By Anayo Ezugwu
EMINENT Nigerians were on the roll call when TheNiche Newspaper held its second annual lecture. The event was attended by traditional rulers, industry chieftains, opinion leaders, civil society organisations and the media.
Professor Anya O. Anya, former chief executive officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, and scholar of international repute, delivered the lecture – Business and Accountable Governance: The Obligations of Leadership. Anya said the timing of the theme could not have been more apt.
“On a regular day we may find seven to eight separate stories on any page of any of the national newspapers and all stories would be negative – filled with bizarre stories of piracy, insurrection, militancy, armed robbery, kidnapping, electronic manipulation, fraud and all kinds of weird stories of sexual malfeasance.
“What is more, it is becoming difficult to conduct a civilized discussion on any issue of national importance or interest. So a visitor to this country may be forgiven if he/she were to wonder if we were in a permanent state of moral and socio-pathologic malaise that has become endemic and has defied diagnosis. Yet this is a nation whose citizens are doing fantastically well in all major nations of the world – in business, in the professions, in the arts – winning prizes and outstanding laurels all over the place,” he said.
The biology professor then posed the question: “What can account for this apparent state of national schizophrenia? What is responsible for the continuous projection of a normless society of denizens of the underworld by our leaders and our citizens?”
Anya said the reason was simply that successive leaders of the Nigerian state over the last 50 years have failed its citizens, and that governance has not been according to the grand norm (constitution) that connects government to the people. He was, however, hopeful that Nigeria would overcome the challenges and rebuild a new Nigeria based on two reasons.
“As difficult as the circumstances are, our youths are doing fantastic things: unremarked and uncelebrated. Beyond the hordes of the unemployed and the uneducated are also battalions of brilliant men and women who do the unexpected that often challenge their peers in other nations. To challenge and incentivize them should be the current priority. They are there if we look carefully.
“We must learn to celebrate our successful and exemplary citizens. In this regard let me ask the fatuous question: where was Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Ernest Azudialo-Obiejesi, Leo Stan Ekeh, Aig Imoukhede twenty five years ago? They are all products of the modest economic reforms that came after the debacle of the Structural Adjustment Programme, particularly in the Oil Industry, Banking and Technology.
“If there is any regret on the modest success of those years, it is the fact that we did not have the sharpness of mind and heart to ground the new wealth in the productivity of our people and hence develop an equitable process to share the new opportunities with the mass of the people,” he said.
Christopher Kolade, former diplomat, boardroom giant, and academic, who chaired the event, started his remark by posing the question: “Why do we attend public lectures?”
He said the reasons could be any of the three; to listen to a fresh insight as against the deluge of negative happenstance Nigerians are being exposed to, a likely personal interest in the theme, and the quality of the guest speaker. In the case of TheNiche lecture, he is a distinguished Nigerian.
Kolade said he was delighted that Professor Anya was the guest speaker because so much knowledge would be gained by listening to him.
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, who was the royal father of the day, said the lecture was an avenue to shape a better society. “If we have all the media telling the truth, we can rescue this nation,” he said.
Former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was the special guest of honour, said in all countries of the world, the elite always formulate policies that favour its class.
Represented by Dele Alake, former commissioner for information and strategy in Lagos State, Tinubu noted that the policies are always at variance with the people’s interest. He said it was only the people that can change that situation.
Other dignitaries at the event included: former Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Rear Admiral Allison Madueke, former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 division and now President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos, General Obi Umahi, former Nigerian ambassador to the US, George Obiozor, elder statesman and former presidential candidate, Umah Eleazu, political economy professor, Pat Utomi.
– Oct 16, 2019 @ 11:55 GMT |