Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the Graduation Ceremony of the Premier Set of the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship; held at Fifth Chukker, on Sunday, 7th July 2019
1. I recall with delight welcoming the inaugural set of Kashim Ibrahim Fellows on 2nd August 2018. We were certain that we had selected the best 16 of the 1300 young persons that applied for programme. Therefore, we looked forward to seeing the first set of fellows display their talent and passion over the course of the year. Without any doubt, the pioneer Kashim Ibrahim fellows have justified the hopes invested in them. I congratulate all of them for successfully completing the programme.
2. The first set of Kashim Ibrahim Fellows can be justly proud of themselves. These 16 youths, from different places and backgrounds, have amply affirmed that youthful potential abounds in Nigeria. We in the Kaduna State Government believe in our young people. The 2018 Kashim Ibrahim Fellows have validated our conviction that the youth of our country can respond to opportunity if the platform is provided.
3. The Kaduna State Government introduced the Kashim Ibrahim Fellows Programme to help develop and nurture leadership ability across Nigeria. Through this one-year programme, we set out to create a network of high potential young Nigerians who are expected to rise to top leadership positions in the public sector and other spheres of activity over the next decade. The overall mission of the non-partisan programme, as I explained in February 2018 when introducing the programme is "to raise the next generation of leaders who will most likely be absorbed into the Nigerian public sector having had a first-hand experience of its workings and challenges”.
4. Our aspirations for the programme influenced the name we gave it. Sir Kashim Ibrahim was among the set of leaders who took on the responsibility of building a modern Northern Nigeria as the colonial shackles were dropped. He was Governor of the Northern Region and the Government House, Kaduna, is named in his honour.
5. We have exposed the fellows to a rich and varied programme of immersion in the daily work of government agencies, lectures and seminars on leadership, working trips and speaker series that enabled them to share from the experiences and insights of leaders in government, business and other endeavours. The fellows have responded admirably to this unique opportunity. They have left positive impressions in the agencies in which they have served.They have also been commended by persons outside the government. Many of the distinguished national leaders that have interacted with the fellows have commended their interest, knowledge and desire to learn.
6. We have made considerable investments in these fellows as a deliberate intervention in building leadership capacity and promoting a meritocratic culture. As they graduate today, they have been empowered to assume responsibilities of leadership, and to contribute to helping our country to master the challenges of an increasingly complex and more competitive world.
7. I am especially proud of the pioneer set of Kashim Ibrahim Fellows. We have been most impressed by their energy, zeal, talent and ability. Our pioneer fellows have set a remarkable standard for future participants in the programme. I wish them all the best as they take the KIF spirit into everyday life.
8. I wish to thank all the members of the Governing Board for an excellent job in institutionalising the Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship, and I will for this purpose mention their names: Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Dele Olojede, Hadiza Bala-Usman, Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, Bilya Bala, Barbara Barungi, Kadaria Ahmed, Japheth Omojuwa, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, Jimi Lawal, Iboroma Akpana and Segun Adeniyi. Special thanks to Asue Ighodalo, who was initially not a member of the Board, but has contributed immensely to the success of the programme. The Board has been assisted by the Steering Committee comprising of Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, Aisha Dikko, Muyiwa Adekeye, Umma Aboki, Adejoh Momoh and Zainab Mohammed, the Programme Administrator.
9. Within a generally competent first set of fellows, the Steering Committee has selected the top three fellows for special recognition. The overall best fellow will be rewarded with a scholarship to Harvard or the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy. The others in the top three would be appointed as Special Assistants to the Governor. The chairman of the Governing Board, Keem Belo-Osagie, is pursuing scholarship opportunities in the Knight Hennessy Fellowship at Stanford University for interested members of the graduating set.
10. As the pioneer fellows graduate today, we look forward to welcoming the second set next month. I had the honour of unveiling the next cohort of fellows on 14th June 2019. When they resume in August, they can expect a year of rigour and excitement. We wish our graduating fellows many decades of accomplishments in service to our country and humanity.
Thank you for listening.