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Friday, June 29, 2018

MENTORSHIP AND CAPACITY BUILDING: EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE- HON. (DR) JOSEPH IRANOLA




Lecture delivered by Hon (Dr) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja, Member House of Representatives, Ondo East and West Federal Constituency on the occasion of the Southwest Youth Development Summit Organized by the Southwest Youth Foundation at Anchor Event Center, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday 28th June 2018.

Courtesies

I must first appreciate the genuine effort and thoughtfulness of the organizers of this lecture, not just for advocating for more participation of youths in governance in Nigeria, but for the need to correctly situate the intervention of the youth in politics today, so as to visibly play their own roles in the favourable side of history. The topic carefully chosen reflects the philosophical depth of the organizers of this program, realizing without counting it as indignity, that the youth still have much to learn from the older generation, especially from people like Dr Olusegun Mimiko and other progressives in government at all levels today. Knowledge begets knowledge, experience begets experience, the generation of youth today sincerely have a lot to learn from the present generation of leaders, in which they can now add their own God given initiatives to the processes and approaches of governance to move this country forward. This gesture is appreciated. The mention of Capacity building caps it all. The physiognomy of man is in itself an empty mass until he acquires skills to perform value-adding responsibilities, and the more valuable and impactful the skills acquired, the greater the essence of the life in the man, which makes him better than the dead. So, seeing this topic alone, I can breathe a sigh of relief that there is hope for the southwest of Nigeria, hence hope for Nigeria as a country.

Going straight into the topic, Governance is the way a nation or society is controlled by the people who run it. It is easy to assume that those who run Nigeria in the context of governance are people in the political offices, but in reality, it is far broader than that. Playing your role in governance is more of your influence, power and capacity, and this is not limited to political office holders alone. We are all important in the governance-ecosystem”. It depends on how much we understand our roles as respective members of the society, having a niche, distinguishing ourselves to command respect and influence with our opinions in our enclaves, using the instruments of society, such as the Media, the Police, the Judiciary, and the Legislature etc to push desired changes through, in the overall interest of the people. This sure goes beyond just holding political office.

Youth participation in Governance is not new in Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote his book PATH TO NIGERIA FREEDOM in 1947, when he was 38 years. There in his book, he started the advocacy for the creation of eight (8) States in Nigeria to be fashioned on the linguistic existence of the people, the theory that a Unilingual society is best for Unitarian Constitution while multi-lingual society can only survive on unadultertated federalism. Seeds of these are still reflective in our fight for restructuring today. It was not until 1951 that his party won in the Western House of Assembly election, and he became the leader of Government business in Western Nigeria in 1952.

What is clearly instructive of Awolowo is that he accepted the responsibility of leadership by not just complaining about problems in the society but looking through and thinking out possible empirical solutions to them, discussing these solutions among his contemporaries, thereby building cadreship and followership, which later translated into political leadership. We need to revisit this exemplary attitude of this our great leader and others like him, because this attitude is no longer popular among aspiring politicians, even many of the younger generation, they take the presumption that political office or access to money, especially government money is what confers leadership, that is too fluid and ephemeral, the richest people on earth today are not political leaders, even if they are undoubted  economic leaders in their own rights, they didnt wait to get to political office to demonstrate leadership and capacity. Leadership is about Vision, Learning spirit (menteeship) and providing enduring solutions to problems, so whatever you have not developed yourself to be, you cannot deliver it in political office, neither can access to government money cover up for intellectual ineptitude or unpreparedness.

