Predictions by some people of an imminent revolution in Nigeria may not happen because the reasons that may lead to it are also the nation’s source of strength, Roman Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Monsignor Matthew Hassan Kukah said in Abuja yesterday. He spoke at the 10th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Nation Building: Challenges and Reality” at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Bishop Kukah also urged Nigerians to come up with viable ways of leadership recruitment, saying most of the country’s leaders came to leadership positions by accident. “I have been listening to what people are saying about revolution. But I can tell you very frankly that no revolution is going to take place in this country. The reasons are many and the reasons are very difficult to find. That is why we are where we are today because those reasons are the sources of our strength,” he said.
The Bishop, who expressed concern that fewer and fewer Nigerians are able to separate being in power from being in office, also said that many Nigerians assume that only those who are in office are supposed to provide the solutions to our problems. He said, “I am an extraordinarily privileged Nigerian…Since I first met President Shehu Shagari in 1979 I have had the rare privilege of meeting every Nigerian president one on one. It has also humbled me because the demands we make of our leaders – and they are legitimate – but we are somehow assuming that this country is consumed by office holders who just want to destroy this country.”
On the country’s leadership, he said “There was a paper I presented I think about six months ago and I identified that from Alhaji Tafawa Balewa right through to President Goodluck Jonathan, that somehow every Nigerian Head of State or president came to power simply or purely by accident. Their good luck may have been our bad luck, but that’s a different matter. But the point needs to be underscored because it is important for our understanding how we might begin to recruit leadership in a way and manner that can guarantee us a future.”
Kukah also took a swipe at those describing Nigeria as a mere geographical expression, saying “people think that we can’t be united simply because we are a mere geographical expression. Well, there isn’t a single nation in the world that was not a mere geographical expression until nation building built it up…Even the Satan fell from heaven after a battle with God. So even if this great nation called Nigeria dropped from heaven, there would still be problems.”
While dismissing the notion which seems to suggest that every president that has ruled Nigeria is a criminal, Kukah said Nigerians should appreciate their leaders when they are right because “If you take Obasanjo, if you take Babangida, everybody didn’t do anything. It is not true. What are the things that this person did well, let us at least identify even if it is one.” He called on Nigerians to appreciate democracy in spite of its imperfections because not every transition from dictatorship leads to democracy.
….Femi Falana (SAN): ‘We’ll make good Jonathan’s revolution prediction if…’
Written by Suleiman M. Bisalla
(Daily Trust) President Goodluck Jonathan should be ready to face the youth revolution he predicted last year if he fails to take steps to create jobs, assuage the pervasive hardship across the country and address the culture of impunity that has taken over governance in Nigeria, former president of the West Africa Bar Association Mr. Femi Falana, SAN said in Abuja yesterday. He spoke at the 10th Daily Trust Dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Speaking on the topic “Nation Building: Challenges and Realities” Falana said unless critical issues of security and poverty are addressed, the anti fuel protests of January 2012 “may turn out to be a rehearsal of the social revolution which President Jonathan predicted.” He said although British colonialists introduced policies that “facilitated the ruthless exploitation of Nigeria’s natural resources,” recent Nigerian leaders have also maintained a culture of impunity which resulted in the internal colonisation of the majority of citizens.
He regretted that rather than address security matters and critical social issues to improve the welfare of Nigerians, the PDP government hiked oil prices which sparked spontaneous reactions from Nigerians.
“Instead of securing lives and property and creating jobs, he (Jonathan) increased fuel prices…and we went to the streets. The musicians in Lagos played for free. We never paid them. But the president came out to abuse some of us who demonstrated against such level of impunity… The president accused us of being sponsored,” he said.
Falana also said in spite of the corruption in the system, what should worry Nigerians more at the moment is the culture of impunity among leaders. He said, “No country has eradicated corruption entirely. Just like Ibori who is in jail in the United Kingdom, the former governor of Illinois is in jail for selling Obama’s seat in the Senate. What Nigerians should be worried about is the culture of impunity going on in the country. The crux of our problem is that people can murder ordinary citizens and get away with it.”
