Poor education, legal system, voter apathy, others may threaten Nigeria’s corporate existence
While the celebrant himself expressed concern that Nigeria might likely not mark 100th year independence anniversary together as a corporate union if it continues to handle the issues of education, laws, and religion the way they are at present, a professor of sociology, Lai Olurode, who is also a former National Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), lamented the escalating rate of voter apathy and vote-buying, especially as it affects the Southwest region in the last general elections.
In his frank submission, Akande told the august gathering that the country risks not being together as a nation in the next 100 years if it fails to address the issues, he stated above.
Guests at the event included the governor of his home state, Osun, Gbeyega Oyetola, Governor Rotimi Akeedolu of Ondo State, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Gida Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, representatives of governors of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti and Oyo, former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, former Chief of Defense Staff, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Dr. Adewale Yagboyaju and Prof. Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science (UNILAG), and a representative of the Speaker House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Akande lamented that 50 years ago, Nigeria was most enjoyable, saying it had the freedom of what a true democracy should be, at least individually, but it appears today that everyone now lives in fear.
According to him, “The phenomenon of the country must be examined among three things and the first is our education. It seems to me that our education is colonial. It ends in literacy without numeracy. Education of a community that is not science-based cannot be technologically good and a community without technology cannot be industrial and if you are not industrial you may end up in poverty.
“Secondly, I think our laws are military decree-based and these military decree-based laws cannot be used to sustain democracy. As long as we use these military decree-based laws, our democracy will never prosper. Thirdly, our religions are mostly imported and because of that, we seem neither to be good Christians, good Muslims nor good people. We merely live in fear and when there are problems, we have no laboratories to go; so, we retire to churches and mosques for vigils.
“A country that remains like this may celebrate its 59th independence anniversary, which we are prepared to mark in a few days away from now, but will never celebrate 100 years. I think until all these three issues are looked at and addressed, or let me use the word, restructured – I believe in all these ethnic and political restructuring – but they are difficult to restructure.”
While eulogising the virtues of his predecessor, Governor Oyetola said Akande is a pride to Osun and Nigeria, saying Akande’s life, politics, philosophy, leadership dynamics, and lifestyle accurately exemplify him as an outstanding omoluabi (a true son) and a phenomenon in the nation’s budding democracy.
He said, “Akande represents everything The State of Osun stands for and radiates the honour and statesmanship our nation exudes. Indeed, Chief Bisi Akande is a model for contemporary politicians, youths, and school children, which the nation looks up to as its hope.”
He noted that Akande’s “visionary leadership is conspicuously visible in the way he led the transformation of the progressive family, from its evolution stages in the Fourth Republic from Alliance for Democracy (AD), through Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and to All Progressives Congress (APC), as governor, chairman and leader of the political parties at various times. This octogenarian was a compendium of wisdom during the opposition days of the progressives and even now, a formidable guide while in power.”
Akeredolu commended the leadership provided by Akande in collaboration with the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for raising a family of progressives and the type of governors the Southwest boasts of today. He also eulogised the authors and contributors to the book, saying unlike other memoirs, which are mostly based on falsehood and self-glorification, Akande’s book is different and based on facts.
However, one of the authors of the book, Professor Olurode said the current electoral statistics in Nigeria indicates the existence of political haemorrhage. The university don also expressed concern over the high rate of voting apathy especially in the Southwest, and stressed, “Between 2015 and 2019, the total votes cast in the North East and North Central increased but Southwest suffered a decline. In the 2019 general elections, Southwest recorded the highest percentage of rejected and wasted votes; voter turnout was 34 per cent in the region in 2015 whereas it was 50 per cent in North West. In 2019, it was 27 per cent in Southwest but 44 per cent in North West; Southwest figure was far lower than those of North Central, North East and North West.
“Thus vote bleeding is severest in the Southwest. Fringe political parties had a noticeable outing in Southwest. Yet, in the market place of politics, votes are the main negotiating instruments. Rather than pointedly and frankly addressing these challenges as deriving from the failure and absence of strong ideological roots at party formation stages, drowning of dissenting voices within the party structure and absence of elite consensus in Southwest, they are being approached primarily from the monetary angle.”
Such development, Olurode stated, does not augur well for the interest of the Southwest geo-political region and urgently needed to be addressed.