It was a gathering of frontline political leaders of thought yesterday in Lagos as the x-rayed Nigeria’s political environment and pondered on how the country can make positive progress in its political development and proffered solutions to political logjams in the country.
The eminent Nigerians who included 2019 presidential candidate, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, political economist Prof. Pat Utomi, former minister of Information, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr among other political leaders all canvased for a paradigm shift in leadership recruitment and style of governance in Nigeria, arguing that unless that is done the country cannot overcome its many woes.
The political leaders said that democracy has failed in Nigeria because of the debt of morally upright leaders, while faulting the nation’s current political system which confers power on few individuals who perpetually monopolies the nation’s political system to their advantage.
They spoke at a conference titled: #Fix Politics, changing politics structurally for Africa’s prosperity.
The two day conference is an initiative of Ezekwesili and the Robert Bosch Academy and held at the federal palace hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.
In his keynote address, Johann Lambsdorff, who is a Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Passau, Germany, said it was imperative that citizens take more active roles, interest in the emergence of political leadership.
Lambsdorff, noted that it was crucial that in tackling graft and sanitising the political system, citizens must put trust in their leaders rather than institutions which could be manipulated and compromised.
In her presentation, which is a result of her research, Ezekwesili, said the 1914 amalgamation of the country was responsible for part of the nation’s woes, stressing that the amalgamation was purely for administrative convenience of the colonial leaders and was not for the interest of the country or Nigerians.
The former Minister of Education, who said that the long years of military incursion in politics which truncated the democratic process in the country on several occasions stunted democratic practice, growth and culture from taking its root in Nigeria, added that “The Amalgamation of 1914 was for mere administrative convenience, colonial Britain merged the three district geographical areas into one country.
“There was no common identifying point of reference beyond the colonial power’s administrative convenience.
“As Europe got mired in its own internal rivalry and war among the key countries and began paying less attention to its colonies in Africa, the fervor of nationalistic self-determination grew on the continent.”
Speaking further, she identified the failure of the nation’s post independent leaders for the inability to agree on a common template as part of the problem which holds the nation back.
“The failure of the independence nationalists to at the end of colonial governance, discuss and peacefully agree their self-negotiated terms for shared values and uniﬁed vision of nationhood.
“The absence of prevented emergence of an agreed framework of a minimum common identity as a “New Nation” of multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual diversity of people who have negotiated the basis for unity. These failures and gaps haunt the country and its people up until today,” she added.
The former Minister said that part of the reasons for leadership failure and stagnation which the country has faced over the years was the inherent monopoly in the political system by few individuals and groups, while canvassing active participation of citizenry in the electoral process for a change.
“Nigeria’s monopoly democracy has no incentive to yield the distortionary damage it does to governance.
“In the absence of an effective regulatory system to reduce the powers of the monopoly, a few citizens can step up and take responsibility for correcting the distortion in the political system.”
In his short intervention, Prof Utomi advocated for paradigm shift in the manner politics was being practiced in the country.
He, however, said the current political system in Nigeria does not make leaders responsive neither does it guarantee good governance to the electorates, while also canvassing more citizen participation in the political process.
Also speaking, former Minister of Information, Frank Nweke charged the electorates to rise above primordial sentiments in choosing their leaders, stressing that electorates must share part of the blame for failed leadership in the country that has been witnessed over the years in the nation’s electoral process.
The two day event is being attended by politicians, leaders of political parties, the academic and professionals from across the country.