The senior advocate also criticised the corruption in Nigeria’s oil industry saying “When we are talking about the resources of our country, what we call oil wealth in Nigeria today that we fight over is the crumb from the master’s table. No Nigerian, no governors’ forum know how much oil is produced in a day.” He said the Nuhu Ribadu committee report was frustrated because it sought to ask questions about the oil being produced a day. “But they said no, we must not get there,” he said.
He paid tribute to chairman of the occasion, the former president of Botswana Festus Mogae, for reviving the economy of his country during his tenure leading to increased living standards but regretted that many African leaders have encouraged policies that make the rich richer and the poor, poorer. He also regretted that many years after independence African countries conduct elections on the basis of religion and ethnicity.
He observed that Nigeria’s first generation leaders, Ahmadu Bello (Sardaunan Sokoto), Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe are being remembered with nostalgia “because of the betrayal of the generation of Nigerians that have ruled this country since the 60s.”
…Ms. Ann Kio Briggs: ‘Jonathan has disappointed Nigerians’
Written by Nuruddeen M. Abdallah(Daily Trust)
Nigerians are disappointed with President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, civil rights activist and spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA) Ms Ann-kio Briggs said in Abuja yesterday. She spoke at the 10th Daily Trust annual dialogue held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Briggs said “a lot is expected of this President Goodluck Jonathan-led government and rightly so. This is one government that was backed by the people of Nigeria with a lot of expectations. To say two and half years into this government that Nigerians are lost and disappointed so far by this government is an understatement.”
Ms Briggs said Nigerians suffered to bring this government to power but got nothing in return. “We can’t forget the crisis Nigeria faced in 2009, where the people of Nigeria from north to south to east to west rose up with one voice and said no to a situation where self- styled political leaders almost took Nigeria to the cleaners.”
She added that “we are yet to conclude on the issues of corruption that has emerged from the fuel subsidy expositions and pension scandals, neither can we run away from the reality that since the 2009 crisis… the nation is yet to move into the change that we all expected when we went to the polls in 2011.”
Briggs said since 2011 when Jonathan was elected, “a lot of promises were made, a lot is still expected, we can neither run away from the reality that Nigerians have waited for two and half years since 2011 to get what they voted for- change.” She also said Nigerians “are growing increasingly desperate that maybe the changes may not come, that promises and excuses are no longer acceptable to the people who are suffering under the weight of politicians who seem just as lost as the citizens they are leading in delivery of democracy and change.”
She faulted the federal government’s planned centenary celebrations, saying “there is nothing to celebrate. Nigeria has sent a satellite to space but we are still looking for it. It is the same country that can’t even manufacture a bicycle. This centenary celebration is nonsense.”
Speaking on federalism, Briggs said “Nigerian federal system is too faulty and must be dismantled.” She added that “if the government of Nigeria is honest with the citizens of Nigeria, and the so-called political class is truthful when they say Nigeria will never break up, they should show us what they are doing towards ensuring that Nigeria will not break up.” She said the “days of leadership based on numbers is gone,” adding that “if Nigeria is to stay together as one nation we need each other not as master and slave or minority and majority but as brothers in one nation.”
..Malam Kabiru Yusuf: ‘Issues raised a decade ago still with us’
Written by Andrew Agbese(Daily Trust)
Issues militating against Nigeria’s quest for nationhood are still around ten years since concerns were first raised about such problems at the first Trust Annual Dialogue, chairman of Media Trust Limited Malam Kabiru Yusuf said in Abuja yesterday. He spoke in a welcome address at the 10th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Nation building: Challenges and reality” at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Yusuf recalled that the first dialogue which addressed the theme ‘The Nigerian question: the way forward’ had highlighted major problems confronting the country but said sadly, many of the issues have not gone away. He said, “Since 1999, with return to party politics, these doubts about the future of the country have become common in the media and among opposition politicians. Some of these debates, though loud, are healthy and Daily Trust has done its bit in giving a platform for these exchanges.
“We have gone further by starting an annual Daily Trust dialogue where leaders from various fields are invited to analyse these issues and offer solutions. This is our tenth dialogue and I don’t think many of you will be surprised that our concerns of a decade ago are still with us today.” He said problems such as poor governance, crumbling infrastructure and dearth of good leadership have continued to stare the nation in the face despite the many efforts made to address them.
