Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, yesterday said that the major problem facing the country was misplaced attention being paid by the leadership on wrong values.
Speaking at a political discourse organised by the Kukah Centre at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, Fashola stressed the need for the country to place more premium on values that have propelled other nations to greater heights.
“There is nothing wrong with Nigeria. Nigeria as a system has not changed but the people and leadership have been changing over the years,” Fashola observed.
“We seem to place more premium on money rather than values. We value awards, honours and titles more than hard work. That is why people, who have tainted records and should be barred from holding pubic offices are bestowed with highest national honours.”
Also speaking at the event, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state, who is a member of Peoples Democratic Party, noted that the problem with the country was the attempt by leaders to appropriate public offices to themselves and their associates at the expense of the people they were expected to serve.
“For us to advance as a nation, we must build strong institutions to serve Nigerians better. We must avoid the practice of converting public institutions to private estates to serve individual needs instead of catering for the overall benefit of the citizens.
“As leaders, we should be more concerned with using our offices to help the people who elected us than using the offices to acquire power and wealth.
“All those at leadership level in Nigeria must be ready to account to the people while the citizens should be bold enough to demand for their rights from their leaders,” Lamido said.
The governor lamented that because of poor leadership being exhibited in the past, the meaning of government and good governance had diminished in Nigeria in the last 16 years and called for a change of attitude.
Fashola and Lamido said they did not care who takes over from them but expressed the hope that the work they had done would speak for them now and in the future. They promised not to influence the choice of their successors since the people of Lagos and Jigawa states were sound enough to decide on who governs them.
They said they succeeded in breaking the jinx of underdevelopment in their states because they were aware of the challenges facing them from the outset and were determined to address them in the interest of the people.
Speaking on why the debate was organised, leader of the Kukah Centre and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, said it was put in place to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas on various national issues so as to move the nation forward.