For Nigeria to take its rightful place in the comity of nations, the quality of leaders elected in 2023 must change.
Also, Nigerians must vote for good leaders, rather than queue behind leaders who mortgage their lives by giving them money and food as incentive in exchange for votes.
These were the submissions made by former Governors of Ogun, Anambra and Kaduna states, Gbenga Daniel, Peter Obi, Ahmed Makarfi, and other eminent Nigerians on Tuesday in Lagos during the 4th yearly lecture of Freedom Online newspaper.
The host and Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Online, Gabriel Akinadewo, set the ball rolling by insisting that the time to decide on the bright side or bleak future for Nigeria “is now as the world is moving and not waiting for Nigeria”.
While expressing concern over the present quality of leaders in the country, he declared that Nigeria urgently needs transformational leaders.
Mr Daniel said with the nation’s enormous resources, Nigeria can still perform better, if the quality of leadership is addressed.
In his keynote address, entitled: “Nigeria’s Political Indices: Bright or Bleak Future,” Mr Daniel urged Nigerians to vote for good leaders, rather than queue behind leaders who mortgage their lives by giving them money and food as incentive in exchange for votes.
The former governor said Nigerians should realise that the only way to see a developed Nigeria is to ensure that they vote with their brains and not their stomach.
Mr Makarfi, the chairman of the event, said he was optimistic about a brighter Nigeria, but added that the leaders Nigeria needs now must be those that would provide a Government of National Unity (GNU).
Mr Obi, the Special Guest Speaker, observed that the recruitment and selection process of leaders are poor.
He said: “We have everything but lack the right leadership. In choosing the right leaders, we must look at character, competence and capacity. Leaders must also invest in education, health and pull people out of poverty.”
Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Military Administrator of old Ondo State, Olabode George, said Nigerians must be seen to be selfless in service and to the rule of law.
Mr George, who was represented by erstwhile member of The Guardian Editorial Board, Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu, said no matter the situation, he would not give up on Nigeria, saying: “This nation will not, should not and must not fail.”
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, called for restructuring.
He said “the issue of restructuring is very important to us”.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, stated that though there are challenges, there are still good narratives about the country.
He said: “Nigeria is not retrogressing. We are making progress. The youths are doing wonderful things all over the world. For instance, in Lagos, youths are deploying technologies to solve societal problems. The future of Nigeria is very bright and everything is in the hands of all of us—the old and the youths.”
For the former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, it is time to stop dwelling so much on the past and focus on the future “as tomorrow may be too late”.
According to him, the quality of leadership impacts on all citizens and aligns with the need to rethink recruitment process for the leaders of this country.
Akin Onigbinde faulted the dominance of money issue in Nigerian politics.
Former Military Administrator of Bayelsa State and former Police Affairs Minister, Omoniyi Olubolade, simply said it shall be well with Nigeria.