Yakubu Dogara, Speaker House of Representatives, on Tuesday in Abuja said Nigeria’s real problem was not corruption as widely claimed but lack of leadership.
He made this statement at a conference tagged, The Convergence 2.0: Leadership, Power and Politics for Democracy Renewal,” touted as “Nigeria’s largest gathering of elected young representatives,” organised by the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement.
Dogara said Nigeria was bedevilled by myriads of challenges ranging from being ranked as the third most dangerous country of the world to terrorism, banditry, unemployment, and dearth of healthcare facilities, among others.
He called on youths just elected into parliament to use their vitality and demography in the 9th Assembly for nation-building.
“Nigeria’s real disease is lack of leadership; I disagree with all those who say our major national disease is financial corruption; rather, the real disease has been the absence of true leadership.
“This in turn breeds moral corruption and wickedness.
“Get a true leader that solves moral corruption and wickedness; when that happens, you will search for financial corruption to no avail.
“Unfortunately, the leadership model we have practised so far is the kind of leadership that produces sycophants who are expected to serve their political godfathers and not the people.
“Our so-called leaders have mastered the art of political witchcraft so much so that if you are independent minded, you are automatically disqualified.
“If for any reason you are picked, then you have to surrender your soul for them to eat in small bites until you become their worshiper,’’ Dogara said.
He said that in the midst of “this pandemic sycophancy, the so-called godfathers expect the children to fit in and not to stand up to be counted or make a difference.’’
“For you, trailblazers who carry the burden and the promises of a generation that must not fail, if you are ever going to get there, it must be on the wings of discipline that produces character.
“This is because without character, you cannot be men and women of influence and without influence, you cannot change anything. Character means that you cannot be separated from your word — a quality no godfather in history has ever possessed.”
He urged them to practice an all-inclusive politics because politics means reaching out to all and not to lose sight of the long-term goal of representing their people, state and country.
According to Ms Cynthia Mbamalu, one of the conveners of the Not-Young-To-Run Movement, the passage of the Not-Young to Run bill into law motivated youths to run for different elective posts across the country.
“Today, out of the 991 seats in the state houses of Assembly, over 200 will be occupied by young elected lawmakers.
“This is our democracy taking shape, because we cannot talk about democracy without inclusion; this is progress made for youth, for Nigeria, and this is hope which we hold on to.’’ she said