U.S., Gowon, Tinubu, others seek stronger institutions for sustainable development
Eminent Nigerians at the weekend advocated the need to build strong institutions as a means of achieving sustainable national development in the country as against strong individuals.
Those who spoke at the maiden Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable organised as part of activities to mark the 69th birthday of Oyo State Governor in Ibadan, were former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington and Mrs. Florence Ajimobi.
Others were former Interim National Chairman of APC, Bisi Akande, immediate past Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi and Kola Daisi.
Speaking on The Imperatives of Building Institutions for Lasting Legacies, they argued that while strong individuals were necessary for visionary leadership, only strong institutions could enhance proactive leadership, good governance, effectiveness of the rule of law and citizens’ inclusiveness.
Gowon identified the civil service as one of the key institutions that any government should strive to strengthen, noting, “Protecting the integrity, confidentiality and impartiality of civil servants would enable them to give political leaders the right advice.”
On his part, Tinubu, said while institutions are important, a leader cannot be deemed to have succeeded, no matter how much he has achieved in infrastructure renewal and other areas of development until he develops people who could succeed him and nurture the institution that he had built.
He declared that Ajimobi is a leader who demonstrated a combination of thinking and doing, adding that he had exhibited the qualities of a good leader, who had the courage of not only taking actions, but being ready to face the consequences of his actions.
Speaking, Akande, who stressed the need to build strong institutions, however, warned against what he described as the growing institution of bullies who, he said, derive satisfaction in benefitting from the public purse without providing commensurate value.
Responding, Aregbesola said one of the reasons why a former U.S. President, Barack Obama shunned Nigeria and chose to visit Ghana during his visit to Africa was due to lack of will to support the growth of institutions.
Symington, who spoke through an amplified telephone call from Abuja, said it was time for the people of Oyo State, development partners and business associates to shift attention from sustainable development to profitable development because without profits, development could not be sustained.
He stressed that institutions do not have memories and reputations, but it is the leaders that drive them.