THE PANDEMIC NEXT TIME: NOTES FROM AN IBADAN LECTURE

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Ayo Olukotun

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Oct 14, 2021, 5:49:03 PM10/14/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

THE PANDEMIC NEXT TIME: NOTES FROM AN IBADAN LECTURE

Ayo Olukotun

“As hard as it might be to focus on a future crisis while we are still faced with COVID-19, we must take account of the WHO estimate that we face a pandemic threat every 5 years.”

Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health,

 University of Ibadan Lecture, Friday, 8th October, 2021.

 

One effective way of bridging the communication gap between government and civil society is through interactive events, symposia and lectures. In this respect, policies and proposed policies would benefit from dialogues and engagements between the state and the attentive public. That is why the German social  theorist, Jürgen Habermas, described democracy as a long-running conversation between the governed and those who govern.

One of the merits of Dr. Mamora’s lecture to the University of Ibadan students last Friday, at the behest of the Physiology Students’ Association of the University, is that it was interactive to the extent that the students asked him questions arising from the lecture. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Mamora’s colleague, is billed to deliver yet another lecture on Coronavirus to the Government College, Ibadan, Old Boys’ Association on Friday next week in what appears to be a process of continuous engagement with stakeholders and civil society actors.

Mamora’s lecture, from where the opening quote is sourced, is titled “The Battle Against Coronavirus in Nigeria: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects”. As a former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Chairman of the occasion, observed, the lecture had come at a most opportune time in view of the ravages of what would appear to be a new variant of COVID-19 in the country which prompted government to announce only yesterday that there would be a ban on unvaccinated workers as from December 1 this year.

Remarkably, the lecture went beyond COVID-19 to look at the state of our preparedness should another pandemic break out, following a recent alert by the World Health Organisation. That particular concern is drawn from lapses in what Mamora called “pandemic preparedness” at the time when Covid-19 broke out in Nigeria early in 2020. Indeed, he alluded to doomsday prediction based partly on the status of our health care system, that bodies will literally be picked on the streets of our major cities when the pandemic really gets underway. As we now know, that scenario was averted, in part, because of the cogent response of the health authorities, including the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, which established a national Coronavirus Preparedness Group; The Federal Ministry of Health as well as the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

The lecture argued that one of the good points of official response to COVID-19 is the unity among the various organisations that had the assignment of meeting the challenge head on in the midst of a deficient health sector. Recall that Nigeria also performed extraordinarily well in 2014 when it had to deal with the Ebola virus pandemic as noted by several international agencies. The trouble, however, is that the country appeared to have gone to sleep after that remarkable success. Those odds, notwithstanding, Nigeria was able to rise up to the occasion and exigencies of COVID-19, and has indeed, as Mamora noted, been congratulated by the World Health Organisation for a good outing.

Nonetheless, the battle is not yet over, given the ability of the virus to mutate into more dreadful versions and editions of its initial occurrence. This, therefore, is the reason why Nigeria, as the lecture observed, must shed off what the experts call “pandemic fatigue” in which the populace becomes weary through protracted exposure to more than one variant of the virus.

Additionally and worse still, the country has to deal with the possibility that yet another virus may initiate a new pandemic different from COVID-19 in a few years to come. Lamentably, there is a lot of slowness, inertia and ignorance surrounding vaccination leading to a circumstance in which, as the lecture documented, whereas most developed countries score up to 50 percent in terms of vaccination coverage, Nigeria and most other African countries remain at a despairing one percent. Apart from vaccine scarcity and the fact that Nigeria remains highly dependent on a global pharmaceutical sector skewed against the Global South , there is a great deal of superstitions, half-truths and bigotry around the issue of vaccines, compounding the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy. Unless the situation changes, it will be difficult for Nigeria and other African countries to reach the level of herd immunity produced by a significant proportion of the population having been vaccinated.

This echoes the regret expressed recently by the United States ‘ President, Joe Biden, that COVID-19 is fast becoming the disease of the unvaccinated. Mercifully, however, and as the lecture indicated, government has used the opportunity of the current crisis to put in place policies such as building a more resilient system for health security, developing capacity for vaccine manufacturing illustrated by the joint venture between the Federal Government and May & Baker leading to the creation of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited. Other initiatives include the recent creation by NCDC of at least one molecular laboratory in every state in Nigeria, which are digitized as well as scaling up infectious diseases surveillance system and emergency operation centres.

Good as these steps are, let it be known that much will depend on our ability to sustain and stabilise these pertinent public start-ups and institutions. This point is made in the context of the fact that several such creations have been made in the past but soon petered out, either because they were poorly funded or loosely maintained and lacked rejuvenation designs. That is another way of saying that our pandemic preparedness should go beyond what it is currently to bring about more avenues and auspices for the maintenance over a long period of the institutions recently brought into being by government.

Of concern is the issue of vaccination hesitancy to which the lecture returns again and again, partly because it holds the key to the country’s bailout from the pandemic no matter how many mutations come around. Making a passionate appeal to the students and others, Mamora stated that: ‘The vaccines are safe. I urge you to think of innovative ways that you can contribute to the pandemic response activities.’

Obviously, stirring as this appeal is, it will not be enough to conquer the embedded vaccine hesitancy, some of them fuelled by ill-digested religious beliefs, fantastic exaggerations published in the social media space as well as tendencies of some societies to view with a pinch of salt products and things that they are not familiar with.

In the opinion of this columnist, what is required is a systematic campaign to combat vaccination hesitancy by for example, playing up societal role models who are brought up to testify to th safety of the vaccine. In doing this, we must factor an illiterate population, many of whom can only be reached through non-conventional media and traditional auspices.

Please note that sanctions, such as attempted by the Edo State Government and announced by the Federal Government will not be enough, considering that a vast majority of the population are not in white-collar jobs. Targeted enlightenment campaigns sustained over a period may be more effective in this regard.

 

Professor Ayo Olukotun is a director at the Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona Institute for Governance Studies, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.

Ayo Olukotun

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Oct 21, 2021, 9:26:17 AM10/21/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

EXERTIONS OF OUR HEROES PRESENT:OLADIPUPO MABOGUNJE AT 90

Ayo Olukotun

             Distinguished Professor Akinlawon Oladipupo Mabogunje turned 90 on Monday this week, an event marked quietly in keeping with the celebrant’s unassuming mien by family, friends and associates. Not many know in this country, to take an example, that Mabogunje won in 2017 the highest prize that can be awarded to a geographer, partly because he refused to publicize it or talk about it. He is also the first African ever to be awarded a prize of distinction, Prix Vautrin-Laude in Geography, regarded as coequal to the Nobel Prize. There is also the fact that times have changed as one will realize if you contrast the unexampled celebration of Professor Wole Soyinka when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Outside a few laudable exceptions, our leaders are philistine for the most part and so are the majority of the followers, which partly explain why such a celebration of a national icon did not take place when Mabogunje received the award and garlands in Paris, France. I do not even recall that any national columnist considered the issue worthy of commentary, assuming that they knew about it. But these are painful matters to be discussed for another day.

             Of course, given his long and distinguished career, Mabogunje has won many firsts as well as serial professional laurels. Please do not forget that we are dealing with a scholar who took his doctorate degree from the University of London in 1961, a year after Nigeria’s independence and many years before the majority of a largely youthful population were born. Someone too who became the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ibadan in 1970. This columnist does not believe that Mabogunje expected to live as long as he had, to borrow the title of his monumental autobiographical work, there is more than “A Measure of Grace” at work here. I say this because in the book published in 2011, there is a chapter entitled “Reflections in the Departure Lounge” which means that he considered himself ready for departure at least a decade ago. Providence, however, has granted him a felicitous extension of time which he has put to creative and optimal use during which he has received further accolades and awards of proven merit.

             He is no doubt an intimate family man in ways in which not many easily approximate. For example, it was at the behest and urging of his son, Adegboyega, to whom he made a solemn promise when he turned 70 that by his own account, he started to put pen to paper to produce his rich and accomplished autobiography. Similarly, he narrates in the same book how indebted his life had been to his wife, Justice Titilola Mabogunje, who comes across as a soul mate, colleague and confidante. Mabogunje wore and still wears many hats including, illustratively, a boardroom personality who sits in the boardrooms of several enterprises, public and private; a reformer in the trenches of a protracted and innovative struggle for poverty alleviation, land reform, community empowerment and of course, urban renewal. Some of these roles may appear contradictory and difficult to unite but it is a mark of his ability to blend roles and situations that he was able to jell these unlikely positions. For instance, how will you like to sit in an upscale boardroom next to Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka? It is conceivable, just that it might look a bit like an upset at first blush.