Mentoring and capacity building, even when they are not the same, are so connected.  Mentoring is a faster and more effective approach to learning, it brings the mentee closer to the real-time operation of the field he anticipates to serve in the future, he is able to ask practical questions from people who are serving in similar responsibilities, forecast and critique processes along with the leaders and test the validity of the positions arrived at as events unfold. These experiences guide the mentee from living in theoretical-euphoria that anyone, having a good intention can have a silver-bullet that solves all problem. This will heal that popular fallacy all around that all who occupy government office in Nigeria are not sincere and not committed to addressing the challenges of the country. Hear me right, without disproving the need to theorize about the economy, we need to call to mind the inspirational quote of E.F Schumacher about the value of practice, he said: an ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory. If we observe the European environment, Mentoring is the reason little children are taken to FIFA Tournaments to see the performances of world stars, they are thereafter given opportunities to meet with the stars in their respective clubs, train with them and ask questions so that they can learn the obligations required of them to make their great visions of becoming world soccer stars also come to reality, it is just supposed to be similar in political leadership, else the concessions won by an earlier generation can easily be lost by the successive  generations due to inexperience, rolling back the hands of time. Mentoring allows one to critique leaders while imagining oneself in their shoes, not necessarily to the point of blanket condemnation of leaders as some youths are found doing today. That is not the best way to prepare ourselves for similar responsibilities against the future, remember that others will also critique you, no situation is perfect or permanent.

Another approach to substantiate the need for mentoring as a proven approach to Administrative and Political capacity Building is to observe the process in which our academics are produced in the Universities. Before you become an authority (Ph.D), you must have taken mentoring and responsibilities under a superior authority for a period, they are called supervisors. Emmanuel Macron the 41 year old President of France was Deputy General Secretary to the President from 2012-2014 and had served in various other capacities, even as civil servant before then, so he is not just a “youth for youth sake” but a bundle of knowledge, tutelage and experience. The Nigerian political environment is another more complex ecosystem because of its peculiar uncertainties. And for one not to become a flamboyant theoretician who will get to office and not accomplish anything, it is most advisable to start early by choosing a mentor among enviable politicians from their proven performances and start understudying them, thereby building your own capacity to deliver. This does not mean that you must inherit his/her short comings because no human is perfect.

One special aspect of capacity building which is just important that I discuss in this rare opportunity with youths is the area of PROFESSIONALISM. This is very important and I patiently seek your interest right here. This is not directly about politics but you cannot effectively discuss politics and the future of the Southwest of Nigeria without discussing Economy. Karl Marx put the argument succinctly The Political Superstructure rests upon the economic substructure Most of the states Southwestern states still depend largely on Federal Allocation for majority of their expenditure. We must have a target to reverse this trend for us to have a viable economic atmosphere for our people. Lets take a look at Awolowo at his period. Our parents were mostly farmers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, drummers etc before Awolowo’s foray into politics, Nigeria had only Yaba Tech and University of Ibadan. Awolowo having studied in London, came with the idea that Education is that resource which has not been well explored in other to realize the economic potentials of Nigeria. He came with diverse ideas on education and human capacity building, among which included the Free primary school education, which he presented to the Assembly the very year he got to office as the leader of Government Business (1952), launched the program in January 1955. Within that time he had prepared the teachers he wanted to use for the take-off of the scheme, so nothing was by chance, but planning and preparation. These schemes by Awolowo affected Secondary school education and gave birth to University of Lagos and the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-ife. The economic outlook of the western region revolutionalized, Administrative skills, and Civil service and industry brought the enormous economic advancements of that era. Awolowo sustained the institutions we inherited from the colonialists and advanced the system by clear approach to management, many of which were already written in the books and lectures he gave before getting to office. This generation may not appreciate the works of Awolowo due to the military coup of 1966 and the collapse of the regional system of government into a Unitary government which destroyed the economic progress of Nigeria, and destroyed the potentials of local productivity and employment generation in our respective states. Nepotism for federal recognition became fashionable at the expense of real economy. We are still struggling with this till today, we cannot plan and explore our natural resources today until we go lobbying for the convenience of the federal government.

While we continue to advocate for restructuring, imploring the support and initiatives of the younger generation, I feel delighted to associate with an amazing opportunity which the economic process of history has opened before us, it is the abundant opportunity of the Information Technology (I.T). This I.T is an amazing opportunity in the world of technology, surprisingly enough, it does not require the practitioners to gather too much of metals, natural resources, get licences and certificates all other forms of tedious and discouraging administrative bureaucracies that have limited the largest majority of our people for decades. A September 2017 report of the daily trust newspaper revealed that Telecoms subscribers in Nigeria spend over N197 billion on internet data every month, meanwhile our daily consumption of Petrol is 35million litres, meaning that we spend about N150billion on petrol which is less than what we spend on data. The internet has no restriction except for protection of intellectual product, which is very good for those who produce the intellectual contents. There are enormous opportunities in the Internet Content Development and exposure that our education practitioners in the southwest can encourage our youths to pick interest, and youth bodies like the Southwest development Foundation and others can take on the campaign, put pressure on government on specific steps to take as I.T is a new world everyone is just trying to grapple with and the younger generation is expected to know it better. Build a transparent network for the protection and monitoring the performance of Nigerian patents in the Cyber world, train specialist among our children for global competitiveness in the I.T world, and this could be a great potential for foreign exchange earnings to Nigeria, and for our respective states in the area of IGR, aside all other potential like agriculture etc.

