Disturbed by the quality of governance and public service at the state level in Nigeria, panelists at the 11th AELEX Annual Lecture, with the theme, Making States Work, have brainstormed on strategies to make states more efficient, self-reliant and sustainable.
The panelists at the lecture organised by AELEX, a full service law firm, include Mr. Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State; Mr. Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State; Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, President of Council, Nigerian Stock Exchange; Professor Chidi Odinkalu, Africa Programme of Open Society Justice Initiative and Mr. Isaac Babatunde, Executive Director, Corporate and Sovereign Ratings, Agusto and Co.
Leading the discussion, former governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, said the challenge of dysfunctional states in Nigeria goes beyond finance.
He said one of the most essential factors in making states work was the framing of a personal vision and a collective vision for the state, which he said remained a missing component amongst many Nigerian governors.
According to him, “We are losing the essence of the federating units in Nigeria. As a leader, having a vision is essential but having a collective vision for the people is key.”
Duke further noted that the absence of consequences for either good or bad actions in country was responsible for the social misnomer in the country.
Former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, posited: “The vision of the leader is expedient to the development of the state. The vision must be clear, that way, the leader can drive the state to success. The reason for most failures is the absence of a plan.”
On his part, the President of Council, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said most Nigerians states were not functional due to bad governance. He opined that the two basic problems with Nigerian states were the electoral process and how states cum leaders were created.
In his submission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu posited that most Nigerian states are built on faulty foundations given the intent of the military whilst creating the states. He berated the dearth of history among Nigerians.
Professor Odinkalu noted that Nigeria was a country with process, management, details and priorities, adding that states were basically irrational in addressing relevant issues of huge importance.
Joining the discourse, Mr. Isaac Babatunde, Executive Director, Corporate & Sub-Sovereign Ratings, Agusto & Co., said the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of over 27 states is not sufficient to pay the state workers, let alone implement social projects.
Babatunde urged states to explore, adopt and adapt winning models from high performing states such as Lagos.
AELEX is a full service law firm with offices in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Accra, Ghana. It was established in 2004 through the merger of four leading law firms which spawned the largest and most diversified law practices with a focus on the West African region.