…As Gana tasks lawmakers on checks and balances
By Dirisu Yakubu
In a quest to redefine the essence of leadership, some notable Nigerians of diverse backgrounds gathered in Abuja recently to institute an award of excellence across all levels of government.
Aligning their position with that of notable academic and globally-acclaimed writer, Professor Chinua Achebe (of blessed memory), they argued that the singular reason for the inverse relationship between the nation’s resource endowment and the level of development, is squarely the failure of leadership.
This is even as a former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana called on federal lawmakers to play their constitutional watchdog role by putting the executive arm of government on its toes, in the interest of the people.
Gana stated this at the inauguration of the Technical Team of Experts, TTE of the Nigerian Prize for Leadership, NPL in Abuja.
Fielding questions from journalists at the event, the Professor of Geography lamented what he called the dearth of leadership in the country over the years, adding that on behalf of the people, lawmakers at both the federal and state levels must rise up to speak and demand accountability from the government of the day.
He said: “The first role of the people in holding government to account is through their elected representatives of members in the Senate, the House of Representatives as well as the State Houses of Assembly. It is extremely important that elected members of the Senate and the House do their constitutional role of watchdog. They should be there for the truth and make sure that government governs under the law and according to the needs of Nigerians.
“They must be obedient to the rule of law. Democracy and the rule of law go together and therefore, you may do whatever projects but if you don’t respect the rule of law, you have failed, because our constitution is very clear: the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. That is the first accountability- to govern under the rule of law. I hope the Senate and the House are doing that.”
While noting that there have been flashes of good leadership in the past, Professor Gana argued that service-driven leadership must be sustained over a fairly long period of time to stand a chance of creating value for Nigeria and her citizens.
He continued: “There is so much to be done in terms of leadership of this country. Nigeria is very well endowed in terms of human and natural resources. People tried in the past but the leadership required in terms of character and capacity and competence has been missing.”
Earlier, chairman of the governing board of NPL, Professor Anya O Anya said the body was poised to identify with leaders who not only inspire others to dream but who through selfless service, put Nigeria first in the discharge of their responsibilities.
According to him, the trouble with Nigeria can be largely blamed on leadership, as “the enormous damage done to the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the years by poor leadership, without relevant capacity has become incalculable. Infact, the very fabric of our society has been deeply shaken and it could become worse, if urgent actions like this (inauguration of TTE) are not taken.”
In what appears a veiled jibe at the nation’s leadership recruitment process, Professor Anya added that good leaders do not emerge through a harp-hazard channel but via a proven systematic effort where education plays a key role.
“Leaders do not emerge automatically; leaders are raised through deliberate education, mentoring, training and discipline. This is why we are so passionate, determined and deliberate to put in place a credible platform to identify, recognize and honour persons that have excelled in leadership in Nigeria, as well as raise a successor generation of leaders of excellence, with character, integrity, competence and courage.”
The terms of reference of the TTE include “conceiving, creating and producing global best practice criteria, standards, benchmarks and guidelines for assessing, measuring, evaluating entries/nominations and selecting winners of NPL annually; identify and recommend criteria and processes for selecting and enrolling qualified youths to participate in the Protégé Leadership Programme, PLP, of NPL; and undertake, and where necessary recommend, any further responsibility considered vital to add value and strengthen the process to guarantee best outcome.”
Meanwhile former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe was yesterday named chairman of the TTE while Engr. Mansur Ahmed, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, emerged the Vice Chairman.
Other members of the team are Senator Helen Esuene; Dr. Sarah Alade, ex-Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Alhaji Yahaya Imam, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, Mr. John Momoh and Professor Kalu Mosto Onuoha.