Communiqué of the Big Ideas Podium on “Towards a New Leadership for a Broken Nation” held on 9th May 2017 at African Heritage Institution, 54 Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu.
The Big Ideas Podium is a national platform for public policy debates on burning and salient issues that affect or shape development or governance in Nigeria, West Africa, or the African continent. It is also an interactive platform where new voices are given traction and where established voices have opportunity to interact freely and to ensure that important lessons already learned are not wasted. Basically, the Big Ideas Podium is a platform for the exploration of ‘Big Ideas’ and the missing links in national discourses.
The May 9, 2017 edition of Big Ideas Podium focussed on the theme: “Towards a New Leadership for a Broken Nation”. The presentations and much of the discussions focused on the complexities of leadership in Nigeria based on the lead paper -- “The Imperative of National Crossroad Leadership” -- was presented by Amb. Prof. George Obiozor. The following are the observations and recommendations.
- There is a leadership crisis and a lack of genuine democracy in the country;
- The country faces a problem of building from top to bottom, instead of building from bottom to top;
- Nigeria is presently at a crossroad: There is a basic problem in the country of trying to produce without production as our current leaders have been given a task they cannot perform;
- There is a failure of leadership in Nigeria: Nigeria has continued to lag behind its contemporaries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia amongst others, which have made tremendous progress in economic development;
- There exists a lack of consensus among the political elites in the country. And this has led to huge failures of the elites in carrying out their leadership duties and obligations;
- The nation’s diversity has been very difficult to manage and her democracy has not been democratic;
- Nigeria’s landscape is littered with insurgency, religious crises, kidnapping. Violence is taking over the country;
- There is a huge problem in our electoral system. Candidates are awarded results rather than being elected. In the southeast, some elections have been found to be fraudulent with candidates being awarded results without credible electoral mandates;
- The worst leaders in the world are those who refused to make decisions on critical national issues of historic importance;
- There exists in Nigeria a heightened level of elite insecurity, with its inevitable national psychosis;
- No country has ever witnessed development without the centripetal and centrifugal forces being at play;
- Leadership problems in Nigeria cannot be solved by holding conferences. Several constitutional conferences have been held without solving Nigeria’s leadership problems;
- When a state or its leadership promotes and unleashes economic hardship on her citizens, the rate of socio-cultural tension tends to increase. In situations of obvious and proven alienation and marginalization of secluded nationality or nationalities, the level of centrifugal coalescence increases;
- The unity of Nigeria is not guaranteed despite the efforts of all Nigeria’s leaders past and present;
- Within the 56years of the country’s existence, three systems of government, parliamentary, military and presidential systems have failed to solve Nigerian national leadership problem or guarantee the country’s long-term existence as one nation.
- The Big Ideas Podium recommended as follows:
- Nigerian politics needs restructuring and institutionalization of a system of sharing power and responsibilities as a way to contain its adverse effects on efforts towards nation-building;
- Nigeria needs a heroic and committed leadership system; and a leader who can save the country from the numerous crises bedeviling it: Boko Haram, herdsmen menace, corruption, etc;
- There is need for a federal system that works and a system of shared power. The present system has to give way to true federalism, fiscal federalism or resource control;
- Our system of government must respect our cultural diversities; for Nigerian unity and nation-building to succeed, leaders need to borrow a leaf from the experiences that did not ignore the element of pluralism;
- Nigeria needs a leadership system that is fair, just, equitable to all, and which commands the respect of her people;
- There is need to inculcate the ideals of leadership into our children at a young age through children’s literature and the teaching of history and civic education in schools;
- There is need to encourage women to actively participate in the leadership of the country;
- The intelligentsia has to get involved in leadership. They should be courageous enough to speak to power;
- There should be a constant town hall meeting in every community in the south east to make them understand the channel all Igbo people are taking;
- There is need for us to work towards a kind of restructuring that can bring about genuine democracy and recruit genuine leaders;
- Restructuring of institutions must begin from the people, the grassroots;
- The Bridge to the future: Scholars should be encouraged to write (simple children) literatures that will help pass across our values to our children.