Nigeria lacks quality, dedicated leaders ― NUC boss

The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed has said that Nigeria lacks quality and dedicated leaders to bring about meaningful development of the country 59 years after independence.

“Sadly, Nigeria, since independence, has been assailed by corruption and poor governance, leading to the current situation in which our citizens are seeking refuge in droves, in foreign lands,” he said.

The NUC Executive Secretary, Rasheed spoke on Wednesday, in Abuja, as the Guest Speaker at the 2019 Federal Civil Service Week Public Lecture entitled, “Youth Empowerment and Migration: The Imperative of Good Governance, Innovation and Effective Poverty Reduction Strategy.”

He noted that poor governance was responsible for the current plight of Nigerian youths because successive governments squandered the huge opportunities the nation had soon after independence.

According to him, with the abundant natural and human resources, Nigeria had the capacity to transform the nation’s economy the way the Asian Tigers did.

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He said: “Nigeria had the resources to develop her infrastructure, move agrarian economy to an industrialised one. We had enough resources to improve the nation’s agricultural production, provide quality education for all and at all levels, create jobs for the youths and improve the quality of life of all Nigerians.”

The NUC Executive Secretary, however, said with the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, there were signs that the worse may be over in view of his avowal commitment to fight corruption, which Rasheed described as “poisonous venom”.

While noting that government institutions were beginning to adjust to the Buhari creed, he averred that the layers of corruption in Nigeria are so thick and deeply entrenched that an instant solution is almost impossible.

Quoting from the National Bureau of Statistics (2018), Professor Rasheed disclosed that 86.9 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty, 52.7 per cent of Nigerian youths are unemployed, and 1.8 million Nigerians enter the labour market each year.

He urged the government to put in place a focused poverty reduction strategy and implemented religiously, to change the fortunes of the country and make attractive, not only for the youths but also for the nation’s brightest and creative minds.

He also called for diversification of the economy away from oil, noting that previous efforts at development in the country have not been very beneficial to the poor because the resources were not invested in the non-oil sector on which over 90 per cent of Nigerians depended for their livelihood.

Acting Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, in her remarks expressed the commitment of the current administration of President Buhari to reposition the public service in Nigeria for better service delivery in the country.

She noted that the choice of the topic for the public lecture was apt in view of the current challenges confronting the country in terms of youth leaving the country for non-existing greener pastures abroad.

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