Former president of Ghana, Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, has said he is ill at ease with the growing ethnic and tribal rivalry rearing its ugly head in Nigeria.
Speaking at the 12th Annual Lecture organised by the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA), Ekiti State branch held at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, the former Ghanaian leader said ethnic and tribal disharmony had become worrisome and urged the various ethnic groups to stop threatening one another.
Rawlings, who was the special guest of honour at the event declared in his characteristic no-nonsense manner: “Ethnicity and tribal war appear to be rearing itself to a dangerous level. Such disagreements must stop; Nigerians should stop the ethnic war, help each other and co-exist peacefully.”
He also said he was worried by the rating of Nigeria and Ghana in terms of high rate of corruption by Transparency International (TI).
“Transparency International shows that countries in the south-south region of Africa fail to address corruption and that Ghana and Nigeria rate high in corruption indices. However, some leaders have the will but not the character to fight corruption. The fight against corruption in Nigeria calls for integrity and wise approach so that it will not conflict with the lives of the people.
Rawlings said when Nigeria gets the corruption war right it will not only augur well for the country but also Africa and the world, generally.
“Nigeria commands about 75 per cent of the population of Africa. Nigeria has pride and integrity,” he added.
In another no-holds barred manner, Rawlings spoke on leadership and advised Nigerians to endeavor to get people of integrity into leadership positions.
He pointed out that Africa’s biggest challenge has to do leadership without character.
“By character, I mean distinctive qualities that overcome the challenges we have as constituencies and organisations. Let’s learn to be gracious. I am sad about the mean behavior of my fellow black man. African countries are plagued with several challenges such as deforestation, bad economy, governance, education amongst others”.
In his paper entitled ‘Leadership with character’, the guest lecturer, Dr. Makanjuola Owolabi said Nigeria has been plagued with bad leadership and mediocrity in governance.
Owolabi recommended active participation in politics, especially at the grassroots level, by graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“We must also change our attitude to politics and governance of the winner takes it all, revenge, vendetta, vengeance, exclusion, extreme partisanship, wickedness and sadism which have excluded close to 80 per cent of Nigerians in government activities and expenditures at all levels.
“Instead, we need urgently a political class in greater numbers…with the right character and attitude who are ready to serve and work passionately for peace, progress and prosperity of Nigeria,” he said.
He added that from his aerospace and human factors insight and experience while providing statutorily mandatory training for pilots, engineers and others, there are some dangerous character traits or attitude that are responsible for all failures, accidents and disasters in any area of human endeavour.
He listed the traits as complacency, anti-authority, invulnerability, “peculiar Ignorance, culture and tradition, impulsiveness, resignation and macho attitude.
The event was attended by all members of UIAA, Ekiti branch including the national president, UIAA, Kemi Emina; chairman, Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Anglican Communion, The Rt. Rev Christopher Omotunde; Provost, College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, Prof Mojisola Oyarekua; Ekiti branch chairman, Dr. Adeniyi Adedoyin and some other alumni.