Leadership is Nigeria’s core problem – Ekeh

A legal practitioner and public affairs commentator, George Ekeh on Monday said the major problem Nigeria is faced with is that of committed and selfless leaders.

Analysing the Independence Day speech of President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Ekeh said the 1 October speeches of successive Nigerian presidents is becoming a ritual with a disconnect from the reality on ground in the country.

Mr Ekeh, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the solution to the problem of leadership in Nigeria should start from electoral reforms.

Jonathan is not interested in deceiving Nigerians – aide

The Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research, Emeka Onwuocha on Monday said the presidency and the administration in power is not interested in deceiving the populace and is only interested in building a standard nation where people based on competent, development and ideas can come together to build a strong country.

Mr Onwuocha, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said President Jonathan has embarked on fundamental reforms as opposed by window dressing of the previous administration.

He said those that criticize the administration of President Jonathan do so based on political and sectional bias.

Watched the video below for the complete interview with Mr Onwuocha.

At 52, Nigeria is wobbling – Arogundade

As Nigeria celebrate the anniversary of its 52 years of independence from colonial power, a public affairs analyst, Bose Arogundade on Monday said though the country is standing, it is still wobbling.

Ms Arogundade, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said considering all the level of infrastructure development in Nigeria, the country still have a long way to go.

Analysing the Independence Day speech of President Goodluck Jonathan, Ms Arogundade said although the president mention some indices of growth and development, these indices are mere theoretical.

Jonathan says subsidy protest was stage managed

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the January nationwide protest over the total removal of subsidy from petroleum was stage managed by a class of Nigerians who wanted the status quo of corruption in that sector to remain.

He said it was not carried out by ordinary Nigerians who wanted to communicate their grievances to their government.

Mr Jonathan, who disclosed this at the 52nd Independence anniversary lecture with the title, Nigeria: Security, Development and National Transformation, said it was the responsibility of Government to provide the enabling environment for development but it was left for the citizens to ensure enforcement.

Responding to the issue of the January protest raised by one of the discussants and the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development, Jibril Ibrahim, President Jonathan said, “Let me touch on what Prof. Ibrahim said about the January subsidy protest, yes you said the citizens were right, in a way they may be right, in a way they were also misinformed. If you had followed the last Earth Summit in Brazil, about two countries came out to condemn the issue of subsidizing hydro carbon all over the world. They stated that subsiding hydro carbon does not bring development.

“Look at the demonstrations back home, look at the areas this demonstrations are coming from, you begin to ask, are these the ordinary citizens that are demonstrating? Or are people pushing them to demonstrate.

“Take the case of Lagos, Lagos is the critical state in the nation’s economy, it controls about 53 per cent of the economy and all tribes are there. The demonstration in Lagos, people were given bottled water that people in my village don’t have access to, people were given expensive food that the ordinary people in Lagos cannot eat. So, even going to eat free alone attracts people. They go and hire the best musician to come and play and the best comedian to come and entertain; is that demonstration? Are you telling me that that is a demonstration from ordinary masses in Nigeria who want to communicate something to government?

“For me, if I see somebody is manipulating anything, I don’t listen to you, but when I see people genuinely talking about issues, I listen. I am hardly intimidated by anybody who wants to push any issue he has. I believe that that protest in Lagos was manipulated by a class in Lagos and was not from the ordinary people.

“Government everywhere must create environment for development and transformation, so I agree the lead must be the government but the people must be the implementator if we must transform our country”.

Mr Jonathan also alleged that because of interest in 2015 election, the media were being used to abuse the privileges of the Freedom of Information Act to the point of overheating the system.

“The key issue we are discussing is about peace and development and of course we all know that there is no way you can talk about development when you have a lot of crisis. In fact some people make more money when there is crisis and when there are crises it’s like a country in a state of emergency, anything goes.

“Crisis is one aspect but generally if there is no peace is extremely difficult for the ordinary people to survive though big players in economy may survive. Ordinary citizens having small and medium enterprises cannot come out to do business during crisis and of course it affects the economy. So you must have peace to develop.

