The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that Nigeria is in need of leaders that will groom the young ones to take over leadership responsibilities from them as they leave office or move to other spheres of life.
He noted that the absence of such a transition in leadership remained a setback for the country’s growth.
Gbajabiamila, who spoke in Abuja on Saturday, said there was the urgency to correct the anomaly so that the country could have a pool of young leaders to draw from at any given time.
He made the call at the graduation of the first 74 trainees of the Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI) held at the National Assembly.
The 74 were picked from over 4,000 applicants received by the selection panel, having passed through rigorous screening.
The LMI, an initiative of Mr Speaker, has the aim of “building the next generation of Nigeria’s public sector leaders”, particularly in the legislature.
The 74 participants, drawn from the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, had undergone intensive training in the last five weeks.
“I have always said the lack or failure of leaders to mentor the young ones is the bane of society.
“That is why we introduced the LMI, a robust programme to equip our young ones for the leadership tasks ahead, for governance and for the good our country”, Gbajabiamila stated.
The Speaker observed that the timing of the training was significant, coming at a period the world faced increasing challenges that would require people of great skills and knowledge to address, especially from among the youth.
He stated, “Distinguished fellows, you are graduating at a time of great uncertainty in the world. We are in a historical moment of great danger, and abounding opportunities brought on by technological advancements, accelerated globalisation, and the reformation of the global economic and political order.
“As I told you when you began this programme, it is clear to anybody that the old equilibrium is unsettled and the rules of the old order no longer apply. What is less clear is what happens next. Yet, you must count yourselves fortunate because, throughout recorded history, it is in times like this that men and women of talent and ability write their names in gold for all generations to witness.”
Gbajabiamila spoke further on the mandate of the LMI, saying, “The LMI mandate is to develop the leaders who will shape the future of our country and the world.
“We set out to train the next generation of public service leaders, especially legislators. Part of what we have tried to achieve with this programme is to get you to set your sights higher than before and give you the confidence to reach beyond your present grasp.
“When I talk about setting your sights high, I am not talking about holding high office in government. Though, I fully expect you to do that. However, your visions for the future must not rest on the positions you aspire to or the ambitions you have for yourself alone. Your dreams must be about more than yourself because dreams that begin and end with your own prosperity alone are not enough for individuals as talented, bright, and capable as those graduating today.
“You are ordained for more than that. Do not sell yourself short by dreaming small dreams. As you raise your gaze from considerations of small things to focus on pursuing and achieving grand ambitions that lift us all and save the future, understand that the capabilities that brought you this far are not enough for where you want to go.
“Your achievements, including today’s graduation, demonstrate your discipline and dedication. Now you must prepare to do more than ever before. Devote yourself to lifelong learning so your mind is never closed to the possibilities in your world.
“Determine in your hearts that you will wake up every day for the rest of your lives determined to change the world for good because, as Steve Jobs said, ‘the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”’
The Speaker commended the cohorts for their zeal to learn as demonstrated by the quality of their contribution to discussions and various knowledge-based tasks while the training lasted.
He was also full of gratitude to those who made the programme a success, including the management team and the sponsors.
One of the graduates, Mr Bella Victor, from Rivers State, who was elated over the knowledge he gained, admitted that the programme exposed him to things he didn’t know about the legislature and governance before he enrolled for the LMI.
“It truly opened my eyes. I am now ready to join politics if the opportunity comes.
“We can’t thank Mr Speaker enough”, he said.
Goodwill messages came from the Chairman, LMI Selection Panel, Rep. Henry Nwawuba; Director-General, National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Abubakar Suleiman; Permanent Secretary, State House, Mr Tijjani Umar; Country Director, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Marija Peran; and the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Leadership Advancement Foundation (LEAF), Dr Ike Neliaku.