Gloria Akobundu: National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer, African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development/African Peer Review Mechanism (AUDA-NEPAD/APRM) Nigeria

Princess Gloria Akobundu is national coordinator/chief executive officer, African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development/African Peer Review Mechanism (AUDA-NEPAD/APRM) Nigeria. She has served in that capacity for the past four years and was re-appointed for the second term in September last year.

Her tenor has witnessed the transformation of the agency as part of the global reforms geared at improving the African Union’s impact and operational efficiency. She is in charge of delivering AUDA-NEPAD’s mandate – which is to coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063.

The mandate also includes strengthening the capacity of African Union Member States and regional bodies, advancing knowledge-based advisory support, undertaking the full range of resource mobilisation and serving as the continent’s technical interface with all Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners.

In pursuit of its mandate, the Akobundu-led agency has recorded giant strides over the four years of her innovative leadership. Under her stewardship, President Buhari accented to Second Peer Review of the Country in 2019 to be conducted by APRM Nigeria – the first time since 2008. This is an exercise to gather adequate data on how to better deepen good governance and socio-economic development in the country.

“It is a self-assessment exercise voluntarily assented to by individual African Union nations to review itself in all areas of activities and sectors, socio-economic and political sectors to see where our strengths are, our weaknesses are and to learn from other nations and for other nations to learn from us in those areas that we have capacity, we have strength and better performance shown”, NEPAD’s boss said.

In her assessment of the agency’s contributions towards realizing the set goals at the end of the first four years in office, she acknowledged significant progress made in the areas of promoting good governance and development of the nation.

 “As management, we have designed 3-Ps, and the directors have been very proactive, towards successful implementation of that roadmap, which is in line with federal government’s 9-point agenda.

“The 3-Ps represent `Productivity-Partnership-Prosperity,’ like a farmer that labours: clears his land, watches it germinate and then he harvests. I will say our next four years will be years of harvest,” she promised.

She is driving key development initiatives designed to open up the nation’s economic potentials to the outside world. She is widely rated as a driver of innovation, who can make NEPAD Nigeria work.  

AUDA-NEPAD has undertaken several activities and programmes under Akobundu that have lifted people into improved living and working standards. More than 3,000 youth and women have been empowered through the activities of the agency across the country.

Through AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria, smallholder farmers in the country, who constitute about 90 percent of Nigeria’s food producers, are being empowered with requisite skills and inputs that would enhance productivity and wellbeing at the grassroots.

Akobundu said the initiative would strengthen the capabilities of smallholder farmers in the six geopolitical zones of the country. She assured that with the programme taking effect across the nation – beginning with a pilot scheme in 22 states, the trends of food insufficiency, unhealthy feeding and farming are about to be reversed.

The programme, which is being implemented with counterpart funding by international partners and state governments, is NEPAD’s commitment to President Muhammadu Buhari’s 9-point agenda on food sufficiency. It aims at eliminating peasant farming in the country through technical and strategic infrastructure support and boosting productivity of grassroots farmers and other stakeholders across the agricultural value chain. 

Akobundu is giving a lot of priority to food sufficiency in the country as an indirect but fundamental solution to spreading restiveness in the country. This is her response to expert security information linking poverty to insurgency, kidnapping and other vices.

She is mobilising all stakeholders to key into the farmers’ initiative, assuring that it is capable of promoting peace and prosperity in the country so that other great potentials of the nation could be harnessed.

According to her, “attaining sufficient and nutritious feeding status is a great achievement for any nation and President Buhari-led government is passionate about it”. She strongly stresses the need to re-direct the energy and resources of the youth in the country to saleable skills.

Her constructive and meaningful participation at continental level has earned her membership of African Union-APRM Taskforce Committee on Governance Response to COVID-19 and other pandemics.

Akobundu is a thorough-bred managerial executive with a high sense of professionalism combined with human kindness. She earned management from the University of Port Harcourt and obtained business administration from the National Open University of Nigeria.

Her sterling qualities speak loudly of her leadership as a strong boost to the goals and objectives of setting-up the continental body. Her quality as a people-person combined with managerial know-how is acknowledged as a promising indicator of better days ahead for NEPAD.