By John Ikani
Nigeria’s esteemed governors have returned from their veiled tour of a beautiful country in East Africa where they spent no fewer than three days pretending to be interested in the noble quest of learning how to govern.
Armed with their impressive track record of consistent leadership blunders and aspirations for unparalleled expertise in mismanagement, the governors figured the least they could do to earn the formal title of ‘His Excellency’ was to feign acquisition of the secrets of actual governance.
Off they jet to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, a country they probably couldn’t locate on a map without assistance, telling everyone that cared to listen that were on a mission to ‘seek guidance’ from none other than the experts in effective governance – the Rwandans.
The lavishing three-day Executive Leadership Retreat which ran from August 24 to August 26, 2023, was organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), at the invitation of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Themed “Reimagining Leadership in a fast-Changing World,” the retreat saw 19 Nigerian state governors enjoy luxurious accommodations, sumptuous meals and express shock at every session that “effective leadership” is somewhat of a rarity in Africa. Of course, they conveniently overlooked the fact that their own governance track records could easily serve as cautionary tales for aspiring leaders worldwide.
Interestingly, lack of public trust, an issue common to Nigeria’s governance space was extensively discussed with the governors stressing that it was about time they found an “immediate lasting solution” to the issue which enables their careers of opulent living and political grandstanding.
Added to the event’s agenda, with designated breaks for expressing more shocks, were discourses on Nigeria’s overly oil-depended economy, alarming job crisis and growing youth population, rising insecurity and separatist agitations, as well as a growing number of multi-dimensionally poor.
They even expressed readiness to “understudy” Rwanda’s post-war development programs, as if the intricacies of reconstruction and nation-building are akin to mastering the art of making instant noodles.
The highlight of the retreat was the governors’ dinner with President Kagame, a closing event that afforded them the window to strip themselves of pretences about concerns for Africa’s developmental challenges or challenges within their own states. For all they cared, it was time to dine and have tête-à-tête with the Rwandan President.
Thereafter, a joint communique carefully worded by the NGF and UNDP, masterfully identified Nigeria’s challenges as a “complex web.” It’s no surprise that they didn’t explain that the ‘web’ is intricately woven with threads of corruption, bureaucratic red tape, and broken promises.
Of all the patronising content of the communique, it was NGF Director General – Asishana Okauru’s views that took the cake. According to Okauru, the gathering fostered “transformative leadership” as well as “honest, frank and open dialogue.” Because nothing screams honesty like a gathering of politicians in an exotic location, right?
By and large, the gathering of Nigerian governors in Kigali can only be described as a masterclass in the theatre of the absurd. As they settle back in their respective states, Nigerians can only hope that the governors’ ‘newfound knowledge’ extends beyond rehearsed speeches and empty promises.
NB. This parody is an adaptation of Arise TV’s report titled – At Rwanda Retreat, Nigerian Governors Declare Effective Leadership in High Demand in Africa.