Nigeria’s leadership puzzle: The Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship model




Primitively, leadership had once been perceived as a trait whose codes remain embedded in the DNA strands of natural leaders. Most often, statements like “Leaders are born” were always there to qualify the genetically based theory of leadership. However, overtime the world have empirically formulated a new theory on leadership stressing the feasibility of it’s  emergence from both genetic and environmental influences and factors.

The quality of a leader naturally translates to the development of the led. And the substantial lack of qualitative leadership is believed to have been the root cause of Africa’s developmental regression in all sectors.

Consequently, Most have nurtured the intuition that the consistent lack of sustainable development of Nigeria as a state is enmeshed in the country’s inability to build the capacity of it’s youthful population. The youths being the country’s most populous entities are believed to have embedded in them those potential capabilities needed to  trigger the initiation of a substantial U-turn in the affairs of this country while rallying it towards significant growth and sustainable development.

One program that have tried to bridge this gap is the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship instituted by His Excellency, The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai; a programme whose sole vision is “To raise the next generation of leaders who will most likely be absorbed into the Nigerian public sector having had a first-hand experience of its workings and challenges”. 

In February 2018, the Governor of Kaduna State announced to the public the inception of this leadership training programme – The KIF programme – and immediately declared it open for application. The governing board received 1,337 applications by the end of March. These applicants were subjected to scrutiny by the best in the business which saw to the emergence of 271. Further review and scrutiny kept reducing the number of applicants until 16 finally came out victorious.

These 16 finalist consist of 9 males and 7 females with 8 from Kaduna State and the rest from other parts of Nigeria. The religious and ethnic distribution of these finalist will further portray  to one the unbiased and non-sentimental nature of the programme. Neither from an angle of faith nor from that of ethnicity or politics can this programme be regarded as biased.

Interestingly, the programme aims at grooming capable and agile youths on principles of good and ethical leadership while concurrently adopting an experiential and sectoral approach. Like an MBBS degree, the fellows are expected to have hands-on knowledge and experience on the dynamics of leadership in almost all sectors of the State Government  but each will have to choose a sector he/she wants to add value to and become a paid special assistant to the captain of that sector(MDA).

The programme has mainly four components;

1. The Work Placement

As broadly opined,  the Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model remains one of the best as far as learning is concerned. Kolb defined Experiential learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience.”.

 I believe it is based on this theory that the KIF decided to adopt “Work placement/Job Assignment” as one of its programme’s components with the aim of immersing the fellows in real life state government works. As a fellow, one must be engaged in the works of the MDA he is allocated to and work on the everyday challenges the MDA fixes.

 He/She is expected to carry out jobs ranging from supporting public service delivery, partaking in Inter-MDA meeting to Implementing state policies, representing the MDA outside Kaduna State, etc.

Technically, this will equip fellows with hands-on experiences on the day to day runnings of these agencies, acquaint them with the several challenges faced by these MDAs and arm them with necessary expertise in solving these problems using principles of good and ethical leadership.

2. Education programme

To augment the Work Placements, the fellows are expected to partake in several educative activities ranging from The Speaker Series, Domestic Policy trips to Seminars and an international policy trip. The Speaker Series involves a roundtable discussion with renowned captains and leaders both from the public and private sectors. From this, fellows get to learn from the life stories of these globally notable personalities, their experience as leaders, trials, triumphs and failures all with the hope that they will serve as motivating catalysts for the fellows and also a learning avenue for them to draw out lessons from the achievement and failures of these people. This surely will help them on their quest towards becoming better leaders and serving the public with optimum efficiency and caution.

The Speaker Series have featured notable personalities including the Governor himself, Ambassador David J. Young, The Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Lamido  Sanusi II, NPA Boss Hadiza Bala Usman etc.

The fellows are also expected to go on several policy study tours both domestic and international. This is an opportunity for them to study policies in several sectors including education, security, economy, urbanisation, transportation, energy, healthcare etc.

3. Community Service

“He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.” ~ Confucius

The fellows as part of their programme must embark on series of community service projects across the Kaduna Metropolis. And in concurrence with this, the fellows have already developed a programme slated for the KIF 4 SDG Community service week with the title “Giving Back to Society: Instilling the culture of grassroots inclusion.”

This programme as portrayed aims at improving the lives of people inline with the SDGs provisions by donating food and clothes to the needy, Training the grassroots on SDGs, staging a groundbreaking ceremony for a school fence etc.

4. Fellowship

All fellows are expected to convene every year to welcome newly inducted fellows as the programme intends to continue running on an annual basis. It is expected that the KIF will be one of the most prestigious network of leaders across Nigeria.

The richness, quality and world-class nature of this programme can be further understood when the captains – the members of the Governing Council – are looked upon.

The chairman, Hakeem Belo Osagie who happens to be a business tycoon, Forbes Forty-First Africa’s richest man in 2014 and also a philanthropist who holds the record of being one of the largest donors to the Africa Leadership Academy.

The Organising Director Dele Olojede who is a renowned journalist and the first African-born winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Price.

The KIF programme have many similarities with some world renowned leadership training institutes like The Aspen Institute and Archbishop Tutu Leadership Institute. This I believe could be attributed to some members of the governing Council who are former fellows of these world-class institutes notably, Muhammad Sani Dattijo and Dele Olojede.

Others are Nigerian Ports Authority Boss Hadiza Bala Usman ; Olusegun Adeniyi a renowned journalist and author of the popular book “Power, politics and death: A front-row account of Nigeria under the late President Yar’adua” ; Chinelo Anohu-Amazu , former DG and CEO PenCom etc.

Conclusively, the effort of the State Government under the captainship of Mallam Nasir Elrufai must be commended.  He indeed deserves accolades for initiating such a welcomed initiative, an initiative that will ensure the breeding and equipping of capable youth with armours of experience and hands-on expertise on problem solving, policy making and implementation and holistic leadership.

I urge other states and even the federal government to borrow this initiative and set up leadership Institutes in their respective states so as to end the chain of bad leadership in this country while concurrently building the capacity of the massive youthful population.

Ringim is a political analyst, an activist and an advocate for youth participation in politics and governance. He writes from Zaria, Kaduna state and can be reached through [email protected]

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