• Sultan, Anyaoku, others urge change in values
NIGERIA’S developmental paths sculpted by some of the nation’s leaders were presented in Lagos yesterday as they met to deliberate on ways to overcome the country’s challenges.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, Anambra State Governor Peter Obi and his Ekiti counterpart, Kayode Fayemi, who were at the 10th yearly lecture of the Centre for Values and Leadership (CVL) held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, condemned what they referred to as corrupt tendencies within the nation’s political and social leadership circles.
Unequivocally, they agreed that Nigeria has lost its once enduring values, which, hitherto, were the building blocks of nationhood, with which the country attained greatness. They insisted that mentorship would be necessary, while values must be taught in schools and homes.
Calling on leaders in all spheres of life to shun corruption, Abubakar said Nigeria could not achieve meaningful socio-economic progress unless those in power shun every form of graft. He said that it would be difficult to do justice when those in authority continue to receive gifts and different forms of gratification from either the common man or the elite seeking political appointment, as such portends calamity for the nation.
Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth Emeka Anyaoku also affirmed that the country is not making any progress and all efforts must be geared towards fixing it.
The Sultan, who also decried failure by public servants to declare their assets made specific reference to quotes from Uthman Dan Fodio and other rulers from the caliphate, which he said evolved over 209 years ago.
“There should be no gift before appointment. Declaration of assets is important. Those, who are found to make wealth above what they earn from their work should be removed and their property confiscated,” he said.
According to the Sultan, values imbibed by the founding fathers of the Sokoto Caliphate remain relevant to modern leadership and unless a new breed of leaders embrace these values, the country would find it difficult to achieve the desired development.
He called on Nigerians to denounce those who fan the embers of bigotry, and terrorism, which, he said, would lead to mediocrity.
Governor Obi gave instances of how he was able to save millions of naira belonging to Anambra State, simply because he refused to encourage mediocrity and follow politicians’ style of “due process” in running the affairs of the state. He specifically stressed that his administration was able to make visible impact and save cost in education and health by dealing directly with the schools and churches in the area of contract execution.
He lamented that Nigerian politicians travel with retinues of aides and squander public money in the guise of due process. He decried dearth of good mentorship and character among those in power.
According to the governor, the majority of Nigerians are guilty of corruption, stressing that pressure makes office holders to embrace unethical practices, leading to waste of resources.
He queried the decision by some state governments to take bonds, which according to him, are spent on consumption. While explaining how defective the existing structure of governance is, he said: “Things are not getting better” as Nigerians are made to believe.
In the same vein, Fayemi faulted the corrupt attitude of those in leadership. He, however, said the Nigerian experience was a common tortuous journey most advanced countries had also gone through before attaining greatness.
Conceding, however, that “knowledge is key to good leadership,” the governor lamented that intellectuals hardly attain political leadership. He said leadership should not be looked at only from the perspective of political office because it is represented in every unit of the society.
He urged Nigerians to see leadership as a place of trust and not an avenue to intimidate those who voted them into offices. According to him, politicians will make better impact when they think more about the next generation than the next election.
While he agreed that the culture and value of the people should be critical aspects of education, Fayemi faulted centralised curriculum being operated in the educational sector. He said a decentralized system would better reflect different cultures and traditions represented by the country.
Leading the discussion, the Chairman of the lecture titled “Leadership and Values: The Challenge for the Next Generation of Leaders”, Elder Felix Ohiwerei, said when Nigerians look at their family, they must also think of the country — a view re-echoed by other speakers.
He further said various units that make up the country should consciously know that the future of the nation rests in their hands. The units, he said, must, therefore, work for a re-birth and help promote values of nationhood.
The lead speaker, Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, in his paper titled, “Nigeria, searching for the missing ingredients in nation building”, gave various passive and real grievances different groups in the country have played up. He said that most of the grievances by the various ethnic groups were because the various ingredients of nationhood are missing.
To him, when this happens, confusion and corruption take the centre stage. He, however, maintained that strong, stable and united nations are built on values, which proceed from the leaders of such groups or nations.
He emphatically stated that all Nigerians must realise that change cannot come without personal commitment and standing up to promote effective leadership.
A former Congressman, Jerry Weller, looking at the issue from the perspective of his service to his nation as a congressman, said a true leader must put his nation before self. He enjoined Nigerian politicians to take a bow when the ovation is loudest.
|< Prev||Next >|