Prof. Attahiru Jega, the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared on Sunday that Nigerians are “unfortunate citizens of the world.”
He explained that this is because the country’s leadership “leaves much to be desired, even in the context of a civil democratic dispensation.”
“Leadership Recruitment – The Missing Anchor in Our National Development,” Jega said during a pre-Ramadan lecture organized by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni (UMA) on the theme “Leadership Recruitment – The Missing Anchor in Our National Development.”
Nigerian leaders lacked “a sustainable vision for our country’s development, selflessness in elective public leadership positions, competence and capacity to lead a country in the twenty-first century, and in terms of having an enlightened self-interest to galvanize and forge elite consensus on how to reposition, stabilize, and develop the country on a sustainable basis,” according to Jega, who also served as Chairman of the event.
He emphasized the importance of the leadership recruiting process in establishing good governance and rectifying “bad governance.”
“We have clearly been recruiting and appointing/electing ineffective leaders, round pegs in square holes, eroding rather than enhancing our governance, democratic, and development processes,” he stated.
He remarked that it is past time for Nigeria to address the leadership dilemma by reforming the leadership recruitment process, which must be completed by 2023 at the latest.
“It appears to me that the opportunity that representative democracy provides through electoral processes, for citizens to carefully select/elect those who would truly represent and care for their collective interests and aspirations, is either not properly understood by our so-called politicians and citizens as voters, or is willfully ignored, or worse, deliberately undermined,” Jega said.
“As a result, the electoral processes spit out and recycle the majority of those in elected public offices who either purchased or fraudulently and often brutally stole the votes that put them in ‘elected’ and public leadership positions.”
“They always succeed because the special purpose vehicle for getting into elections, namely political parties, is seized by so-called’money bags,”godfathers,’ and powerful patrons, and they operate undemocratically to install clients and otherwise unprepared and untrustworthy people into elective positions that require thorough preparation, competence, and trustworthiness.”
“Second, in light of this, we need to enlighten, awaken, and mobilize our citizens as voters, to understand the value of using the electoral process to protect, defend, and advance their human dignity, and then put it to good use, electing into public governance and leadership positions tested and trusted people, known good people, who have the required honesty, integrity, competence, and selflessness, as well as vision for realizing collective aspirations.”
Imam Ahmad Abdulrahman, the National Missioner and Chief Imam of the Ansaruddeen Society of Nigeria, and Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, the former Minister of Education, both declared the leadership recruitment process is flawed in their separate lectures.
“Let there be mechanism to bring them to account,” Imam Ahmad said, emphasizing the importance of putting enough safeguards in place to checkmate Nigerian leaders and ease those who aren’t performing.