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Director of Studies at Value Rebirth - Centre LSD Leadership School, Effurun, Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, delivering a speech at the occasion

By Emeka Nwokocha

Value Rebirth-Centre-LSD Leadership School, Effurun Study Centre, on Saturday held its 5th graduation ceremony and awarded certificates to 101 graduates.

The ceremony, which was chaired by Amb. Dr. (Mrs.) Onyi Ikemefuna, Founder of Shamar Education Foundation, took place at Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Conference Hall, Effurun, Delta.

In his welcome speech, the Director of Studies (DOS) of the school and Executive Director of Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative (VREI), Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, expressed delight at the occasion, stating that 359 strategic leaders and entrepreneurs had graduated from the centre since it was established in 2017.

His words: “We are here today to celebrate the 5th annual leadership lecture/graduation ceremony of the 5th set of students as well as the matriculation ceremony of the 6th set of students. The idea of the Delta Leadership School study Centre was borne out of the compelling need to equip prospective leaders and entrepreneurs with skills and requisite knowledge to address the leadership challenge in our country, also in realizing that to take Niger-Delta Region to where it ought to be, there is the need for leaders and youths across the region to be trained so they could discover their God given potentials and develop them.

“He continued: “They need to be guided to be able to understand that they are seeds for greatness that must be sown at any given opportunity. In a similar vein, they need to sharpen their skills, get mentorship, be diligent, remain committed, handle skills and deploy their potentials judiciously.”

Cross section of dignitaries and graduating students of Value Rebirth-Centre-LSD Leadership School, Effurun

Egedegbe said: “The Leadership School came into existence on 10th, June 2017 as the first of its kind in the South-South (Niger Delta Region) and has continuously trained leaders to unravel the complexity of leadership, and also make available a frame work that would inspire people to focus on leadership development with a view to becoming good leaders.”

He further stated: “It is worthy of note that since inception, we at Value Rebirth Centre have remained committed to our Thematic Focus in the area of Peace Building, Civic Education, Governance, Environment, etc, and have intervened severally in governance, leadership, peace building and security related issues such as monitoring elections, leadership training, conflict mitigation/peace building, tax justice programs, eradication of gender-based violence, community leadership enhancement, civic education, security summits and monitoring and evaluation of government activities.

Speaking on the growing popularity of the school, Pastor Egedegbe said: “It is encouraging to know that the demand for the Leadership School admission is now high as we have received over 300 applications and admission has been offered to 200 students for the next leadership academic session (2022/2023). We are extremely pleased and proud to have in the pool of our facilitators, experienced resource persons from all walks of life across Nigeria that are involved in the delivery of this training alongside the leadership of VALUE REBIRTH AND CENTRE LSD with penchant to developing people for a first-class public and private service.

Delivering a lecture entitled, “The Nigeria of My Dream,” an adaptation of the main topic: “Leadership and Governance Challenge in Nigeria,” the guest lecturer, Mr. Johnson Ikube, saliently chronicled the chequered developmental narratives defining leadership in Nigeria over the decades.

He noted: “There is so much effort to teach leadership, yet we still experience significant failures of leadership and governance in virtually every sector of our society. At the individual, family, community, society and global levels, there are challenges calling for profound and strategic solutions and at increasingly higher frequencies – there are conflicts everywhere.”

Tracing the fault lines in the Nigerian leadership circle, he stated: “Nigeria is a great country. We are blessed with intelligent citizens, substantial amounts of mineral resources, large and fertile lands, a good blend of land, water and air spaces, friendly climatic conditions, and very minimal cases of natural disasters, to mention a few. These present us with enormous capacity or potential to grow, develop and become one of the greatest countries on mother earth. But the realities of the lived experiences of our people are significantly distant from these expectations.”

Continuing, Ikube stated that Nigeria is blessed with enormous potentials but experiencing less than proportionate actual development, saying: “We are apparently struggling with how to increase the basic necessities of life, adequate infrastructural facilities, power & electricity, stable and qualitative education, relative self-sufficiency in agricultural production, adequate employment opportunities, equal access to opportunities, satisfactory levels of earnings and incomes, peace and security.”