One mistake we should not dare to make is thinking that we must wait till we start big,  There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps’. – Peter A. Cohen. Our best bet is to approach our development and creativity from the MSME model, and it's actually the trend worldwide. In South Africa, MSMEs account for 91% of businesses in the country, 54% of GDP and 60% of employment. In the USA, MSMEs account for 98% of the total businesses in the country, contributing about 40% to GDP and providing 53% of employment. In Germany, they account for 99.6% of businesses, 75% of GDP and provide 62% of jobs. In China, MSMEs represent 99% of total businesses, contributing 58.5% to GDP and employing 75% of workforce. MSME allows us room for creativity and experimenting without too much of financial discouragements. The opportunities are not limited to I.T but many other business initiatives that may appear ordinary but distinct Intellectual input and continuous development will make the difference.  According to Bill Gates, to achieve the required level of entrepreneurial progress, we must deliberately invest in Human Capital development. A poorly trained entrepreneur will produce mediocre results. Investing in human capital development would include training and retraining to ensure that skills are not only acquired, but that they are also updated to keep pace with changes in technology and modernization


Intellectual capital development is key to capacity building in the area of the economy. Just like Awolowo, but at a different stage of Intellectual development of the society from 1951, this generation can reinvent the economy in a transparent way for broad participation, using the opportunities of the I.T and from there we can be sure we are taking a great leap towards economic and political liberty for the southwest of Nigeria.


Thank you for the audience,
God bless.
MENTORSHIP AND CAPACITY BUILDING: EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE.

Lecture delivered by Hon (Dr) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja, Member House of Representatives, Ondo East and West Federal Constituency on the occasion of the Southwest Youth Development Summit Organized by the Southwest Youth Foundation at Anchor Event Center, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday 28th June 2018.

Courtesies

I must first appreciate the genuine effort and thoughtfulness of the organizers of this lecture, not just for advocating for more participation of youths in governance in Nigeria, but for the need to correctly situate the intervention of the youth in politics today, so as to visibly play their own roles in the favourable side of history. The topic carefully chosen reflects the philosophical depth of the organizers of this program, realizing without counting it as indignity, that the youth still have much to learn from the older generation, especially from people like Dr Olusegun Mimiko and other progressives in government at all levels today. Knowledge begets knowledge, experience begets experience, the generation of youth today sincerely have a lot to learn from the present generation of leaders, in which they can now add their own God given initiatives to the processes and approaches of governance to move this country forward. This gesture is appreciated. The mention of Capacity building caps it all. The physiognomy of man is in itself an empty mass until he acquires skills to perform value-adding responsibilities, and the more valuable and impactful the skills acquired, the greater the essence of the life in the man, which makes him better than the dead. So, seeing this topic alone, I can breathe a sigh of relief that there is hope for the southwest of Nigeria, hence hope for Nigeria as a country.

Going straight into the topic, Governance is the way a nation or society is controlled by the people who run it. It is easy to assume that those who run Nigeria in the context of governance are people in the political offices, but in reality, it is far broader than that. Playing your role in governance is more of your influence, power and capacity, and this is not limited to political office holders alone. We are all important in the governance-ecosystem”. It depends on how much we understand our roles as respective members of the society, having a niche, distinguishing ourselves to command respect and influence with our opinions in our enclaves, using the instruments of society, such as the Media, the Police, the Judiciary, and the Legislature etc to push desired changes through, in the overall interest of the people. This sure goes beyond just holding political office.

