ekid in Ubium South; Atiamkpat in Ubium North and Ikot Akpaotu in Ibiakpan Obotim. There’s also going to be a Civic Centre sited in Ntit Oton, Ibiakpan Obotim; while market stalls would be constructed in Ikot Ubo, Ubium South.

In the area of law-making, Hon Luke said that, “I have sponsored five bills on the floor of the House. Two of these bills have been passed into Law.” One of the bills is the ‘Law to Provide for the Establishment of the Akwa Ibom State HIV/AIDS Control Agency, Functions of the Agency and for Connected Matters.’ The other is the ‘Law to Amend the Magistrate Court Laws 2000 and for Matters Connected Therewith.’

Other bills still waiting to be passed into law, according to Hon. Luke are, “the bill for laws to provide for the safety of employees in the construction companies and industries in Akwa Ibom, and the bill for the law to protect the physically challenged against discrimination are some of my private member bills which are at various legislative stages in the House.”

Perhaps, the hallmark of his actions that underscores Hon. Luke as a man of the people is in his making the House budgeting system a participatory one. He is the Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Appropriation, which he successfully headed along with the contributions of other members to pass the 2012 and 2013 appropriation and supplementary appropriation bills.

“Along with members of my committee, the Committee on Finance and Appropriation, I invited stakeholders including traditional rulers, women, the youths, students, and the civil societies to a public hearing.” According to Hon. Luke, “this was the first ever budget briefing organised in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

“The stakeholders made contributions to the 2013 appropriation bill that was presented by His Excellency the Governor. The stakeholder’s collective position on the budget was what informed the State House of Assembly’s ultimate approval of about N470billion for the 2013 fiscal year.”

At the second constituency briefing, a total of 170 Nsit Ubium people benefited from Hon. Luke’s two empowerment schemes – the Constituent Transport Scheme (CTS) and the Seed Fund for Business Start-up (SFBS) and partook of the 10 brand new vehicles that were distributed to beneficiaries.

Also, 10 widows, 15 other women, 10 physically challenged persons and 34 men were each given the sum of N100, 000 each as seed fund to assist them in their business start-ups. Still under this financial empowerment scheme, 91 youths were each given N100, 000 to start a business.

In his appraisal of Hon. Luke’s achievement within two years, the state chairman of the PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo, said, “It is two years after we made a good choice in Onofiok Luke. The right choice was made by my party, the PDP. In Onofiok we have good representation. Onofiok has shown his people that he can represent them and that is why we are all gathered here.”

As the event came to an end at about 3pm, the journalists who had attended the briefing left Akwa Ibom back to Port Harcourt to catch the next available flight to Lagos. In the car, an aide to Hon. Luke, Mr. Chidi conducted what you can call a second briefing, answering all their questions.

According to Chidi, “This is his second constituency briefing. The first was in 2012, a year after he was massively elected by the people into the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2011. From that time until now, it is clear how much the people love him. Even among his co-lawmakers, he is loved and well respected. He can be rightly described as having the governor’s ears.”

Continuing, Chidi said, “He is a grassroot politician, a man of the people.” From the crowd that attended the event and the outpouring of encomium, it is beyond arguing that Chidi was more than an overzealous aide trying to sell his paymaster to the media. Hon. Luke can be said to be loved indeed.

Earlier, when the journalists had arrived the Port Harcourt international airport from Lagos, Chidi, along with a Chauffer, had gone to pick them. Before they got to the venue of the ceremony, it began to rain heavily. While most of the crowd had sat under the canopy and some others docked inside the secretariat building, a large number, in total defiance braved the rain and were drenched.

Sitting in the car, they were reluctant to step into the dripping water, which had by now begun to reduce. On sighting a man on suit being escorted by a group of policemen, Chidi highlighted from the vehicle and ran towards them. In few minutes, he returned in the company of the man, who held an umbrella over his head while being surrounded by security. Chidi tapped on the window vehicle and motioned for the two journalists to step out of the vehicle.

