The Founder/Chairman, Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede has stressed the importance of creating more opportunities for young people to contribute to nation-building, saying the future of Nigeria depends on its youth.
The former Access Bank CEO said this in her opening remarks during the 2020 AIG annual public lecture titled “Transforming the Public Sector in Nigeria: Reflections from My Leadership of the Federal Inland Revenue Service,” that was delivered by the former Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, in recognition of her contributions to public service.
Aig-Imoukhuede added: “The hope and future of our nation lies in the contributions of our young people and those who are truly committed to the nation’s development.
“The situation is urgent, we will further expand our scholarships and fellowships and intensify our investments to build a critical mass of capable leaders who can move our nation forward.”
He pointed out that without a strong, ethical and effective public sector, Africa’s prospects for growth and development would remain constrained.
Less than a week after the annual lecture, Nigeria was confronted with the consequences of several years of underinvestment in leadership and capacity building.
“The Africa Initiative for Governance grieves with the nation at the loss of life and property following recent days of social unrest. We must use this momentary period of darkness as impetus to usher in a new dawn of enlightenment and progress. This is the time to envision what we want our nation to be and to move forward by building and empowering Nigeria’s next generation of leaders,” a statement from the organisation stated.
The AIG provides funding and programs to inspire and support current and future public leaders to deliver sustainable economic growth and social justice for Africa. In partnership with the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, the AIG Fellowship is awarded each year to an individual who has demonstrated evidence of outstanding contributions to the public good.
The 2019/20 AIG Fellowship was awarded to Omoigui-Okauru in recognition of her outstanding contributions to public service, as the Executive Chairman, FIRS, where she spearheaded comprehensive tax reforms, culminating in the development of Nigeria’s first national tax policy, the modification of tax legislation and a remarkable improvement in the effectiveness of tax collection.
During her lecture, the former FIRS boss said, “Leading reform or, indeed, any other organisational activity is a team sport. The strength of the institution is in the strength of the team – past, present and future.” The strength of the FIRS team is apparent 10 years after her departure.
The AIG scholarship programme awards five scholarships annually to promising future leaders to undertake a Master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.
This September, undeterred by COVID-19 challenges, it embarked on the national selection processes to identify the 2021/22 AIG scholars for Nigeria and Ghana.
However, it pointed out that recent events in Nigeria had threatened completion of the scholar selection exercise.