Ex-Speaker Dogara, Governor Bello fault Nigeria’s leadership process
• Dogara says incompetent leaders can’t build legacies
The immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara on Thursday underscored the need for Nigeria to prioritize innovation and training of youths that can serve as agents of social change and national rebirth.
Dogara gave the charge in Abuja, at the official unveiling of Lead Generation Initiative (LGI), with the theme: ‘The future of leadership: Role of the youths’, promoted by Hon. Shina Peller.
In the bid to address the challenge, the former speaker underscored the need for those saddled with the educational administrators across the country to remodel our educational system to prioritise innovation and training of the leaders, adding that the system bequeathed to us by the colonial masters, was strictly to produce a workforce that will serve their economic interest rather than leaders.
“So while we talk about leaders, I always see leaders as those who always disagree with the status quo, they are those who know that history does just happen to us, but we make history happen. Leaders are those incurable optimists who see opportunities even in the midst of a pandemic, rather than seeing obstacles.
“They are those who realize that not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced. They are those who would choose to live inconveniently and most times they will have to run away from friends, turn off the TV, turn off the phone and in most cases when they are presented with the opportunity to choose between pain and pleasure, they will even choose pain instead of pleasure because of the realization that they.
“Because they realized that they are a special brand of people, they are called to transform society and they just live differently. We see that in the life story of Joseph in Egypt. He was presented the opportunity to choose between prison and pleasure, and because his mind was on the dream he had of leadership, he chose prison instead of compromising for pleasure.
“And we have a contrast in the context of our contemporary history in Edward XIII of Great Britain who was faced with the choice of duty and pleasure, became to the amazement of the world as at that time, he chose pleasure as against duty. He abdicated the throne for pleasure and married the American divorcee he so loved and immigrated to France and lived there for the remainder of his life.
“So the essence of what I’m saying is that character can cancel your word as a leader. So it is important to know what leadership means.
“Now what is the problem with leadership in this country? As some of us that have had the fortune to interact with people at the highest level in this land. Now, the problem I have seen in this country is that we do not have a leadership filters and by that, I mean that there is no known rational process for processing the character of those we want to put in the position of authority.
“In most cases, we will be thinking of putting someone in a position of leadership, the question that agitates our mind is ‘is he loyal, rather than, is the person capable of doing the work?
“So the situation and the tragedy can be the summed as a triumph of loyalty over competence, and in most cases, the loyalty we talk about in Nigeria is actually sycophancy. But what most of us as leaders forget is that an incompetent loyalist in the school of leadership, an incompetent loyalist cannot be utterly disloyal let me say that. And the reason is that he/she is totally incapable of letting the leader build legacies true leaders leave behind. But that is the tragedy with us in this country.
“And another major challenge is that the educational institutions we inherited from the colonial masters which we have failed to change were not designed to train leaders. I don’t want to attribute ulterior motive on the part of the colonialists, but they were smart people, very, very smart people, they weren’t sending their worst but were sending their best to administer the colonies.
“It means in the school of leadership if you are not training your people in leadership if you are not polishing the skills and the talent they have there is no way they can effectively exhibit them. So when they designed our educational system, it was to produce a workforce for the colonial government and they were not training you to be leaders. Because they know that the very day we get it right in terms of selecting true leaders, effective leaders to lead us, that will mark our separation from our being described as a third world, we move on. So that is the challenge and that is why anywhere where leadership is being taught, it suppose to be a school not even a one-day event like this.
“While we struggle to school our youths and deliver leadership tools to them, we must insist that our educational administrators in this country remodel our system of education to prioritise innovation and training of the leaders that can actually serve as agents of social change and national rebirth; that is very, very important. Because the importance of leadership is that, no nation, organisation, country or society has ever advanced beyond the level of its leadership.
“You can study and check all through histories and tell me about any nation, society or kingdom that rises above the level of its leadership,” Hon. Dogara stressed.
• Entire political system manipulated by incompetent people in 1998 ― Gov Bello
On his part, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State who aligned his thought with Hon. Dogara tasked youths no matter the level of their educational qualification register with any political party at the ward level and rise through the ranks to the executive position, as part of the process of bringing about the required change in the polity.
Governor Bello underlined the importance of credibility and character in the electoral process, maintained that: “unless we have men and women of integrity occupying the space, we will continue to have these problems.”
While noting that it would take sometimes for Nigeria to have the desired group of people at all levels, Governor Bello blamed the youths for standing at the sideline of the political circle in 1998 when the military resolved to onset of political activities, thereby conceding the space to some of the incompetent people who eventually enrich themselves with public fund.
“In view of what the former Speaker said, iin theoretical sense, I think the best way for us to understand and appreciate the challenges as it affects leadership or appointment of leaders, I think I should tell you a story and even better I should share my experience with you as a governor.
“I was sworn in 2015 at the age of 48 and within one month I knew that was lost from what being a governor is. Leadership is all about human management; leadership is all about being fair and just; but the mistake in my own opinion started in 1999.
“In 1998 when the then military government decided they would bow out and allow a democratic process to take charge a lot of competent young people that could have participated in the system, I’m not exonerating myself, including me, did not believed in the process and we stayed or stood on the sideline and watched the process.
“Now what happened? A lot of incompetent; the former Speaker spoke about competence against sycophancy or loyalty; a lot of us did not participate in the process and before we realized it the entire system was being manipulated by incompetent people.
“And because as at then most of them, some did have integrity, most don’t have integrity, occupying a political office was a business and they acquired so much resources and wealth that it practically became impossible to replace or change them. Because as at that time, they have too much resources and they had penetrated the communities, especially areas where they have acute poverty; and in our rural areas or especially most parts of the North where education is low, the understanding of what democracy is, is limited,” Governor Bello noted.
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