They got down and together stood under the light shower, facing this man that from guesswork shouldn’t be more than 35years old. His suit was crisp blue, with a nice finishing. “My name is Onofiok Luke and you’re welcome,” he said and went ahead to hand them the umbrella and walking away under the light showers and in the company of strong build policemen.

If this was not a glaring show of true leadership, one that every citizen craves that all politicians should portray, only God knows what is. It takes a caring leader, one who is selfless to instead be drenched in the rain while the people he’s been called to lead find succour under his umbrella.

“Honourable Onofiok Luke, I must tell you, is a man of the people. At least you saw the kind of love and followership he enjoys from his people,” said Chidi as they journey progressed. Chidi continued to mesmerize them with more local tales of a man who had just proven to them that it’s possible to be a politician with all the glitz and glamour but yet still stay in touch with your roots.

Exemplifying the vision of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, as “a platform for credible, accomplished and uniquely patriotic Nigerians to develop and express values-based leadership skills with the aim of assuming a transformative role in the continuous development of Nigeria,” Hon. Luke can be said to be a true leader and a patriotic representative of his people.

Source: ThisDayLive

Governor Fayemi’s Goodwill Remarks at NLI Awards Annual Ceremony

Posted December 5th, 2013 in Press Release

Protocols / Introduction
Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to join you this fine evening, to celebrate and fellowship. First, I would like to celebrate and thank the founders of this great movement which is NLI – Dr. Christopher Kolade and Mr. Segun Aganga – for the foresight and hardwork it has taken to properly diagnose the problem of Nigeria and design a series of appropriate responses deployed and managed by an extremely dedicated and professional secretariat.

I must also celebrate the growing NLI family of Senior Fellows as well as the cadre of Associates who are high achieving young people who hold a lot of promise for our great country. These exceptional leading lights some of whom I have as friends, are all networked together thereby increasing the change they are leading in their various spheres of influence exponentially, because together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts.

Lastly, I celebrate in advance the distinguished personalities who would be receiving awards in the categories of ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, ‘Integrity Award’ and ‘Values Based Leadership Award’. I trust that the recognition of your good work by such a credible platform as this would encourage you to do even more in the service of God and country, and be an encouragement to others in the society, that it is possible to win by righteousness.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, indeed this is a night of celebration and not a night of long speeches. It would however be negligent of us not to seize this opportunity to reinforce our shared perspectives on the values that bind us together and re-align our sights on our objective of national rebirth and how we are doing so far, and consider some imperatives going forward.

Are Leaders Made or Born

The first sentence in The Trouble with Nigeria, the well-remarked book by the novelist and grand story-teller, Professor Chinua Achebe, goes as follows:

“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility [and] to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

Chinua Achebe

The searing critique of the Nigerian condition though delivered what seems like an eternity ago in 1983 remains relevant today. It is probably the most quoted statement by any Nigerian about Nigeria, so much so that it has become an article of faith for so many pundits and commentators. Given our chronic diatribes against bad leadership, we must ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to encourage the opposite trend. Are we investing enough in the creative nurture of good leaders as a much needed antithesis to bad leaders? Is there a conscious effort on our part to produce leaders not only to stem the tide of decay but to effect a complete break with the past thereby inaugurating a new chapter in our national history in which we finally as a people begin to fulfill our much vaunted potential?

In the process of addressing ourselves to these questions another rises: Are leaders born or are they made? There is an argument that posits a sort of messianic exceptionalism as an explanation for good leadership. According to this view, iconic figures like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are rare luminaries sent to this world by providence to lead humanity into a higher state of consciousness. Such leaders, it is said, possess such rarefied gifts that they cannot but be uncommon exemplars that are ordained to appear perhaps once in a generation. For those who hold this view, leaders are born not made.

