FORMER Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Profs. Pat Utomi and Yemi Osibajo, on Monday, lamented that many countries at the same development level with Nigeria or lower in the past had long left the nation behind and attributed the situation to bad leadership.
The trio spoke in Lagos on Monday at a symposium to mark the birthday of Pastor Wale Adefarasin, General Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Pastor of the Guiding Light Assembly.
Speaking on the theme, “The Legacy of our Generation,” various speakers and contributors at the event noted that if Nigeria had got its leadership right, it would have become a true Giant of Africa and World Power, as the country has all it takes to achieve these feats.
Gowon, who was a special guest at the event, stated that leadership problem had prevented Nigeria from attaining the vision God has for the country, “which is to be like the Garden of Eden where everything worked perfectly.”
Utomi and Osibajo also argued that leadership crisis has been the major undoing of Nigeria.
Utomi, listing countries that had risen from obscurity to greatness today, stated that they were able to prosper and experience true development or growth that impacted positively on the lives of their citizens because they had transparent, knowledge-driven leadership committed to the people.
Using the regional system of government once practised in Nigeria and drawing examples from the success stories of the governments in the defunct regions, he showed how purposeful leadership committed to the people promoted competition, growth and development in the regions, calling this “competitive communism.”
Utomi submitted that military rule, discovery of crude oil and the civil war truncated the rapid progress Nigeria was making in the 60s and 70s.
To Osibajo, who built his presentation around the elite in the society, argued that the success and failure of any society was the responsibility of the elite because the people look up to them to provide leadership.
Osibajo stressed that the Nigerian elite must be held responsible for what becomes of the country.
He also submitted that the poverty, legitimisation of corruption and injustice prevalent in the country were as a result of the failure of the elite.
Former Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade, chaired the event.
In his opening remarks, Kolade said the legacy of high standards obtainable in the country at Independence had been eroded over the years.
He apologised to the youths in the hall on behalf of the older generations for the current state of the nation and enjoined all to arrest the decline in standards in the country.