THE School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG), founded in 2021 by former Minister of Education Obigeli Ezekwesili, held its first convocation for the Class of 2021, on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at the International Conference Centre (ICC) Abuja.
The school, which tagged the pioneer class as the ‘unconventionals,’ said the graduates were on a mission to transform politics in Africa.
“The SPPG is travelling that abandoned road to build a new set of patriots for political leadership,” the Media Director of SPPG Ozioma Ubabukoh stated.
Keynote speaker at the event and Governor-Elect of Anambra State Chukwuma Soludo noted that fixing politics in Nigeria required new developmental organisations and a new set of disruptive thinkers.
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Speaking on the theme, ‘Emergence of the Unconventionals,’ Soludo charged the graduates to show honesty and knowledge in creating the change that would lead to a new Nigeria.
He said fixing politics required talents and skills. But these would not be enough. It would also not happen by individuals working in silos.
“It requires new developmental organisations – organisations/teams of believers, driven by defined ideology, purpose and character.
“Let’s be clear about one point: Nigeria does not lack a well educated/skilled and widely-travelled stock of human capital to drive its development.
“A key missing link is purpose-driven cohesion and organisation for transformation of the homeland.”
He called for a new liberation movement in Africa and Nigeria to promote the selfless service of political leaders.
Soludo said that the liberation struggle for an independent Africa was driven by a nationalist ideology anchored by a developmental state.
He said, “There is almost a sense of nostalgia, recalling the mission and accomplishments of our founding fathers, especially as we contemplate the world without oil.
“Much of the existing social order is founded on the competition for, and distribution of rents, oil and the easy money that came with it destroyed the social fabric, and the elite created new institutions and political structures to maximise their gains.
“As the noose tightened globally on other rentier/criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking or internet scamming, many of the barons flocked into politics as the next easy alternative.
“Politics has become big business. Appointment or election into public office is seen largely as an opportunity to ‘eat’ rather than a call to selfless service.”
Soludo added that a classic feature of the political environment was that corruption had become part of the ‘culture,’ with little incentive for honesty.
He said that honesty had been scorned as wickedness, foolishness or mere pretence, noting that those who dared to be different had a steep price to pay.
He advised the graduating students to thoroughly fight the ‘rentier’ mentality that had ruined Africa’s growth.
Founder of SPPG Obiageli Ezekwesili lamented the way politics in Africa was run, saying it had slanted the society and hampered its growth and development.
Ezekwesili charged the graduates to embrace leadership skills that would transform society.
“Leaders take the pain so that others can enjoy it. The society must be contested for, and you should pioneer the space for that leadership,” she said.
She said the school would be replicated in six African countries to liberate Africa from extractive colonialism.
Chief Executive Officer of SPPG Alero Ayida-Otobo noted that the institution set a goal of raising 10,000 disruptive thinking, values-based political leaders over the next 10 years.
Pioneer Dean of SPPG Amina Salihu noted that the character of SPPG, as an unconventional school, lied in its multi-disciplinary curriculum designed to equip its graduates with strong analytical and evidence-based, practical public problem-solving skills.
“The school also teaches character, competence, capacity and what inclusive government should look like,” she added.
It is deliberately designed to use its unique and customised curriculum to build a new political leadership genre in Nigeria and Africa.
The graduating set, known as #SPPGPioneerClass2021, were trained on an eight-month world-class multi-disciplinary curriculum.
The school is a product of the #FixPolitics Initiative, which was the output of Ezekwesili’s fellowship at the Robert Bosch Academy in Germany in 2020. The SPPG was founded in January 2021 as one pillar of the tripod of democracy canvassed in her research. The vision and desire to set up the school started in 2019 when leading Nigerian intellectuals were invited by Ezekwesili to Berlin to discuss her research findings and collectively shape how Nigeria and Africa, more broadly, could establish an entirely new political order.
The school has a distinguished local, African and international 94-member faculty made up of academics, experts, and other professionals, many of whom are world-renowned political thinkers, economic experts, industry leaders, scientists, philosophers, and tech gurus with rich profiles, undiluted knowledge and expertise in diverse fields.
These men and women include: Ezekwesili, Pat Utomi, Mark Hallerberg, Celestin Monga, Rosa Whitaker, Andrea Roemmele, Bayo Olukoshi, Jibrin Ibrahim, Okey Ikechukwu, Frank Nweke (Jr), Sam Adeyemi and Dr Clare Lockhart.
Others are: Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Usman Bugaje, Sam Amadi, Doyin Salami, Chido Onumah, Kah Walia, Abubakar Suleiman, Richard Duke, Amina Salihu, Yetunde Anibaba, and Ayida-Otobo among others.