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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday said Nigeria needed leaders who would not pander to godfathers but serve the people and build the nation.
He disagreed with those who believed that the major disease afflicting the nation was financial corruption, saying “rather, the real disease has been the absence of true leadership which in turn breads moral corruption and wickedness.”
Dogara said this in Abuja barely 72 hours after Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State gave an insight into how to cage the political godfathers in Lagos State.
In his keynote speech, which he presented during a programme organised for youthful legislators-elect by YIAGA Africa with support from UKAid in support of the #NotTooYoungToRun law, Dogara told them to shun abuse of power and nepotism.
He said, “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 which in turn breads 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 that if you are independent-minded you are automatically disqualified and 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 worshipper.
“In the midst of this pandemic sycophancy, our so-called godfathers expect us to fit in and not to stand up to be counted or make a difference. We need leaders who will lead us to build a nation and serve others, not godfathers who demand that we worship and serve them rather than serve the people.”
He challenged the incoming legislators to be prepared to serve because they carried the burden and promises of a generation that must not fail.
Dogara added, “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. Character is not only that your word is your bond but that you are actually what you pretend to be.
“While godfathers always pretend to be something other than who they really are, leaders do not. Imagine where we will be as a nation if all these godfathers that litter the political landscape become what or who they pretend to be?”
Dogara urged the legislators-elect to “stand for the truth regardless of who is for or against it or even when the consequences are dire.”
“You must be prepared to afflict yourselves in order to bring comfort to our broken people. You must be reminded that true greatness only comes while serving others and not when serving yourself or godfathers,” he said.
According to him, while one out of every three Nigerians go to bed hungry every night, “Nigeria remains the third most dangerous country in the world to live in after Afghanistan and Syria.”
He also stated that life expectancy in Nigeria had been estimated by government to be at 53.8 years in 2017, “a figure which gives the country a world life expectancy ranking of 214 out of 224 countries ranked.”
He also told the lawmakers-elect that the value that was instrumental in driving them to seek for office was what would define how they carry themselves, what effort they would put into the art of lawmaking, and how much impact they desire to make not for themselves, but their constituents.