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#Gbajafellows: The Inaugural Cohort of the Legislative Mentorship Initiative

November 16, 2022
by Akumishi Ayenajeh

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