The governor-elect of Anambra State, Prof Charles Soludo, on Saturday expressed concern over the way people now see public office as a platform to make money rather than a call to selfless service.
He lamented that appointment or election into public office had produced rich men who never did any productive work, noting however that disruption to that trend would come at a great cost and could be a dangerous venture for anyone who dares to change the system.
Speaking in Abuja at the 2021 pioneer class graduation of the School of Politics, Policy and Governance, with the theme, ‘Emergence of the unconventionals’, Soludo also raised the alarm that drug barons have invaded the political terrain because of the global clampdown on criminal activities like internet fraud and illicit drug business.
He said, “As the noose tightened globally on other rentier/criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking or internet scam, many of the barons flocked into politics as the next easy alternative.
“Politics has become big business. Appointment or election into public office is seen largely as an opportunity to ‘eat’ rather than a call to selfless service. There is an army of rich (big men) who have never worked or done any productive work in their life but believe that it is their right to expect something for nothing.
“Youth unemployment, insecurity, poverty and inflation threaten the social fabric, but disruptions will come at great costs and could indeed be dangerous. It is not far to imagine what could befall serious disruptors.
“In Nigeria, we remember what happened to (late Head of State) Murtala Muhammed, and the history books are replete with hundreds of examples of the inherent risks.”
Soludo recalled that as the CBN governor, he and his family members received threats owing to the banking revolution he supervised.
He added, “At a personal level, undertaking the banking revolution in Nigeria came with 19 written threats to me and my family, including physical attacks. Disrupting the existing social order is dangerous. Beneficiaries of the current order are powerful enough to organise and viciously fight back to protect their privileges. On the contrary, the masses who are the ultimate beneficiaries are not organised enough to act as a bulwark against the special interests.”
The former CBN governor pointed out that the country was currently “standing between the rock and the hard place” because with the objective to retain power within the context of short electoral cycles, politicians were often afraid to undertake the necessary disruptive changes to guarantee long term safety and prosperity for all.
“On the other hand, the existing trends are totally unsustainable and the system is living on borrowed times,” he added. “Everyone is sleepwalking to the hard place, and praying that somehow a miracle will happen along the way. So, who is ready to put his head on the line to lead such productive but dangerous disruptions?”
Soludo noted that migrating to a post-oil world of fourth industrial revolution and sustainable prosperity would require massive disruptive transformation and restoration of a productive social contract.
He stressed that Nigeria does not lack educated and widely travelled human capital to drive her development, adding that across the world, Nigerians excel in their various fields.
He added, “In the United States, Nigeria ranks highest on education among ethnic minorities and as a percentage of its population, it has the most educated population of all ethnic groups. At home, we have over 100 universities churning out hundreds of graduates every year.
“Oil and the easy money that came with it destroyed the social fabric and the elite created new institutions and political structures to maximise their gains.”
Soludo charged the graduands to display honesty always and use their knowledge to contribute to making a new Nigeria a possibility, adding that fixing politics requires talents, skills and citizens’ cooperation.
The founder of SPPG and former Minister of Education, Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, said Nigeria would not have a high number of out-of-school children and maternal death if the nation had the right politics.
She argued that until Africa exits its kind of politics, there may not be any radical change in the fortunes of the continent in the next century.
Ezekwesili stated, “There is a cost to be made. The politics of Africa today does not respect cost to the individual. It only promotes benefits to the individual that is in the public space. That is an abnormality. Societies that develop did so on the principle that those in the public space are to provide leadership.
“It is politics that has made the economy to be bad within the context of all the endowment that we have. Yet, we are the world capital of poverty. It is politics that has distorted all the possibilities of our society. You cannot play with the lowest degree of your citizens as political leaders in the public space and expect that something will just happen.”
She charged the graduands to embrace leadership skills that would transform society.
The vice-chancellor of the school, Alero Ayida-Otobo, challenged the graduands to have an unquenchable thirst to raise standards while kicking injustice, religious intolerance, and lawlessness out of the country.
Meanwhile, Soludo, who would be inaugurated on March 17, has commiserated with the victims of the fire incident at the Obodo Ukwu end of the Onitsha-Owerri Road in Onitsha.
The fire occurred early Friday following a petrol tanker explosion, which razed buildings and shops in the market around the scene.
A statement on Saturday by his media aide, Mr Joe Anatune, said Soludo expressed deep concern over the magnitude of material losses suffered by the victims.
He lamented the incessant tanker explosions in the Onitsha axis and other cities around the country as he gave an assurance that a lasting solution to prevent a reoccurrence would be proffered.
Soludo commended the President Muhammadu Buhari, and Governor Willie Obiano for their immediate reactions and condolences to the victims.
He commended the gallantry of the youths, fire service officials and other security personnel who came immediately to the scene to stem the tide of the fire.
Source : The PUNCH