Professor Bolaji Akinyemi
By: SAM OTTI
Troubled by the country’s present challenges
Former foreign affairs, minister, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, believes that only a bloodless revolution will save the country from total collapse. He said President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformational agenda was being enveloped in ridicule and cynicism because people look for evidence of transformation and what they get is: “Trust us, we are working on it.”
Akinyemi bared his mind recently at the ‘Distinguished Management Lecture’ organised by the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered), Lagos, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). The Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, The Guardian, Mr. Eluem Emeka Izeze, moderated the lecture, which had in attendance principal officers of the institute, led by the president and chairman of council, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, the Registrar, Mr. Maurice Lakanu, former presidents of the institute, former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Alex Osifo and Fola Lasisi, among others.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Olawale-Cole said the lecture became necessary because ineffective leadership had remained the bane of the nation’s development since independence. According to him, the theme of the lecture, Effective leadership: A panacea for true transformation of Nigeria, was chosen in line with the need for urgent solutions to the leadership challenges, besetting the system and threatening the nation’s corporate existence.
He explained that the ensuing brainstorming session at the event would generate fresh ideas on salient issues in governance, which the institute would pass on to government. He said the institute would continue to offer support to the government in achieving its lofty agenda aimed of making the nation one of the top 20 economies by the year 2020.
In his presentation, Akinyemi lamented the grievous harm caused by the failure of effective leadership in the country. He said recent reports on Nigeria by Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and the Fund for Peace have become so worrisome that the country was at a risk of becoming a ‘thoroughly failed state’ if urgent remedial actions were not taken.
Giving details of the report, he said: “The Fund For Peace, in its 2012 Failed States Index ranks Nigeria as no 14 out of 177 states, the no. 1 position being the worst possible position. African states ranked better than Nigeria include Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Niger, Uganda, Eritrea, Liberia, Cameroun, Togo, Burkina Faso and Congo to mention a few”.
He noted that the systematic looting of the assets of the country needed to be checked through a bloodless revolution that would ultimately purge the country of bad leaders.
“I believe in revolution. I have come to the conclusion that it is a revolution that will solve the problems of this country. When senior citizens like Prof Ben Nwabueze say they believe in revolution, it is because they have been driven to the wall as regards the failure of leadership. We are going to purge ourselves the way the Chinese purged themselves. But I am not advocating the kind of bloodshed imposed on China,” he said.
Akinyemi said corruption has become deep-rooted in Nigeria because those saddled with leadership positions do not believe in the survival of the country. He accused the judiciary of frustrating the operation of the anti-corruption agencies through interlocutory appeals.
Hear him: “In the EFCC case, however, in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court had held that all its provisions are constitutional, including the provision which said there would be no interlocutory appeal in EFCC cases, the courts, including the Supreme Court itself, had continued to allow such interlocutory appeals thus rendering the fight against corruption an uphill task”.
According to him, in the offshore-onshore case, the judgment of the Supreme Court had created more political problems for the country. He said the Supreme Court, unlike its American counterpart, had shown a penchant for an elementary, rather than ‘an ingenious constructive propensity in interpreting the constitution’.
The former Minister also frowned at the frosty relationship between the various arms of government, describing such adversarial relationship as inimical to national development.
“The relationship between the executive and the legislature at the federal level can best be described as a permanent state of a cold war. Budgets submitted by the executive are mangled out of shape by the legislature, bills submitted by the executive have no certainty of being acted upon and legislation approved by the legislature languish on the table of the president unsigned. The judiciary has earned itself an unsavoury reputation from not only national but also international sources in handling corruption and electoral cases”, he explained.
To worsen the situation, he said the state of the nation had become even more helpless with the factionlised elite in the country. He explained that the lack of consensus among the elite, which provided the leadership, would paralyse much needed transformation of the country.
He suggested a consensus among the elites to save the nation from further distress. His words: “A divided leadership is no leadership. We must arrive at a grand consensus that will allow us to pull in the same direction. The present system is an imposition by a sectional elite that exploited its temporary occupation of the levers of power to seek an arrangement that would be an advantage to it.
It is obvious to all that the centre can no longer hold. The longer we pretend that all is well and that all the system needs is a bit of panel-beating, the more we would creep up on the Failed State index, until we become a thoroughly failed state.”.