PIUS ANYIM President of the Senate, Federal Republic of

Nigeria. At the International Conference on Leadership,

Organised by the Leadership Institute, Nigeria, On 17′ – 21″

September, 2001 on the Theme: “Contemporary Challenges of

Leadership” at the

ECOWAS International Conference Hall, Asokoro,

Abuja, Nigeria

Your Excellencies,

The Speaker of the House of Representatives,

My Lord, the Chief Judge of the Federation, Mohammed Uwais,

The Chairman of PDP and APP,

Your Excellency, Former Head of State, General Yakúbu Gowon,

And the 1 Civilian President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari,

Your Excellency, Lansana Kouyate,

The Secretary General of ECOWAS,

Your Excellencies, the Executive Governors,

Ministers and Commissioners,

My Lords, Temporal and Spiritual,

The Chairman and Board of Trustees of the Leadership Institute, Nigeria,

The Award Recipients,

Members of the Diplomatic Community, 

Gentlemen of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen,

captains Industries and Statutory Corporation.

It gives me Great pleasure to be here today, to participate at this International Conference on Leadership, organized by the Leadership Institute, Nigeria. I am particularly happy that this conference has as its them, Contemporary Challenges Facing Leadership. I, especially, welcome our International Speakers to this conference, and I am sure the whole World is awaiting the results of your deliberations.

Leadership has been identified as the most critical and strategic resource capable of moving individuals, institutions, nations and humanity from darkness to light. Unfortunately, the history of the world has also proved that the worst crises of humanity have also been caused by bad leadership.

The experience of slave trade, colonialism, the two world wars, the holocaust, the Debt situation, and corruption are all caused by bad leadership. It must be noted that each era in the civilization of mankind has always in many ways produced its own outstanding leaders. 

We can effortlessly recall such great leaders like Alexander the Great, Abrahim Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Mahatan Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Lady Diana, etc.

On our African continent, we relish with nostalgia the footprints of such leaders like Herbert Macaulay Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Patrick Lumunba, Dr. Kwame Nkuruma, Dr. Julius Nyerere, Dr. Akanu Ibiam and the legendary Nelson Mandela. In Africa, today, there is a dire need for private institutions, like the Leadership Institute to undertake the task of Leadership Development, leadership re-orientation, leadership re-definition and leadership re-engineering so that Africa can once again build leadership capacity for liberating ourselves from the throes of economic mismanagement, corruption, ethnic militancy, escalating crime, poverty, disease, religious violence and premature death.

Let me quickly observe that everybody no matter his calling or station in life is imbued with leadership traits, the only difference is the level of consciousness and application. It is not particularly the position that makes the leader, it is I believe the leader that makes the position. To achieve meaningful leadership calls for vision, collection of skills, expertise, aspiration as well as inspiration. A constructive leadership certainly creates consistent positive change in his environment be it as a teacher, a driver, a market woman, a professional, a bureaucrat, a policeman, a clergyman, politician, a scientist or whatever.

Leadership must at all times remain the purveyor of ideas as well as be determined to challenge unfavourable status quo to the governed. Leadership for it to be remain relevant must convey confidence and create trust. The intangible element known as trust is therefore very key to leadership. According to Mr. Craig Weatherrup, the CEO of Pepsi International, “People will tolerate honest mistakes of a leader, but if you violate their trust you will find it very difficult to ever regain their confidence.” It therefore stands to reason that a leader or a person with leadership potentials must, I repeat must treat trust as his most precious asset.

Leadership also demands for consistency of character, General Norman Schwarzkopf of the Gulf War (Desert Storm) fame in his memoir stated thus, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, please be without strategy.

This statement of the American great General underscores the fact that character indeed gives leadership creditability at all facets of life. In other words character and leadership creditability insulates a leader from loss of relevance no matter the odds. True and enduring leadership calls for consistency of character, commitment to cherished values on daily basis, self respect, genuine regard to the feelings and well being of others, admitting own mistakes and promotion of those things that positively impact on the lives of the people. Above all, enduring leadership must have its root firmly on the solid ground of transparency, honesty, humility, accountability, team work and fear of God.

As the President of Senate of Africa’s largest Democracy, I am painfully aware of some of the challenges facing our Leadership. We are challenged as Africans by the increase in prosperity gap, between the rest of the World and Africa. As leaders, we are concerned that the majority of people in our country are unemployed, uneducated, unskilled, under fed and sick. This situation has been brought about due to long years of neglect, greed and incompetence of most of our leaders in the past.

The daunting challenges facing the present Government in Nigeria is to improve the living conditions of our people. The social contract between the people and the government is to set them free from the chains of poverty, unemployment, lack of education, sickness and premature deaths. The Government is committed to the protection of life and property, provision of food shelter, promote environment friendly policies and rebuild our key institutions to support our nascent democracy. These challenges cannot be met unless we all are ready to become effective leaders.

I challenge all of you at this conference to fashion out new paradigms of leadership that are capable of releasing us from certain undemocratic tendencies and mind-set of some of our present leaders who see themselves more as the new oppressor class than the liberators and emancipators of the people.

I believe that we have an abundance of potential good leaders awaiting to be discovered. From my recent experience I have come to the conclusion that effective and committed leadership really abound in Nigeria. All that is needed is the enabling level playing field and accommodating spirit devoid of extreme partisan, religious and ethnic sentiments.

As for the award recipients of Grand Fellows and Fellows of leadership, I congratulate you for being the first recipients of such awards in Nigeria and anywhere in the World. I salute the Institute on its vision to reward excellence in leadership. For our former Head of State and President, I particularly rejoice with you on this remarkable occasion. I believe that the organisers of today’s occasion are of the convictions that the qualities of excellence displaced by the recipients over time such as integrity, courage, vision, self-discipline, trust, humility and serve to mankind we serve as beacons of hope and challenges to the younger generation that look upon you as role-model.

Finally, my dear distinguished audience let it be known that true leadership must aspire to that solemn declaration of Job in the Holy Book; “Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.” (Job Chapter 27 verse 5). Similarly, for leadership to remain creative and enduring it must feed its mind constantly with the admonition of King David.

“Blessed is the man who walks

not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful,

But his delight is in the law of the Lord;

And in His law he meditate day and night.”

Chapter 1 verse 1-2 

Your Excellencies, my Lords, award recipients, participants, gentlemen of the press, ladies and gentlemen it is my pleasure and privilege to declare the International Leadership Conference taking place at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja, Nigeria, officially opened.

Senator Anyim Pius Anyim

President of the Senate.