Lessons From LEADERSHIP Conference And Awards 2023


No doubt, the essence of the LEADERSHIP Conference and Awards has become a veritable podium for recognition and an intellectual exercise in interrogating some national issues in a bid to spearhead efforts at changing narratives as the basis for hope and inspiration. The 16th LEADERSHIP Conference and Awards that took place on Tuesday, a date that coincided with the 20th anniversary of the newspaper, paraded one of the nation’s leading politicians and citizens, whose roles remain unprecedented.

Speaking on ‘Nigeria’s Distressed Economy: Which Way Forward?’, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, highlighted on prevailing economic hardship as caused by unmitigated privation suffered by citizens, stressing that the deep economic chaos, trailed by diminished purchasing power, hyperinflation, devaluation of the naira currency, remains a troubling phenomenon that must be addressed by the federal government’s tough measures.

Past Leads To Howling Present

Close to one year after the inauguration of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led presidency, Moghalu’s incisive views as contained in his keynote address is a roadmap in revamping Nigeria’s battered economy fraught with monumental challenges experienced in the last ten years that was caused by unrivaled mismanagement of the economy that was largely under the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the words of Moghalu: “They were the years of the locust, marked by unprecedented mismanagement of fiscal policy, unproductive external borrowing, unnecessary budget deficits, illegal Ways & Means lending by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the federal government to the tune of N30 trillion, and unprecedented corruption”.

Contending that the Tinubu presidency made three strategic errors that truncated hope of retrieving the economy from the woods within its first seven months of inauguration, the keynote speaker identified the removal of fuel subsidies and floating of the naira as creating bad and negative impacts on the people. The floating of the local currency, including the illegalities unleashed by rogue bank executives in round-tripping of foreign currencies, according to Moghalu, provided little comfort in addressing some of the challenges that have led to spiraling inflation, with attendant economic hardship that has become the greatest challenge faced by citizens.

That the incumbent administration never consulted widely with critical stakeholders, including institutional investors, was never in doubt, thereby throwing system operators into confusion and incapacity to contain the negative fallouts arising from “exchange rate unification and a further effort to float the naira in an environment awash with naira liquidity”. The absence of preparations to tackle these negative impacts resulted in the poor handling of some of the negative outcomes.

Now a crisis-ridden nation, citizens have been reduced to a survival metaphor, with current happenings, especially insecurity and hunger ripping across the country. The resurgence of banditry and criminal activities by lawless gangs and the increasing wave of murder and decimation of besieged communities are clear pointers of the upcoming dark and shattering future. With the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) declaring that no fewer than 767 manufacturing firms were shut down, and N350 billion worth of goods unsold in 2023, the clouds of economic instability are threatening to rain torrentially. Whether Nigeria can survive the future is largely dependent on what best strategies can be deployed to salvage what remains of our nation’s economic prospects.

Though the minister of Information, Hon Mohammed Idris, countered the speaker by insisting that the country was only facing some challenges, both the speaker and the minister are correct, especially when considered against the backdrop of where they are coming from and what they represent. Hon Idris, who represented President Tinubu, said: “I shall start by respectfully challenging the notion that Nigeria’s economy is in distress, suggesting helplessness, being at the mercy of the people; that we are at the mercy of something we have no control over. But that is not the case here”.

The choice of President Tinubu as LEADERSHIP Man of the Year 2023; the 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, as LEADERSHIP Politician of the Year 2023; Governor Mohammed Bago of Niger State as LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year 2023 and Mallam Auwalu Salisu as the LEADERSHIP Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2023, among other awards, no doubt, reflects a constant devotion by the LEADERSHIP Media Group to identify the best of citizens who have seized the greatest opportunity for national recognition. Under the prevailing conditions, with the heated debate that trailed the conduct of the 2023 elections, especially the presidential poll, that was resolved by the Supreme Court, the choice of Tinubu and Obi for the award is symbolic of LEADERSHIP as the chief promoter of divergent voices in deepening democracy.

The conference and awards may have come and gone, but the event exemplified the essence of the basic dream behind the founding of LEADERSHIP Media Group by its first chairman and the ‘Kakakin Nupe’, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah whose peerless feat has found continuation in his wife, now the current chairman, Mrs. Zainab Nda-Isaiah. She is actively supported by the editor-in-chief/senior vice chairman, Mr. Azu Ishiekwene, and other top members of the management who have continued to inspire a workforce during the present difficulties in managing media organisations.

Amidst the discordant tunes in our rancorous discourse, the Tuesday event shows that Nigeria is capable of evolving a platform for all voices to be heard in advancing national development, no matter the depth of resentment and acrimony.

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