By INYALI PETER, Calabar
Former Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), Hon. Venatius Ikem, has encouraged Nigerians to take a more positive picture on how far the country has gone than despair in how much farther she should go.
Ikem, a Lawyer and former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said this while delivering speech as a guest Lecturer at the Second Distinguished Public Lecture organised by the Department of Educational Administration and Planning, University of Calabar, Cross River State.
Speaking on the topic, “Thoughts on Nigeria’s Development Journey and the Fallacies of Hopeless”, Ikem was of the view that although the country has not progressed at the expected pace but in area of education, infrastructure, communication, healthcare, politics and economy, Nigeria has made significant progress.
The Politician who reeled out statistics and figures to support his argument, however, expressed that Nigerians cannot elect thieves to run the public treasury and shout corruption afterwards or appoint people with questionable characters into public office and complain about violence.
He advised leaders to go back to the rules of global best practices in development that guarantees measurable achievements, predictable growth and development.
Ikem declared: “Having said all these, running through few sectors and even deliberately avoiding some like agriculture and security the point must be made that I am by no means saying that we should rise up and celebrate, far from it.
“Our development in all sectors lags far behind expectations given our endowment in terms of manpower, grit and determination, natural resources, including a very clement weather devoid of major natural disasters and other challenges that should hamper development. I have as the cliché goes rather preferred to paint a picture of a half full cup than visualize a half empty one.
“I hope to encourage us to take a more positive picture of our nation than look at the dismal one. To be inspired by how far we have come than despair in how much farther we need to go.
“It remains true that the true African renaissance that was expected to come with Independence from Colonial rule has been a story of dashed dreams and failed expectations. Nigeria remains a poster boy of this failure.” He maintained that “a peer review of countries with a similar history, even lower endowments and a tougher natural environment to play, have emerged more focused and sure-footed in their trajectory of development while we have continued to play by our own rules”.
The former BPE boss added: “In a globalized world, we cannot play by our own rules and hope to look like others. There are simply global rules, global standards of development and global best practices as the path towards achieving them.
“There are no short cuts! We cannot elect thieves to run our public treasury and shout corruption afterwards. Nor appoint questionable characters into offices and raise alarm over violence, criminality and gangsterism in our lives.
“We cannot short circuit academics and expect excellent research outputs that can jump start development; we simply must go back to the basics and follow the rules, global rules and global best practices that guarantee measurable achievements, predictable growth and development”.
Hon. Martin Orim, Chief of Staff to Cross River State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade, earlier in his opening remarks commended the Prof. Zana Akpagu administration for what he described as massive developmental strides even as he admonished students to shun cultism and other social vices.
Orim who said he was an alumnus of the University maintained: “I want to commend the Management of Unical for the very feasible developmental strides recorded so far. Alot of projects and programmes have been completed and introduced. I encourage students to key into these projects and focus on their studies.
“Students should shun cultism and illicit drugs. Youths are no longer the leaders of tomorrow but today but cultism and illicit drugs won’t make them leaders. It can only lead them to rehab homes, prisons or even madness, therefore, I urge them to lead the campaign for the eradication of cultism and illicit drugs among young people”.
Earlier, the Head of Department of Educational Administration and Planning, Prof. John Undie, explained that the public lecture was introduced to create opportunities for bureaucracts to share their field experiences with the academics to help guide University in its research on the development and growth of the country.
He noted: “There’s a strong relationship between Education and development therefore what we are doing today is to give opportunity to bureaucracts to come and share their field experiences with us to help direct our research properly to improve the growth process of our country”.