A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Wednesday said the trouble with Nigeria since independence was Poor Leadership Challenges.
Ribadu stated this in a lecture he delivered at the 11th convocation ceremonies of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State. The lecture is titled, ‘Leadership and Challenges of National Unity in Nigeria.’
He said leadership inadequacy contributed in “compounding a number of problems, from widening the parochial divisions among the citizens to active participation in plundering our patrimony.”
He called on the citizens to take over the ownership of their country, adding that citizens’ docility in their affairs was contributory to their bane.
The former EFCC boss, who described the late Nnamdi Azikiwe as the symbolic incarnation of the concept of unity, maintained that countries like Tanzania and Ghana were able to conquer their problems because of the leadership direction and examples provided by their leaders.
He condemned secessionist agitations by some parts of the country, stressing that homogeneity of a country in language, tribe and religion was not a guarantee to national stability, citing Somalia, Rwanda, and South Sudan as example of countries with high fragile state index despite their seeming homogeneity.
His lecture read in part, “It is said that if other countries are afflicted by natural disasters, Nigeria’s own disaster is leadership failure. This metaphor may be exaggerated, but it is certainly not too far from the truth.
“We have burned out decades of self-rule moving in circles from one problem to the other, often caused by poor leadership challenges.
“On this issue, I have been an advocate of top-bottom approach to solving societal problems, convinced that leadership is key to whatever social change is desired. It is the leader that charts and navigates the way for the flock to follow and it is the leader’s action, inaction and body language that dictate the tunes for the dance steps the public will take.”
He added, “Having a unifying person would have been one big leap because it would have taken care of the most central challenges of our country.
“Modern nation states, as we have seen from examples in sister African countries and elsewhere, succeed largely when you have a leader that is focused, open-minded, cosmopolitan, yet firm and unrelenting.
“The leader of the Nigerian renaissance must therefore be strong, tough, and inclusive in his or her own capacity. He or she must not be an opportunist who grows on the back of citizens to entrench a regime of dictatorship that weakens our institutions and in turn end up annulling our democracy and its values of freedom.”
He said Nigerians must resist the temptation by enemies of collective progress, as well as the influence of hate mongers, be they politicians or religious leaders, saying that could be achieved by increasingly showing respect for one another and “deliberately promoting peace among our people through carrot and stick approach.”
He added, “This approach should include investment in law and order to ensure that there is zero tolerance for violence and hate speech. On the other side, fairness and justice should not be only notional abstracts; it should be seen to be on display through every action of the state and our individual leaders.
“There should be a deliberate policy on campaign for the love of Nigeria and patriotism in various ways, including promotion of religious and cultural tolerance. To achieve this, we should build more bridges and strengthen the existing ones like the NYSC and Unity Schools. The demography in our universities should also as much as possible reflect our ethno-cultural diversities. I am sad to note how our universities are becoming increasingly provincial in terms of students and teachers’ population, thereby ending up producing narrow-minded graduates”