The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday warned that Nigeria risked anarchy and disintegration if the level of corruption among public office holders is not arrested.
The group stated this during a conference: “The North and The Challenge of Leadership” organised by Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation and Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP).
The ACF chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassie, lamented that corrupt practices had become endemic and that nepotism had become a common-place in most appointments, provision of quality education, potable water, efficient health services and power supply had been relegated to the background.
Coomassie said the era of Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa was a golden period for Nigeria and the Northern region as they laid foundation and chartered the course of the most unprecedented, purposeful and progressive development ever witnessed in the north, despite that they were not degree holders, but only teaching qualifications obtained from the then Katsina College.
He said: “Northern progress and Northern unity were uttermost in their thought processes while administering this large expanse of territory which was more than half of Nigeria. They ensured even development, justice and fair play for all the citizens. It was a period devoid of religious and ethnic bigotry where people from the numerous ethnic nationalities or creeds, held each other in mutual respect.
“Corrupt practices by both politicians were very minimal. Things like inflation of contracts or favouritism in the award of contracts were virtually non-existent. In short, the Northern Nigeria before January 15th 1966 was a territory that was characterised by visionary leadership and tireless dedication to duty to the community. Leaders were known for their integrity, their sincerity and their humility”, he said.
“State governors today are busy building billion naira airports, government houses and other white elephant projects while their people live in wanton poverty and squalor. Youths go through education sector and graduate with no jobs available or means to start something on their own. This deplorable situation has made them vulnerable as tools of the political class to use to foment political violence or foot soldiers of ethnic or religious bigots and extremists to destroy the peace and serenity the north has been known for.
“Clearly, we have a problem of good governance. But, is the problem the result of faulty choices of candidates to hold political office or is it as a result of other sinister motives. It is my hope that this conference will provide answers. If it is the result of poor selection processes, how can we rectify them? If the actions are as a result of other sinister motives, then, we must identify them and proffer solutions.
“Unless we approach this problem with the seriousness it deserves, we may be heading towards anarchy and eventual disintegration.” Coomassie stated.
Spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Prof. Ango Abdullahi faulted the political leadership and the political system in the country.
Abdullahi said it was wrong for Nigeria to have jettisoned the parliamentary system of government to adopt the presidential system.
“This Presidential system is too expensive for our democracy. Recently, someone did an analysis that, only the legitimate earning on the National Assembly members per annum can employ and pay 80 per cent of our unemployed youths, if the youths are to be paid N90,000 monthly.
“But the problem is that the beneficiaries of the system will always rise and defend whatever argument you bring up against presidential system of government. But, if care is not taken, thousands of unemployed youths turned out from our universities will one day revolt against the system”, he said.
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