Meditation and Reflection Fellowship:
The Role of a Christian Citizen in a Corrupt Society
March 23, 2002
The first in the series of Meditation and Reflection Fellowship was held at the International Conference Centre of the Africa Leadership Forum, Ota on Saturday, the 23rd of March 2002. The theme of the Fellowship was: The Role of a Christian Citizen in a Corrupt Society. The retreat was facilitated by Dr. Wilson Badejo, at the instance of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was also chairman of the proceedings of the main sessions. The august gathering was informed by burning presidential desire to explore effective avenues in the crusade against the cankerworm of corruption that has bitten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian nation.
The one-day retreat was attended by an array of distinguished personalities from the Christian fold, the government and few Moslems. The rationality for the presence of only seven Moslems in the gathering of 37 invited participants was informed by the fact that a second leg of the same fellowship and interaction session will be held in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, which is expected to be attended by majority of Moslems and a few Christians, with the President in attendance “if invited”.
The Retreat was declared open by the chief organizer, Dr. Badejo. While welcoming to the participants to a productive cross fertilization of ideas, targeted at propelling the nation forward in appreciable strides the fight against the prevalent decadence, Dr. Badejo noted that the discussions would be held under a more conducive and result-yielding atmosphere of informality. He emphasized that it was the President’s expressed desire that the interactive retreat be held in an atmosphere that is devoid of the stilt of formality. In line with this, the participants were each given the opportunity to introduce themselves.
In his opening remarks to the conference, His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria re-emphasised the centrality of informality to the trashing of the issues on hand. He noted that the central pre-occupation of the Retreat is to empanel people who can meditate and reflect on the issue on hand irrespective of the background. He stressed that the differential background should be brought to bear with a view to exhaustively treating the topic of deliberation.
Delving into the origin of the idea behind the Retreat the President informed the participants that the team of the discussion was “What is the Role of a Christian in a Corrupt and Decadent Society? In other words, what should be the role, the challenge and the responsibility of a practical Christian in a corrupt society?
The President told the participants that the idea of having a group of persons cross-fertilize ideas of the nagging bane of corruption in Nigeria emanated from an inward reflection of what could be done to put the menace in checks. According to him, the resolve to hold this retreat dates back to his days in prison. Even though he had a strong commitment and felt strongly about this, he could barely do something about it before the quest to serve the country took him to the pinnacle position of governmental responsibilities. Yet the idea did not die, just like the sickness it was meant to tackle. He had mentioned it to Dr. Badejo, who saw the need to resurrect it at a time the crusade against the pillars of corruption are most expected to gather momentum.
It was the President’s view that the fellowship was fired by the need to share experiences, ideas, inspirations, with the overall target of seeing what can be achieved; what difference there is to make, and what difference can be made on the topical issue of corruption. The President added that the seeming religious dimension to the war against decadence in the society is critical going by the fact that most of the people who commit heinous crimes in Nigeria are either Christians or Muslims – Two dominant religions in Nigeria whose tenets condemn corruption.
The Retreat further witnessed presentation notes meant to steer the discussion, from Dr. Christopher Kolade, the Honourable High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He posited that decadence; “a process of decay” is known to inflict deep injuries on the system of ethics of society before people’s consciousness about it. He pointed out that in the early 20th century, Nigeria’s image in the international arena was that was of a hospitable and friendly people. However, a despicable snag of corruption that is now being identified with Nigeria especially in the international community has overtaken that laudable reputation.
The industrialist pointed out that the drop in standard today’s Nigeria is directly compounded and attributable to the premature retrenchment of the older-generation of Nigerians from decision-making positions. The effect of this, according to him, is that “succeeding generations acquiesce in values and standards that are lower than previous ones, especially if they did not experience such values and standards at first hand”. To him the advent of democracy does not proffer automatic, ready-made solutions to the problem of corruption; what must be noted is that the fall in standard is mostly caused by the fact that people are not alert, vigilant, to guide against the natural tendency for standards to drop. Dr. Kolade added that on this issue, two crucial factors are essential – the fear of, and love for God; and the Biblical concept on loving one’s neighbour as yourself. He added the Nigeria and Nigerians have declined from the fear of God, and until we restore ourselves to God, the problem of corruption will be irredeemable.
