Home Faith Our mission at the PLDI is to address the leadership deficit in...

Our mission at the PLDI is to address the leadership deficit in Nigeria, Africa -Prof Obateye


The International Coordinator of Priesthood Leadership Development Initiative Incorporated (PLDI), Prof. Olusesi Obateye in this interview with MICHAEL ADESANYA, speaks on Leadership deficit in Nigeria and Africa, Alternative medicine as well as the upcoming LEIC Nigeria 2023. Excerpts:

Q: Let us know more about PLDI

PLDI is registered to pilot the affairs of what we are doing from now on. PLDI means Preschool Leadership Development Initiative Incorporated in Nigeria and it registered with Corporate Affairs Commission. It was registered in 2016-17. And the LEIC, as it appears in it, is the program under this Preschool Leadership Development Initiative. LEIC means Leadership Empowerment International Conference. So when we started this thing, I didn’t push the organization. The wisdom was that push the program, not the name of the organization so when you push the program, that means the conference, the Leadership Empowerment International Conference for a couple of years and we went to nations. Later, I started educating them that this one, this PLDI is the mother of it, so in order for the world to really come to grasp with what we do, so we’re pushing the LEIC. That is what we want to focus.

And when I saw that the LEIC has gathered the recognition that we expected, then I said okay fine, let’s not forget the name before people begin to take it as the main reason. So, that’s why you have, we call it PLDI’s LEIC. The journey of this Leadership Empowerment International Conference actually started in March 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. That was the first, very first place that we convened the first Leadership Empowerment International Conference and it was about Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda. There were four of us. Kenya joined us later but we had finished the conference before they came. They had a delay so they came and after the very first conference in 2016, it was like a wildfire. Those countries that participated in the conference decided that they would host the conference, first by Ghana, then Uganda, and then Kenya also came in 2017. And then from there, it started going wide and wide.

And different countries, different people from all over the world, they were getting to know what we were doing and were getting interested. They made contact and they said they wanted to be part of this organization. And that what we were doing, the Leadership Empowerment International Conference, is noble. And it’s something that the African continent requires, needs at the present time . So that was the words of encouragement from almost every person, all the personalities, all the professors and whatever that come in contact with what we are doing.

And that really encouraged me and it actually established in my heart that truly, truly God spoke. And what he spoke, it was God who truly spoke and you see the evidences in the comments of people and as we speak today, LEIC is domiciled, or let me say structured, in about 42 countries of this world. When I say structured, you see, from my phone as I sit down here, I can call somebody from that country to respond to what we are doing here so we have structure, each of the countries that we have, we have coordinators. I am the international coordinator, so all the national leaders are required and called national coordinators.

And I am the head of all the coordinators, so they are working directly under me , and they do convene their conferences in either their county. Nigeria uses local government system and some other places, like, what do you call them, Kenya, they use counties. They don’t have states and local governments like we do have,  they use counties, then in South Africa, they use provinces and districts. Uganda too, they don’t have states, they don’t have, so it’s only Nigeria that has states and local governments.

And Ghana too, so they establish, they take this thing to the grassroots and they have different conferences in their different units and they have national conferences. Once in a year, in a particular country, we have what we call international conference so the international conference comes once in a year in any country. And for me, as a person, I travel to any country once in a year. There is no opportunity to go today or whatever time because we draw up our conference calendar by September of an outgoing year. We draw what we call conference calendars for the next year.

Q: What do you mean by conference calendar?

The countries that will host the conference in the coming year. And how did we get those countries? You want to ask me that, how did you get those countries to want to? I want to tell you sincerely that it is not only just me or about anybody approaching any country that we are coming or this conference? Every one of them, they have come to realize that as one family, they will be bidding to host their conference.

They will say okay, next year, I will host the conference. Next year, we’ll host the conference so we collate all those interests together, sometimes we have 15 countries wanting to hold the conference. We did it in the space of 12 months so how do we do? We now constitute a small committee of 30 persons. And they’re headed by the executive secretary office of IC in our structure. We have the office of IC. The office of IC is like the presidency, you know, that has many other offices and so the principal in that office is executive secretary. And that Executive secretary is Reverend Hilda Cadena. She’s based in Zimbabwe.  We will now come out with a final calendar. People who say, oh, yeah, we are good. Okay, fine. And that’s how we come about our conference calendars. The hosting it? I want to tell you, by the grace of God, as I’m sitting down here, no country in this world has ever asked me to send money to them to plan their conference, no, that’s never happened. And I want to tell you, it will never happen.

