2022 Leadership Media Group Annual Conference And Awards Ceremony

  • Share:

Video Transcript





It is a pleasure to be here with you again on yet another occasion of the Leadership Annual Conference and Awards. These awards have by their integrity and consistency in upholding high values, become a major national event for the recognition of deserving local and international persons.

We are greatly honoured today by the presence of our guest speaker — a true icon of African democracy, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, the great Raila Odinga. He comes from a distinguished political family. His father before him was once Vice President of Kenya, and I was telling him what a profound influence his daughter Winnie Odinga, an elected member of the East African Legislative Assembly has been on young people, especially young women interested in politics.

If there is anyone who can comment with authority on the topic anywhere in Africa it is surely Raila Odinga, listening to him, you see that he is really an encyclopedia of sorts in observing elections in Nigeria and elsewhere and in the politics of Africa generally.

He has in the politics of his own country shown unequalled commitment to the electoral process and the rule of law, having run 5 times for the Kenyan Presidency, and each time going through the legal process to contest his loss of the elections. Thank you very much for not such an insightful speech, but for being such an inspiration to politicians in Africa.

The founder of this organization, Sam Nda-Isaiah, my good friend and brother of blessed memory, believed strongly that the role of the media is to serve as the foremost moderator of public discourse and to be an impartial yet impassioned umpire of the grand debates over our country’s future.

His pursuit of a better society saw him engage the Nigerian reality first, as one of the most forthright journalists of his generation and then secondly, to enter the trenches of politics himself and seek the highest elective office in the land.

In both pursuits, Sam retained the essential values of integrity and service that had always driven him. I commend you all at Leadership Media Group for striving to keep his legacy alive and for continuing to follow the trail that he so doggedly blazed during his accomplished life.

The topic has already been extensively considered by our guest speaker. And I have little to add, except to reemphasize that there is hardly any issue of greater significance to the people and the government alike than the economy. The daily struggles for food, shelter and clothing are bigger than any other matter. Certainly, bread and butter trump everything else.

In our democracy where we have today over 200 million people, 90 million of whom require education, jobs and opportunities and all requiring healthcare, infrastructure and social services, the enormity of the challenges is stark.

Democracy, the rule of law, and the election of our governments by free and fair elections are crucial because they are meant to support the primary objective of enabling citizens to live well and have access to well-paying jobs, opportunities, and services. Or in a broad sense to support the growth and stability of the economy and social structure of the nation.

It is evident then that we must carefully curate these safeguards for the well-being of our citizens to ensure that they do not negatively affect the very well-being that they are meant to protect, namely the economy and the social structure of the society.

And this is a delicate task indeed because in every election cycle, the first casualty is the economy, there is a reluctance to invest, and consumers are careful not to spend their savings or be bullish in the stock market sometimes because of the fear of electoral disturbances that might spiral out of control and make business and commerce impossible.

For the more sophisticated economic actors, it makes sense to simply wait until the complexion of the new government is clear. But the prospects for disruption of the economy are even greater where elections for one reason or another, other produce governments that are not credible.

The legitimacy of governments as conferred by the freely given mandate of the electorate is a major consideration for savvy, substantial local or foreign investors. Capital they say is a great coward, running away from the slightest sign of trouble.

Besides, we in Nigeria know from our recent electoral history, have too many examples of electoral violence following electoral outcomes that are widely disputed. This of course usually means the destruction of public and private property, and infrastructure aside from the waste of man hours while the unrest lasts and in its immediate aftermath.

The third test of the credibility of our electoral contests is the integrity of the umpire and the electoral courts. Where the umpire is perceived as unfair, there is potential for trouble. Where the courts are perceived as arbitrary, whimsical or acting in contradiction to established precedents, there is an almost commensurate loss of confidence by the electorate.

The political elite in Nigeria have a duty in the interest of the economic well-being of our citizens and those we claim to represent to ensure that elections and electoral dispute resolution processes are free fair and credible. This is the least we can offer our nations and the continent.

Finally, let me specially congratulate our very deserving awardees today including:

*General Buba Marwa who has led perhaps the most effective and result-oriented fight against drug trafficking in Nigeria and internationally.

*Dr. Benedict Oramah who has shown that our Exim bank in Africa can proactively and creatively provide and target capital to relevant sectors to drive economic change and prosperity not just in Nigeria but across the Continent.

*Tobi Amusan our Commonwealth and world record holder in the 110 meters hurdles for women is also an outstanding awardee today.

I want to specially recognize the women who have been given these awards especially Chantelle Abdul, the Managing Director of Mojec, manufacturers of electric meters and Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank. I mention Fidelity Bank because that’s my bank and I’m extremely proud of the fact they received an award today.

I thank you for attending the awards and what it has shown is what is achievable when we have the right people in the right positions and that is so in the public and private sectors and the result of hard work, diligence and focus in personal and national development.

This year’s awardees are icons of our collective possibilities as a people. There is so much budding talent to nurture to greatness in Nigeria. We must create an environment that permits these talents to bloom into the fullness of their potential and all of these are entirely possible in this great nation of ours.

Finally let me congratulate our ever-gracious host, and chairperson of the Leadership Media Group, a woman who has taken up the mantle of leadership of the group with clarity of vision and great diligence, Mrs Zainab Sam Nda-Isaiah. Thank you very much for your hospitality always and thank you for keeping this alive.

Thank you all very much, God bless you.