He called on the conference to critically examine four causes and manifestations of corruption - a distorted perception of responsibility on the part of the leaders who lay undue emphasis on power and privilege to the exclusion of performance and accountability; a demonstrated indifference to sustaining high quality of human development which provides the explanation for people in offices whose challenges are beyond their abilities. In addition, to his comment that there is a pervading loss of self-esteem which makes it possible for the individual descend to perpetrating despicable acts; he called attention to drastic reduction in the productive influence of religious institutions, professional institutes and associations, the organized private sector – custodians of roles and standards of the society.
The participants devoted sometime to treating the topic, “What is Practical Christianity”. Reflecting on this, the participants pointed out that being a Christian goes beyond being religious – being baptized, taking Holy Communion or having a Christian identity. They were unanimous in their submission that to be a practical Christian, there has to be an encounter with God.
The participants again contended that practical Christianity goes beyond an event; it has a beginning, a point of entry. Yet complementing this encounter is the fact that it is a process. They argued that the originality of the encounter is what follows after the event; the living that follows in accordance with the Biblical scriptures that “by their fruits we shall know them.” They noted that that entry point must be the introduction of a period of change in the life of the practical Christian; which must be continuous, and consistent; a lived process.
The fellowship argued that a true Christian is the person whose focus is the Lord Jesus Christ. Practical Christianity is an imitation of Christ; an acceptance of his exemplary life style; following his examples in virtually everything the person does, be it in the office, family, dealings with people; even though it could be a difficult process.
However, in spite of this instructive x-ray of true, practical Christianity, the participants found it germane to ask some pertinent questions: Must one necessarily have an encounter to become a practical Christian? What about understanding the teachings of the Bible? Must an encounter necessarily be the basis of one’s Christian life? After a productive cross-fertilization of ideas, the participants agreed that an encounter takes different forms, but it is of core importance to practical Christianity for one to have an encounter. Such an encounter doesn’t have to be necessarily dramatic, it could emanate from reading the Bible or having a relationship. This encounter must again be seen from the perspective of practical Christianity.
Some of the participants contended that, in addition to all these, practical Christianity must be accompanied by a manifest compassion; emulating exemplary Christian personalities, like the case of the good Samaritan in the Bible, all which would impact on the issue of corruption. Furthermore, the fellowship emphasized the critical importance of open acclamation in practical Christianity. According to them open acclamation serves as the parapet of sustenance to one’s Christian faith
The Africa Women Forum (AWF)
3rd – 5th February, 2002
The overwhelming success of the 4th Africa Women’s Forum took root from its precursor. Held at the Secretariat of the Africa Leadership Forum, Ota, Nigeria between 3rd – 5th February, 2002, the conference was a joint initiative of the Africa Leadership Forum and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) drew an array of distinguished women, among whom were ministers, women in strategic positions in the civil society organisations, the international organisations, across Africa, Europe and North America.
The conference was declared opened by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who was represented by the minister of Aviation, H.E. Dr. Kema Chikwe, Honourable Minister for Aviation in Nigeria. The chairmanship of the President of the Constitutional Court of the Benin Republic, Prof. Conceptua Ouinosu was chairperson.
To put the New Partnership initiative on the right footing, the ALF saw an obvious need to involve African women by convening, deliberating and synergizing on the issue of NEPAD. Some of the important issues that were at the conference addressed included the following:
• What is the overall strategic interest of African women in the NEPAD?
• How can we ensure that African women effectively participate in NEPAD activities and make significant contributions towards programmes development, project selection and implementation?
