Saturday, 9th December 2023

Why Nigerians must ‘stop acting like spoilt brats’, by Adegoroye

By Femi Alabi Onikeku (Lagos) and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)
29 September 2023   |   4:25 am
Nigeria has the best balance sheet of natural endowments to natural hazards and disasters in the world. Its citizens must, therefore, “stop acting like spoilt brats” by embracing enormous opportunities and shunning “primordial sectional agenda”.

Dr Goke Adegoroye

• Tinubu has responded to past mistakes with ‘more acceptable options’
• Shettima seeks strategic partnership on Renewed Hope agenda

Nigeria has the best balance sheet of natural endowments to natural hazards and disasters in the world. Its citizens must, therefore, “stop acting like spoilt brats” by embracing enormous opportunities and shunning “primordial sectional agenda”.

With this admonition and others, Dr Goke Adegoroye, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary who has written two books on civil service reforms, sought to stir Nigerians towards placing a firm foothold on the path to national development.

The event, yesterday, was a public lecture cum symposium, organised to mark the 63rd Anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence, with the theme: ‘Nigeria at 63, Renewed Hope for National Unity and Prosperity’.

Speaking on ‘Actualising the Vision of Renewed Hope for Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria through Effective Leadership’, Adegoroye, the lead speaker, said: “We must sit up and appreciate the enormous opportunities that God has placed before us by virtue of our natural resource endowments, His protection over us from natural disasters, and the beauty of our triple intertwining diversities across biological, physical terrain and culture spheres.”

Adegoroye, early in his speech, alluded to Nigeria’s Coat of Arms: its two horses representing dignity; and the eagle, which symbolises strength. He noted, however: “It appears that that eagle has lost its feathers, not by moulting – the natural process of feather shedding that is bound to induce re-growth, but by bacteria and virus-induced losses, symptomatic of years of mismanagement, corruption, and leadership deficiency at all sectors of our national economy and human endeavours across all tiers of government at national and sub-national levels.”

But the speaker affirmed that a new spirit “right now” is awakening the eagle. In his words: “The spirit of a visionary.” This visionary, according to Adegoroye, is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“Where mistakes appeared to have been made, he has responded promptly with more acceptable options. It is obvious that every aspect of these set ups has been deliberately considered and put forward by the President, as none appears to be a fortuitous coincidence. I have been around the top level of the bureaucracy since the commencement of the 4th Republic in 1999 but this is the first time that I am seeing all these factors play out in one man. Nigeria is at a new dawn,” Adegoroye submitted.

Thereafter, he turned to principal representatives of the President at the event, stressing that how they provide leadership in their respective offices could determine how the eagle re-grows its feathers and flies.

This consists: “Our ability as political office holders and career bureaucrats to key into the vision of the President and to work in synergy as co-reinforcing components to drive that agenda; and our ability to appreciate the depth of certain factors that have posed challenges to our public services over the years, and our determination and commitment to overcome those challenges.”

He said: “At this time in our nation’s history, he (Tinubu) is the eagle on our nation’s Coat of Arms. The visionary has perched. But his plumage is going to be provided by all of us in leadership positions at all levels across the three arms of government. The issues that I have identified in this paper are the feathers to be regenerated by the effective leadership that he is expecting you all to provide in your respective positions. He is anxiously waiting for these feathers to enable him to spread those wings to their full span and lift up for Nigeria to soar to the skies; the skies of its socio-economic development, national unity and prosperity.”

Speaking on “one of the issues” – anti-corruption, Adegoroye lamented: “There are at least 18 channels that I have identified through which recurrent appropriations are abused regularly by accounting officers in collusion with their political heads. Indeed, the art of budget manipulation for personal gains as a mode of operation of yearly appropriations of MDAs has become a coveted expertise that certain political office holders usually headhunt in the deployment of Permanent Secretaries and the appointment of DGs as accounting officers in their MDAs.

“It is incumbent on the accounting officers to checkmate their political heads and themselves from bloated and unrealistic paraphernalia of office in terms of an endless list of perquisites, spanning support staff, fleet of vehicles, working tools, energy source and office space layout; hiding under the cover of purchase of project vehicles betrays the public trust.

“The success of the President in actualising his Renewed Hope agenda is contingent on his commitment to really deal with corrupt officials in leadership positions, be they political appointees or career public servants. Doing that at the topmost level is critical, as the integrity backbone of the occupants of those positions is what the accounting officers and their subordinates would rely upon for the courage to do their jobs.”

Also, the lead speaker advocated return of the concept of Coordinating Minister, including Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, and expansion of the scope of coordination under the Minister of Health to cover human development, so that education can come into the fold as it is in Indonesia.

He further called for effective coordination and clear-cut responsibilities among the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Office of the Chief of Staff to the President and Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

The lecture was an assemblage of high-profile Nigerians, including Vice President Kashim Shettima, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, members of the diplomatic corps, among others, who thronged the banquet hall venue at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Shettima said the Nigeria desired by citizens will be realised through active collaboration and support of all for the President Bola Tinubu administration as it works on fulfilling its campaign promises. He added: “We can’t achieve any of these unless each citizen remains a strategic partner in pursuit of our ultimate national interests.”