Home Q & A Nigeria needs a new set of political leadership, says Olukunle Iyanda

Nigeria needs a new set of political leadership, says Olukunle Iyanda


PROFESSOR Olakunle Iyanda, the President and Chairman of council, Nigerian Institute of Management (Charter) recently addressed selected journalists on the institute’s forthcoming Annual National Management Conference (ANMC) holding between Monday and Tuesday next week. Cityvoice Correspondent, BANKOLE SHAKIRUDEEN ADESHINA was there. Excerpts…

The ANMC of the institute is an annual ritual. What exactly are the opportunities on offer at this year’s edition?

As you all know, the most current and recurring issue in the country now is relating to the structure and governance efficiency in the country; and on the depends a lot of sensitive issues. Hence, the institute has decided to reexamine these issues and capture it in a broader perspective, with a view to provide professional solutions to them. This was what prompted us to choose as the theme for the conference: Re-Engineering Leadership for National Transformation.

What is the definition of your own version of restructuring?

For us at NIM, restructuring means re-engineering and that means retooling and renewing the modus of operations of the governance system in the country, for more efficiency. We want to look at how we can govern this country for the better, by looking inwardly at ourselves, our leaders, their behaviors and their adherence to laydown principles.

What exactly would be the point of transition from providing the theoretical formula, which has never been in deficit anyways, to the delivering of the desired transformation?

The takeaway is that we will have robust intellectual discussions by seasoned lead speakers and will issue a communiqué afterwards, which would spell out what we need to do as a country in other to get to where we need to be. And this will be presented to the government as a working template.
The truth is that, this country, as it is today, serves only it leaders and not the people. Therefore, it is logical to agree that it needs to be restructured towards the benefits and consideration of its people.
To handle the theme, at the conference, as the lead speaker, is Professor Kamilu Sani Fagge, a public administrator, lecturer at the Political Science and Professor of Public Administration at Bayero University, Kano State. He has been involved as an adviser to the Kano State Governor on political matters; and has been the Head of the Political Department at the university.
The second speaker, Professor Vincent Anigbogwu, Director General, Institute of National Transformation, will beam search light on the education sector, talking on “Leadership and Followership Transformation,” highlighting the importance of leaders and followers being properly educated.
We know and believe strongly that education is the most effective transformation agent. If people are not educated, if they don’t know their rights, and if they have not developed their minds to be able to take critical decisions on their own, decisions based on merits and rationalities rather than poor sentiments, there will be little to be achieved on transformation.
In this country, we have turned our leaders into tin gods. As soon as someone becomes a senator, minister and or honorable, his/her real name disappears; and that title: Your Excellency, Your eminence, your this; and your that, becomes their new name.
This culture is harming us adversely. It has created too much power distance in this country.
Just imagine a 92-year-old former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhammed being reelected into power at that advance age because the people believed that he has and would still serve them. But what we have here are people that, after getting into positions of power, they tend to look out for themselves alone and not the nation.
Nigeria is a country where you see a national assembly that goes on a long recess simply because of certain personal interest, which they want to advance, stop, or vitiate. Meanwhile it has certain fundamental legislative duties to do.
The same rule applies to the private sector also. Leadership in the private sector is also very important. The private sector is and should also be held responsible.
To touch on this aspect, we have a young lady, Mrs. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rise Network to dwell on “Leadership in the Private Sector”. I have heard her speak on several occasions; she is highly intelligent and outspoken personality.
Talking on other topic issue, what is your assessment of the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business Policy; do you think It is yielding the needed result; and how do you see the sincerity of government in bringing it to bear on national transformation?
Well, I believe the government is sincere, but as always, there is problem with the implementation of the policy.

The policy of Ease of Doing Business in the various sectors of the economy is well intentioned. Yes, the president had signed the Presidential Executive Order, ordering all agencies to carry out the directives. But the question is, is the directive being obeyed to the letter?

This country has good policies and laws; our problem is always the implementation.
For example, it is clearly stated that the cost of a Driving License is N6,000 or thereabout, but if you go to any FRSC offices nationwide, they would never charge you the exact amount. Instead, they would charge you the double or triple of the quoted amount. In some places, you may be made to pay N10,000, N150,000, N20,000 or even N30,000 as the case may be.
And if you are not ready to be exploited, they will frustrate you into it. Because they know that as an individual, you don’t have the luxury of a lifetime to obtain a driving license.
Another example is if you go to the Passport (Immigration) Office, let say for renewal of your traveling documents. You are also going to be made to go through the hopelessly tedious and excruciating waiting should you refuse to be bilked by the vultures in human flesh waiting to have a bite of you.
I have a terrible personal experience myself during one of my trips to the United Kingdom when all the leaflets on my passport got finished and I needed another one urgently. When I got to the (Nigerian Immigration) passport office there In London, they told me that the machine had got spoilt and it would take about two to three weeks before they could fix it and for me to get a new passport!
And I was in London for only two weeks. I was forced to do what I didn’t want to do initially.

What did you do?

Well, I don’t bribe so you should not start guessing (laughs). I had to go to the High Commissioner himself, whom I happened to know. He was Dr. Christopher Akolade, who happened to be a Past President of this institute. I didn’t want to bother him initially, but when my options became narrowed, there was nothing else I could do than to run to him.
And upon getting to him, he said passport issues are handled by his Deputy High Commissioner and took me down himself. On telling the man, he immediately phoned the concerned office and their response was jaw-dropping for me.
They replied on phone that “sir, it is too late to get the passport today, that would he mind coming to pick it up tomorrow?” The man replied them that I would be on my way to their office now. Alas! They excitedly replied that they would wait for me! And they did wait for me until I took the long journey to their office, submitted my form and picked my passport the following day!
And that was the same place I had went earlier, same day with no result. So, you could see the depth of the rot.
The fact is the government is well meaning and ready to break the bottlenecks but the challenge is that people are not obeying this crusade. And unless serious sanctions are imposed on the people behaving in defiance of lawful instructions, we may not achieve a significant turnaround.

In which specific management turf in the country do you think we actually need this “Re-Engineering for national transformation; e.g National Budgeting system, Economic Planning or Political Parties’ Manifestoes”?

Take a look at the political parties, for example, how many of them are now registered with INEC— with the additional 23 new parties! That means 91 of them will contest in the 2019 elections! That huge!
Meanwhile, many of these parties knew that they might not even win a single seat in the entire contests. But they are still in it anyways, because it is a strategy for negotiating the real deal – power.
Before elections, political parties are obsessed with number of votes they can galvanise. So if they see anybody that they think can provide one or two vote for them, they are prepared to do deals with the person or body.
Therefore, it is clear that the motivation behind the huge number of political parties is not driven by patriotism nor idealism but pure obsession for power and wealth.
Again, one would be tempted to ask, what is the actually the difference and distinction between these political parties other than in the name. After all, as they say, you can have a difference without necessarily a distinction.
It is a pure case of i am in ABC political party, and you are 123 political party. There is no ideological difference between us. We are not motivated by wanting to impact on the society; we are only bonded by our different ulterior motives.
This has explained why there are no more transformational manifestoes by the political parties. For God’s sake, if you hold certain principles, philosophy of life and or dictum very deeply, as a politician, it won’t be easy for you to just move from one party to another. As it is not easy for you if you are a devoted Christian to become a Muslim or vice-versa; because there would be certain beliefs you would hold very deeply. You can’t just wake up one day and say all I have believed and said yesterday are gone.
The situation is similar to a joke I read on the social media where a man told a lady that “I am a politician and an honest man.” And the lady replied “oh really, well, I am a prostitute and I am a virgin.” You can imagine that.