Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship: A View From Afar

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By Ishola Haroon

Like a bird perched on a tree, I have taken a vantage position since the formal opening of the camp for the first cohort of the Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship. I have quietly understudied the events that characterised the camping experience of the obviously elated young fellows. I have followed the presentations of many of the facilitators so far, and I have leant a lot, just as I have had time to think of what additional impact CELF as a programme could make on Kwara, aside the inevitable multiplier effect of the development the now exposed and well trained Fellows could inspire in their various communities.

The ripple effects of the novel initiative by the Haashim Initiative for Community Advancement (HICA) is enough to say ‘there’s more to this than meets the eye’. Interestingly, Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship is creating more enabling environment in the State with the cadres of individuals that have facilitated the sessions so far.

HICA has displayed creative prowess with the participatory techniques adopted for the CELF programme. More significantly, the non-partisan inclination of the organisers, which forbids any form of bias or deference to political affiliations, is one of the strongest features of CELF. One doesn’t have to look for too long before realising the total inclusiveness and non-segregation of any type. In fact, from the broad based selection of the facilitators, CELF organisers succeeded in teaching the Fellows, through the sheer power of personal example, how to project and attain a fair sense of equity and equality.

The ongoing intervention by the Haashim Initiative for Community Advancement (HICA) has not only reflect a high level of creativity but also proves an enviable innovative capacity.

By all standards, the resource persons featured so far in the programme have been carefully selected from the length and breadth of Kwara State. What is more, the chosen individuals also reflect an impressive dynamism, both in terms of gender, diversity and experience.

The uniting force of the CELF programme has also not been lost on many observers. The politically inclined among the facilitators, despite the political differences and diverse affiliations, showed an impressive common interest in the project, leaving aside their differences to join hands in reshaping, rebuilding and re-projecting the image and the future of the State by contributing to the task of raising a successor generation of young people who are equipped with the skills and training to contribute to the development of Kwara. One would wonder how the convener was able to get these individuals of impeccable traits, persons of substance and leaders in their respective fields, to collectively sign up to be part of the programme.

Having the likes of Ambassador Ibrahim Akaje, Titilope Anifowoshe, Olasupo Abideen, Yemisi Adeyeye, Ibraheem Olayinka Otukoko, Nafiu Toyin Abdulqadri, Isiaq Abdulwaheed (LankoTheory), Nasir AbdulKadir and a host of others is a huge testimony to the credibility of the programme convener and the originality of CELF itself.

Of course, following from the updates glimpsed from their individual Facebook pages about the programme, I have seen and read how prepared and eager personalities like Bolaji Aladie, Comrade Habeeb Tajudeen (Tallest), Halimah Gegele, Ibrahim Abdullateef etcetera, are to commit their time and knowledge in the service of CELF. This all round excitement by all shades and categories of individuals about the programme is an indication that it is not affiliated to any political party or politician.

Sighting the Camp from afar, I have noted several mind blowing creativities and innovations that I’m left with no choice but to appeal to the organisers to widen the space to accommodate more beneficiaries in subsequent edition of this life-changing and impactful leadership training programme. Indeed, many more young people from across Kwara State need to benefit from this initiative.

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