OBASANJO, ONLY TRUE NATIONALIST, OTHER PRESIDENTS, ETHNIC LEADERS – AMAECHI
Former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says Nigeria is still in search of national leaders, and its democracy needs serious rethinking in terms of scope and focus.
Mr Amaechi was the guest speaker at the 2023 TheNiche Annual Lecture themed “Why We Stride and Slip: Leadership, Nationalism, and the Nigerian Condition,” held on Thursday in Lagos.
He questioned the extent to which Nigerian leadership has been imbued with the necessary sense of national unity.
“The only person near that point of Nationalism, with all due respect, is Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. The rest are ethnic leaders.
“Truly remarkable national leadership is the ability of a leader to galvanise the totality of a nation around the common national banner with a vision and a sense of mission.
“The truly remarkable national leader is the one who can rise above limitations to take the nation and its people to that place they long for but have never been before.
“It is a place of national greatness, pride, achievements, and shared goals, aspirations, and prosperity,” he said.
While lauding Nigerian nationalists who fought for independence, Mr Amaechi said genuine nationalistic leadership transcends ethnicity.
According to him, public service equips people with practical experience and insider knowledge about how Nigeria works, why it doesn’t work, and how it should work.
The former Rivers governor noted that Nigeria’s nationalism and nation-building are younger than the nation as an independent entity and that there have been more rulers than nationalistic leaders.
He said that most nations are products of the amalgamation of diverse nationalities under a common sovereignty, and many have tried to resolve the problem of internal diversity.
Mr Amaechi said that many Nigerian leaders are in the corridors of power for the interest of their ethnic groups, noting that the identity of Nigeria is still being tormented by ethnicity.
“There can be no credible leadership for a diverse nation without some form of resolution of the national questions as it pertains to the particular nation in question,” he added.
Also speaking, Uma Eleazu, chairman of the lecture, said that in spite of all the problems the country is facing, the future generation still has hope.
Questioning how the country got to its present point, Mr Eleazu said the toxicity of living in Nigeria had birthed the ‘Japa Syndrome’ among the youth.
“Once the boundaries of national social order are removed, there will be problems.
“Men and women of goodwill must make the necessary investment of time and energy to counter these forces to build within the next generation lasting values.
“These values are embodied in the politics of character, self-discipline, respect for authority and for one another, commitment to speaking the truth always, no matter whose horse is gored, and unshakeable love for God and humanity,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Ikechukwu Amaechi, the managing director/chief executive officer of TheNiche, said that the lecture was organized to gather various opinions that would shed light on why Nigeria’s enormous potential is not realised.
The lecture, now in its fourth edition, was organised by TheNiche Foundation for Development Journalism to engage Nigerians and offer solutions to some of the country’s most difficult questions.Messrs Amaechi and Eleazu were inducted into TheNiche Hall of Fame, joining other prominent Nigerians including Remi Sonaiya, Kingsley Moghalu, and Babatunde Fashola, among others.