Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, expressed concern over the pilfering of public funds and other forms of misappropriation, disregard for Court rulings that bedeviled Nigerian polity.
In the bid to address the menace, Speaker Dogara while delivering a keynote address on: ‘The new leadership paradigm Nigeria needs,’ at the opening of the conference for youth candidates running for offices in the 2019 elections organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) in Abuja, underscored the need for a paradigm shift in leadership that will usher her into a state of orderliness in governance, the enthronement of equal opportunities, respect for human rights and accelerated growth and development.
The Speaker identified several reasons for the dwindle in effective leadership that have led to the inability to achieve national development as diminishing regard for learning, competence and merit in appointments and electing leaders, religious bigotry fanaticism and intolerance, ethnic chauvinism, monetisation of electioneering campaigns, official lawlessness and abuse of power and pilfering and misappropriation of public funds, among others.
In the formative years of our country, during and immediately after the Colonial Rule, merit was the greatest considerations in the appointment and election of leaders. In those times, the ability, education and cognate experience of office seekers determined their appointment or election.
“However, it seems that this paradigm has been relegated for favouritism and social connections and relationships.
“On religious bigotry, fanaticism and intolerance, it is true to say that it has assumed worrisome dimensions in recent years. This is particularly noticeable among the leaders and adherents of our two major religions, Christianity and Islam.
“This has been responsible for many of the incidents of violence and blood let in the country. These abominable characters are often championed and sponsored by some of the religious leaders who take advantage of the hapless citizens and manipulate them to further their political and/or economic gains.
“Monetisation of our electioneering process is an unwholesome phenomenon that has pervaded the polity and has greatly reduced the quality of the leadership of the country. Money has unfortunately become the highest consideration for voting in elections. In many cases, the highest bidders are those who get the votes.
“This has not only scared way a lot of eligible citizens from standing for election, but has also desecrated the sanctity of democracy and made leaders to be less accountable to the people.
“Ethnic chauvinism is another cankerworm that has eaten deep into our leadership strata. This discriminative tendency manifests in lopsided appointments in government institutions and preferential treatment in the assignment of duty posts and responsibilities. This breeds animosity, disunity and mutual suspicions in work places. It is a paradigm that is doing a lot of damage to our cohesion as a country.
“There is a growing phenomenon of disobedience of rulings of Courts of competent jurisdiction by many chief executives of governments. The Constitution and our Laws are often trampled upon with impunity. This, indeed, is an ominous development that can only lead to anarchy if not checked.
“There is now a division of opinions in the country whether the Rule of Law should be subjugated to whatever the leadership of the Federal Government interprets as “national interest.
“To me, disobedience of Court rulings is a gross abuse of power and office, and has no place in a democratic setting,” the Speaker declared, adding that: “pilfering of public funds and other forms of misappropriation have bedeviled our system for a long time, and has become endemic in the system.”
He stated that the engagement in the above practices have made it impossible to achieve effective leadership that would lead to progressive development as obtained in most nations and added that there is need to shift to leadership that will ensure upholding the sanctity of the Rule of Law, accountability and loyalty to the people by all principal government functionaries, free and fair elections and the fear of God.
While commending YIAGA as a body of forward-looking, patriotic and purposeful youths who are genuinely committed to the advancement of our country through intensive advocacy, he added that it is commendable that it are not resting on its oars after the successful enactment of the Not-Too-Young-to-Run Act earlier in the year.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja