Leadership in the Past 25 Years Leaves Much to Be Desired –Aduwo

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Mr Olufemi Aduwo is the Permanent Representative of the Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity (CCDI) to ECOSOC/United Nations and chairman of Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF). In this interview with ANAYO EZUWGU, he speaks on 25 years of democratic rule in Nigeria, security challenges and calls for state police, among other issues

It has been 25 years of democratic rule in Nigeria; how would you assess the journey so far? I do not belong to the school of thought that the only quality upon which you need to run Nigeria state well is good leadership. The structure of a house is far more important than the interior decoration. A good house must be able to withstand inclement weather and the rigour of reasonable existence; it must not be constantly under threat of collapse.


So, we need a living constitution to settle all these anomalies we are witnessing. Thomas Paine, in his ‘Rights of Man', 1789, which is generally acknowledged as validly stated; ‘A constitution has to be an original act of the people. The people do ordain and establish… does not a mere echo of revolutionary sentiment.' It reflects a confirmation, that America's Constitution obtains its entire existent force and efficacy from the people to be governed by it.

That is why our constitution does not command the sacred obsession and is being violated with impunity by the people and government because it is an imposition of military arrangement. Democracy usually survives not because politicians mean well but because people are strong and vigilant enough to protect their rights. But they can only do so if they are informed of their environment and organised. Nigeria has suffered for years and may continue to suffer unless it rids itself of illequipped leadership. The leadership Nigeria has produced in the past 25 years leaves much to be desired.

Leadership cuts across the political parties and arms of government not limited to the president. Modern governments are complex human organisations and therefore require men and women capable not only of intellectual penetration but also exhibit trust. Political parties are a necessity in a democratic society. They are vehicles through which people channel their wishes and demands.

It is not possible in modern times to have a democratic government without political parties. Even in Athenian (direct) democracy, there were group interests (parties). Some came from the valley, while others came from the hills, and at times their interests were varied. If l may ask, in the political crisis going on in Rivers State, why are PDP national leaders muted and letting Governor Simi Fubara bear the heat alone in the hands of political hyenas.

Again, that shows the kind of political parties we have. They are built around individual and not ideas. Election is the pillar of democratic representative government anywhere in the world because in a democracy, the authority of the government is derived solely from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections.

All modern democracies hold elections, but not all elections are democratic. We have witnessed the bastardisation of the electoral process; since the journey started in 1999. Do Nigerians trust these leaders? Anyway, democracy is a journey and it also has inbuilt challenges. It is a journey of no return since there is no alternative to democracy.

Some people believe that only God-fearing leaders will take Nigeria out of the woods. In your view, what kind of leaders do you think Nigerians deserve?

Do not forget that we have no aggregate perceptions of what fearing God is all about. Some of the most tyrannous human beings who have inflicted pain, sorrow and tears on humanity, have had no problems presenting themselves as God-fearing. Hitler was a mass server in the Catholic Church; Marcos went into a week retreat in a Jesuit chapel and then came out to declare martial law in his country. General Sani Abacha surrounded himself with prayer bands and did call for a national prayer a few weeks to his sudden death.

At the height of the Liberian war, Mr. Charles Taylor, the foremost rebel leader and who later became president, inflicted death and destruction on the people of Liberia, came to Nigeria and donated N1 million during offertory in a church in Abuja. All have been God fearing but as we move on in the democracy journey, the democratization process must go beyond setting up democratic structures.

Good government, not just liberal government must be insisted upon. Good governance must entail responsiveness, humanness, and human rights, pursuit of policies that address the concerns and the interests of the majority without trampling on the minority. Mandela, Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Obama and Clinton were God-fearing through their works, not by carrying the Bible or Koran.

What is your take on the country's security challenges; do you think the military is overwhelmed?

The Insurgency cum terrorism war is long; don't let us deceive ourselves. The Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation Agency has a role to play. People must be informed and made to understand the difference between fighting terrorism, insurgency and civil war. Enough of half-baked truth! It is well known that fighting insurgencies or terrorism are challenging. The war against the Taliban started in 1994.

The Al-Qaeda notorious leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, who coordinated the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed more than 3,000 people, was killed in 2022 after many years he was declared wanted by the United States government. As a people, we desperately need a more thoughtful discussion about our response to terrorism. People have had enough of the demagoguery and divisive partisan attacks that have dominated the debate over the years and obscured the issues.

The basis of successful counter-terrorism is acquiring intelligence to identify an enemy that often hides among the populace. Counter-terrorism is the use of all elements of a nation's power, including not only combined-arms operations but also psychological, political, economic, intelligence and diplomatic operations to defeat these confused criminals. What we are witnessing across the North is predominantly uncoordinated criminal gangs engaging in terrorism.

Both Boko Haram and lSWAP cannot overrun the central government of Nigeria, regardless of their links with foreign insurgency groups. We should not interpret Nigeria or every other jihadist Islamist group through the prism of what happened in Afghanistan. I disagree with the submission by some analysts, comparing the Nigerian situation with Somalia. The kinetic method only would not win the war, but very important part.

Asymmetric war operations pattern is far different from conventional war. The military is overstretched no doubt about that, in many states the military is engaged in common civil policing duties. The recent suicide bombing in Borno State does not warrant condemnation of military chiefs or being sanctioned as requested by a member of the House of Representatives. The failure is a collective responsibility of all of us.

Years back, the worship centres in the northern part of the country were more vigilant regarding new faces in their midst and the vehicles around. Let's admit we are complacent and we should stop shifting blame. With the latest development in Borno State, the churches in the North and Abuja should not only pray but also be vigilant.

Good governance must entail responsiveness, humanness, and human rights, pursuit of policies that address the concerns and the interests of the majority without trampling on the minority

What is the way out of the political crisis in Rivers State?

The trouble with some self-acclaimed political leaders was that a high amount of ignorance and nonsensical claims being traded as common sense, suffice to say that morality has gone to the dogs and the order of the day is money. It is in that context that we would understand why some deadwood politicians in Rivers State are supporting Nyesom Wike's undemocratic antics in the state.

Unfortunately, the media equates him with what does not belong to him. When he was governor, all kinds of unmerited awards were given to him. Did Wike ever disclose the cost of all the road contracts? To make matters worse; towards the end of his tenure, he awarded contracts amounting to billions of Naira that his successor would not be able to complete in four or eight years. As a Minister of the FCT, he arrogantly put himself in the position of God, by saying that the senator from FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe will not return in 2027.

If l may ask: Is Mr. Wike God? The likes of Wike must note that people fought for this democracy with their blood and that discerning Nigerians should not allow political opportunists to derail the process. Governor Fubara has the mandate of his people to serve them as the governor and not Wike. The same system brought Wike into power as the governor of the state for eight years and he was not teleguided or turned into a robot by the power that brought him into office.

Wike should fear God; he is de-marketing President Bola Tinubu and I urge Mr. President to call Wike to order; The defected lawmakers from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State have lost their seats. They have lost their rights to remain members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. That is the position of the law.

The Supreme Court had made it clear that you cannot decamp and then remain a member of a legislative house in Nigeria unless you can show that there is division in your party. The Appeal Court and Supreme Court should up their ante and save the state from political turmoil by delivering on the subsisting matter of the legality of the lawmakers who defected to the APC from the PDP.



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