             Despite possessing a coat of many colours, it is his scholarship that comes to the fore as well as defines him. Author of over 2 dozen books and myriad articles in learned journals published across the globe, he is not only a pioneer but a leader whose academic excellence may be difficult to repeat, at least in this country. One of the ways of gauging his impact in scholarship, apart from his awards of renown, are the many students he has mentored and taught over time, some of whom later became distinguished in their own rights. I once attended a conference in which Emeritus Professor, Anthony Asiwaju, globally acclaimed for his work on borderlands, said that it was Mabogunje principally that nudged him in his undergraduate days in Ibadan in the direction of historical geography and eventually of borderlands, which became his forte. There are, of course, several others who passed through what could be loosely called the Ibadan School of Geography created and nurtured by him.

Mabogunje has the distinction of introducing a measure of quantification and “theory” into the study of geography, weaning it from the straitjacket of the established historical approach into which it was fixed by earlier scholars. In later years, Mabogunje would take the study of geography beyond the borders of Nigeria and Africa, becoming a consultant for many international organizations including United Nations Habitat and others interested in the study of human settlements. Despite his embrace of new trends in his discipline, he remained steadfastly a Lockean empiricist making his point, not by theory, but by a wealth of facts which are allowed to speak for themselves. In this sense, although a rigorous analyst, he was wedded, more or less, to the British tradition of empiricism in which its principal oyster was to adopt clever narrativising strategies to arrive at fascinating conclusions.

One of the principal points of departure of his illustrious career is that he spent almost as much time in policy making circles as he did in academia. From the old Western Region where he was an influential member of the think tank that surrounded Chief Obafemi Awolowo through successive military regimes to the current democratic period, his expertise was sought and used in such areas as local government, community banking, roads and infrastructure development, public service reform, lands and housing policies, poverty alleviation and others. Indeed, his advocacy of an OPTICOM strategy of community empowerment attempted with particular results in Awe, Oyo State popularized his brand of poverty alleviation and community governance.

More recently and through his influential connection with the Awujale of Ijebuland, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona; there was created a landmark project on poverty reduction institutions and microcredit financing that became internationally famous for its outstanding results. Employing the auspices of the Ijebu Developement Initiative on Poverty Reduction, the Awujale and Professor Mabogunje as well as the late Professor Adebayo Adedeji played stellar roles in addressing the challenges of unemployment through a programme of entrepreneurship, fund management and cooperatives with notable results in uplifting the economic visage of Ijebu Ode and its environs.

One aspect of Mabogunje, perhaps little known, is his transparency and refusal over time to join the movable feast which access to power confirms. Segun Adeniyi, a Chief Press Secretary to the late President Musa Yaradua, narrated on one occasion how pleasantly shocked he was when his principal told him that there are very few Nigerians like Mabogunje who could hold several meetings with the President without asking for a personal favour. In terms of moral impact, this is an abiding takeaway for a generation adrift and a leadership with pronounced moral deficits.

This columnist wishes the old man happy birthday and several more delightful returns.


Professor Ayo Olukotun is a director at the Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona Institute of Governance Studies, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.

Ayo Olukotun

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Oct 27, 2021, 7:54:23 AM10/27/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun
Thanks so much, Ayo, for the honour done to all of us, admirers of adorable Akin Mabogunje,  by devoting your widely read column to his worthy appraisal and praise of a matchless greatness in interdisciplinarity and long-standing business of knowledge production and direct policy application to cognate African development challenges, with special reference to the Nigeria project.l have, in response to an earlier piece, similar to yours, by Tunji Olaopa in New Times, confessed to my own indebtedness from across the permeable boundary of History vis-a-vis Geography.
I join you in celebrating the nonegenerian.

Emeritus Professor Anthony Asiwaju.

Ayo Olukotun

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Oct 28, 2021, 8:56:02 AM10/28/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

INSECURITY: ASTONISHING GAPS IN SCENARIO PLANNING

Ayo Olukotun

Hype and hoopla have predictably trailed the indictment of the Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.) regime on its failure to tackle insecurity by The Economist (London) in its publication issued a fortnight ago. Though sharp-tenored, there is hardly anything the paper said regarding insecurity which Nigerian journalists have not commented previously. Those who have decided to make the publication a national issue often do not remember that the same paper endorsed presidential candidate, Muhammudu Buhari, in 2015 and even went so far as to call former president, Goodluck Jonathan, “an ineffectual buffoon”. What are important are less the style or motives of The Economist than whether there is a clear message that our leaders need to take seriously.

Hardly anyone will dispute, given the escalating and occasionally terrifying scale of insecurity, that the country, as the journal said, has become “a crime scene of destructive magnitude”. This is especially so if we take into account continuing incidences of banditry as well as the recent detonation of explosives on the Abuja-Kaduna train track and the break-in into the Nigerian Correctional Service center at Oyo, forcibly freeing about 392 inmates. Those recent activities of the ubiquitous “unknown gunmen” were preceded by such events as the attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and assaults on Correctional Service centers around the country numbering about 10 in the last 5 months. That is a way of saying that those terrorist raids that happened last week are not in the least new, and perhaps the only question to be asked is: which target will the terrorists strike next?

This brings us to a remarkable gap in our counter-terrorism agenda, if indeed we can be said to have one. Let me illustrate. The Abuja-Kaduna Rail Service became hugely popular with rising numbers of customers seeking to bypass the heavily endangered road travel, several portions of which were occupied by bandits. Passengers who could not afford to go by air–and they are in the majority–took advantage of the emergent railway service escaping the dungeon of multiplying deaths and kidnappings on the highway. It would appear then that the bandits had been put out of their murderous business, at least temporarily. Was it difficult to imagine then that sooner than later those bandits, unless they were routed, would attempt to strike at the railways which had taken off the source of their lucrative business? To project even further, someone doing scenario planning, which really is about crafting narratives with several possible conclusions, would have projected that unless diligent care was taken, even the air routes could become endangered if banditry waxed stronger.

Granted, with pandemic upsets around the globe, economic dislocations, social and physical tornadoes; life and governance have become more and more unpredictable. There is talk in some quarters that we are in an age of bewilderment marked by rank uncertainty and the demystification of established ideas. That notwithstanding, governments that wish to get ahead still do and manage to push up governance by scenario planning which simply implies that they take time to think through challenges and take anticipatory measures concerning them.

The British Government, to take an example, in the wake of increasing deaths through COVID-19 crafted two scenarios which it called a Plan A and a Plan B, anticipating a fair amount of normalcy and escalation respectively, regarding the pandemic. Plan A seeks to encourage more people to be vaccinated including offering vaccines to people between 12 and 15 years. It would also administer booster jabs to millions in order to increase their immunity among other steps. Plan B is a stricter version of Plan A and would legally mandate the wearing of face covers as well as guidance on working from home, if required. Part of the strategy in Plan B is to take off pressure off the National Health Service should more deaths occur as a result of the pandemic. As many would know, events in the last few weeks have led to the increasing suggestion of a need to shift policy to Plan B as winter approaches with the associated onset of flus and viruses related to COVID-19.

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, may not be much of a hero or popular politician. Nonetheless, he heads a cabinet that has taken time to consider the nature of the health challenge faced by his country and had engaged in a measure of scenario planning by anticipating possible trajectories including grow-worse ones. Of course, businesses that intend on staying at the cutting and competitive edges engage in building scenarios in order to better plan and ameliorate looming disasters as do countries.

Indeed, a serious counter-terrorism agenda will include alert systems, a cartography of high-risk populations, soft and easy targets and a ranking of threats with a view to determining how best to meet perils or outbreaks of violence. A situation where bandits take whole populations captive at will or sometimes even warn that they are visiting certain territories and carry out the threats is a far different one from what we see in countries which make public announcements when they realize that citizens in some areas are at risk. To put it bluntly, is anyone up there doing any threat analysis? A related question is: when these analyses are done, are there any follow-ups? The latter question is raised in the context of revelations made by intelligence experts that alerts sent were not acted upon until disaster struck. A particular instance which occurred about 2 years ago in Zamfara State was a statement made by a professor who was the Secretary to the Government that tomes of literature were sent to the central authorities concerning the growth and development of banditry in that state but that he got no response. A few months ago, the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, lamented that he had raised several alerts concerning the occupation of part of the state by Boko Haram insurgents to no avail. There are even now recent reports that some parts of the NorthWest are at risk of occupation by bandits who have had the temerity of collecting taxes from hapless local populace.

