An elder statesman and Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Maitama Sule, has canvassed revolution in the country in order to return it to the path of development.
He spoke on Tuesday when Shehu Sani, the senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, visited him in Kano.
Mr. Sule, 87, said the country was in dire need of leadership, insisting that it would not get sincere leaders unless a bloodless revolution took place.
He explained that the revolution would have to be in form of re-orientation and change of attitude by Nigerians.
“What we need today in Nigeria is leadership, not only Nigeria but also the rest of Africa needs good leadership. We want leadership, not ruler-ship,” he said.
“We want leaders, not rulers; leaders with the fear of God. Leaders will not lie, leader will accept in public what they have accepted in secret, leaders with a vision, not a blurred vision, leaders will look at the lot of common man with the eyes of a patriot, not with the eye of a privilege few.
“We want leaders who believe that…… not those who will want to sit tight and remain there until death do us part like church marriage. We must have such leaders to turn the table…..revive the past glory of Nigeria. In order to have such leaders, we must have a revolution.
“I know the word revolution scares you. We must have a revolution. I am not calling for bloody or violent revolution, No. I am not calling for Tse-Tung revolution in China where over 70 million people were killed. I am not calling for the kind of revolution led by Mahatma Ghandi with his philosophy non-violent resistance. I am calling for bloodless, non-violent revolution.
“I am calling for a change of attitude, re-orientation. Who will have to bring about this? You are the answer. You are the panacea to our ills. You are the solution to our problems. You are the vehicles of change. You are the vanguard of this revolution. The future is yours. You shall mark it or mar it. You can make it or mar it.
“If you succumb to the machinations of greedy and irresponsible political leaders, you will inherit a bad future and you will be bad leaders in the future. Make no mistake about this – you are the future leaders, whether anybody likes it or not. You are the change, you are the future; you are the answer.”
Mr. Sule, First Republic minister of mines and power and Second Republic minister of national guidance, a portfolio designed to tackle corruption, warned that the new breed of leaders in Nigeria could not provide effective leadership without the old generation of leaders.
He said, “But let this thing get into your head – you need the elders. As I said earlier, you alone cannot make it, listen to the elders. Seek their advice. In all countries of the world, there is always what they call an invisible government.
“There are some elderly experience people who are not interested in getting any position or money but they are interested in their own country. They want to see their children and their grand children become good leaders, respected leaders. These are the people that sit together and discuss the country and advise the government. In every country in the world they have this. We must have this too.”
The elder statesman noted that throughout history, the most successful organisations were the ones that had the combination of the young and old generation running them.
According to him, “New breed without the old breed will breed greed. Throughout history, you find out that the best or the most successful organisation has this kind of combination – the old and the young. The old cannot do it alone nor can the young. You need a combination of the two to complement each other.
“In the same vein, we have to go into history. The purpose of history is to know the past in order to adjust the present and plan for the future. If you ignore the old breed you are wiping out a whole generation and therefore creating a vacuum. Nature does not want a vacuum. Life is a continuous thing. There must be continuity.”
Mr. Sule recounted that the nation had challenges in the First Republic but that those challenges were overcome because the leaders then were patriotic.
He said, “Because of the importance of history, it is necessary to go into the past. How did we start? What was the First Republic like? Who are our founding fathers? What did they do?
“The First Republic, the only problem that we had was a youthful era. We had problems. But because of the attitude of the founding fathers and leaders, because of their patriotism, we were able to overcome and we remained one. And those founding fathers worked together.”
He asked the country’s leadership to focus attention on the agriculture and education.
The octogenarian lamented that Nigeria was not meeting the requirement of UNESCO, which wants the developing countries to devote 23 per cent of their annual budgets to education.
“Two things are necessary in developing our country – agriculture and education. As I said earlier, if any country can feed itself, more than half of its problems are solved,” Mr. Sule said.
“As regard education, the level of development of a nation is the level of its education. Unfortunately we don’t pay attention to these two. As regard education UNESCO recommended that developing countries should spend about 23 per cent of their budgets in education.
“All the West African countries, both Francophone and Anglophone, are spending much more than Nigeria. We are spending about 6 per cent instead of 23 per cent. And that is why we have been having problem with us. We have to something about this. We have to do something about agriculture.”