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The Power Of Positive Difference: Dr. Obadiah Mailafia And His Nigeria



Professor Ademola Dasylva At 70: A Labourer In The Vineyard

Toyin Falola

Having intellectual capacity is associated with some people who have dedicated their time to the pursuit of knowledge, part of a process of building human capacity, evidence that efforts have been concentrated on something tangible. However, no matter how outstanding an individual is, having intellectual capacity does not equal being intellectually versatile. Intellectual versatility, matched with productivity, is a rare accomplishment.

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia remains one of the shiniest individuals who has committed himself to different tasks, demonstrating versatility and productivity. He has a multidisciplinary background in international relations, political science, development economics, and public administration. Across these fields, he has made outstanding contributions that reflect his continuous engagement in various fields. At the economic and finance fronts, he has participated in several programs where he lends his intelligence to promote reasonable collective objectives. For example, as the Chief Economist in the Planning and Budgeting Department of the African Development Bank (AfDB), this bright mind has initiated awe-inspiring ideas and strategies that artfully launched the institution to an enviable position.

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Dr. Mailafia made a difference with the levels of programs and projects that he initiated at AfDB, bearing in mind the cardinality of the institution to the progress of the continent, which has also given the AfDB the marks of excellence. It is by no coincidence that his services are usually sought after in various other areas where he shines brilliantly and without pressure.

Assuredly, when Dr. Mailafia has committed himself to the course of progress, not many people can match his level of concentration and focus. Between 2010 and 2015, Dr. Mailafia served as the Chef de Cabinet of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, Brussels, where he essentially coordinated different projects that facilitated the organization’s transformation. Serving as the arrowhead of very tasking departments in ACP, this eclectic man made outstanding contributions that are not easy to undermine. For example, while he served as the most senior adviser to the secretary-general, he arranged many diplomatic relationships with external bodies, especially the European Union (EU), with whom they eventually collaborated to enhance programs that would bring desirable outcomes.

Apart from establishing the relationship between ACP and the EU, he also negotiated on behalf of ACP with international financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank. During all these, he was able to accomplish incredible feats, and his revolutionary contributions are in public memory. Dr. Mailafia has been very useful to humanity, and his efforts are testaments of this conclusion.

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, Sociology, and Politics, which is no ordinary feat that can be disregarded. His ability to provide progressive ideas shines forth through the academic works and research reflected in his papers and other intellectual engagements. More importantly, his knowledge reverberates through all of his engagements, and it considerably influences how he approaches issues and the methodologies he employs to get results.

To understand the significance of the knowledge acquired in this direction, his success records in finance and economics cannot be underrated. For example, while working as the deputy to the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, several initiatives and programs that substantially impacted the nation’s economy were credited to Dr. Mailafia. It bears reiteration that working as a deputy in an organization involves political participation because administrative skills are usually required for the successful management of people and enterprise.

The Power Of Positive Difference: Dr. Obadiah Mailafia And His Nigeria

Former CBN Deputy Governor, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia

As an academic, Dr. Mailafia has made cutting-edge professional accomplishments, and there are numerous books and papers credited to his name. A cursory look at these intellectual productions would reveal a grounded understanding of economic issues and the various other disciplines with which he is associated. Consider, for instance, that he produced works that reflect contemporary global politics; we cannot deny him the accolades deserving of his feats, among many other things.

His paper, “The New Scramble for Africa: China, India and Turkey as New Actors in Africa,” gives a critical evaluation of the socioeconomic and sociopolitical trajectory of Africa about how they have succumbed to the pressure of colonizing forces; not from their erstwhile imperialists from Europe but from different players who are making headway in Asian countries. Evident from his critical assessment of the African situation is the exposition of the inherent rot that has percolated contemporary African politics and permeated all their institutional establishments.

READ ALSO: Political Literacy As Panacea For Good Governance

Since greed and the quest for personal aggrandizement have overtaken the desire to lead by example, the resources domiciled in the African continent have been diverted to the advantage of the new “colonial lords,” namely China, Turkey, India, among others.
Intellectuals like Dr. Mailafia are exceptionally foresighted and can predict future actions by looking at current ideas and issues. It takes a critical mind to understand the underlying politics that these Asian countries are playing with the African continent. Many developed countries consider Africa indispensable to their economic and financial transformations because the continent is blessed with numerous natural resources and sufficient human resources that can translate all unrefined resources to significant results. China’s role in the continent is therefore significant and an indication that they may be on a long journey towards the re-colonization of Africa.

