Nigeria’s Challenges More Fundamental than Rotational Presidency, Says Utomi

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Pat Utomi

By Emma Okonji and Nosa Alekhuogie

A former presidential candidate and Fellow of Institute of Management Consultancy of Nigeria, Professor Pat Utomi, has faulted the growing clamour for rotational presidency, which he described as less fundamental challenges of the country.

He said Nigeria must first deal with its fundamental challenges before addressing the issue of rotational presidency.

Utomi, who is the founder of The Centre for Values in Leadership, shared his views about the clamour for rotational president, yesterday when he featured on The Morning Show, the flagship breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.

He said: “Calling for rotational presidency is like putting the cart ahead of the horse. Nigeria has a fundamental challenge that is far more than the issue of rotational presidency. So, calling for rotational presidency could be equal to rotating mediocrity, if we do not deal with the fundamental issues.

“Governance has been retrogressive in Nigeria and the situation is getting worse by the day. So there is something more fundamental that we must deal with than talking about where the president should come from. Until we take on those fundamental issues, Nigeria will continue to go down.”

He listed some of the fundamental issues to include selection of politicians for political positions, proper organisation of political parties, restructuring of the country, restructuring the police force, insecurity, kidnapping and banditry as well state capture.

He described state capture as the political corruption, in which the public policy process is rigged to create opportunity for the personal material advancement of political actors.

Utomi said 80 per cent of people going into politics in Nigeria today do so because they want to profit from state capture for their material interest.

“So, in such situation, whether the person at the centre comes from any of the states or regions of the country, does not really matter to them because such individual at the centre of the political affairs is likely to run the state of affairs in a very bad light. This is true because the motivation for them is to loot and acquire so much wealth. This is evident in our situation as a country where Nigeria continues to be struggling to get stable electricity for the past 30 years. “Those in government make policies that do not benefit the masses. So the current challenges of Nigeria are more fundamental to tackle than the issue of rotational presidency,” Utomi added.

He explained that what had been happening to Nigeria in the past was that politicians kept presenting incompetent candidates in the name of rotational presidency, thus stultifying national development.

“Let’s first deal with our fundamental challenges and the issue of presenting the right candidate for rotational presidency, will take its proper shape,” Utomi said.

Giving further details of Nigeria’s challenges, Utomi said: “Policing has collapsed in Nigeria and hoodlums have taken over the country. We need restructuring of the police force for proper policing. We also need to address the issue of qualification of political officers. A lot of politicians who hold political positions do not know what it takes to run public offices. The Nigerian political class have lost its legitimacy and they do not even know it; and as such, Nigerians do no longer believe in them and their political statement.

“Let me make this clear. I am not against the national agreement on rotational presidency in Nigeria. In fact, I so support it. But what I am stressing at is that we must as a country first deal with our fundamental issues before talking about the region that will produce the next president of Nigeria. If the fundamentals are not dealt with, time may come when there will be no Nigeria to govern.

“I belong to a political party, but I can boldly say that in Nigeria, we have no political parties with ideologies that will transform the people. We tried to organise a political party with good ideologies but the Nigerian political system did not allow it to thrive.”

According to him, until a political party articulates ideas and recruits people who believe in the ideas, “we cannot say we have political party in the country.” Political parties are meant to form institutions and build people who understand the ideas and get them to advance the ideas, he added.

He stated that Nigeria must change its political parties and that political parties must introduce new ideas with future vision that will grow the Nigerian economy.