• Our problem self-inflicted – Utomi
From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja and Deji Aroloye
Speaker of the House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara has attributed Nigeria’s underdevelopment to lack of credible leadership.
Dogara, who spoke in Lagos when he received the Zik Leadership Award for Public Service at the weekend, however, said with patriotic leadership, Nigeria still has hopes of becoming a developed nation.
The speaker, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Turaki Hassan said current set of leaders have a lot to learn from the country’s founding fathers .
He extolled the virtues of late Nnamdi Azikiwe and described him as a pan-Africanist and a nationalist “who the world referred to ‘not as Zik of Nigeria, but Zik of Africa, and that is the man we celebrate today.”
He maintained that Nigeria’s founding fathers wanted to be seen as people who were not just leaders, but leaders of a country that has the population and resources and they “fought for the unity of this country. We may never be like them, but, we can strive to ensure that the ideals for which they fought and gave everything are replicated and sustained.”
Dogara opined that the leadership Nigeria needs is that which would ignite confidence in the led, even as he added that leaders should always promote justice because “justice is needed in building a civil society, and we must understand the workings of justice, which is necessary in democracy. And, then, we have equality.”
“If we establish both principles, there is no way Nigeria will not make progress. I don’t believe that the variety within Nigeria is a mistake, just as Nigeria is not a mistake.
“In a place where you find variety, God dwells there, so, we don’t have any problem in this, save for leadership. Unfortunately, we have been pursuing everything as a people except training leaders.”
The speaker decried the fact that the country’s educational system wasn’t established by colonialists to train leaders, rather, it was for training a workforce and for training people who would work to make their countries wealthy.
He called on the present crop of leaders to rise to the challenges and build a generation that would take over from them, sustain and even surpass their legacies.
Meanwhile, former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi said current economic challenges in the country are not caused by the crash in oil price, but as a result of choices made by its leaders.
Prof. Utomi spoke yesterday at an event organised by the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) at the United States Consulate in Lagos.
He said progress haseluded the country because of lack of competence and shared purpose among its leaders and challenged Nigerian youths not to leave their destinies in the hands of people currently at the helm of affairs.
“The relationship between several set of variables which work together determines economic progress. For example, last year and this year, we made stupid and wrong choices around foreign exchange and fuel prices.
“When the result came, we began to fiddle with how to manage these mistakes we had made. But, somehow, we keep a certain window for some manufacturers. Everybody knows wherever you keep that window, it would be abused. So, the first time the announcement was made, everybody was excited, but, they are now saying it is the old game playing the new way; then, the naira crashed again.
“Everything in our country is reduced to politics. The biggest danger to Nigeria is the overrating of politics and government. I can actually prove with case studies that government is more responsible for preventing progress in Nigeria than for making it happen. Not because these men hate Nigeria because a man cannot give what he doesn’t have.
“They are working hard for the good of this country but systematically preventing good from taking place because of their limitations.
“What has happened in Nigeria in the last four years has prevented the economy from growing by foolish choices. Look at the excuse we are giving about the drop in oil price. Do you know what oil price was when Obasanjo came in? Because we have learnt to spend recklessly without saving, they bought private jets and some people were stupid enough to buy three jets to show who they were.
“What they should have is that no more than 40 dollar per barrel from the sale of crude oil goes into the distributable fund.
“Everything from $40 to $70 should go into the Stabilisation Fund. If crude oil drops to $9 as they were in 1998 or thereabout, we could make sure that the budgets were consistent.”
“Leaders are not people who tar roads. Any moron can sign a cheque and ask Julius beggars to tar road. Leadership is shaping culture…”
And so that there is human progress. The kind of value you have as a country determines economic performance. It is leaders that will initiate those values.
He explained that that institutional and human capacity building , entrepreneurship, and discipline are critical in reversing the economic woes associated with most African countries.
“Everyday, the country needs to grow entrepreneurs who will destroy yesterday’s dominant players. The fact that United States of America is one of the countries that grow entrepreneurs is why it has remained one of the world strongest economies. Today’s dominant capitalists are the biggest threat tomorrow’s progress because they want to protect whet they have built and the real progress takes place old value and create new value. Most countries are not making progress because they don’t have institutional arrangements do not make it easier for people with no money, no power to emerge with ideas that will destroy today’s dominant leaders.
Also speaking, life coach and founder, Kunle Soriyan Company, Mr. Kunle Soriyan, urged that young people should be more involved in taking leadership responsibilities and be contributing to social causes that can bring transformation to the country.
He said: “If young people are saying they should be giving room to lead, they will never lead. Nobody gives you room to lead , you choose to lead. Positivity is a choice. Nobody is going to allow you to take the centre stage, you will have to make the choice to do it. I am concerned that a lot of young people are not clear about their own personal power, how much about own collective power.
YALI is a US-funded platform for young African leaders who are committed to bringing change in their respective countries.