Best of Africa Leadership Initiative West Africa
Africa Leadership Initiative West Africa (ALIWA) was birthed out of the Africa Leadership Initiative. The Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI), which was launched in 2002, was born out of realization that the best hope for Africa’s future lies in the investment in effective and enlightened leaders.
Below are some highlights on what some of our ALI West Africa Fellows have been up to:
Amina Oyagbola of Totum Bonum Class, 2006 (Nigeria)
Amina began her ALIWA fellowship journey in 2006. A Corporate Executive with over 30 years of experience working with Global multinationals in legal, banking, oil & gas, telecommunications and consulting. She is the CEO of AKMS Consulting Ltd (a business and management consulting firm), a partner, at Oyagbola Chambers and Founder of WISCAR (Women in Successful Careers), a women empowerment NGO focused on leadership development and mentorship inspired by ALIWA/ Aspen Institute. WISCAR was established with the purpose of building capacity through leadership training, mentorship and advocacy for the empowerment of women for nation-building.
In the last 10 years, WISCAR has empowered over 300 young women in the professions and enterprise through the structured WIN-with-WISCAR 12-month mentoring programme and over 6000 women who attend and are inspired by WISCAR seminars, conferences and events. The goal is to build the next generation of women leaders in Nigeria by developing women to build a better nation. Women in power and leadership who can influence positive policy changes.
WISCAR has just concluded its 10th year with an Annual Leadership and Mentoring conference centred on the theme: Enriching Lives by Telling Our Own Stories. At the conference, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, received the 2018 Distinguished Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) Award for excellence in leadership and good governance. According to Amina Oyagbola, the “Distinguished WISCAR Award is presented to distinguished female exemplars and role models who achieve success and significance by dint of hard and good works. The award is given in recognition of their exemplary works, inspiring leadership, mentorship and significant contribution to the development of women and the nation.”
In her keynote address, titled “Enriching Lives by Telling Our Own Stories,” former President Sirleaf, chronicled her life path to leadership as one which was non-linear but filled with struggle, challenges, determination and a strong will to achieve excellence.
“The road was undulating and sometimes met with failed outcomes”, she said, as it happened when she first ran for president in 1997. But she advised women to embrace failure because it was “success upside down”, which can be a turnaround with perseverance and determination. She said she went to jail on two occasions because of her advocacy for social justice and human rights. Youth and women, including market women, played catalytic roles throughout her labour for justice. The release continues.
On becoming president, she narrated that she was confronted with many encounters to rebuild nearly everything that was broken by civil strife and had to be fixed. She had to mobilise the resources to expand the budget, rebuild the economy and infrastructure, provide rule of law, and revitalise basic services, including health and education. She set up a trust to build 50 schools, with 500 trained teachers for 5,000 girls. Many competent women were appointed to strategic positions, including justice, the police, foreign affairs commerce and agriculture. The pinnacle of her success was to turn around a war-torn nation into a peaceful and conflict-free success story, resulting into successful democratic elections that ushered in a new administration after her two tenure in office of 12 years. She hoped that her life travails and successes as the first democratically elected female president in Africa will inspire Nigerian and African women to “find their voices,” in whatever careers they pursue, including political leadership.
According to the release, the programme was attended by many female students from Lagos area schools, and a host of distinguished panel speakers. The Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Lola Akande, represented the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode. The Oba (King) of Lagos, His Royal Majesty Rilwan Akiolu was also represented. Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Okey Enelamah, made opening remarks, while Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Prof Al-Hassan Conteh delivered a Good Will Message. WISCAR’s advisory board members, patrons and sponsors also graced the occasion.
WISCAR closed the conference with a gala night of reflections on the day’s programme at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, where Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwisili, former Vice President of the World Bank and former Minister of Education of Nigeria, made a few remarks to inspire participants.
Ayisha Osori of Karfi Kuo Class, 2017 (Nigeria)
Ayisha’s book, Love Does Not Win Elections, reveals to the public, the inner details of contesting political party primaries in Nigeria and in so doing, puts a spotlight on the dysfunctions in the political leadership recruitment process.
Using the book as a tool, Ayisha has engaged with the general public through book readings, radio and television; but the bulk of her time has been spent on sharing with students what needs to be done to protect Nigeria’s young democracy and improve the quality of leadership emerging from the parties. Since the book was published (July 2016), she has met with over 600 students across 4 universities encouraging young Nigerians to get involved in the political process – not just by voting every four years, but by joining the parties, careful candidate assessment and preparing to contest elections in the future.
- Increased awareness, knowledge and understanding about the political party candidate selection process and the implications for democracy and sustained development.
- Developing alternative narratives for contextualising the connection between political party structures and processes; the current state of underdevelopment; and the importance of citizens’ participation in politics.
- Providing tools such as a website, book and coming video, on engaging in politics and how.
Love Does Not Win Elections has been the subject of several reviews, including one most recently on the London School of Economics Africa blog: (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/05/04/book-review-love-does-not-win-elections-by-ayisha-osori/)
Esi Ansah (Ghana)
Association of Ghana’s Elders (AGE) aims to rally senior citizens and set them up as a powerful bloc of stakeholders in the society at large, giving them a voice and multiple platforms for engagement economically, socially, politically and in other meaningful ways.
Below are some of the activities of the AGE:
- AGE has grown in its membership base and continues to attend meetings of some retirement associations (Retired Seafarers, Retired Ghana Commercial Bank Workers), to spend time with them, and provide basic health screening. It has started providing membership cards, with which members (60 years and older) can access discounted products and services from partners, and is working on engaging more of these partners.
- AGE organised a Career Workshop for retirees to help them think through various options for staying productive after retirement.
- AGE also organised a highly successful Stakeholders’ Forum on ageing, bringing together stakeholders who work in different sectors such as health, financial services (especially pensions), advocacy, academia and more.
- AGE has used the Accra International Marathon (2018) as a fundraising platform, and recently had a team of six senior citizens between ages 62 and 8,7 walking for 5km as part of its fundraising efforts.
AGE continues to partner with other organisations such as the University of Ghana’s Centre for Ageing Studies and the Dave Omokaro Foundation (Nigeria), to discuss issues relevant to senior citizens through different platforms. It is currently focused on extending its membership base, securing more loyalty partners to provide discounted products and services and fundraising.