Ambassador Professor George Obiozor, is an academician, a former Adviser to former head of state, General Ibrahim Babagida and thrice, former Nigerian Ambassador to Israel and the United States of America.
In this exclusive interview when our correspondent ran into him in Enugu State, the erudite Professor spoke on the leadership challenges facing the country.
Prof. How do you look at leadership and how would you relate it to the Nigerian context? As a matter of fact, everything that matters about governance, management or human affairs succeeds or fails because of leadership.
Believe me, both in human relation and in development of any country, leadership is very essential in any society. Nations and societies with good leaders will succeed while the bad leaders fail.
Effective leadership is judged by actions and ideas. The typical thing, that distinguish a leader from others, is that a leader must lead and achieve fixable relation and inspire.
Coming to Nigeria and according to all major assessment by Nigerian academicians particularly, a serge like Chinua Achebe, said Nigeria has not been blessed with a continual history of good leadership and he attributed a lot of Nigeria problems to lack of good leadership.
Many Nigerian leaders have tried but have not succeeded in the fundamental element, the issue has been that so many of them had that difficulty being a nationally acceptable leader that have transcended all the cleavages of region, ethnicity and religion.
Nigeria needs a truly detribalized leader, a hero that is genuinely patriotic and truly a brother’s keeper regardless of the ethnic origin or religion, such a leader will inspire confidence and such a leader will carry everybody along and will also solve Nigerians problem of division and cleavages along ethnic, regional and religion lines.
Today, Nigeria have had so many crisis, there will be few occasions in Nigeria where you can say that Nigeria had peace with herself.
The main problem of Nigeria today is ethnic crisis which has led to so many insecurities in the country, the emergency of Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and the rest.
From my own observation the cause of our problems today is lack of good leadership and it has developed in a national crisis and today also, the issue of Fulani herdsmen is a national crisis that requires an urgent solution.
How would you comment on the educational leadership in Nigeria? Am afraid to tell you the truth, when I was young, education was seen as a very important instrument for personal, group development and even national development.
Parent, schools, government at every levels took education very serious, and I cannot tell you is the same today.
Education at that time was very highly valued and rated but today education has loss the position of eminence and prominence in Nigeria society for many reasons, again, it must be attributed to leadership.
Somewhere along the line, the pursuit of money became national priority not that the pursuit of money was anytime ignored but the fact is, it became a national obsession.
Young men and women instead of going to school became traders especially in the east where we come from and in some other part of Nigeria.
At a time, it became clear that more women were going to school than men, something that was a different thing a few decades ago, today also there is most reluctance, women don’t take education very serious because there is no encouragement in terms of what education will give to them in future.
And many people have discussed education as if is a nuisance, education today has been attributed to job alone.
But we need education for development, character and also for the understanding of your history.
For example, they banned history in Nigeria, have you heard that history was banned in any country?
But in Nigeria it was banned and that is madness, but luckily though late the country and governance have realized the damage of ignoring education and they are probably coming back to it to give the attention that it deserves, believe me with this, education will be regarded again.
Sir, has the present federal government done well in terms of educational advancement of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria? Not just the present government both the previous government have become conscious of this neglect of education and the danger it poses to have a nation of illiterates, because the present system in the world is based on skills, is knowledge based so the government should turn their attention towards that area and stop pouring money on some unnecessary things that will not benefit the country.
Money is not what they need first, they must have proper trained teachers and have closed regulation and closed supervision of what is happening and not just to throw money saying they have allocated this and that.
It is not enough because the matter is beyond that, it is a situation that calls for the nation to sit down and go back to their drawing board and say this is the kind of education that is conducive and suitable for the people at the moment and they must be pragmatic about it, not every Nigerian will require a formal academic education alone there must be education in different areas agriculture, technology of different kinds and level.
And just as I want to be a lawyer you go to school and after schooling you will be looking at yourselves because there is no just enough office where you can practice what you have acquired.
In fact, in my view education in the area of agriculture is not getting enough attention whereas is indeed a very critical sector that can make a lot of difference in Nigeria.
If a country can produce enough food for itself, its industry and it can export, that country has made it. In fact, it is very shameful for a country that can grow food for itself every year round to be talking about a large import bill for the importation of food items and then people think the solution is to ban importation.
That is not even the answer according to Mbadiwe, ‘if you cannot add, don’t subtract and if you cannot substitute, don’t eliminate’ so while ban when you cannot produce?
A lot of people are complaining here and there concerning the issue of rise in food and other things saying that the exchange rate is high which sometimes it sounds ridiculous.
Professor, what is your view on Biafra and Nnamdi kanu? Every Igbo man should have something to say about the situation we have found ourselves in Nigeria.
The young men and women that are doing something about Biafra are in some extent advised and luckily so far they are not violent.
That is why am happy that Nnamdi Kanu was granted bail. What is Biafra for many people?
Is an idea that reminds them of condition of an Igbo man in Nigeria and it is also a loud cry to seek attention of the federal government to see what we are going through in this region as citizens of Nigeria.
Almost over forty years after the civil war, it is indeed the duty of any good government to look into the grievances of his own citizen no matter how trivial, because if you ignore the trivial, it can become a serious one if it gets more supporters in a situation that the Igbos found themselves is not a small issue ,especially when it is an issue of marginalization is clearly an issue that unites all the Igbos is so visible, so clear and is done with impunity and impudence as if it is to deliberately provoke people.
The country and the leaders needs National reconciliation and that is exactly the way to resolve some of this conflict.
Biafra is a symbol of National leadership failure, is a matter that must be given a priority and finding and knowing a way to solve the issue.
Prof. sir, what is your advice to Nigerians and the youth as a whole? Firstly, what the youth needs to know is that, the pursuit of money is not everything, I didn’t say they shouldn’t make money but they should learn how to be useful to the society.
There must be a vision of a role within the society not only a vision to become a millionaire.
The youths are so impatience that they don’t understand that it takes serious apprenticeship to succeed in whatever you are doing.
If you ignore education at the appropriate time you, regret all through your life, even if you are rich without education, you will still regret it.
The youths should know that they cannot abandon education for money, they must be full citizen and must contribute in many aspects.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)