The Power of Leadership:
Held at:
UMCA Chapel, Lokogonma Phase 2 Kogi State & NYSC Secretariat, Omala, Kogi
30th Jan & 6th Feb 2015
Combined attendance: 275

In a world where real leaders make lasting changes that reverberate across the ages, Nigeria, and indeed much of Africa is stuck with leaders who can rarely see beyond their noses. From Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to Paul Biya of Cameroon, the average African leader is desperate for power and will do anything to keep it, doing the bidding of a select few to the detriment of the vast majority who [may or may not have voted him in]. It is the classic redefinition of democracy- the government of some people, for some people and by some people. Several Africans are devastated about the present and unsure of the future. Can the emerging leaders pls stand up?

Enter, the Power of Leadership
As part of the DESPLAY Africa component and backed by the full weight of Youngstars Foundation [funded by National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC], I proceeded to facilitate two similar events [what a DESPLAYer would call, a PiO…that’s Pass it on]. At both events, the ‘genetic makeup’ of a leader was x-rayed.

First of all, we examined the emergence of the world: how we got to where we are. Next, we considered the number one factor responsible for the emergence of the world: Humans. And what about the names such humans are called? Scholars, Inventors, Rulers, Social workers, pathfinders, Reformists, Politicians, Writers, Innovators etc

People like Wole Soyinka, Mark Zuckerburg, Barack Obama, Skeikh Al-Maktoum, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs and Mahatma Gandhi left/are leaving the world far better than they met it, and that’s the essence of leadership: real change.

Next, we defined a leader [according to Kingsley Bangwell] as someone who can display a required competence processed through character and inspired by a compelling vision to improve the state of a people or things.
The definition revealed the traits of a leader, which are:

Leaders know what ought to be done and can mobilize all that is required to deliver on an expectation, in terms of managing people, resources and creating the solutions.

They have an ethical fiber, they believe in universal principles and would not achieve results at all cost, but rather consider the process as of the same value as the end result.

They are driven by a compelling vision of what the ideal state or destination should be and they only permit a half sleep for themselves until their vision comes to reality.

People, not things, titles and honors bring them their greatest fulfillment. They only have joy and fulfillment when they see joy on the faces of the people they serve and live for.

We then examined Dubai as a case study.
Dubai, was a huge desert region before oil was discovered but leadership made all the difference. The Ruler of Dubai knew oil and its boom would finish/diminish in the future [what is currently happening] and He sought to invest the returns on oil into making Dubai the #1 tourism destination of the world. Today, Dubai boasts of Burj Al Arab: the world’s tallest freestanding hotel and the world’s only 7 star hotel, The Palm Islands: a construction of three artificial islands in the shape of the date palm on which residential & commercial property will be built and The World Islands, a massive man-made archipelago of 300 islands in the shape of the world, Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest man-made structure, the longest driverless public transit network, the largest illuminated advertising sign, the world’s tallest twisted tower [Cayan tower] and other mind-blowing feats of engineering and human ingenuity that attract millions of tourists daily, translating into billions of dollars yearly: VISIONARY LEADERSHIP.

Both presentations were concluded thus:
The world is changing.
Different societies continue to change/develop at different paces.
In each society, it is the people who by omission or commission define the state of their condition and how their society emerges or grows.
How well is Africa changing for good?
How do I become that kind of Leader that can help shape the future emerging Africa?
To answer the second question, the following was suggested:

Every great leader stands for something. Is it integrity or excellence? Is it not keeping quiet in the face of oppression? You must be defined by something that totally resonates you. A value you will be remembered for long after you die. Think core value, think Martin Luther King Jnr.

Because a confident man can conquer the world. Articulate your ideas boldly fearlessly and the sky will be your launching pad. Think confidence, think Obama.

