Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
A former head of the Kenya Anti-corruption Commission and renowned law scholar, Prof. Patrick Otieno Lumumba, has decried the poor performance of Nigeria in different spheres of development in spite of her abundant human and material resources, declaring that the country should be an economy with a $3 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) and not the current $500 billion.
He berated the political elite for holding the vastly-endowed country down, adding that as long as the country fails to provide the compass for Africa’s greatness, the continent would continue to lag behind.
Lumumba spoke in a keynote address during a two-day forum of the Summit of The Alternatives (SOTA), in Abuja.
SOTA is a collaborative effort of different non-governmental groups, including the Red Card Movement, Centre for Democracy and Development, Yiaga Africa, Nigeria First Project, BudgIT, EiE Nigeria and passionate citizens under the slogan of “Framing the New Nigeria of our Dream.”
Lumumba said he was in agreement with the late Nigerian author, Prof. Chinua Achebe’s book, ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’, which laid the country’s problem squarely on leadership.
The prominent law professor said: “Chinua Achebe in his book, ‘The Trouble With Nigeria’, explained that the problem of Nigeria is simply that of leadership.
“I remember so vividly in 1963 when African leaders assembled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were as passionate as they were correct. They were all envied in the early days…They all made sense.
“When one listened to Nnamdi Azikiwe, he made sense. When one listened to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, he made sense. When one listened to the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, he made sense. A lot of other African leaders made sense.
“We soon began to see a new breed of coup d’état leaders; the men in arms in the political arena. That was when the rain started to beat us as a country.
“Nigeria occupies such an important place not only in Africa, but in the world.
Nigeria is a leader when it comes to producing some of the greatest thinkers in Africa.
“What continues to hold Nigeria down are the political elites; the politics of money. They should realise that when they lead Nigeria, they are also leading Africa.
“When Nigeria sneezes, Africa catches a cold. Nigeria should realise that she should be the political Mecca where African leaders pay pilgrimage.
“Nigeria must improve agriculture and health, so that our president does not sojourn abroad for medical tourism.
“Nigeria is blessed with everything you can think of, but leadership. Nigeria has showed its leadership position in the African region through various peace keeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone; name it. Nigeria is the only missing link to Africa’s success.
‘Nigeria’s leadership is the missing link in Africa’s greatness.”
Lumumba noted that be it in the field of medicine, engineering, science and technology, film and cinematography, sports, academia and other fields of human endeavour, Nigeria has continued to produce the leading lights globally.
But he lamented that the missing link in galvanising the potential for Nigeria and by extension, Africa’s greatness, was leadership. Lumumba regretted that Nigerian leaders at all levels had appropriated public leadership for personal gains, and reminded them that a position of leadership is that of trusteeship.
He urged Nigerian leaders to resolve that time had come to provide purposeful and selfless leadership, adding that “Nigeria ought to be Africa on microcosm,” he added.
Lumumba therefore urged the Nigerian president and other members of the executive arm, the National Assembly, and others in leadership positions to liberate themselves from the shackles of what he described as ‘short-termism’ in order to maximise Nigeria’s potential for the nation’s arrested greatness.
In her welcome address, the convener of the Red Card Movement, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili harped on the need for a new Nigeria, and the economic implication of having a visionary leadership, with character, competence and capacity.