However, it is important to note that Nelson Mandela was not a lone star in his generation. Mandela belongs to a very distinguished cast of leaders that included freedom fighters like Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki. And these heroic freedom fighters were themselves the second generation of the struggle ordained by the founders of the African National Congress. They were heirs to Albert Luthuli, John Dube, Sol Plaatje and other heroic patriots. Together these patriots forged a political tradition of such resilience that it altered the course of South Africa’s history.

Martin Luther King Jr. emerged from a distinguished and an intellectually robust African-American ecclesiastical tradition of socio-religious activism and speaking truth to power. He belonged to a generation that unleashed a number of iconic liberation movements including the Black Panthers, Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X among others. These forces combined and brought about the pressures that made the tumultuous 1960s a great decade for civil rights in America. Gandhi may seem like a lone ranger in the annals of Indian history but he fashioned his famed passive resistance methods from already existing concepts in Hindu philosophy and on the moral example laid down by Jesus Christ himself two thousand years earlier. Furthermore, Gandhi was not alone. He was in the same generation as impressive liberation luminaries like Pandhit Nehru and Ali Jinnah.

Consequently, these leaders, who were supremely gifted and remarkable human beings, were not gods. They drew strength from their contemporaries of like minds, and from the spiritual resources laid down by generations past. They were hewn from the moral traditions that equipped them for the rigorous struggles of their time. This caveat suggests strongly that leaders are made not born. For us in Nigeria, given our historical challenges in this regard, the question is whether we are consciously making leaders from the undeniable pool of potential recruits supplied by each generation.

The Imperative of Youth-Led Change in Nigeria

Any truly transformative movement in our current national circumstances has to, of necessity, be a youth-driven movement. That is to say that it has to be fuelled by the aspirations, energy and anger of the generation of Nigerians that have come of age. Nigeria is overwhelmingly a country of young people. 70 percent of its population is less than 35 years of age. What this means is that the vast percentage of our population will bear the consequences of the politics and policies of today in the coming decades. Many of us gathered here today will have to deal with a raft of developmental challenges that will severely test our country in the next few decades. Some of these challenges include a rising debt burden, the likelihood that crude oil upon which our economy is based will cease to be a strategic resource due to technological innovation in the energy sector, and the consequences of such a shift for our fiscal health, economy and political stability.

What this means is that young Nigerians have the greatest stake in the political dynamics now shaping the country’s way forward in the next decade and beyond. The youth are the constituency most affected by the policy measures of today’s government. This should make them a politically active constituency, far more engaged in public affairs, and a bloc influential enough to be courted by politicians.

But this is not the case. Young Nigerians frequently complain that the gates of politics and governance have been slammed shut in their faces and that have been barred from participating meaningfully in public affairs by old guard political elite who have simply refused to quit the scene even after having dominated public life for several decades. The youth make a compelling case. They can point at public figures that have become almost permanent fixtures in government circles and seem to rotate in and out of successive administrations. They can point to political actors whose public careers have spanned such a long period that they are as present in the history books are they are in contemporary newspapers.

Many young people say that they feel marginalized and alienated from mainstream politics and governance. To compound their frustration, the old guard political elites tend to deprecate the skills and records of the younger generation in ways that suggest that only their own generation of veterans possess the talent and nous to move the country forward.
Consequently, youths feel that they are simply not taken seriously by the establishment. Dismayed, many young Nigerians have come to see politics as a dirty game played by mean-spirited old men and women who simply do not care about the legacy and inheritance they are leaving behind. This sense that young Nigerians have of being shut out from politics is accentuated by the demographic trends now defining politics and leadership in other climes. Barack Obama was one of youngest candidates to be elected president of the United States. He was 44 years old when he took office in 2008. A year later, Britain elected David Cameron, the youngest ever prime minister to occupy No.10 Downing Street. Indeed, Cameron is representative of a generation of young British political operatives who are in their thirties and forties. It is somewhat understandable that Nigerians should see their contemporaries taking charge of their nations and then feel frustrated at their apparent lack of opportunity at home.