In the same connection, does it take much intelligence to predict that if bandits, as they are called, have raided with outstanding success a number of Correctional Service centers that several other ones are sitting ducks for future raids? This columnist listened on Channels Television a few days ago to the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Fatai Owoseni, where he described the Correctional Service Center at Oyo as an almost abandoned site in the midst of nowhere with overgrown weeds and the roads leading to the place virtually impassable. So, are they not crocodile tears therefore to make so much fuss about the ease with which bandits overran the place?

All hope is not lost, however. If Nigeria must overcome its security travails, it is compulsory for it to revitalize its counter-terrorism efforts making use of credible intelligence gathering as well as galvanizing local communities, many of them in the throes of desperate poverty, behind government efforts to rally back. That would be a vantage point of regaining the capacity to rout bandits and insurgents.

Ayo Olukotun

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Nov 4, 2021, 7:17:20 AM11/4/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

ADESINA AND OPTIONS FOR REVERSING OUR INDUSTRIAL ARREST

Ayo Olukotun

“The future benefits those who anticipate and prepare…Nigeria must look beyond the industries of today into the industries of the future and develop a plan and capacity to compete.”

African Development Bank Group President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina at a lecture to the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021.

             A few years before he passed on, elder statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was asked a question on what his vision for Nigeria was. Awolowo replied that first and foremost, he would like to see an industrialized Nigeria. The statesman and politician could not have foreseen that such a prospect would not materialize, not only during his lifetime but in the lifetime of his youngest daughter, the Amazon, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu who turned 70 a few years ago. Let us not forget that Awolowo had kick-started an industrial future for Nigeria in the 1950s and the 1960s. At the time, countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, even China, were at the same low level of industrialization as Nigeria and depended primarily on the export of raw materials and unprocessed products. Fast forward to 2020, and we find that these other counties have become prominent industrial powers with diversified export bases and with a clear foothold in the emergent 4th Industrial Revolution. This desultory background provides a context for the lecture delivered last week by the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, quoted at the outset of this column.

Adesina, in what can be considered a manifesto for a revitalized industrial future for Nigeria, laments the several woes and disabling environment that continue to arrest Nigeria’s industrial potential. One of the problems, as he points out, is not the lack of ideas or blueprints, for as he says, even the first National Development Plan of the 1960s envisaged Nigeria’s industrial development. Obviously, such programmes as the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, Vision 2010, Vision 2020 as well as Nigeria’s Industrial Master Plan, clearly envisaged the industrialization of Nigeria on the scale of the Asian Tigers.

The issue, however, as the lecturer noted is the lack of implementation and follow-up to bring these dreams to actualization. He buttresses the widening gap between Nigeria’s manufacturing sector and those of the Asian Tigers by pointing out that Malaysia diversified its economy away from an agricultural base consisting of rubber and palm oil through heavy investment in high-tech sectors such as electronics. Consequently, last year, the value of Malaysia’s total exports which included computers, vegetable oils, semi-conductors and machinery stood at 234 billion dollars. By contrast, Nigeria, which started the industrial race at about the same time as Malaysia, had total exports worth of 33.5 billion dollars consisting mainly of oil. In other words, not much has changed since the 1960s and 1970s despite the harvest of promises not kept and blueprints not executed.

Why is this so? Principal among the deficits and debilities of the manufacturing sector is the lack of steady supply of electricity, an albatross which has defied every successive government, high spending and several campaign promises. For sure, this is a problem that affects the Nigerian work culture to an unimaginable degree. Consider for example what the lack of steady and predictable electricity supply means to an academic expected to write world-class papers and do experiments in modern laboratories. As Adesina demonstrated, it is even more devastating for the manufacturing sector–small-scale or large scale – because any manufacturer is compelled to spend huge sums on providing their own electricity. He reveals also that it is in pursuit of solutions to this unending problem that the AfDB has invested and supplemented heavily Nigeria’s power sector.

The lecturer, also a diplomat, did not ask the question whether the sums poured into that sector had yielded commensurate dividends, but going by the continuing ailments of power supply, it can be inferred that very little improvements so far has attended foreign and internal expenditure on the sector. So, the country continues to be stranded by infrastructural limitations and inability to scale the hurdle of those accoutrements that would have aided its industrial takeoff. Unsurprisingly, therefore, rather than attract much needed foreign investment, several companies hitherto operating in Nigeria have had to relocate to some neighbouring countries where the ease of doing business is more than a rhetorical claim. That is not all.

There is also such disheveling factors as the port congestion, especially in Apapa. Quoting a Financial Times report, Adesina maintains that “the port in Lagos has become so bad that it could cost more than 4 thousand dollars to truck a container 20 kilometers inland, almost as much as it costs to ship it 12 thousand nautical miles from China”. As well known, the congestion at Apapa port, despite minimal advancements, has enigmatically continued to defy several task forces, ultimatums and proposed remedies. Other matters such as the astonishingly high interest rate, which is a disincentive to borrowing, feature in the lecture. He provides comparative data by citing the low interest rates in such countries as Japan (-0.1%), USA (3.9%), China (0.25%), and India (4%). Compare this to Nigeria’s 15% and you will begin to grasp how uphill the journey to entrepreneurship, which is facilitated in other climes by the low cost of borrowing, can be. There also is the instability of the foreign exchange sector with multiple exchange rates prevalent, providing opportunities for a non-industrial strata to make fast bucks from differences between the formal and so-called black markets.

Engagingly, a good part of the lecture is devoted to panaceas and solutions for lifting Nigeria from its current industrial backwardness. Fortunately, because as the technocrat argues, the future of manufacturing is digital, we can skip stages in what experts in industrial change call the law of combined and even development. In this respect, rather than behave like Generals preparing for the last war, we simply find how to plug ourselves into the digital wave which underlies most current manufacturing. As the opening quote drawn from the lecture suggests, this takes a lot of planning and thinking outside the box of jaded policies that have failed us. That apart, Adesina provides the concept that we should leverage on our comparative advantage in agriculture through a massive programme of agro-industrial enterprises from which several countries across the globe are currently earning windfall profits. He reveals that the AfDB in partnership with state and federal governments as well as other agencies, is currently in collaboration to turn agro-industrial manufacturing into the goldmine of the future. If the idea succeeds in spite of the usual bottlenecks, Nigeria may well be entering a new industrial age through a door that has been there all the while but which successive governments have failed to take advantage of.

Interestingly, most of the countries cited by the lecture for industrial advancement are developmental states which reorientated their politics and institutions to comprehensively drive economic development. Arising from the lecture, part of the debate should now be: is Nigeria ready to transform into a developmental state considering that these states managed to drastically reduce poverty whereas Nigeria has been fiddling with, more or less, a jobless growth model?

Hopefully, some of the ideas canvassed at the lecture will find its way into policy-making circles for collective profits.

Oluwatoyin Adepoju

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Nov 5, 2021, 8:33:29 AM11/5/21
to usaafricadialogue
Beautiful ideas.

Dealing perhaps with the symptoms rather than the causes of the problem?

What are the underlying causes?

What is the reason why steady electricity in Nigeria  has remained nothing but a dream in spite of huge expenditure?

The human factor?

The material infrastructure is operatesmd by humans, the planning and management done by humans.

Can anyone try to find out what these humans are doing wrong?

Is the money being stolen?

Are substandard parts being purchased?

Is the equipment being sabotaged?

Are some people enabling inadequate power supply for their own benefits?

Will anyone be bold enough to investigate these issues?

The answers exist and can be found through a rigorous examination of the various power agencies.

How safe is such investigation for the person understaking it?

Is such massive infrastructural faliure across decades possible without the collusion between vested interests in successive Nigerian governments, powerful figures in the electricity agencies and shadowy but potent figures in civil society?

If we don't answer such questions and address the answers decisively, won't we continue to groan about the problem as if the problem nis not human made?


Thanks

Toyin 

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Ayo Olukotun

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Nov 12, 2021, 5:50:12 AM11/12/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

ANAMBRA ELECTION: A PHILOSOPHER-KING TO THE RESCUE?

Ayo Olukotun

 

“Until philosophers rule as kings in their cities or those who are nowadays called kings and leading men become genuine and adequate philosophers…cities will have no rest from evils.”

Greek Philosopher, Socrates, in Plato’s Dialogue.