Time is the only resource every single human has in equal proportion. What we do with it –invest or spend- makes or mars us. Think time, think Warren Buffett [tip: He spends 80% of his time reading]

Ideas rule the world. From thinking up relativity to giving the world E=MC2, most folks would agree Albert Einstein was a thinker. He famously once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

As important as thoughts are, they are fueled by knowledge. Seminars, books, useful audio-visual materials and the game changer: internet are wonderful tools. Become restless about getting knowledge and become relentless at acquiring information. After all, the more you know, the more you can grow.

It’s not enough to wake up every morning and head out to school or work, you need to understand what is happening in and around the world and how it affects you, because, trust me, it does. Think global agenda, think 2008 global financial meltdown.

Leaders are excellent people and they desire and demand excellence 100% of the time. Steve Jobs built Apple into a global super power by being creatively excellent.

Friends have so much influence in your life just as you have so much influence in theirs, and so, who your friend is directly points to where you’ll end up. If Michelle Obama is a friend to Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett is a friend to Bill Gates and Steven Spielberg is a friend to Michael Bay, what does that tell you about the power of friends?

After both inspiring, engaging and absolutely interactive presentations, some of the participants gave their feedback:

Ovueta Michael
“I was exposed to things I didn’t know before…I now have a new way of thinking”

Akinifesi Akintunde
“I learnt that innovation and innovative ideas are a function of people of great minds who can think critically and constructively in order to bring out their ingenuity for the benefit of humanity”

Olowu Tolulope
“This seminar really helped me in rediscovering myself and the wealth of potential that resides in me and the need to impact my nation and the world”

Jonah Eunice
“I was inspired to discover my self-confidence and to do something for myself and my country”

Ogunsanya Olaide Mary
“It was wonderful…seriously, 100%, I had to show people your profile afterwards, absolutely inspiring. Good work”

Awokoya Olayinka
“The seminar helped me a lot and has exposed me to other things I didn’t know before….I now know the power of vision and thinking”

“I learnt about the importance of vision and the place of character in the life of a leader”

Oladejo Kehinde
“I learnt how to become that kind of leader that can help shape emerging Africa and defining my core values”

Personally, I get inspired to do more whenever I present on leadership, democracy & good governance, and I see the anger, passion, vision, hope written across faces from diverse places. It gives me hope that Nigeria and indeed Africa will rise from the ashes, and that her youth, through initiatives like DESPLAY will change Africa and put her on a strong global footing. I am Ogunbowale Olugbenga, and I am a DESPLAYer.

PiO (Passing-it-On), is the component of DESPLAY Africa (Africa’s most prestigious and longest running democracy training program which brings together 35 of Africa’s brightest and youngest emerging leaders every year) that mandates all participants to conduct a step down training within 4 weeks of attending each DESPLAY semester reaching at least 25 persons in their community per semester. The aim of PiO is to reach other young people who may not be opportune to attend DESPLAY training event.

What DESPLAY Offers:
• Three (3) Semesters/Workshops of 4 days each in Nigeria.
• About 30 knowledge based sessions and focus group discussions and activities.
• Obtain a youth democracy engagement toolkit (Video and Handbook – FREE)
• 10 day learning visit to a Southern African country practicing democracy.
• Get a chance to run for Office of President of DESPLAY Republic Season 9
• Opportunity to meet and network with young democrats around Africa.
• Opportunity to challenge and improve your personal leadership influence and impact among others.

For more information:

Ogunbowale Olugbenga won the Social-Sciences Faculty prize for best presentation in 2012 & was nominated alongside icons like Steve Harris as the most outstanding young Nigerian by Junior Chamber International in 2013. Also, his short story ‘BIOLA’ was shortlisted among the top 20 in Africa by Etisalat. In November 2014, He won the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria digital jobs contest. He is a fellow of Africa’s most prestigious youth democracy training program, DESPLAY Africa (funded by NED, USA). Gbenga has created 400 slides, 620 graphics with over 2,100 people trained. He is an astute business man and a bastion of change & innovation, who combines experience with excellence to deliver astonishing results every time.