A former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, and Prof. Anya O. Anya have blamed Nigeria’s development challenges on the absence of leadership with capacity and competence.
Gana spoke in Abuja Tuesday while feeding questions from journalists on the sidelines of the inauguration of the board of the Nigerian Prize for Leadership, while Anya’s position was conveyed in his address at the event.
Gana said if the country had got it right with leadership, Nigeria would not be where it is today. He also urged the legislature in various tiers of government to wake up to their constitutional roles of being true representatives of the people and be watchdogs over the executive.
On whether the country had at any point got it right in terms of leadership, Gana said: “Unfortunately, we’ve tried but there are so much to be done if we have got it right properly over the years. We shouldn’t be where we are now; we should have gone far.
Nigeria is well endowed with resources — human, natural and otherwise.
“Therefore, people have tried in the past but the high quality leadership that is required in terms of carrying capacity and competence had been missing. People have tried but we need this on a sustainable basis.”
Gana urged the legislature, both at the national and state levels, to live up to expectations and represent the interest of their constituents.
“The member that may be in the Senate, House of Representatives and the House of Assembly is extremely important that they (members) do their constitutional role, be the watchdogs, be there for the people to make sure that government governs under the law according to the needs of Nigerians and govern excellently, effectively and with transparency and there must also be the obedience to the rule of law.
“Democracy and the rule of law go together and therefore you may do whatever, but if you don’t respect the rule of law, you have failed because our Constitution is very clear. The security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. So that is why that is the first accountability that you govern under the rule of law to deliver projects to the people that will uplift their lives,” he said.
He also advised political parties to use their members in the legislature to hold government accountable as this will make government do what the people want and also prevent government from doing only the things they like to do.
“First of all, through their members elected to serve in the various houses, either the Senate, the House of Representatives and the state houses of assembly, these members must be used by the parties to make sure that government is held to account. This is very important. The political parties must not abandon their members. They should give them guidance and support them,” he added.
The members of the governing board of the Nigerian Prize for Leadership include, Prof. Anya (Chairman), Prof. Gana (Vice Chairman); Senbubakar Mahdi, (Vice Chairman Technical Committee), Prof. Joy Ogwu (member), Senator Ibrahim Ida, (member) and Prof. Hauwa Ibrahim (member).
Others are Mrs. Dorothy Ufot (SAN), Dr. Ike Neliaku (Executive Secretary), John Momoh (member) and Hon. Justice James Ogebe, former justice of the Supreme Court.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos and the current Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State, Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, is the Chairman, Technical Committee.
In his address, the Chairman of the Governing Board, Prof Anya, regretted that poor leadership has destroyed the fabrics of the society.
“I will like to reiterate that the enormous damage done to the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the years by poor leadership, without relevant capacity has become incalculable. In fact, the very fabric of our society has been deeply shaken and it could become worse if urgent actions like this initiative are not taken.
“Hence, the wisdom and need for such fundamental intervention aimed at refocusing leadership in Nigeria and identifying the strategies for high quality leaders on a sustainable basis,” he said.