Unlike the European Scramble for Africa of the late nineteenth century, the contemporary scramble by these countries is not as organized as we have in all other situations. Their diplomatic relations with countries in Africa is informed by the attraction they get from the people themselves. This means that unlike the previous scramble by the Europeans, this contemporary scramble is based on mutual concession. Therefore, the paper is an indictment of the political class in Africa who are not only blind-sighted because of their greed but who have also refused to see how their lack of political will has impeded the continent from achieving its potential.

Despite his immersion in academic and maybe political activities, Dr. Mailafia does not lose touch with reality and current trends. In 2019, he produced another trailblazing intellectual work called “Global Megatrends and Nigeria’s Future,” where he demonstrated his understanding of the trendy issues and how they affect Nigerians and their future. Without dragging it, the wake of globalization has seen an unprecedented increase in technological innovations that created a parallel world where people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds interact and exchange ideas. Because the internet, which is a byproduct of this technological innovation, has the capacity to welcome netizens in their great numbers, the exchange of cultural values and traditions has become extremely easy.

This means that people now have direct access to other people’s cultural traditions and the lack of appropriate means of sieving the cultures which they come in contact with, to understand aspects of it that are very encouraging, and know the areas that are detrimental to their collective cultural safety, now allow them to accommodate these different cultures. Cultural osmosis, therefore, is the foundation for a different identity that has permeated the world today.

From this sudden transformation, every civilization has its positive additions and its shares of negative consequences. For many African countries, the cultural clash that they experienced has become the reason for their shift in traditional engagements. Africans’ virtues have become so complex that they find it challenging to locate their traditional identity. At the political front, options are so surplus that even the political leaders continue to mix political philosophies in their leadership assignments. This is the era when democratic leaders, without respect for democratic ethos, would use their positions of power to witch-hunt people considered an impediment to their ambitions.

READ ALSO: Mathematical 7 Goes On Stage: Segun Odegbami, Abeokuta, And The Making Of “Ayinla” By Tunde Kelani

In the same way, the increase in obscene engagements cannot be overemphasized, especially in the wake of the internet lifestyle. Sadly, as Dr. Mailafia has noted, the underlying downside of the internet age is the proliferation of a morally condemnable engagement that manifests in internet fraud, cyberbullying, cyber criminality, and others. It has eaten deep into the fabric of the African world and caused the quick deceleration of moral principles. What then would be the African future, considering the fact that this trend continues? These are the issues Dr. Mailafia addresses in the paper.

We talk about versatility and productiveness concerning Dr. Mailafia, not because he demonstrates unparalleled zeal for making a difference, but because there are growing numbers of literature that he publishes even in the current time, without losing his focus on what matters. He has given numerous lectures, devised various systems, and identified different ways through which humanity would flourish, and Nigeria would become the cynosure of all eyes. It is more rewarding that this bright scholar has dissected challenges facing Nigeria at the economic front and has provided state-of-the-art solutions that would facilitate instant upward and speedy mobility when adopted.

For instance, a compelling academic work credited to him looks at the country’s problems and how they have defied solutions in recent years. Considering that he is not unfamiliar with how the world is evolving, he has provided appropriate strategies for rejuvenating the country’s dying economy. The paper, titled “Towards the Post-Oil Economy in Nigeria: Imperatives of Diversification for Sustainable Development,” gives a scientific explanation to the myriad of economic challenges facing the country, using his experience to predict the possible ways of salvaging the country from imminent doom.

In the paper mentioned above, Dr. Mailafia posits that the snail pace of Nigeria’s development is informed by the obstinacy of Nigerian leaders who are mono-dependent on oil. The obsessive concentration on oil as the source of income for the Nigerian government has not only reduced the creativity of the country to devise alternative measures of standing up to the fast-growing global economic system but has also permeated the social bloodstream of the people who now have great disrespect for diversity and plurality, especially in their financial and economic lifestyles.

At the government level, the excessive concentration on oil has killed the urge to explore limitless opportunities that abound in other sectors of the economy. For example, the agricultural industry has suffered careless abandonment from the government since the oil sector has proven itself reliable in generating income. In essence, the country, which used to export agricultural products in the years of old, does not have diversity to cling on today that can be said to be produced internally. Therefore, this has exposed the consumerist and import-dependent culture of the country.

