From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Professor Emeritus of Education, Prof. Benedicta Egbo, has attributed the slow pace of socioeconomic development in Nigeria to civic infidelity and lack of patriotism, and not corruption as widely believed.

Prof. Egbo, said that lack of patriotism was reason Nigerians see the country with the eye of failure, and could do on anything available as long as it favours them, thus putting behind the general interest of the country and its citizens.

She gave the charge in Abuja, while delivering her 2024 annual lecture on the theme, “Reclaiming Nigeria’s Future: Strategic Frameworks for Achieving Transformative Change” and public presentation of her book titled: “Education and Sustainable Development in 21st Century Nigeria.

Prof. Egbo challenged Nigerians to, as quickly as possible, rise to the occasion to salvage the destiny of the country, for the benefit of the current and future generations.

She said the essence of the annual lecture was to reawaken the spirit of responsibility and patriotism in Nigerians, and also use the opportunity to seek realistic ways that Nigerians can unite to push for socioeconomic growth and development of the country.

She said: “Undoubtedly, we have myriad of economic and social challenges in Nigeria, but that can be changed for good. There are so much talents resources and potentials, in the country awaiting opportunity and support to manifest.

“I believe that once we adopt the right policies, good governance architecture, strong institutions, and strong economic empowerment programmes, Nigeria will reclaim its rightful position as giant of Africa, and a highly respected member in the comity of nations.

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“But we must know that corruption is not our major problem in Nigeria. This may sound contrary to the public perception and wide believe, but that’s the true situation. Our problem is lack of patriotism and civic infidelity. This simply means infidelity to the country and its aspirations.

“Patriots who love their country won’t attempt to engage in any act of corruption. Patriots understand that country’s commonwealth is not for personal use but for the sake of improving the welfare and well-being of the people. Patriots don’t exploit differences, rather, they unite the people, build bridges for general development of the country.”

She insisted that a new Nigeria that is fair, just and offer opportunities to everyone is possible if Nigerians, irrespective of religion, tribe, political affiliations and other differences, come together and champion the cause of patriotism among the people.

In his remarks, Adele Jinadu, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy & Development, Abuja, in his keynote address, maintained that Nigeria cannot talk of reclaiming its future without casting a retrospective searchlight on the past particularly its governance system.

He said: “Doing this will enable us understand the challenges, the missed opportunities and contradictions of our politics, and development. My approach in doing so is to draw the large picture that emerges, against the backdrop of the equally considerable massive disenchantment, the revolution of rising expectations in the country, the deepening moral decay in virtually all our institutions, secular and religious, and in state and society, prey to an unconscionable materialism that only serves to debase us as citizens.”

Dr. Chiakor Orkuma, Chief of Strategic Research and Innovations, Ashcraft Centre for Social Science Research, Abuja, in his remarks, said the choice of the public lecture would not have come at a better time, considering the myriad of challenges mushrooming at different locations around the country, some of which threaten the corporate integrity of Nigeria.

“However, the intensification for reconstructing of Nigeria’s future has already begun. Its crucial that strategic stakeholders, both at home and in the diaspora, must make their voices heard now. After all, the advocacy of national values and patriotic group interests are very much the corner-stone of the American-type presidential system of government that we have rightly or wrongly chosen for ourselves,” he said.