Former President of Botswana, Mr. Festus Mogae, yesterday, stated that Nigeria must leverage its position as continental economic powerhouse to ensure equitable wealth distribution among its citizens.
Mogae also stressed the need for an accountable political leadership if the country must free itself from the grip of widespread corruption.
The ex-president made the call in Abuja in keynote address as chairman of the 10th Daily Trust Dialogue series, with the theme: "Nation Building: Challenges and Reality"
Other speakers at the dialogue included Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Special Guest of Honour); Guest Speakers, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah; Human Rights Activist, Ms. Ann-kio Briggs; Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and Director, Africa Research and Development Agency (ARDA), Dr. Sule Bello.
Mogae described as "criminal negligence" the country's failure to educate over 24 million children presently not attending school in spite of the enormous yearly budget allocation to Nigeria's education sector.
He said, "One of the worst problems the country faces is corruption such that the resources are not utilised effectively. As a foreigner in the country, there is a critical mass of educated people and it is incumbent on you all to demand accountable leadership."
He continued "You have also neglected agriculture because of oil. How to make you do something about these issues is the problem. According to statistics top three percent of the population has the wealth. But unless they create more wealth for the people, the country will continue to be stagnated."
In seperate presentations, House Speaker, Waziri Tambuwal, stated that the concept of democracy is built upon the idea that the people are sovereign and power belongs to them.
He expressed the hope that as the system got perfected, the reality that leadership was stewardship would become clearer and those entrusted with power would learn to be more circumspect in the way they use it.