Stating further, he satirically captured the typical Nigerian situation, saying: “Amid plenty, there is scarcity. In the midst of abundance there is poverty. Amid a large number of very peaceful persons, there is insecurity occasioned by the relatively few. In the mist of what is appropriate and functional, we choose the irrelevant and dysfunctional. Amid competence and effectiveness, we choose, religion, ethnicity, age, quota systems, hijacked democracy.”

Emphasizing that everyone deserves to live well and be happy in Nigeria, he maintained that what Nigerians must do and how to do them were questions that had seemingly elusive answers. He however, added that while there would be challenges in the process of remedying the situation, they must be addressed in a sustainable manner.

Travelling memory lane, Ikube noted that the rot characteristic of Nigeria of today was non-existent in the past years of progressive prosperity, a sad development he soberly likened to a phrase: “There Was A Country.”

He went further to expatiate, saying: “There was a Country in which values were more important than material wealth. There weren’t much of classes and differences. There were no schools for the children of the rich different from those for the children of the poor. We all worked hard to pass our examinations. We did not buy question papers and parents did not buy them for us either; we passed and failed because we deserved to. In that country there was relative security enabling us to move safely and freely move around, day or night.

“In that country, we had leaders of honour and integrity. People were respected for their knowledge, humility, strength of conviction and commitment to their noble ideals and not for how much money they had. We had heroes and role models whose attainments continued to impact positively on the lives and times of future generations.
“In that country, the means determined the end and survival of all was the basic orientation. The empowerment of the majority of the citizenry was the major concern. We were our brothers’ keepers. All parents were parents of all children.”

Continuing in his narration, obviously in a contrasting tone, Ikude noted:
“IN THE NIGERIA THAT IS,” material wealth and survival of the fittest are more important than values and survival of the all. Discipline, integrity, hard work, honesty, and selflessness among other hitherto revered virtues, have taken the back seat.

“We no longer see ourselves as one family and therefore act as a divided people. Greed, corruption, ego and arrogance have penetrated our very essence.
“The cost of Governance is excessively high is this country. The strength of the offender is more important than the strength of the offence. Governance institutions are nonexistent or where they exist, they are wholly ineffective. There are no punishments for colossal inefficiencies. In this country, the necessities of life have become luxuries
“Now there are schools for the rich different from those for the children of the poor and oppressed; Leaders and persons who should be held in high esteem and militants alike make unguarded statements on security and the state of the nation capable of inflaming an already fragile situation.

He continued, “In this country, kidnapping, assassinations, terrorism, and banditry have become the order of the day. Politics has taken priority over economic growth and development. Human development has lost relevance. Selfishness, greed and corruption have been the main items on the Nigerian menu of leadership and governance. People now sell their children including their unborn for money.

“In this Country, the end justifies the means. This craze is due in part to the inability of successive governments to meet the needs of the citizens. We must now provide power for ourselves. We must provide security for ourselves. Public schools have been left to mediocrity and decay. The focus is on money. It is not important how the money is made. In this country, money and power are rewarded instead of integrity, honesty and discipline. I am not aware of how many poor but noble people have made it to the national honours list. Is it that there is none to be so recognized?

“In this country, leadership generally seems to have been disconnected from the led. Survival of the fittest reigns supreme. In this country winning and stealing money has become superior to earning money. In this Country, the local government has been taken over by the State governance structure, State structure being taken over by the Federal Government structure.

“In this country, there are no responsibilities and no accountability.”
Ikude noted: “A country with such characteristics cannot survive in the long term. It will not be enough to reform this Country, it must be transformed. To transform is to change in character, content and structure. Our values and character at all levels and the way we do things must change.”

Continuing, Ikude gave an insight into “THE NIGERIA THAT HAS TO BE” stating: “While the current government talks about transformation, the issue of what we should be transforming to, remains a challenge. Any intelligent transformation agenda will depend on how we define and respond to this challenge. If our answer is defective, the transformation agenda will be inadequate or out rightly dysfunctional.

