INSTITUTING LEADERSHIP SCANNING AND DIAGNOSTIC CENTRES TOWARDS SECURING THE POLITICAL AGENDA FOR 2019 

BRIEF OVERVIEW

The African Leadership Development Centre (ALDC), Covenant University held the second edition of her unique Programme called Lunchtime Conversations (LTC). The goal of the LTC is to drive intentionality in stirring up knowledge solutions to the Leadership gap in Africa and our nation Nigeria. It is a platform that has been rolled out, where individuals are invited to have conversations over lunch concerning key leadership issues in Nigeria and in Africa.

The second edition, themed “Instituting Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres towards Securing the Political Agenda for 2019”, held on Thursday, June 7th, 2018. It was built on one of the key recommendations from the 15th Inaugural Lecture in Covenant University, titled “Lengthening Cords and Strengthening Stakes: Leadership Praxis and Transcendence in Counselling Practice”, delivered by the Professor Aize Obayan, Director, ALDC.

At the core of the recommendation was the need to certify political leaders as skilled and capable of leading, at several levels before qualifying them to run publicly. These proposed Centres are to be set up in each of the six (6) Geo-political zones, thereby triggering a higher level of collective National responsibility, as we secure the emergence process of Political Office holders. Hence, the core of the conversation in this edition focused on discussing the underlisted key issues:

  1. What are the rubrics for diagnosing and scanning for qualified Nigerian leaders?
  2. Beyond the polls and the votes, how do we affect the texture of Nigerian Leadership?
  3. What role do the current realities in education play in defining the quality of our leaders?
  4. How do we positively influence the emergence and selection process for Leaders in Nigeria?
  5. How do we institute the Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres in Nigeria? What is the Process of establishment in light of current realities?

The discussants at the Lunchtime Conversations were:

  • Professor Aize Obayan (Moderator, Director ALDC)
  • Dr. Jonathan Odukoya (Faculty Member, Department of Psychology)
  • Dr. Tunde Iruonagbe (Faculty Member, Department of Sociology)
  • Dr. Esther Oyewunmi (Faculty Member, Department of Business Management)
  • Mr. John Oyewale (Ph.D student, Department of Biological Sciences)
EVENT SUMMARY

The discussions commenced with an introduction by the Moderator, Professor Aize Obayan which focused on highlighting the need for us as a Nation to come up with a leadership template to proactively determine the texture of leadership in our country. “Beyond the polls, beyond the votes, how do we as a people determine the texture of leadership in our country?” She also highlighted that education at all levels has a major stake in defining the quality of leaders for the Nation. She furthermore referred to the upcoming 2019 Elections, emphasizing the fact that, beyond the Contestants having the people’s mandate to run, through votes, there are qualities a leader must possess; leadership qualities, acumen, skills, particularly with respect to leading the people of a nation. Furthermore, we need persons who are visionary, honest, possessing integrity, having respect, regard and compassion for the people, fearing God, who have a service mindset rather than one of entitlement, i.e. servant leaders, who understand governance, being knowledgeable, able to communicate,  and will be true stakeholders in the cause of Nation building. She then intimated the discussants that this particular LTC would be given agency, with alacrity, towards impacting the Electoral process in our country, Nigeria, which would then inspire similar action across Africa, and the world at large.

She pointed out that if we are to have Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres, it is imperative to then have Schools of Leadership and Governance in the six geopolitical zones as well. This is because, drawing from the 15th Inaugural Lecture which was delivered by her in Covenant University on the 6th April, 2018, titled, “Lengthening Cords and Strengthening Stakes: Leadership Praxis and Transcendence in Counselling Practice”, sound Education up to the Tertiary level, plays a critical role in preparing and qualifying potential Political Office holders for good leadership. There is however the question of what exactly we are to look out for in determining the template for governance, and the formation of protocols for leadership selection and emergence.

Discussants gave their expectations for the session which all centred on the fact that the crux of the discussion was a novel area of exploration, being highly topical and interconnected with several matters surrounding leadership selection and emergence such as service consciousness, community orientation, an enabling environment for altruism, empathy and value for humanity, the role of the family unit in instilling foundational value systems in children, grassroots character assessment, adequate verification and track record monitoring, while situating some of our indigenous relationship assessment practices, which, were quite efficient in themselves, within the context of the development of an indigenous form of democracy.

