Nigerian governors have come under fire for attending a leadership retreat in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
A former minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, on Tuesday, described the governors’ decision to travel to the East African country for the programme as ‘shameful’ and a ‘humiliation’ for Nigeria. CONTINUE READING>>>>>
THE WHISTLER reported that the three-day retreat, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), was held from August 24 to 27.
The UNDP said the retreat was in line with its commitment towards raising the level of governance in Africa and other parts of the world.
The UN agency also said the retreat would provide a transformative platform for the governors to collectively reflect, learn, and exchange insights on effective leadership and complex challenges.
But Akinyemi, while speaking on Arise Television on Tuesday, faulted the decision of the governors and the UNDP to stage the retreat in Rwanda.
Akinyemi, also a former director-general of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), said the retreat should have been organised within the country by relevant Nigerian institutions.
“When you think things cannot get worse, then they do get worse. 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.
“Our governors have no business – 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.
“Is the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) not there? We have several training institutions – the National War College is there, the Nigerian Defence College is there. These are Nigerian institutions that could put on training programmes or retreat programmes for our governors.
“They didn’t need to humiliate us by going to Rwanda.”
Questioning the reasons behind the decision to stage the retreat in Rwanda, Akinyemi noted that the east African country was not a model for democracy.
“What is the UNDP up to? Are they sending a signal to Africa that they prefer development to democracy? Is that the message they are sending to Africa? And is that the message that our governors are going to Rwanda to embrace? Kigali of all places?
“Yes I do admit and I concede that the President of Rwanda inherited a terrible situation when he came to power and he came up with his own system of dealing with that terrible situation.
“And what did he come up with? Not allowing human rights, not allowing civil rights, one-man rule, one-man narrative and it seems to be working in Rwanda.
“But a word of caution here. We saw one-man rule in a lot of the Francophone African countries and when the strong man died, they descended into civil war. I think the answer is still out there about whether it is going to be a successful experiment in Rwanda.”
The retired diplomat expressed concern that Nigerian politicians and public office holders have developed the habit of holding meetings important outside the country
He noted that the habit has now resulted in the decision to hold a leadership retreat for governors in Rwanda.
“Maybe we should have foreseen this when, during the campaign, our politicians, some of whom are now in office, kept going to London, going to Paris, having meetings there about how they will reconfigure development and progress, and reconciliation, in Nigeria.
“Some of us spoke out loudly, we called them out, we criticised them, it made no difference. They still continued.”
He further observed that things were different in the past, as Nigeria’s founding fathers never travelled out of the country for campaigns, unlike what was witnessed before the 2023 general elections.
“I am of the age when I remember Chief Awolowo, Sardauna, Balewa, Azikiwe, once we became independent, they never went to Paris, or London, or the United States for their campaigns. They never did.
“During the Second Republic – Shagari, Awolowo, Aminu Kano – they never left the country as part of the campaign. But now we have a crop of politicians – we criticise the old school but the old school seems to have more values, more patriotism, and more integrity than this present lot.
“When I was a minister, it was a battle to stop people from even attending embassy parties because at that time you would find ministers and judges of the Supreme Court attending receptions, not even given by the ambassador, but at times given by attaches.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send out notes upon notes, and IBB, (ex-military Head of State Ibrahim Babangida) who I served under, will send out cautionary notices at cabinet meetings about not demeaning Nigeria by flocking to these embassy parties. Continue Full Reading>>>