Why leadership failure persists in Nigeria, by Don
A lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Edward Oyelowo Oyewo, made the assertion in an interview with The Guardian, saying the quality of Nigeria’s political leadership has foisted a “dysfunctional interpretation in the operation of the country’s political system.”
Professor Oyewo, who teaches Public Law at UNILAG, argued that in spite of Nigeria’s long experience in parliamentary system of governance, the political instability from 1960 to 1966 showed that “we are ill-suited temperamentally towards parliamentary system.”
He insisted that Nigeria’s leadership failure has nothing to do with faulty system, but a faulty political system that does not produce energetic leadership, adding: “At the National Assembly, mace snatching for instance, is an anomaly indicating that we are not suited for a parliamentary system.”
He asserted that following the political conference and reports of the Constitution Drafting Committee, “there is synergy of power in the presidential system as opposed to the diffusion of power in the parliamentary system.”
“It means the president is the chief executive, commander-in-chief, as well as the political and legal focus of power. What this means is that it is not the fault of our system, but the political party system that does not produce pragmatic and energetic persons.
“We have been having half-dead and half-alive people as presidents and this was confirmed when one of our presidents died in 2010. Most of our presidents do not campaign and debate during electioneering period. For somebody to be a presidential candidate, he must go through a rigorous process.”
Professor Oyewo noted that most of the people who have emerged Nigeria’s leaders did not go through a competitive process, stressing: “Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not go through that process.
“Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did not go through the process and Goodluck Jonathan did not go through that process. President Muhammadu Buhari did not go through the process. So, how can we say the system is faulty when we have not followed the rudimentary requirements?”
While maintaining that the way we operate the system would continue to have challenges, he said, a presidential system is usually fed by the political process.
“Look at our political party selection process. Do we have the kind of structure they have abroad? Can a Barrack Obama come out in the Nigerian system? No way! That is why we need to go to the fundamentals,” he added.
Professor Oyewo called for a reevaluation of the Muhammed Uwais Panel report, saying even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had acknowledged that it could function within its constitutional powers.
His words: “Remember the electoral reforms that the Justice Mohammed Uwais panel made comprising seven recommendations before they came with the white paper to negate it. One of them was decentralisation of INEC’s functions.
“INEC should be broken down into four bodies including one that deals with election and another with registration of voters. They should be separated and their records different from each other.
“That is why most wise people do not want to go to election petition tribunals, because they will be fighting not only the party that won, but INEC and at the national level, INEC becomes a political party. We are running a mongrel system.”
On suggestions that prolonged military hangover could have adversely affected Nigerians, Oyewo said it was not an excuse, even as he cited examples.
“Rwanda went through extreme genocide, but today, the story is different because its leadership is rewriting the country’s history. Ghana went through its military era, but its story has changed, but Nigeria still remains far behind due to our culture of focusing on problems rather than solutions,” he said.
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