Economic Development: Soludo Calls for Institutional Reforms
Gov. Chukwuma Soludo

Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of Anambra State has called for institutional reforms in the country to propel development. Soludo made the call at the Annual Lecture and International Leadership Symposium of the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) in Lagos.

A new book by Prof. Pat Utomi’, founder of CVL, titled “Power, Politics, Public Policy Process and Performance,” was launched during the programme. The programme, organised to mark Utomi’s 68th birthday, had the theme “Democracy, Governance and National Performance: The Mutual Relationship”.

Soludo, who spoke virtually, said the country needed to pay attention to institutions and encourage progressive politics to achieve sustainable development.

“Our fundamental challenge is how to we leapfrog from this predominantly transactional politics to the one that lead to development.

“Nigeria needs institutional changes. We need to pay a lot of attention to institutions.

“I have come to a conclusion: even though we need an effective Federal Government, we need to pay attention to institutions. We need to rework the constitution”, he said.

 Soludo lauded Utomi, a professor of Political Economics, for leading an exemplary and impactful life, urging citizens to get involved in the Nigerian Project, like Utomi, and stop complaining. The governor said Utomi had contributed, in no small measure, to the progress of the country.

 Also speaking ,Gov .Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa , up said zero tolerance for stealing and the implementation of people-oriented policies by leaders was key to development. According to him, the problem with the country is not lack of resources or ideas, but the leadership to translate ideas into reality

 Sule said that Utomi had been vocal about the problems in the country and suggesting solutions, but that many of his ideas had not been implemented.

“I am sorry to say that we are still talking about the same thing and we are going about the same direction.

“We need to sit down and understand what is really wrong with us so that we can pick it from there , instead of sitting down. We have to really look at what is wrong with us.

“What is wrong with Nigeria is not ideas or laws, we have them. What is wrong is actually implementation of those things that we talk about.

“By the time we pick this book (Utomi’s) and read it, pick another he has written, we shall see a lot of similarities, have we really implemented any part of those books”, he said.

Speaking on democracy, the governor said that the kind of democracy being practised in Nigeria could not take the country to the desired level.

“Is this the kind of democracy we really want to practise?

“I lived and worked in America and I know we are practising the American system, but America is no Nigeria. The people are different, the environment is different, our attitude is different, the culture is different.

“So why must we think that the American system will work perfectly for us as it is working for them. This is one of the things we have to look at”, he said.

In his remarks, former Akwa Ibom governor, Obong Victor Attah, who was Chairman of the occasion, said that the book was replete with solutions to the country’s challenges. On the lecture, Attah said that the nation must concentrate on democratic principles and reform the electoral process.

“Of course, the basis of elections is democracy, we have to find a way to getting our election right.

“Unless and until we are able to put the people we want in office and we are able to remove them when we are dissatisfied with their performance, we will remain where we are,” Attah said.

Prof. Peter Lewis, while delivering the keynote address, said that Nigeria had achieved political milestones since 1999. Lewis, Director, School of Advanced International Studies, (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, said that democracy had been more resilient in Nigeria than in many other countries.

“Nigeria has also become increasingly violent in the past two decades with multiple insurgencies, communal clashes, land disputes and widespread criminal activities.

“It is safe to say this country now faces a general crisis of insecurity as government cannot provide basic protection for much of the people,” he said.

According to him, in 1999, Nigeria looked forward to political freedom, democratic representation and greater possibility for shared prosperity.

Lewis said that the country had, however, witnessed a widening escalation of violence including secessionist agitations, herder-farmer crises, and banditry.

He said that the current Nigerian situation was a symptom of the corruption, unaccountability and incursion of military, saying that democracy had an attractive possibility towards great peace.

Lewis said that democracy could be more successful in meeting popular demands, in allowing political choice and providing options for negotiation and compromise.

“The world strongest democracies are also among the world’s most stable countries,” he said.

He said that India and Indonesia, which had similar challenges to Nigeria with insurgencies, political violence, and secessionist movements had been able to achieve much greater stability within a few years.

Stating that violence and conflict in Nigeria were not driven by a single group or single grievance, Lewis called for political inclusion, government legitimacy and economic opportunities to the larger part of the population.

He also called for adequate economic development and broad-based economic growth. In his goodwill message, Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, who described Utomi as a distinguished professor, said that his writings had been a source of inspiration to many.

“Naturally, we may totally be dissatisfied with the quality of progress we have recorded. For many of us, your writings, speeches, energy and strength have been a source of inspiration,” Kukah who said.

Calling on Nigerians to look ahead and stop lamenting how bad the nation had been,, Kukah said, “In many ways, our situation may not be as horrible as it appears.

“We are not where we are supposed to be but we have not done too badly. We may be failing in physical infrastructure and other indices like security, but we must look ahead.”

 Reviewing the book, Prof. Osita Ogbu, said that that Utomi remained an open book and public intellectual, who had been championing valued leadership in the country and globally.

Describing the book as a political framework, Ogbu said that Utomi had in the book demonstrated his command of literature both in depth and breadth.

According to him, the book strategically dwells on the need for Nigeria to engage the world with our own story, informed by our own experiences and complexity.

He said: “This story as told by Pat Utomi is a collection of stories of key players as top political authorities and significant bureaucrats at different times in Nigeria political history.

“No one that I know has more access to heads of state, former heads of state, permanent secretaries, bureaucrats than Pat Utomi.

 “We can understand why this is an important book to distil what the problems are and how to deal with them with policy making”, he said. He said that the book remains a text on politics of policy making.

“In Pat Utomi’s book, you will confront our reality, appreciate the different and more informed perspectives and perhaps have a better understanding of state policy making and state performance under different regimes.

“The book is both historical, contemporary and futuristic,” he said. He said that the book dwelled on political elite legitimacy, state capacity, bureaucracy and how even the political elite must nurture and re-orient the bureaucracy with certain values for performance.

According to him, the book also talks about the need for appropriate personnel and institutions to create and attain those goals of generating happiness for the people.

He said that the book also discusses the need for a ‘Statecraft capacity’ to help drive the nation’s policies.

Earlier, Utomi said: “The possibilities of Nigeria are infinite if we could just think a little bit, put on the patriotic guide, put on the garment of love because leadership is all about love. If you cannot love, you cannot lead.

“To love is to lead. Our goals really is to build the spirit of love. If we can build it, we would have an advancing country. We will be successful people and we will have peace.” #Economic Development: Soludo Calls for Institutional Reforms#

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