Reflections on Disruptive Leadership Thinking, Citizens’ Consensus and the 2023 General Elections

Reflections on Disruptive Leadership Thinking, Citizens’ Consensus and the 2023 General Elections

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“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope … which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” – Robert F. Kennedy

As the build-up to the 2023 general elections heightens, we must interrogate the ethno-centric and parochial leadership selection patterns of the treacherous political class and the usual game of empty promises.

This article aims at provoking an understanding of the contemporary disruptive leadership thinking ecosystem and to reflect on the critical milestones for emancipatory and normative citizens’ consensus for democratic reform and national cohesion. Citizens’ engagement is required for the turnaround of the republic, where equity and justice are a common denominator for nation building.

Undeniably, the political geography of chaos and leadership mismatch is already dominating newspaper headlines and television shows today – whether it be the abysmal APC, jesting opposition party (the PDP), or the irrational and treacherous 9th national assembly (vis-à-vis the 2021 Electoral Bill conundrum). These are all besides the challenges of insecurity, fuel subsidy quagmire, Igbo presidency, which are further proofs of symptoms of the fragility of the Nigerian state.

Genuine citizens’ consensus is germane; so, too, is disruptive leadership thinking, which not only shapes whether a new set of purpose-driven leaders will emerge but is also intentional about paradigm and sustainable mind shift. A challenger leadership attitude is required to recalibrate the state capture of power and resources for meaningful development and progress. Disruptive leadership thinking begins with a strong, emancipatory and national dialogue project which seeks to challenge and recapture the Nigerian state from the ludicrousness of unrepentant political jobbers and their collaborators.

Remarkably, the leadership skills set of character, competence and capacity can guarantee the best outcomes for the 2023 general elections. More importantly, we must move away from the primordial turn-by-turn disposition that has deprived us as a people of genuine representation and authentic nation building dialogue.

The citizens’ consensus framework and mindset shift must interrogate past actions and current political office holders’ aspirations beyond ethnic, religious and political party lines and declarations of intent. The debate must begin with the forensic audit of sources of wealth and campaign funding. What do the presidential candidates have to offer? What do the national development strategy and manifesto of each candidate look like? What do they include? Are the strategies evidence-based? Does each candidate have a strategy? What are the indicators of project deliverables, activities, milestones and means of verification of each year outside bureaucratic channels? What are the interconnections between state revenue and expenditure framework? What are the candidates’ credentials for global political engineering and international diplomacy?

Citizens’ spotlights and questions on agenda-setting for the 2023 general elections should be based on strong leadership, stakeholder engagement knowledge, sound people and management experience, and technical skills on public and digital diplomacy with various ethnic nationalities, civil society, media, local and state governments, the private sector, and other genuine stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Furthermore, making debates key to electioneering and ensuring parties re-orient candidates’ selection and recruitment processes help to safeguard democracy and social justice.

Consequently, presidential candidates must have an independent and clear frame of mind. This is necessary to manage diversity and shape transformational national programmes, ensure national healing and forgiveness mechanisms by leveraging on international governance best practices.

As citizens, it is imperative that we canvass for and support a presidential candidate that can ensure openness, listen to businesses, invest in education and skills, import ideas and talent, and learn from the other progressive jurisdictions, particularly the East Asian experience, in order to leapfrog development and governance. It is instructive to note that East Asian countries had, similar to ours, trajectories of natural resources endowments, ethnic disunity, frail institutions, weak democracy, subsistence agriculture and the negative legacy of commodity and colonial exploitation, but they were able to overcome the challenges to build a virile nation.

Overall, the most significant approach that should shape citizens’   conversations for the 2023 general elections is a strategy of clear guiding principles, with focus on truth telling for the reconciliation of the country.

Ceaselessly, the Office of the Citizen has become commanding in the disruptive leadership thinking ecosystem and it is the pathway forward to a sustainable social contract, transparency and accountability. Moreover, underpinning the seriousness of a national agenda and mind shift is that citizens should make social justice a key pillar in their engagements with the presidential candidates and act as accountability partners in the governance process whilst the president is in office.

While paid publicists and other media strategists are selling their candidates through the media (traditional and social), the relevance of the press in the emergence of a credible leader cannot be over-emphasised. The media must take up the obligation of self-censorship, social responsibility and accountability to the people. They must act as strategic gate-keepers by examining those offering themselves for the office of the president. Journalists and media handlers must remain independent of political interferences. Finding the balance between generating revenue from politicians while holding onto the well-established journalistic standards and maintaining editorial independence has become imperative for credible leadership recruitment for the general elections.

Sadly, the media scan and content analyses of those for and against some of the candidates in the last few weeks are provokingly worrisome. The power of media owners and editorial slants must also be interrogated to determine what is factual in this era of fake news and misinformation.

The political class must respect the rule of law and the electoral process.  The national assembly should speed up on their deliberations on the electoral bill and the president must speedily assent to it in the interest of the common good.

As citizens, we must join hands to exchange ideas on the current political climate ahead of the 2023 general elections, and help promote free, fair and credible elections by prioritising disruptive leadership thinking to reset the country on the path of progress. Let a new age dawn!


Orovwuje is Founder Humanitarian Care for Displaced Persons, Lagos. Nigeria. He can be reached via and on   08034745325.

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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.