Prominent Nigerians have urged the entrenchment of strong institutions, leader-citizen consultations, a credible judiciary and electoral systems to save Nigeria from socioeconomic and political collapse.
The pleas were made yesterday by the Senate leader Opeyemi Michael Bamidele, senior pastor of The Transforming Church, Pastor Sam Oye and former vice chancellor of the Abia State University (ABSU), Professor Mkpa Agu Mkpa.
They spoke yesterday in Abuja at the 3rd edition and 2023 Annual Public Lecture Series and Induction and Conferment of Honorary Doctorate Degrees on 10 Nigerians and Honorary Fellowship of the African School of Diplomacy and International Relations in collaboration with Queen’s University, Belfast, United Kingdom (UK).
Pastor Oye, who was one of the honorary doctorate degree awardees, said it was time for Nigerian leaders to listen to the people and stop behaving as “gods”.
The eminent cleric, who specialises in citizens’ mentoring and leadership training, asserted that the solutions to Nigeria’s numerous problems lie with the people and not the leaders.
In an interaction with journalists at the event, Oye said the “problems of Nigeria can only be solved by Nigerians. The problem of the Niger Delta can only be solved in Niger Delta and not Abuja. The problem of Okrika can only be solved in Okrika and not Abuja.”
Prof. Mkpa, who was the guest lecturer, asked the National Assembly (NASS) to initiate the process for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
Mkpa, who spoke on “The Political Economy of Nation-building and The World’s Unfinished Business,” said the process of nation-building has no end because of socio-political dynamics and emerging challenges.
To move Nigeria forward and address its recurring challenges, Mkpa called for the implementation of the report of the confab, which he described as all-encompassing as it proposed the restructuring of Nigeria into six geo-political zones, devolution of power to the constituent states, state police and building of strong institutions.
He lamented that unlike advanced democracies which have strong institutions and weak individuals, Nigeria has “strong individuals and weak institutions.”
The university don insisted that the way forward for the country is the evolution of “strong institutions and not weak individuals”, who will respect institutions and the institutions will earn the respect of the people.
The former university administrator therefore called for a strong judiciary and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to strengthen the country’s democracy.
Senator Bamidele, who was conferred with Honorary Fellowship of ASDIR, said the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, of which he is one, has the capacity to change the country’s unsavoury narratives.
Bamidele, who was represented by Dr. Shade Joseph Adepeju, said the National Assembly will work for Nigerians and work with Nigerians to end the prevailing hardship caused by the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government.
He also promised that the legislature would address the associated spiralling inflation, unemployment and other economic distortions to lessen the burden on the citizens.
The deputy secretary-general of African Affairs of the International Society of Diplomats (ISD) and vice chairman/chief executive officer of African School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Dr Tunji Asaolu, stressed the importance of diplomacy in crisis control and management. He said most times, conflicts are the products of the failure of or absence of diplomacy in Nigeria and the global community. He added that resolution of all crises still rests squarely on diplomacy.