SEVERAL prominent Nigerians including former governors and cabinet ministers have formed a new political coalition called the Rescue Nigeria Project (RNP) put together with the aim of building a new direction for the country.
Launched in Abuja today, those behind the project include former national secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria Ambassador Usman Bugaje, former education minister Professor Tunde Adeniran, ex-Kwara State governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and Professor Pat Utomi. Expected but absent at the event were the former deputy governor of Kogi State Yomi Awoniyi and the former Cross Rivers State governor Donald Duke.
In his welcome address, Ambassador Bugaje identified Nigeria’s poor leadership recruitment process as being the heart of the problems confronting the country. He said the RNP was determined to push for new standards with competence, discipline and character to make a difference.
Ambassador Bugaje added: “The Rescue Nigeria Project is founded on the premise that the problems of this country, many and varied as they are, all emanate from poor leadership. In other words when you reduce the problems of this country to what they are, ultimately, it all comes to leadership.
“We have been unable to exit the leadership conundrum precisely because the leadership recruitment mechanism in our political parties is so flawed that, except for accidents, they are incapable of producing competent leaders with the requisite knowledge, discipline and commitment to make a difference. We are living with, or better still, groaning under the consequences of this folly.
“What this means is that any attempt to rescue this country from its troubles must first rescue it from the current leadership recruitment mechanism that seems to leverage on money and connection or ethnic sentiments and no premium on knowledge or competence. The challenge is how to introduce a set of criteria or better still re-calibrate the recruitment mechanism in our political parties to prioritize knowledge, competence and character.”
He added that RNP’s core values, rightly start with ethical leadership which speaks to the character of leaders, the key features of competence, capacity and the courage to do the right thing, motivated by patriotism, selflessness and service, conscious of inclusiveness, fairness, equity, mutual respect and accommodation. According to Ambassador Bugaje, they intend to renew the spirit of leadership and create new standards to speak to the role Nigeria is expected to play in Africa.
Abdulfatah Ahmed, said: “In 2015, Nigerians embraced change but today, that change appears to be what we didn’t expect. There is insecurity, there is widespread poverty and incompetence in government and today, we have a high level of nepotism and a lack of exclusiveness, which have given rise to agitations by different ethnic groups.
“It is based on this that we decided to set up this Rescue Nigeria Project. We want to salvage this country and see how we can fix the mess. We want to set a template and key criteria leaders must have before they can attain any political position.”
Professor Adeniran alerted the nation about what he described as the growing loss of direction and hopelessness amongst Nigerian youths. It is not yet clear of the RNP will register as a political party or stand candidates for elections.