A former presidential candidate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has counselled that the present grave economic situation which is underscored by lack of stable power supply, high inflationary trend, soaring unemployment and impact of subsidy removal that has jacked up the cost of fuel and cost of living, require appropriate problem-solving measures to renew hope in the nation.
Olawepo-Hashim, who was speaking to journalists in Lagos to mark Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary, also put Nigeria on the weighing scale against certain indicators and parameters of development, including democratic consolidation, credibility of the ballot box, economic prosperity, security, national unity and values, which he said have been grossly eroded.
According to him, “in the 63 years of independence in Africa’s most populous country, the gap between expectation and reality has remained confounding.”
He noted that Nigeria was passing through hard times, urging the government to gird its loins to save the future of the country and democracy.
The Global Business Executive equally reiterated his call that a reform in the electoral system was long overdue and non-negotiable, maintaining that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was a powerful agency that should be re-examined and reformed to enhance its performance without hampering the democratic order.
He restated his call that the INEC chairman and other National Commissioners should be recruited, not by the President or government in power, but by the National Judicial Commission (NJC), which should also advertise the position.
To boost more confidence in the electoral dispute adjudication, Olawepo-Hashim also argued that the onus or burden of proof during post-election litigations should be on the umpire that conducted the exercise.
Stressing the need for a national rebirth, he said: “This should be a period of renaissance. Enough of promoting the worst of us. Leaders should not be chosen by their war chest, but should emerge through a transparent process.”
The APC chieftain also suggested that “the reforms should be done within a reasonable time frame to deal with these issues now, not six months to the election.”
He equally lamented that military intervention in politics had remained a strong factor in national retrogression, despite the achievement of civil rule some 24 years ago.
According to him, “after the military intervention, the tide of development was reversed and Nigeria started regressing.
“That affected the foundation of infrastructural development that was laid in the First Republic. Values have been eroded. Today, Nigeria is more divided.
“In the pre-independence years, Kashim Ibrahim, a Kanuri and a Muslim, came and ran for election in Benue-Plateau, and was supported by Joseph Tarka.
“Awo campaigned for Ernest Ikoli from South South against Samuel Akinsanya, a Yoruba, during the Nigeria Youth Movement (NYM) election. There was no zoning. Awo talked about federalism, not zoning.
“Federalism is not ethnicity. Rotation of power is not federalism. Issues are now looked at from the point of view of pro-North, pro-South. We need to reset our thinking.”