 

             In the early hours of Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced that a former Governor of the Central Bank and a distinguished Professor of Economics, Charles Soludo, had emerged winner of the Anambra State governorship election. Soludo’s party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, won convincingly in both the November 6 and the supplementary one of November 9, beating their closest rivals, the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress by a wide margin. For Soludo, described here as a philosopher-king because of his intellectual eminence and administrative experience, the victory is a climax to a personal odyssey, an elongated political venture which began 12 years ago. His experience and eventual triumph mirror the nation’s agony in those weeks where it appeared that the election would not hold because of a siege and sit-at-home protest maintained and enforced by the Indigenous People of Biafra.

Although there was a predictable angle to the outcome of the election given that Anambra is virtually a one-party state, the odds were staked against Soludo from the onset. As he commenced his campaign through a town hall meeting, he escaped death by the whiskers when three of his security details were brutally assassinated. As late as July, his candidature hung in the balance when INEC suddenly dropped his name from the list of candidates because of a court judgement that invalidated his nomination. Undaunted and piggybacking on the support of the dominant strand in the party, Soludo fought his way up to the Supreme Court which finally upheld his candidature. So, the election, the drama and accompanying foreboding are as engrossing as the political journey of Soludo.

It is appropriate to congratulate the winner of the election just as it is to commend INEC, a few logistical hitches notwithstanding, for giving a good account of itself in what was clearly an uphill task full of uncertainties. On a broader canvas, this may well be the parable of Nigeria tossed around by sundry perils and buffetings but which may, in the end, overcome despite epic battles. A consequence of the miasma which hovered around the election is, unsurprisingly, the low voter turnout partly because of the instincts of self-preservation in registered voters. There is also the factor that IPOB’s turnaround which called off the sit-at-home strike came too close to polling day to convince skeptics that the coast was indeed clear. Besides, heavy security presence may have provided some clarity but the flipside is the accompanying atmosphere of intimidation and possible prospect of being caught in cross fires between security and IPOB.

Given the tall order, it is something of a miracle that polling took place in a somewhat placid and peaceful atmosphere in the face of doomsday apprehensions about the eruption of violence. To be sure, there were flare-ups here and there leading to the cancellation of voting in some communities as well as the ambushing of electoral staff on their way to Ihiala for the supplementary election. Those notwithstanding, polling took place, broadly speaking, in an orderly and peaceful manner; but it would have been tidier and nicer if the crisis had been resolved or ameliorated well before voting season. In this wise, the electorates would have had greater confidence that they would not lose life or limb in the process of exercising their civic duties.

For the future, INEC’s struggle with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and other glitches could perhaps have been avoided if a little more time was taken to better master the innovation; alternatively, to have provided more training to ad hoc workers who had the duty to operate the system. Philosophically, elections or indeed any other national enterprise cannot be qualitatively better than the organizational status of a country in which many things, especially in the public sector, do not work well. Elections, being only a sub-sector of national productivity can hardly rise above the familiar culprits of our national dysfunction, even with the best of intention and resources. Be that as it may, the electoral body has a couple of months to prepare for the next set of off-season elections in Osun and Ekiti in the coming year as well as the more challenging general elections later on.

This should be taken in the context of this week’s passing by the legislature of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 which envisages the much awaited electronic voting and transfer of results. It will be worthwhile for the electoral umpire to come up with its own pathway and technique for implementing the amendment, in the likely event that the President assents to the bill.

Elections do not resolve fundamental problems and our leaders still have the assignment of continuously de-escalating the confrontation in Anambra and neighbouring states in the interest of social peace and harmony. In like manner, the unacceptable level of insecurity, though a bit diminished in recent times, should be tackled with fresh energy and inspiration so that future elections do not hold in the same atmosphere as the Anambra one did.

Soludo set a proper note when he promised to run an inclusive government, considering that for reasons stated earlier, a small percentage of the electorate voted for him. The flourish of an election victory speech notwithstanding, it would be helpful for him to bring on board and avail himself of the expertise and support of those who did not vote for him and those who were too terrified to do so. Anambra, let us not forget, is the state of former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme; inaugural President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe; as well as the iconic writer, the late Chinua Achebe. Soludo is encouraged, therefore, to run an impactful government commensurate with the soft power which the pedigree of its eminent citizens confer. For example, there is no reason why the burgeoning industrial cluster around Nnewi. Awka and Onitsha could not be turned into a manufacturing powerhouse on the scale of Dubai, Singapore and the Asian Tigers.

Fortunately, there is a lot of entrepreneurial energy among the people of the state which can be leveraged upon with the support from the diaspora to lay the basis for a sounder, more self-reliant and buoyant economy that reduces the gap between the ostentatiously rich and the desperate poor. In other words, Soludo should inaugurate a new advent in the politics of the state, making it a remarkable example which can provide a model for other states. As an economist with top-flight credentials and global connections, this is his hour to prove that philosopher-kings as Socrates predicted, can make a tremendous difference to governance by bringing knowledge and thinking outside the box to bear upon hydra-headed problems.

It will be an illusion to think he can accomplish this without political craftsmanship and consensus building. One of his early assignments is to bring peace to a state which is fast becoming a boiling cauldron which has consumed several of its eminent citizens.

In this respect, peace is truly indivisible and inevitable for progress.

Ayo Olukotun

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Nov 25, 2021, 6:38:16 AM11/25/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

IMF’S THUMBS DOWN TO OUR ANTI-CORRUPTION POLICY

Ayo Olukotun

 

“Perception of corruption remains high…leading to low tax compliance and buy-in of reforms.”

International Monetary Fund Mission to Nigeria Report, November 2021.

 

             Nigeria, long projected as an African giant playing on the world stage, is caught in a devastating moral and socio-economic bind. There is a downsizing of social purpose and the will to improve the human condition, not only among political leaders but in civil society as well. The intellectual vocation, in particular its mandate to inform policy-making, is in recession. Illustratively, last week, this columnist attended the University of Ibadan Convocation Ceremony where Africa’s foremost Humanities scholar, Prof. Toyin Falola, was conferred with an earned Doctor of Letters degree. The very next day, Falola substantiated his merit by presenting his latest book, “Understanding Modern Nigeria (Cambridge University Press, 2021) to the public, the first in a trilogy of voluminous books also to be published by Cambridge. Yet, hovering around the celebration was an article by Emeritus Professor, Akinjide Osuntokun, lambasting the administrators of the National Merit Award, who have consistently bypassed such a luminous scholar as Falola. This is surely a story for another day, a scandal of sorts; but please bear in mind that the NMA is supervised, not by military oligarchs or Prebendal politicians, but by very senior academics. This unpleasant anecdote is brought in to show that the treacherous crossroads in which Nigeria finds itself implicate leaders and followers alike, invoking the Biblical rebuke that “all have sinned”.

             This brings us to the International Monetary Fund’s lament quoted in the opening paragraph about increasing perception of corruption in Nigeria and the deleterious consequences for economic growth. To be sure, this is not the first time the IMF has publicly criticized our anti-corruption platform. Last year, to take an instance, the Managing Director of IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, regretted that Nigeria exhibited “a culture of unaccountability and obscene profiteering at the expense of hundreds of millions of Nigerians”. You may wish to ask the question: why has the IMF come to loom so large in our policy-making and economic choices? It is simple. Unlike in previous dispensations when a measure of nationalist consciousness as well as better economic management kept the organization at arm’s length, Nigeria has plunged headlong into a season characterized by borrowing spree and the accompanying micromanagement by outsiders of our economy.

             Recall for instance that last year the IMF approved at Nigeria’s behest a loan described by the organisation as “massive” of USD 3.4 billion as emergency assistance, presumably related to the management of Covid-19. It is difficult to keep track of Nigeria’s current borrowing status automatically approved by the ruling party-dominated National Assembly. Nonetheless, even the IMF was compelled to issue a warning recently concerning Nigeria’s growing and high-risk indebtedness and its consequences. You do not need a prophet to tell you that the proposed hike in petroleum prices, a familiar IMF policy mantra, may not be unrelated to our growing economic subservience.

             On the issue of corruption raised by the Fund, its view tallies with those of Nigerian intellectuals, including non-governmental organizations, which have long regretted the retardation in the anti-corruption policy. Doubtless, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), will be given kudos by history for kick-starting an anti-corruption programme. Beyond that, unfortunately, there would be little to congratulate him for, partly because there has been no improvement in Transparency International’s ranking of Nigeria in successive Corruption Perception Indices during his tenure. That apart, various observers have alluded to dilations, contradictions, half-heartedness and a lack of purpose in the execution of that agenda. A few examples will make the point.

