Barely 16 months to the start of the 2023 general elections, political economist, Prof Pat Utomi, former member of the house of representatives, Mr. Usman Bugaje, former governor of Kwara State, Mr. Abdulfattah Ahmed and former chairmanship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prof Tunde Adeniran, have floated a political group known as Rescue Nigeria Project (RNP).
Some other founders include, former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, former chairman of the senate committee on petroleum resources in the fifth and sixth 5th Senate, Senator Lee Ledogo
Senator Lee Maeba, former national Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega, Mrs. Nkoyo Toyo, former deputy governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, Dr. Rose Idi Danladi and Dr. Sadiq Gombe, among others.
Bugaje who is the national coordinator of the group said at the unveiling of RNP on Tuesday that it was formed to create new standards for leadership and promote quality leadership in the country.
“When you reduce the problems of this country to what they are, ultimately, it all comes to leadership.
“We have been unable to exit the leadership conundrum precisely because the leadership recruitment mechanism in our political parties is so flawed that, except for accidents, they are incapable of producing competent leaders with the requisite knowledge, discipline and commitment to make a difference.
We are living with, or better still, groaning under the consequences of this folly.”
“The challenge is how to introduce a set of criteria or better still re-calibrate the recruitment mechanism in our political parties to prioritise knowledge, competence and character.
“The deepening crisis in the political parties is all the more reason why this re-calibration is necessary.
“We intend to renew the spirit of leadership and create new standards to speak to the role this great country is expected to play in the great continent of Africa.
“By 2030, Nigeria’s population is expected to rise to 300 million and by 2050, it is expected to be about 450 million, when it will be the third largest country in the world after India and China. Thus, we must seek to change the conversation about leadership.
“The first thing we should want to know about our president is not which part of country he or she comes from, rather how competent is he or she,” he said.
Also speaking, Utomi expressed concern over the current state of the economy saying there is a need for the government to focus on improving revenue generation.
“What shall we do to change the mindset of the politician to be production-focused rather than revenue-focused? Because revenues are killing us. We’re all struggling to gain more revenues, yet, we’re just rushing for what will make us poor.
“So, let us see if political parties can develop a mindset that can get us away from where we are,” he said.
In his remarks, Adeniran said: “What is worrisome is not only the fact that so many things are wrong, but the very fact that people do not seem to care that things are wrong. And the youths are watching and they ask the question: ‘where is our future?’”
For his part, Ahmed said Nigeria’s political leaders should walk the talk stressing that there had been many talk shows in the country with none being translated into action.
“If you look at what we’re doing, we want to see how we’ll do things differently. There have been so many talk shows in Nigeria. There have been so many activities put in place in terms of efforts. But none has really translated into walking the talk.
“So, we want to see this as a platform that for once, we genuinely and sincerely bare our minds on the critical issues that are facing us in terms of insecurity, in terms of economy, and of course, infrastructure, and most importantly, the social dislodgement that we are faced with,” he said.
“It is based on this that we decided to set up this Rescue Nigeria Project. We want to salvage this country and see how we can fix the mess. We want to set a template and key criteria leaders must have before they can attain any political position.
“Despite the great opportunities of the past, Nigeria has failed to live up to the dreams of its founding fathers and the hopes of successive generations of its citizens.
“Perhaps, at no other time have these failings become more apparent than in the past decade or so.
“In 2015, Nigerians overwhelmingly embraced the promise of change. These hopes have not only been dashed, but they have arguably turned out to be the worst political statements ever to be made in this country. Nigeria today appears set to fulfill all the prophecies of doom,” he said.