Challenges of good governance and leadership in Nigeria under the current democracy (2)

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This is the concluding part of the paper presented by Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, mni, CON, Governor of Edo State at the First Annual Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation’s Lecture in Abuja. The first part was published yesterday

HE had once posited: “Here in Northern Nigeria we have people of many different races, tribes and religions who are knitted together to common history, common interest and common ideas, the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us. I always remind people of our firmly rooted policy of religious tolerance.

We have no intention of favouring one religion at the expense of another. Subject to the over-riding need to preserve law and order, it is our determination that everyone should have absolute liberty to practice his belief according to the dictates of his conscience.”

He clearly believed in tolerance, accommodation and freedom to promote individual and collective good. He also believed that once the political elite would provide the right leadership unity is assured because the ordinary citizens have no problem with each other. That the subject of leadership keeps recurring in our national discourse suggests that the leadership question is still critical toNigeria’s quest for good governance and the consolidation of the democratic order. This is definitely to be expected in view of the widely held notion that the problem with development inNigeriais mainly that of leadership. Now we have to answer the question what has happened to leadership and where are the leaders? This question is germane because under a democracy, it is expected that the quality of governance will be much higher than it was under the military, and that the citizens will have the benefit of accountable and transparent leadership and that the resources of the country will be managed for development.

My job as Chairman has been simplified by the organizers of this all-important event. Our Guest Lecturer, known for his deep intellectual reflections and brilliance is going to do justice to the thematic essence of this discourse. I am not going to pretend that these are not challenging times for those of us in leadership positions and who care deeply about the direction that our country is headed today. The challenges are enormous and have both domestic and global dimensions.

We are still trying to figure out how we can achieve an optimal constitution, a credible electoral process, deal with rampant corruption and plunder of public resources, and evolve a fair, incorruptible and courageous judicial system. The relationship between the state and the citizens today is under considerable storm and stress, and there is the need to begin to squarely address the question of poverty, unemployment of most especially the youth, decayed social and economic infrastructure, as well as marginalization of women in the development process in order to give meaning and content to our evolving democratic order.

Above all, we have to address the often neglected imperative of attitudinal transformation on the part of the political elite, the absence of which, good governance and development will continue to be a mirage. In all these, however, there should be no lamentation or excuses. To forge ahead, we must, like the late Sardauna evoke the spirit of hard work and selflessness to confront the challenges facing us without looking back.

Conclusion: In concluding, it must be noted that whichever way we choose to view the late Sardauna we have in him a model of leadership that is worthy of emulation by all. Confronting the challenges of leadership and governance in Nigeria today rests on our preparedness to bring to bear on our public conduct the principles of equity, justice and fairness, as well as judicious application of public resources, while putting the interest of the common man and the imperatives of building a nation that accommodates all at the centre of our development objectives.

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