International Leadership Conference and Integral Leadership Education Program in Nigeria

Supplement / January 2012

Oliver Ngodo

Oliver Ngodo

November 2011 will go down as very significant in the history of Integral Movement globally. 16 – 18 of the month marked the graduation of the trainees of what may be one of the first formal and publicly acknowledged Integral Leadership Education Program in the world; certainly this is the first of its kind in Africa. This very significant event was packaged for great impact and it did generate great ululation not only all around the City of Calabar, the historically very significant capital of Nigeria’s South-South State of Cross River, but also throughout the nation. This Integral Leadership Education Program was inaugurated exactly three years previously, in 2009, with 30 participants, men and women who met the rigorous prerequisites for inclusion. In the course of this three-year training, the trainees themselves created the African Integral Development Network (AIDEN), which, in line with an objective of the program, is to be their link with the global Integral Movement. This same AIDEN has already grown strong enough to be the main anchor of this graduation event.

The graduation event had two parts. The first part was an International Leadership Conference with the theme: Advancing into the 21st Century: Exploring Best Approaches to Effective Leadership for Africa. This conference was packaged in collaboration with the University of Calabar, one of the best in the Southern part of Nigeria. The second part was the graduation ceremony, which took place on the last day of the conference. All the events took place in the five-star Channel View Hotel Conference Center, located at the City Center. The significance of the event, in relation to the place of the City of Calabar in history, was not lost to AIDEN President Etim Omini, who in his opening speech recalled that:

Today, we hold the second AIDEN International Conference in Calabar. We consider this very significant because Calabar has always played the role of a birth place for many revolutionary social movements in history. For example, it was here that a revolutionary International Development Professional, Mary Slessor, in the 18th century, started the great social movement that led to the abolition of stigmatization of twins here, which later spread to all parts of Africa, thereby saving millions of lives over the years.

Today we are here launching yet another social revolutionary movement, which has the potential of transforming the entire African continent through a leadership approach that transforms the self and all, both within and without. This cutting edge approach is based on Integral Theory, which views reality from all perspectives, bringing together all breakthroughs of the classical studies, science and technology and the distilled wisdom of all religious studies of all ages. Solutions to human problems emerging from this kind of comprehensive analysis become balanced, accurate and sustainable.

Integral Presentation

In attendance were 24 out of the 30 pioneer integral trainees who had just graduated from the 3-year training program on Integral Theory and Practice. Attendees were also drawn from the University of Calabar, led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor James Ekpoke, as well as many academics from within and outside the University, some of whom made paper presentations. Also in attendance were participants from One Sky – Canadian Institute of Sustainable Living, a Canadian International NGO based in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada, which operates a Nigerian office in Calabar and actually managed the training program. The delegation from One Sky – Canada, was led by the Executive Director, Mr. Michael James Simpson, while from the Nigerian office were Dr. Oliver Ngodo, the Nigeria Program Director, as well as Mr. David Cicerchi, the Project Coordinator.

Also present at the conference were a delegation from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the funders of the program, both from their Head Office in Ottawa, Canada and their Nigeria Office in Abuja. The delegation from CIDA Head Office in Ottawa was led by Ms. Tanya McGregor, while CIDA Nigeria Office was led by the Head of Cooperation, Mr. David Ross. From the United States of America were participants, including Mr. Richard Cicerchi, President/CEO, Cicerchi Development Company, Cleveland Ohio.

In all, over 400 participants attended the conference, representing civil society organizations and NGOs, community-based organizations, the Cross River Tourism Corporation, the private sector, farmers, forest communities’ representatives, as well as the print and electronic media.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was chaired by Professor James Ekpoke, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar. The Chairman, in his opening address, described the conference as timely, especially in the face of the current sit-tight leadership syndrome affecting Africa and other parts of the world. Following the Chairman’s address came a welcome speech by the President of AIDEN, Mr. Etim Omini, who espoused that the integral approach to leadership is a tool for social transformation in Africa.  He also showed that AIDEN emerged out of the work of One Sky’s 3-year project in Nigeria tagged: “Leading from Within: Integral Application to Sustainability in the Niger Delta Nigeria”. Shortly after AIDEN President’s welcome speech, were various keynote presentations such as:

