‘Corruption, Lack of Accountability, Political Instability Are Reasons For Leadership Deficit’

Amb. Olusiji Aina PhD, is a Development Economist, Sustainability Specialist, and International Speaker who leverages over 20 years of experience to drive global economic empowerment and sustainable development. With expertise in leadership, strategy, and management, Aina spearheads multi-million-dollar projects, recognised by global awards and United Nations appointments. As Co-Chairman of the Kogi State Economic Council, he shapes economic policies and fosters international cooperation. In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, Aina ex-rays his involvement leading the Kogi State Economic Team and how he secured a $1bn concessional funding line for the state. He talks on other economic issues. Excerpts:

You chaired Kogi’s State Economic Team sometime ago during the second term of former Governor Yahaya Bello. How did the committee fare? What was the mandate and deliverables?

Yes, I did.
The committee fared well and did extremely well by producing a robust, detailed and implementable “KoSEAC Short and Medium Term Economic and Development Priorities”. The document was presented to the governor sometimes in 2022 for implementation but he did nothing about it.

Our mandate was basically to advise the government’s economic policies, facilitate access to funding for various socio-economic and infrastructural development among several other responsibilities.

How much of your advice was implemented?

It’s difficult to measure, as there wasn’t any yardstick to ascertain if the presented document was disseminated or declassified for implementation. Nevertheless, some of our advices were taken but not fully implemented in a way to impact on the general public. I have had reasons to lead the State Executive Council to the United States on investment drive, and I was involved in some strategic committees at the federal level. But once it comes to real impact and sustainability, it becomes difficult to measure if our advices are taken or not.

Did your investment drive to the United States for instance yield by getting investors from there?

Absolutely, yes.
I was able to secure a $1bn concessional funding line for the state. It was purely an off-balance sheet funding with the ISPO solely on the projects of choice.

Can you shed more light to the understanding of an average peasant on the street in Kogi?

The funding we secured back then was meant to address infrastructural deficits in the state, such as; road construction (both state and federal owned), building of standard hospitals, industrial parks, agro-processing facilities, procurement of CNG buses and accessories, and many more. All these will be done in a way the project can repay itself without recourse to state FAC and Revenue Accounts.

Oh you mean the projects are still in the works?

The projects never commenced due to the unwillingness of GYB led administration to move forward with the projects.

How long can the investors wait and why was the governor reluctant after your team has painstakingly got the huge investor?

The investment has moved to other states like Ekiti and Edo States where I was consulted to facilitate some of the projects through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Gas for Edo State and Ministry of Wealth Creation and Diaspora Directorate for Ekiti State. The governor knows best why he wasn’t interested in massive infrastructural development for the state. Again, let me assume the new administration will revisit some of the issues and work with us to make the projects come back to life.


If I understand you well, you mean you consult for Edo and Ekiti States and you’ve offered them same opportunity which they bought into?

Very correct!

I feel leadership must be ready for development and be clear on such as everything rises and falls on it. Do you think Nigeria has deficit in quality leadership to have remained on this level despite huge endowments?

Well, I believe that Nigeria, like many countries, faces challenges in leadership that can impact progress. It’s important to have leaders who are committed to serving their people and advancing the well-being of their nation. Corruption, lack of accountability, and political instability can all contribute to deficits in leadership that hinder progress.

To address these issues, it’s crucial for leaders to prioritize transparency, uphold the rule of law, and work towards inclusive governance that benefits all citizens. Nigeria has immense potential, and by fostering strong and ethical leadership, I believe the country can overcome her challenges and achieve greater prosperity for all its people.

Then what is your advice for the new administration in Kogi State looking at insecurity, poverty and infrastructural deficit in the midst of huge possibilities?

Well, to sound modest without any form of pride, he needs some key technocrats including myself to give him both quick wins, and short to medium successes. Governance in the 24th century is far beyond rhetorics and political patriotism. All hands must be on deck to drive massive infrastructural investments capable of transforming the state economically. I believe he knows this but how swift he’s able to act, the better for him.

There are insinuations that the former governor has a measure of influence on him, do you think the new governor won’t adopt same template?

That’s very true. But how long can the former hold on to control is the issue; maybe till after the tribunal. Most Governors always hold their successors to Jugular based on their perceived financial misappropriation and poor governance while in office. Otherwise what would make an incumbent fight with his blood to plant a successor in office? Again, let us watch till after the electoral petitions are put to rest in Supreme Court before we can conclude if the incumbent has a life of his own.

If insecurity won’t allow normal farming activities, travelings to transact businesses, the economy must feel the heat like we have seen. What’s your counsel for President Bola Tinubu on the state of security and the economy?

Ensuring the security and safety of farmers is essential for economic development through agriculture in Nigeria. The fear of kidnapping and other security threats not only hinders farmers from going to their farms but also disrupts food production and the overall agricultural sector.

To address this issue and uplift the economy through farming, the Nigerian government must prioritize security measures in rural areas. This includes increasing police presence, improving intelligence gathering, and collaborating with local communities to enhance security efforts. Investing in modern technology for surveillance and communication can also help in monitoring and responding to security threats efficiently.

Furthermore, providing support to farmers in the form of training, access to credit, modern farming tools, and infrastructure can boost agricultural productivity and contribute to economic growth. By ensuring a safe and conducive environment for farmers to operate, Nigeria can harness the full potential of its agricultural sector and drive economic upliftment for the entire nation.

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