The Oasis Reporters
October 7, 2020
As Chairman of University of Nigeria, Nsukka’s Founders Day Lecture titled, NIGERIA AT 60: THE JOURNEY SINCE THIRD REPUBLIC AND WAY FORWARD, a distinguished alumnus and former Central Bank of Nigeria’s (the country’s Reserve Bank) Deputy Governor, Tunde Lemo spoke words that cut to the very issues facing the country.
His keynote address:
The Guest Lecturer, HE Mr Peter Obi, fmr Gov Anambra State
The Chief Host Prof Charles Igwe VC, UNN
Other Principal Officers of the University
Members of the University Senate
Ladies and Gentlemen
I will like to express my sincere appreciation for inviting me to chair this very important lecture, as part of the ceremonies lined up to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of not only our Great University but the nation as a whole.
We salute the vision of our founding fathers, in particular the Great African Legend Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as other compatriots for the vision of establishing the University, just as we gained Independence.
Oftentimes I ask myself how far we have been able to fulfill the vision of our founding fathers in ‘restoring the dignity of man’.
At independence, there were high hopes and given the abundant human and natural resources that we had as a nation, with economic indices surpassing or in the rank of countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and certainly better than South Korea and China ( for China on a per capita basis), the general belief was that in less than no time, the newly independent country will not only lead Africa, but the entire black race.
Unfortunately, 60 years on, we do not have much to show as a Nation. Nigeria today is:
Much more divided today as a country than in 1960.
We have unfortunately become the poverty capital of the world, with a larger number of the extremely poor people in Nigeria, than it is in India ( 5 times our size) and China ( 6 times our size). Unemployment is currently at 27.1, and underemployment of over 30%.
We have frittered away as much as $3 trillion in oil revenue in the past 50 years or so with not much to show for it other than fractured infrastructure, epileptic power supply and a whopping national debts of over N28 trillion, with foreign portion already at $31.5b, about the pre-debt relief level.
Never in our history have we been as insecure as we are now, with insurgency in the north east, banditry in the north west, ethnic cum herdsmen killings in the north central as well as kidnapping etc in the entire nation.
It was fashionable a few years ago to blame the woes of the country on the long years of military engagement. That argument is no longer tenable because the cumulative engagement of the civilian administrations now account for 52% of the 60 year post independent Nigeria while the military accounts for 48%. We now have over 21 years of continuous civilian rule and we should by now have weaned ourselves off the hangover of the military interruption.
We can go on and on with a litany of woes. My joy however is that we have a few Nigerians who have distinguished themselves like oasis in the desert.
They have continued to ring the alarm bell and warn about the consequences of continuing with the old order. They are like the proverbial elders ( according to an Igbo Proverb) who have continued to tell us that ‘ the vulture is not to be eaten’. The Guest Speaker of today is an example of such eminent people.
I am always glad to listen to our own Distinguished Alumnus, HE Peter Obi who always speaks truth to power and points in the direction that we should go. But ladies and gentlemen, talk, they say is cheap. I listen to him more because he has walked his talk as his 8 year sojourn as Chief Executive of Anambra State, he has left legacies that are very clear to all to see thereby raising the governance bar, especially in; financial prudence, responsible leadership, community development and security of lives and property.
Let us therefore sit down and relax as we listen to the Oracle himself, an erudite scholar, shrewd banker and quintessential administrator.
Before I conclude, I will also like to express my appreciation to the University management, not only for organizing this lecture but also for continuing to take the lead in providing a platform for academic discussions aimed at national development. We have witnessed the proliferation of the citadel of learning in Nigeria between 1960 and now. We now have over 170 universities, but UNN will continue its leadership role given who we are and the values that separate us from the rest of the pack.
I am also happy that the University is also using the occasion of this Diamond Jubilee to call attention to the dilapidated infrastructure in the University. I was very unhappy to read in the Vice Chancellor’s Press Statement that the University does not have a befitting Senate Building, power supply challenges and requires additional investment in ICT infrastructure. The Guest Lecturer today, happily has undertaken to lead the funds raising campaign to address this.
I remember the leading role played by the Central Bank Administration when I served as Deputy Governor, under the Governor, who coincidentally is also a 1984 Graduate. I am pleased that the infrastructure provided by CBN has been put into productive use by the University.
The Vice Chancellor, our Guest Lecturer, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for listening.
Tunde Lemo, OFR