  1. Developing Functional Institutions towards Resource Management Process that Fosters the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People, by Dr. (Mrs.) Sally N. Adukwu-Bolujoko, FNIM, President, Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), who was represented by Dr. Iyk Orji, the Institute’s Deputy Director/Head of Operation and Strategies.
  2. Women and Leadership: Exploring ways Towards Inclusion, by Mrs. Rose Ugo Bassey, a Chartered Accountant and erstwhile Accountant General of Cross River State.
  3. Re-visiting the Meaning of Leadership for Effectiveness in the 21st Century, by Dr Oliver Ngodo, Nigeria Program Director, One Sky Nigeria Office.
  4. Integral Leadership in a Changing World, by Michael James Simpson, the Executive Director, One Sky – Canadian Institute of Sustainable Living.

Before the Chairman eventually declared the conference open, the Head of Cooperation at CIDA in Nigeria, Mr. David Ross, who also represented the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Chris Cooter, delivered a goodwill message in which he outlined the focus areas for CIDA support. He said CIDA focuses aids in the areas of Environment, Gender Mainstreaming, Children and Youth and issues that are cross cutting these areas, for example Leadership Development Programs such as this one.

Technical Sessions/Presentation of Papers

During the technical sessions, which spanned two days, several research papers and case studies were presented and discussed by participants at different group levels. The case studies were presented by the graduating leaders from the Integral Leadership Program, while the research papers came mainly from the University of Calabar, University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Uyo, College of Education, Akamkpa and other research and professional establishments. The case studies that were presented are as follow:

  • Integral Application to Sustainability in HIV/AIDS Prevention Programming – A Case Study of Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the HIV/AIDS Breakthrough Initiative Group.
  • Integral Application to Sustainability in Forest Conservation Programming – A Case Study of Wula Community in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the Save the Gorilla Breakthrough Initiative Group.
  • Integral Application to programming in Constituency Stakeholders’ Dialogue for Good Governance and Citizens’ Participation: A Case Study of Calabar Municipal Council Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the Good Governance and Human Rights Breakthrough Initiative Group.
  • Integral Application to Sustainability in Youth Empowerment Programming – A Case Study of Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the Youth Empowerment Breakthrough Initiative Group.
  • Integral Application to Sustainability in Climate Change Adaptation Programming – A Case Study of Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the Climate Change Adaptation Breakthrough Initiative Group.
  • Integral Application to Sustainability in Women Empowerment Programming – A Case Study of Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the Women Empowerment Breakthrough Initiative Group.
  • Integral Application to Sustainability in Widows Empowerment Programming – A Case Study of Okuni Community in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, by the Widows Empowerment Breakthrough Initiative Group.

R – L: Vice Chancellor, University of Calabar, Professor James Ekpoke, One Sky’s Nigeria Program Director, Dr Oliver Ngodo and Executive Director of One Sky Canada, Michael Simpson.

Five additional papers were presented under the Integral Application programming by graduating members of the Leading From Within Program, and these were:

  1. Integral Life Practice by Lillian Oyama
  2. Integral Application to Community Development by Etim Omini
  3. Integral Application to the Challenges of Climate Change Impact on different Ecological and Environmental Resources by Jerry Akparawa
  4. Integral Application to Leadership in Climate Change Challenges by Ugah Godwin Unimke
  5. Followership: A Key to Sustainable Development by Robert Umera

From the academic perspective, the following presentations were made and discussed:

i)    Values in Leadership by Dr Fan A Fan, Dr J. B. Bassey & Dr (Mgr) Emmanuel Umoetok

ii)   Succession and Leadership in Africa: The Crisis in Political Transition and Revolution in Libya by Asuquo Edet Ekpe

iii) Perspectives on the meaning of Leadership by Dr Joseph B. Besong, Dr (Mrs.) M. I. Edu & Dr Fan A. Fan

iv) Political Leadership and Economic Development in Africa and Asia: A comparison of Nigeria and Indonesia by Asuquo Edet Ekpe & Daasi Gibson L. K.

