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Why Nigeria’s leadership succession problems persist – Anyim

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By Ruth Oginyi

Former senate president, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, has identified underdevelopment and weak institutional reforms as some of the major challenges facing political succession and nation-building in Nigeria.

Anyim, who was secretary to the government of the federation under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, said poor succession could breed nepotism and encourage mediocrity in governance, violation of laws, rules and procedures and breed lawlessness, corruption, instability, and insecurity, as being experienced in Nigeria today.

The ex-scribe spoke in a lecture he delivered at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu state in Nigeria at the faculty of social sciences’ Distinguished Annual Public Lecture, under the topic; Political Succession and Nation Building in Nigeria: Problems and Challenges.

According to him, as part of the efforts towards nation-building and enthroning a political succession model that the country can all be proud of, Nigeria must build back the middle class by ensuring that all incentives needed for their growth and sustenance are in place.

He emphasised that nation-building was anchored on the process of equipping a nation with an institutional foundation such as principles of separation of powers, rule of law, strong and viable institutions, respect for fundamental human rights and liberties, including the right to vote and be voted for. 

“Poverty and the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor have impeded sustainable nation-building in Nigeria. There cannot be a sustainable push towards nation-building without genuine efforts at eradicating poverty and ignorance. Poverty and ignorance do not only breed corruption, distrust, desperation for political office and many other vices that are inimical to nation-building; they are also a major cause of serious conflict and insurgency such as the Boko Haram.

Building strong institutions 

According to Anyim, institutions are the main drivers of nation-building in any society because they sustain the democratic process by promoting and maintaining orderly procedure through which political succession is attained, power transferred from one government or individual to another and dividends of democracy delivered to the people.

“There are three important components to institution building: setting the rules; hiring persons with the technical expertise and moral competence to interpret the rules or implement the goals of the organisations and ensuring that the institutions inspire public confidence by being transparent, fair, and consistent. 

“Institutions also play a vital role in upholding the pillars of nation-building and ensuring that persons who go against the rules are held accountable and punished. Hence, there is the absolute need to strengthen our institutions by mainstreaming the principles of rule of law and other democratic norms in their operations, beefing up their capacity, improving their independence, setting up internal or corporate governance structures and making them open, transparent, and accountable to the people. 

“If there is any lesson, we can learn from the last American presidential election, it is that strong institutions matter and is a fundamental pillar for nation-building and ensuring sustainable political succession. We, therefore, must strengthen our institutions if we are to make any meaningful progress. 

“As nation-building is a continuous process, we must, as a people, continue to strengthen our justice and governance institutions and democratic ideals as fundamental elements of our political succession processes towards building a prosperous nation. 

“As noted by the United Nations, weak institutions, poor governance culture, lack of awareness and docility on the part of the people are major contributors to the under-development of any nation.

The former senate president, however urged the country to strive hard, through collective engagement and sincerity of purpose, to ensure that the debilitating factors that are inimical to nation-building are eradicated from political, economic and social space, for the good of all Nigerians.”

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