Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
A former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana and Prof. Anya .O. Anya have blamed Nigeria’s development challenges on the absence of leadership with capacity and competence.
Gana spoke yesterday in Abuja while feeding questions from journalists on the sidelines of the inauguration of the board of the Nigerian Prize for Leadership, while Anya’s position was contained in his address delivered at the event.
Gana said if the country had gotten it right with leadership, Nigeria would not be where it is today. He also urged the legislature in various tiers of government to wake up to their constitutional role of being true representatives of the people and be watchdogs over the executive.
On whether the country had at any point gotten it right in terms of leadership, Gana said: “Unfortunately, we’ve tried but there is so much to be done. If we have gotten it right properly over the years, we shouldn’t be where we are now; we should have gone far. Nigeria is well endowed with resources – human, natural and otherwise.
“Therefore, people have tried in the past but the high quality leadership that is required in terms of carrying capacity and competence had been missing. People have tried but we need this on a sustainable basis.”
Gana urged the legislature; both at the national and state levels to live up to expectations and represent the interest of their constituents.
“For members of the Senate, House of Representatives and the Houses of Assembly, it is extremely important that they perform their constitutional role – be the watchdogs – by ensuring executive arm of government governs under the law according to the needs of Nigerians and govern excellently effectively and with transparency, in obedience to the rule of law.”
The former minister added: “Democracy and the rule of law go together. You may perform below expectations, but if you don’t respect the rule of law, you have failed. Our constitution is very clear. The security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. That is the first accountability – to govern under rule of law and deliver projects that will uplift people’s lives.”
He also advised political parties to influence their members in the legislature to hold government to account as this would make government do what the people want and also prevent government officials from doing only those things they wish to do.
“First of all, through their elected members at various legislative levels, political parties should work through their members to ensure that government is held accountable. This is very important. The political parties must not abandon their members. They should give them guidance and support them,” he said.
The members of the governing board of the Nigerian Prize for Leadership include: Prof. Anya (Chairman); Prof. Gana (Vice Chairman); Senator Abubakar Mahdi (Vice Chairman Technical Committee); Prof. Joy Ogwu (member); Senator Ibrahim Ida (member); Prof. Hauwa Ibrahim (member).
Others are: Mrs. Dorothy Ufot (member); Dr. Ike Neliaku (Executive Secretary); John Momoh (member); and Hon. Justice James Ogebe, (member).
A former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos and the current Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe would serve as the Chairman, Technical Committee.
In his address, Anya regretted that poor leadership has destroyed the fabrics of the society, saying: “I will like to reiterate that the enormous damage done to the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the years by poor leadership, without relevant capacity has become incalculable.
“In fact, the very fabric of our society has been deeply shaken and it could become worse, if urgent actions like this initiative are not taken. Hence, the wisdom and need for such fundamental intervention aimed at refocusing leadership in Nigeria and identifying the strategies for high quality leaders on a sustainable basis.”