Dr. Jonathan Odukoya put forward a psychological approach to leaders’ assessment comprising four key domains, the first being the Personality domain which comprises what can be essentially captured as Intelligence Quotient, the Emotional Quotient, and Psychomotor – an individual’s ability to produce. This leads to the second domain which as an offshoot of the first domain, situates a leaders Creativity and Problem-solving skill; assessing the individual’s ability to solve prevailing national issues. The third domain – Spirituality has to do with the quality of a person’s character summarized by altruistic character and behavioural traits, being a God-centred leader. The fourth domain is Economy, the ability to galvanize and maximize the human and materials resources of the country for wealth generation. These domains capture the results-generation capacity of leaders, which should be engaged in the development of indigenous solutions to the diverse issues we are facing. There is a need for leadership ideation, as leaders should not only develop their own ideas but should distill and bring on board the ideas of the people as well. An outfit should then be set up that continually scans the leadership cosmos in the country at different levels, based on predefined parameters, performance tests and results-oriented drive, along the lines of some form of natural selection at the political scene, leading to leadership headhunting based on empirical evidence. The centre would then go on to promote such leaders as paragons of what the nation requires.

Dr. Tunde Iruonagbe, from the sociological perspective emphasized the need for cultural intelligence as a key area of development for political leaders, which, in this context, referred to being able to understand and identify with the people, noting that the system is not necessarily challenged, but the issue is the operators of the system. He stated that leadership development should be community driven, as the people should know their leaders at the grassroots level, not just from a distance. He put forward what he called the “Internally-driven development strategy”, stating the fact that growth does not automatically translate to development, which refers to the quality of life of the individual. He emphasized the vital importance of creating an enabling, suppression-free environment for altruists, i.e. leaders with the interests of the nation at heart. In concluding, he pointed out the need to also strengthen the other concerned Government agencies and parastatals, up to the Law enforcement agencies, in addition to Professor Obayan’s earlier contribution with respect to strengthening INEC.

Dr. Esther Oyewunmi highlighted the importance of returning to the family as a major force in determining the quality of citizens that eventually become leaders. She stressed the importance of the family setting in laying the foundations of good leadership in children, identifying the challenges of failed parenting in many aspects, as many a parent has outsourced values-building and moral development to schools, religious institutions and the social media.. Dr Oyewunmi also emphasized that before the Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres can be instituted, the process of deliberately re-engineering leadership and socio-cultural values from the grassroots and basic education level must be under way, as this will go a long way in determining the success of these centres. She also highlighted that education institutions need to redesign the curriculum and the current teaching-learning template to be more multi-disciplinary in scope towards the development of well-rounded leaders through the education system who have the technical knowledge of politics, history and other core subject areas required for effective governance.

Mr. John Oyewale emphasized in his contributions the need for Nigerian leaders to possess what he referred to as the two “Ms”, standing for Morality and Magnetism; morality, as having the character strength to resist the temptations of power, and magnetism, as being able to galvanize the country together. He also reiterated what Dr. Odukoya had mentioned, with respect to spirituality as being a vital quality leaders must possess, which entails approaching leadership tasks as a spiritual assignment with a God-centred view. He also noted the fact that one of the key issues to be aware of in democracy is the ability of the majority, the multitudes to decide the fate of the nation, noting that the people do not always choose right. He stressed the necessity to be more critical in how we, as a continent, adopt foreign influence in our legislation, particularly those that impact on morality, noting that such matters, in intersecting with the family setting, go a long way in determining the leadership slant of the emerging generation, which forms the pool of our leaders. Furthermore, judging from history and contemporary trends in contexts where democracy has been more successful, a level of exposure to certain fields of study such as Politics and Philosophy, has proven to be quite important to the development of leadership intelligence.

Professor Obayan established the fact that regular democracy and its templates are insufficient, and we need holistic leaders, who emerge and qualify themselves based on specific prescriptions. If the majority carries the vote, due to short-sightedness or inadequate information, unfit persons can find their way into Office and hold the entire country to ransom during their tenure. Furthermore, she buttressed the importance of the texture of leadership, in raising the next generation of leaders to be critical, expert thinkers and solution providers, not just trailblazers or pathfinders. The nation must domesticate current internal issues, noting that the rear-view mirror does not have all the perspectives, before being able to properly engage with the international scene, thereby making holistic progress. She emphasized the need to raise the bar on the current minimum educational qualification for political office holders, as one of the yardsticks for judging the intellectual readiness of persons vying for office. Finally, she stressed the need for the current operators of the electoral process, coordinated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be overhauled and empowered to a greater degree, to reflect the new position the country would be taking.

