Top Academic, Dr. Linus Akor, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State has challenged Nigerians to do a holistic evaluation of the pertinent issues facing the African continent’s most populous nation and fix the problems headlong. According to him Nigeria is bruised and battered, and some analysts have likened Nigeria to a knocked engine. He said, “Fixing a knocked engine requires a clear and critical diagnosis of the faults that led to the eventual packing up of the car engine. In the case of Nigeria, to adequately answer the questions regarding how we missed the train or how we got to our present sorry state demands a holistic evaluation of our past. This is because as it is often said, those who do not remember the past are bound to repeat it. This, therefore, is the fulcrum of my presentation. In doing this, the interrogation centres on how well or badly, Nigeria has fared in managing or mismanaging the following critical national issues in her 62 years of political independence.”
Dr. Akor said this while delivering his paper titled, “ Salvaging a bruised and battered nation,” at the 15th edition of Anthony Cardinal Okogie Foundation Annual Lecture held last Thursday at McGovern Hall, St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos. The Guest Speaker said the crucial path towards fixing Nigeria entails x-raying critical issues which he framed in six broad areas that include Leadership, Economy, Human Capital Development (HCD), Corruption, Democracy and Politics of Exclusion and Insecurity. The Guest Speaker segmented his paper into these six issues. Speaking the occasion, Dr. Akor said, “Despite the great natural and human resources of Nigeria, the country is still poor. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS, 2019), 47 percent or 83 million Nigerians live on less than 381.75 dollars or 137, 430 Naira per year. This translates to $1.05 or N376.52, per day. “This figure falls far short of the world average of $6,500, per year or $17.81, per day. Nigeria is not only ranked 152 out of 188 on the Human Development Index (HDI), it is also the poverty capital of the world according to a report by the Brookings Institution, knocking off India from that unenviable position. The country’s negative poverty profile has remained the same even as I speak to you.”
The Lecturer said the major problem associated with Nigeria is the nature of the leaders that have ruled the country, be they civilian or military. He stated that Chinua Achebe, one of Nigeria’s iconic and celebrated literary giants acknowledged this much in one of his delectable book aptly titled, ‘The Trouble with Nigeria.’ He quoted an excerpt from the book, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely, a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” While advocating for visionary and transformational leadership, Dr. Akor took a swipe at past leadership apportioning more blame to President Muhammadu Buhari. He said, “Successive regimes in Nigeria deserve a share in the blame for Nigeria’s economic woes, the fact however, remains that from exchange rate to inflation rate, interest rate and the general well-being of the populace, it is clear that the economy had become progressively worse compared to when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015.
He listed over-dependence on oil, lack of foresight, injudicious spending, inadequate funding of education, poor investment in human capital, high-profile political corruption, lopsided appointments which negate the provisions of the Federal Character principle of equity and fairness as well as escalating insecurity as largely responsible for Nigeria’s fall from grace to grass. The university don assured that in spite of all these existential challenges fueled by ethnicity, religion, lack of sincerity and broken promises, the bruised and battered Nigeria can still be salvaged from the jaws of economic, social and political eclipse and global irrelevance. He stressed, “This, however, requires making some hard choices and painful sacrifices by all Nigerians who have unfading and abiding faith in the Nigerian project.”
Speaking further the Lecturer said, “As we worry about moving Nigeria forward in the right direction, our first major focus should be on the search for credible leaders. Nigeria urgently needs visionary leaders who have the reputational capital to create the enabling environment that can bring about social and economic re-organisation, with good leaders, Achebe in his book argued that Nigeria could solve her major problems of tribalism, lack of patriotism, social injustice and the cult of mediocrity; indiscipline and corruption. “Furthermore, in our collective search for leaders, we must look out for servant leaders since the core essence of leadership is about service to the people. Speculations are equally rife that some past Nigerian leaders had questionable paternity and nationality. We must therefore, ‘shine our eyes’ to critically study the background of those who aspire to lead us, as we journey towards the 2023 general elections. “There’s no doubt that our economy is still bleeding and keeps going in and out of recession. To get out of the woods, Nigeria requires a pragmatic development agenda with emphasis on economic diversification, mechanized agricultural production and industrialization, to create employment and mitigate poverty. The federal government must demonstrate appropriate political will to make such a proposal work.”