Meanwhile, the high dependence on products that are made from other civilizations reduces the worth of their values. More and more, the country is going down at a speed that has not been known hitherto. The paper, therefore, suggests that the consequence of the nation’s overdependence on oil is devastating. At the individual level, the potential of the people is made the sacrifice because the country has chosen to depend exclusively on oil as its source of income. People have the challenge of getting the right audience for their intellectual and professional services because they have not gained the required attention from their political leaders, who appear to be unbothered by the situation of things.

Since there is no international value for the agricultural industry in the country because the people do not export products that are needed in other places, the youths are not motivated to consider a career in mechanized farming. Instead, they make themselves available for all manner of morally reprehensible engagements that soil their names and the nation’s reputation. This awareness inspired Dr. Mailafia to consider pursuing the agitation for the future that does not centralize oil as the mainstay of its economy. There is a level of truth to his conclusion and argument.

READ ALSO: The War In The Cameroons

The country has suffered greatly because it has refused to show creativity to its economic system. Countries concerned about development take diversification and plurality very seriously and with a greater level of importance. Without a nation being excessively diverse in its economic approach, the stability of the people’s economy will be tricky.

As much as he has demonstrated an exceptional intellectual capacity in evaluating issues that border on the nation’s economy and contemporary issues, Dr. Mailafia has also not failed to give insightful input as far as the nation’s security system and administration is concerned. No one can claim ignorance of the pervasive insecurities that have engulfed the country in the current time, and the fact that the destructive effects of the conditions are felt by every individual, irrespective of their political or cultural orientation, pushed him to research on how to secure the country from the predatory hands of the criminally minded ones in the society.

In his work, “The Challenges of Security and Development in Nigeria,” this bright and excellent intellectual shows the world the critical challenges that confront the country, the impediment it has become for the development of the country, and the potential ways through which the ongoing security problems can be overcome. One of the principal reasons for the ubiquity of violence and insecurity is because the perpetrators are idle hands who are not positively involved in the nation-building process. It would eventually be of interest to anyone who reads the material to realize that the security challenges happening in the country have corresponding solutions if the government is genuinely serious about cutting the perpetrators to size.

Additionally, insecurity directly impacts the country’s development in ways not often seen from the surface. Dr. Mailafia educates his readers about the devastating effects of insecurity on the nation’s economy, particularly the inability to attract the right investors. Investors worldwide have a penchant for serenity and tranquillity and a place where their interests would be protected at all costs.

In the occasion that there are many terrorists’ actions, insurgent groups and offensive people fomenting problems and causing mayhem in the society, investors would be discouraged to invest their money and time in such an environment because they would be uncertain about its ability to bring about the transformation needed both at the economic front and at the social level; whereas, terrorists are usually carefree about what happens to the economy of their target enemies or countries as long as they can get their daily bread. Such orientation endangers everyone within the community because as long as they continue with their destructive engagements, the more they scare potential investors away and the more they endanger their lives.

Nearly all human aspects and social life have experienced Dr. Mailafia’s academic input. His ideas cannot just be discarded. This gentleman has functioned in different capacities and at different academic and political spectrums. He has written his name in gold while also earning numerous awards for his impressive service to humanity. Mailafia has functioned as an erstwhile Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and his contributions in that regard cannot be undermined.

READ ALSO: Exploring Nigeria’s Home-grown School Feeding Programme

In addition to this, he has served as a Fellow at Ahmadu Bello University, and at the same time, he has worked as a coordinator on different projects nationwide. His influence is intimidating, and his records are excellent. He has travelled far and wide, contributing to how he sees things, making sure careful considerations and critical evaluations inform his decisions. Within the period of his ascension into academic stardom, he has kept his very ideological ground intact, and his morals have not suffered any damage. Upright and forthright, dedicated and celebrated, Dr. Mailafia has created an image for himself capable of withstanding pressures and that can also stand the test of time.

Nigeria has produced numerous great people, and Dr. Obadiah Mailafia stands firm as one of its celebrated citizens. This explains why he has continued to make himself relevant despite the numerous happenings, indicating his capacity to endure challenges. The world is aware of his impact. To listen to the ideas of Dr Mailafia, do please join us on:

Sunday, August 15, 2021
5:00 PM Nigeria
4:00 PM GMT
11:00 AM Austin CST

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Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.


