Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo has described how politics in Nigeria affects economic development.
Obasanjo in a keynote address tagged ‘Respecting the principles of democracy’ at the international conference on ‘Deepening democratic culture and institutions’, which was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, January 26, lamented that political campaigns in Nigeria have been overtaken by insults, lies and selfish interest instead of addressing issues of national interest and progress. He also said that campaigns have been taken over by minions who have now built iron rings around candidates at all levels.
The former President said; “At the end of all the rigmarole, people get elected: they never believed in or shared a common platform, failed to carry Nigerians along, lacked a deep understanding of the trends and tendencies in the social and economic system.
“Everyone in this room, whether we admit it or not, is an expert in Nigerian politics. We all have opinions and we have prescriptions for all the problems of Nigeria. Yet, the country is not making progress. Most of us are experts in what we know little or nothing about and ignoramus in what is our duty and responsibility. We have tried all sorts of regimes, ideologies, planning strategies and personalities in power: the so-called new breed did not show that they were different.
“Equally, states run by professors, retired military officers and other professionals including teachers did not experience visible and substantial improvements. True, there have been some outstanding leaders at various levels of power but no tree has ever made a forest; the good ones are few and far in between and did not form critical mass. The lack of conversations across fault-lines and primordial proclivities mean that our leaders are unable to share ideas and have durable and sustained policies for long enough time. This prevents useful cooperation, collaboration, stability and sustainability. It means that whatever best practices are in one location remain there and may die there.”
Obasanjo further said that the way Nigeria’s democracy is practiced has deepened contradictions, negative coalitions, distrust, disloyalty and unpatriotic tendencies within and between communities and constituencies all over the country, while he lamented that Nigeria leaders are not showing clear capacities to provide a transformative leadership that unites Nigerians and contains ethnic, religious, regional and clannish, selfish, class proclivities.
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