Leaders of Africa

Leaders Voices with Mr. Innocent Chukwuma

Mr. Chukwuma reflects on how he became involved in civil society work and shares his thoughts on the preparations for Nigeria’s upcoming 2019 general elections.

Mr. Innocent Chukwuma is the Regional Director for West Africa at the Ford Foundation. The Leaders of Africa Project represented by Peter Penar recently spoke to Mr. Chukwuma.

During the interview, Mr. Chukwuma explains how he began his career in civil society after his activism against military rule at the University of Nigeria. Mr. Chukwuma shares how the experiences of military rule and human rights abuses in the 1990s motivated many of his cohort to challenge an increasingly repressive Nigerian government.

After serving in the civil liberties sector, Mr. Chukwuma developed an approach to working with Nigeria’s security sector to improve human rights outcomes. This provided the impetus for Mr. Chukwuma to found the CLEEN Foundation then known as Centre for Law Enforcement Education. During his tenure at CLEEN Foundation, Mr. Chukwuma contributed to improving public safety, human rights, and the extension of justice. Mr. Chukwuma explains how there are significant differences between his work at CLEEN Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

In the interview, Mr. Chukwuma shares his thoughts on election quality in West Africa and specifically in Nigeria. In particular, he offers a suggestion that civil society in Nigeria should contribute to improving election quality by engaging in more activities outside of election observation. Also, Mr. Chukwuma explains that it is important for civil society to work cooperatively when it comes to assessing election quality.

Podcast version (also on Acast and your favorite podcast app):

Videocast version (also on YouTube):


  1. The Leaders of Africa Project is independent and non-partisan. The unedited views expressed in Leaders Voices are not those expressed by the Leaders of Africa Project. All opinions and experiences expressed are solely that of the thought leader.
  2. Use of any of the information gained from the video or this post must be cited: Leaders of Africa Project. “Leaders Voices with Mr. Innocent Chukwuma.” Online video and audio clip. www.leadersofafrica.org. Leaders of Africa Project, 6 March 2018.

About Mr. Innocent Chukwuma

  • Regional Director for West Africa at the Ford Foundation
  • Founder and former Executive Director of the CLEEN Foundation in Nigeria
  • Diverse experiences in civil society work and advocacy

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