Human Rights Activist, President, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), Nigeria and legal practitioner, Olu Omotayo, spoke to MAUREEN IKPEAMA
WHAT is your appraisal of Nigeria @ 60?
We cannot be talking of appraisal without considering other countries who had 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 independent in 1991; when you talk of power , we have not got it right. When you are talking about industrialisation, it is power. Up till now, Nigeria has not got it right in the power sector. Billions of naira was invested from Obasanjo 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 do you think Nigeria has got it right or 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 is corruption. That’s what kept us back till date. All the institutions established should be made strong.
The leadership doesn’t want the institutions to be strong and when the institutions like EFCC , ICPC, are not working , nothing is working . The institutions are not ready. Even the judiciary; the court on technicality, frees somebody. You don’t allow a situation to work. We cannot say that we want to move forward as a country and we use the judiciary technicality to set the looters free . Where should we go from here?
Strengthen the institutions 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 breakaway from the old way of doing things. The money, grant gotten should be invested. It’s not you collect the money and spend that you are giving palliatives. It is for you to invest it. There are lots 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 -10-30 years?
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 the issue of power . If we get it right, then sky is our limit.