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Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola


By Toyin Falola


Idán no dey read but Idán de pass.” 

“Idán no dey work but Idán dey eat.” 

“Idán no dey stress himself.”

“Idán no dey talk but na idán dey make sense pass.” 

“Idán fit dey sick, but idán no go die.

“Idán no dey watch car for road, na cars dey respect Idán. “


    Surfing through the internet in the past few days, you might have come across the various uses of Idán by the youth in Nigeria, especially my boys and girls on street corners, my adopted home. Idán would directly mean mystical magic and its adaptation to describe a person’s position as an extraordinary, outstanding, non-conformist in some instances, outliers or other forms of descriptions that the Nigerian youth use to eulogize themselves. 

“Idán ni Toyin, Baba Toyin

Falola Idán gangan! “

Recently, the internet has seen different waves and versions of Idán. From the Idanship on the streets to the crowned Idáns in the four walls of any institution and the silent Idáns making moves and strategies like Sabinus. The Idáns are truly sabi and have proven to be the uncrowned Kings in their games over time. A masterpiece of their idanship is multifaceted as it cuts across borders into different spheres. It would have been interesting to see these sets of individuals line up to get awards or recognitions, but that would go against the creed and the essence of the sayings. After all, Idán no dey find awards, na awards dey find Idán.  Curiosity might pick one interest in understanding how and why this term became attributed to define Nigerian youth’s doggedness and resilient spirit. Nigerians and Nigerian youths are Idáns; everyone needs to start acknowledging that.

The role of the youth in the country’s development and its projections and potential cannot be underestimated. With over 57 million youths and the Idán potential each of them possesses, Nigeria could be on the path of regaining its position as the heartbeat of the continent and setting the standard for many other nations in the world. Hence, while we discuss the degeneration of many African countries and the level of development and then consider the potential of the African and Nigerian youth, there is a confidence that with the right channels and explorations, the nation and the continent might be the global focus of development.

    Nigerian youth are idáns largely because of their ability to survive any situation and still become outliers when the odds dictate possible failures. Hence, they have managed to successfully, against all odds, to keep the country in the limelight. Their abilities to survive make them the very adventurous Idáns that put them in direct competition with other youths of other countries they have found themselves, despite the limitations of being in a foreign land and policies that favor home countries. In 2017, the Nigerian government stated that the population of Nigerians in the diaspora is not less than 17 million. That was 6 years ago. In March 2023, the National Identity Management Commission stated that the Nigerians in the diaspora had an increase in the number of NIN by 563.57%. Jápa is idán; to survive in Chicago is idán!

There is a projection of a massive increase in the number because of the high influx of Nigerians into other countries in the past four years. Most Nigerians in the diaspora are youthful, and there is a high tendency that most old folks got in their respective countries at a young age. Nigerians are in virtually all countries, so, country wey Nigerian Idáns no dey, no dey, or e no get level. Na idán dey run things, dey make am get levels. The Nigerian Idáns do not mind if the country is a conflicted region or the negativities predominant there; they adapt and seize available opportunities no matter the hardship. Idán no dey run from challenges, na challenges dey run from Idán.

It is no news that despite being Africa’s largest economy, the Nigerian economy’s reflection on the Nigerian youth has been problematic. The high poverty rate, weakness of the Naira, infrastructural challenges, poor social service delivery, limited job opportunities, ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and other social troubles have created great challenges to the nation’s growth. These shortcomings have continued to deal a blow to the country’s different aspects of human and material growth. Hence, to have large numbers of mediocre, less dynamic, and unenterprising youths in such a society in the face of these challenges would not be surprising. I mean, there are readily available excuses. Despite this, a very encouraging percentage has outworked and outwitted the system to create a meaningful life for themselves. So, when we talk about their triumphs in other nations, you must know that there are millions of Idáns back home than positive outliers in the face of de-capacitating challenges. They have grown to be experts and skillful fellows that have drawn the international markets, hence, the comfort of national development. The idâns can be found across all fields doing what they know best and surviving in even things they do not know. 