             Last year, Justice Ayo Salami (retd.) headed a probe panel which submitted its report to the Presidency in an open ceremony. On that occasion, waxing eloquent, Buhari promised to employ the recommendations to institute a new culture of accountability in public service. I may have forgotten but I do not remember that anything further was heard about those recommendations including the one suggesting the prosecution of the former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu. This is either a characteristic omission or familiar amnesia in the fight against corruption. What have become of the several cases of corruption and allegations of large scale embezzlement of public funds in such institutions as the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund and sundry other cases which went into oblivion after titillating the public for a while? Would you want to know what became of some heads of parastatals suspended from their posts for alleged corruption, not followed up by prosecution or sanctions, making them free to enjoy their loot in retirement? Do you want to talk about those cases which became casualties of political trade-offs as the alleged culprits played fast ones by joining the ruling party in return for turning a blind eye to their trespasses?

             So, at the end of the day, we have a lot of hoopla, road shows, colourful publicity around anti-corruption, but the rewards are few and far between. Leaving aside the controversies trailing the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, there are so many instances, some of them dramatic, implicating high state officials including some serving ministers which apparently have been glossed over.

In a recent article published in the American Journal of Chinese Studies, Prof. Jon Quah drew a contrast between the anti-corruption policy and status of Singapore, one of the least corrupt countries in the world (ranked 3rd least corrupt by Transparency International in 2020), and China ranked in the same year as 78th by Transparency. The outstanding success of Singapore, it was claimed, rests on certain factors and attitudes which China is admonished to learn from. These are: Singapore and its ruling party exercise the political will to fight corruption and to keep the country morally sanitized. Secondly, Singapore does not confuse the symptoms of corruption for its fundamental causes and drivers. Thirdly, Singapore does not play politics with anti-corruption unlike China which leaders make anti-corruption a subject of political horse trading. Fourthly, Singapore’s anti-corruption agency is given the independence to investigate corruption cases irrespective of who is involved or which political party the culprit belongs to. Finally, Singapore has set a high premium backed by resources on its anti-corruption agency and personnel, reaping the dividends of the linkage between welfare and effectiveness.

This informative article suggests that there is nothing accidental about a structured and holistic campaign against public sector corruption. Singapore and the People’s Action Party are reaping the robust anti-corruption tradition and moral purpose begun by Lee Kuan Yew who takes the credit for being the nation’s founding father, and transformative hero, a tradition carried on by his successors. This is a much different context from a situation Wole Soyinka once described as historical throw-ups in which rulers emerge by accident or sheer persistence without a roadmap of national reinvention.

The takeaways from Singapore’s eminent scorecard apply to Nigeria which, before the page closes, can still turn around its dismal anti-corruption record. For this to happen, it must take away the lessons of genuine change, take them to heart while carrying the people along, for instance, by lessening the current human misery index.

 

Professor Ayo Olukotun is a director at the Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona Institute for Governance Studies, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.

Ayo Olukotun

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Nov 26, 2021, 7:36:53 AM11/26/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun
Your article is but a tip of the iceberg of the catalogue of elite failures.The burning issue remains how to start to address this foundation problem. achives are full of study reports and many commissions and white papers are on shelves with little to show how to begin to face the issue squarely as a nation. Now is the moment that we are at at the Precipe to go beyond our individuality
and accept the collective guilt  for we are are all guiltily  and have failed the nation of our birth or acquired. Today the last Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day in America. It is set aside to give thanks for the many blessings that individuals, families, communities and the nation have received. It is also a day to recommit to their values and ideals and reflect. May be our collective guilt calls for a national day of atonement, a day to reflect and to recommit to banish elite failure in our act of service to our fatherland, with no more iniquity against the poor and our neighbors, but to give and receive love as to see beauty in our nation that will continue to engender hope for a better future for generations .With best wishes to you all.

Prof GB Ogunmola FAS
Former President, Nigerian Academy of Science.

Ayo Olukotun

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Nov 26, 2021, 7:36:53 AM11/26/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun
Ojogbon Ayo, this is simply Olukotun-esquie! It is instructive that your essay is pressaging a definite crisis that will be fuelled by a proposed petroleum products price hike. However, our situation is like talking to the marines. The administration is either insensitive or has run out of ideas what to do. It has refused to harvest the hanging fruits of ideas that are the blessing of Nigeria everywhere you turn.
Ayo keep the flag flying. Regards.


Barr. Alade Rotimi-John.

Emeagwali, Gloria (History)

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Nov 27, 2021, 2:39:46 PM11/27/21
to 'Ayo Olukotun' via USA Africa Dialogue Series, Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

 “Today the last Thursday in November is Thanksgiving 
Day in America. It is set aside to give thanks for the 
many blessings that individuals, families, communities 
and the nation have received. It is also a day to recommit
 to their values and ideals .....”

It is in fact a day of mourning for Native Americans 
including the  Pequot nation in Connecticut, who lost
much of their land to settler colonialism.








Professor Gloria Emeagwali
Prof. of History/African Studies, CCSU
africahistory.net; vimeo.com/ gloriaemeagwali
Recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Research
Excellence Award, Univ. of Texas at Austin;
2019 Distinguished Africanist Award
New York African Studies Association

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Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: IMF'S THUMBS DOWN TO OUR ANTI-CORRUPTION POLICY
 

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Ayo Olukotun

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Dec 2, 2021, 7:05:43 AM12/2/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

 REFORMING PREDATORY AWARDS OF DISTINCTION

Ayo Olukotun

             One of the gladdening things that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has done to reshape our values is the retrenchment of our annual National Honours Award which became in its heydays a jamboree and an all-comers affair. The awards were celebrated lavishly by those who received them as they immediately changed their identities to reflect new appellations like the Commander of the Order of the Niger, Order of the Federal Republic among several others. What did the awardees do to deserve the awards? That is precisely the sticky poser, for anyone who had modest connections to a state Governor or Federal Minister could easily get their names to be included in the list of honorees which often read like a roll of people in the political space, irrespective of their performance or contribution to the national ethos. This meant that leading lights in civil society who were not politicians were often not included, no matter how valiantly they campaigned for national reform and value change.

             The Vanity Fairs that this became drew criticisms from civil society which wondered whether this was anything more than an intra-mural celebration of one another by politicians who did not care that the country was continuously going downhill. So, good a thing that we have not had such ceremonies since 2014, although a few national honours were granted by Buhari, some posthumously to deserving Nigerians such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Chief Moshood Abiola. In the place of those awards, the current regime has emphasized, to an extent, the National Productivity Award and the Nigerian National Merit Award, both of which carry indices that are fairly easily defined and speak to the nation’s need to transit from slumbering work ethics to enhanced productivity. Of course, there are still some issues about what and what qualifies people for these awards, and the degree of objectivity that goes into the selection of awardees; nonetheless, they constitute an improvement on the annual ritual often lacking in merit which the national honors decorations became. The irony, however, is that while the state, in response to rebukes by civil society, has shifted ground; civil society itself is suffused with predatory awards usually of a cash-and-carry nature and given towards the end of each year carrying such nomenclatures as “Best Governor of the Year”. “Best Banker of the Year”, “Most Innovative Company of the Year” among others.

             The majority of these awards which are supposed to recognise distinction are given to members of the political elite, in particular chief executives as well as top bureaucrats and company leaders. Newspapers and the broadcast media are particularly implicated in this running bazaar of accolades which do not make clear the basis on which the recipients became selected. This is fast becoming another Nigerian fad mirroring a corrupt public relations and journalistic culture, given that there is a large element of arrangement or pre-selection about the ceremonies which do not edify or add anything significant to the national value system.

             To take an illustration, unlike many international awards such as The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which are not given annually when no one qualifies, the Nigerian version of these supposed markers of merit are given almost compulsively every year, and in many cases, to undeserving public officials. Must awards be given when no one qualifies for them? The question itself begs another question about the real motives of these awards, many of which are dished out by cash-strapped or nondescript institutions suggesting that a backroom barter may well have taken place between those institutions and the awardees.

             There is nothing wrong, to be sure, in trophies or awards of distinction; this columnist has garnered a few of them. If properly conceived, such awards are agenda-setting and a fulfillment of section 22 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) which mandates monitoring of governance by the media and the upholding of accountability of elected officials to the people. Indeed, they can be regarded as surrogates of the electoral mandate in that they allow citizens to see to what extent the social contract is being actualized. What goes on alarmingly, however, can be compared to the rigging of elections to the extent that an award of excellence is forged, more or less, for undeserving public officials in the same way as elections are often miscarried through the announcement of fake results. Those who perpetuate this unhealthy syndrome may not necessarily see it that way but given that care is not taken in arriving at the winners of these awards, they merely repeat the unhappy errors, omissions and commissions of our many years of electoral heists.

