Former President Olusegun Obasanjo started Africa Leadership Forum in 1988 in Ota Farm. He observed then that most people in positions of authority in Africa came into office unprepared for the challenges of leadership and development.
Obasanjo’s dream then was to groom the succeeding generation of leaders in Africa in order for them to face these challenges and overcome them. In 1993, before he became Nigeria’s president, he led a team to Singapore with a view to study and learn from the Singapore experience and use its success parameters to drive the development process in Africa. To cut a long story short, Obasanjo’s farm House Dialogue platform emerged. My question now is: What impact did it make on his administration and the development of Nigeria during his eight years of rule as civilian president? How did his experience and knowledge impact his administration? What did the current generation of leaders inherit from his style of governance as far as grooming (which was his dream) is concerned.
Several international meetings were held in Ota farm, focusing on the challenges of leadership. Many eminent world leaders were involved, for example, Chancellor Helmut Schmidit of Germany. Donations were received. I want to know how Nigeria benefited? Why have our hospitals become consulting clinics: public taps are no more in existence: education sector killed and the poor is perpetually insubordinate to the rich: power supply epileptic: roads have become death-traps: housing for the poor is non-existent, thereby institutionalizing inferiority: economy in the doldrums.
A well-documented source exposing how the masses of Nigeria were dispossessed and Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world is the story told by president Olusegun Obasanjo exposing impunity and crass corruption in which a state military governor then was fingered. As reported by the General: “The governor was building a bungalow-type personal house in Eyin-Ekiti, his home town, and he was diverting materials from the government ministry for this purpose. The substantiated news got to Obasanjo and he confronted the governor as a member of his cabinet and the governor did not deny but justified his actions on the grounds that he had no personal house in his home town – and how could he, a military governor, go home and stay in an insanitary abode?
That is not all for this particular military governor who held sway in the then Western region about 57 years ago. Another cabinet minister in his government, the late Chief Bisi Onabanjo, the then commissioner for health exposed another case of blatant corruption, according to Obasanjo, against the military governor. Nothing happened. The governor in later years was rewarded with his own son becoming a governor in Ekiti state. This son is currently serving as a federal minister – political leadership based on birth and not merit and fair play. The baton is passed from generation to generation. This scenario is replicated throughout the country.
This explains why during mass protests, those we refer to as hoodlums, products of maladministration and corruption, destroy public properties. The way forward; call for suggestions from an ordinary citizens on how Nigeria could be made a happy place for all the people who live in it; suggestions from men and women organizations, youths, trade unions, schools, church groups, Muslim groups, cultural groups, etc. Everybody’s voice must be heard – just like in a people’s “referendum” – This is calling for a real Congress of the people. Let the demands of the people be known. Let all be collapsed and gathered together in a greater charter of rights for a greater tomorrow.
The situation where Nigeria’s democracy is not the true reflection of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” is unacceptable. Parties emerge today in Nigeria when elites with immense wealth come together mostly for the purpose of capturing power and not the purpose of serving the people. These rich godfathers determine who gets what? What has we not seen in the process; vote-buying, ballot box snatching, thuggery, political assassinations, manipulation through underhand methods to bring in stooges into power for the desired results.
Money decides in Nigerian politics and not merit and fair play. The trend must be reversed before there will be peace and prosperity in Nigeria. We need a charter of rights, rights hitherto denied the people. Rights that would capture the hopes and dreams of the people and act as a blueprint for the future of the nation. Any document that does not proclaim, “We the people”…… should be jettisoned. Everybody knows that the 1999 Constitution is not a proclamation of the will of the people.
Jimoh of 4, Olukoya Street, Ijebu-Ode (070643703) wrote this in reaction to the article ‘The power of saying ‘I am sorry’ written by Martins Oloja.