Aham Ogbu and Shola Oyeyipo
A former Ogun State Governor, Olusegun Osoba, has said a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, must take responsibility for the leadership crisis facing the country.
Osoba, who made the remark yesterday when media gurus converged on Lagos to mark the 70 years anniversary and 45 years journalism practice of distinguished journalist, and one of the publishers of Newswatch Magazine, Mr. Ray Ekpu, said only an improved electoral system is capable of reflecting the wishes of the people and bringing about the needed change.
Earlier, the guest lecturer at the occasion, Dr. Chidi Amuta, in his lecture titled: ‘Leadership and the Burden of History,’ delivered on his behalf by Mr. Dan Agbese, bemoaned the poor leadership culture in Nigeria, and expressed disdain that political parties in the country have not evolved an acceptable way to put forward a “fit and proper” person for leadership.
To correct the anomaly, Amuta suggested among other things, that the use of affidavits and other sworn instruments to prove age and educational qualification by political offices seekers should be banned.
He disagreed with the concept of zoning, canvassed for the reversal of the immunity clause and advocated for resurrection of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) to tutor the younger generation on leadership.
But in his response to Amuta’s presentation, Osoba, who disagreed with him on the issue of cancelling sworn-affidavit for electoral office seeker, on the grounds that he relied on it, insisted that it was the blatant rigging orchestrated against Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors by Obasanjo in 2003 that is still depriving voters the opportunity of electing leaders of their choice.
Recalling that the current democratic dispensation started on a positive note in 1999, Osoba said: “I can tell you that the governors who were elected through Open Ballot System; there was no difference between the Alliance for Democracy and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We, the AD members, were the firebrands and he (Obasanjo) would support us. We held Obasanjo heavily. If we did not hold him, he would have gone haywire since 1999.
“The day Obasanjo rigged AD governors out of the council of state was the beginning of the downward trend of leadership in this country.”
“I have no regrets. I was trained in civic responsibility. I pay my tax. Even the money I made in dollars, I pay to Lagos and Ogun State Governments. And I am proud to say non of us elected during our time is before the EFCC or ICPC.”
On the way out of the current situation, the renowned journalist-turned politician said: “Those of you who have not read the amendments to the electoral act passed by the National Assembly. If you read it, I have hope that 2019 election will not be the same election that we have had in the past.
“In the amendment, they have put it there that electronic system must be used in all elections. They did not say card readers – the most modern electronic system and that is important.
“Anybody who does the auditing of those who want to vote and did not transmit it immediately to the headquarters will have five years jail term. That is the beginning of controlling out elections. Any INEC person who conducts elections and does not transmit the result immediately will go to jail for five years.”
He however expressed regrets that the provisions of that election have not been signed, saying: “Forget about sequence, let us sign other provisions that are in that amendment to the electoral act. Then we can start to have the kind of elections that produced former Governor Obong Victor Bassey and me when it was open ballot. If the amendments to the electoral act are signed, 2019 will never be the same again.”
The Chairman of the event, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, implored media practitioners in the country to take up the responsibility of adequately informing Nigerians on the right choice to make on electing leaders, stating that “members of the media have a lot to do because when things are confusing you are in possession of facts that you can interpret.
“I’m challenging you to help all of us. We want to understand what is going on. Don’t sell your soul in the process of doing this.”
All the discussants present, including the Director, Enough is Enough, Ms. Yemi Adamolekun; Chairman, Editorial Board of The Nation Newspapers, Mr. Sam Omatseye; former Editor, Guardian Newspapers, Mr. Debo Adeshina; Secretary to Akwa-Ibom State Government (SSG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, all agreed that there is leadership deficit in Nigeria and that the followers must equally brace up the challenge of ensuring that only credible leaders emerge.