Elder statesman and pioneer Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) Prof. Anya O. Anya, has identified three critical challenges facing Nigeria while also noting the country can’t afford to ignore those challenges if it would make progress.
He made the observation in a keynote address at the opening of the 10th anniversary of Kingdom Men Global Network on Thursday, May 11. He spoke on the topic Nigeria: In Search of the Leadership That Heals and Builds the Nation Through Love.
The three challenges according to him are the debt burden on Nigeria, the issue of the legitimacy of the declared winner of the 2023 presidential election, and the problem of poverty.
The debt burden in Nigeria
He likened the debt trap before Nigeria to what happened in Argentina.
According to him, Argentina in the 1920s was “a fast-growing economy that was an authentic rival to many West European Nations.
“Then it ran into dangerous economic headwinds engineered by political rascality that led to stagnation and de-industrialisation. The result was that thirty to forty years down the road it was caught in a debt trap such that even the economic engineering touch of the World Bank failed.”
Anya stated that “Zimbabwe is currently pursuing that same path that often ends in hyperinflation. Current signs suggest that unless we recruit disciplined managers we could follow in their path. It must be the prayer of every patriotic Nigerian that we do not embark on the treacherous road to Zimbabwe”
Earlier in the lecture, Anya noted that at the inception of the Buhari government, Nigeria’s debt burden was in the region of 10 trillion naira.
“The latest figure from the Debt Management Office gives an estimate of more than 77 trillion naira. If we add the over 23 trillion naira owed the Central Bank through the Ways and Means our total debt burden is over 100 trillion naira.”
He said the prospect of paying the humongous national debt is made worse by the disclosure of “World Bank that in March 2023, the total revenue of the Federal Government could only meet 96% of what is required to service (not to repay) the outstanding loans”
Anya also noted that the outcome of the just concluded presidential election is an issue to worry about. He cited the observation of some international observers in the just concluded election which scored the election low noting also that, “the INEC claim they had registered over 90 million voters in the exercise but only 10% of the registered voters used the opportunity to vote.
“The declared winners of the election scored less than one-third of the votes cast by the electorate. The essence of a democratic election is to ensure that the majority of the voters (at least 50%) would have made their input to the point where the majority of registered voters could have participated in choosing the winners.
“When this does not happen, it suggests that only a minority of the voters exercised their right to choose. Since sovereignty belongs to all the people which is the essence of democratic elections, it means that a minority government as has happened now does not have the full authority conferred by the majority of the citizens through the transfer of sovereignty by the people. To that extent, the legitimacy of such a government is called into question.”
The problem of poverty
Dwelling on the third critical challenge facing Nigeria, he said recent reports “suggest that over 70% of Nigerian citizens 133 million live below the poverty line. When it is recalled that the raison d’etre of democratic governance, according to the 1999 Nigerian constitution is the welfare and security of the people, it means that the government has failed the people in light of the rampant poverty and overwhelming criminality and violence.”
Professor Anya who is the Chairman, Governing Board, Nigerian Prize for Leadership also lamented the recklessness of the political class. He noted that right from the primaries of different political parties, huge sums of money changed hands.
He said, “It is alleged that up to 30,000 dollars were paid for a delegate’s vote. In all these, we never heard even once a moral voice from amongst the politicians open their mouths in condemnation.”
While noting that Nigeria’s problem is worse than what many Nigerians think he said if the will is there, Nigeria will get out of its predicament. “The thing that is shaping the world in China took precisely 11 years to do” he noted
The way out for Nigeria
Nigeria according to him needs to “pursue wealth with equity, truth with compassion, justice with fairness, and reconciliation with empathy. We need to re-humanize the new Nigerian nation to give our new mission a human face. “
Describing Jesus Christ as the true model of a servant leader, Anya said, “The greatest challenge at this time of our national history is to find that servant leader clothed with humility and dressed in the noble garment of truth and love who will lead the Nation in the path of cooperation, conciliation, compassion, and competence. The balm of truth and love will nurture friendship and fellowship as the national badge of citizenship in an industrious nation where all good things are possible.”
Earlier at the event, Dr. Dokumu Adedeji painted a graphic image of the degeneration Nigeria had suffered in the last few years wondering how the nation descended so low.
Adedeji who is the national director of Christ against Drug Abuse Ministry CADAM noted that the division in the country was heightened in the just concluded elections in the country. He received the tribal hate while also noting that asking for people’s state of origin and religion while filling out official documents has accentuated the division in the country.
He said until Nigerians realize that the country is not just a geographic expression but a creation of God for His own agenda, the country will not move forward.
Adedeji also used the opportunity to talk about the abuse of substances in the country. He said almost all professions are represented in the drug business. He said if just 10 percent of Nigerians who go to Church lived the life of Christ, the country would have experienced transformation.
The KMEN anniversary
The 10th edition of MegaSummit featured such prominent speakers as Dr. Christopher Kolade (Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Kingdom Men Global Network), Dr. Adedokun Adedeji, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, Dr. Femi Albert Oduwole, Pastors Iyke and Chioma Ejimofor, Mrs. Roseline Subair, Rev Solomon Adegbolagun, Very Rev Father Matthew Ogunyase, Rev Elekima Ekine, Pastor Adedayo Fajimi, Rev Bayo Oniwinde, Pastor Ferdy Adimefe, Worship Minister Olumide Iyun, among others.
Participants were drawn from several states in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and beyond. The programme opened on Thursday May 11 and ended on Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Lagos.
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