COVID-19 has exposed Nigeria’s low leadership quality, says Okogie

A former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie has described the Coronavirus pandemic as a blessing in disguise, as it has exposed Nigeria as a country where quality of leadership is of low grade. Okogie, who stated this yesterday, said the outbreak of COVID-19 had been a dangerous, yet revelatory moment in Nigeria.

Noting that the quality of leadership in Nigeria must improve, Okogie said: “In the midst of poor quality leadership, however, Nigerians must speak in laudatory terms about Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, his Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, and his entire team for rising to the occasion. For right or wrong reasons, Lagosians have been critical of his government since its inauguration on May 29, 2019.

“But it must be admitted that with a population said to be close to 15 million, if Gov. Sanwo-Olu and his team had not provided outstandingly exemplary leadership, we would have had a more dangerous situation in our hands. 

At the risk of making a hasty judgment, it is to be placed on record that, as at the time this is being written, Gov. Sanwo-Olu and his team have largely prevented the spread of the virus in Lagos.  Let us pray for them and encourage them, so that they will continue to show exemplary leadership to other political office holders in Nigeria.”

In a statement signed by him, Okogie said COVID-19 had also revealed the need to invest in good healthcare service delivery, rather than wasting the country’s resources on government officials and health tourism abroad.

He said: “Nigeria cannot adequately invest in the health and education sectors because, among other reasons, the Constitution of Nigeria has established offices that will require an endless flow of petrol-dollars to maintain. By the time low-grade leadership combines with big government and the seemingly irresistible tendency to steal and or waste Nigeria’s money, you find a country whose hospitals are reduced to mere consultation rooms.

“It is, therefore, insufficient for our legislators to forfeit their salaries for two months, as they have offered. It is also unsatisfactory for Senators to donate half of their salaries to tackle COVID-19. The humongous basic salaries and allowances of our political office holders should become a thing of the past.  The money should be used to establish a regime of high-quality medical service delivery. 

COVID-19 has revealed to us that, if we do not do something positive about our hospitals in Nigeria, if we do not invest our money in medical research, we shall one day find ourselves in a situation where we cannot even board a flight out of Nigeria to go on medical tourism.  Let us make hay while the sun shines.

“To those who say they do not to know what the clamour for restructuring is about, the outbreak of Coronavirus has revealed an explanation.  Nigeria needs to restructure the relationship between her government functionaries and her citizens. The current constitutional structure provides for too many offices because it puts in place a government that is too big. 

Constitutional restructuring is a necessary condition for the production of high-quality governance.  But if we continue to run our country’s affairs with a Constitution that impoverishes and disables the citizens, by establishing offices that do not serve the people, then we would not have learnt good lessons from this pandemic.”

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