A cross section of eminent Nigerians yesterday tasked citizens to deliberately select capable and innovative leaders who can reinvent the potential of the country from its current deteriorating state.
The dignitaries, which include, former Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi; former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former governor Anambra State, Peter Obi; former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olabode George; the immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, and Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, among others, spoke at the 4th annual lecture of Freedom Online held in Lagos with the theme: Nigeria’s Political Indices: Bright or Bleak Future?.
In his welcome address, Makarfi, who chaired the symposium, said money should not determine the direction of politics, urging Nigerians to defy vote-buying during elections but be purposeful in the choice of their leadership recruitment.
He said, “I think whoever may become the next president of Nigeria, he or she, should have the spirit of forming a government of national unity that will now come with a government of national agenda which is not based on political interest, sectional or religious or anything, and that will easily pass on to other issues we are talking about like restructuring, devolution of power and others. There should have a national agenda that political colouration should not important issues not to be implemented in this country.’
Tasking the private sector to play the role that will be to the interest of Nigerians with their political choice, he said, “I get surprised sometimes when I heard or read that the private sector, whether true or not, are trying to determine political direction. If they miscalculate, they can lose their business.
“If they voiced exclusively serves their interests and not what is in the national interests, it can boomeranged. They should llok at the situation in the country and contribute to the leadership recruitment in the country,” he said.
Former Governor Daniel, who gave the keynote address, said to kick start the process for development, Nigerians must disavow their minds from the prevailing ethnicity and disunity that has enveloped the society.
He said, “The advent of democracy in the fourth republic was supposed to snowball us into prosperity. But while our leaders did their best, apparently, it wasn’t good enough. It appears that what is required for a prosperous Nigeria is beyond stylish leadership and idealism, rather, what is mostly required in today’s world is realism.
“The realisation that beyond all things, we are alone. Nobody is coming to save us, nobody will provide support to us and the gift from any country or institution is largely of a Greek Gift in nature.
“For Nigeria to reach its potentials, it does not require prayers or fasting. God has done his own work for the country, it is left for us to work to ensure our potentials does not become a liability.
“Our task has been cut out for us. Clearly, we have to stop dreaming of a better Nigeria and start working towards achieving one. It is not enough to have passion and vision. Without a roadmap dutifully followed, we will never leave the trenches.
“The only way we can leave the trenches is by putting into power individuals who are realists. We don’t need PowerPoint presentations and well-written manifestos that end up in the dustbin of history. We need leadership that, as they say in the mathematical parlance, “show workings”. Anybody can write and make promises, but we have to be intentional in ensuring that we elect those who know how to bring to life these visions.”
On his part, Chief George, who was represented by his Special Adviser and Veteran Journalist, Prince Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu, said, “Surely Nigeria has severe challenges and searing crucibles just like all inchoate states grasping with nationhood, struggling with the firmness of national existence.
“I do believe Nigeria is salvageable. I do believe our nation’s ultimate redeeming progression is in our ability to give every section of our society a sense of belonging in the larger Nigerian space.
“This nation will not, should not and must not fail. Like all other nations before us, we will thrive, we will endure and we will triumph beyond the current stormy tides.”
The PDP presidential running mate in 2019, Obi, said that Nigeria has acquired all indices of a failed state, stressing that the leaders are no longer in control of the territory of Nigeria.
“Everybody lives in fear. Yet we have oil and everything. All we are experiencing today is cumulative failure of leadership over the years. Everyone is worried about the future of Nigeria.
“We should be compared with countries of comparative trajectory and we will see how bad we are doing. We have everything in Nigeria but we lack leadership. Poor leadership can destroy everything and that is the problem of Nigeria. We have poor leadership because our recruitment process is poor,” Obi said.
Harping on restructuring, Gani Adams, said the current governance system in practice is the bane of Nigeria’s woes, adding that the citizens must engage the leaders to reinvent the system before the next general elections.
In his address, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Online, Mr. Gabriel Akinadewo, stressed the importance of good leadership and why over centralization has worked against the development of the country for a very long time.
He, however, stated that there is hope for Nigeria if all hands will be on deck to ensure that the right leaders are supported to come on board.
Other dignitaries at the event include President of the Nigeria Guild of Editors , Mustapha Isah; Commissioner for Information in Lagos State, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho; Daily Editor of New Telegraph Newspaper, Mrs. Juliet Bumah; former Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olukolade; Prof. Akinyemi Onigbinde, among others.