A walk around markets like Alaba, Onitsha, Ladipo, Ariaria, Computer Village, Katangua, Balogun, Osodi, Dugbe, Bódìjà, Oil Mill, Kasuwar Kwari, Sabo n’Geri, and Zaki Biam Yam markets, one would see the hustling spirit, creativity, the resourcefulness and Idán moments of the Nigeria youths. For instance, the Alaba and Computer Village markets in Lagos State have gained an international reputation as they stand as the home of solutions to all electronics and electrical problems. Thirteen young Idáns established Alaba, becoming a huge international space for performing Idán. The computer village, largely populated by youth, has become Africa’s version of the Silicon Valley. These markets have become the country’s starting points for many millionaire Idáns.

Politically, the youths have also demonstrated the tough spirit to withstand pressure and spearhead a movement that campaigns against corruption, bad government policies, and mismanagement of public authorities and funds. The early post-Covid period brought together a movement that changed the course of the country’s political voyage. The movement started amidst the cry for a reform that would lay the foundation for a new Nigeria as was hoped. Despite the fallout at the initial stage, an offshoot of this movement became apparent months before the just concluded general elections. A political movement that many never expected could last rose to threaten the ranks of opposition parties in the country. Even in defeat, as it later turned out, the exploits within two years affirmed to many Nigerians that change was possible. The Idáns of the no-structure party convinced Nigerians that the youths truly are a force to reckon with. The EndSARS movement also brought about reforms that have started the foundation for youthful participation in politics and manners of governmental relationships with the people. Now, the youths have dared to contest and have started occupying public positions as elected officials; they are also gradually becoming the pillars of the political determination of the nation. These feats would have remained a fairy tale if strong-hearted ones had not taken the initiative. Idán no dey tire, Idan presses on!

Another famous show of Idanship in Nigeria by the youths could be attributed to the excellent dispositions towards the entertainment and hospitality industries. Young Nigerian musicians, actors, writers, and even chefs have plied the path of greatness in their careers, beating all marks to achieve greatness and setting the nation on reputable global maps. These laudable acts became possible due to the multifaceted factors employed. Through its divisions, including film, music, comedy, fashion, and literature, the industry explored the borders of creativity well by encompassing innovations with rich African history to promote their Craft. The need for a digital revolution and the use of social media has helped bridge the goals between local audiences and their international counterparts. 

These, coupled with partnerships with existing industries from other parts of the world, raw talents, creativity, and individual perseverance, have propelled it to a global powerhouse. The industry can boast confidently of young enterprising entertainers with numerous awards to their names and international reputation. The face of global music has been changing with the promotion of Afrobeats and the adoption of African music cultures. Tems, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Sikiru Adepoju, Jenn Nkiru, and others in the diaspora like Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel (Seal), Helen Folasade Adu (Sade Adu), Lekan Babalola, Hakeem Seriki (Chamillionaire), and Kevin Olusola have all won the Grammy Awards with several others having been nominated. Several of them have performed on international stages with tens and hundreds of thousands of audience, even more than local musicians in those countries could pull. 

Davido’s live performance at Fifa World Cup, Tiwa Savages’ King Charles III Coronation performance, and several other songs from Nigerian artists have become some of the most streamed globally. Aside from these musicians, performing artists like Lateef Adedimeji, Kunle Afolayan, Mr. Macaroni, and Taooma are Nigerian entertainers who have broken the mark in their trade, adding to the long list of those making the continent proud. Most importantly, these Idáns are influencing cultures across the world. I must also commend the achievements of Nigerian sportsmen and athletes like Victor Osimhen, Asisat Oshoale, and Tobi Amusan in contemporary global sport, without forgetting those that have set the marks in the past. 

One might have wondered what fate Nigerians have in the academic world. Have the youth been able to go against all odds despite failing systems and challenges like the ASUU strike? Nigerians keep setting the standard among their counterparts around the world, and there are various reports of their possibilities of doing well when they get to the midst  of students from other parts of the world. “Idán too sabi”

    However, before you fall for phrases like “Idán no dey read but Idán de pass,” “Idán no dey work but Idán dey eat,” “Idán no dey stress himself,” “Idán this,” and “Idán that,” you must know that what characterizes these Idáns is their hard work and low-key efforts that have made them stand out. While those statements might just be comic expressions by the youth, they are understatements of Idán’s huge efforts to disguise. Else, you run the risk of becoming Àdánwò.

