By Gami Tadanyigbe
The Vice Chancellor Uniersity of Abuja, FCT, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah has called on Nigerians to vote credible leaders in the 2023 general elections for the development of the country.
Na’Allah, made the call at the 2023 Election Townhall meeting organised by the Abuja Leadership Centre, a TETFund Centre of Excellence in Public Governance and Leadership in the University.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event which attracted large number of students and dignitaries from within and outside the University, also witnessed presentation of awards to the resource persons.
The VC who expressed delight that the University is leveraging on its strategic location in the nation’s capital to contribute to the development of Nigeria, said the institution through the Centre would enthrone an improved leadership system in the country.
According to him, the University of Abuja UniAbuja has also expressed its readiness to deepen political participation of young Nigerians by providing them with the necessary leadership training.
“This Centre of Excellence on Public Governance and Leadership has given us the opportunity to help develop leadership for this nation.
“We are now committed totally as a university to change the cause for this nation. You know, when people say their problem is not money but how to spend it.
“We must teach Nigeria how to spend money, how to make decisions, how to select leaders who are ready,” he said.
However, he cited example of Singapore that got it right on leadership recruitment system which catapulted it from a third world country to a first world nation within a short period of time.
On 2023 general elections, he called on young people to participate fully in the process, adding that the Abuja Leadership Centre’s decision to organise the townhall meeting would go a long way to address the issue of political apathy among young Nigerians.
“The Centre is bringing people of thought, people who are articulate, who constantly have been discussing this and allowing us to talk about it in an environment where our young people are seating, because they are the future of us.
“They will begin to imbibe this and they will also begin to ask questions. We want Nigerians to be asking these questions.
“Is voting the end of the story? Or voting and seat there and proudly say I am standing and seating by my vote,” he said.
The Director of the Centre, Prof. Philip Afaha, said the townhall purposely targeted young people in order to boost their participation in the next year’s elections and subsequent electoral processes in the country.
Prof. Afaha, who said the political activeness of the youths in social media has not translated to real political involvement, said there is the need by young Nigerians to transform same passion to reality.
“The objective of organising this town hall is to educate the public and not just the public but the young public. The University is predominantly peopled by young Nigerians and they have the right to know what will be happening in the country by February and March next year.
“We are approaching a very significant phase in our nation which has to do with electing those that will be in charge in the next four years. It is important to educate the young minds because these are people that are disengaged from the leadership system and establishmen.
“Election is very important and cannot be left in the hands of politicians alone. They (young ones) must know the technicalities, BVAS, transmission of results, how voting is to be done.
“It is not enough to be at the social media and be shouting 2023. I think it is important to know what is going to happen in 2023, how am I going to be involved? What is the implication? What is the technicalities? Are there new rules by INEC,” he said.
Also speaking, Chairman of the event and former military governor of Kwara and Kano states, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Umar (Rtd) , said producing good leaders is key to the development of any nation.
Mohammed called on Nigerians to choose good leaders in the 2023 general elections, adding that the country needs to overcome its crisis of leadership recruitment.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Sonny Echono, said the Abuja Leadership Centre is one of the 24 Centres of Excellence put in place by the Agency across the country to meet the developmental needs of Nigeria.
While saying that TETFund believes in the future of the Nigerian youths, Echono commended the Centre for its efforts in grooming leaders for the country.
He, however challenged the youths to take active part in the 2023 electioneering process.
In a presentation, lead speaker at the event and former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Mike Igini, said there would be major paradigm shift in the 2023 polls as voters now have the ultimate power to determine winners of election.
While lauding the introduction of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the conduct of elections, the outspoken Igini said rigging and other form of voting manipulations by politicians have been curtail by the device and called on youths to seize the opportunity to vote out bad leaders.
“INEC has designed a system that has brought power to the people, that is why many politicians are now afraid.
“Polling unit, ward and local government collation centres are now mere ceremonial collation centres as results entered into the BVAS are automatically loaded into the cloud system.
“The amended Electoral Act proscribes severe punishment- a prison term of not less than one year or N10 million fine for electoral official that attempts to change election results.
On his part, lead speaker II and Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Barr. Clement Nwankwo, said despite the innovations and other good measures initiated by INEC to curb rigging, Nigerians need to be vigilant as the BVAS is not totally immune from manipulation.
Nwankwo also called on Nigerians to fully take part in the 2023 general elections and ensure their votes count, adding that “unless we get it right, the country will be plunge into more crisis.” (NAN)