             What is required is a thorough-going reform of the iniquitous culture of our public award system so that they can be more credible, conferred upon deserving individuals who have shown outstanding merits in particular areas of leadership and governance in the public and private sectors. Such a reform template should interrogate whether declaring someone as “Best Governor of the Year” is not too umbrella or generic as it fails to specify what particular areas of governance the person has excelled. Here, we can borrow a leaf from the awards of merit awarded by certain media foundations which categorises excellence in media work along lines such as editorial writing, features writing and investigative reporting. Presumably, the scores in these sub-categories inform the selection of the omnibus “Best Newspaper of the Year”.

             Additionally, you cannot arrive at the best if there is no competition for that position or if the ground rules of the competition are murky, hazy or predetermined to arrive at particular answers. In some cases, there is a mimicry of opinion polling which is claimed to be the framework for arriving at the answers, but as everyone knows, such polling, if and when they are undertaken, fall grossly below scientific standards, while the rules of evidence are far from clear. A reform agenda must insist that media institutions which organize these awards make clear and transparent the processes which undergird the selection of awardees.

             Moreover, the awards, assuming that they are genuine, do not need to be accompanied by any ceremonies or road shows. For instance, an award made to the heroism of the average Nigerian for surviving adroitly the woes of the growing misery in today’s Nigeria does not require any celebration. Regrettably, however, those organizations which have turned the awards into a possibly lucrative pastime do not make them to such deserving entities as #ENDSARS protesters for publicizing the high-handedness in the law enforcement institutions or to the diligent teacher who in spite of low wages never misses a class, or to the Nigerian scientist who spearheaded research for a Nigerian vaccine to the COVID-19 pandemic.

             If the purpose of these awards is to build and flash islands of excellence working quietly behind the lines, then it must take on board, not just politicians many of who have not served the nation well, but must include the entire gamut of nationhood. So, it will be a game changer to find one of these perennially awarding organizations spread the dragnet beyond office holders awash with cash.

             It is time to do away with predatory and corrupt awards of excellence.

Ayo Olukotun

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Dec 9, 2021, 2:07:19 PM12/9/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

BEYOND TOMORI’S TEARS FOR NIGERIA

Ayo Olukotun

 

“Anytime I think of Nigeria… (sobs) I speak with passion (then sobs again) I have wept for this country on several occasions. I will try not to do such again but it looks like I am failing.”

Professor Oyewale Tomori at the National COVID-19 Summit organized by the Presidential Steering Committee in Abuja, Monday, December 6, 2021.

 

             Crying, yelling and high octave shrieks are the inevitable gate passes of newborn babies to our world. Growing up to notice that crying and sobbing draw adult attention, children weaponize them to demand nurture, relief and regular meals. The world of adults is a different kettle of fish altogether. The older one gets, the more emotionally restrained one is supposed to become, implying that one should rarely shed tears, weep or cry, at least in public. It must be considered exceptional for a world-acclaimed virologist, and a former Vice-Chancellor to be overtaken by such overpowering grief that he actually shed tears, almost inconsolably, over the Nigerian predicament.

             The world is used to top politicians and Prime Ministers of countries in the Western world choke with grief, leading to their faces being covered with tears. Recall Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, fighting back tears as he received the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in his office; Secretary of State and former presidential candidate of the United States, Hillary Clinton, overcome with tears during her last presidential campaign; a former United States President, Barack Obama, tears-filled as he discussed the mass shooting in Newton, Connecticut, of 20 young children. Last but not the least, famed Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, almost sobbing as she left 10, Downing Street, at the expiry of an eventful and long tenure. One can go on and on, notwithstanding the controversial example of a former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who shed tears so many times that the British became weary and wary of what was beginning to look like stage-managed crying acts.

Leaving the issue of whether sobbing in public can be a form of political histrionics, especially if done by politicians, let us observe, at least in passing, that this columnist does not recall that any Nigerian President or Governor has openly fought back tears while discussing solemn or tragic matters of grave importance, including mass killings. One can remember, however, that in April this year, Senator Smart Adeyemi was so overtaken with grief while contributing on the floor of the Senate to a discussion on the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, that he broke down and wept saying that Nigeria has collapsed.

As mentioned previously, the executive arm of government at the highest levels have been marvelously immune from the kind of deep emotion and grief that overtook the revered Tomori last Monday. There are two celebrated instances of expatriates and lovers on Nigeria of tear-shedding on account of Nigeria’s dystopia. The first is Richard Joseph who broke down and virtually wept in the 1990s at the launch of a seminal book on Prebendal Politics in Nigeria. There also was in 2013 the Kenyan scholar and poet, Professor Chris Wanjala, who wept for Nigeria while on a tour of the National Theatre which he saw its opulent state when he visited Nigeria during the Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977. Wanjala was so overtaken with emotion at the desolation to which the once magnificent theatre had been reduced, that tears freely flowed down his cheeks.

So, it is not altogether strange or unprecedented, though deeply touching that Tomori could not hold himself together despite valiant efforts while discussing the Nigerian story of missed opportunities, false starts and broken promises. What exactly moved the iconic scholar to such deep grief? He provides answers in his speech.

According to him, worse than the pandemics that afflict Nigeria are grievous political diseases, namely: lack of patriotism which he described as the destroyer of our nation, self-interest characterized by him as “the burial ground of our national interest”, corruption codenamed “the executor of our underdevelopment”, and shamelessness pinpointed by the scholar as “the destruction of our national pride”.

A world-class scientist, Tomori’s lexicon can be understood within the context of an almost formulaic narrative, employing abbreviations and a laconic style on bedeviling problems about which volumes of books can be written. In other words, he came across as a fairly introverted speaker, employing idioms in an almost algebraic manner that requires unpacking. For example, Nigeria, famously described by one of its nationalist politicians as a mere geographical expression still remains just that after five decades. Is this not attributable to the substitution of self or group interests for the national interests? Very few will doubt that Nigeria, even today, is more of a market than a nation while some of its foundational problems include the lack of a ruling political elite with a national mission.

Additionally, who can doubt that shamelessness which touches upon the loss of the capacity to feel ashamed about anything, however egregious, remains an overpowering bane? Does this not explain why politicians have no qualms about making rosy promises during campaigns while they go to sleep instead of working hard after elections to achieve them? Do you want to talk about corruption, the ever present albatross of successive governments, resulting in the constant and cruel shortchanging of a traumatized citizenry?

Doubtless therefore, Tomori’s shorthand captures a good deal of Nigeria’s dilemmas, and to paraphrase Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, the open sore of a country in anomie.

The matter gets curiouser and curiouser when you look at other countries with which Nigeria started the development race in the 1960s, considering how greatly they have outpaced us. Compared to several Asian Tigers, Nigeria remains a midget in power and economic terms and certainly on indices that measure the quality of life. The quandary remains the grievous irony of a country splendidly resourced but whose people are vegetating on the margins of survival, invoking the title of a book by development economist at the African Development Bank, Professor Banji Oyeyinka, entitled “Rich Country, Poor People”.

One suspects that what else moved Tomori to tears are not just the problems, most of which are becoming endemic, but perhaps more importantly the lack of a redemptive agenda among majority of the current crop of politicians and power seekers. In a caustic and memorable remark, the scientist argues that if the youths who he says are smarter than his generation had “one-tenth of the enabling environment opportunity which good governance gave my generation, Nigeria today will be donating vaccines to Europe as India is doing and will be providing loans to China and not the other way round”. What this implies is that the scientist does not seem to see any uplifting vista in sight that will change the Nigerian story.

However trenchant and moving, a country cannot be healed by lamentations. What is important for the hour is for concerned civil society activists to join the political fray, organize, mobilize and strategise so that the country will no longer be discussed in unflattering terms. Rather, with concerted action and social mobilization of a constructive nature, it ought to begin to take its rightful place in the comity of civilized and developmental states.

