NOBEL Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday took a swipe at the presidential system of government being practiced in Nigeria, describing it as a model that breeds corrupt leaders.
He also regretted that those who were not elected bulldoze their ways into public offices under the present structure of governance.
Soyinka, who was among the panelists at the inaugural Public Service Debate convened by the Saint John’s Forum, titled: Will Nigeria Be Better Served By A Parliamentary System of Government?, spoke in Lagos.
The event, which also had former Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu
, who was represented by Prof Okechukwu Okoh, Dr. Abduraufu Mustapha as panelists, was moderated by former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
Soyinka further stressed the need for a public discourse on the structure of government that can guarantee fair representation of Nigerians, adding that the public became critiques of the presidential system of government because it is close to kleptomania.
In addition, he argued that unlike parliamentary democracy, the current system of government in Nigeria, is prone to manipulation.
According to Soyinka: ‘’Parliament reminds me of the organisation that I belong to, the international parliament of writers. The organisation does not make law and does not belong to any constituency. Whatever system of government you operate, is determined by so many factors. There is a straight line between dishonourable members and what Nigeria is going through. Yerima is one of those that make laws but he defiles the law. We need a public discourse on a structure that guarantees representation of the people. Those who were never elected bulldoze their ways to the hallowed House.
‘’You cant say that after the civil war, people can’t examine the protocol that bind them. The cost of democracy in the two systems, which is cheaper and less open to manipulation? Which one encourages corruption? The public became critiques of the presidential system because it is close to kleptomania. Presidential system breeds corrupt leaders.’’
In his remarks, Ajumogobia said: ‘’The characteristics of the two systems of government, showed the tendency of each system to fail. Parliamentary system has its characteristics that makes it work. In Nigeria, we have sectional leaders. Parliamentary structure ensures greater accountability. In the list of transparent countries in the world, you will discover that the majority operate parliamentary system. It provides for better benefits to the people.’’
Also speaking, Ekweremadu said, ‘’unless the government addresses the past, it can not work. We need a system that will protect our values. We need a system that will address all the questions begging for response. You can’t go forward except you address the past. The ideals of presidential system is good but the problem is the operators. Every system aspires to make its institutions work, , but the problem is the operators of that system. We need a people oriented system.’’
Other speakers at the forum took turns to advance their preference for any of the systems of governance. But an opinion poll that was conducted at the event indicated that many would want a parliamentary system for the nation.
The St. John’s Forum is a non partisan platform committed to advancing dialogues that promote the common good in all aspects.
It believes that the coming together of such a diverse body of people with widely differing backgrounds and aspirations to debate the issue, must ultimately promote good governance.
BY CHARLES KUMOLU