From Joseph Obukata, Warri




Stakeholders drawn from various fields of endeavours have examined the complexities of leadership crisis facing the country, emphasizing that it is a combination of inherent traits and external influences.

They spoke at the Advocate Newspaper’s 10th anniversary public lecture series with the theme: ‘Youth empowerment and leadership evolution: Rethinking Nigeria’s leadership recruitment process’, held in Ughelli, Delta State.

Many of the speakers at the event maintained that leadership is not solely determined by birth, but also by the mindset characterized by vitality, creativity, innovation and a relentless pursuit of progress.

In a keynote address delivered by a renowned scholar and professor of African Literature at Delta State University, Prof. Enajite Ojaruega, emphasis was laid on the leadership problem bedeviling the wheel of progress in the country, reiterating that it is a fusion of both inherent traits and external influences.

She said: “Leadership as we perceive it is a fusion of nature and nurture. Some leaders are born, some are made.”

She also stressed the importance of youthfulness of mind, stating: “Rather, we should look at the essence of youth as transcending mere numerical boundaries to embody a state of mind characterized by vitality, creativity, innovation and a relentless pursuit of progress.”

Ojaruega drew attention to the untapped potential of Nigeria’s youth population, pointing out the obstacles of disempowerment, marginalization and lack of opportunities that hinder their contribution to society.

She expressed: “Under optimal circumstances, the composition of the country’s population should ordinarily hint at a wealth of untapped potential awaiting harnessing for groundbreaking and expansive endeavors.”

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Analysing the flaws in Nigeria’s leadership recruitment and empowerment processes, Ojaruega identified the enduring effects of colonialism, entrenched political interests and limited opportunities as major culprits.

She said: “This foundational failure of Nigeria’s leadership recruitment processes has led to social stratification, alienation and marginalization, particularly among the youth.”

Discussing the lecture topic, Edewor Egedegbe, a prominent social commentator, stressed the need to distribute blame equally among the youth, leadership and society.

He remarked: “We should share the blame equally,” highlighting the value drift in society as a root cause of the problem.

“For me, that’s the beginning of the problem. When people do not give up, they don’t give up. They give room for excellence. We now thrive in mediocrity. This is what you get.”

Egedegbe urged the youth to change their approach and not rely solely on public sector participation, maintaining the need to empower the mind through programmes like attending leadership schools.

Dr. Harvey Igben, another panelist and economist, stressed the importance of collaboration between the private sector and the government to enable policies and their effective implementation.

He stated: “The contribution must come from both the private sector and the government. But enabling the environment for the private sector to be able to do whatever it takes to do whatever it has to do.”

Igben also raised concerns about the reward system and policy implementation in Nigeria, questioning the extent of transformation that takes place within correctional institutions.

Ejiro Etaoghene, another discussant, echoed the sentiment of self-empowerment and emphasized the need for youth to take initiative.

He encouraged youths to read and acquire knowledge, stating: “Don’t wait to be empowered. Empower yourself. Go and read books.”

Senator Ede Dafinone, representing the Delta Central Senatorial District, represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Adelabu Bodjor, Olorogun Fred Majemite and  Sir Elvis Oharisi, among others spoke at the event.

Speaking to the media, Mr. Shedrack Onitsha, the CEO of Advocate Publications Limited, expressed gratitude for the past decade and announced plans for rebranding and enhancing their activities to make a more robust and engaging contribution to Nigeria and Africa.