Fayemi lists attitudinal change, professionalism as solution to corruption

Former Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi

Former Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi

FORMER Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has said that for President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed in his war against corruption, attention must be paid to change the mind and attitude of Nigerians.

Given the commitment of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to tackle the scourge, Fayemi reminded that a key component of any holistic anti-corruption campaign should be how to change the attitude and perception of the people.

The former governor who was the guest speaker at a symposium on Wednesday organised by the Advanced Media and Communication Academy (AMCA) in honour of seasoned media practitioners, Ambassadors Yemi Farounbi and Ayoola Olukanni in Ibadan, said the change could be through diligent prosecution of official wrongdoing and reforms in the architecture of our institutions.

According to Fayemi: “Certainly, the culture of official impunity can be dispelled once it becomes clear that for the first time in our recent history, there is a confluence of the political resolve at the highest levels with refined and strengthened institutional capacity to ensure consequences for bad behaviour.

The certainty of punishment is one of the strongest disincentives for official misconduct. But ultimately there also has to be a values reorientation of the society at large.”

At the symposium held at the Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan ( UI), entitled: “Our New Nigeria: The Role of Professionals in Government,” Fayemi noted that our national struggle with graft is inextricably linked to the popular perception of public office as an opportunity for self-enrichment.

The recent controversy over the new administration’s appointments so far and the preemptive accusations of ethnic lopsidedness and bias reflect this perennial obsession and anxiety over representation at the expense of actual performance and service delivery.

It is unlikely that there would have been this much controversy if government positions were truly perceived in terms of responsibility and service rather than power, privilege and prestige. “Today, there are grand possibilities for change. To begin with, we have in the presidency two men who register very favourably in the integrity perception index. They are very worthy and believable vessels of the message of values reorientation.

An ethical reorientation today must have among its cardinal pillars a restoration of the idea of professionalism to governance, a rediscovery of the idea of government office as a place of responsibility and service of the common good, not sloth and entitled privilege.

We must come to see government as an enterprise deserving only of the most exemplary characters. In short our entire conception of public service must change.”

Fayemi who took time to clarify between professionals and politicians in government cautioned: “It is not enough to be professionally qualified for the job; professionals need to purge themselves from the entitlement mentalities which hinder them from adapting to the peculiar environment of public office. “In order to succeed, professionals need to learn the social skills and graces that will enable them function effectively in leadership positions in public service without necessarily making the full transition to becoming politicians.

Over the long term, professionals need a clean break from the prevailing philosophy that characterises our educational systems – the undue emphasis on certification above thorough education which only serves to produce professionals with character deficits.”

Pointing out that the task for national rebirth is not for government alone, the former governor urged Nigerians to support the present administration and stressed the need to reestablish the foundations of honesty and diligence which he said are the surest keys to success. “Thus, the role of professionals, not only in government but the larger society cannot be overstated.

Too often, we see that official graft and non-performance is usually aided by accomplices from the larger society, those who have learnt but whose characters have not been developed.”

Besides, Fayemi advocated the rekindling of our patriotic spirit that favours the common good over personal interest in every area of our national life, so that government working with an energised and empowered citizenry can deliver on its promises. In their separate remarks, the duo of Farounbi and Olukanni described Nigeria as a great nation which in spite of its complexities and contradictions is well respected.

They both maintained that an assemblage of professionals would not necessarily give good governance but the nation must be led aright.

In his remarks, the former Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) and chairman of the occasion, Dr. Kunle Olajide lamented that so much is wrong with our nation and would require professionals to turn it around.

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