ROADMAP TO INSTITUTING THE LEADERSHIP SCANNING CENTRES

Based on the conversation and the contributions, the following actionable strategies were put forward, as a roadmap towards the eventual instituting of the Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres in the near future:

  1. A reengineering of social values and how they are communicated, by maximizing the educational and media channels within the family units and the education system, emphasizing values and such aspects as morality, empathy and a national development consciousness.
  2. Values inculcated by parents go a long way in determining the quality of individuals that eventually become leaders. Hence, parents must take back the responsibility of training their children and instilling values that would ensure they become positively impactful leaders tomorrow.
  3. Parents must take on more involved parenting styles which deliberately instil leadership values in children from childhood. They must also keep abreast of technology and digital advances to understand current realities that children are engaged with.
  4. Education institutions need to redesign the teaching-learning process, as well as the content itself, to be more multi-disciplinary in scope, emphasizing such aspects as morality, empathy and a national spirit, towards developing a holistic programme that produces well-rounded graduates.
  5. Educational institutions must become schools of leadership by consciously weaving leadership development process into their programmes of study, teaching from childhood, relevant values, subjects and skills that will predispose and prepare youth for leadership such as critical thinking, problem solving and emotional intelligence.
  6. Educational Institutions and their Alumni associations need to be more involved with their graduates, especially from the tertiary scene. This would help sustain a trans-generational perpetuation of the values-base of such institutions, and the national spirit.
  7. The Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres should be set up with a Research section that will continually scan the leadership cosmos in the country at different levels, based on predefined parameters, performance tests, results-oriented drive, along the lines of some form of “natural selection” at the political scene, leading to leadership headhunting based on empirical evidence. They would then proceed to promote such leaders as Beacons, to inspire and guide the leaders’ selection process.
  8. Thorough validation procedures are to be conducted for potential candidates, in such areas as certificate validation, character assessment, places worked, assets declaration, political positions hitherto held and track record of success stories. Furthermore, this assessment of leaders should evaluate their skills and values based on their personality – cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, productivity and cultural intelligence; Creative and Problem solving skills; Spiritual Intelligence and Economy, which is their ability to maximize resources for wealth creation.
  9. The bar on the current minimum educational qualification –which at the moment, only requires basic literacy -  should be raised for political office holders.
  10. Awareness should be raised on the importance of critical thinking in the adoption of foreign philosophies, especially those that corrupt the fabric of the family unit and models of governance among others, noting emphatically that the state should not be permitted to legislate on morality and parenting, bearing in mind the potential impact that harmful legislations will have on leadership development and a morally sound citizenry.
  11. The efforts of the proposed Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic centres should be synergized with the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Agency of the Government, having adequately consulted with other political stakeholders, as the centres will not work in isolation but in cooperation with the government, a significant amount of time prior to the election season.
  12. The government should empower and equip INEC with necessary powers and resources, together with other interrelated Government agencies and parastatals such as the Law enforcement, so as to properly control and enforce the leadership emergence process, coupled with clear and unambiguous legislative backup.
  13. Strong partnerships with the private sector and non-governmental organizations need to be formed, particularly those with interests in National transparency, Integrity and Leadership development. These will give further agency to the work that will be done by the Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres.
  14. The political scene needs to be sanitized so as to make it more conducive for true patriots in other sectors to have a functional and effective platform to multiply their impact, towards National development.
  15. Universities should begin to affect the political climate in their various locations by instituting these centres starting now, to diagnose leadership at lower levels of government.
  16. A team of researchers must be put together to come up with an agreeable and credible metric system for scanning, assessing and diagnosing potential leaders; and the identification of key indicators of leadership potential.
  17. Communities must be involved in verifying the quality of candidates that run for political offices, making it mandatory for each candidate to have a verifiable testimony of impact within their local communities. Each leader should have a community development/impact portfolio.
  18. Every Nigerian citizen of age should be active in a political party at one level or the other.

CONCLUSION

Professor Aize Obayan remarked in one of her concluding statements that Nigeria must get to a point where we learn from history, celebrate the positive aspects of our history but move on because the rear-view mirror does not have all the perspectives we need to solve the challenges we face in governance and leadership, both now and in the future. The Leadership Scanning and Diagnostic Centres may seem far-fetched, but we as a people must anticipate the future now, by laying the foundations that need to be put in place, ahead of conversations for the 2023 elections.

The Lunchtime Conversation lasted for 1 hour 40 minutes and was a highly successful event. We thank God for the wisdom gleaned and the paths carved out towards Leadership Development for the Nigeria.

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