ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – While the abundance of resources has never been in doubt, it is Nigeria’s commitment to good governance, which would have in turn brought about equitable development that has been a bone of contention.
It is almost six decades since the country’s independence, and with it has been an inflow of enormous resources, mostly from the exportation of natural crude oil; yet, Nigeria ranks very high in most of the unenviable indexes or development indicators in the world.
Now dubbed the poverty capital of the world, Nigeria’s woes are not only economical, but political as well.
There is a sort of consensus, especially among those who spoke to Sundiata Post that Nigeria has not benefited so much from its wealth because of the mind bugging reputation the country has with corruption. This has culminated into a seemingly endless tragedy, characterised, among other things, by insecurity, inequality and disunity.
Many individuals and organisations have been interrogating the Nigerian question, especially with the intention of finding a lasting solution. One of them is the Nehemiah Resource Centre, an Abuja-based think tank with what its founder, Apostle Obii Pax-Harry, describes as a “refreshing approach to age-long problems of Nigeria.”
The centre not only demands good governance and accountability from the government, but with its School of Government and Politics, is inspiring a lot of people, especially young men and women, who are mostly excluded and sometimes uninterested, to take up the challenge of getting involved in the political process of changing their country.
In one of the centre’s several forums, the convener, Apostle Obii Pax-Harry, while making an opening remark from a pulpit-like elevation, last Thursday at its office in Wuse II, Abuja, stated that “the School of Government and Politics is a mentoring platform for men and women who will take charge and help deliver good governance in Nigeria.
“It is a platform for sharing knowledge and information, where we talk about relevant issues and look for solutions.” She said this with an assured look into the crowd of young men and women, political officials and professionals, who had congregated for the second edition of the programme.
The centre organises its programmes in series, with several speakers of note. The first edition had in attendance Mr Peter Obi, vice presidential candidate of the country’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of elections next year.
The organisers of the event wanted him to speak as a Nigerian who had been in office, previously as a state governor, and who knows what it will take to change Nigeria, with special consideration of his present ambition.
‘’Nigeria falls very low in all the development indices in the world. From every indication, Nigeria is clearly underdeveloped. We have very low human development; we have the highest inequality rate in the world, and have overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world,’’ he stated in his characteristic soft tone.
While his speech was largely characterised by the mentioning of well-known problems, he said that the poor state of the country, its infrastructure and everything else emanated from the lack of will to perform. The government, in his opinion was only paying lip service to fighting corruption.
“Somebody is opening a new house built with stolen funds, and people are going there to celebrate instead of calling the police,” he quipped to an impressed crowd.
With the restoration of hope, and building of new values, he said the lost sense of patriotism which is currently the case can be reversed.
In another presentation, the issue of gender and politics dominated the session. The speakers, Senator Rose Oko (Cross Rivers North Senatorial district) and Mrs Ify Akerele, former Director-General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, stated that there are localised hindrances to women’s participation in politics in Nigeria. Issues like resources, late meetings and its associated stereotypes tend to discourage a lot of women from politics.
There was the consensus that women, especially those in positions of authority ought to be able to mentor other women, so that they can become familiar with the challenges and learn how to avoid them.
The event’s latest edition, last Thursday, which was second in the series, featured four panellists: Dr Sani Abdullah, head of Human Capital Development Sector, CBN and DG, Buhari/Osinbajo Mandate Group; Chido Onumah, journalist, rights activist and media trainer; Adaora Onyechere, journalist and Imo State House of Assembly candidate; and Hon Ochiglegor Idagbo, Member of the Federal House of Representatives.
According to the first speaker, Dr Sani Abdullah, one of the problems of governance in Nigeria is that the measurement of performance is usually influenced by sentiments.
“Unfortunately, measurement of governance in Nigeria is usually based on where the president hails from. There is a sentimental judgement, which is the greatest tragedy in Nigeria. It has created fault lines. Measurement ought to be balanced,” he said.
In order to address the leadership and performance problem in Nigeria, he suggested that Nigeria adopt the China model, where leaders are chosen from youth, based on evident qualities.
Speaking next was Chido Onumah, who said that Nigeria can’t work because her federalism is warped.
“Nigeria is unlike any other federalism in the world. Nigeria is not a nation. Nigerians don’t believe in Nigeria. We don’t have ownership of the construct called Nigeria. That’s why we loot it. A nation should be an organic construct, and we ought to negotiate our existence. Our leaders have not made effort to build a nation out of what was handed to them at independence,” he said.
He added that Nigerians should strive to build a Nigeria that is based on justice, in what he called “the need to reinvent our Nigerianness.”
Adaora Onyechere, the next speaker harped on citizen participation, as one of the ways to change Nigeria.
She spoke about how citizens’ apathy is a problem to change in Nigeria.
She said: “We need to be angry enough. What has been our role outside agonising? Citizens must do better, else they become accomplices. We can’t afford to feel helpless. Let’s participate. We shouldn’t be following and cheering on a failed leadership.”
The final speaker, Hon Idagbo also reemphasized on the need for youth peoples’ involvement in politics and the processes of Governance.
He stated that everyone doesn’t necessarily have to stand for an election to make an impact, but can choose to support those they consider to be the right candidates.
“Beyond signing bills that encourage youth participation, we ought to do more to enable the process. Also, young people given opportunities too should endeavour to do well in order to encourage others and lay a good foundation,’’ he said.
While speaking with Sundiata Post, the founder, Apostle Obii Pax-Harry, said that the School of Government and Politics is non-partisan, and is more or less a pioneering work by risk takers who are doing what they are doing to inspire young leaders with their platform. Though a Christian platform, she said Nehemiah Apostolic Resource Centre would cooperate with everyone driven by the passion for nation building, irrespective of their religion.
‘’We ought not to be waiting for God when He is already waiting for us to take action. We are a community of reformers and over the last 10 years, we have been able to raise a lot of reformers who are now doing well in several walks of life.
‘’We believe that we have the right authority to develop leaders. It is a divine mandate. We intend to build a strong foundation. It is a learning environment where we all share experience. We pray for God to give Nigeria burden bearers, because that’s the purpose of this.
‘’School of Government and Politics is organised with the aim to train Nigerians who want to get into politics, and it is an opportunity for us to interact with those in government offices and in politics to see how we can influence some of their activities to help bring about a greater Nigeria,’’ she said.
The centre, according to her, would continue to broaden the programme and take it to different parts of the country, mentoring people, and demanding accountability from leaders.