“We should first acknowledge that our current state is fragile and must be reworked. Gaps and challenges should be comprehensively itemized and prioritized for appropriate remedial initiatives. Denials and political statements meant to deceive and distract will not help us. Cost reduction, Insecurity, unemployment, leadership incompetence, followership ignorance, health delivery systems, unstable education delivery, making our votes count, competence and independence of the judiciary, will make the topmost part of the list.

“The long overdue state policing and state police must be in place with technology and modern strategies for addressing insecurity as key techniques must be in place.
“We should empower the majority and take them out of poverty and not create wealth for the few. We should give them peace and security. Public infrastructure should work. Safe and efficient transportation should be in place. Our public education should be a thing of pride. Public electricity should be stable, of good quality and available to all. Everyone should afford a decent rented or owned residence.

“Our politicians and leaders should be men and women of integrity and character and with demonstrable quality track record of successes. Our politicians and leaders must be those that understand that leadership is an opportunity to, through selfless service, make a difference positively in the lives of the people they lead. All aspirants to leadership positions must be interrogated along these lines by the “selectorate” – those who select our leaders through elections.
“It is time to ensure that our values and wealth creation processes are well integrated and aligned. While achievements are necessary, their appropriateness and adequacy as well the platforms for their sustainability should be more important. This Country will bring back our heroes and role models experiences.”

Ikude sternly added: “What we need to transform Nigeria is a complete re-orientation that cuts across all spectrums of the society. A process that is all encompassing in the sense of a fusion between the physical and the spiritual, something that affects the body, mind, and the soul positively. We must be able to think in terms of the whole and not just the parts. Why can’t we have a centrally managed focus on growth and development? How does where you come from guarantee your competence to do a job? How does religiosity equate spirituality?

“We must entrench competence, hard work and noble values of integrity, discipline, compassion, humility, accountability into our transformation agenda. Individual citizens must be in harmony with themselves, others and nature so they can radiate this harmony to the whole country. Leaders must think in terms of the whole and not just parts.
“Economic growth must not be a curse to future generations. Leaders must be men and women of integrity and character. At the presidency and similar offices at state levels, where you come from should not be an issue.

“Religiosity must give way to spirituality through a better understanding of God, Man and Nature. This should assure harmony internally and externally, bring pride to the people as values and numbers align with higher purpose.

“In this Country that will be, we need citizens and residents who will think with fundamental orientations that include but not limited to the following:
“Nature has abundance. Scarcity is our own making. Do not be greedy, do not be corrupt. God is unlimited abundance. Material wealth is good but the road to and our attachment to it is where disconnection lies.

“Life is much more than the physical. Focus on why you were created and then why you are in this world. Here lies the core of our service and hence our road to profound peace and security
“All matter must return to nature for matter is transient. Focus more on the permanent; your character and personality as they reflect your spirituality and not your religiosity.”
According to Ikude, “as we work on, ‘this country that will be,’ I foresee the following:
“A national vision that is unifying, understood and respected by all. This vision should take us from a nation that is a polity with economic dimensions to one that is an economy with political dimensions.

“A nation focused on the business of government instead of the government of business. A nation moving from institutionalized corruption to one of a dismantled and disrespected corruption. This will enable the general owners of these funds access to them in the normal course of daily striving and living. Penalties for both stealing and siphoning stolen wealth but stiffer penalties for stolen wealth taken out of the country
“The elimination of security votes and their redistribution to more appropriate areas of need. A nation driven by government to a nation enabled by government but driven and sustained by the entrepreneurship of her peoples. A nation focused on spirituality and not just religion. A nation where respect for the source of wealth is superior to respect for possession of wealth. A country of service, performance and ability based rewards.

“From a country of sacred cows to that of no cows at all. From a country of let the popular rule to a country of let the competent rule. A nation in which all stakeholders devise ways to make the needed transitions to produce EMPOWERED INDIVIDUALS – Empowered by humility, higher knowledge and wisdom and by commitment to the collective good. Empowered individuals know that gender, race, colour, tribe, religion, status, language and places of residence amongst others should not adversely affect decisions and actions in general dealings and that all the resources we need to live successfully and happily are already available.

Therefore, there is no need to be greedy for there is abundance in the world. Aspire wisely, think properly and act efficiently and you shall be happy, healthy and fulfilled.”

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