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Bolaji Akinyemi: Nigerian Governors Have No Business Going For Leadership Retreat in Rwanda

“The constitution we have in Nigeria is not comparable to the constitution in Rwanda,” he said.

Nigeria’s Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, has said that Nigerian governors had no business attending a leadership retreat in Kigali, Rwanda.

Nigerian governors attended a three-day leadership retreat in Kigali, Rwanda, which began on August 24. It was facilitated for the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to serve as a transformative platform for public officials to exchange insights on complex problems and effective leadership.

Following the three-day retreat in Kigali, Nigerian governors stated that competent leadership was in great demand throughout Africa.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Tuesday, Professor Akinyemi said that the Nigerian governors have no business going to a leadership retreat in Kigali, Rwanda and that both countries’ constitutions are not comparable.

He said, “The constitution we have in Nigeria is not comparable to the constitution in Rwanda. That is the substructure, and if the substructure is different, the superstructure cannot be the same.

“We’ve got to sit down and decide what we want to make of Nigeria.

“I can’t believe we will fall into the pit of shame by 19 of our governors going to Kigali, Rwanda to learn how to govern.”

He questioned what the UNDP is up to saying, “Are they sending a signal to Africa that they prefer development to democracy?

 “Is that the message our governors are going Rwanda to embrace?”

He stated that in his ministry days, it was a struggle to prevent people from attending even embassy parties and cautionary notices were issued at cabinet meetings about not degrading Nigeria by flocking to these embassy parties.

He conceded that the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, inherited a terrible situation, but Kagame came up with a system that is “clobbering the head of the opposition, not allowing for human rights, not allowing for civil rights, a one man rule, a one man narrative.

“Our governors have no business going there. The UNDP has no business taking our governors there. In any case, the UNDP has no business putting on a training program for our governors.”

He said there are Nigerian institutions including National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Nigerian War College, Nigeria Defence College, amongst others, that can carry out training programs for the Nigerian governors. 

“They didn’t need to humiliate us by going to Rwanda,” he said.

Akinyemi further spoke on the Nigerian system saying that some institutions undergo an “elementary interpretation of functions” that ideally should provide part of the checks and balances within the systems and that a lot of focus is on the presidency and not on the governors.

He said, “Institutions have themselves to develop what I will call an intellectual basis in interpretation of their functions and interpretations of their laws.

“When the legislator that is supposed to perform its function is taken over by the executive, it is the judiciary that can clip the wings of the executive both at the national and at the subnational level, and they are not doing that.”

The professor also commented on the recent BRICS summit stating that South Africa has shown itself as an enemy of Nigeria and is determined at all costs to checkmate Nigeria wherever it gets the opportunity to do so.

He said “South Africa thinks ahead. It already has its eye on the election to the Security Council of the United Nations. Now, it’s got BRICS, it’s got two of the superpowers on its side, and it intends to use that to checkmate Nigeria, and yet this is the time when we are saying we should be closing down embassies. Our embassies are badly financed.”

He emphasised that what has played out with the BRICS invitation provides Nigerians with an opportunity if the country is willing to seize it.

“There are more states outside BRICS now than there are in BRICS,” he said, “these are countries that Nigeria could approach and bring into an organisation that is not going to be against the West or against the East. This is an opportunity for a clever application for a new concept of medium powers.”

Akinyemi also spoke on MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey), an abbreviation for a group of countries having the potential for rapid economic expansion. According to him, MINT is the way forward for countries outside BRICS who may also have felt snubbed by BRICS, but someone has to grab that opportunity and develop the initiative.

Frances Ibiefo

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