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My Country Our Country Called Nigeria



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku 

    My country called Nigeria which is your country their country our country is an extraordinary country of evasions. We don’t need to prove or disprove this as the fact everywhere on the ground, in the sky and on and in the waters and on the underground carefully and easily formulate this claim that is more than a claim. The position or truth of the matter of my claim is that my thought and mind and head and heart are on a common platform with the movement of what you might or should accept as a point of view that is a point of view that is obviously and really more than a point of view yearning for a revolution. And do I really mean a revolution? And to what end and purpose is the revolution? To prove that Nigeria does not belong to the bigwigs, the top bureaucrats, the Aso Rockists, the presidencynologists and the rest of the exploiters and oppressors of  the people, the masses, the middle classes, the academics, professors, teachers, students and workers of all shades and colours generally.

    When I saw what I saw and which you definitely and probably saw a few days ago on telly, our blood, your blood and my blood, certainly boiled and craved for the blood of our oppressors and deceivers – all of them. Of course, I am referring to the spectacle of the inauguration of the new president, yes, of the new president, the sixteenth president or President the 16th, of Nigeria. The Abuja Eagle Square event beamed live in our rich television stations showed our elegant oppressors in their rich and real measure of oppressive and exploitative value. And your blood was pierced and wounded to the extent that you wanted immediately counter-measures of the severest and worst kind to take over your country from the decadent personages of decadence, who have ruined and are still ruining your country my country and our country they desperately want to own as their personal country and property.

    My spirit of populism rebelled against itself and its allied spirits when the deceiver and dissembler of a military general of Daura was being given his final respect as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria that were significantly armed warriors against the people and masses in a manner that confounded even their sensibilities and sanity. The general was getting his final military salute and was leaving us to rot and perish in our annihilated states after a presidential election that our exquisite justices are now presiding over on the grounds or no grounds of petitions of petitioners from APC’s rival political parties and their presidential candidates.

    Buhari was nothing but a killjoy. His regime in the main was a call to arms and decadence and hatred. Man against man. People against people. Ethnic group against ethnic group. Section against section. Clan against clan. Rank against rank. Brother against brother. “Class against class” – as Jean-Paul Sartre would put it. Under Buhari there was quarrel everywhere. There was warfare everywhere. “With a patient, mortal enemy, no quarter can be given: it is kill or be killed, there is no middle way. And no time for sleep.” I remember this quote which I am lifting from Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay on Paul Nizan. Buhari rekindles this in my mind that is thumbing through articles and essays and books of all regimes of decadence and of tyrannical tyranny and despotic despotism which Buhari is an exquisite essence of. May Buhari and his kind of flatulence never see the light of day again in our land – this land of lands and lands that must remain our own forever and forever. I call upon all of us who are ready to formulate now a forever programme of populists and populism to keep us on the alert and programme of populists and populism to keep us on the alert and stimulate our streaks and vitality of dissent any time any day anyone with the propensities of Buhari and his team of crushers dares to emerge again in my country your country our country which they do not own because it is not theirs to own.

    Our ethical and moral populists must be prepared to plant in themselves deliberate hardness against the strongest inclinations that will compel any future president of Nigeria to trample on the autotherapy of any Nigerian. It is important to stress this point. Each populist must be prepared as never before to challenge any negative and anti-people policy and feature in the physical and mental make-up of our president, this president or any other president.

    In his inaugural speech on Monday, May 29, 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu whose presidential fate and destiny are still distinctly un-settled and unstable dared the people with his arrogant declaration that oil “subsidy is gone.” At the time of my doing this column in the deep night of Tuesday, May 30, 2023, the negative effect of the declaration had already sent wrong or malicious signals about his less than one-day presidency everywhere in the land.  The Jagaban must not be a killjoy like the Daura personage of malicious hatred for the generality of the people of our country. If I was in his shoes (but I won’t because I can’t because of my calling), I would have garlanded myself in the wish to be soothed by the people by, for instance, warming towards our university egg-heads by releasing to them their seized salaries of eight months or so on account of their legitimately legitimate strike. President Tinubu must realise that the people and masses up to now still feel a profound mistrust of him and his political party following what Buhari did to them and the way and manner INEC conducted the presidential election and declared Tinubu the winner. The Jagaban must give thought to this. By the way, I have in my possession his 11th January, 2012 well thought-out essay when ex-President Jonathan dared to excise oil subsidy. Let me quote the Jagaban: “By this sly piece of paper, the federal government breached the social contract with the people. This government, which owes its existence to the people’s desire to be governed by someone more humble than elitist, has turned its back on the collective will.  By bureaucratic fiat, government made the most fateful economic decision any administration has made since the inception of the Fourth Republic and it has done so with an arrogant wave of the hand as if issuing a minor regulation.” The point I am making here is that he who has become our sixteenth president must encourage the people and masses not to lack enthusiasm in his presidency no matter how short or how long it may be. And our acceptance of him must be based on his shining presidential policy that must not be short of patriotism that should give us recuperative strength and powers. 

