"Part of the reason why poverty still persists in our continent is governments inability to work in a bi-partisan manner with the opposition to confront the many problems facing us as a continent. In almost all the advanced democracies a government in power works or listens to the opposition in matters of national importance such as education, defence, energy and the economy. However in Africa such matters are always hijacked by the ruling government to the detriment of the nation and its people". Lord Aikins Adusei
FORMER Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido, and erstwhile presidential candidate cum economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, yesterday lamented Nigeria’s growing economic and political misfortune under the current democratic dispensation.
They submitted that Nigeria needed to look inward in order resolve most of the inhibitions hampering democracy and good governance in the country.
Anyaoku, in a paper he delivered at a Kaduna town hall meeting chaired by President Shehu Shagari, titled: “Nigeria at 50 In the Eyes of the international Community,” lamented the failures by successive Nigerian governments to transform the country into a medium power and set a baseline for developing nations to follow.
He added: “The challenges are stark but, to my view, surmountable if sincerely and single-mindedly tackled by our leaders. They include failure to conduct credible elections, the pervasiveness of corruption, which continues to drain our treasuries and stifle our national development, the Niger Delta situation, the dilapidated state of the country's infrastructure, the effects of do-or-die approach to politics, and the breakdown of our society's value system as evidenced in particular in worship of money, leading to rampant ambition to make money by fair or foul means.”
Anyaoku noted that “President Goodluck Jonathan has made a promising start towards credible election by the appointment of Prof. Attahiru Jega, a widely respected man of integrity and proven capability as the new INEC chairman,” stressing that “the achievement of credible elections will depend not only on the character of the chairman and his commissioners, but also on credible electoral registers, on efficient logistical arrangements, and honest and committed behaviour by all the staff of INEC.”
Anyaoku stated: “Nigeria at 50 is still seen by most of the international community as Africa's sleeping giant. On the one hand, Nigeria's friends and well-wishers share the optimism of her citizens in believing that she is destined to become a great country when she succeeds in tackling the challenges.
“But there are skeptics who, because of the disappointment that Nigeria has fallen far behind countries like Malaysia and South Korea which were at comparable stage of development 50 years ago, remain doubtful that Nigeria can realise its potentials in the foreseeable future.”
Sanusi, who delivered a keynote address at the event, pointed out that in spite of the strategic resources, which Nigeria was endowed with, the nation still found it difficult to make progress among the comity of nations.
He argued that “it is rather disgraceful” that the nation continues to grapple with development agenda, despite the enormous mineral and agricultural resources at the disposal of government.
Sanusi stressed: “As an economist, I have done and looked at the input and output content of the Nigerian economy, and I have never seen an economy with a kind of black hole like that of Nigeria. We produced cotton, yet our textile plants are not working; we produce crude oil, we import petroleum products; we produce gas and export, yet we don’t have power plant. We have iron ore, we don’t have steel plant; and we have hide and skin, we don’t have leader products.”
Utomi, who spoke yesterday at the 2nd Oyo State Economic Summit with the theme: “Partnership for Economic Development”, identified the failure of successive leaders to take the right decisions at the right time as responsible for the nation’s slow pace of development.
He also listed right policy choices, a regime of true justice, human capital development, building entrepreneurs, revival of the right values and right leadership as necessary ingredients for the economic development of Nigeria.
Chairman of the summit and legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola, submitted that no government could on its own improve on the fortunes of the society. He said: “The trend across the globe today is to involve public-spirited citizens and organisations in the infrastructural, socio-economic and educational projects of the government.”
In his speech, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala said with the summit, the state sought to intimate investors with its potentials in the areas of arable land, qualified manpower and good governance without which there could be no viable economic activities.