‘When you see what is happening in Malaysia, India, Indonesia, you will know that Nigeria has not got it right’


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.


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