Former presidential candidate under the umbrella of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has noted that turning the fortunes of the nation for the better is dependent on good governance, functional institutions and dedicated leaders who feel the pain of their followers, and not mere change of leadership.
The former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who according to many, for paucity of credible individuals, became the flag bearer of the ACN in the 2011 presidential elections, said this at a forum in Abuja Saturday.
In a keynote speech titled: ‘Nigeria: A Generation’s Quest for Home’, delivered at a Mentor-Me Role Model Forum with the theme “Leadership by Example: From Talk to Action” organised by a Group of Patriotic Corpers (GPC), a lecture focused on the need to rid the psyche of young Nigerians of the craze for material things and harness their potential for building a better future, Ribadu identified institutional collapse as the bane of the country’s development.
“What Nigeria needs is to realise its potentials, unfortunately, not mere change of leadership, but functional institutions and leaders for whom the sufferings of the masses are immediate concerns, not jokers that insult the yearnings and honest observations of the electorate.”
Recalling with nostalgia his experience as a young lawyer with numerous opportunities, he said he avoided them all and chose a career in the Police Force. “We don’t need anyone from outer space to come and organise our polity. What we need are ourselves, our virtues and belief in a collective struggle for good governance,” he said.
Ribadu also suggested that the burden of lawmakers in moving the country forward is the onus to “gather to discuss the plight of their constituents,” while the role of the judiciary is to exert “its independence and resist any prejudice in the discharge of justice.”
In a quick advice for civil servants, Ribadu said they should “not ask for bribes to do that for which they receive salaries,” adding, “we need functional institutions to restore the lost glories and trust that make a sane nation.”
“Our trouble in this country is principally the collapse of our institutions,” as he insisted that the country’s vast potential are squandered in the pursuit of glamour.
“Our potential are lost in our civic decadence, which stares at us in the face wherever we go: we see the decadence in the eyes of the policeman flipping through our particulars, we see the decadence in the eyes of the university registrar demanding for bribes to grant or facilitate admissions, we see the decadence in the eyes of every citizen who has lost hope in Nigeria,” he lamented.
He therefore appealed to the youths that in order for them “to build a home out of this chaos we call a country,” they don’t need to compromise in favour of owning mere houses.
He also charged the youths to be agents of change in whatever capacity they find themselves, citing his time as EFCC chairman as example of commitment to being a change agent.
“My success at the EFCC, especially in resisting all tempting offers and calls to bend the rules was a direct result of my vow from when I was like you that I will never be corrupt. I resented corruption not by lips of mouth but by personal conduct. I refused to be bribed or compromised throughout my public service career. Yet, I am ever happy with myself. I have no regrets that I don’t have mansions all over the world or own a private jet. I derive happiness from contentment and the feeling that what I possess are things I genuinely earn. You can make similar resolve today.”
“Collectively, you should come together in reforming all the things that ought to be reformed; your generation must come out with a blueprint, and that has to include breaking down the walls of ethnic, religious and regional advocacy and presenting leaders ready to represent your interests. If you don’t make any sacrifice to correct the ills, how do you expect a change? It’s your responsibility to demand for a Nigeria of your will, a Nigeria where opportunities are there for those who strive for excellence,” Ribadu said.