• How can we ensure effective and strategic representation of African women on various Regional Committees and Special Task Teams working on NEPAD such that issues affecting women are considerably reflected in the various outputs of these committees
• What strategic framework should African women adopt in responding to opportunities and challenges embedded in the NEPAD initiative?
• What plans of action should we put in place to create a broad based awareness among African women on the importance, relevance and opportunities within the NEPAD?
• How can a network of African women that is capable of facilitating strategic planning and implementation be established and what will be the framework for effective interface between and among African women?
• How can the various government and sub-regional Economic Communities be ensured that women play a significant role in development and implementation of NEPAD programmes (e.g. Health, Youth, Governance, Economics, Conflict Prevention)
• Which priority projects can be identified and what development framework is required to facilitate their implementation?
• What mechanism can African governments use to monitor and evaluate the situation and progress in the continent regarding security, stability, development and cooperation and which role can women play in this process?
• How can African women play a pro-active instead of re-active role in policydevelopment and implementation on a continental level?
Conclusions of the Conference:
At the end of the three-day conference, the participants made the following recommendation to the NEPAD document which they consider pertinent to the realization of the ideals that inspired the advent of the initiative.
1. The conference reviewed the main NEPAD Document as adopted by the NEPAD Steering Committee Meeting in October2001 and commended and saluted the efforts, the foresight and the vision of African leaders behind the NEPAD initiative.
2. Participants saw in the NEPAD initiative a further affirmation of an emerging responsive leadership that is aware and cognizant of its responsibility to its people and the continent. This was hailed as positive development and a major departure from the previous trend of sub serving and pursuing developmental agenda designed, managed and led by non-Africans. The conference observed that this positive trend development must be supported, encouraged and made to become the defining hallmark of African development in the years ahead.
3. The conference therefore called on African women in particular and the African civil society in general, to provide the required popular support, which will be critical in ensuring the success of the NEPAD initiative. African political leaders were also enjoined to seek ways and means of ensuring that NEPAD becomes a people based, people focused and people driven initiative.
4. Conceptually, there is a major gender gap in NEPAD, as it does not give enough attention to gender-related issues. Noting that the contribution of African women to sustainability and stability is crucial, participants therefore urged the NEPAD Implementation and The Steering Committees to initiate processes to address positively this major omission.
5. That NEPAD Implementation and the Steering Committees should also endeavour to undertake as urgently as possible a needs assessment of all vulnerable groups such as women, youth, children, the poor and the disabled and incorporate same in project identification, selection and execution. Participants also saw the need for the document to contain more comprehensive and thorough going strategies with clear indicators for measuring progress towards the mitigation of corruption and all forms of administrative and financial malfeasance which has continued to undermine development efforts in Africa.
6. Participants urged the Chairman of the NEPAD Implementation Committee to consult urgently with his colleagues with a view to creating an interface mechanism for effective participation and representation of civil society organization especially those of women, in the task teams and other strategic committees of NEPAD;
7. That the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) should develop a follow-up mechanism that will create an effective framework for continuous interaction with the Chairman of the NEPAD Implementation Committee. Such a mechanism should include facilitation of high level experts consultative meetings, formulation of country level strategy document and participation of women and CSOs in development partners meetings and other national and regional meetings of NEPAD.
8. That Africa Leadership Forum should ensure that the recommendations and suggestions adopted at the Regional Conference is effectively disseminated through advocacy and contacts with political leaders. This, the conference noted, is one of the ways by which NEPAD can truly become a true African programme, accepted and owned by African people. Furthermore it was suggested that NEPAD should be discussed and endorsed by parliaments in each of the African Countries. ALF was therefore mandated to explore the possibility and modalities of making this a reality through the engagement and consultation with African Parliamentarians;
9. That a mechanism for all stakeholders’ meeting and analysis should be created such that all the missing links and gaps especially those effecting women identified at this conference can be brought into proper focus in the implementation of NEPAD programs. ALF was mandated to facilitate this process by mobilising required resource.
