The Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called on the incoming governors to work hard to earn the trust of the people.
In her Keynote address, on Monday, at the gathering of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) in Abuja, she said that no nation could develop without earning the trust of the people and there could be no foreign development without good governance.
She said, “Even before independence, the generation of leaders that led us to freedom identified how important trust would be to our nation’s success.
“Every nation is a work-in-progress. The task of nation-building is a continuous one. So even if we have made mistakes, there is always a chance to change course. The fatal mistake in nation-building is refusing to learn lessons, and failing to course-correct where needed.
“In our country, given its size, diversity, and economic development challenges, the scale of the task of nation-building is particularly large.
“As you take office or return to your governorships, our 222 million compatriots will be counting on you to rise to the occasion. The states are closest to the people: what you do or don’t do, directly impacts people across the country.
“Nigerians are not building our nation in a vacuum. When shaping policies and strategies, we need to do so in the context of what is happening in the world. We need to wake up and smell the coffee. The world is changing fast, in good ways and bad. The bad ways are more obvious these days.
“Dear Governors, I remain convinced that a better future is within our collective grasp. But to move ahead and seize it, we will need political and business leaders at the state and national levels to form a compact in pursuit of pro-growth and pro-development policies.
“We ought to be seeking to double our growth rate and sustain that higher growth until we attain upper middle-income status. We can also aim to double Nigeria’s share of world trade from 0.33% to 0.66% within a decade. To build such a compact, we need trust.”
Also, the Chairman of the forum, and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, said the induction seminar was organised to support the new governors in developing the essential skills for democratic governance.
Tambuwal stated, “To kickstart this post-election democratic process, we have invited governance experts, bureaucrats, and entrepreneurs, within and outside the shores of this country, to share their expertise on democratic governance in a diverse political economy with unique peculiarities in the modern governance framework.
“I am pleased to acknowledge in our midst the presence of democratic leaders from Africa, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America, who have obliged to share their vast experience with us.
“Your Excellency, we have had robust and fruitful engagements with you as a listening father for the past eight years of your administration in the National Economic Council.”
The governor recalled some constitution alteration bills, which Buhari recently signed into law. He said with the new laws, which put electricity, railways, and correctional services on the concurrent legislative list, states had now been empowered to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid.
Tambuwal said, “We now have financial independence of state Houses of Assembly and state judiciary. Presidents and governors are expected to submit the names of persons nominated as ministers and commissioners within 60 days of taking oath of office for confirmation by the senate or state House of Assembly. These, among others, are landmark constitutional reforms.
“Full diversification of the economy entails shifting away from reliance on export of commodities like oil, gold, and agricultural produce to industrialization for genuine development and sustainable growth of our economy.
“Rearticulation of our national industrialization policy, improved power supply and human capital development are critical in our quest for industrialization for poverty alleviation and employment generation. This is a task the incoming administration must take seriously for national socio-economic reinvigoration.”
Also, the founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Tony Elumelu, told the gathering it was lack of economic hope or opportunity that could lead a young man to bear an AK47 and join a terrorist or bandit group.
According to Elumelu, “We need to create the feeling and belief that it is a mutual destiny. Poverty anywhere in the country is a threat to the rest of us everywhere.
“As a businessman, I invest for the long term. In politics, we must do the same – invest in Nigeria. Invest in our infrastructure, be strategic, identify those areas where we will all get the best return – and by best, I mean best for our country.
“In terms of stability, prosperity and the wellbeing of our people, I have seen how in the power sector, when government, private sector and community align, the results are transformational. Let’s do the same for our young population. Nigeria’s next generations are our hope for a better and more prosperous future.
“They are dynamic, vocal, patriotic – but they need our support, attention, and empathy. They need our action! We need their participation in our society. We should embrace and welcome this. To our political leaders, unite today, in this essential forum.
“I say create more private sector-friendly policies to increase wealth creation and encourage entrepreneurship. As leaders, policy-makers, and stakeholders in our society, we must recognise the potential of entrepreneurship to promote youth engagement and wealth creation in Nigeria.
“We must invest in programmes that support and encourage young people to pursue their dreams and develop the skills they need to succeed as entrepreneurs. Let us work together to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship to thrive in Nigeria, and to empower our youth to become active participants in the development of our country. Give them economic hope and they will transform our country.
“And finally, my advice to our governors and leaders, as you commence this journey – reflect on your legacy. How will history judge us? What greater legacy is there than your gift to the next generation – the great destiny that awaits Nigeria.”
The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, who was also present, appealed to the incoming governors to ensure good governance that would bring about development in their respective states.
She said a committed leadership that could tap into the abundant opportunities in the various states and guide the country towards inclusive sustainable development that left no one behind was what Nigeria needed.
Mohammed said, “First term goes very fast and the second even faster! Campaign promises made must be delivered and that’s hard. It requires an effective team. Resource constraints are real.”
The UN deputy secretary-general told the incoming governors that domestic resource mobilisation was urgent, while prioritising, phasing and leveraging other partnerships were key.
She stated, “Communicating and consulting create less distractions and manage expectations. Mindsets must change. Under the constitution of Nigeria, you have the authority and the responsibility to deliver on critical foundations of infrastructure and services that deliver on social and economic development.
“But to do so, you must lead. You must inspire and shape a better future that includes everyone. You must bring the population on this journey with you. You must take every opportunity to have women and youth not just at the table but empowered to make meaningful contributions to the discourse.
“You must open up to your political adversaries and govern with vision, courage, tolerance and humility. Your Excellences, with only seven years left to meet the promises of the 2030 Agenda, time is not on our side.”
Mohammed also told the incoming governors, “Remember that transformation will not happen in a vacuum or by chance. The context is tough. Nigeria must prepare and be ready to make a quantum leap.”