“Peace is one of the cardinal marks of a leader. In the monarchy in the olden days, the king had maximum power, but for your kingdom to be stable, you must have the military strength. So without stability of any state we cannot develop.

“I agree totally with President Kufour who really gave us the breakdown of the kind of security situation that we have.

“When you talk of insecurity of using bombs and guns to kill people, what has been described as physical security, but in terms of social security, food security, health and the justice system all have to do with the security of individual.

“But I believe what we face in Nigeria though not peculiar to us; one of our greatest problems is what I described as political security.
Government can continue to provide physical security but also very important is the political security. When you have unending political conflicts in Nigeria, the country cannot develop.

“I believe political security is a big issue. There is this axiom that the pen is mightier than the sword. The sword is used to kill and destroy, but what we use the pen to do is also very critical. When you have society with these unending political conflicts, it is there on the media whether print, electronic or social media, it brings a lot of insecurity to the system and sometimes people begin to doubt your government.

“For example, when we were contesting election, we promised it will be free and fair, I was convinced I must do that even if I will lose the election. After our election in 2007, even the presidents in our neighbouring West African states were finding it difficult to congratulate us because the observers felt the election was not properly done. That hounded us even when we travelled out and I promised myself that if I have the opportunity to preside over election, I will do something different even at my expense at least for the sake of the country. And we did that but unfortunately, even though there were crisis in some parts of the country, observers felt the election was reasonably free and fair compared to others. But immediately after that election, not quite six months, the kind of media hype that started hitting us made us to stop and ask where this coming from?

“I said, I did not just come out from the blues to contest the election, I was deputy governor for six and half years, I was a governor for one and half years, I was a vice president, and before election, I was the president up to April when the elections were conducted, people knew me. So, within this period, including when I even acted, if I was that bad, will people have voted for me? So for Nigerians to have voted for me overwhelmingly, that means there must have been something they were expecting and definitely six months would have been too short to pass any valid judgement. But the media condemned me.

“And I believe is not just the media, like when we talk about the Boko Haram, we have political Boko Haram, religious Boko Haram and criminal Boko Haram. So also in the media, you have the professional media and the political media. That is why I talk about the political media, because of the interest of 2015, whatever you do is immaterial, the government must be brought down. And that mentality cuts across most African countries and even outside Africa.

“So addressing insecurity is critical in developing African state. When you have this ending political conflict especially in a country like Nigeria that is highly religious and with high ethno-tribal sentiments, it becomes very potent to even create a lot of problems for government.

“So I will plead with us as Nigerians that whenever we elect government into power at whatever level, at least for the sake of the country, allow the government to work before going into unnecessary overheating the system.

“When you talk of providing infrastructure, whether power, water, there is nothing you can use the magic wand to provide for the people, it takes time. To build your personal house, there must take a good number of days not to talk of infrastructure like power in a country like Nigeria and with the challenges we have and so on and so forth.

“I believe our great problem is political conflict, for a typical politician, the day you win election is the day you start the next election.

“So as government, we are committed to creating the environment. I’m quite pleased with the way President Kufour spoke on the issue of transformation. I agree that the leader must be the key actor for transformation, but those who will implement are the citizens. For instance, during the election, we advocated one man one vote, we were totally committed and I said it that nobody should rig election for me. But Nigerians believed that we were sincere and because they knew we were sincere, that took the life of its own. No, I don’t need to go and preach again. We have monitored elections in Edo and other places, nobody wants to compromise with his vote. It’s government that created that environment, but it’s not government that will enforce it, it is the citizen.

“That is why we are a bit worried that sometimes when government create the environment, whether economic, social or even the media, but how the citizens use those privileges matters so much.

“Take the media environment for instance, we signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law, it became the Freedom of Information Act, but are we using it in the way we are suppose to use it? Are some of us not abusing the privileges? The media environment that should have helped our transformation agenda are being used negatively, these are some of the issues we need to address.

“The way Nigerians challenge and abuse me, yes the President has enormous power, but if you use that enormous power to some extent, you will look like a dictator. In a democratic setting, you want to create an environment where people can create their opinion and that is why people are allowed to talk freely and demonstrate. But are we doing so properly”.