10. The participants recognized the need for the formation of women network both at the regional and international levels that will promote and facilitate the incorporation of interest of women in NEPAD.
11. Participants enjoined the ALF Secretariat to forge a closer working relationship with the NEPAD Secretariat. ALF was also requested to provide requisite technical backstopping as may be required in implementing the recommendations of the conference.
12. The conference recommended that conscious efforts should be made to incorporate all documents that have contributed positively in the various aspects of the African’s existence into NEPAD. In other words, the NEPAD document should be made a compilation of all the major, beneficial policies of government.
13. The Conference further recommended that a mechanism of evaluation that would be structured towards eliciting a response of accountable, effective leadership from our political leaders be established. The conference contended that for the NEPAD project to be truly fulfilled, it must make adequate provision for the establishment of capacity building projects for the women, without which its smooth realisation would run into hitches.
14. The conference decided that now is the time for the women to exhibit more consciousness in the politics of their respective countries. They enjoined the women to be more critical politically; ask follow-up questions when manifestos are tossed at the society without the accompanying sincerity for their implementation.
15. The participants advised that an all-women movement be initiated to challenge the politicians to imbue in them the imperative of strict adherence to the ethos of governance.
16. The conference emphasized the need for women to be involved in decision making at all stages. This, they argued, will enable government to focus on the economic empowerment of the illiterate women who are oppressed in every aspect of life.
African Parliamentarians Meeting
18 – 20 April, 2002
The Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) organised a three day Regional Conference for African Parliamentarians on Recent Strategic Development Initiatives in Africa. The conference was held at M Plaza Hotel, Accra, Ghana from 18 – 20 April, 2002. It had in attendance a cross section of parliamentarians from 25 African countries. They were joined by other distinguished and accomplished men and women from business, the organised civil society, and the professions, international organisations, from countries across the African continent as well as Europe and North America.
The conference was convened to discuss the three most recent strategic development initiatives in Africa: the African Union (AU), the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) with a view to creating broad based awareness among African parliamentarians as well as mobilizing them for effective participation in the implementation of the initiatives.
The main objectives of the three – day conference were
- To establish an African network of parliamentarians that would help in advancing the CSSDCA, NEPAD and the AU as a collective;
- To create broad based awareness among key
- African parliamentarians on the importance and relevance of the three initiatives;
- To facilitate and strengthen the capacity of the African parliamentarians with a view to developing strategies and modalities for influencing policies and decisions of various African governments to reflect the CSSDCA, NEPAD and the AU in national legislations of individual African countries.
- To serve as a platform for discussing and finding lasting solutions to various African problems especially in the areas of conflict prevention and resolution as well as governance and economic development and cooperation
The conference was declared open by His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, through an address read on his behalf by Honourable Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu. Dr. Abdoulie Janneh, the UN Assistant Secretary General & Director, Africa Bureau, UNDP, delivered the Keynote Address. H.E. Dr. John Malacela, former Prime Minister of Tanzania and member of the Council of Conveners of ALF chaired the opening session. The conference also benefited from instructive presentations by the OAU Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ambassador Said Djinnit, and Prof. Wiseman Nkulu chair of the NEPAD Secretariat.
Participants commended the Africa Leadership Forum for taking the initiative of convening this conference and for seeking to familiarise African parliamentarians with important developmental initiatives and frameworks. Participants also requested the Forum to convey its gratitude and appreciation to the funding organisations.
The conference reviewed three initiatives, which were presented in various papers delivered during the conference as well pertinent official documents, by the Organisation of African Unity. The three initiatives are: the Solemn Declaration on a Conference on Security, Stability, Cooperation and Development in Africa (CSSDCA), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU). The conference saluted the courage, efforts, the foresight and the vision of African leaders for launching these initiatives.