Leadership and governance make up the society’s existential continuum. Progressive societies understand the imperative of preserving institutional memory and renewing their leadership elite. This means a commitment to refreshing and rejuvenating the ranks of the elite with fresh blood in each generation. In the absence of such renewal, society’s institutions atrophy and ultimately collapse.

As James Freeman Clark said, “A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman, of the next generation.” For our leadership to truly stand the test of time, it must be driven by a trans-generational perspective. We must build up those who will take our exertions for a better society to higher levels. I am convinced that through carefully and consciously developed formal and informal programmes of leadership development, we can build a cadre of young Nigerians who are committed to social transformation and genuinely want to work for change.

To this end, we absolutely must begin to mentor young people. The litmus test for our success as leaders is not how many people we are leading but how many people we are transforming into leaders. In other words, how many people are we empowering to realize their own potential as leaders? Each generation of leaders must stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before them. We have a responsibility to boost the next generation up on our shoulders. Whatever our successes as individual leaders, they are incomplete until we have prepared the grounds for succession. This is how positive leadership cultures are perpetuated. Too many promising movements and organizations have died out with their charismatic founders because they failed to mentor the next generation to carry the baton of leadership into new frontiers.

Consider Singapore. Many of us are familiar with the tale of how the sterling leadership of Lee Kwan Yew steered the small island from a pacific backwater to a first world city-state and one of the best run nations in the world. But Singapore’s success story also owes much to adequate succession planning in which leadership has been taken up by a corps of younger leaders that were initiated into the governing party in 1980. They now constitute the second generation of leaders charged with consolidating the success story of Singapore.

NLI’s New Chapter of Consolidation and Advancement

Ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) exists as an unequivocal answer to all of these challenges. It was established with the mandate of serving as an incubator of transformational leadership. Its founders hearkened to the urgent need to supply the nation with new perspectives on public service. Its very existence affirms the notion that leaders are made and not born; that through a conscious inculcation of positive values and the acquisition of the right skill set, the emergent generation can furnish society with leaders capable of tackling the challenges of the day. Consequently, NLI is an agent of social and moral renewal. Today, I wish to affirm that I stand shoulder to shoulder with the NLI and that I identify wholeheartedly with the vision of its founders.

I would like to use this opportunity to charge the NLI family not to rest on your oars. You have indeed come a long way in the fulfillment of your mandate, but there is still a lot of ground to cover. I encourage you to shake up everybody within your ranks and your networks and avoid the pitfalls of being caught up by the prevailing apathy about the state of affairs by the generality of Nigerians. This is not a time for your Senior Fellows and Associates alike to be associated with NLI for the feel-good effect. This is the time to mobilise, organise and network in order to contribute to delivering the change that is upon us.
Our great country is at crossroads with a bright future beckoning if we seize the moment. On the other hand, the prospects of our country are dire if we just sit back and watch. Ladies and gentlemen, Change is upon us.


Yours truly and other activists of like passion who have taken the struggle for a better society to the precincts of public office look to influential non-state apolitical actors like NLI to hold the forth and keep the pressure coming as we all battle for the soul of our nation.
One of my aims in public life has been to demystify leadership and to redefine it less as a task reserved for a select group of highly gifted individuals but as something each of us is called to accomplish in various ways and in diverse sectors of public life. This entails a shift away from the idea of the “leader as messiah” – the notion that all it takes to transform our society is the miraculous emergence of one extraordinarily endowed leader. We simply cannot afford to reduce leadership to holding political office. Since its inception, NLI has followed a similar track by training and releasing hundreds of fellows into various sectors of society.

In closing, let me address the theme of leadership in a way that will be accessible to our youths. In order to discover and exercise our leadership potential, we first have to find the spaces and environments in which are best suited to succeed. Whether you are a journalist, an educator, a law enforcement agent, a lawyer, or a medical practitioner; the essence of leadership is to find where your natural gifts and aptitudes will thrive, and then once in that place, to act for the common good. All great leadership is driven by the search for the common good – the quest for something that transcends personal gain. Wherever you are, if you live with the conviction that it is within your power to make a difference, you will find that you have begun to lead. It is time for us to seize the day and begin to build the future of our dreams – a future that will make our children and their children’s children proud to call us their ancestors.