Oluwatoyin Adepoju

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Dec 12, 2021, 5:04:52 PM12/12/21
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Superb writing

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Ayo Olukotun

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Dec 16, 2021, 1:54:08 PM12/16/21
to Richard A. Joseph, Olatunji Ayanlaja, Adigun Agbaje, Adetoun Adetona, Ashobanjo, Abiodun Raufu, Adebayo Williams, David Atte, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Adebayo Olukoshi, Emmanuel Remi Aiyede, Niyi Akinnaso, Margaret Ayansola, Oluwatobiloba Daniel ADEWUNMI, Idowu Olayinka, Toyin Falola, Prof Bayo Adekanye, Prof. W.O. Alli, Akinjide Osuntokun, Ayo Banjo, Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju, Bolaji Akinyemi, Mr. Kolade Mosuro, Hafsat Abiola, Dr Wale Babalakin, Wale A.Olaitan, Adele Jinadu, Wale Adebanwi, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, Anthony Asiwaju, Prof. Ayo Dunmoye, Abubakar Rasheed, Ademiluyi Wole, Adebayo Salami, Emmanuel Adesola, Fola Arthur-Worrey, Femi Babatunde, Esther Oluwaseun Idowu, Banji Oyeyinka, Jide Owoeye, Bode Fasakin, Obadare Ebenezer Babatunde, Bankole Omotoso, Fabian Benjamin, Bunmi Makinwa, Olatunde Babawale, Biodun Jeyifo, Bolaji Ogunseye, Fallou Ngom, Stephen Bolaji, Bukky Dada, M. Insa Nolte, Prof Olufemi VAUGHAN, busayo...@gmail.com, boyoka...@gmail.com, Banji Oyeyinka, Bamitale Omole, Olufemi Bamiro, Adebayo Ninalowo, Tunde Bewaji, Cyril Obi, Chibuzo Nwoke, Christian Ogbondah, Sheriff Folarin, Charles Akinola, dijiaina@yahoo com, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Christina Olaoluwa, Charles Ayo, abati1990@yahoo com, Orogun Olanike, Dialogue, Dr John Nnia Nwodo, Ganiyu Go, Larry Diamond, Delelayiwola, Koyekenya, Dr. Sharon Omotoso, Dr Yemi Dipeolu, Ebunoluwa Oduwole, Prof Eghosa E. OSAGHAE, Ekaette Umanah Ekong, Grace Edema, OluYinka Esan, Francis Egbokhare, eyitay...@yahoo.com, Femi_Osofisan Osofisan, Fred Goke, Femi Otubanjo, F&C Securities Limited, Folashade Soneye, Friday Okonofua, Fola Oyeyinka, Francis Onaiyekan, Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, Olayemi Foline Folorunsho, Dele Seteolu, Prof Ogunmola Ogunmola, Tunji Olaopa, Glory Ukwenga, Ola Jumoke, Royal Gardens, Prof. Hassan Saliu, Mohammed Haruna, Koyinsola Owoeye, Olukayode Somoye, Henry Lovejoy, Victor Isumonah, Kehinde Isinkaye, Lanre Idowu, Is-haq Oloyede, Jide Ibietan, Shadrach Ijagbemi, Ibiwumi Saliu, Aladeniji Theo, Isaac Albert, Jadesany, Jones O. Moody, Najim Jimoh, Attahiru Jega, Tunde Jaiyeoba, Kayode Soremekun, Mary Kolawole, OLAYODE OLUSOLA, AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Moshood Omotosho, Michael Vickers, Mayor Tope, Ngozi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Mni Femi Mimiko, Abiodun Salawu, Nduka Otiono, Gaf Oye, Stella Olukotun, Lai Oso, Lai Olurode, Oluwaniyi Osundare, Peter Ozo-Eson, Remi Sonaiya, adebajopr...@gmail.com, Ayo Olukotun

CLAMPDOWN ON #NORTHISBLEEDING PROTESTERS IS MOST UNWISE

Ayo Olukotun

 

“…The North had become a war zone… The United Nations had revealed earlier this year that 2.9 million people are displaced in the region due to insecurity”

Petition by #NorthisBleeding protesters.

The Punch, Thursday, December 16, 2021.

 

             One of the ironies of governance and civil liberties in Nigeria today is that there was more space for democratic expressions under some military governments than we now have. Going down memory lane, this columnist recalls being invited as President of the then University of Ife Students’ Union (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to the seat of government, then in Lagos, to dialogue with the Federal Government after turbulent protests. The meeting was at the instance of Colonel Ahmadu Ali (retd.), himself, a former Student Union leader and at the time, Federal Minister for Education. As I recall it, other student union leaders present at the meeting include Mallam Adamu Waziri of Ahmadu Bello University, John Nnia Nwodo of the University of Ibadan and Sam Ekenna of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The atmosphere of the dialogue was cordial, collegiate and devoid of intimidation, a sign that government of that day did not dismiss student protesters as mischief makers or pawns in the hands of politicians.

Many will recall too that it was a military government that appointed then late Segun Okeowo who spearheaded the “Ali Must Go” upheaval into the Constituent Assembly which drew up the 1979 Constitution. These reminiscences are brought up to illustrate how far down the country has come from the tradition of civil expression as a form of democratic dialogue which survived, even thrived, under some military governments.

It is unfortunate and disheartening that the #NorthisBleeding protesters who had amassed thousands of petitioners in support of a cogent and articulate statement about the state of insecurity in the North were characteristically clamped down upon on Wednesday by security forces. According to media reports, there is no evidence that the protesters were violent or had constituted obstacles or threats to the free movement of persons, yet they were treated with an iron fist unknown to democratic liberty. Counterfactualise a bit and imagine that the protesters were demonstrating in support of the current regime with placards reading “Glory to Buhari”, “All hail, Lai Mohammed”, “Long live the current regime” and deduce what would have happened. You guessed right. The protesters would have enjoyed security cover with the doors of the Presidency thrown open to them. Not just that. A rousing speech would have been made, coronating them as patriots and lovers of Nigeria of a kind that is rare to find. Is this farfetched? Not in the least because almost every protest in recent years have been met with organized counter-protests with citizens carrying pro-government placards and berating, sometimes doing physical battle with the protesters.

             Four years ago, when the noose tightened on Babachir Lawal, then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and in the midst of temporizing and dilation by government, leading civil society lights erupted in civil protests. What happened? A hitherto unknown Citizens’ Support for Good Governance organised a pro-government protest in favour of Lawal. Lawal himself, sidestepping the allegations against him, addressed the until then anonymous group, saying that “Baba Buhari did not anticipate the problem that we are in…The people who caused these problems are the ones challenging the government.” The rest of the story is history, as they say.

             Browse through the clutch of civil protests including the extensive #ENDSARS demonstrations and you will find that this has been the standard response of this government to the protest, however legitimate or genuine. Sometimes the protesters are beaten black and blue, not by policemen alone but by a manufactured crowd crying louder than the bereaved. Why is this trend sad and depressing? Precisely because it is the very opposite of the democratic spirit and is in clear violation of sections of the Nigerian Constitution which allow for the freedom of expression.

             As this columnist has repeatedly pointed out, a growing and deepening democracy is not one that merely holds periodic elections, rather, it is one that is maturing in tolerance and growing the leeway for contending opinions and perspectives. For a government that is winding down, it should be concerned that when all is said and done, what will remain outstanding is the verdict of history and to what extent the props of democracy were maintained or denuded.

             Reading through the petition of the #NorthisBleeding protesters, there is nothing in it that has not been the subject of public discussion and dialogue in the last 5 years or more since insecurity, across the nation but more prevalent in the North, became a front burner issue. It is well known that hardly a day passes without new and daring vignettes about atrocity killings of swathes of innocent people, kidnap of high-profile leaders, including Emirs; attack on secondary and tertiary institutions. There have been also reprisal killings, ambushes of elite security institutions such as the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, among others. Once a peaceful and lovely land with alluring suburbia, the North today wears the face of a land tragically tortured by bandits, sunken in grief and Hobbesian uncertainty. I recall as a young academic at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, back in the days, how we took joy rides across the length and breadth of the North. Today, ask the Senators and top politicians when last they had the temerity to pay visits to their nativities in view of the fear of becoming hostages in the den of bandits.

             True, the government has sometimes heroically risen up to the bandits giving them a good run for their sophisticated weapons. On balance, however, terror remains written over that once peaceful and beautiful land. Only the other day, the gunmen had the audacity to ask communities in some parts of the North West to pay huge sums of money as a ransom for staving off imminent attacks. Before then, it was reported that in Niger State, following the alert by the Governor of the State, Abubakar Sani Bello, that Boko Haram militants had settled in some parts of the state, communities in the affected areas had to levy themselves in order to prevent being invaded by the dreaded militia. This is tragedy occurring on a daily basis below the level of officialdom and tepid assurances of safety. This columnist does not agree that a state of emergency across the Northwest will remedy the situation; to be sure, it may only escalate the dawn of militarized states. Nonetheless, the protesters have not committed any crime to warrant being treated like outlaws.

