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Now it is official, we have proudly confirmed 72 Fellows of the Legislative Mentorship Initiative (FLMI).

Your visions for the future must not rest on the positions you aspire or the ambitions you have for yourself alone. Your dreams must be about more than yourself, because dreams that begin and end on your own prosperity alone are not enough. You are ordained for more than that so do not sell yourself short by dreaming small dreams.

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila CFR, Speaker 9th House of Representatives & Founder LMI

Every journey that has a beginning have an end. Five weeks ago, guests and dignataries gathered in Room 034 at the National Assembly to witness the launch of something spectacular, the Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI).

“In these five weeks of intense interaction and exchange of ideas, one thing is evident: We definitely have some of the brightest and most passionate young people who are committed to shaping a great future for our country. We are most honoured to say that we have trained this cohort to be a fine crop of public sector leaders, who can occupy different positions in the governance arena and serve our people with diligence, competence and compassion.” ‘Dapo Oyewole

The future indeed, lies in your hands starting today. Mr. ‘Dapo charged the Fellows that as they go back to their respective states, newly christened as LMI Fellows, to know that they have a critical role to play in shaping the future of our country, and perhaps our world. “Nigeria

needs you and your talent, your energy, your vitality, your brilliance and your leadership” he added.

Solape Sonuga (Programme Coordinator) in her presentation on “LMI at a Glance: Our Programmes, Project & Impact”, shared that young people dominate the economic lap of the country, hence there is a need to understand the democratic process of the country and this is what Mr. Speaker has done through the LMI. Chimdi Neliaku (Programme Manager) added that the Fellows have been groomed in the past 5 weeks as renowned and capacitated individuals highlighting the LMIs impacts to include: personal transformation, transparency to build public trust in Governement, inclusive leadership (women and persons with disabilities, and young people in Governance), taking responsibility in leadership and lots more. She thanked the Speaker for championing this great initiative and putting people before things.

Goodwill messages flooded in from partners and sponsors staring with Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, the Director General of the National Institute for Legislative & Democratic Studies (NILDS). He congratulated the Speaker for not only conceiving the initiative but also for the tenacity to see to its conclusion. He congratulated the Fellows for completing the learning process of the Fellowship and expressed the institutes desire to adopt one of the Fellows to the organization. “Leadership must be purposeful to ensure nation building” he stated.

“The LMI is a practical response to the succession learning for the youths.” Mr. Tijjani Umar, Permanent Secretary, State House. He congratulated the Fellows for completion of the learning process and stated that they have been found worthy in character to be admitted to this prestigious community.

Maraji Peran, Country Director, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), charged the Fellows to “Learn from every mistake because every encounter is to teach you more of the person you are. Work hard and be kind. Go create the world you desire and dont forget to give back to the country” She thanked the Speaker for putting together the LMI in a bid to see Nigeria thrive.

Dr. Ike Neliaku (BOT Chariman, LEAF & LMI Implementing Partner), in his speech, congratulated the Fellows and urged them to remember that the choices we make revel who we are; our personalities, our choices, our passion, our character, our culture and even our capacity.”  You have been given wings to excel and the choice you now make is up to you and to the guest, you are challenged to make choices that add value to the Nation, he added.

“Others invest in prosperity, you have invested in posterity; Others thrive in position, you have thrived in purpose; you have written your name in the sand of time that will take great effort to be deleted.” Amb. Jake Epelle (Founder & CEO Albino Foundation) said in his eulogy to the Speaker. He charged the Fellows to always remember all of the things they were thought and most importantly that it takes character, capacity and competence to build a leader.

Oghenekome Oruade, Manager, Acumen Academy Fellows in West Africa,  delivered a speech on the metrics used in the selection process of the Fellows which were character, competence, commitment and capacity to build our public service leaders. “We looked out for people with capacity because of their track record in the leadership space, diversity because everyone should be represented and hope. Hope because we were looking out for people who could see themselves playing a part in the Nigerian dream. The combination of these is what formed our decisions on the selection from the 4000+ applications we received.” she added.

The Fellows had a beautiful display of the proceedings in the LMI parliament as a simulation to what happens in the House of Representatives Chambers. From party deflections by Hon. Abdulbasit Kolapo to motion raising by Hon. Martins Daubry to raising a “point of order” by Hon. Kafayat Kareem and Hon. Abubakar Joji to shouts of “Order” by the Chief Whip, Hon. Aisha Abubakar, It was all excitment and cheers to watch the Fellows as they acted out these simulations.

“Graduation ceremonies are unique occasions. On one hand we are acknowledging the end of a chapter and on the other hand we are enrouting the beginning of another.” Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila CFR. He encouraged the Fellows to ravel in this feeling so that when the days of disappointment comes, when they look at the road ahead and wonder if they still have strength to keep going, they can look back to this day and be inspired by the sense of promise and possibility to try again.

Certificates were presented, Fellowships conferred and the Speaker of the LMI  parliament, Olise Abu delivered a valedictorian speech where he shared these final words; “Difficult days will come but let us hold each others hand. Remember, LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND! Lethargy and mediocrity will tempt us but lets persevere in the arena of greatness because the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who thrives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows, in the end, the triumph of achievement, and at worst, if he fails, at least fails whilst daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat! And John F. Kennedy leaves us with a question; IF NOT US, WHO? IF NOT NOW, WHEN?”

“Watch out for Gbajafellows.’ Chimdi Neliaku

“What started out as an idea, has become a reality.”

'Dapo Oyewole, Director, Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI).

