Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has identified quality of governance, anti-corruption, institutional integrity, education as well as sound economic policies as factors that can transform a nation to greatness.
Peterside who was the speaker at this year’s University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) Distinguished Persons Annual Lecture of the Faculty of Management titled Connected Vision: Building Blocks of a New Nigeria at the Enugu Campus of the University also noted that the availability of Natural Resources is also a key variable.
He said that good governance is a critical factor to the wholesome development of any nation. According to him, “the principles of accountability, transparency, observance of the rule of law and basic freedoms remain fundamental to any definition of good governance. But the ultimate determinant of good governance is the extent to which such government meets the basic needs of the greatest majority of its people.”
The NIMASA DG observed that corruption has remained a major clog in the evolution of an egalitarian society and a major inhibitor of good governance saying “it is not surprising that some of the fastest growing countries like Singapore, Rwanda and Botswana also happen to have the toughest anti-corruption regimes in the world”.
He commended the Buhari administration for its anti-corruption efforts emphasising that “this is one area where there is a growing national consensus in Nigeria that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has displayed unusual courage. There are divergent views as to the effectiveness of current measures but many agree that it required a lot of courage to make a start. It is hoped that the Nigerian public will appreciate the significance of this effort in the overall improvement of the quality of governance in the country”.
The DG opined that the development of the capacities and capabilities of people is perhaps the greatest investment any nation can make because a well-educated citizenry can conceptualise and implement sound economic policies based on its peculiar realities of geography, natural and human resources.
Dr. Peterside said Nigeria’s challenges were historical. “What the British ceded in 1960 was a complex outcome of negotiated settlements among Nigerian elite representing first and foremost their respective regional and ethnic interests. There was no “pan Nigerian interest” or “pan Nigerian Agenda”. There was no “CONNECTED VISION”.
He pointed out that vision is the key driver of any endeavour. “This original haziness in what constitute the overriding national vision has constantly plagued our national development in nearly every sphere. My key observation here and operating thesis therefore, is that a nation can only endure if it is founded on an integrated and comprehensive vision (connected vision). Nigeria unfortunately, missed that opportunity at inception. This original ‘sin’ has multiplied and contributed to the ever so frequent quest for a new nation founded on a new vision.”
Dr. Peterside however, said that visions can be corrected although it is a difficult endeavour. He said it is easier for corporations to correct their visions than nations. “A corporation can change its board and management, re-brand itself, redefine its vision and map for itself a new mission. This is the spirit and guiding principle behind the reform and repositioning we are championing in NIMASA. We are in the process of refreshing our vision and mission, we have a new Board and a visionary Management, it offers the rare opportunity to re- invent that regulatory agency and reposition it as the most efficient, effective and responsive regulatory agency in Africa, advancing Nigeria’s maritime goals”, he observed.
The NIMASA DG however said hope in a Nigeria connected by vision is in the horizon if the nation will retrace its steps and focus on the factors that can make Nigeria great. “As we continue with the national quest for answers to the great questions of our time, I urge that we do a self- assessment of where we stand as nation. The factors that have been identified are put forward as a guide for this assessment. The solutions we endlessly seek would seem right at our doorsteps. But there is a great amount of political will to do what is necessary”, Dr. Peterside concluded.