LEADERSHIP CAPACITY BUILDING FOR YOUTH IN THE NIGER DELTA
The leadership capacity building for youth of the Niger Delta project, was a response to youth assessment studies carried out by the Foundation for the Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta. The assessment focused on aspirations and issues of concern to youth and opportunities and challenges facing youth. The assessment report recommended support for equipping youth with leadership and life skills as the concerns were around; Lack of strong youth leaders, The ability to have realistic expectations for the future and hope in the future and Lack of soft skills that are necessary for employment. Centre LSD) accordingly built the capacity of 80 Niger Delta youth on leadership, entrepreneurship, project management, peace building and Information Technology (ICT).
The Centre’s target at the beginning of the programme was to produce at least 50% role models on leadership (40 participants) and 40% for business (32 participants). The rationale for the target was premised on the understanding of the Pareto principle that at least 20 percent of any group of persons trained will put the knowledge to maximum use. But the methodology deployed gave us reason to believe that hitting 50 percent target for role models on leadership and 40 percent on business is possible. The target for business was placed at 40% because of the underlying belief that people in the region target job and rent from oil rather than doing business. The optimism of the Centre was confirmed by the result of an assessment it carried out early December 2014. The result showed thus;
Role models (Leadership): project target 50 Percent
1st set: 15 participants ie 15/36 x 100 = 41.6%
2nd set: 42 participants ie 42/44 x 100 = 95.5%
Business: 40 percent
1st set: 13 participants ie 13/36 x 100 = 36.1%
2nd set: 19 participants ie 19/44 x 100 = (43.2%)
The trainings ensured development of skill sets for the 80 Niger Delta change agents, increase knowledge, attitudes and positive behaviours to live productive and exemplary lives, equipped them with capability for immediate and future leadership responsibilities and capacity to engage in decision making.
Participants also set up an organization, “Change Niger-Delta Youth Organisation” with a vision of “a Niger Delta that is informed, empowered and development focussed’, and a mission ‘ to promote and sustain development and peace through information and citizens’ participation. Some of the participants stepped down the training in their different locations. Some set up leadership clubs in School, the case of participants from Imo State. Other outcomes of the project included the following;
- Change in mindset and attitude of youth to development.
- Creation of avenues by participants to empower other youths.
- Setting up of own businesses by participants instead of relying on government.
Centre LSD’s Work on Ending Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria
Nigeria is a highly patriarchal and a deeply religious society. According to a 2001 report from the World Factbook by CIA, about 50% of Nigeria’s population are Muslims, 40% are Christians and about 10% belong to African Traditional Religion (ATR).
Most anti-women behaviours, attitudes, and norms have their roots in either religious or traditional beliefs. Legislations and women empowerment efforts will not yield the desired results without addressing the underlying patriarchal structures that reinforce them. Men who perpetrate Violence Against Women and Girls are emboldened and driven by cultural and religious beliefs fuelled by misinterpretation of religious scriptures and socio-cultural norms.
Centre LSD deploys a strategic and holistic approach in its work of promoting gender justice and ending Violence against Women and Girls in Nigeria by;
- Engaging men and making them champions of gender equality.
- Engaging traditional and religious leaders who are the custodian of cultural and religious beliefs and making them advocates of gender-equitable norms and laws.
- Engaging social and traditional media practitioners to change negative gender narratives.
These approaches have not only improved men’s capacity to advocate for gender justice but have also influenced the change of norms to address the root causes of patriarchy, thereby creating a more gender-equitable society.
In 2013, The Network of Men Leaders to End Violence Against Women in Nigeria (NML) – an offshoot of the Global Network of Men Leaders – launched in November 2009 by the former UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, in which Dr. Otive Igbuzor is a member, was inaugurated in Nigeria and a Network was formed. The aim was to mobilize men and boys to Act, Advocate and Unite to change the practices and attitudes that incite, perpetuate and condone all forms of violence against women and girls in Nigeria. From the time of the inauguration till now, Centre LSD has been the Secretariat of the network. NoML currently has 450 members across 21 states in Nigeria. Members are made up of security agents like the Police, Gender Desk officers in MDAs, religious leaders, respected elders of the community, etc.
The NoML has executed projects in partnership with UN Women, National Agency for the Control of Aids, and Cordaid at separate times. The major task of this network is to mobilize male champions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in Nigeria. Members of the network also engaged in mediation and provision of alternative dispute resolution in cases of domestic violence between intimate partners. Between 2013 and 2018, members of the NoML have reported intervention in at least 10 cases of intimate partner violence with no repeat offenders.
Centre LSD also serves as the national secretariat of the Side by Side Faith Movement for Gender Justice in Nigeria. Side by Side is a growing global movement of people of faith who want to see gender justice become a reality across the world http://sidebysidegender.org/about-us/).
Currently, Centre LSD is part of the implementing partners in the EU-UN funded Spotlight Initiative. As one of the Implementing Partners under UN Women, Centre LSD is implementing the project in Lagos and Cross River States and shall be working with men and boys to promote gender equality, elimination of Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG), Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR), Gender Based Violence (GBV), and Harmful Practices (HPs)