Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
A former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), has declared corruption as Nigeriaâ€™s greatest challenge.
Danjuma spoke in Lagos at the 42nd CVL Leader Without Title and Leadership Tribute Colloquuium held to celebrate his 80th birthday.
He said the country has not done well since it became independent on October 1, 1960.
He said the situation has continued to take a turn for the worse, adding that the country does not have the capacity to govern itself.
Danjuma linked the rot in governance to impunity in all public services of the nation even as he traced the decay to the nationâ€™s independence to the. Nigerianisation of public service.
He said: â€œI remember that in the mid-1980s during our Second Republic, the late Governor Sam Mbakwa one day while lamenting the excesses of his opponents stated that it was his strong belief that British colonial rule was too brief for Nigerians to learn the art and science of governance.
â€œI disagree with that assertion because all the institutions of government that the British colonial administration left behind in 1960 functioned very effectively.
â€œThe rot began to set in only after our independence with the rapid
Nigerianisation of public service, selective application of sanctions and lately, total impunity in all our public service have gone viral. This is why things are getting worse than they were.â€
According to him, health and education are not the greatest challenges facing the country.
â€œOur greatest challenge today is corruption,â€ he added.
He said his foundation was not established to fight the cancer of corruption.
â€œI chose to limit the foundation to health and education because I saw these as low hanging fruits that can be harvested easily and relatively cheaply. The results in the field so far have shown that I was right.â€
He said Chief Olu Akinkugbe and late Chief Mathias Ugochukwu were those that inspired him to greatness.
He described leadership as humility and the ability to know oneâ€™s imitations.
â€œSelf-knowledge is a very difficult skill but if you know yourself and know you limitations, you cannot go wrong,â€ he said.
Danjuma used the occasion to advise the youths to be diligent and hard working. He also advised them not to run away from the country.
He said: â€œYou should work hard and not be in a hurry to make it. But above all donâ€™t run away from Nigeria to foreign countries looking for greener pastures.
â€œThere is absolutely no country in the world for a black man that is as good as Nigeria. Anywhere else you go, you will not find the kind of opportunities, hospitality and acceptance that you can get in our country. So stay here but work hard. If you work hard, the results will be very good.â€
Danjuma also spoke on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the country, saying that funds meant for CSR were not being administered transparently.
He said: â€œThere is no transparency in the management of these funds. In the
United States, where corporate bodies are very large and profitable,
philanthropic donations are voluntary but tax deductible and they are
regulated by a government agency.â€