‘Why gov’t must uphold rule of law to attain structural development’
For Nigeria to achieve national transformation, religious and political experts, have called for transformational leadership, inclusive administration, good governance, prudent financial management, legal system devoid of corruption, nepotism and impunity.
Speaking at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Muslim Alumni (UMA) 28th (pre-) Ramadan lecture, tagged: ‘National Transformation: Between Responsible Leaders and Responsive Citizenry’, UMA President, Prof. Khalid Adekoya, said the theme was carefully chosen to diagnose the duties and responsibilities of leaders to deepen knowledge and assist in evolving a better society.
In his contribution, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Muiz Banire, said leaders must uphold the rule of law without fear or favour and urged leaders to ensure that they run participatory governance.
“You must equally ensure that there is justice in the land. You must ensure as a transformational leader that the resources of the country are used in the best manner. Your governance and civil service must be efficient and effective.
“There must be equity and inclusiveness. You must see criticisms as a feedback mechanism, not as condemnation. These are some of the essentials that we said anyone who wants to transform society must have,” he said.
According to him, “ Nigerians must obey our leaders as enjoined by the Prophet (SAW), but the obedience is qualified. “We obey them to the extent that they do not ask us to do anything that contravenes the Shari’ah. If it is going to contravene the Shari’ah, at that point, we depart.
“Again, we owe them the duty of counsel. We must draw their attention to things they are doing wrong. We owe them a duty of accountability and probity. We also have a duty not to only advise them, but also to guide them always; and most importantly, pray for them,” Banire stated.
He also encouraged youths to occupy leadership positions, saying that they have the energy and knowledge to govern.
The second guest speaker, Grand Mufti of the Conference of Islamic Organisation (CIO), Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafi’i, also charged leaders to run an inclusive administration and listen to the yearnings of the people.
He stated that when a policy does not go well with the people, leaders have a responsibility to rethink it.
“Leaders must have listening ears to hear out the needs and cries of the people to work on them. The Amirul Mumineen, Umar Bn Khattab (RA) once made a policy to give incentives to mothers once they stop breastfeeding their children. Then, mothers in the city started hastening to stop their kids from breastfeeding.”
Shafi’i also emphasised the need for leaders to always keep firm on justice. He said: “Everyone must be brought to justice and there should be equality before the law. Also, our leaders must invest in security, education, healthcare and other sectors that improve the welfare of the people.
“The major problem we are facing as a society is because many youths are outside there idle. Government must engage these young people meaningfully and provide them employment and empowerment opportunities.”
Former Minister of Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro warned against blind followership, saying that it is high time Nigerians started challenging their leaders.
“We must be able to challenge our leaders and not treat them as gods. Once somebody is in public office, you see everybody around behaving as if they are on a slave plantation. That is not the way it’s supposed to be.
“I was opportune to be an ambassador representing Nigeria in Ghana. If you see the relationship between the elected officials and the people, you’ll be amazed compared to what you have in Nigeria. The public officeholders are very fearful of the opinion of an average Ghanaian whereas in Nigeria it is not the same. We witnessed that not too long ago.
Now, we are still experiencing it. Several people can’t find money to do transactions. The effect on our economy is yet completely unravel. It’s going to create dire consequences on the economy of the country,” he declared.
Senator-elect, Ogun Central, Alhaji Shuaib Afolabi Salisu (SAS), emphasised that leadership question must never be reduced to the political class alone.
According to him, reducing the question of leadership to the political class alone will prevent the country from getting transformed.
“Ishaq Oloyede as JAMB Registrar is not a political leader, but he has provided transformational leadership in JAMB. I give you one more example. There used to be a woman called Dora Akunyili. She was the DG of NAFDAC. She transformed NAFDAC. She brought the high factor in the leadership question to bear. So, don’t let us reduce leadership questions to political leadership alone. Otherwise, we will miss it out.”
The senator-elect also lamented that followers in Nigeria often use the wrong metrics in assessing the performance of their political leaders, especially the legislators.