Youth participation in Governance is not new in Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote his book PATH TO NIGERIA FREEDOM in 1947, when he was 38 years. There in his book, he started the advocacy for the creation of eight (8) States in Nigeria to be fashioned on the linguistic existence of the people, the theory that a Unilingual society is best for Unitarian Constitution while multi-lingual society can only survive on unadultertated federalism. Seeds of these are still reflective in our fight for restructuring today. It was not until 1951 that his party won in the Western House of Assembly election, and he became the leader of Government business in Western Nigeria in 1952.

What is clearly instructive of Awolowo is that he accepted the responsibility of leadership by not just complaining about problems in the society but looking through and thinking out possible empirical solutions to them, discussing these solutions among his contemporaries, thereby building cadreship and followership, which later translated into political leadership. We need to revisit this exemplary attitude of this our great leader and others like him, because this attitude is no longer popular among aspiring politicians, even many of the younger generation, they take the presumption that political office or access to money, especially government money is what confers leadership, that is too fluid and ephemeral, the richest people on earth today are not political leaders, even if they are undoubted  economic leaders in their own rights, they didnt wait to get to political office to demonstrate leadership and capacity. Leadership is about Vision, Learning spirit (menteeship) and providing enduring solutions to problems, so whatever you have not developed yourself to be, you cannot deliver it in political office, neither can access to government money cover up for intellectual ineptitude or unpreparedness.

Mentoring and capacity building, even when they are not the same, are so connected.  Mentoring is a faster and more effective approach to learning, it brings the mentee closer to the real-time operation of the field he anticipates to serve in the future, he is able to ask practical questions from people who are serving in similar responsibilities, forecast and critique processes along with the leaders and test the validity of the positions arrived at as events unfold. These experiences guide the mentee from living in theoretical-euphoria that anyone, having a good intention can have a silver-bullet that solves all problem. This will heal that popular fallacy all around that all who occupy government office in Nigeria are not sincere and not committed to addressing the challenges of the country. Hear me right, without disproving the need to theorize about the economy, we need to call to mind the inspirational quote of E.F Schumacher about the value of practice, he said: an ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory. If we observe the European environment, Mentoring is the reason little children are taken to FIFA Tournaments to see the performances of world stars, they are thereafter given opportunities to meet with the stars in their respective clubs, train with them and ask questions so that they can learn the obligations required of them to make their great visions of becoming world soccer stars also come to reality, it is just supposed to be similar in political leadership, else the concessions won by an earlier generation can easily be lost by the successive  generations due to inexperience, rolling back the hands of time. Mentoring allows one to critique leaders while imagining oneself in their shoes, not necessarily to the point of blanket condemnation of leaders as some youths are found doing today. That is not the best way to prepare ourselves for similar responsibilities against the future, remember that others will also critique you, no situation is perfect or permanent.

Another approach to substantiate the need for mentoring as a proven approach to Administrative and Political capacity Building is to observe the process in which our academics are produced in the Universities. Before you become an authority (Ph.D), you must have taken mentoring and responsibilities under a superior authority for a period, they are called supervisors. Emmanuel Macron the 41 year old President of France was Deputy General Secretary to the President from 2012-2014 and had served in various other capacities, even as civil servant before then, so he is not just a “youth for youth sake” but a bundle of knowledge, tutelage and experience. The Nigerian political environment is another more complex ecosystem because of its peculiar uncertainties. And for one not to become a flamboyant theoretician who will get to office and not accomplish anything, it is most advisable to start early by choosing a mentor among enviable politicians from their proven performances and start understudying them, thereby building your own capacity to deliver. This does not mean that you must inherit his/her short comings because no human is perfect.

