Accomplished writer, Chimamanda Adichie; South African firebrand politician, Julius Malema; and former Information Minister Mr. Frank Nweke, are among the speakers lined up for Emerging Political Leaders (EPL) Summit holding in Abuja on November 22. The event will be opened by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the summit convener, Mr. Wale Ajani. According to Mr. Ajani, the summit is targeted at ensuring the emergence of a fresh crop of political leaders in the country. The event, he disclosed, explained will hold at the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Centre, Abuja. It has, as its theme, "Breaking The Existing Economic and Political Status Quo".
"The EPL Summit became imperative at this auspicious moment in our history because Nigeria has remained a country of enormous potential for several decades. The consensus among local and international leaders of thought is that Africa’s most populous country and largest economy ought to have performed much better in terms of human development and economic indices," the convener said in a statement.
He argued leadership failure is at the heart of the country's challenges, a situation compounded by the lack of effort to raise a new crop of leaders. This, he added, has bred a culture of low expectations among the citizens.
"There is a need to raise the bar of engagement about Nigeria and find effective solutions to her challenges across the board. There is also a need to properly situate the country within the context of her past and present to fashion out a more desirable future for the citizenry to enable the nation take her place of pride in Africa and the world," reasoned Mr. Ajani, a former President of the Nigerian Youth Council.
He noted that unlike modern and progressive societies that are driven by knowledge, Nigeria remains backward because the country's political leadership remains fixated on sharing crude oil rent and exportation of yams.
"Nigeria has tried but failed to build a stable economy driven by the sales of an unstable commodity and a near zero attempt to build human capacity. The pointers indicate that the current economic realities relying solely on crude oil will remain unstable over the long term and there is a need for a paradigm shift to a more sustainable source of revenue in the new digital age," Mr. Ajani further argued.
The current age, he added, requires a set of leaders with a different orientation towards economic and political problem-solving and citizen engagement model. He also explained that the summit will provide a platform for qualitative conversations and discourse about Nigeria as an alternative to the current system. He equally stated that the programme is expected to remove existing barriers to emerging leaders’ political participation, foster collaborative participation and intellectual engagements with other stakeholders.
"The EPL Summit is neither a one-off nor a short-term intervention, but a long-term engagement among emerging political leaders to build a consciousness amongst the vast majority of Nigerians," Mr. Ajani disclosed.
He similarly expects the summit to create a citizen standards and give the emerging political leaders the skills required in the modern age. Others expected to speak at the summit include Ms. Ayisha Osori of Open Society Institute of West Africa (OSIWA), Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed, Professor Kingsley Moghalu and Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi.