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Welcome to the Legislative Mentorship Initiative

October 16, 2022
by Akumishi Ayenajeh

“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.

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