By Piriye Kiyaramo
The nomination and subsequent official conferment of the prestigious “Thomas Sankara Leadership Award of Integrity and Transparency” on Bayelsa-born former Nigerian Ambassador to Denmark, Finland, Norway and Cameroun, Dr. Godknows Boladei Igali by the youth arm of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, speaks volumes of the person of the retired federal permanent secretary at the Ministry of Power and later, Water Resources.
The award, coming from a regional youth representative organization of over 200 million youth population, cutting across the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is a testimony of fact about the sterling leadership qualities of the recipient, who shares similar qualities with the Burkinabé revolutionary-Marxist pan-Africanist and late former President of Burkina Faso (1983-1987), viewed by fans as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”
Therefore, Ecowas Youth Council’s decision to name Amb. Igali as “WEST AFRICAN PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR 2018” did not come as a surprise to the those that know him.
The two-in-one annual personality award, which is restricted only to one personality in the sub-region, tagged “THOMAS SANKARA LEADERSHIP AWARD OF INTEGRITY AND TRANSPARENCY” being conferred on Ambassador Igali was in recognition of his unsurpassed performance and leadership style as a seasoned diplomat, technocrat and administrator with over 30 years’ experience in the Public Service of Nigeria and beyond.
Thomas Noel Isidore Sankara, referred to as the “African Che”, on assumption of office as Head of State, changed his country’s colonial name, “Upper Volta” to “Burkina Faso”, being interpreted as “the land of the honest people”, shares some common leadership qualities with Amb. Igali, hence, his choice by the sub-regional youth body to confer on him the award.
While presenting the award to Amb. Igali in his Abuja office, on behalf of the Chairperson, Vice Chairman of ECOWAS Youth Council, Amb. Epah Pablo Fossoh, from Ghana, said ECOWAS Youth Council acknowledged Amb. Igali’s selfless service and active support for youth development and empowerment in addition to peace-building efforts across the African continent.
Responding, Amb. Igali thanked the leadership of the Council for the great honour done him and pledged to continue to work even harder for the benefit of the teeming youths in the sub-region and the African continent in general.
Amb. Buraimoh Peter Folajimi, Director of Education and Youth matters, Ecowas Youth Council from Nigeria; Amb. Man Sowe, Director of Information from The Gambia and Amb. Hon. Kobehi Kossa from Cote D’Ivoire and Chief Noble Akenge (FNES), Publisher of the Environment Outreach Magazine, among others witnessed the award presentation.
It would be recalled that between November 11-14, 2014, young professionals and citizens, drawn from 15 West African countries met in Abuja to form the ECOWAS Youth Council.
The purpose of the regional body was to compliment efforts of ECOWAS Commission in fostering set development agendas, such as ECOWAS vision 2020, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 and that of the African Union 2063 development strategy document in the sub region.
The ECOWAS Youth Council, being the youth arm of the ECOWAS Commission, is at the forefront of promoting international understanding, creating framework for intercultural dialogue and supporting the diversity of ideas and practices among ECOWAS youths.