Obsanjo, Okonjo-Iweala, others decry absence of purposeful leadership in Nigeria

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, erstwhile president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba and one-time chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, have decried lack of purposeful leadership in Nigeria.

They spoke at a colloquium entitled: ‘Building the Nigeria of our dreams’, organised by King’s College Old Boys’ Association to mark the 113th anniversary of the institution in Lagos.

Obasanjo, who led the King’s Week 2022 colloquium, lamented the absence of a right leadership interested in basic economy, saying Nigeria, as a country, remains poor and insecure, besets with other challenges due to choice of leaders.

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Citing Joel 2: 28, the ex-leader said: “It is difficult for the young men to see visions when the old men have no dreams.”

He stressed that lack of trust had destroyed the confidence needed to move the nation forward.

Obasanjo went on: “We are politically divided and economically disunited. We are nowhere, we are down the drain. Diplomatically, Nigeria is not at the table. Before, we had sent troops to Sudan, Sierra Leone, but today, we can not send troops to the Republic of Benin. There are three races in the world – white, yellow and black. For now, America is leading the whites, the Chinese are leading the yellow race and Nigeria with 225 million people is created by God to lead the black race. When we stop disappointing ourselves, we can take care of the continent and the black race. Nigeria has no business with poverty, insecurity or political division.

“It is the advertent or inadvertent choice of our leaders. It is not God’s choice for us. If God has not chosen that for us, we can do better. For Nigeria, we have done a few things right, but we have not continued to do it right. We need a government that understands Nigeria and Africa, which will be fair and sincere with Nigerians, together with the right government, this nation can become the right leading country to develop Africa.”

Also, Okonjo-Iweala regretted that Nigeria lacks a social compact that could guide management of its resources.

She said: “Nigeria can fight poverty, improve people’s lives if it is properly managed. Our revenue sources are not diversified. We depend only on one revenue (resource). Nigeria lacks a sacrosanct social compact. In the country, there should be a guideline that dictates certain things that should be sacrosanct. We should have guiding principles to decide how to manage, save, spend and take vigorous actions on our revenues. As a country, we need to have certain indicators of how our economy should be governed. If we do this, we have so much to gain.

“We have had episodes showing we can sustain strong growth. All we need is to work on all key indicators and move in the right direction.

“If we build a strong governance, we need to choose our leaders wisely, we need to ensure we build a strong foundation, we need to get our leaders to accept social compact that will take us into the future.”

Agbakoba, on his part, noted: “We have been to a lot of conferences. It is time for us to face the real question. We will never come out of this if we do not sit and ask ourselves if we are really one until the infractions are tackled. Do we wish to be one because this marriage was imposed on us? What marriage do we really want? Why have we excluded all the nationals at the national conferences we have had?”

Jega, in his submission, enjoined Nigerians to be fully involved in political and electoral activities, noting that lack of quality leadership, selection process and painstaking criteria for choosing leaders remains a major challenge in the country.

Earlier, KCOBA president, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, pleaded with government to halt fuel subsidy, saying, “it is a fraud that will kill what is left for the country.”

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