Participants were of the opinion that the three initiatives are bold attempts by African leaders to reverse the downward trend in the development profile of Africa. They commended the fact that these initiatives are different from previous efforts in that they are enjoying enormous commitment and political support from leaders of African countries. The conference considers it critical that Africa’s development agenda is designed, managed and led by Africans. The participants pledged their assistance and support in ensuring the overall success of the initiatives and are willing to cooperate with other stakeholders especially, the civil society including women’s organisations, the indigenous private sector operators and the African Parliamentarian Union in the quest to advance peace, stability and development in Africa.
The conference noted with regret the low level of awareness of these initiatives among parliamentarians as well as the general public in virtually all countries.
The participants underlined that broad based ownership and embrace of these initiatives is indispensable for its success and implementation. Participants called on the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF)) to make necessary strategic alliances to help reverse this trend through a process of awareness-raising, capacity building, training and Parliamentary Exchange programmes Towards this end, the conference called on African parliaments to initiate processes at regional and national levels through various activities and consultative meetings that will promote effective implementation of these initiatives and seek ways of popularising them within their constituencies.
Parliamentarians, as democratically elected representatives of the people, and guarantors of good governance are well placed to take the lead in galvanising the creative energies of civil society. Through their legislative powers they can translate these initiatives into concrete action. Doing this will enable the African leaders to make these initiatives truly people driven and people focused initiatives. The participants therefore called on members of the NEPAD Steering Committee in particular to allow presence and participation of African parliamentarians in their proceedings.
Parliamentarians are elected representatives of the people. They guarantee democracy and democratic practices and translate popular aspirations, hopes and demands into reality and practical policies. They ensure good governance, accountability and transparent practices at all levels of legislative activities and provide the mechanisms for oversight and accountability of the governments including that of the peer review. Accordingly, a greater collaboration between the legislative and the executive branches of government is essential.
In order to create an effective participatory framework for the involvement of African parliamentarians in the recent or future strategic development initiatives in Africa, the participants made the following recommendations:
To broaden awareness and knowledge about the evolution, aims, objectives and mechanisms of the three initiatives at hand, the OAU/AU, the Africa Leadership Forum and the NEPAD Secretariat should urgently device and undertake information programmes to popularise the recent strategic development initiatives among African parliamentarians and political parties. This will enable the parliamentarians seek to include objectives and commitments from such strategic initiatives in their respective party, programmes, manifesto or platforms.
To develop a network of African parliamentarians focusing on the new initiatives as a vehicle of exchanging information and holding regular debates in order to sustain their continuous involvement and contribution to the evolution and implementation of these new initiatives.
To expand participation and representation of the civil society organisations in the steering committee of NEPAD and the ongoing discussions of the CSSDCA process. In this regard, modalities for participation of parliamentarians in all meetings preceding the final adoption of CSSDCA as well as the G8 meeting in Ottawa, Canada must be worked out.
National Women Peace Group (NAWOPEG)
The Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) under the aegis of the Africa Women’s Forum (AWF) had for long concerned itself with the need to strengthen the capacity of women in conflict management and peace building. This culminated in the successful organisation of a high level meeting of African women in Tunis, Tunisia in January, 2001.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria) Limited within the framework of its Community Development Programmes has also established a track record of constructive engagement with Nigerian women in the areas of conflict resolution and peace building. It was thus logical that the two organisations sought to synergise with a view to facilitating the creation of a network of Nigerian women in the area of peace building and conflict resolution.
After initial consultations, it was agreed that two Experts Consultative Meetings be convened essentially to review the roles and contributions of Nigerian women in Conflict Management with the additional responsibility of mapping out action plans, with the overall target of mobilisation and greater involvement of women in peace building in Nigeria, from 21-22 November, 2001, and 9-10 January, 2002, respectively.