Independence lecture: I need more time to develop Nigeria – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to allow the government to work first before unleashing criticism on them.

The president said this as part of his remarks at Nigeria’s 52nd anniversary lecture which held at the auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.

President Jonathan condemned political conflicts and what he referred to as media war against government activities and called on Nigerians to be patient because the issues of development are not like a hundred meter dash.

“I will plead with us as Nigerians that whenever we elect a government into power, whether in the local government level, at the state level or at the federal level, at least for the sake of the country allow the government to work before you go into unnecessary overheating of the system,” he said.

“When you think about Power for example, everybody knows that even if it is only infrastructure or even to provide water, there is nothing that you use the magic wand to provide for the people, it takes time,” Mr Jonathan added.

Delivering the lecture titled Nigeria: Security, development and national transformation, former Ghanaian president, John Kufour asked – what is responsible for the stumbling block in the transformation of a country seen as the giant of Africa? He also attempted to answer it-insecurity on the part of the citizens.

Stumbling blocks to development

Mr Kufour said only a government that delivers on security and development could earn its continued stay in office and that despite their diversity, Nigerians as individuals are proud, intelligent, industrious and entrepreneurial.

He however regretted that this resourcefulness had not yet impacted fully to the advantage of the nation or to the rest of the continent which expects Nigeria to become a major growth pole.

The former president said with the appropriate policies and institutions in place, Nigeria could fulfil that expectation.

He said: “The challenge is to accelerate the pace of development by using institutions of the Federal Constitution as a nursery ground for producing leaders who are national in outlook and with a missionary zeal to transform this nation.

“This will help to mould the contending ethnic and religious groups into harmony and help to remove the perceived mutual distrust among them.

“Leaders so emerging would not be limited to championing the causes of their home state, tribe or religious group, but rather focused on deeds and pronouncements which convincingly and positively impact on the entire citizenry of the federal republic.

“Nation building is the systematic evolution of the political, economic, social and cultural well-being of all the various component parts of the state.

“Indeed the transcendent factor should be the common citizenship of all the stakeholders no matter the tribe, gender, religion, economic or social status as your Constitution stipulates.

Mr Kufuor identified history, tribe and religion as factors that conspired to put a major stumbling block in the path of Nigeria’s destiny.
He advocated the cultivation of a national identity based on shared values, tradition, history and aspirations.

He said Nigerians should develop a high national consciousness where they consider themselves first as Nigerians before anything else, saying, those in leadership should also share in the vision of one nation and one people.

The former President said political leadership must collaborate with businesses, public organisations and institutions to ensure that public security is guaranteed to maintain a stable environment for development of both the people and the state.

“If there is no security, there is no liberty and if there is no liberty, life is not meaningful and society reverts back to the law of the jungle i.e. the survival of the fittest and man’s primary objective of forming a state is defeated,” he added.

Leadership infidelity

An Economic Historian and a discussant at the event, Professor Ihedu Ivwerebo, said Nigeria has been attempting to enshrine democratic system which is a culture. He said all the past 13 years experience was part of the culture.

He stated that the challenge facing the country was leadership infidelity.

“The elites are unfaithful to Nigeria that made them. They go out and speak evil of the country”, adding that, impatience of Nigerians that we ought to have arrived was also contributing to the challenge.

Leaders should listen

The Director, Center for Democracy and Development, Jibrin Ibrahim said the crisis of insurgency, indigeneship, access and control over petroleum, political crisis was also a problem.

“The conflicts we have are deep and serious but we have the resilience to subdue them. Presidents don’t transform a society except the people play a major role in the transformative process.

“Nigerian leaders play minimal roles in transformation. Unions and the masses demonstrated against military rule. The January protest in which I was part of, the issue was not fuel subsidy but massive corruption.

“It is too easy when you are in power to think all powers are with you. Those in power should listen more to those out of power as we search for the way out.”

The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, said the lecture marked another critical milestone among programmes of independence. He said deeper knowledge of national issues would offer solutions to national problems, assuring that the President will remain committed to discussions.