Through, its invaluable work, NLI is enriching our fund of hope for the future. For this it has the appreciation of a grateful nation, my own thanks and full support in the furtherance of its mission to raise the bar of leadership performance in Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for listening and wish us all a pleasant evening.

Thank you.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi
Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria
Friday, November 22, 2013



Posted June 19th, 2013 in News, Press Release

Taking another step to drive positive change, for Nigeria’s socio-economic reforms and growth, the Nigerian Leadership Initiative [NLI], is set to present the Volume 2 of its White Papers series.

The public presentation will hold on Friday, June 28, 2013 at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja at 9:30am. The public presentation will be a unique gathering of leading thinkers from the National Assembly, private sector, and non-governmental organizations. Chairing the occasion is Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance.

NLI White Papers are, according to Yinka Oyinlola, NLI’s CEO, “thought papers capable of contributing to leadership, values and knowledge in Nigeria. They demonstrate the urgent need for action and proffer practical suggestions on steps to be taken.”

Continuing, he states, “The publication of Volume 2 is NLI’s contribution to a long-term improvement to the Nigerian tax system. Over the last several decades, recommendations were proffered and great strides have been made at reforming Nigerian tax legislation and administration. Considerable improvements, however, still subsist in areas ranging from fair taxation to usage of taxes to transform the economy. Additionally, the social dimensions and transformative effects of taxes are yet to be undertaken.”

The publication contains 12 wide-ranging articles written by accomplished tax experts and practitioners. Amongst the wirters are: Ken Igbokwe (Senior Partner at PwC Nigeria); Ifueko M. Omoigui Okauru (former Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS); Taiwo Oyedele (Partner and Head of Tax and Corporate Advisory, PwC Nigeria); M.L. Abubakar (Secretary, Joint Tax Board); and Etim Uso (an IT Tax Systems Expert).

 In endorsing the publication, Nigeria’s Doyen of Accounting, Mr. Akintola Williams affirmed that “by and large, all the papers are adequately comprehensive, informative and should be of considerable help to tax practitioners, accountancy students and to our legislators.”

About NLI 

NLI is an international non-profit and non-partisan organization. NLI provides a platform for highly accomplished Nigerian leaders to enhance or develop their values-based leadership skills and to drive positive change in the development of Nigeria. A member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN), NLI is a global organization comprising of Senior Fellows and Associates in Nigeria, Europe, US, and other parts of the world. Through leadership seminars, symposia, social responsibility projects, NLI mobilizes the energy, talent and resources of its network to collectively tackle challenges that confront Nigeria.



Mirian Opara

0803 491 4482

 [email protected]

Kukah Speaks at NLI Forum

Posted May 2nd, 2012 in News, Press Release

Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) organized yet another Future Leaders’ programme which held on April 26 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja by 6pm. Front line social crusader and clergy, Bishop Matthew Kukah, featured as Guest Speaker at the forum which was sponsored by First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

Below are pictures of several newspaper  clippings on the forum.

Bishop Kukah to Address Youths at FirstBank, NLI Forum

Posted April 20th, 2012 in Press Release

Frontline social crusader and clergy, Bishop Matthew Kukah will feature as guest speaker at a forum organized by Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI) and sponsored by the nation’s Number One Bank Brand, First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FirstBank).

The ‘Guest Speaker Forum’, an activity of the NLI Future Leaders’ Programme, seeks to mobilize accomplished and highly successful young Nigerians to be patriotic and share values capable of transforming Nigeria positively. The event comes up on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

Bishop Kukah will focus on several issues including: the challenges of leadership, examining the menace of corruption and its impact on the process required to drive change in African leaders, and pointing out opportunities that exist for youths to rescue the continent.

