Eminent personalities, notable politicians and scholars on Saturday agreed on the need for Nigeria to move away from building strong individuals to building strong institutions as a means of achieving sustainable national development.
The personalities who spoke at the maiden Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable organized as part of the activities marking the 69th birthday of the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Ibadan, included a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington and wife of the governor, Dr (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi.
Others were former Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, Senator Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi and an industrialist, Chief Kola Daisi.
Speaking on the theme: “The Imperatives of Building Institutions for Lasting Legacies”, they all affirmed that while strong individuals were necessary for visionary leadership, it was only strong institutions that could enhance proactive leadership, good governance, effectiveness of the rule of law and inclusiveness of the citizenry.
Touching on the theme of the discourse, Gowon identified the civil service as one of the key institutions that any government must strengthen, noting that “protecting the integrity, confidentiality and impartiality of civil servants would enable them give political leaders the right advices.
For Tinubu, while institutions are important, a leader cannot be deemed to have succeeded, no matter how much he has achieved infrastructural renewal and other areas of development until he developed people who could succeed him and nurture the institution that he had built.
He said: “We have seen infrastructural renewal across the state; we have seen demolitions, emotions, expressions, reforms of traditional institutions. You have proved that you don’t lack courage but you can be successful as a leader not only in terms of bricks and mortals but how many other leaders you have developed who can succeed you and build on your legacies; otherwise, as you leave, the empire crumbles; the institutions you have built will go into ruins.”
Tinubu declared Ajimobi as a leader who demonstrated the rare combination of thinking and doing, adding that he had exhibited the quality of a good leader who had the courage of not only taking actions but being ready to face the consequences of his actions.
While agreeing on the need to build strong institutions, Akande however warned against what he called the growing institution of bullies who, he said, derived satisfaction in benefitting from the public purse without providing the commensurate value.
He noted “regardless of your profession, if you take money for the job you have not done, you are a third. In other countries, when people go on strike, they do not take salary for the period. All you leaders who allow people to steal from public purse should henceforth watch it.
In his own submission, Aregbesola recalled that one of the reasons why a former US President, Barack Obama shunned Nigeria and chose to visit Ghana during his visit to Africa was due to the lack of will by our leaders at the time to support the growth of institutions.
“During that visit, Obama observed that African leaders should look at building institutions and not individuals. And for me also, even though we need strong, thoughtful, resilient, idealistic and iconic people to look up to as pace setters, but Africa can only be great if we shift our focus to building institutions which will outlive these individuals,” he said.
The US ambassador, who address the gathering the gathering via an amplified telephone call from Abuja, said it was time for the people of Oyo State, Nigeria, development partners and business associates to shift attention from sustainable development to profitable development because without profit, development cannot be sustained.
He further noted that oil and land were not the important asset of the country but the people of Nigeria themselves, adding that “how the people of Nigeria, working together to transform and strengthen institutions from inside out is the only way for creating trust that will ensure development, trust for people to take their hard earned capital and their very lives and invest in the country because they will be welcomed and well treated”
According to the envoy, institutions don’t have memories and reputations, it is the leaders that drive them.
In his own submission, the Senate Leader said strong institutions were created and nurtured by strong men; leaders of vision and integrity who were focused, noting that after Tinubu had created strong institutions in Lagos State, he made sure that strong and competent leaders succeeded him to make the institutions sustainable.
“We also have such a leader in Governor Ajimobi. He came with a vision; he had courage and competence; he believes in probity and that is why Oyo State has had a smooth primary; the governor is more interested in people who can sustain his institutional reforms and other legacies and not in his own personal preferences,” he said.
Speaking about the governor, Oba Adeyemi noted “Ajimobi is the 20th governor that I have worked with. I have worked intimately as a son and as governor. If you are brilliant, truthful and hardworking, he will work with you. He runs an inclusive government but you can only get something from him if you key into his vision of RTR, meaning reformation, transformation and repositioning”.
During the panel discussion that was moderated by Prof. I. A. Adeyemi, the discussants including Prof. Tunji Olaopa, a retired federal permanent secretary and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. (Mrs.) Oluyemisi Bamgbose, also harped on the need for building institutions that would ensure sustainable development.
While expressing gratitude to the guests, Governor Ajimobi noted that “all developments are sustained by visions, intellectualism, principle and the courage we need to implement what we have envisoned; we started this roundtable because we believe no social or physical development can be achieved without intellectual and human capital development.