v)  Leadership and Development in Africa by Bassey Effiom Duke

vi) Challenges of Leadership in a Globalised World by Dr Iyk Oji

vii) Women and Leadership in the 21st Century: Accessibility and Inaccessibility Factors by Dr Paulinus S. Ibok, Dr (Mrs.) Grace Essien, and Dr(Mrs.) Eka E. Maples

viii) Youths and Leadership by Charles Rita Oluomachi

ix) Values in Leadership by Bishop Victor Bassey

Conference Participants


From the various presentations – keynote addresses, research/academic papers, panel discussion, general presentations, as well as inputs from other participants, the following observations were made:

  • Every leader has an action to take before becoming a leader, as leadership is about action, not position.
  • Corruption in Nigeria, as well as most other African countries, is a product of corruption in individual households.
  • Leadership goes beyond what any single individual can assume responsibility for.
  • Everyone is both leader and follower in different contexts.
  • Every individual is capable of bringing about changes in the society which must necessarily start from within the person.
  • Nigerian youths should not copy the approach of our current leaders and that of the youths in the Arab nations (in terms of materialism and revolutionary traits).
  • Leadership is about being a servant primarily and not being a boss.
  • Selfishness, acquisitive tendencies, Egoism, Indiscipline, Inconsistency, power drunkenness and inability to evaluate oneself are some of the value orientations that work against effectiveness in leadership.
  • Some of the value orientations that are conducive to effective leadership are servant’s attitude, selflessness, humility, sense of responsibility, ability to see things from other people’s perspective and ability to look at things holistically.
  • There is need for every individual within the society and, in particular, the enlightened members of the community such as academics, not to be passive when electing people into political offices.


  • Women need to be mentored and their capacity built for greater involvement in all frontiers of knowledge and governance.
  • Integral leadership to be incorporated in tertiary institutions’ curriculum as a program.
  • African, especially Nigerian, leaders should be trained and retrained on integral approach to leadership.
  • There is need for every individual to identify and clarify their values – integrity, honesty, true service-oriented mind, etc., but not forgetting cultural values that are healthy.
  • Every person who aspires to be a leader must have a vision and mission, set goals and strategies to achieve the vision.
  • There is the need for continuous training, capacity building and awareness programs and, in particular, adopting the integral leadership approach.
  • People should learn to plant trees and encourage children to join conservation clubs so as to protect the environment and reduce climate change impact.
  • Our youth should look inwards more for self development and make good use of any available opportunities.


The climax of the conference was on the third day, the graduation day for 24 out of the 30 participants that originally registered for the Leading From Within Program in 2009. It also featured the inauguration of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of AIDEN as well as the Board of Advisers, in line with the provisions of AIDEN’s Constitution. The seven-member BOT is made up of:

  1. Chief Edwin Usang – Chairman
  2. Mrs. Patricia Eyamba – Member
  3. Dr Oliver Ngodo – Member
  4. Mrs. Ejibwa Irek – Member
  5. Chief Edwin Ogar – Member
  6. Elder Chief (Mrs.) Oten Eyo Ita – Member
  7. Mr Etim Omini – Secretary

Similarly, the six-member Board of Advisers is comprised of:

  1. Lady Gloria Monn – Chairperson
  2. Mr. Michael James Simpson – Member
  3. Chief Bassey Archibong – Member
  4. Dr Yene Assagid – Member
  5. Mrs Gail Hochachka – Member
  6. Dr Odigha Odigha – Member

Many dignitaries from within and outside Nigeria attended the graduation ceremony. They include the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, in company of the Registrar, and other top officials of the University. Some personalities were honoured with special plaques, certificates of recognition, for their contributions to human well being. AIDEN instituted the AIDEN Leadership Distinction Award, with Honourable Nkoyo Toyo as the First Recipient. Toyo is a distinguished member of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Calabar Municipal Constituency. She was former Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia. Two other leaders received certificates of recognition for promoting good leadership. They are Dr Ekpo Bassey who is Executive Chairman, Bakassi Local Government Authority, and Reverend Chris Obasse, Executive Chairman, Obubra Local Government Authority.