According to the Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Bank considers its interventions in the area of youth empowerment as an integral part of its social responsibility projects. “FirstBank’s sponsorship of the NLI Guest Speaker Forum is a demonstration of our strong commitment to youth empowerment and entrepreneurial development as the nation looks forward to raising a vibrant generation of future leaders,” she said.

Mr. Yinka Oyinlola, the CEO of NLI stated that “NLI organizes the Guest Speaker Forum to provide practical and experiential learning for Nigeria’s future leaders.  A critical leadership challenge is the focus of this forum; a lot of questions arise about having no authority to power positive change. Bishop Kukah will not only analyze such situations but also proffer recommendations on managing such.”

About NLI

NLI is an international non-profit and non-partisan organization. NLI provides a platform for highly accomplished Nigerian leaders to enhance or develop their values-based leadership skills and to drive positive change in the development of Nigeria.  A member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN), NLI is a global organization comprising of Senior Fellows and Associates in Nigeria, Europe, US, and other parts of the world. Through leadership seminars, symposia, social responsibility projects, NLI mobilizes the energy, talent and resources of its network to collectively tackle challenges that confront Nigeria.

About First Bank

First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FirstBank) is Nigeria’s leading financial services institution by total assets and gross earnings. With more than 5 million customers, FirstBank has over 620 branches and eleven (11) subsidiary companies in Nigeria, providing a comprehensive range of financial services. The Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, and Banque International de Credit (B.I.C) in the Republic of Congo, as well as its Representative Offices in Johannesburg, Beijing and Abu Dhabi. FirstBank is recipient of several recent awards including the “Best Banking Group in Nigeria” by World Finance Banking Awards, “Best Financial Reporting Company” by Africa Investor, “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by African Banker Awards, and was recently named Nigeria’s number one banking brand by Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands 2012.

SURE-P: Dr. Christopher Kolade Speaks at NLI Forum

Posted February 23rd, 2012 in Press Release

In recognition that changes do not happen overnight, the Nigeria Leadership Initiative [NLI] works towards creating a new generation of Nigerians who discuss both problems and their solutions. With sponsorship from First Bank of Nigeria, Plc., NLI mobilizes accomplished and highly successful young Nigerians, through a Future Leaders Program, to be patriotic and share values capable of transforming Nigeria positively.  As part of its activities, NLI organizes Guest Speaker Forum where Speakers are engaged on potentially untested, unconventional, and new leadership ideas.

President Goodluck Jonathan launched, on February 13, the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme [SURE-P] Committee. In his remarks, titled Delivering Service with Integrity, the Chairman of the SURE-P Committee, Dr. Christopher Kolade, CON, affirmed that the Committee will “serve with integrity, always reminding ourselves that both Government and people are trusting us to manage this Programme in such a way that the results fulfil the stated purpose and bring the best benefits to the people of Nigeria.”

On Thursday, February 23, Dr. Kolade will be NLI’s Guest Speaker. Amongst other issues, he will address how SURE-P Committee will offer Nigerians probity, transparency, and accountability.  Additionally, Dr. Kolade will speak about the critical issues of national interest and how the SURE-P Committee will serve with integrity in meeting the legitimate expectations of Nigerians.

The Guest Speaker Forum is sponsored by First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), the clear leader in the financial services sector of Nigeria. FBN’s operations are in capital market operations, insurance services, asset management and investment banking, private equity/venture capital, etc. FBN’s demonstrates remarkable leadership to the growth and development of Nigeria through its corporate social responsibility activities.

NLI is an international non-profit and non-partisan organization. NLI provides a platform for highly accomplished Nigerian leaders to enhance or develop their values-based leadership skills and to assume a transformative role in the future development of Nigeria.  A member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN), NLI’s Mission is to create a growing, global network of credible, accomplished community-spirited Nigerian leaders, committed to taking responsibility for driving positive change in Nigeria and Nigerian communities.