The governor added “no leader is successful until he has chosen a worthy successor; all actions that I have taken were guided by God and the determination to make a difference. When we came, we saw broken bricks but we are leaving Oyo State with marbles.”
We didn’t disobey Makinde’s shutdown order- Oyo Revenue boss reacts
The Oyo State Internal Revenue Service (OYSIRS) on Tuesday said its attention has been drawn to reports criticising its decision that its top management staff offer skeletal services to the public during the period of government shutdown.
A statement by the Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Bureau of Internal Revenue, Aremo John Adeleke revealed that the offer of service by the senior management is voluntary and without any coercion.
According to Aremo Adeleke, the decision was meant to ease public agony and inconveniences; especially in areas such as filing of tax returns by companies; registration of new vehicles; renewal of expired vehicle documents; remittances of monthly PAYE and other due taxes as well as any emergency requests for tax clearance certificates.
“These are essential services which must be provided, remembering that unlike Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, Oyo State is not on total lockdown yet,’’ the statement read.
The statement read in part: ‘’To enable our management staff discharge this skeletal duty adequate healthcare provisions have been made in our offices and the few staff involved in the skeletal services are under strict COVID-19 health guidelines. Which means at all times the management of the Service is mindful of keeping our staff save.
“We are aware we are in a time of a ruinous pandemic which necessitated the government shutdown in the first place.
“Contrary to the viewpoint of detractors and mischief makers, the attempt and sacrifices by the senior management of the OYSIRS to do its bit to enhance the resource capacity of OYSG to cope with its gargantuan responsibilities connected to handling the COVID-19 emergency.
“It is obvious that the good intention of the BIR, which is aimed at helping the state cushion the effects of the COVID 19 emergency was being misinterpreted by a few
“Let it be said that important organs of government, such as OYSIRS, cannot completely shut down even in times of crisis.
We are not unaware of the antecedent of the opposition in the state who would prefer to grind the entire machinery of a caring government such as GSM’s to a complete halt, just to paint a picture of inaction, but our people are wiser than such petty antics.
“It is also true that with the support of the Ministry of Finance, we have made progress and made a difference in our attempt to re-engineer the process of revenue collection at OYSIRS. Still digital machines, IT solutions and robust applications don’t operate themselves, hence we need that vital few among our management staff for difficult times like we are. And we are sure this difficult time will not last.
“We want to assure the entire citizenry of Oyo State, especially the families of our senior staff at OYSIRS, that the health and well-being of our staff is paramount to us and we will not execute any policy that will put them in harms way now or in the future.
“We will continue to observe closely all developments regarding the present pandemic and religiously adhere to all directives of His Excellency the Governor and the COVID-19 management team in Oyo State.
“We, however reassure all our management staff who have diligently been participating in offering the skeletal services to remain assured that their sweat will not go unnoticed.”
Lock down order takes effect, Lagos-Ibadan expressway blocked
The police have blocked the inbound and outbound sections of the Lagos-Ibadan express way as part of plans to effectively lock down the Lagos metropolis.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in line with local and global best practices for curbing the spread of COVID-19 had earlier gave this directive .
The President, in his nationwide broadcast on Sunday, ordered that a total lock down be observed in two states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in a bid to combat the virus.
The President directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, the President also extended the restriction to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.
In line with the President’s order, security operatives have taken to the streets to ensure that the curfew is obeyed.
It is expected that the containment period would be used to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases.
Nigeria: Undisrupted financial services during COVID-19 lockdown
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a directive restricting the movement of people – excluding those on essential service – with effect from 11pm on Monday, March 30, 2020, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States, as a response to the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Subsequently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained Presidential approval to permit critical financial services to function during this period.
Consequently, relevant security agencies have been requested to grant passage to critical staff of these institutions to enable essential and strategic financial transactions to go undisrupted during the period of the lockdown. These institutions include:
i. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN);
ii. Deposit Money Banks (DMBs);
iii. The Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) Plc;
iv. Switching companies,
v. Mobile money operators,
vi. Payment solution service providers.
In view of the ongoing restrictions and in order to check further spread of the corona virus disease, the CBN hereby urges the general public to limit their use of cash and avail themselves of the use of alternative payment channels such as mobile banking, Internet banking, Mobile money, Point of Sale, and USSD. The public is therefore assured that financial institutions will remain operational during this period and therefore should guard against panic withdrawals from their banks.
We also urge all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the movement restrictions and follow stipulated guidelines by the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other relevant health agencies of government to curb possible spread of the virus in Nigeria.
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