The Program – Design and Implementation

The program was designed to enable emergence of leaders who have the requisite mindset, values and competencies to generate effective solutions to the complex problems of our time. This is based on the understanding that merely training a person may not be sufficient to turn them to leaders, but people can be given emergent grounds and enabling circumstances for leadership to emerge. Leadership emerges from within when the conditions are ripe for that. The program is therefore about creating these conditions. The project was entitled: Leading From Within – Integral Application to Sustainability in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. The reasoning was that the leaders envisaged need to emerge from within the region so they would stay in the region over the length of time necessary for short-term results to mature into long-term impacts.

The only other program that could be regarded as antecedent to this particular one is the UNDP Leadership For Results Program, which involved over 40 countries including Nigeria The design of Leading From Within Program reflected some of the lessons learned from Leadership For Results Program. One of the lessons was that there was no baseline assessment in the UNDP Program. In the Leading From Within Program, the participants were assessed with Susanne Cook-Greuter’s SCTi-MAP, said to be currently the most rigorously validated, reliable and advanced tool in such programming. This assessment afforded great insights. One was that the participants tested at equal level with similar groups in the North. They were found to be developmentally ready for the intervention work that was planned. The other lesson was that Leadership For Results Program did not offer participants the necessary logistical support to initiate projects for the purpose of applying what they learned in the program. Leading From Within provided for empowerment of participants, to enable them to undertake Breakthrough Initiatives (BIs), to apply their new capacities in community development work in their areas.

The methodology involved meticulously selecting 30 young Nigerian leaders already working in 27 NGOs, through a gender sensitive procedure. The reasoning was that leaders in the public sector would eventually return to their organizations for business as usual. The entrenched system of these public establishments would certainly stifle whatever developmental levels they reached through the intervention. But those in the NGO sector could sustain the levels leveraged by the program. They could immediately indirectly, but eventually also directly influence public sector policies and procedures in a holarchy of change. The project was to develop the capacity of these leaders in environmental and economic sustainability over the period of 3 years. The program would benefit, first the participants, then their organizations, and eventually all, through the combined effect of their network, in a holarchy of change. This would be through working with the nuances of personal growth, developing the various capacities associated with transformative leadership such as the soft skills of self-awareness, moral development and interpersonal skills in addition to the hard skills like project and financial management, with capacities for enacting social change efforts.

Conference Session

A very important aspect of the program design is use of learning community. The participants are enabled to develop as individuals, then they impact each other in small groups, work in the larger group of 30 of them as a cohort, positively influence their various organizations and together enact society-wide transformative change through a network that reaches out from Niger Delta to all of Nigeria, and then Africa as a whole, establishing strong links with the global Integral Community. The program was designed to engage the cognitive development of participants through a series of Intensive Retreats, 12 in all over the 36 months period of the program, at roughly one Retreat every 3 months, 4 in a year. In the course of the program, participants in small groups would formulate a Breakthrough Initiative (BI). This would serve as laboratories for trying out new ideas and methodologies as vehicles for producing observable results in their fields. The BI would fit into the larger Ecosystem Based Management (EBM). These BIs would be based on peer review mechanisms and would receive full funding. BIs must fulfill certain criteria such as leverage, visibility, and measurability, producing near-term results and going beyond business as usual. They are required to reflect velocity, productivity, innovation, effectiveness, participation, impact and efficiency. The participants fell into 7 BI Groups already listed above, under the sub-section “Technical Sessions/Presentation of Papers.

