Dear guests and our 2022 fellows gathered today.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the emerging political fellowship program Bootcamp that heralds the intensive activities carried out during the 2022 Fellowship.
All protocols observed with special mention to H.E., the former governor of Cross River state, Senator Liyel Imoke, whose vision is the reason we have all gathered.
I want to congratulate all our fellows who have gone through the first two phases of the fellowship; not an easy feat, but you all aced it and got to the concluding learning process of the program. It is worth not acknowledging that you all went through intensive capacity development, high-level workshops, and training as political leaders.
Our dear country, Nigeria, needs leaders like yourselves to step into the apparent vacuum in our beloved nation. This year alone, we have recorded one of the highest levels of brain drain in decades, from nurses to doctors and now teachers.
According to the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Uche Rowland, while speaking at a symposium in October 2022, he was widely quoted as saying within the last eight years, 5,600 Nigerian doctors migrated to the United Kingdom alone in the previous eight years.
In April of 2019, while reporting for Aljazeera, I wrote a story about our medical brain drain; since then, I have not only joined, but the overall number has quadrupled.
A Nation requires a mix of 23 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 population to deliver essential health services; according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the number of migrants, we are in trouble as a nation.
All these people, including myself, who are out of our country, are the asset we need to build a greater nation.
As a migrant, I cannot wait to return home because Nigeria is all I have. Nigeria is all we have as a collective; no matter where you go, you will always be Nigerian The future of our nation is in your/our hands, and we will have to fight for that future. The lessons learnt during this six-month-long program will see you through. Like every other nation, the Nigerian situation is not beyond redemption; perhaps that is the idea that informed this gathering.
I have interacted with all of you, and I am hopeful for what’s ahead. But I must ask you to brace up for the challenges. It will be challenging. as a matter of fact, it will be painstakingly challenging to see the nation we want.
Still, with your commitment, we will achieve a great nation; the number of fellows we have gathered here forms the critical mass we need for that nation.
I urge you to commit to serving and leading with honesty and integrity within the various spaces of influence you find yourself, not just politics, and to think Nigeria first – Beyond Political, ethnic, or tribal affiliations.
You have to believe in our nation for this work to be done; let no one tell you otherwise, our country is excellent, and our people are the most diligent and hard performing.
What we now have in you is the leadership our nation deserves. You will slam the breaks on the mass exit of our people who are not only giving up but are no longer optimistic about where we are headed. You will inspire hope again; you will excite a generation again.
Our nation needs her people willing to commit to ensuring justice, equity, and inclusion, forged through political will and strategic partnerships across sectors from the six geo-political groups.
And in this gathering, I see the representation of the 25 of you here, and I can also see the enthusiasm needed with the commitments you all have put into this fellowship, which is enough.
“Hope is not a strategy”, but this is one I am willing to bet on and hold on to because we can get the nation of our dreams and the work starts now.
I am confident in your abilities to rev the engines for the needed reforms in our communities, spaces, and various offices in our time and our children coming after.
I cannot end this remark without acknowledging the efforts of those who continue to work behind the scenes at the Bridge Leadership Foundation, the hardworking staff who have worked tirelessly to raise a generation of transformational leaders.
I say, Thank you.
To the emerging political leader’s fellows, congratulations and see you on the other side.
Chair, Technical Advisory Council of the Emerging Political Leaders Fellowship.