One hopes that it will not come to a time where the only voices that the government will tolerate are those of its publicists and vocal minions. It is admonished that before we move into the election season, government should reverse the tendency and habit of clamping down on protesters bringing messages that are genuine, even if unpleasant to government. To make sound policies, government should arrange to listen, not just to itself, but to opposing voices, given that there is much to be gained in adversarial analysis.

If it has the courage to do this, it will have made a lasting contribution to the growth of Nigerian democracy.

Oluwatoyin Adepoju

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Dec 17, 2021, 8:26:07 AM12/17/21
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Olukotun knows how to write.

I wish he had also referenced the irony represented by the fact that the head of this government helped to escalate his profile as an opposition leader by taking part in a demonstration against the GEJ govt, a demonstration, that, to the best of my knowledge, went undisturbed.

Central to the fall of that govt were demonstrations against the govt on account of the Chibok crisis, making Bring Back Our Girls a global slogan, a crisis that the Buhari led opposition milked for it's full political value.

Underlining this networks of irony is the fact that the most visible figure of the BBOG movement, ex minister of education Obi Ezekwesili, tried to keep the fire alive through a lone demonstration to Aso Rock after Buhari became President.

Was she received as the heroic figure she is, central to the emergence of the Buhari govt?

I saw pics of her being harassed by security operatives. I am not aware of Buhari even referencing her protest, talk less receiving her as befits an old comrade.

At the heart of this matrix of irony is the Muslim North, on the back of whose undying loyalty Buhari is now President.

These are peopleople wooed against the GEJ govt by the "power must return to the North" mantra, by Buhar's obfuscations that the "war against Boko Haram is war against the North" and that Boko Haram at a point was the work of the GEJ govt, people who were tacitly mobilised by Boko Haram in it's earlier focus on govt installations and Christians, presenting itself as a Muslim citizen army, people more recently encouraged to buy the inhumanities of Miyetti Allah as they recurrently justified massacres by Fulani herdsmen and their militia in the Middle Belt, as these brigands  expanded into the South- all these calamities have now come to rest in the Muslim North bcs all other peoples are fighting back while the Northern elite may be seen as compromised.

Will the Muslim North learn at last that undying support for ethno-religious affiliates is not the answer, a national problem but particularly gross in the Muslim North?

Let us decide where we want to go as a nation. Some people are not interested in the nation. Buhari is one such. His loyalty is primarily to his Fulani brethren, in criminality or justice.

Thanks

Toyin


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Okey Iheduru

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Dec 17, 2021, 10:25:57 AM12/17/21
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Buhari must rule -- another eight years! Sai Buhari!! Sai Baba!!!



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Ayo Olukotun

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Dec 23, 2021, 10:21:01 AM12/23/21
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SO LONG 2021, YEAR OF TURMOIL AND UNCERTAINTY

Ayo Olukotun

The assessment of any year is not a neutral, scientific enterprise but an exercise that very much depends on who is assessing, from which point of view, nationality, race and class. Obviously 2021 must appear radically different to Elon Musk, a zillionaire {in dollars] the richest man in the world and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2021 compared to a Nigerian citizen who escaped death by the whiskers when bandits suddenly fired gunshots at the vehicle he was traveling in. In other words, the pedestal upon which you stand or fail to stand is a crucial determinant of what the year brought to the table or represents; for some, a long running ball, for others, a dismal tormenting interval. 

   So, we speak in aggregate terms by referring to the year as one of turmoil and uncertainty mediated by identity factors. In general, when you look around the globe, considering the ravages of covid-19 and its several mutations, economic and political upsets, social turmoil, the year is only a tad better than the preceding one when it appeared that humanity had come to Armageddon. Nigerians are fond of prefacing their critical remarks with the expression, it is only in Nigeria that such and such a thing happens, but as this Columnist has repeatedly argued, there is nothing like Nigerian exceptionalism even if our politics often resembles the theater of the absurd. Look around you and see how much suffering and chaos characterized the year. From the fallouts of strange diseases, hard-to-cure, through Nigerian type fuel queues in the United Kingdom, to inflationary upswing ascending to a 30 year high in the United States, there is much anguish, throes and woes to lament. Perhaps that is why New York Times Columnist Dodai Stewart wrote recently about 2021 as ‘a year in limbo’.

   Consider the fate of Joe Biden, President of the United States who began the year with a high approval rating inching close to 60% but had recently suffered a 15 point decline as the troubling issues of growing unemployment, inflation as well as foreign policy miscalculations collated to erode his popularity and put in the balance the fate of his party in next year’s midterm elections. Across the Atlantic ocean, we encounter a morose Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of England struggling with an all time low in his popularity rating since he came to office. A series of political missteps including an attempt to rally behind a Member of Parliament who was suspended had taken its toll on perception of him as a leader. He never had really been popular but matters had gone from bad to worse in recent weeks as public discourse repeatedly zeroed on whether Johnson is really fit to govern. Influential Columnist, Peter Oborne wrote scathingly that “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly, so systematically as Boris Johnson”. We can go on and on but the point to make at this stage is that every nationality including the mature democracies had their share of the year’s tribulations and downswings in particular in the area of the economy. That said, a country like Nigeria held the roughest end of the stick because most governance issues beat the path of decline while such bedeviling problems as galloping inflation especially of food prices, escalating insecurity, high unemployment, ailing public services among others combined to make the country a hell hole.

   Nigeria, to be sure, had never been effectively governed with a succession of rulers promising much but delivering little. But the chickens of ineptitude have come home to roost while dysfunction and inertia, in combination, traumatized Nigerian citizens. In the month of April, for instance, Serial strikes erupted shutting down polytechnics, public hospitals, judicial institutions, to name a few. Strikes are legitimate but they represent a sword that cuts both ways, they put pressure on the Government, at the same time, they also penalize consumers who can no longer access basic services. Consequently, they make life more miserable for citizens denied the use of public services. Reverberating across the year and in virtually every geographical region are the assaults on life and property by roving bandits and insurgents. A good deal of the country, especially the northern part became killing fields as refugee camps sprouted. Needles to say that Nigerian lives became statistical denominations just as livelihood became casualties of a terrorizing army of assassins and kidnappers for ransom. Illustratively on Wednesday, 70 traders going about their legitimate businesses were kidnapped by gunmen on Kaduna road. Operating with increasing audacity, the gunmen at one point attacked the elite Nigerian Defense Academy located in Kaduna, sending the message that there are no hallowed grounds. In the course of the year, one of the Governors raised the alert that Boko Haram militia had overrun some communities in Niger State and hoisted their flags bringing them terrifyingly close to the Nation’s Federal Capital, a mere 2 hours drive away. Security forces rose to the occasion but the picture one gets is that they are overpowered and are trailing behind the gunmen who increasingly appeared to be everywhere. Overall, insecurity remains a primary challenge for Nigerians, rulers and citizens alike as the country approaches another election.

   Corruption, a disease as old as the nation, had free play as revelations upon revelations of scandals surfaced in the news concerning several parastatals and government institutions including, most recently, the National Assembly. Although some punitive steps were taken against some of the culprits, many of them are still walking free suggesting that the battle against public sector corruption is far from over. There is no doubt that there was a rise for most of the year in the Human Misery Index as the harsh economy played tricks on the average Nigerian’s pocketbook with many clearly unable to cope. The familiar woes were compounded by a decline in governance and the capacity of failing institutions to manage the consequences. Talking about governance, the Singapore-based Chandler Institute of Governance rated Nigeria number 102 out of 104 countries using such indices as leadership and foresight, strong institutions and global influence. This is in keeping with other global rankings including the Human Development Index where Nigeria remains at the bottom league. Notwithstanding, not all the news is bad. The economy performed better in some respects than anticipated. For example, it recorded a quarterly GDP growth of 5% in the second quarter of this year indicating that Nigeria had entered a post recession phase. The challenge is to translate growth into jobs, higher standards of living, poverty alleviation, economic diversification among other markers of development. There was also the successful holding of the Governorship election in Anambra state despite serious odds. This indicates that all being well, Nigeria is coming of age in electoral terms despite the recent setbacks of the failure of the president to give assent to the bill on the electronic transmission of election results. Hopefully, this can still be rectified in the larger interest of the nation. 

This columnist wishes all our readers, in spite of all, A merry Yuletide season and A happy 2022.

Oluwatoyin Adepoju

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Dec 23, 2021, 10:42:51 AM12/23/21
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A fine and very sobering summary

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