One special aspect of capacity building which is just important that I discuss in this rare opportunity with youths is the area of PROFESSIONALISM. This is very important and I patiently seek your interest right here. This is not directly about politics but you cannot effectively discuss politics and the future of the Southwest of Nigeria without discussing Economy. Karl Marx put the argument succinctly The Political Superstructure rests upon the economic substructure Most of the states Southwestern states still depend largely on Federal Allocation for majority of their expenditure. We must have a target to reverse this trend for us to have a viable economic atmosphere for our people. Lets take a look at Awolowo at his period. Our parents were mostly farmers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, drummers etc before Awolowo’s foray into politics, Nigeria had only Yaba Tech and University of Ibadan. Awolowo having studied in London, came with the idea that Education is that resource which has not been well explored in other to realize the economic potentials of Nigeria. He came with diverse ideas on education and human capacity building, among which included the Free primary school education, which he presented to the Assembly the very year he got to office as the leader of Government Business (1952), launched the program in January 1955. Within that time he had prepared the teachers he wanted to use for the take-off of the scheme, so nothing was by chance, but planning and preparation. These schemes by Awolowo affected Secondary school education and gave birth to University of Lagos and the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-ife. The economic outlook of the western region revolutionalized, Administrative skills, and Civil service and industry brought the enormous economic advancements of that era. Awolowo sustained the institutions we inherited from the colonialists and advanced the system by clear approach to management, many of which were already written in the books and lectures he gave before getting to office. This generation may not appreciate the works of Awolowo due to the military coup of 1966 and the collapse of the regional system of government into a Unitary government which destroyed the economic progress of Nigeria, and destroyed the potentials of local productivity and employment generation in our respective states. Nepotism for federal recognition became fashionable at the expense of real economy. We are still struggling with this till today, we cannot plan and explore our natural resources today until we go lobbying for the convenience of the federal government.

While we continue to advocate for restructuring, imploring the support and initiatives of the younger generation, I feel delighted to associate with an amazing opportunity which the economic process of history has opened before us, it is the abundant opportunity of the Information Technology (I.T). This I.T is an amazing opportunity in the world of technology, surprisingly enough, it does not require the practitioners to gather too much of metals, natural resources, get licences and certificates all other forms of tedious and discouraging administrative bureaucracies that have limited the largest majority of our people for decades. A September 2017 report of the daily trust newspaper revealed that Telecoms subscribers in Nigeria spend over N197 billion on internet data every month, meanwhile our daily consumption of Petrol is 35million litres, meaning that we spend about N150billion on petrol which is less than what we spend on data. The internet has no restriction except for protection of intellectual product, which is very good for those who produce the intellectual contents. There are enormous opportunities in the Internet Content Development and exposure that our education practitioners in the southwest can encourage our youths to pick interest, and youth bodies like the Southwest development Foundation and others can take on the campaign, put pressure on government on specific steps to take as I.T is a new world everyone is just trying to grapple with and the younger generation is expected to know it better. Build a transparent network for the protection and monitoring the performance of Nigerian patents in the Cyber world, train specialist among our children for global competitiveness in the I.T world, and this could be a great potential for foreign exchange earnings to Nigeria, and for our respective states in the area of IGR, aside all other potential like agriculture etc.

One mistake we should not dare to make is thinking that we must wait till we start big,  There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps’. – Peter A. Cohen. Our best bet is to approach our development and creativity from the MSME model, and it's actually the trend worldwide. In South Africa, MSMEs account for 91% of businesses in the country, 54% of GDP and 60% of employment. In the USA, MSMEs account for 98% of the total businesses in the country, contributing about 40% to GDP and providing 53% of employment. In Germany, they account for 99.6% of businesses, 75% of GDP and provide 62% of jobs. In China, MSMEs represent 99% of total businesses, contributing 58.5% to GDP and employing 75% of workforce. MSME allows us room for creativity and experimenting without too much of financial discouragements. The opportunities are not limited to I.T but many other business initiatives that may appear ordinary but distinct Intellectual input and continuous development will make the difference.  According to Bill Gates, to achieve the required level of entrepreneurial progress, we must deliberately invest in Human Capital development. A poorly trained entrepreneur will produce mediocre results. Investing in human capital development would include training and retraining to ensure that skills are not only acquired, but that they are also updated to keep pace with changes in technology and modernization


Intellectual capital development is key to capacity building in the area of the economy. Just like Awolowo, but at a different stage of Intellectual development of the society from 1951, this generation can reinvent the economy in a transparent way for broad participation, using the opportunities of the I.T and from there we can be sure we are taking a great leap towards economic and political liberty for the southwest of Nigeria.


Thank you for the audience,
God bless.

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