Despite the human and mineral resources, Nigeria was recently ranked the poorest country in the world.
With a population of approximately 200 million, Nigeria is being trapped in the web of corruption, insecurity and bad leadership.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, had promised to tackle these issues upon assumption of office on May 29, 2015 after he was declared winner of the presidential election.
Three years down the four-year mandate, most Nigerians feel President Buhari has not done enough in these areas. This, they blame on his leadership style.
With barely six months to another general election, some civil society organisations are spearheading a revolution that would cause a disruption in the Nigeria political space and its leadership system.
It is against this backdrop that the Summit of the Alternatives (SOTA) was conceived to kick-start a paradigm shift in the mindset of Nigeria’s political class and bring together credible, competent and capable alternatives that would lead the country to greater heights.
Kenyan lawmaker, Professor Patrick Lumumba, was the keynote speaker at SOTA 2018 which took place at the Shehu Yar’Adua Center, Abuja on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.
Nigeria’s leadership problem
Addresssing participants via Skype, Professor Lumumba noted that success or failure of Nigeria affects the African continent.
He, however, blamed the country’s current realities on the military takeover of government and the failure of leadership.
“In 1953 when African leaders assembled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia –32 of them – They were eloquent and correct about the fact that Africa needed to be led by men and women who love their nation,” Lumumba said.
“In Nigeria in those days, when one listened to Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello they made sense. No sooner had the gains of independence been realized that we started seeing the entry of the men with arms into the political arena. I dire say without fear or contraction that that was when the rain started beating us.
“I want to submit to us that Nigeria occupies such an important position not only in Africa but in the world. On the few occasions that Nigeria has demonstrated leadership, the neighbours have been at peace and at ease.
“Not so long ago, Liberia was in a throes of the civil war and the Nigerian political leaders provided the leadership to ECOWAS. Today, we can talk about a stable or stabilizing Liberia.
“When there was instability in Sierra Leone and Nigeria leaders came out and we can recognize that some sanity has been restored in Freetown.
“At critical moments when the Green (Super) Eagles were souring as they should, they were the pride of us. Whenever Nigeria has provided leadership, the African continent has always occupied her pride of place,” he declared.
Nigeria as Africa’s political Mecca and Jerusalem
Lumumba, an advocate at the High Courts of Kenya, accused Nigeria’s political class of holding the country down.
“Let me say without fear or contradiction that the only thing that continues to hold Nigeria down are the political elites who in my view have to liberate themselves from the politics of ethnicity… and recognize that political leadership is a position of trusteeship. They ought to recognize that when they lead Nigeria, they are also leading Africa.
“The time has come that we must recognize that what Nigeria does is important to Africa. Nigeria and Nigerian leaders must recognize that Nigeria ought to be the political Mecca or Jerusalem to which we pay pilgrimage or visit to pay homage. When the Nigerian leader wakes up to this reality, Africa will be great.
"Africa is a continent under siege. This is the time for Nigeria to provide leadership in politics. This is the time for the Nigerian President, members of parliament and local leaders to liberate themselves and recognize that politics must be sanitized,” he admonished.
Buhari’s medical vacation
In 2017, President Buhari embarked on a medical vacation to London. The trip was prolonged to over 100 days“on the doctor’s advice”.
The Pan-Africanist, urged Buhari to fix Nigeria’s healthcare system rather than “sojourn in foreign land”.
Lumumba who called for a revolution in Nigeria’s political affairs, however, expressed optimism in the country’s future
“It is time for Nigeria to know that her GDP must no longer be held down at $500 billion but at $3 trillion GDP economy. It is time for Nigeria to begin the revival of her textile industry.
“Nigeria must make sure that her oil industry is levelled up so that she does not produce crude oil, export crude oil and import refined products. Nigeria must improve her agriculture.
“This is the time that Nigeria must improve her healthcare (system) so that the president does not sojourn in foreign land on medical vacation.
“The time is now and if we don’t seize the moment, then we are doomed. Nigeria’s leadership is the missing link in Africa’s greatness,” he concluded.
Like an earthquake, the hall erupted in cheers.
Summit of the Alternatives, explained
Earlier, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, a former Education Minister and chairperson of the Summit had called for an alternative that would take over power from Nigeria’s current political class.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are a Siamese twins; there is no difference between them,” Ezekwesili declared.
Ezekwesili, a co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy group, expressed concerns that Nigeria is being led by the “worst amongst us”.
“This is a summit that challenges apparent norm that for us as a society, good has become evil while evil has become good. This summit challenges the conventional wisdom that leadership is not for service but for self," she announced.
“It is a summit that says that ‘no longer shall we allow ourselves to be led by the worst amongst us while the rest amongst us seat on the margins and murmur and complain.
“This a summit that overthrows that sense that we are stock in a place of permanence of bad behavior, failure, mediocrity, incompetency and the lack of capacity to work for the common good. A new Nigeria is possible,” she added.
The two-day event is co-sponsored by the Center for Democracy and Development (CCD), Nigeria First, Enough is Enough, Budgit, YIAGA Africa and the Red Card Movement.
Other speakers include; Professor Adebayo Oukoshi, Emeka Okoye, Don Pedro Okogie, Fatima Yerima Askira, Hauwa Yusuf, Olusegun Oniginde and Ayisha Osori.