Implementation of the program involved flying in needed facilitators and relevant professionals from the North, in each Intensive Retreat. Each Retreat had separate curriculum developed for it, focusing on different aspects of the program. Two Certified Integral Coaches were brought in to work on the trainees, one from Canada, early in the program and the other, from France, as part of the last Retreat. In the course of the program, each BI Group worked very hard to develop proposal for their BI. The proposals, with the budgets, went through very rigorous process of review and approval. Each BI was to be based in different Local Government Council of the state and was to run for 6 months.


The impact of the program was far beyond the maximum expectation of all who worked at the design. All who were present at the conference and in the graduation ceremony, and who made comments about these events, expressed amazement at the new consciousness and cognitive capacity of the participants. One aspect of the program, which made it outstanding, is the novelty of the entire Integral concept. There is no shortage of capacity development programs all around, but none could come near to matching the intellectual freshness and uniqueness of this very one. The Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, for example, expressed that he had not attended a conference of this quality in recent time. This also manifests in the fact that everyone now wants to hear and know more about Integral. Integral, One Sky and AIDEN have become household names all around the Niger Delta.

At the commencement of the program, the most positive estimate was that at most 18 out of the 30 initial participants would make it to the end. It was a surprise that 24 actually made it successfully. Out of the 6 who couldn’t make it, it was only one that is a clear case of drop out. Of the remaining 5, 2 had their BI terminated on account of not meeting the prescribed minimum standard. They were consequently asked to join other BI Groups. They opted out of the program rather than join other groups mid way in the BI work. The other 3 participants remained in the program, but were not allowed to graduate because they were short of the prescribed minimum requirement in attendance to Intensive Retreats. This can reveal so much about the very high quality the program was designed to aim at.

The program was never designed with the aim of making the participants evolve into second-tier worldview or consciousness. That was thought to be a very tall order to aim at. The goal was to build their leadership capacity and make them achieve some awareness of Integral Theory and Practice so that some of them might someday develop more interest and decide to further their enquiries about the field. It is therefore amazing that the 24 who graduated have tremendously evolved in their consciousness and state stage, manifesting, many of them actually, consolidating green, and some stepping into amber. They are generally above medium in cognitive, emotional, somatic, interpersonal, spiritual and moral lines. One of the most applauded testimonies at the graduation dinner was by Lillian Oyama. She recalled what happened when we were preparing for Integral Awareness workshop for representatives of other NGO’s and Public sector employees. She was asked to prepare and make presentation on Integral Life Practice. It was so challenging that she picked it as the turning point for her in the program. She made a huge success of it in that workshop so much that it has become her specialty area. She again presented on that topic in the conference. She also writes on that for this issue of ILR, see next article.

Furthermore, their work has gone beyond what can be explained as motivated by self considerations. They offer support for each other in small groups; step down training for numerous volunteers in the local communities where they work on their BI, and work to transform the lives of the numerous beneficiaries of their BIs. All together they both directly and indirectly touch the lives of hundreds of thousands all around Cross River State, Nigeria.

Insights Gained in the Program

A number of hiccups nearly marred the program at its various stages. Almost all of the hiccups arose from one source: the fact that for 2 years of the 3-year program, there was no resident Program Manager to take responsibility for what was happening in the program, almost totally no sense of direction. Instead, the program was run on Ad Hoc basis from Canada. Even in the final year of the program when two CUSO International Volunteers were resident on the ground, and were designated Program Director and Project Coordinator respectively, they were never really permitted to function as designated. The damaging effect of this cannot be quantified. This was particularly so because the 2 years without any identifiable Program Manager on the ground occurred at the beginning of the program when the participants needed very close mentoring to leverage development in the upper left and lower left. This absence of ‘person in charge’ on the ground resulted into poor project management practices: poor sequencing of the various phases of the program, lack of coherence in curriculum planning and implementation, not strictly following the project plan and implementation document as well as the project budget, avoidable delay in moving into the next phase, for example BI work scheduled to last for 6 months unfortunately dragged on for 16 months, just to mention a few problem areas.

