My YALI Experience: The Difference Between African And American Leaders

Sunday 19-May-2019, 12:53PM / 1780

If not for the strong faith in the Oneness of God, one would have argued that the God of the Whites is distinctively different from the God of the Blacks. If not for the fact that the Trinity in Christianity ends in Oneness of God, it would have been proven that God the Father is in charge of the Whites while God the Son is the Creator of the Blacks or vice versa. This is consequent to how the Whites think, approach issues, lead their people, help humanity, and apply their skills to changing unfavourable things to favourable.

I was among the 39 Nigerians and 105 West Africans selected (out of 14,000+ qualified Applicants) for US President Barack Obama Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that was held between March and April (5 weeks) at the Regional Leadership Center (RLC), Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Accra, Ghana.

Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is President Barack Obama’s signature effort to invest in the generation of African Leaders. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support Young African Leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

As part of this initiative, President Obama created four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs), one each in: Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa. These Centers serve as regional hubs across the continent to instill transformational learning and enhance leadership skills in Young African Leaders between the ages of 18 to 35 years for five weeks. There are 3 tracks from which the participants are to pick and be trained on: Civil Society Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Public Sector Management.

According to Dr. Victor Osei, The Director of YALI RLC GIMPA, there were over 14,000 applicants for the YALI 3rd Cohort across West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Togo, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Sierra Leon) among whom 105 of us were selected.  About 45 of us were trained on Civil Society Leadership, 41 were trained on Entrepreneurship, while 19 were trained on Public Sector Management.

What calls my brain to a challenge is the thought on how United States is helping Africa plan for her future while majority of our leaders are thinking of winning next elections, embezzle some of our common wealth, gallivanting in exotic cars and luxuries, polarizing us across ethnicity and religion, etc. If not for this intervention, is there any Initiative by the present African Leaders (Political Office Holders, Religious Leaders, Kings and Community Leaders, Heads of Families etc) towards building the next generation of African Leaders? Right from Primary Schools days, we had been exposed to the saying that ‘We are the Leaders of Tomorrow’, few years down the line, the same set of the then leaders still remain our leaders. When will the tomorrow come???

Adedamola Adejobi happened to be one of the sound Young Leaders from Nigeria, Osun State to be precise, if not for YALI, we might never know eachother. It took the intervention of the US President Barack Obama Initiative (YALI) to bring me and Adedamola Adejobi together, despite the fact that both of us are from Osun State, doing great social works and interventions in the state, and greatly building the futures (youth) of our state. One then asks, what is the State Government doing to bring the likes of Adejobi and me towards building our peers and the young ones in the state???

As at present, for 3rd Cohort alone, United States of America has the Demographic Information, Contacts, Detail Works and Interventions of more than 14,000 West African Young Leaders while our Leaders have no record of us!!! From the Statistics United States is getting through this program, how come they won’t be able to predict right – what the future of Africa is going to look like?

What are Leaders Africa is endowed with!!! Visionless, goalless, primitive, selfish and short-sighted Leaders.

It would interest you to know that I and many of us have never had an opportunity of meeting the Mayor/Governor of our various States, Commissioners, Ministers of our countries, but the US Government had to send the US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs: LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD to join the US Ambassador to Ghana: ROBERT P. JACKSON for the cocktail organized for our purpose at the Ambassador’s residence in Ghana. Nigerians YALI Fellows in particular never had the opportunity of being hosted by Nigerian Embassy to Ghana let alone of meeting the Ambassador.

Can we all ask our leaders what their vision for our continent, countries and state is? If America needs to carry out a program in Africa, they have the contacts of those they can call (YALI Participants) while the majority of African Leaders only have the contacts of Assassins, Thugs and Ballot Box Snatchers. It will take the intervention of a third party or a recommendation of political party members for our leaders to know and access us for any intervention. What a SHAME!!!

We (YALI RLC Fellows) have committed ourselves to making sure we write history through our efforts to make ourselves and build others as the Leaders of today and tomorrow within the limited resources at our disposal. We never pray to have the same line of LIFE and REASONING with YOU! You are never our MODEL nor our MENTOR… We may find it difficult to occupy the APEX of governance you OCCUPY now but we shall make sure we dominate the GRASSROOTS with our INITIATIVE FOR BETTER FUTURE AND FUTURE LEADERS.

To the Self-branded Young Leaders who have also worn the same attire, in thoughts and doings, with some of our clueless Leaders, we offer you an opportunity of changing for good and join the train or end up being a loser when the plate turns to our sides.

I sincerely appreciate, on behalf of YALI RLC 3rd-Cohort Fellows, the US President Barack Obama, Linda Thomas-Greenfield (US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs), Robert P. Jackson (US Ambassador to Ghana), Dr. Victor Osei (Director of YALI RLC West Africa), Technoserve, West Africa Civil Society Institute, All Facilitators across the Globe, Staff of YALI RLC. God bless you all…

To my YALI RLC Fellows, let us continue doing the great works in our various countries. One day, the Society shall surely pay us for the services we have rendered her. Always remember the Drama we watched at Ghana National Theater, ONE MILLION POUNDS, its LESSONS, and the WORDS of The Playwright – MR JAMES EBO WHYTE. Let us be guided and improved on the Skills garnered on Ethical Leadership, Gender Equity, Transparency and Accountability, Religion and Cultural Understanding etc. Let us remember that WE ARE THE PRESENT LEADERS THAT SHALL BUILD THE FUTURE OF AFRICA!!!

Remember the night we shared with Majid Michel on Leadership and how he convincingly spoke with so much passion for Africa and her future. What a lovely night! I know you’ll all be smiling consequent to the reminiscence of the night that I brought up in this write-up. We all love and appreciate you Majid.

Remember…THE AFRICA OF OUR DREAM STARTS WITH US!

I LOVE YALI and I LOVE YOU ALL…

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