    The Populist Movement consisting of selfless veterans and non-veterans of the same selfless hue is absolutely alive. Nigeria must remain your country my country our country in the true spirit of your country my country our country. In this wise our pleasure must be full of patriotic perplexity. And we must luxuriate in the intoxication of this perplexity. The expectedly measured grace of the new landscape which you must lead and inspire us to recreate must be part of the substance of it – and should extend beyond that. The rest will be captured in my fresh patriotic poetry in the making. 

Afejuku can be reached via +2348055213059.

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Remembering The Aworeni Clan Of Ile Ife: Connecting Educational Experiment And A Philanthropic Spirit



Mr. Abimbola Aworeni

By Tunji Olaopa

This piece, for me, is an exercise in hagiographic historical reconstruction, as well as a celebration of friendship. There are so many gaps in our sociocultural histories and trajectories that require intellectual attention and cultural curiosity in ways that increasingly fill out the history of ideas, figures and issues in our social history. I believe the Aworeni clan of Ile-Ife constitutes one of these  critical points of history that require filling out. And with most sociocultural histories, one can only keep putting the puzzles together without ever achieving a perfect and coherent fit. One can only hope that a significant dimension of the objectives of journalism and media reporting in Nigeria will be diverted to the excavation of such histories that serve as the foundation of a people’s sense of self and of cultural knowledge. 

Anyone familiar with the educational trajectory of the 1970s and 1980s in the Southwest would immediately remember the name of the ‘notorious’ Chief Johnson Adedapo Aworeni of the Adesola High School fame. I came into the knowledge of his notoriety as a student of Awe High School, where Chief Aworeni was once a principal. Chief Aworeni, as I will narrate in a moment, was an educationist and philanthropist of the sort whose activities had a most unintended consequences that seemed to undermine his objectives of allowing so many children to achieve educational advancement. This endeavor cast Chief Aworeni in a bad light as someone who bastardized the essence of education, something that the Awe people—from many of my pieces about my hometown—take very seriously as a sacred issue. 

Chief Johnson Adedapo Aworeni

And so, in 1989, while I was at the Lagos State directorate of the Mass Mobilization for Self-Reliance, and Economic Recovery (MAMSER), I met one Abimbola Aworeni at the Thorburn Avenue, Yaba office. When he introduced himself as “Bimbo Aworeni,” that last name struck a historical chord immediately. I was quick to pose the next logical question: “Are you related to the Chief Aworeni of the Adesola High School, Ibadan fame?” Of course, he was! He was one of the sons of the great and “notorious” chief. And in a typical lively and jovial manner that I would grow used to, Abimbola owned up and made fun of the extreme qualities of his father. But then, he celebrated him as “a unique philanthropist and a kindhearted lover of the downtrodden who will give all to give others a better life.” 

My curiosity about Abimbola’s father eventually led both of us into a lifelong relationship that ensured that we always were readily available to attend to each other’s need when the occasion arose. The past tense I have used for Abimbola Aworeni is indicative and tragic: he passed away on the 15th of May, 2023, and quite so untimely. This news is painful because no one should ever lose a dear one—Abimbola was a brother and a friend after my heart; and one of my regrets is that I was not able to keep up with his joyful philosophy of existence and relationship given that I was too taken in by the necessity of juggling critical professional and research responsibilities that prevented me from socializing and keeping up with equally critical relationships. And what best way to celebrate my friend than to begin a preliminary historical protocol of excavating the significance of the Aworeni family in the history of the educational and philanthropic dynamics of the Southwest. 

