By Ikechukwu Odu
The former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, yesterday, said that Nigeria’s underdevelopment was hinged on the inability of the political office holders to hand over powers to their successor without rancor and acrimony.
Senator Anyim who was also the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation equally explained that how the succession processes are handled would determine how effective and sustainable the political climate would be to engender development.
He spoke as a Guest Lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN during the maiden edition of the Faculty of Social Sciences Distinguished Public Lecture titled ‘Political Succession and Nation Building in Nigeria: Problems and Challenges’.
He also explained that lack of continuity of the building blocks, the regular unlawful termination of governments and unnecessary policies and programes summersault are at the heart of problems of nation building in Nigeria.
He also said that Nigeria is a country not because it has political independence, adding that its leaders must nurture programmes, policies and platforms that promotes the economic, social and political advancement of the entity for the benefits of its citizens.
While charting the way forward for national development, he said “Strong institutions are the main drivers of nation building in any society. This is because institutions sustain the democratic process by promoting and maintaining an orderly procedure through which political succession is attained, power is transferred from one government or individual to another and dividends of democracy are delivered to the people. As noted by Gambari, there are three important components to institution building: setting the rules; hiring persons with the technical expertise and moral competence to interpret the rules or implement the goals of the organisations; and ensuring that the institutions inspire public confidence by being transparent, fair and consistent.
“Institutions also play vital role in upholding the pillars of nation building and ensuring that persons who go against the rules are held accountable and punished. Hence, there is the absolute need to strengthen our institutions by mainstreaming the principles of rule of
law and other democratic norms in their operations, beefing up their capacity, improving their independence, setting up internal or corporate governance structures and making them open, transparent and accountable to the people,” he said.
He equally said that governments must make frantic efforts to eradicate poverty and ignorance and also ensure the growth of the middle class to guarantee national development.
He further said ” The importance of an efficient, transparent, fair and equitable political or leadership succession process in any nation can never be over emphasized.
As nation building is a continuous process, we must as a people continue to strengthen our justice and governance institutions and democratic ideals as fundamental elements of our political succession processes towards building a prosperous nation.
” As noted by the United Nations, weak institutions, poor governance culture, lack of awareness and docility on the part of the people are major contributors to under-development of any nation. We therefore must strive hard through collective engagement and sincerity of purpose to ensure that these debilitating factors that are inimical to nation building are eradicated from our political, economic and social space for the good of all Nigerians.”
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In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Arizechukwu Igwe, while commending the Faculty of Social Sciences of the institution under the Deanship of Prof. Aloysius-Michaels Okolie for holding the public lecture to proffer solutions to national issues, he said the University is committed to ethical and productive scholarship as well as effective service delivery.
Also, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Okolie, in his opening address said his Faculty has remained at the forefront of instigating and promoting cutting-edge research in social science-related issues as well as in exploring the nexus and linkages among the knowledge spheres.
While saying that the Faculty was recently ranked as one of the best Social Science Faculties in the world in terms of quality research output, he added that the public lecture was an extension of unity of purpose between the town and gown.
Earlier in his opening address, the chairman of the occasion and the Isagba of Ogwasi-Ukwu Kingdom, Chief Dr. Jude Ndudi Ozah, said the lecture has become necessary given the difficult times the country is passing through.
While saying that the problem hindering national development is rooted on distrust and mutual suspicion, he regretted that efforts made by successive administrations to stem the tide of national disunity have failed to yield desired results.
He also said “In the most recent time, our dear country has become mired in ethnic, regional and religious conflicts, unemployment, poverty, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
” It is my desire to contribute to the national dialogue that will heal the inflicted wounds and stimulate national cohesion.