It is organized by God. There’s nothing that anyone can do. If God does not give him, you know, the grace. And, of course, where is the money for me to run, finance conferences in about eight, nine, ten countries in a year? You understand my point now? So it’s not possible. I don’t know what to do. And that’s how it happens. They sit down, they mobilize themselves, they levy themselves, they contribute among themselves, they mobilize. And the conference and they send it to me.  What we now do, is to go there as a leader. We speak at the conference, we give them the theme. We organize the conference and it was fine. That’s how we do it. So on average in a year, I may have traveled about maybe eight times, sometimes six times in a year attending one conference or the other. So this is how it has been for the past since 2016. Among the countries that we have convened these conferences are United Kingdom, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Republic of  Benin,Togo, Mali, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Eswatini, Botswana, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania.

Nigeria is one of the places and the country that has hosted the conference and now is the fourth time that Nigeria will host the conference, having held it in 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 is the fourth conference that Nigeria will host. And I think Nigeria was about the sixth country that have hosted the conference.

One thing that is unique about Nigeria, is the fact that I’m a Nigerian. I am from Abeokuta, I am from Igbore precisely.  I am very proud of being a Yoruba person. Anywhere I am, I tell my story. I tell them where my father is from. I tell them about good things about Nigeria, I tell them about the Southwest Nigeria. I tell them about Abeokuta and Ogun State is the most educated state in Nigeria . All these things that we are doing, we are also selling where you come from and at the moment they have accepted us and they have seen what we are doing, they have seen the integrity.

Some do say Nigerians are bad, okay thank God that they are able to appreciate us that we are not bad. So it’s an opportunity for me to expose and sell my country. I tell them every good thing about Abeokuta. If you see our flyers, you will see Olumo Rock, because when we do our flyers in any country, we bring in the tourist attraction of that country on our flyer and then we use the color of that country to design our flyers. 

They ask me questions about Olumo Rock, I answer them in my accent and I tell them that that is where my forefathers hid when they were young during war. I tell them the story and they love it and they want to come. And each time they come into Abeokuta, I tell them about Abeokuta at the conference and they visit Olumo rock. They go to Federal University of Agriculture. For me, I see it as an opportunity to represent Nigeria in a very positive way. I see it as an opportunity to present myself as a Yoruba man, as a Nigerian and that’s why if you see me in any country that I go, I go in my native dress. I don’t hate English dress, I go in my native place and I try to speak the Yoruba language and interpret it to them. And sometimes I teach them Yoruba songs.

For me, I see that as pay back to the place that gave birth to me and to the place that developed me, to the place that I called my own. So, in a way, LEIC is also encouraging the economic structure of Nigeria and Ogun State particularly. People will come from different countries and they will make some purchases. They will go to the market, I remember Uganda, they almost packed all the Itoku Adire market away.

This year or the year before when we were in Kenya,iIt was then I heard that Kenya, they love our own yam.  I said, Kenya, you also have yam and the woman said, this yam is not as sweet as the one that you gave us in Nigeria. I said, Nigeria yam is very sweet and she said that they bought yam from Nigeria and they took it to Kenya. You hear me? And then somebody said, when we go to Nigeria, we went to your market and they found out that materials are cheaper in Nigeria and that they bought those things and they bring it to Kenya.

I am Oluseyi Michael Obateye, I want to declare to you that the little countries that I’ve gone to, there’s no place like Nigeria. 

I preach and I teach core word of God, especially leadership, there’s nothing to hide about it.  It is a straightjacket, straightforward, uprightly, upright thing, truth and nothing but the truth and when we started in Nigeria, everybody was clapping and appreciating what we do and especially the way we get our themes.

Q – What is the motive behind your work?

Let me just summarize everything to you, all about it, is right leadership at the right time. To do things right in the right manner at the right time. How to do right things rightly. We have leadership deficit in Nigeria currently. You understand my point now? It’s also the same in all African countries.

Leadership deficit is all over Africa countries. You understand my point? It’s not limited to Nigeria but why the emphasis is on Nigeria is because, for me, if you ask me, I will tell you Nigeria is over 250 million people. Nigeria is a big country. So, the emphasis is on Nigeria because Nigeria is the biggest black nation in the world and Nigeria is the biggest economy in West Africa and in Africa.

Every person, every personalities in Africa, when they want to speak, they tell you that if Nigeria gets it right, Africa will get it right. You understand? So, note the map of Africa, you see the hollow to the left-hand side, it is holding map of Africa from North Africa. You have a gun-like structure in your hand, isn’t it? I mean, when you hold it from the South Africa, you have a gun-like structure in your hand and the tickle point of that gun structure is Nigeria.

If you look at it spiritually, it means that how does bullet get triggered from the barrel of the gun? If you don’t pull the trigger, you don’t get the bullet out. So, Nigeria represents the trigger point of Africa where good leadership is supposed to have shot out that will affect all African countries.

