Dr. Joseph Lucas is the former Registrar of the Taraba State University. Having born on the same year that Nigeria got independence, he is as old as Nigeria itself. In this interview with Worldview Magazine’s Christiana Babayo and Sarah Mudwa, the Don spoke on a number of issues that are holding back the progress of the country.

Nigeria will be celebrating its 61st anniversary on the 1st of October, as an elderly statesman, how far do you think we have come?

Well, there’s a bouquet of mixed blessings. There’s the good, the bad and then the ugly. That is what we have in that bouquet, so if you look at the nation at 61 years, you will find plenty of blessings, you will also find a lot of missed blessings, missed or abused opportunities but on the whole it is the nation that is on the move. On the move if some variables are adjusted, then we shall have a very big country, a great nation.

But for now as it is, if you look at the situation across the country, you will find that we have reached that point where we are no longer sure of ourselves, we are looking over our shoulders with suspicions and we are not too happy with one another. So unfortunately, we had the days of beauty, happiness and templates of joy love and care, but then we also have those moody periods and we are trying to see how we can wriggle our way through it and be able to survive as a nation, but for now we can say at 61 we can say Nigeria is simply a bouquet with plenty of mixtures.

Sir, particularly, what are some areas you think the country is lagging behind or failing?

We have not gotten our political system properly organized, politics is a major one. Politics is related with leadership in the country, if we don’t have good leaders, then all the other factors, all other variables will not fit into place so we have not gotten the political aspect very organized.

We need to organize that area, produce good leaders that don’t run on sentiments, not leaders with parochial minds that only see that the whole thing is our own. We cannot have that kind of a leadership and expect to move forward. But if we have pragmatic leaders, leaders that simply see themselves as Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from and they believe that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander and what is supposed to be given is everybody is given, then we shall have a country that is simply much spoken about on earth. But right now, if we don’t get the leadership, which is the major problem, then we will just continue to hover around in the dark.

Dr, still on the challenges, insecurity has been a major challenge, making headlines for some time now. While others are saying that Nigerians should take charge of their own security because the government is failing in that area, what is your take on this?

It still boils down to my point that leadership is a difficulty. In fact t is constitutionally provided that among the duties of the government, is to secure the lives and property of Nigeria, it is written clearly in black and white in the constitution. Now when government fails to do that, we can no longer talk about anything. Agitation for people to defend themselves is going to create anarchy because if I have a gun, you have a gun, where will we report to? You will just simply shoot the other person. You have a disagreement over a piece of land, the next thing is that you come with guns. So we have an overhauling of the security system in the nation and that can only be done when you have a very effective leadership.

That’s where we now say, if leaders stop playing politics with the lives of people, if leaders stop approaching things with parochial minds then we will have a good system. If a crime has been committed, find out who they criminals are, pursue them, deal with them in accordance with the laid down rules of the land, you don’t simply look at them and say ‘this one is my own, from my own section of the country, from my tribe’. When they arrest such people, you order that they should be released, you cannot have it like that and meanwhile another person perpetrates the same thing, you go on him as if he has organized a coup. With that discrepancy, we cannot get it. The whole thing boils down on leadership. Leaders that are patriotic, leaders that respect the rule of law, leaders that simple say, we have to do things properly. Once we do that, we will fix the whole thing of insecurity, we will fix the whole thing of unemployment and all these poor infrastructures we see all over the place.

We have not done very well in the past when it comes to leadership. But come 2023, we have yet another opportunity to turn a new leaf, what will be your call to Nigerians?

2023, we now begin to talk of taking our destinies in our own hands, we must get it right this time around. We have all seen the fall out of narrow mindedness, we have seen the fall out of parochialism, we have seen the fall of primitive approach to issues, we have seen the approach to sentiment, we don’t need a prophet to tell us that if we go by all these again, we will crash this country. This time around, Nigerians must get it right, assess the candidate; don’t say he must come from my section. The man that comes from your section will even deal with you more viciously than the other person. We have to prepare well. The political class must also organize themselves, they cannot continue to do things like this and expect normalcy, anarchy is going to break out. So 2023, let’s hope and see what will happen there.

Few weeks ago it was reechoed all over that you are now an associate Professor, congratulations. Please share with us how you feel about this giant stride.

First I must give thanks to God almighty because God is simply the one that fashions out the destinies of men. Not that we are the best, not that we were lagging behind but he felt it was time for us to get that in the academia so that we can be able to make our modest contribution towards education. We also have to simply look at the magnitude of the responsibility that comes with that kind of promotion and try to live up to expectations. From a personal perspective, I would say it is simply overwhelming so I thank God.


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