“The youth are indeed agents of change, and we have seen cases where young people globally, change and are still changing the cause of nations, advancing security, growth and development. The LMI seeks to connect passion to skills, competence and impact.” 

He further shared his gratitude, and confidence that together with the support of everyone present, the initiative will go on to serve as a major catalyst for national development and good governance as we continue to produce capable and competent leaders who will take on the reins of leadership and lead this country to greater heights.

The LMI Programme Manager, Chimdi Neliaku, shared the Fellowship Programme schedule for the next 5 weeks detailing all the activities that the Fellows-In-Training (FITs) would be engaged in over the next 5 weeks. 

Solape Sonuga, LMI’s Coordinator, gave an overview of the range of well-curated excursions and learning experiences that have been planned for the Fellows-in-Training to help them excel.

“The programme will be rigorous and challenging, but I must say that it will be life-changing. This is going to be a brilliant experience and I am honoured to be a part of this.” she expressed.

“I’ve spent three years in Nigeria and I know that the future of Nigeria is her young people. You, therefore, are the future of Nigeria” Gill Atkinson, the British Deputy High Commissioner in her goodwill message charged the Fellows-in-Training. 

Beatrice Eyong, the Country Director, UN Women to Nigeria & ECOWAS shared that the LMI will contribute to having a gender-responsive legislature in the future as the Rt. Honorable Speaker has maintained his commitment to involve women. This gives a glimpse of the composition of the Nigerian parliament in the future. A gender-responsive parliament responds to the needs and interests of both men and women, it is the dynamic place that fully reflects the populations which the members serve; hence being sensitive to gender makes parliaments efficient, effective and legitimate.

The DG, National Institute  of Legislative & Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Abubakar Suleiman, opened the library doors of the NILDS to the FITs. He spoke about the sustainability of the LMI project and extended their readiness to assist the LMI Team in its executions so that the initiative is kept for the long haul.

“Finding common ground is the nucleus of political work and work in the public sphere.” Marija Peran of Konrad Adeteur Stiftung (KAS). In her goodwill message, she congratulated the inaugural cohort and furthered buttressed that it is a privilege to be a part of the project that comes with a commitment as they are accepting a public mandate to bring in the “you of Nigeria's youth”. She commended the efforts of the Rt. Hon Speaker for not only seeing the potential in the youths but truly creating ways to bring support to the youths by preparing them for their intended public careers through the LMI. She wished the fellows much success on their LMI journey. 

It was all joy as Ambassador Jake Epelle took the stage. This joy sprung from the inclusiveness of the LMI inaugural cohort to include persons with albinism, visual impairment and hard hearing. He praised the Hon. Speaker for being the first to create a committee of the legislative assembly responsible for people with disabilities. He recognized the enviable role played by The Speaker in the heart of the Nation, who sees and preaches hope to the most vulnerable, and intentionally identifies with them. This even offers a beam of hope that tomorrow anyone can become another Rt. Hon Speaker. 

Dr. Ike Neliaku, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Prize for Leadership hailed Mr. Speaker for launching the LMI and further shared that when young people get involved in any process, speed becomes accelerated, which in turn makes the process more popular. “Beyond being a very important platform for knowledge acquisition in legislative engineering, the LMI will grow to become the biggest public relations tool of the legislature as an important arm of government in Nigeria” said the good doctor.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker in his remarks thanked everyone for being present at the opening ceremony as they have contributed to making the event a success. 

He shared in his speech that “Nigeria desperately needs leaders with the capacity and character to manage change. The consequences of the change happening in our world today, would depend on how we respond, the decisions we make, and the ideas we choose to invest in. The quality of our decision-making in politics and government will define the cause of our country. Whether we achieve progress, prosperity, peace and security for all our people, depends entirely on the capacity and competence of our political leadership. To nurture democracy in Nigeria, we must make a deliberate effort to conceptualize how we practice politics and how we govern. When young people want to participate in politics but feel locked out of the process, their eagerness to participate will instead become available to bad actors thus, they become soldiers in a war against society. When young people feel that their cares are not the concern of politics and the work of government does not advance their cause, such feelings lead to a dangerous cynicism about politics and government which is the reason so many people believe that everything government does is for the benefit of a few. This corrosive loss of faith makes it difficult to build the political consensus necessary to effect systemic reforms which further contributes to a cycle of political dysfunction that undermines our nation's progress and, left unchecked, is fatal to democracy.”

“The fellowship will help its participants acquire skills, build capacity and competence to participate effectively in Nigeria's politics and government and contribute to her growth, progress and prosperity.” 

“Ability and Competence are not enough to lift a nation and elevate a people, you will need vision and character. Who are you? Who do you want to be? What principles motivate your top priorities? and what dreams inspire your every waking moment? These will speak to your vision and character and they are questions you alone must answer.” He charged the FITs. 

Concluding his remarks, he congratulated the 74 FITs for making it thus far and wished them to go even further for the benefit of the country. 

Maryam Bukar delivered a patriotic poem about governance and citizen participation that charged everyone present to be responsible and accountable for the “greeness”of Nigeria.

Hon. Henry Nwawuba, the Chair, LMI 2022 Cohort Selection Committee and Chair, Legislative Agenda formally announced  the FITs as they took turns to shake hands with the Rt. Hon. Speaker.

The Legislative Mentorship Initiative was officially declared open by the Rt. Hon. Speaker by 12:30pm.

“Nation building is a joint task and that includes you”. Rt. Hon. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.