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Obi, Duke, Others Proffer Solutions On State Governance

By Tayo Elegbede

Bugged by the quality of governance and public service at the State level in Nigeria, panelists at the 11th AELEX Annual Lecture on Wednesday brainstormed on strategies to make States more efficient, self-reliant and sustainable under the theme “Making States Work”.

The panel included: His Excellency, Mr. Donald Duke (CON), Former Governor of Cross River State; His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi (CON), Former Governor of Anambra State; Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede (CON), President of Council, Nigerian Stock Exchange; Professor Chidi Odinkalu, Director, Africa Program, Open Society Justice Initiative, and Mr. Isaac Babatunde, Executive Director, Corporate & Sovereign Ratings, Agusto & Co.

The lecture which was organised by AELEX, a full service law firm, had a cross sectorial audience to forge a new thinking for efficient state governance in Nigeria.

Moderating the conversation, Former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke said that the challenge of dysfunctional states in Nigeria goes beyond finance. Duke also said that one of the most essential factors in making states work is the framing of a personal vision and a collective vision for the state, which he said remains a missing component amongst many Nigerian Governors.

“We are losing the essence of the federating units in Nigeria. As a leader, having a vision is essential but having a collective vision for the people is key.”

Duke noted that the absence of consequences for either good or bad actions in country is responsible for the social misnomer in the country. “In Nigeria, there are no consequences for doing the right things neither are there consequences for doing wrong.”

Former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi posited “The vision of the leader is expedient to the development of the state, adding that “the vision must be clear, that way, the leader can drive the state to success. The reason for most failure is the absence of a plan.”

Obi said that over 70 percent of corruption cases are initiated by civil servants.

On his part, the President of Council, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said that most Nigerians states are not functional due to bad governance. He opined that the two basic problems with Nigerian States are the electoral process and how States cum leaders are created. Aig-Imoukhuede said that only six states are economically independent: Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Rivers, Oyo and the FCT.

In his submission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu emphasized that most Nigerian states are built on faulty foundations given the intent of the military whilst creating the states. He berated the dearth of history amongst Nigerians. Professor Odinkalu noted that Nigeria is a country without process, management, details and priorities, adding that States are basically irrational in addressing relevant issues of huge importance.

Joining the discourse, Mr. Isaac Babatunde, Executive Director, Corporate & Sub-Sovereign Ratings, Agusto & Co., explained that the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of over 27 States is not sufficient to pay the State workers let alone implementing social projects. Babatunde urged states to explore, adopt and adapt winning models from high performing states such as Lagos.

The discussion ended with the panel highlighting the need for qualitative leadership, responsive followership, patriotism and a working reward system.

Conversations from the lecture can be accessed online via the hashtag #AELEX2016 on Twitter.