Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and two time Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Obong Victor Attah has said that the presidential system of government has failed in Nigeria
He advocated instead a return to the parliamentary system of government which enable communities select and elect people to represent them.
Speaking during a virtual Public Policy Dialogue in Uyo promoted by Ricchezza Initiative for Social Empowerment at the weekend, Attah said a government that must impact on the people must originate from the people and should maintain regular interface with the community.
The elder statesman regretted that the cost of election in the presidential system has robbed the masses of the allegiance of their representatives, as public office holders now strive to satisfy the yearnings of their sponsors at the expense of the people they ought to represent.
His words; “I came here with something; “COME LET US REASON TOGETHER” cause I knew that whatever you are, whatever your exposure, however intelligent you are, you can’t do it alone, you must have a community that works with you, tell you what their needs are, tell you what their demands are and leadership means being able to fulfill those things for the people.
“Today, people do not truly communicate with their representatives because they did not really seriously need their vote to get into offices. That is why the presidential system is not working for Nigeria.
“The parliamentary system made it possible for those representing the community to be elected by the community, not the party, not the law court. The people would know who they want. You cannot rig the conscience of the people.
“The cost of election today is tremendously expensive, making it difficult for public office holders to do what the communities want. They do what the sponsors want. To campaign across the country in the case of presidential election or across the state for those contesting as governors, you need a lot of money. So the moment you are sworn into office, you focus on your sponsors”.
To succeed in laying the foundation which saw Akwa Ibom to where it is today, Attah said he raised 32 committees to work with communities across the state to ascertain their needs and how to tackle such needs.
Attah who maintained that the parliamentary system would give room for true federalism, where the federating units would be able to take full control of their resources and be able to develop local authorities including security, called for a new constitution to get Nigeria on track.
Addressing the forum, the Anchor, Mr Udeme Etukayin of Ricchezza Initiative for Social Empowerment explained that the policy engagement series is designed to xray views with the aim of escalating solution- driven- leadership and governance in Africa.
He said the decision to engage former Governor Victor Attah as lead Speaker on the forum which featured other savvy Technocrats and Analysts was due to Attah’s wealth of experience, impact and wisdom in the design and development of Uyo masterplan.
Etukayin who described Attah as father of modern Akwa Ibom, listed the former Governor’s impacts and concepts to include Ibom Airport with the MRO, Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort, Shelter Afrique Estate, Ibom Deep Seaport, Ibom Science Park, Akwa Ibom State University of Science and Technology, Industrial Layout, Ibom Power Company, Ring roads, Edet Akpan Avenue, Nsikak Eduok, Udo Udoma, General Hospitals across the state.
Others include; agitation for resource control, quest for marginal field ownership and the establishment of Ministry of science and Technology among many others.