BY CHARLES KUMOLU & GBENGA OKE
The crème-de-la-crème of the nation’s politics and media gathered last Tuesday for the launch of a book chronicling political commentaries of one of the nation’s leading political commentators, Ex-Economist, former Vanguard and presently The Nation’s Group Political Editor, Bolade Omonijo.
It was not surprising that the launch of the book, The Nigerian Political Turf: Polity, Politics, Politicians, almost turned into a political affair. Masters of the political game were fully present and ably represented.
The venue was also graced with the crème-de-la-crème of the Nigerian media who turned out to honour one of their own, Bolade Omonijo, otherwise known as The Prof, by his colleagues.
Remarkably, the book launch at the Muson Centre, Lagos provided a platform to x-ray the quality of Nigeria’s democracy and its effects on the citizenry, with emphasis on the current insecurity across the northern states.
Among the dignitaries, who came to identify with Omonijo, The Group Political Editor of The Nation Newspapers, were Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti who was the Guest Speaker, former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Mr. Peter Obi of Anambra state, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, veteran journalist and economist, Haroun Adamu, Mr. Odia Ofeimum among others.
Kick-staring what turned out to be a robust intellectual exercise on the state of the nation and the direction of Nigeria’s democracy, was Tinubu, who was represented Dr.Leke Pitan.
Voicing his concern on the various dimensions the current insecurity in Nigeria, has taken, Tinubu, who chaired the event said, “the problem of insecurity and bombing ravaging the nation require an urgent action. The government must act quickly to curtail the activities of Boko Haram before Nigerians resort to self-help. The debate for state and community policing has been long overdue and it is time for Nigeria to decentralise the police force, in order to arrest the problem of insecurity.”
He thus charged that “for Nigeria to move forward, there is need for courageous, visionary and committed leaders at all levels of governance.”
From left Dr Leke Pitan representing, Asiwaju Bola Tinubud, Dr Paul Akintelure, Chief Launcher, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State /Guest Speaker of the occasion and Mr Mobolade Omonijo, author at launch of the book: “The Nigerian Political Turf” Polity, Politics, Politicians”
While recommending the book, he stated thus: “The book Polity, Politics, Politicians is well loaded and well articulated with various problems facing the Nigerian political development. Bolade Omonijo belongs to the courageous writers in Nigerian journalism today.”
Militralisation of the polity
Fayemi, who was the Guest Speaker, in his lecture titled: The Nigerian Polity, Politics and Politicians: Moving from Transaction to Transformation, expressed concern on the increasing militarization of the polity, saying that it portends a great danger.
“At the core of the crisis, either in the Niger Delta or in the North is the failure of politics to allocate authority and legitimise it and use it to achieve the social as well as economic ends that is conducive to communal well-being. In this sense the current debate on Boko Haram insurgency is about the status and quality of democracy in Nigeria, a debate about the future of the country as a united, federal entity,”he stated.
Still picking holes in the manner democracy is practiced in the country, Fayemi said, “If democracy is not capable of wiping out poverty, curbing corruption, guaranteeing transparency and improving people’s well being and quality of life, it is at best an empty concept, at worst a sham to many.
“Poverty and despair, oppression and humiliation, economic and social insecurities are breeding grounds – even if not the only reasons – for violence and conflict. As much as Nigerians want democracy, they also want to see concrete evidence of democracy making a difference in their lives and not just in an instrumentalist sense of embracing freedom.”
Still on the way forward, he said, “we need leaders who have a clear vision of the future, who see character as destiny, who advocate values-driven reorientation, who don’t just mouth transformation, who are compassionate about changing the decrepit plight of our people, who act with integrity and ethics, who create an entrepreneurial mindset and capabilities in followers, who see leadership as service and responsibility and who are not content with mediocrity. We must move away from transactional politics to transformative leadership.”
Rescuing people from bad governance
Continuing, Fayemi said, “Having spent the last seven years in partisan politics and participating in grassroots organising, my belief in the need to take politics beyond political parties is more reinforced. The immediate challenge for all of us is to concentrate on how to rescue our people from bad governance.
“Unless the critical mass of our people cutting across age, gender, zones and party political affiliations adopt the same positions, with a more clearly defined collective agenda, the current approach to solving our problem will not suffice.
There is an urgent need to build coalitions and permanent platform in the public sphere that is beyond party and personalities, but all embracing enough to those who subscribe to the core values of integrity, honesty and dedication to transformation in Nigeria.”
Also speaking at the forum, the Special Guest of Honour, Tambuwal commended the foresight of the author, just as he implored other media practitioners to follow his path.
Tambuwal, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Mr. Imam Imam, said, “We are encouraging other journalists to put their experiences in a book form because by reading, we set to know the characters and plots that have taken place in our political landscape in Nigeria.
“It is only by reading that we can transport ourselves to different adventures, different cultures and it is with reading of books during our generation that impacted on our lives because it remains the only source of knowledge” he noted.
Continuing, he said, “the book that is being launched today is an important topic because it bothers on our day-to-day activities as a nation and it is important we all cultivate the habit of reading in order to have an insight on the political situation in our country.” The book was reviewed by Mr. Kunle Ajibade.
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