Let me complete the story of Abimbola’s renowned father. Chief Aworeni was practically a self-made man who started climbing the educational ladder with distinction from a very early age. The doggedness that saw him through secondary school equally kept him pursuing distinction all through a first degree in economics, a second degree in history, a postgraduate diploma in education, and a law degree all from the Universities of London and Ibadan. We will probably not know what turned Chief Aworeni’s attention to education, but he not only made the rounds of the most famous secondary schools in the southwest—Ibadan Boys High School, Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, MacJob Grammar School, Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode Grammar School, Awe High School, Awe, etc.—as a teacher and principal, he also probably picked up, along the way, his populist orientation that made him one of the most influential philanthropists in the Southwest in his days. 

The Aworeni Scholarship came to signify the emergence of a spirit of unrestrained giving that was tied to the Ile Ife root of the Aworeni, but that transcended that cultural boundary to encompass all indigent students who qualified by simply demonstrating a need to learn. He demonstrated a cultural patriotism that was determined to lift all indigenes of Ile Ife beyond the limitations of ignorance into the sublimity of education and enlightenment. And his open-minded philanthropic philosophy would ensure that he threw wide the net of empowerment to as many as would be willing to learn. And it was only logical that Chief Aworeni would eventually establish a school to accelerate the realization of his desire to encourage many less privileged candidates to pick up a pen and get an educational foundation. The Adesola High School, Ibadan was the institutional embodiment of the Aworeni scholarship and the philosophy of empowerment that he stood for. 

And this is where the zeal to shine the light of enlightenment on many dark minds led to the opening of the floodgates that would burden quality education with the deadening quantity of overloaded classrooms. Chief Aworeni was not careful to measure his populist philanthropy with the realistic assessment that one school cannot take all comers. And this is not just about the available infrastructures; it was also about the quality of education such students can be provided with. A perceptive reader would have made the connection between Chief Aworeni’s educational experiment and Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s free education project. Unlike the former, the latter was founded on a well-laid out educational policy that also involved taxation to achieve a level of required funding that made the project a success. Chief Aworeni’s enthusiasm was simply borne aloft by his populist eagerness. It was as if Chief Aworeni was too impatient to countenance any hindrance—including educational planning—to his ultimate goal of adding values to people’s lives, especially the underprivileged whom the state had abandoned to themselves, and to a life of indistinction. 

This is where Chief Aworeni’s educational philosophy and philanthropic spirit should first be applauded. Azim Premji, the Indian businessman, aptly summarizes Chief Aworeni’s philanthropic sense: “The responsibility of philanthropy rests with us. The wealthier we are, the more powerful we get. We cannot put the entire onus on the government.” Philanthropy complements the efforts of the government in transforming the lives of the citizens; and hence, this made Chief Aworeni a significant part of the rendering of the educational history of the Southwest. Unfortunately, populist philanthropy does not always serve the objective of an education that is functional and optimal, especially the type that a citizen requires to become a good member of society. It would seem that this was the point at which people of Awe took exception to the educational “philosophy” of the great man. 

But then, maybe Chief Aworeni was just not well understood. This was definitely a man that was deeply motivated to domesticate his philanthropic spirit to the service of his community. That, all by itself, is a worthy contribution to the well-being of the community members, and makes the initiator of the community service programme an ambassador to note. It would seem however that the weight of attention has been focused more on the negative side of Aworeni’s populist philanthropy rather than on the larger picture of what he did and why he did it. We only have the collective appreciation of those who scaled through the overload of the Adesola High School, and the many others who benefitted from the Aworeni Scholarship, to thank for representing the success of the unsung philanthropist. 

At a deeper level, Chief Aworeni calls into play the relationship between education and philanthropy, especially in a postcolonial context like Nigeria where the state seems to have abdicated its responsibility towards the creative harnessing of the human capital that could be deployed towards communal and national development. It likely will be a difficult research endeavor to determine the extent to which the beneficiaries of the Aworeni scholarship and goodwill have contributed to the developmental dynamics of the Southwest. But there is no denying the fact that he did the best that he could within the constraints of his time and context, as well as the limited resources he had which he distributed with all joy to the needy.

No wonder my departed friend—his son—Abimbola Aworeni, who goes by such  nicknames as Bambo and Skolobi could be very proud of his “notorious” but unique father who damned every consequence to be relevant in his own way. He loved his cultural root; and he loved people even more, wherever they could be found who needed help to make their ways in life. And that was what he directed his entire life attending to. I am glad I met the scion of such a large heart. May the gentle soul of my dear friend, Bimbo, rest in peace.       

  . Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and  Professor of Public Administration.


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