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Nigerian leaders are at the corridors of power for the interest of their ethnic groups – Amaechi

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Nigerian leaders are at the corridors of power for the interest of their ethnic groups - Amaechi

Rotimi AmaechiFormer Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has noted that Nigerian leaders at corridors of power, with the exception of Olusegun Obasanjo, are ethnic champions who are after the interest of their ethnic groups.

Amaechi was the guest speaker at the 2023 TheNiche Annual Lecture themed: “Why We Stride and Slip: Leadership, Nationalism and Nigerian Condition,” on Thursday in Lagos.

The lecture, which is in its fourth edition, was organised by TheNiche Foundation for Development Journalism to engage Nigerians and proffer solutions to some of the countries most difficult questions.

The former minister of transportation said Nigeria’s nationalism and nation building were younger than the nation as an independent entity and that there had been more rulers than nationalistic leaders.

While lauding Nigerian nationalists who fought for the independence, Amaechi said genuine nationalistic leadership transcends ethnicity.

According to him, public service equips people with both practical experiences and some inside knowledge on how Nigeria works, as well as why it did not work and how it should work.

He questioned the extent to which Nigerian leadership had been imbued with the necessary sense of national unity.

“The only person near that point of Nationalism with all respect is Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. The rest are ethnic leaders.

“Truly, remarkable national leadership is the ability of a leader to galvanise the totality of a nation around the common national banner with a vision and a sense of mission.

“The truly remarkable national leader is the one that is able to rise above limitations to take the nation and its people to that place where they long for but have never been before.

“It is a place of national greatness, pride, achievements and shared goals, aspirations and prosperity,” he said.

Amaechi said that most nations are products of amalgamation of diverse nationality under a common sovereignty and many had tried to resolve the problem of internal diversity.

According to him, many Nigerian leaders are at the corridors of power for the interest of their ethnic groups, noting that the identity of Nigeria is still being tormented by ethnicity.

“There can be no credible leadership for a diverse nation without some forms of resolutions on the national questions as it pertains to the particular nation in question,” he added.

Amaechi accused the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman, of telling lies against him in her book.

Speaking for the first time after his failed presidential bid, Amaechi contended that Usman’s book, titled, ‘Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority,’ contained lies against him.

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The former minister denied Usman’s claim in the book that he orchestrated her removal as the NPA Managing Director.

He said, “Some of you must have read the book written by the former MD of the NPA, ‘Stepping on Toes.’ There has been a huge debate about whether I should respond or not. The lies were too many.

“For instance, she claims that she was not indicted by the panel but she was found guilty of all the 10 counts. I even came with a copy of the memo to the President in which the President endorsed her removal.

“We took the President through all the counts, including the fact that a Managing Director of NPA with a N2.5m approval limit can approve a N2.8bn contract. No appropriation, including the fact that even if I were to approve despite the lack of appropriation, you are overpriced by N58m so tell them to refund the difference, having awarded the contract.

“Why is that document not public? Prominent Nigerians are involved. She gave waivers to prominent Nigerians which she had no power to give and these are dollars accruable to the Nigerian economy but she was bold to write the book and Nigerians followed her to launch the book.”

Amech also bemoaned the docile nature of Nigerians and their inability to demand good governance.

“What is new to say, Nigerians don’t react to anything. Has any politician told you he is not a thief? Which politician told you he went to university, which politician told you she served in NYSC, and which politician told you he has his certificate?

“Nigerians know and still vote for them, so what is your problem? I say why should I speak when already there’s nothing new

“Nigerians choose who to believe and who not to believe, Nigerians choose who to vote and who not to vote. Even if you come to a Nigerian man’s house and kill his mother, the father will continue his life. Nothing bothers you, nothing, so why should I waste my time?

“I chose not to speak again because there was nothing to say and because Nigerians would do absolutely nothing. If you say it’s a lie, line up 10 Nigerians and shoot them tomorrow, nothing will happen.

“The worst thing about Nigerians is that even if you say you are not committing any crime and they pick you up tomorrow, ‘We said it, he’s a thief,’ Nigerians will join and chorus it and you will go to prison for nothing.”

Also speaking, Dr Uma Eleazu, Chairman of the lecture, said that in spite of all the problems the country is facing, the future generation still has hope.

Questioning how the country got to its present point, Eleazu said the toxicity of living in Nigeria had birthed the ‘Japa Syndrome’ among the youth.

“Once the boundaries of national social order are removed, there will be problems.

“Men and women of goodwill must make the necessary investment of time and energy to counter these forces to build within the next generation lasting values.

“These values are embodied in politics of character, self-discipline, respect for authority and for one another, commitment to speaking the truth always no matter whose horses is gored, and unshakeable love for God and humanity,” he said.

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Earlier in his remark, Mr Ikechukwu Amaechi, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of TheNiche, said that the lecture was organised to have various opinions that would shed light on why Nigeria’s enormous potential are not realised.

Amaechi and Eleazu were inducted into TheNiche Hall of Fame, joining other prominent Nigerians including Prof. Remi Sonaiya, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, among others.

The event which saw the convergence of brilliant brains made of public servants also had a panel of discussion with Funke Treasure, Yakubu Mohammed, Valentine Ozigbo, Chidi Amuta and Prof Anthony Kila serving as the discussants for the panel

 

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