Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, two-time Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Chairman of the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) Panel of Advisors, today delivered a Public Lecture titled ‘Leadership in the African Context – How to Drive Transformational Change in African Countries’ at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. 

The Lecture was made possible by a partnership between Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) and the Blavatnik School of Government, based on the shared purpose of building good governance and public leadership in Africa.

Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, said: “It was a great honour to host Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a leader who handed power to a democratically-elected President in Nigeria in 1979, a leader who opposed the human rights abuses of the military coup government of the 1990s – suffering three years of imprisonment as a result – and who was twice elected President serving both his own country, and the continent of Africa, with great distinction.  At the Blavatnik School of Government we have a mission to inspire better government and public policy around the world, and we are grateful to Africa Initiative for Governance for creating such a special and inspiring opportunity for all our students and faculty, as well as for Oxford, and for students who attended from across the UK as a whole.”

In his Lecture Chief Obasanjo said, “Transformational Leadership abhors complacency. It requires proactivity, thinking out of the box, resilience and consistency. Shrewdness in policy development and creativity in implementation are virtues which must not be ignored. Transformational Leadership is not a popularity contest.” Chief Obasanjo also stated that, “African leaders are becoming more strategic, open and liberal-minded. We no longer take no for answer.”

The Lecture, which was full to capacity, had participants converging at the University of Oxford from within and outside the UK to hear Chief Obasanjo’s insights on driving sustainable and transformative change on the African continent. Chief Obasanjo was the first military Head of State in Nigeria to hand over power to a democratically elected government, after having assumed office following the assassination of the previous Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed. He is also credited as having created policies and structures which led to growth in Nigeria’s economy during his tenure as civilian President from 1999 to 2007. His achievements include enabling the telecommunications revolution in Nigeria through the introduction of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), securing the write-off by the Paris Club of $18 billion dollars in debt, a successful Pension Reform, growing foreign reserves and a strong anti-corruption strategy, leading to the establishment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

“Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is a statesman of the world,” said Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, AIG Founder and Chairman. “Beyond his contributions as two-time Head of State of Nigeria, he continues to support impactful causes in Africa and all over the world. We are privileged to have him as the Chairman of our Panel of Advisors and appreciative of his taking the time to share his wealth of experience and learnings with the world’s future leaders.”

The visit to Oxford also served as a forum for the AIG Board of Directors, Panel of Advisors and Management to interact with the six AIG Scholars currently studying for a Master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, and to further convey to them the ethos of the AIG Scholarships and the meaning of Leadership. In August 2017, AIG announced the award of the inaugural AIG Scholarships to six young and talented West Africans - Emokiniovo Akpughe (Nigeria), Efosa Trevor Edobor (Nigeria), Abdul-Fatawu Z. Hakeem (Ghana), Chukwunonso Iheoma (Nigeria), Oluwapelumi Simpson (Nigeria) and Emmanuel Taiwo (Nigeria).

In addition to the Scholarships, the AIG Fellowships have also been established at the Blavatnik School of Government for individuals from West Africa who have demonstrated evidence of outstanding contribution to the public good, through exemplary leadership in public service. In October 2017, AIG announced the appointment of Justice Mrs. Georgina Wood (Retired), immediate past Chief Justice of Ghana, as the 2017-2018 AIG Fellow.

Watch Recording Here