By Seyi Babalola
The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the April 25, 2023 election in Nigeria, Mr Peter Obi, has said that poor leadership, not colonialism, is the bane of Africa’s development.
Obi explained that the problem of Africa, and indeed Nigeria, rests squarely on leadership and until that is tackled the continent will continue to stagnate.
He said that the challenges being faced in most parts of Africa today, stem from the failure of leadership that has continued to burden the continent and slow down its developmental journey.
Obi who made the declaration while speaking at the 12th Zik Annual Lecture Series at Awka at the weekend explained that Nigeria, and indeed Africa, cannot be continuously complaining of colonialism, and alleged exploitation from the Western powers for many years without addressing their own challenges.,
Africa should look inward and tackle the leadership challenges contending with its development.
“Yes, we were colonized many decades back, but today it is African leaders who have turned Africa into a gigantic criminal enterprise,” Obi said, while restating his resolve to continue to lead a crusade for the demand of accountable governance and ethical leadership, which he said, will lead to the emergence of the New Nigeria.
He argued that corruption and mindless looting of public funds, by the leaders, without caring for the welfare of the people, who he said, are suffering from poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to healthcare and education, are part of the criminal setup that needs to be dismantled.
In portraying how leadership failure has continued to stifle development in Nigeria, Obi said, “If you are employed in a university, and you work hard for several years, you will hopefully become a professor. A professor in a standard Nigerian University earns N400,000 per month. If you earn that amount for 30 years without spending a dime from it, your accumulated salary will amount to N144 million, which is not up to the amount we use to buy a car for a legislator in Nigeria. That is the problem we are facing in Nigeria.
“Over 36 Federal Universities where we have over 10,000 professors, over 40,000 workers, and over a million students receive overhead funds of less than N4.5 billion annually. This total overhead amount is not even up to what the federal government has allocated for the acquisition of a Presidential Yacht.”
He therefore restated his determination to continue to work towards the emergence of a New Nigeria where integrity and accountability will be enthroned and public resources will be invested for the good of the people.
Earlier in her speech, the Former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Hilda Banda, blamed Africa’s under-development on Western colonization of Africa, which she argued, has continued till the present day through economic exploitation of Africa, as witnessed in many African countries.
Dr Banda however urged African leaders to always be frugal and prudent in the handling of public resources, knowing that such resources must be used for the benefit of the people.
He urged Nigerians to always celebrate and follow the legacy of late Nnamdi Azikiwe, who she said, is a yet unsung hero, who played a critical role in the liberation of Nigeria and Africa.
Other dignitaries at the event were the Governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo; the Governor of Oyo State and Chairman of the event, Seyi Makinde; the benefactor of the event, Senator Ben Obi; the vice chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Charles Esimone; many royal fathers; captains of industries and learned gentlemen from the academia.