Subsequently, the Africa Leadership Forum and the Shell Petroleum Development Company organised the National Women Peace Congress at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja-Nigeria. A major outcome of the congress was the inauguration of a National Women Peace Group (NAWOPEG), and the organisation of a 4 – day intensive training programme on ‘Conflict Transformation Skills’ for a corps of women mediators, peace builders, and conflict managers drawn from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
In attendance at the congress were over two hundred select participants, (mostly females) from a cross-section of the various networks of the political class, the organised private sector, professional bodies, civil society organisations and religious institutions across the country.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Following the extensive debate on the issues of conflict management, conflict transformation, women’s role and the need for more pragmatic approaches to these issues participants came up with the underlisted positions:
1. Socially and economically, and recommended that prompt attention should be given to the increased participation of women in public affairs, particularly, at the top level of decision-making. They therefore called on all stakeholders to be effectively involved in the education of women and the initiation of capacity building programmes that could breed a sense of self-esteem in women.
2. The participants agreed that the government should implement all intergovernmental instruments, convention and charters to which they are signatories and apply affirmative action through the effective execution of quota conditionality for the appointment and nomination of women into public positions. In consonance with this, the conference recommended further that women should display demonstrable competence and expertise whenever they are accorded the opportunity to occupy challenging positions.
3. The group pointed out that there is an unacceptable degree of imbalance in gender representation in all facets of our national life. It, therefore, recommended that a legal framework be put in place to address the observed imbalance. Participants proceeded to call for the encouragement of gender mainstreaming in education and all training programmes in order to put the girl-child on the same platform with her male counterpart. Some of the plausible ways suggested for realising this, according to them are the enactment of legislation against early marriages (considered inimical to the development of the girl child) and the introduction of free education for the girl-child throughout Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa.
4. The conference made a critical analysis of religion, particularly the detrimental religious content of development and agreed that religious conflicts emanate due to the misinterpretation of religious codes, doctrines and teachings on one hand, and religious bigotry, fanaticism and intolerance on the other hand, which quite often ignite mob action, and cause avoidable loss of human and material resources. It was thus recommended that, to checkmate the menace of religious violence, there should be restraint in thoughts and actions of religious leaders. To the participants, mutual respect for each other’s faith and beliefs coupled with the crucial need for moderation, on the part of the preachers should form the hallmark of redressing this ugly trend. Furthermore, they called on leaders to eschew inciting and inflammatory statements when commenting on issues of common concern – communally and nationally. Participants also recommended the establishment of an active interactive forum for leaders of the various religions as a way of fostering greater co-existence and understanding.
5. The conference noted with concern the devastating impact of corruption, waste and mismanagement and their incontestable contribution to the aggravation of the poverty situation and the escalation of conflicts in the country. To effectively put these in check, the participants recommended the enactment of laws to sanction corrupt public officers even after their exit from such offices, They also called for the removal of immunity from prosecution of public officers accused of corrupt practices, irrespective of the office they may be occupying.
6. While recommending the re-appraisal of our value system, the conference demanded a review of the school curriculum to include moral instructions, the commencement of a vigorous anti-corruption campaign and the discouragement of money -politics.
7. The conference considered the pertinence of positive change and how it can be managed. While acknowledging that the most cost-efficient method is conflict prevention, they stressed that it is always better to prevent the outbreak and escalation of hostilities. To actualise this, they called for the establishment of a constructive and healthy way of addressing potentially volatile issues before their degeneration into conflict situations.
8. They further recommended that crisis-prone communities be assisted to develop more mature and sensitive ways of handling age-long feuds and primordial mindset.
9. The conference also called on the various stakeholders: the government, community leaders, youth leaders, companies and their host communities, religious bodies, etc., to accord priority attention to the issues of creating and developing a conducive environment for the restoration of mutual trust and peace in the society.
10. Still on conflict resolution, the participants demanded that programmes and structures be put in place for the resolution of conflicts, which should, of necessity, be constantly monitored, evaluated and reviewed.
11. The participants, among others, recommended that women should engage in actual participation in the creation of awareness and the sensitisation of their communities concerning the challenges ahead.
12. It was further recommended that it is critical for women to adopt a domestic approach that places priority on subtlety and persuasion, in their resolution of conflicts. Women were also enjoined to demonstrate effective parental skills with the overall target of developing the values of tolerance, hard work and discipline.
