Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has complained that “inappropriate leaders” were elected into public offices in Nigeria.
This, he said, was undermining democratic and development processes in the country.
According to him, most people in elected public offices either bought or violently stole votes which put them into leadership positions.
Jega said this during the pre-Ramadan lecture organised by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni with the theme, ‘Leadership Recruitment – The Missing Anchor in Our National Development’ at the main auditorium of the institution, Akoka
According to him, the issue of leadership recruitment at all levels of governance in the country is central to the current national predicament; and getting it right is key to the resolution of poor governance and development processes.
Jega lamented that “Nigerians belong to the category of the unfortunate citizens of the world in whose leadership, though in the context of a civil democratic dispensation, leaves much to be desired, in terms of a sustainable vision for our country’s development, selflessness in elective public leadership positions, competence and capacity to lead a country in the 21st century, and in terms of having an enlightened self-interest to galvanise and forge elite consensus on how to reposition, stabilise and develop the country on a sustainable basis.”
He reiterated the need for Nigerians to address the crisis of leadership by improving the leadership recruitment process which must be done latest by 2023.
With the terrible result that the electoral processes spew up and recycle most people in elected public offices who either bought or fraudulently often violently stole the votes which put them into ‘elected’ and public leadership positions.
“They invariably achieve this, because the special purpose vehicle for getting into elections, namely the political parties, are captured by so-called ‘money bags’, ‘godfathers’ and powerful patrons, and they operate undemocratically to install clients and otherwise very unprepared and untrustworthy people into elective positions, which require thorough preparation, competence and trustworthiness.
“Second, in view of this, we need to enlighten, awaken and mobilize our citizens as voters, to understand the value of using the electoral process for the protection, defence and advancement of their human dignity, and then put it to good use, to elect into public governance and leadership positions tested and trusted people, known good people, who have requisite honesty, integrity, competence and selflessness and vision for the actualisation of collective aspirations for progress and development.”
Former Minister of Education Dr Oby Ezekwesili said Nigeria lacked the right leadership.
She stated that the country produced leaders who are at peace in compromising public goods for personal interest and subverting the common goods.
“A country can be said to move in the right direction if it carries out the right policies and adhere to the rule of law. Adherence to the rule of law means impunity cannot be tolerated,” she said.
Earlier in his welcome address, UMA President, Alhaji Shuaib Salisu, said the theme was carefully chosen to evolve a better society and address the generally acknowledged leadership challenge at all levels.
“There is near unanimity that if our great Nation, Nigeria, must attain its full potential, then there is the need to fix the leadership challenge. And in doing so, we must look beyond individual leaders and focus on the process through which leaders emerge,” Salisu said.
According to him, Islam places so much premium on the importance of leadership, which is based on the principle of trust and offers broad definitions of leaders.
Chief Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society Worldwide, Shaykh Ahmad AbdurRahman, faulted the leadership recruitment process in the country.
According to him, there should be a mechanism to bring leaders to account.
He also called on religious leaders to be truthful and not be deceived by aspirants’ money.
Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said negligence of knowledgeable and able citizens toward the electoral process in Nigeria had led to the issue of leadership that the country suffers.
“The poor go out to vote, why the rich sit back to watch and count,” he said.
Ogundipe stressed the importance of citizens, including students, to know their citizenship roles and right, and the importance of good leadership in the country.
Petroleum Economist and lecturer at the Department of Economics, Umar Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, Dr. Ahmed Adamu, noted that Nigeria’s leadership recruitment systems required an evolutionary change.