For the first 2 years of the program, a total of 8 Intensive Retreats, out of the 12 planned for the entire project, were held. For each, facilitators were flown in from the North. They worked for the 3 or 4 days of the Retreat and went back to their base in the North. This clearly worked against personalized leadership program for each individual based on their multiple intelligences as explicitly stated in the program design document. The first coach who worked with the participants came within this period. There was no arrangement made for clearly necessary follow ups. The coach was not permitted to exchange contact information with the clients. This was very frustrating for the participants as they clearly needed clarifications and follow ups, which no one addressed.

Perhaps the following story would illustrate some of the gaps created by this situation. The first Retreat I participated in was the 8th, which took place November 17 – 19, 2010. After the usual opening ritual, participants were required to share their experiences from their Integral Life Practice. All of them stated that they were not doing Integral Life Practice. 2 of them elaborated that Integral Life Practice violated the tenet of their religious belief. Cross River State, in the southern half of Nigeria, is predominantly Christian. Particularly, the Pentecostal influence is pervasive in all Churches, to a varying degree. To the people here, any teaching that brings in concepts such as Yoga and Meditation as practised in the East is viewed as demonic. Yes, as a person evolves through Integral Life Practice, they transcend and include these prejudices associated with the lower state stage, but then the person must first start, and they start right where they are at the moment, with all the prejudices. It is therefore the duty of the Project Manager, all the facilitators, and the coach, to be sensitive to this background information. If not, the participants are dispirited outright.

In this case where the participants were reacting with negative mindset over this important component of Integral Life Practice, what I did was to draw from my own experience – I had felt the same way when I first had to start spiritual practice, myself a Pentecostal Christian.  I prepared and distributed the following paper to all participants:

Learn to Listen

When you undertake to live an ideal life and seek to promote your advancement in every direction, you will find that much cannot be gained until your entire being is placed in a proper condition for growth. The reason is that the ideal is ever advancing toward higher ideals and you must improve yourself before you can better your life.

It has been found that all laws of growth require order, harmony and stillness for proper action. Therefore, to live peacefully, think peacefully, act peacefully and speak peacefully are important essentials. This will not only put the entire being into proper condition for growth, but will also conserve energy, and when you begin to live the larger life, you will want to use properly all your forces, neither misusing or wasting anything.

To acquire stillness, never “try hard”, but simply exercise general self control in everything you do. Never be anxious about results, and they will come with less effort and in less time.

Whenever you have a moment to spare, relax the whole person – mind and body. Just let everything fall into the easiest position possible. Make no effort to relax, simply let go. So long as you try to relax, you will not succeed. While in this relaxed condition, be quiet. Do not move a muscle; breathe deeply but gently and think only of peace and stillness.

Before you go to sleep at night, relax your entire system and fall asleep with peace in your mind. Bathe your mind and body, so to speak, in the crystal sea of the beautiful calm.

These methods alone will work wonders in a few weeks. While you are at work, hold yourself from anxious hurry or disturbed action. Work in the attitude of poise and you will be far better work man.

Train yourself to come into the realization of perfect peace by gently holding a deep strong desire for peace and by ordering all your actions to harmonize with the peaceful goal in view. The result will be “peace that passeth all understanding” and for this alone your gratitude will be both boundless and endless (Christian Larson, 1909). 

  • Exodus 14: 14 – The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
  • Zachariah 2: 13 – Be still before the Lord all mankind.
  • Psalm 46: 10 – Be still and know that I am God.
  • Psalm 37: 7 – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

This formed the basis of the spiritual practice I introduced, which I chose to refer to as Practising to be Still. I linked this exercise with specific Bible passages, and introduced powerful Christian prayer to end the exercise. This eventually set the group free to engage in Integral Life Practice. The transformative learning that has been engendered is far reaching. Now, having transcended and included those lower state stages when they were naturally, as it were, piqued to hear about “Meditation”, they now recall and laugh at themselves as the new consciousness grows in them, in their new state stage.

About the Author

Dr. Oliver Ngodo, PhD is a Nigerian, on CUSO International placement as the Leading From Within Program Director. He is Associate Editor & Bureau Chief for Sub-Saharan Africa, Integral Leadership Review.