Praise God. The  theme for this conference is “Regenerative Leadership”. If you are talking about Regenerative leadership, you are talking about so many things. If you are talking about regenerative leadership, you are talking about reconstruction. You are talking about reawakening. You are talking about replanting. You are talking about refocusing. You understand? You are talking about reexamining what you have been doing. Are you enjoying it? If you are not enjoying it, go back to the drawing board. Do your homework very well. Go back to it and hit it again. You understand? So by regenerative leadership, we mean that leaders should regenerate themselves. Meaning that they have to reproduce themselves and when leaders are reproducing themselves, who is that leader? What is the composition of that leader? So whoever you are, whatever you are, is what you will reproduce. I am the replica, I am the figure of my parents. So the DNA of my father is in me so there is every possibility that my conduct, my attitude, my character, my everything may not be too far away from that of my father. Is that what we are saying? So that is what we mean by regenerative leadership.

Q – What is the relevance of alternative medicine to your work?  

The past conferences have been impactful, so to say and one innovation that we brought into our conference, is the aspect of the alternative medicine. You understand? I noticed the way things are happening and for me, I grew up in the village. I was trained and nursed with Agbo (local herb) and all that stuff. And I saw how it works. And I belong to a parent who was actually in charge of taking care of the neighborhood. When we became born again, when we received Christ as our Lord and Savior, it’s just funny. It’s just unexpected that we started condemning all those things that our fathers were doing, the herbs and the leaves; but suddenly, I discovered that when we grew and we became what God wanted us to become, we went back to those herbs and leaves that we condemned. How did we go back to them? We went to the malls and to the stores and we were buying Chinese herbs or Chinese tea and Korean ginseng.

We went back to it by style and we were buying anti-hypertension and blood pressure. We are buying ginseng, everything about Korean ginseng, everything about the Chinese herbs and whatever are exactly the same herbs and leaves of our parents, our fathers, that we condemned. Then I called our brethren and said what are we doing here? We have been fooled. We are fooling ourselves so these things are cheap in our backyard here and we went to buy them because it is well-packaged and we get to the mall and we are taking it so from there, I got interested and I said, OK, we need to come back home and I went to Prof. Professor Samuel Oluwalana.

I said, Prof., I had a vision. I said, this thing is germinating inside me, Prof., what are you doing? And from there, we introduced it into our conference. People will come. We also do health talks, you know, talk, you know, how those things can assist. And do you know what, sir? The first time we introduced this thing into our conference, the next person that was to speak after Prof. Samuel Oluwalana couldn’t speak. What happened? Prof. Oluwalana finished his one-hour lecture and every person in that auditorium said, no, sir, we want more and what do you want us to do? The conference is to impactful and if they are blessed, why are you disturbing it?

Alternative medicine is what I would have loved Nigeria to really look into. It is a goldmine. Nigeria can really make big money in it, through export.

This year conference is unique. We are going to have visitors, partners from America, from Germany coming for the very first time and they were excited to come. Pakistan has never attended a conference before, a man call me days ago and said he was coming. All the countries in West Africa here like Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, they were all coming to Nigeria and then you are seeing East Africa too, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda, South Africa, about 18 or 19 countries are going to be presented in this conference, plus Nigeria.

And like we did last year, we brought in honors, recognitions, and decorations into the conference. How do we recognize people in the society who have labored, who have played, who have paid them a price of leadership, of honor, whatever they are doing? We give them recognition. We dress them. We greet them. We give them flags and some who have excelled in the area of academics. There are so many people who have excelled in what they are doing but because maybe they didn’t go to University or maybe you didn’t have a big degree but the society is not looking at them as having done anything so we put in our searchlight, we look at those credible people in society. And with our collaboration with the Emmanuel Institute of South Africa, with theology, they came last year. And we give recognition to people.

We are going to award them doctorates, degrees in leadership and theology. You will be amazed as people that want to be recognized, they are glad so this year, too, we are going to do the same thing. We are going to recognize people who have labored, who are still laboring, who have paid their price, who are still paying their price. The PLDI, as a recognized leadership organization in Nigeria, is collaborating with Emmanuel Institute of Theology in South Africa and St. Lawrence University in Uganda, they are our partners because LEIC is a structure in many countries so we are coming together.

The program is holding at the Treasure House of God. 177 Kwari Road, beside Agbeloba. The conference is three days, starting from September 21, 22 and September 23.

Q- How do you want to get across to young leaders coming up?

