The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for the deliberate mentoring and training of young political leaders who will take over governance and public service in the future.
Mr Gbajabiamila made the call on Monday in Abuja during the opening ceremony of the second cohort of participants of a programme tagged Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI) under the aegis of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS).
The LMI was conceived by Mr Gbajabiamila when he was the speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
For the sustainability of the programme, Mr Gbajabiamila has entrusted the initiative to the care of the NILDS, a premier institution dedicated to legislative research and capacity building.
The second cohort is the first set of participants to be directly trained by NILDS.
According to the Mr Gbajabiamila, the purpose of the initiative “is to identify and train a generation of public sector leaders who understand that the point of holding power is to get things done and accomplish things and who have the expertise and temperament to use the machinery of government and the instruments of power to achieve peace, drive progress and ensure prosperity for all. This mandate is critically important to the future stability of Nigeria.”
He said that just as the country needs trained lawyers, engineers, doctors, nurses and various such professionals, “We also need people who understand politics, who are well versed in the mechanics of government, who appreciate the enormous responsibility of public service and who are called to the service of their communities and the nation.”
The LMI is designed to empower young people with the skills, capacity, and competence to participate effectively in Nigeria’s politics and governance and contribute to her growth, progress, and prosperity, said Mr Gbajabiamila, who argued that “public service is a calling; it is not for everybody. And even those who feel a genuine stirring in their spirits to serve may not always be prepared to do so.
“We must provide avenues such as this to ensure that people who desire to be genuine public servants can develop the ability to serve creditably and meet the best expectations they have of themselves,” he said.
Mr Gbajabiamila, however, said that programmes like the LMI cannot by themselves meet the yawning need for a new generation of capable leaders in the public sector, saying that other institutions must step up.
“Our political parties, for example, have a role to play in this regard. Beyond serving as vehicles for acquiring political power, political parties can deploy resources to become incubators of policy and political talent through developing think tanks and research institutes and implementing specialised training programmes and projects. This will significantly deepen our democracy and even serve to strengthen the political parties themselves and ensure their place in our democratic practice.”
Having successfully trained young people with the requisite skills, the former lawmaker said they must also be given opportunities to showcase their knowledge and competencies in public service through appointments and elective offices.
Speaking earlier, the Director General of NILDS, Abubakar Sulaiman, commended Mr Gbajabiamila for envisioning the programme and also entrusting it to the institute.
Mr Sulaiman, a professor, called on the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure dedicated funding for the programme for its continuity and sustainability.
The DG of the institute described the continuous funding of the initiative as an “investment in the future of our democracy will be amply rewarded by the contributions of the LMI’s graduates, who will bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and unwavering commitment to the legislative process.”
As part of his commitment to the initiative, Mr Sulaiman announced that the best participant(s) will be awarded an employment offer with NILDS. He urged the participants to put in their best and consider this a rare opportunity to take advantage of.
A total number of 45 participants was inducted for the second cohort.
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