Thirty Nigerians under age 35 from diverse backgrounds have been selected as pioneer set of fellows that will undergo a one-year practical training at the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy.
This followed the formal launch of the leadership programme in Lagos on Saturday by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The intake of the first cohorts ended the rigorous process of selection of participants out of the 3,313 applications received across the country.
The Governor inaugurated the inaugural set at a ceremony held at Lagos Continental Hotel on Victoria Island.
The event was attended by immediate family members and associates of the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, after whom the academy was named.
The fellows will be spending the next one year working full-time in the Lagos State Public Service, learning first-hand leadership skills as Governor’s designated Special Assistants in Ministries, Departments and Agencies to which they are seconded.
In course of their training, the cohorts would shadow the State Executive Council members and top senior government officials, assigning various tasks and responsibilities, ranging from policy design and implementation to monitoring and evaluation.
The leadership academy was designed to offer life-changing, non-partisan and merit-driven opportunities to youths desiring to deploy their skills to impact their immediate communities through public service.
Besides, the fellows, comprising 16 males and 14 ladies, will also have the opportunity to undergo international mentoring in foreign policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
Sanwo-Olu said the leadership academy was established in fulfillment of his administration’s visions to institutionalise the process of talent development and leadership preparation in the State’s public sector, and to immortalise the name of the late Jakande, who died on February 11, 2021.
The Governor said his belief in young people’s capability to turn around the nation’s development trajectory continued to grow stronger, given the commitment, dedication and diligence brought to public governance by a set of youths appointed to the State’s cabinet.
Given the right mentoring, support and encouragement, Sanwo-Olu said young people possessed huge potential to secure the nation’s place among the comity of development-focused nations.
He said: “We are living in a time when leadership matters more than ever before, in the private and public sectors.
“We must ensure that we are actively and deliberately growing the pool of young Nigerians who are able to meet the challenges of leadership in such a complex, complicated and youthful nation as ours.
“The Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy is our own effort to formalise and structure the process of talent development and leadership preparation, for the public sector.
“The academy seeks to develop the next generation of leaders in the public sector, by exposing selected young people to work opportunities across the MDAs of the Government.
“The fellows have been selected from Lagos and across other parts of the country to spend the next one year together as a pioneering class of talented, smart, diligent, and promising young people, with the power and potential to contribute to the unfolding success story of Lagos.”
Sanwo-Olu described the late Jakande as “a committed, selfless leader with integrity”, noting that his tenure would continue to reference effective and people-oriented governance.
The Governor told the fellows not to lose sight of their privilege to be selected into the inaugural class of the leadership academy, urging them to bring their knowledge and commitment in projecting the legacy of purposeful leadership bequeathed by the late Jakande.
Sanwo-Olu inspired the fellows with his personal public service leadership experience, explaining how he was plucked from his plum bank job at youthful age and got appointed as Special Adviser to a Deputy Governor.
He said his audacious exploits in public governance led to his appointment into more tasking positions and finally thrusted the State’s leadership on him.
The Governor told the fellows to cultivate the privilege to lifetime opportunities.
He said: “I look forward to the brilliant ideas and innovations that you will bring forth, and to the ways you will help improve the quality of the services and programmes delivered by the Lagos State Government.
“The purpose of this fellowship is to positively impact the ordinary people of Lagos, which means, in all that you do, you must always ask yourselves how your policy ideas and innovations touch the lives of Lagosians.”
The Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Ajibola Ponnle, said the fellows, in the course of their training, would be exposed to leadership philosophy, and have community projects, one-on-one leadership coaching and mentoring by renowned leaders in public and private sectors.
She said the trainees would also have the opportunity to visit all local councils within the State and acquire requisite competences to make impact in their respective areas of expertise.
Ponnle thanked the family of the late Jakande for their support and their commitment towards the project.
The Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, assured the fellows of seamless onboarding in the State’s public service to carry out their specialised duties.
The Secretary to the State Government under the late Jakande and member of Governance Advisory Council, Chief Olorunfunmi Basorun, praised Sanwo-Olu for the thought of establishing the leadership academy to honour the former Governor.
Basorun said: “Given the circumstances of his rise to power, it could be said that the late Jakande was not born great.
“He achieved greatness by dint of hard work and dedication to public service.
“His life and legacy will continue to be an inspiration and example for the contemporary leaders.”
Deji, first son of the late Jakande, expressed the family’s appreciation to Governor Sanwo-Olu for fulfilling the pledge to immortalise their patriarch and preserve his legacy through leadership building and education, which he described as the deceased’s most treasured values.