Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that many states run by professors, retired military officers and professionals have not witnessed better improvements. He also noted that the political campaigns in Nigeria had been taken over by insults, lies and selfish interests, instead of addressing issues of national interest and progress.

The former president stated these in his keynote address tagged ‘Respecting the principles of democracy’ at the international conference on ‘Deepening democratic culture and institutions’, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday.

He stated that critical issues were discarded as intellectuals and technocrats were sidelined while minions took over the campaign and build iron-rings around candidates at all levels.

The former leader said political party candidates are caged and milked opportunistically saying that “at the end of all the rigmarole, people elect leaders they never believed in or shared a common platform; leaders who failed to carry Nigerians along, and who lacked a deep understanding of the trends and tendencies in the social and economic system.”

He said, “Everyone in this room, whether we admit it or not, is an expert in Nigerian politics. We all have opinions and we have prescriptions for all the problems of Nigeria. Yet, the country is not making progress. Most of us are experts in what we know little or nothing about and ignoramus in what is our duty and responsibility. We have tried all sorts of regimes, ideologies, planning strategies and personalities in power: the so-called new breed did not show that they were different”

“Equally, states run by professors, retired military officers and other professionals including teachers did not experience visible and substantial improvements. True, there have been some outstanding leaders at various levels of power but no tree has ever made a forest; the good ones are few and far in between and did not form critical mass. The lack of conversations across fault-lines and primordial proclivities mean that our leaders are unable to share ideas and have durable and sustained policies for long enough time. This prevents useful cooperation, collaboration, stability and sustainability. It means that whatever best practices are in one location remain there and may die there,” he said.

Obasanjo lamented that after six decades of political independence, Nigeria leaders were not showing clear capacities to provide a transformative leadership that unites Nigerians. Instead, we have such that contains ethnic, religious, regional and clannish, selfish, class proclivities.

He stressed that the ways in which Nigeria democracy was practiced had deepened contradictions, negative coalitions, distrust, disloyalty and unpatriotic tendencies within and between communities and constituencies all over the country.

To him, for Nigeria to survive, it needs to imbibe sufficient democratic principles and good manners. More importantly, the country must be democratised, meaning that the remotest local communities in Nigeria must feel the impact of good governance, not empty politicking. The people must know, interact and feel the pulse of responsive and responsible leadership.

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