The retreat was dedicated to fostering dialogue on reimagining leadership and leveraging innovative technology, drawing inspiration from Rwanda's transformative journey.
The Nigeria Governors' Forum, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), convened a three-day Executive Leadership Retreat for first and second-term Nigerian Governors in Kigali, Rwanda from 24 to 26 August 2023, under the invitation of His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. The retreat was dedicated to fostering dialogue on reimagining leadership and leveraging innovative technology, drawing inspiration from Rwanda's transformative journey.
Themed 'Reimagining leadership in a fast-changing world', the distinguished participants, representing 19 Nigerian States, engaged in sessions that explored Rwanda's successful investment destination transformation in digital technology, urban planning and socio-economic transformation, capping off with a candid private dialogue with President Kagame.
Nigeria faces a complex web of interconnected development challenges stemming from a huge trust deficit, an economy highly dependent on oil exports, a job crisis and growing youth population, rising insecurity and separatist agitations, and a growing number of multi-dimensionally poor.
"As a non-partisan organization and policy arm, the Nigeria Governors' Forum organized this gathering with the objective of fostering transformative leadership and facilitating honest, frank and open dialogue to shape the discourse on these cross-cutting themes", said Asishana Okauru, Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat.
Recognizing these complexities and aligned to UNDP’s mandate as the lead UN agency on development, Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, highlighted that the retreat "offers an opportunity to reimagine Nigeria’s leadership to achieve transformation and nationwide sustainable development".
The retreat also focused on learning through dialogue – with sessions on rethinking leadership, leading systems, leading self and leading to deliver, as well as learning through observation – with an interactive programme exploring Rwanda's emergence as an investment destination through visits and exchanges with innovation hub Norrsken House, the Rwanda Development Board and the Mayor of the City of Kigali.
"It has been an engaging retreat. I am glad a significant number of governors are here to be part of it so that, together, we can use the knowledge acquired", remarked His Excellency Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, Governor of Oyo State and Vice Chair of the Nigeria Governors' Forum. “Our discussions have equipped us with adaptive leadership strategies and identifying pathways to effective governance and nationwide sustainable development."
In Africa, effective leadership is in high demand, with recent political challenges and socio-economic crises continuing to adversely impact qualitative advancements toward the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of the African Union's Agenda 2063, which aspires toward a peaceful, stable and prosperous Africa.
"Adaptability in leadership has never been so urgent, globally and in Africa", stated Matthias Z. Naab, Director of the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, in his opening remarks. "Adaptive leaders possess the unique ability to not only acknowledge the challenges that come their way, but to also harness them as opportunities for growth and innovation."
The Nigeria Governors' Forum has become a major link between government, development partners and private organizations as they seek to reach all 36 States in Nigeria. In previous years, the level of cooperation has increased significantly, as have relations between the States and the Federal Government, particularly on collaborative pathways to overcoming commonly shared developmental challenges. Building on these successes, the Executive Leadership Retreat aims to provide the incoming governors with new strategies to tackle development challenges within their States.