There is this misconception and that’s why this conference is coming up. Many people believe that it’s a majorly religious convergence. No, like you rightly pointed out. There is one thing that we need to start drumming in the airings of our people that charity begins at home. The moment you lose your identity, that means it’s going to be difficult for you to trace it back. Now, if you are in diaspora and you are not connecting with your people, if you have a challenge, it’s going to be very difficult for them to help you. It’s not peculiar to Yoruba alone but you find out that where there are evils, they will always network. They will always look for themselves and so the reason for this leadership empowerment and enrichment conference is for us to broaden our horizon. Leadership, like you rightly pointed out, starts from the home front. And it’s not peculiar to officials in government alone. We are looking at the different strata in the society. The youth, those who are in governance, those who are in the religious circle, whether you are Christian or Muslim and of course, those who we see that they’ve distinguished themselves in their choice of career. Like that, they will come and indeed impact on us and will take it on from there to indeed spread it to the larger society.

Each time that I travel to the UK and the US, I tell our people that Nigeria is not well represented in the media and I told them, I said, look, we are in Nigeria. We are living in Nigeria. We are not rich. We are not poor. I say it everywhere. It is cheaper to live in Nigeria than to live in United Kingdom. It is cheaper to live in Nigeria, sir, than any African countries. In Nigeria, let me tell you, sir, do you know we do most of our printing in Nigeria? Even in Kenya, what we print in Nigeria for N20,000 Naira, it might take us about N30,000 or N35,000 shillings ? In South Africa, they ask us to print in Nigeria and bring back to them. I want to appeal to Nigerians, we might have challenges. We might have bandits, we might have terrorists, we might have everywhere. Nigeria is still one of the best countries to live in in this world. The best country to live in Africa. I am telling you sincerely.

I am not exonerating our government for not doing enough, but what I am saying is that our Yoruba people in diaspora should know that some of us that are living in Nigeria are also human beings. I’ll tell people, our currency may not be anything.  One thing is that Nigerians are one of the richest people in this world. Here in Nigeria, an average man as we are sitting down here, we are providing our electricity, our water, our roads and all that. Who can do that is because we are rich. That’s the truth. It is because we can afford it. We are rich.

Q- What are the plans on ground and arrangement in place for the security of people coming?

One of the key motives for bringing in alternative medicine is for economic reasons. Let me tell you, as I sit down here, tell me you have blood pressure , I will say that one should not kill you, tell me you have high blood sugar, I will tell you that should not trouble you, tell me you have infection, I will tell you that should not kill you.

Right from my table here, I can prescribe one or two herbs for you that if you have high blood sugar that you will take and go and measure it back in one, two, three or one week, you will not have the same experience again. And I was telling people, why don’t you get interested in all those things and get it to NAFDAC. Once it will not harm, once it will not cause danger, NAFDAC will register it. We have been doing work on this one that we are talking about here, so that when we take a lead, people will see us.

We train people, you know, you want to be a tailor, you be a tailor, I say those ones are good, but an area that Nigerians should focus is this medicinal herbs.

Q – What can Nigeria do to put in good governance

The first thing I think Nigeria should do is to get our electoral system credible. Once somebody is ascending a political leadership, if the process of ascension is fraught with what I call secrecy or whatever, then the leadership will not have expected credibility. One bane of African nations, especially Nigeria, is that Nigeria is hiding behind a transparent curtain and she thinks that the whole world is not seeing her. That’s a dangerous thinking and it is bad mentality. We are hiding behind a transparent curtain and the whole world is seeing how flawed our processes, our institutions are. We are bearing the mark of the troubles of Nigeria on our body, those of us that travel out and those of us that need people to gather together to listen to us. I am telling you, is a scar.

Nigeria is not getting it right. Anybody can be a leader but let us get the process right once the process is right, we will know that we are the one who elected this person.

President Ya ‘ Adua was sick in this land and up till today, nobody told Nigerians what led to that sickness, what killed him. Now, our last President, you know, went to spend substantial time in the United Kingdom or any other place. Up to today, I don’t know any press personality who knows what President Muhammadu Buhari went to United Kingdom to treat. Leadership is like that. Leadership must be transparent. The moment you opt to lead and be a leader, there’s no secret in your family. It’s part of the process and Africa should do away with impunity.

There’s so much of impunity in Africa. There is a particular law for the low and there’s another law for the high. Now, excuse me, can I tell you something? Archbishop Caterbury, he overspeed, isn’t it? And he was arrested. He was charged and he paid the penalty. And not only that, if you say maybe because he’s not in government, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, you understand me? He was sitting, he was not the one driving. He was sitting in the owner’s corner of the car and he did not put in the belt. Let me tell you, that’s a country we are talking about. That is a country we are talking about. That is leadership that we are talking about. If Sunak can be charged, tell me who in that country that will never be charged. Such a thing cannot happen in Nigeria. Nigeria is not there.