Rebuilding Nigeria requires fixing the family, leadership recruitment process, says Rescue Nigeria Movement

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* Photo: Panelists*


The ways forward for Nigeria to make progress are to improve the leadership recruitment process, rebuild the Nigerian family and community systems, and have a unified clarity about the kind of nation we seek to become.


 

These were some of the submissions of a group of informed Nigerians participating at an event tagged the “People’s Parliament,” who diagnosed the problem with the system and proffered solutions.

 

Other submissions were that, to stop corruption - which appears to be our number one problem as a nation today - we must start from the top; the anti-corruption agencies must be transparently effective, while the ordinary people must be encouraged to report corruption.

 

The submissions came from panelists at the People's Parliament, organised by the Initiative for Good and Informed Citizenship, better known as Rescue Nigeria movement, on the topic: "What Must Change for Nigeria to Move Forward".

 

The panelists were Professor Boniface Oye-Adeniran, former President of the Nigerian Medical Association and a retired professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos; Muhtar Bakare, an architect, finance expert and publisher; and Ikechukwu Amaechi, an award-winning journalist and newspaper publisher. It was moderated by Anike-ade Funke Treasure, a renowned broadcaster and journalist.

 

A press statement jointly signed by Biodun Durojaiye and Tunde Odediran of Rescue Nigeria movement reported Prof. Oye-Adeniran as identifying corruption as Nigeria's number one problem, followed by insecurity, then inadequate power, poor healthcare delivery and a deteriorated education sector.

 

Oye-Adeniran said to tackle corruption, the people must see results of the anti-corruption war, as he lambasted the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, for 'chasing low-hanging fruits' in the form of Internet fraudsters, with no record of arraigning or convicting even one high profile public servant since he assumed office.

 

"If we are not going to hold people at the top accountable, we cannot stop corruption," he said, adding that "we must see the results of the anti-corruption war".

 

In his contributions, Muhtar Bakare said Nigerians need to pursue reality and practicality instead of amplifying divine intervention for change, by not always assuming that 'God will do it' if 'We will pray about it' when we can do something about it. To him,  except the people get their act together, nothing in history suggests that a nation that we would all be proud of is achievable, even in a thousand years.

 

Describing a nation-state as a 'system', Bakare said "there are elements of that system to be in place for it to work. If any of the elements is dysfunctional, the whole may not work the way it is supposed to," adding that the 'incentives element' of our own system has been perverted, as the wrong values are being rewarded.

 

He remarked further: "If we don't build our nation deliberately and have clearly in our minds the outcomes we seek, we will always end up in this kind of confusion.

 

"The fundamental problem of the Nigerian state is that there is no consensus amongst the federating units about the kind of nation that we want."

 

According to him, what a citizen should expect from the nation, and the obligations of the citizen to the nation must be clear, and people have to buy in into it regardless of the part of the country they come from.

 

"At the centre of the problem of Nigeria is the crisis of the individual. the alienation of the individual from the state... in terms of his or her obligations to the state, and the state's obligations to him or her".

 

Arguing that nation states are situated in sociological context of geography and history, he reasoned Nigeria cannot take ideas from Europe and America , operationalise them here and expect them to work perfectly, adding that we have to have some trust in the some of the ideas that have worked in our communities for centuries before the Europeans came.

 

Muhtar Bakare further said: "The modern nation-state is built around the individual. The capacity of the individual to assert his right within the community while discharging his obligations to the community.

 

"The first layer of building communities, of building nationhood has to be the family. We have to make sure the Nigerian family work. Nigeria does not work because the Nigerian family has ceased to work.

 

"The parents no longer have dignity. They have no control over their children. The nation has broken down at the most fundamental level. We have to go back to fix it. We don't have communities anymore simply because we don't have families anymore.

 

"In architecture, which I studied, when you want to build something, you start from the foundation or sub-structure. If you build a super-structure without fixing the subs-structure, what you are going to have is a collapse. And that is what we are dealing with.

 

"We have to make surethistle that all our policies, every decision we take in this country, there is clarity about the Nigerian family. That wherever they may live, they thrive. That the parents have dignity. That their children look up to them. Then around those families, we build communities, and then we start talking about the nation.

 

"Parents are struggling. They have no control over their children anymore because they cannot fend for them. We can't have a nation if we don't fix that problem."

 

Contributing further, Prof. Oye-Adeniran said: "Another problem in Nigeria is that everybody is afraid of the consequences of standing up for what they believe in. Nobody wants to have a visitor in the middle of the night and get eliminated. That is one of our greatest problems.

 

"Nigerians are known to follow their leaders, when they do well. You will remember the queue culture introduced in 1985. And till today, we have been doing that. When the leader introduces a good policy, the people follow. The problem is sustainability of that policy.

 

"I think Nigeria as a whole needs to be able to tell its citizenry that mere talking up or contributing to national debate will not bring about undesirable consequences. That is what is happening right now. People are being eliminated if  they say what the leaders do not want.

 

"So, the leaders must ensure the security of the citizenry, no matter whether they are for them or against them.

 

"I am sure you know what is happening in the South East, of people being eliminated simply because they said the wrong thing."

 

In his submissions, Ikechukwu Amaechi argued that if we get the process of leadership recruitment right, we can begin to turn things around in the country for good.

 

He said: "the issue is leadership and those who operate the system. What values do they bring to the table?

 

"In the United States presidential system, which we copied, there are checks and balances. But what do you do in our own system when one man is elected president or governor, and he becomes de facto and de jaw, and controls all others arms of government? To the extent that a chief justice of the country is removed and nobody raised a whimper.

 

"The National Assembly is at the whims and caprices of the President, rather than the other way round. Whatever the President says is what the National Assembly would do. Go to the states, it is even worse. The state houses of assembly are mere rubber stamps of the governors."

 

The second part of the discussion is scheduled for May 29, 2022.

 

The recording is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwwlKph2PJg

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