Nigeria’s leading Human Rights Activist and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission,Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu has said Nigeria in her current state is plagued with assorted challenges that require resetting.
For effective resetting to be accomplished, Odinakalu said the process must begin with, paying attention to political values that underpin coexistence in the country. The process of addressing the country’s values problem, in his opinion, requires a new kind of leadership that is national in outlook.
He canvassed this perspective on Wednesday in Abuja as a guest speaker at the 10th-anniversary annual lecture of Just Fiend Club of Nigeria. The annual lecture drew participants across diverse disciplines. It’s themed: ” Resetting Nigeria”.
As a starting point, he said the country needed to restructure her core values, noting that, ” if we can not restructure our values, we can’t restructure a Nigeria that is equitable and just “.
“Why is there tension in economy and politics ? As a leader, we got to understand the diversity of this country and chose leaders who understand the diversity “.
“Many explanations have been proffered for Nigeria’s current unhappy condition: corruption, violence, impunity, among others. I want to suggest that these are symptoms, not the underlying problem. Two decades ago, Chinua Achebe declared that “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”, and argued that “Nigerians are corrupt because the system under which they live today makes corruption easy and profitable.”
“As a supplement or complement to this, I propose shortly to suggest that we have a structural crisis in our political economy indexed as it is on allocation rather than production. This is an important point to make to a gathering of professionals. The defects of this fundamentally flawed political economy are compounded by a long-established ethics of deliberate political innumeracy”.
“As a political economy, we specialize in fraudulent counting and accounting, legitimized post-hoc by the instruments and skills of the law. To preserve our innumeracy of public accounts, we have used everything from coercive instruments to commissions of inquiry whose reports have never been seen. In over half a century as a country, we have never held a credible census. To legitimize the outcome without addressing the underlying malfeasances, we establish Census Tribunals.
“In the same period, we have struggled to undertake credible elections. For each flawed election, we establish an Election Petitions Tribunal, procuring judicial legitimacy for returns that have been – in most cases – fundamentally flawed”, he lamented.
Odinakalu recalled various past avoided trajectories of the country and deliberate choices of her leaders not to do the right things and warned of dire consequences.
“The only way to avoid those consequences is to come to terms with the reality that the country needs to be re-setting. That re-setting, however, must begin with attention to the political values that underpin coexistence in the country.
“But addressing this values problem requires a new kind of leadership that is national in outlook. That is where we must begin and in this, associations like the JFCN have a significant role to play”.
However, he said resetting Nigeria was not Nigeria can’t be done by one person.
” If one person is doing it and others don’t believe in it, it won’t work. Let’s imbibe the virtue of the Just friends club”, he said.
In his welcome remark earlier, JFCN President, Fred Ohwahwa underscored the importance of choosing the topic for discourse by the group.
“The topic of today’s lecture, “Resetting Nigeria” is most appropriate for the present time. From whatever angle you look at it, Nigeria requires resetting.
Be it in infrastructural development, the educational sector, health, internal security, the economy, our politics, our value systems, etc. We need to reset ourselves at the individual, communal, corporate, and government levels. We need a rebirth as a people. Otherwise, we will keep wallowing in the doldrums”.
He urged the current crop of elected leadership of the country to take the initiative of resetting the country.
“There are new governments in place at the Federal and State levels. They have a historical opportunity to seize the initiative and make a positive difference in the lives of the people. Will they rise to the demands of these times? Time will tell”, he said.