Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Freedom Richard Bassey from Cross River State. I am a Lawyer, a Community Organizer, a Certified Project Manager, and a Human Resources Person. I have contested and held several leadership positions as a student including: Secretary General Student Union Government University of Jos, Member representing University of Jos Law Student at Nigerian Law School, Secretary General NYSC Legal Aid Council Kano State, Coordinator Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria at Nigerian Law School, etc.
I have received several awards of excellence including NYSC Legal Aid Council Corper of the Year Award in 2017. I am a Member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Magistrates Association of Nigeria and an Ambassador of CYPA Africa.
How did you find out about the Emerging Political Leaders Fellowship?
I found out about the Fellowship on Facebook.
Give a synopsis of your experience before you joined the fellowship.
I was at the stage of not knowing exactly what next steps to take going forward, owing to a lot of internal and external pressures. Internally, there were a lot of questions on my mind that I could not answer as regards my leadership journey…questions like, is this where I am going to end? And even though I knew inside me that where I am now is not where I am going to end. However, I didn’t know the right person to talk to and the next steps to take. While all these were going on inside of me, I was also facing a lot of external pressures from my job.
Why did you apply for the Emerging Political Leaders Fellowship?
I needed to know exactly who to talk to, what to do, how to do it, what next right steps to take going forward in my leadership journey, and I needed guidance and help in that regard.
What interests you most about being a part of the fellowship?
For me I’ll say, being privileged to hear directly from well-experienced people from different fields and backgrounds share their stories and advice on the challenges they faced and how they overcame them. Also, getting to meet and speak with people that I would perhaps never get to meet on my own or that would have taken me a very long time to meet them. Also, the exposure of me being a Panelist on Green Circle Discussions on Twitter, Instagram and me being on TBLF LAP Radio Talk Show etc.
Briefly share with us some of your best moments during the fellowship so far?
I’d say getting to hear advice directly from well-experienced people from different walks of life on different leadership issues. The opportunity to ask questions from past and present leaders across industries on their leadership journey, makes it an interesting moment for me. Also, the exposure of being on Radio Programmes courtesy of The Bridge Leadership Foundation.
How has this fellowship impacted you so far?
Hmmm..there’s not enough space for me to say it all here. The various sessions so far has altered my perspective and values in a very positive way. It has further strengthened the sense of hope and possibilities that I felt for my Country and myself, which I had almost lost before joining the Fellowship. Also, the noble ideas shared so far have helped me to crawl out of my youthful prejudice, and I am able to develop more self-esteem, self-respect, self-awareness and self-consciousness. My contact with The Bridge Leadership Foundation has opened me up to the divergent fundamental contradictions of leadership dynamics of Nigeria and Africa. Interestingly, my resolve, creativity, determination and commitment to my leadership journey had been fortified by the information, tactics, practical exposure, commonsense and noble ideas provided or given to us by this foundation.
What are some of the achievements you’ve had during the fellowship?
I started talking to almost everyone who cares to listen about getting involved in the political process of the day and other civic engagement activities.
I have mobilized community youths with NYSC members for Civic Education and activities in my environs.
I am more aware of what is going on in my environment now than before.
I know how to manage people more than before.
To what extent would you say the fellowship programme is changing your perception about political leadership in Nigeria?
For me, political leadership has been demystified and simplified in my mind, things are clearer and going into political leadership and succeeding now looks very possible.
What will you do differently if given a chance to serve your country?
I will make decisions based on available data, facts and statistics not based on emotions.
I will do more consultations before decisions are made. I will be humble and will lead with empathy. I will achieve or succeed through people by delegating certain tasks to people with proven intelligence, experience and expertise in some designated areas. I will follow due process as laid down by the rules and regulations. I will not only be a reactive leader but a proactive leader as well as execute immediate and short-term solutions, and future or long-term solutions etc.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I see myself more involved at the state level affairs or at the federal level. (Attorney General or Chairman Law Reform Commission of the State or Federal High Court Judge or House of Representatives Member).
Would you recommend this fellowship to others? Why?
Yes. I am doing so already, because what most young people need is mentorship, guidance, information, exposure and support that this fellowship is offering.
What will be your advice to young people aspiring to be in politics?
To every aspiring young person, your dreams are valid, possible and achievable. But you need to have a clear vision, strategy and you must be well prepared. You must be humble, work hard, resilient, committed and must prepare yourself for whatever the outcome might be.