By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba has lamented that Nigeria has been having accidental leaders since the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
Na’Abba who served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003, called on more Nigerians to participate in politics with a view to opening up the political space.
He stated this in Abuja at the 2016/2017 Matriculation and Fellowship Endowment Ceremony of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS)/University of Benin Postgraduate Programme.
He expressed regret that leadership recruitment process in the country has been hijacked by a few politicians.
The former Speaker advocated for what he called regular ‘tutorials’ for political leaders at all levels.
“I believe that not just the Legislature, every arm of government that is serving the purpose of governance must invest in exposing democracy to the people. It is a sad commentary on our political life that today recruitment into leadership has been subverted by a few politicians because they deny Nigerians opportunity to contest elections and achieve their aspirations through the systematic appropriation of political parties to themselves. These politicians have stopped the growth of democracy. And it is true that unless democracy is allowed to grow, we cannot achieve the desired political growth, we cannot achieve the desired economic growth and we can also not achieve the desired social growth in our country. And that is why we are still in political, economic and social duldrums. We have been having successive accidental leaders since 1999.
“It is time for us to begin to understand that the more participation Nigerians enjoy in politics, the more political development we attain. And consequently economic and social development.
“We have been advocating that tutorials must be taking place on a continuous basis for stakeholders in democracy from the local governments to the states. Every stakeholder particularly party executives because what is sad today is that most of those who hold positions at the executive level on our political parties cannot distinguish the duties, functions and distinction between and among our political institutions. So, with this lack of knowledge it is almost impossible for them to understand the kind of people that should serve at various levels,” he said.
On his part, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said the National Assembly had made appreciable efforts in fulfilling its democratic obligations to Nigerians by paying particular attention to capacity building.
Dogara explained that parliamentary capacity development was important to ensure balance of power among the branches of a democratic system.
He commended NILS/UNIBEN for the programmes designed to build capacity of legislative staff.
He said that the knowledge imparted to participants would build a pool of competent staff and members to enhance international best practices in the discharge of their duties.
On her part, the Director General NILS, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, congratulated the students and urged them to take their studies seriously.
Over 85 students matriculated in Masters in Legislative Drafting, Masters in Parliamentary Administration as well as Masters in Legislative Students.
Besides Na’Abba, four former Presiding Officers of the National Assembly received NILS Award of Fellowship. They include: former Senate President from 1979 to 1983, Sen. Joseph Wayas; Dr. Ken Nnamani (2005 to 2007); Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari (2003 to 2007) and current Governor of Katsina State and former Deputy Senate President Sen. Ibrahim Mantu (2001 to 2007).