13. The participants examined the usefulness of the media to the promotion of the ruling objectives of peace building in Nigeria, and recommended that NAWOPEG should accordingly enlist the support of journalists in the peace campaign through the vantage platform of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ).
14. In addition to recommending the inauguration of an award for the best correspondent/reporter on peace, the conference called for the provision of training opportunities for media practitioners on the critical centrality of accurate, unbiased and balanced presentation of facts.
15. The Conference also recommended that the theatre, music and other genres of the arts be effectively exploited to enhance the promotion of the culture of peace.
16. The conference addressed the importance of considering the manner of relationship that should exist between government and women groups. In line with this, the participants recommended the identification of women groups as partners with government rather than as a threat or opposition to government. The participants therefore averred that it is critical to depoliticise the various women organisations in order to maintain objectivity and impartiality. While calling on the government to create a development fund, easily accessible to NGOs in the areas of peace, they advised that the women should be involved in effective lobbying aimed at
influencing government policies and programmes. They also urged them to play advisory roles to the government.
17. Women were enjoined to create a mandate at the end of this congress to enable the various ministries of Women Affairs to link up with multinational agencies and philanthropic organizations; solicit the support of leaders in charge of revenue mobilization and budget; and ensuring that a body of select stakeholders manage the resources so mobilised.
18. The organisers of this congress were advised to approach the Presidency for direct budgetary allocation in order to put the peace movement in a vantage pedestal for the dreams, which culminated in the organisation of the conference to be actualised.
19. The conference called for the facilitation of a review of the school syllabus to ensure the incorporation of conflict and peace in the school curriculum; the periodic organisation of seminars, workshops, enlightenment campaign at all levels and building of the capacity of civil society and professional bodies to tackle the problems of conflict and its management
Improving Service Delivery
The Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) in collaboration with the Friederich Naumann Foundation organised a three day workshop on Improving Service Delivery to inculcate in participants the requisite skills which will enable them function in the mould of a Citizens-Action-Group that can and will engage elected officials in local governments in ensuring a transparent, accountable, and open system of government.
In attendance were several Nigerians over 150 persons from all the geographical zones, representing community based organisations, traditional rulers, head teachers, journalists and civil servants.
Issues trashed at the workshop include:
1. Promote the concept of transparency, accountability and openness in local government process;
2. Provide community leaders with necessary skills with which to demand and secure accountability from local government officials;
3. Increase stakeholder involvement in governance process;
4. Empower civil society members to demand and secure effective participation in governance;
5. Create the basis of enthroning a culture of popular participation in governance.
Specifically participants were largely drawn from a pool of opinion leaders, proven leaders within civil society organisations, community association leaders, local priests, school headmasters and chairpersons of pressure groups, the academia and research institutions, accomplished businessmen as well as traditional rulers or their representatives.
The evaluation done of the workshop by the participants through the questionnaires administered indicates that the programme is as a response to a dire need among this level of government officers, many of who had gone into the office totally at a loss as to how to embark on their task. This was confirmed by a Need Assessment Questionnaires administered at the workshop asking the participants to state what particular area of their work or what particular difficult challenge they will like the ALF to assist them in resolving as a follow up activities. The results show that all of them have some difficult problems requiring some technical and professional assistance particularly in the areas of conflict resolution and advocacy. Many of the participants also proposed that the programme be replicated in their various constituencies to make the effect more enduring and comprehensive. Many have even indicated their willingness to sponsor a part of the cost for running such programmes.
Ethics & Professionalism
The Africa Leadership Forum, in collaboration with the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and active support of several professional and regulatory bodies in the country, convened at Otta, Ogun State, a workshop on ethics and professionalism from Wednesday, 11th September, 2002 to Saturday, 14th September, 2002.
The theme of the three-day workshop was The Role of Professionals in Nation Building: the Issue of Ethics and the Consequences of Failure. The Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN formally opened the workshop. The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN represented by the state’s Solicitor General, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey delivered the keynote address. The President and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Mr. Sunday Aloba read a Welcome Address on behalf of the organisers of the workshop.