Malam Kabiru Yusuf said Media Trust Limited introduced the dialogue series as part of its contribution to nation building and has invited notable persons including five former Nigerian heads of state and presidents as well as other notable statesmen and women from across Africa, such as Mrs Winnie Mandela, President Jerry Rawlings Dr. Mo Ibrahim to offer suggestions on nation building.
He said this year’s theme which centers on “Nation building: Challenges and reality” is part of the efforts towards achieving that goal, more so as Nigeria is on the verge of celebrating 100 years of existence when the Northern and Southern protectorates were brought together to form one country. He also said Nigeria has every reason to celebrate as it has come a long way after fighting a civil war, gone through military rule and is now grappling with democracy.
Yusuf said the choice of the chairman for this year’s dialogue was due to the need to have a neutral and no nonsense person and that it settled for Mr. Festus Mogae because there is no one more suitable than the former Botswana President who he described as “blunt and indifferent to power.”
He said the life of Mogae who quit the stage after serving the two terms constitutionally allowed, should serve as an education to Nigerian leaders who usually overstay their welcome and when forced to leave, move to hilltop mansions and continue to breathe down on the nation. “Someone told me Mr. Mogae has retired into an ordinary house inside a golf estate. He is a living testimony that there is after all, life after the presidential villa,” he said.
..Dr. Sule Bello: ‘Western nations impeded Africa’s growth’
Written by Mohammed S. Shehu(Daily Trust)
Western interventionist policies in Africa, culture of impunity by African leaders and unviable structures created by colonial powers were the factors responsible for the inability of many African countries to properly tackle challenges of nation building, Director of the Africa Research and Development Agency Dr Sule Bello said in Abuja yesterday. He spoke on “Nation-Building in Africa: The Reality, Challenges and Prospects” at the 10th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
He said most African leaders were imposed by the West to serve their interest in various countries, saying the few African leaders that tried to rebel against Western interests were either being assassinated or overthrown and replaced with Western stooges. He said, “A number of studies indicate that the African leaders under reference were mostly serving as Western agents in their various countries, and where they were not and remained independent, they stood the risk of being assassinated, overthrown or in many other ways sabotaged.
In many cases serving African leaders were said to be in the employment and on the pay register of certain foreign secret services. In addition to this Africa’s ruling ideas, policies and structures in most, if not all, of the countries under reference were imposed and promoted by the Western powers. It is in consideration of these facts that such leaders could not be described as simply African but rather as African surrogates, or agents, of western powers.”
He also said “The most important reasons for the crisis of nation-building in Africa is thus seen to be the interventionist policies and activities pursued by the West against the development of local nationalist forces.” He also dismissed notions that African countries could not achieved appreciable level of development because of corruption, geographical imbalance or ethnocentric divides, saying reducing the debate to these variables could be antithetical to the real factors of underdevelopment in Africa.
Dr. Bello further argued that most developed and developing nation-states have their unique cultural, ideological, racial and territorial differentiation as well as their independent or dependent status. He identified regional and global alliances such as Pan-Africanism, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in respect of Africa, saying in today’s world, national interests can hardly be achieved without the support of broader and wider regional as well as global processes of political, economic and cultural alliances and cooperation. He also identified the promotion at the national levels of unifying policies as constitutionalism, multiculturalism, political ideology and pluralism.
Dr. Sule Bello said despite the assumption of underdevelopment, some African leaders exhibited encouraging tendencies that should not be overshadowed by the overwhelming bad leadership on the continent. He listed initial successes recorded by Pan Africanists and the nationalist movements in all parts of Africa such as Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Patrice Lumumba and Nelson Mandela.
“Indeed the efforts to undermine constructive and successful nationalist movement could be traced to the efforts made by the colonial rulers to substitute reformist, collaborationist and surrogate agitators for popular nationalist leaders resulting in many of such leaders like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Mandela etc becoming “Prison Graduates” as they were then popularly nicknamed,” he said.