Former Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega said good leadership recruitment has been the missing point in the quest for national development, urging Nigerians to as a matter of urgency find a solution pathway before the 2023 elections.
Also, former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili said Nigeria lacks right leadership.
Dr Ezekwesili stated that the country produced leaders who are at peace in compromising public goods for personal interest and subvert the common goods.
This pattern of behaviour, she said, will lead the country to the lowest common denominator in leadership.
The duo spoke during the pre-Ramadan lecture organised by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni (UMA) with the theme, “Leadership Recruitment – The Missing Anchor in Our National Development” held at main auditorium of the institution, Akoka, Lagos.
Delivering the keynote address, Prof Jega noted that the disposition of politicians who dominate and control governance and political processes runs the country totally aground, beyond redemption or salvation.
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He said Nigerians must pick up the gauntlet to salvage the situation for national development.
According to him, the issue of leadership recruitment at all levels of governance in the country, is central to current national predicament; and getting it right is key to the resolution of poor governance and development processes.
“It is not too late now to do so; we must pick up the gauntlet, as we are truly running out of time. We must contribute to the development of a criteria to be used to mobilize citizens for good leadership recruitment for the 2023 general elections and beyond. This is a task that must be done.
“We must develop an overwhelming consensus that political leadership cannot remain the only job for which no qualification appears necessary except to have a lot of money, usually, stolen money. It is clear that for as long as the current pattern of
leadership recruitment continues, our troubles will continue. It is for this reason that we must find a way to bring relevant criteria to bear on the selection of leadership. We have got to find a way of making character, competence and capacity to determine who leads.
He lamented that “Nigerians belong to the category of the unfortunate citizens of the world in whose leadership, though in the context of a civil democratic dispensation, leaves much to be desired, in terms of a sustainable vision for our country’s development, selflessness in elective public leadership positions, competence and capacity to lead a country in the 21st century, and in terms of having an enlightened self-interest to galvanise and forge elite consensus on how to reposition, stabilise and develop the country on a sustainable basis.
Leadership recruitment process, he said, is central to entrenching good governance and resolving the poor governance.
“With the terrible result that the electoral processes spew up and recycle most people in elected public offices who either bought, or fraudulently often violently stole the votes which put them into ‘elected’ and public leadership positions.
“They invariably achieve this, because the special purpose vehicle for getting into elections, namely the political parties, are captured by so-called ‘money bags’ , ‘godfathers ’ and powerful patrons, and they operate undemocratically to install clients and otherwise very unprepared and untrustworthy people into elective positions, which require thorough preparation, competence and trustworthiness.
“Second, in view of this, we need to enlighten, awaken and mobilize our citizens as voters, to understand the value of using the electoral process for the protection, defence and advancement of their human dignity, and then put it to good use, to elect into public governance and leadership positions tested and trusted people, known good people, who have requisite honesty, integrity, competence and selflessness and vision for actualization of collective aspirations for progress and development.”
Nigeria lacks right leadership
Former Minister of Education Dr Oby Ezekwesili who was one of the eminent speakers said Nigeria lacked right leadership.
Dr Ezekwesili stated that the country produced leaders who are at peace with compromising public goods for personal interest and subvert the common goods.
This pattern of behaviour, she said, will lead the country to the lowest common denominator in leadership
“A country can be said to move in the right direction if she carries out the right policies and adhere to the rule of law. Adherence to the rule of law means impunity cannot be tolerated,” she said.
UMA, Islam and leadership
Earlier in his welcome address, UMA President Alhaji Shuaib Salisu said the theme was carefully chosen to evolve a better society and address the generally acknowledged leadership challenge at all levels.
“There is near unanimity that if our great Nation, Nigeria, must attain its full potentials, then there is the need to fix the leadership challenge. And in doing so, we must look beyond individual leaders and focus on the process through which leaders emerge,” Salisu said:
According to him, Islam places so much premium on the importance of leadership, which is based on the principle of trust (Amanah) and offers broad definitions of leaders.
There should be mechanism for assessment, accountability — Shayjh Ahmad
Chief Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society Worldwide, Shaykh Ahmad AbdurRahman said the leadership recruitment process in the country is faulty.
Shaykh Ahmad called for regular assessment of appointed/elected leaders and ease out those not performing.
According to him, there should be mechanism to bring them to account.
He also called on religious leaders to be truthful as they also have great roles to play in fixing government.
Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said negligence of knowledgeable and able citizens in the quest for leadership in Nigeria had led to the present predicament.
“The poor go out to vote, why the rich sit back to watch and count,” he said.
Ogundipe stressed the importance of citizens, including students, to know their citizenship roles and right, and the importance of good leadership in the country.
Petroleum Economist/lecturer at the Department of Economic, Umar Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, Dr. Ahmed Adamu, noted that to have a good governance, leadership recruitment systems require an evolutionary change.
He added that good citizenship, particularly voters, being the most important element in leadership recruitment, should endeavour to carry out their rights by going for their Voter’s Card, come out to vote, not to sit back and count the number of votes at home.
He said politicians and delegates should check their intentions, and also do the right thing.