In attendance at the meeting were over seventy participants drawn from the core professional class in the country. They represented a cross-section of the various networks of distinguished professional women and men from, corporate bodies, government agencies and institutions; the organised private sector; chamber of commerce and industry; trade union leaders; employers’ associations, professional bodies; civil society organisations and other interest
The workshop was informed by the current democratic dispensation and changing socio-economic environment which invariably demand technically competent and ethically grounded professionals capable of aiding good governance through scrupulous adherence to the highest standards and ideals of ethical and professional conduct. Unfortunately, there is a discernible and
palpable decline in professionalism and ethical conduct among professionals in Nigeria today.
Although there exist institutional frameworks designed to address these challenges, the continuous decline in ethical and professional standards suggests that the cause of the problem might be deeper.
This workshop was, therefore essentially served as a response mechanism to the challenges of ethics and professionalism. The workshop was designed to among other things offer the opportunity to call to action professionals, and leaders of thought to reflect on the current situation with a view to adopting a rapid response mechanism for addressing decisively our current, socio-economic and moral flight and move on to the part of rectitude.
The basic objectives of the workshop include:
1. To re-assess the role of professionals in nation building and the challenges of the 21st century;
2. To promote interaction amongst professionals, especially, professionals with a track record of integrity, professional competence and success;
3. To provide an opportunity for interaction and reflection with practitioners in various fields and in other lands;
4. To deepen and widen the practical aspect of participants training on their professional lives towards promoting the creation of an ethical society;
5. To create a framework and strategies for effective response to the newer emerging political challenges which must recognise the need for closer linkage between the requirements of economic development and the objective demands for professional ethics in the code of conduct of various institutions and establishments;
6. Generate possible recommendations and practical suggestions on stemming fraudulent practices.
I See Hope
Nigeria’s national Independence Day had one unique stance in the year under review. It was a day of sober reflection on how well the nation and the citizenry have fared. Auspicious it also was for the public presentation of the Hope project. That programme was the only event for the National Day celebration.
I See Hope both as concept and as a project is aimed towards creating greater understanding among the citizens (young and Old) of Nigeria’s current development constraint and increase awareness of responsibilities in creating a better Nigeria through rigorous enlightenment campaign that mobilises people to take positive action.
It is aimed at promoting universally accepted core values and principles of social cohesion among the general populace and with specific focus on the children and the youth in whom the future of Nigeria is enwombed, through civic education.
The Project also aims to draw attention to the issue of collapsing social norms and standards which are fundamentally significant in the development and maintenance of any and all societal statute that are the source of regulation and the strength of identity for societies the world over and with the overall aim of rejuvenating public spiritedness and communal discipline.
Apart from realigning social cohesion towards ensuring an open and liberal society that would accommodate an enhanced and qualitative expansion the core objectives include:
• Articulating vision of hope and transform same into citizen re-orientation document, to be known and referred to as the Hope texts.
• Publish on behalf of the President, the Hope texts, interactive CD and Audio tapes and T Shirts.
• Develop and implement strategies for effective distribution of the Hope texts across Nigeria;
• Mobilise the citizens especially the Youth into a National Movement:
Vanguards of Hope; and
• Conduct a periodic review and monitoring of the project Strategy
The basic aim of the distribution is to ensure a widespread distribution of the children and youth texts to a wide number of the non-voting public. The idea is also to target school children as they, essentially are the future. Committee is optimistic that the interest generated from among this target audience will also promote the interest of the adults and will generate the grounds for the distribution for the adult texts.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) designed supervisory mechanism and the Vanguards of Hope is expected to take over the monitoring and supervisory aspect of the operationalisation process. The ALF and the Vanguard of Hope will conduct evaluation periodically through a well-structured evaluation mechanism to assess programme content, resource input and beneficiary output.