Eminent African scholar, Professor Patrick Lumumba, has urged politicians holding elective offices in Nigeria to emulate the pan-Nigerian spirit of the late former Senate Leader, Dr Olusola Saraki.
Professor Lumumba gave the admonition while delivering a public lecture on Leadership and followership in Africa, at the 10th Anniversary of Olusola Saraki Memorial Lecture held in Abuja.
The event organised by the children and associates of the late politician had the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, as Chairman of the occasion, while former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim was chairman.
Doing a critique of post-colonial Nigeria and Africa, Professor Lumumba expressed concern that successive leaders have fallen short of the expectations of their followers.
The guest lecturer therefore called for concerted efforts to bury the fault lines of religion and ethnic affiliations, to inspire national development.
Turning to the gathering of governors, state and federal lawmakers, and religious leaders, Professor Lumumba identified leadership deficit as the bane of the African continent and expressed regret that Africa would not get it right except Nigeria succeeds as a nation.
He said: “Leadership is about service, those given the honour to serve are the servants of the people. But Africans have been asking this question since we regained our independence.
“Africa is suffering from a deficit of leadership. Tell me whether Sudan, Somalia, and Cameroun, are stable. Tell me, whether there is peace in Nigeria.
“As long as there isn’t peace in Nigeria, Africa will never be at peace. One in eight Africa is a Nigerian…We won’t attain our greatness as long as people in leadership appeal to the stomach, not the minds of their followers, as long as people are divided along the fault lines of religion and tribe. We have to exorcise the ghost of ethnicity, religion, ignorance and narrow-mindedness.”
Professor Lumumba urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of the servant, the generous politician and the philanthropy of the late Dr. Olusola Saraki.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, described the late Saraki as a Nigerian patriot who should be emulated by today’s political class.
“He was one that earned the respect of many Nigerians. We appreciate the contribution of Senator Saraki.
“I also commend the tenacity of the organisers for inviting Professor Lumumba. I am pleased to listen to him.
I urge my colleagues to take lessons from this lecture to move Nigeria forward.”
Former Senate President and son of the late former Senate Leader, Senator Bukola Saraki in his remarks said the topic of leadership and followership was chosen to reawaken national consciousness on an issue his late father was passionate about.
He said:” We know that in his lifetime, any matter that concerned any of Oloye’s numerous followers usually touched him so personally, passionately, and genuinely. His followers were his life. They formed the core of his politics and well-being. He believed they should have a say in his political decisions and he never took any action without consulting or briefing them. He never took their loyalty for granted. He believed in the physical, intellectual, spiritual, and material development of his followers. He believed a leader is as good as his followers.
“It is for these reasons that he spent a huge chunk of his resources to give scholarship awards to the children of many of his supporters and helped some of the followers to set up their businesses. We have chosen the Leadership and Followership Debate as a way of revisiting Oloye’s belief in having a vibrant, enlightened, discerning, loyal, informed, and involved followership who can hold the leadership accountable, responsible and responsive as well as take decisions that can guide and guard the leaders.
“We know that in an electioneering period as we have in our country today, many of our invitees are deeply involved. We did not want any of the events on Oloye’s memorial anniversary to spill into December. Thus, the need to hold this lecture before November ends. That is why we are here today.”
The former Senate President also noted that dignitaries invited to the event cut across political parties divide as he noted that his late father was a bridge builder in his lifetime.
“Let me make a quick observation that if my father was around, he would be so proud of the gathering in this hall this morning. He would be so happy with the way Nigerians have forgotten our differences to celebrate him. He would be happy to see the multi-party, non-partisan, purely patriotic, and nationalistic colour of this gathering. Oloye truly represented all the political parties and all the various diversities of this great country.
He was Mr Nigeria. He was a bridge across Nigeria who also strived to build bridges across the national divides at all times. He will be happy that we have all gathered as Nigerians to celebrate a Nigerian Statesman.
“His wide contacts have made it possible that in our family we have members of all the big parties, from PDP to APC and others. Oloye was a man of many parts and his followers are in all the different political parties that exist in our country today. That is the more reason why we have decided to ensure this remembrance lecture is devoid of partisanship. It is simply about our country, Nigeria.”
The Chairman at the occasion, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, commended the organisers for the topic chosen as he noted that it was most appropriate in view of the forthcoming general elections.
“The topic chosen by the organizers is so apt, and important because we are into political activities and we are looking for leaders to steer the ship of State to an excellent destination, we must look at who a leader should be, what leadership should not be, what we should do as followers to ensure we have a good leader.”