Some prominent Nigerians and leaders of thought have said the country needs leaders who understand the needs of the citizens and can harness the abundant human and natural resources for the benefit of the people.
Among those who made the submission are former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega; Prof. Toyin Falola of University of Texas, United States of America; a former vice chancellor and Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Eghosa Osaghae; Head of Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, Prof. Remi Aiyede; Prof. Olutayo Adesina; Prof. Tajudeen Akanji; Prof. Olabode Lucas; Prof. Clement Kolawole and Prof. Yahaya Kuta.
Others include a former Vice Chancellor of Osun State University, Prof. Labode Popoola; Olotà of Ota, Ogun State, Oba Adeyemi Abdulkabir Obalanlege; Oluwo of Iwo land, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi and Mr. Sina Kawonise.
They made the call at a programme tagged “National Conversation on Rethinking And Uniting Nigeria” organised by Collective Action for Harmony And Development Foundation (COAHD Foundation) at the Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The programme focused on leadership, governance and media.
In his lead paper titled “Leadership, Harmony and National Development Aspirations”, Osaghae said: “We need leaders who understand what we need. We may not have charismatic leaders but plural leaders.”
The days we thought leaders must know all are over. The leader needs to put in place a strategic team. Nigeria is waiting for the leaders who understand the greatest of Nigeria”.
Jega, who spoke virtually, pointed out that any leader that is in the position if authority in Nigeria must first understand the needs of Nigerians before taking any step or decision. Such leader must have moral value that will reshape the Nigeria society.
He said: “Nigeria needs leaders that can take the country out of the woods. Parties need to improve on leadership recruitment process”.
In his opening remarks, chairman of the occasion, Prof. Falola said the greatest asset of our country is human capital.
“You cannot have 200 million people and be poor. We must harness the population. What we need to do is to tap into the potential of the youth. We need to look at the creative industry music and fashion. Our fashion industry is becoming one of the most respected in the world.
“We need to focus on the knowledge economy. The enormous energy, creative power and the knowledge economy are the ways out of our problems.
“Some have been talking about restructuring. But we are not talking about restructuring of values, lives and morality. If there is no value, restructuring is not going to work,” he said.
To Popoola, leadership should not be concentrated at the level of politically exposed people but should be disaggregated.
Aiyede said: “Nigeria needs leaders with competence and character. Leaders in Nigeria hardly go to universities for ideas for governance and improvement in the quality of governance”.
Olota said: “We need to strengthen our public institutions. Individuals are not as important as institutions. Our youths need to be trained and engaged.
“The way forward is to develop our human capital. Most of our youths are not employed. If they remain unemployed for long, we will be dealing with high crime rate. They should think about how to generate employment for them, then we can talk about restructuring”.
Kuta, who is the convener of the programme, said that whatever contribution “we can make to realise the dream of the founding fathers of this great country, we must do it.”
Prof. Tajudeen Akanji warned that any nation that is not investing in the knowledge economy is doomed. Prof. Lucas called for rejigging of the nation’s system.
A former Commissioner in Ogun State, Sina Kawonise said “if the country is divided, that will not solve its problems.”