NLI Signs MoU with First Bank for the Future Leaders Seminar

Posted May 26th, 2011 in News, Press Release

Press Release

First Bank of Nigeria Plc on Wednesday May 18, 2011 reaffirmed its dedication to the empowerment of emerging Nigerian leaders when it renewed its sponsorship of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) Future Leader’s Seminar for another three years. Participants who go through the programme will become Associates of NLI.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) renewing the sponsorship of the Seminar was signed in a ceremony which took place at the head office of First Bank.  It was anchored by the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of First Bank, Mr. Bisi Onasanya and NLI’s founding patron, Dr. Christopher Kolade CON.

The partnership between the two organizations began in 2008 and has enabled the discovery of over 200 young Nigerian achievers at home and in the Diaspora. NLI created the Future Leaders Seminar (FLS) with the mission of institutionalizing its core values for leadership development through knowledge, engagement and social projects. This year’s May seminar features Associates from Nigeria, Ghana, UK, US and South Africa.

Mr. Bisi Onasanya, while commenting on the choice of NLI, said First Bank is proud to be associated with an organization that seeks to identify and nurture leadership potential in young Nigerians.

“We have been at the forefront of championing good corporate governance and developing a workforce comprising people of impeccable integrity. There’s an alignment of vision between our organizations and we see our partnership as another way of contributing to the development of the next generation of Nigerian leaders”, he said adding that Dr. Christopher Kolade, NLI’s patron should be commended for his commitment to replicating the ideals of professionalism and selfless leadership that he is distinguished for, under the NLI platform.

Dr. Christopher Kolade, on his part commended First Bank for its unwavering support, noting that the Bank has remained a formidable institution committed to implementing robust corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Established in 2006 by the Nigerian Trade & Investment Minister, Olusegun Aganga,  NLI is a platform for highly accomplished, uniquely qualified Nigerians to develop and express their values-based leadership skills and to assume a transformative role in Nigeria’s development.

NLI’s StandUP Naija Advocates for the Needs of Average Nigerians

Posted April 6th, 2011 in News, Press Release

The Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) has formally launched its StandUPNaija Project – an electorate awareness platform aimed at enhancing citizen participation during and after the 2011 general elections.

StandUPNaija gives a voice to the issues faced by average Nigerians, and their expectations from elected leaders. Across the country, the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) is helping Nigerians speak up about the policy issues that matter to them such as Electricity, Health, Security, Education, Transportation and Employment.

“Through a series of impactful videos shot across Nigeria’s 6 geo-political zones, we havehighlighted the issues that affect average Nigerians and hope to put pressure on elected officials to address them during and after the 2011 elections,” said Simi Idowu, the organisation’s Operations Director. “The overall goal is to frame the policy issues for the 2011 elections (from the viewpoint of average Nigerians) and the expected actions of government officials in the next administration.During the next administration, these issues will be tracked”.

The videos have thus far been shown on national networks including the Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Channels Television – and have been broadcast in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. The videos are also available for viewing and download at or At launch, over 10,000 people viewed the videos online.

StandUPNaija, working with a coalition of election-focused organizations, named What About Us recentlyco-produced Nigeria’s first youth-centred presidential debate, hosted by international award-winning writer Chimamanda Adichie. The coalition included EnoughisEnough Nigeria, Vote or Quench and Sleeves Up.

StandUPNaija’s parent organisation, Nigeria Leadership Initiative, is an international non-profit, non-partisan organisation that mobilises the energy, talent and resources of credible and accomplished Nigerians in-country and the diaspora to tackle the challenges that confront the nation.Established in 2006, NLI has activated several projects including a free comprehensive civics curriculum called CLEVER and an animated video on the values of Nigeria’s founding fathers on the Naira notes called Notes2Note.

NLI is a registered Charity in Nigeria and the United Kingdom and its fellows are members of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

NLI holds dinner in honour of Mr. Segun Aganga

Posted August 30th, 2010 in News, Press Release

Nigeria Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Business in Africa Events is organizing a dinner to honour and celebrate Mr. Olusegun Aganga, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Nigeria for his unique role as the founder of NLI.

The dinner will be holding on the 3rd of September. Attendance is by invitation only.

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