Olu Omotayo, a human rights activist, lawyer and President, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), Nigeria, in this interview with NGOZI IKPEAMA, identified bad leadership as the problem of Nigeria.
What is your assessment of Nigeria @ 60?
We cannot be talking of assessment without considering other countries who got independence with Nigeria, the same year.
You compare countries like Malaysia, India, Indonesia. So, when you look at all these countries and also consider the situation in Ghana which is also a neighbouring country, you cannot actually say that at 60 years, Nigeria has achieved a lot because these countries have moved from the level in which Nigeria is to another level when you look at South Africa which got its independence in 1991, when you talk of power , we have not got it right. When you are talking about industrialisation, power, up till now, Nigeria has not got it right.
Billions of naira was invested from Obasanjo’s time to date and Nigeria is still trying to generate less than 5,000 megawatts. So, Nigeria is not ready.
On issue of industrialisation, development is not there. No improvement in the power sector . Even this present government that promised to improve the generation of electricity, nothing has been done.
Where has Nigeria got it wrong?
The problem of Nigeria is leadership. Most of our laws were imported from the Western world and our politicians want to rule and when you have a society that does not want to be governed by rule of law but corruption, there will be crisis.
That’s what kept us back till date
All the institutions established should be made strong. The leadership doesn’t want the institution to be strong and when institutions like EFCC, ICPC are not working, nothing is working. The institutions are not ready. Even the judiciary, the court on technicality will free somebody. You don’t allow a situation to work. We cannot say that we want to move forward as a country and we use judicial technicality to set looters free .
Where should we go from here?
To strengthen the institution like the EFCC. Allow them to work based on the provision of the law. Allow the EFCC, ICPC, to work. Strengthen them.
What are the opportunities for Nigeria in the ‘new normal’ world that has been presented by COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 affected the whole world. There should be a break away from the old way of doing things. The money, grant gotten should be invested. It is not for you to collect money and spend it in the name of giving palliatives. It is for you to invest it. There are a lot of money, invest it in a project. There should be accountability in government. There should be transparency in what government is doing . You don’t just borrow, at the end of the day, you will say that you borrowed money to give palliatives. Let there be proper documentation because these are repayable loans. You give more to assist people in their businesses so that there will be development.
Where do you want Nigeria to be in the near future?
The dream of our founding fathers is a Nigeria that will be developed. There won’ t be any development without power. I want to see an industrialised country in the next 10 years but you cannot do that without electricity. If we get it right , then the sky is our beginning.