Connect with us

Opinion

NYSC, Youth’s Trust And Empowerment

Published

on

NYSC: Regeneration Of Values

By
Emmanuel Onwubiko

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward a good end.” -Mary Mcleod Bethune

As I was driving out of the house in the morning to the office, a call came in. The call was persistent to an extent that I had to wait to receive it and for twenty four minutes, the caller from the other end spoke to the issues of the unprecedented levels of societal crimes by the youths and what can be done about this menace.

This concerned caller happens to be my long- time friend, a Nigerian from my Imo State but who spent sometimes in Abuja after her National Youth Service Corps scheme to read for her post-graduate studies.

She would later migrate to the United States of America about a decade and half ago when she got married to a Nigerian/American who is doing one of the top security jobs in the United State of America. So she called me from the United States of America just to exchange ideas of what can be done to minimize the involvement of young Nigerians in different crimes such as advance fee fraud; drug and human trafficking, terrorism, banditry, armed robberies, political thuggery and outright hooliganism.

Although Chinyere has been outside of our shores, she kept herself abreast of happenings because her family lives in Abuja with her parents now retired and back to Owerri, the Imo State capital.

One thing she said to me which inspired this reflection was the huge potential that the National Youths Service Corps scheme holds in the area of economic and skill empowerment if the initiative by the NYSC is adequately funded and transparently managed. Her thinking tallied with the import in my opening quotation aforementioned.

She then referred me to a great interview that was done by This Day newspaper with a senior Director in the NYSC who is in charge of the department on skills acquisition. I will very shortly recall what was said by the senior management member of staff which as someone with interest about developments around the NYSC, I can state categorically to be accurate.

But first, this good friend of mine recalled with nostalgia how the then President Olusegun Obasanjo set up a presidential agency for economic empowerment known as the National Poverty Eradication Project or NAPEP. She then said the collapse of that noble initiative due to a lot of bureaucratic bottlenecks and managerial Ineptitude/corruption, was regrettable and expressed anxiety whether the proposed National Youth Service Corps youth’s trust fund won’t go the way of NAPEP and if administrative bottlenecks would not be activated by public servants that could cripple the initiative.

Well, I told her that I could not guarantee that there would be no teething challenges but one thing that is certain is that the National Youth Service Corp youth trust fund is an idea whose time has come. I remember one of the thinkers in the Western world who said.

“No army in the world can defeat an idea whose time has come.” In the same vein the necessity for the setting up on a solid footing of a trust fund for youths under the auspices of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme has come.

READ ALSO: The Lies A bout NYSC

Aside from the positive, transformational and constructive social impact the youth trust fund would bring, the initiative is about the surest panacea for youths involvement in social crimes because “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.

Just like my caller from the state of Texas in the USA said about the social menace of youth’s involvement in Yahoo Yahoo, and a multitude of other organised crimes, I do also think that the Nigerian State is not handling and tackling this social crisis from the root cause and the fact is that the to government is treating the malignant tumour of social crimes from the secondary manifestations but at the same time the government is not rational enough to uproot the cause of the problem which is mass hunger, mass joblessness, public sector corruption and the excesses of the operatives of law enforcement agents who go as far as arresting many innocent youths just so that they can be extorted and their human dignity denied by crude force. The EFCC and the Nigerian Police Force have come under increasing scrutiny for their use of torture to force accused persons to admit crimes they actually never committed.

However, the frightening possibility of many youngsters getting involved in sophisticated crimes can’t be discountenanced and seeing the number of youths illegally paraded by EFCC as suspects makes me think that the Federal Government needs to declare and implement a Marshall Plan for economic empowerment of youth. One of such should be the establishment of the NYSC Youth Trust Fund.

Both I and my caller concluded by endorsing the proposal put forward by the Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim-led NYSC which is the establishment of the NYSC Youth Trust Fund.

Now here are what the key officers in NYSC said about the National Youth Trust Fund to be managed by the NYSC when established through a legal framework which millions of Nigerians are clamouring for.

The NYSC justified its proposal to set up a trust fund for all corps members nationwide, arguing that the fund, if eventually established, will help actualize President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of unemployment before the next decade.

NYSC, a scheme established in 1973 to promote national cohesion and integration, disclosed that it had trained over 500,000 corps members in different agro-allied, skill development and vocational programmes and facilitated N1.184 billion for those who applied in the last decade.

READ ALSO: NYSC Not Death But Skills’ Sentence

NYSC’s Director Special Duties, Alhaji Musa Abdullahi who said this at a session with THISDAY at the weekend, revealed that corps members had been trained and empowered under the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED).

Explaining its centrality to the fight against poverty and unemployment, Abdullahi said the Director-General of NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Shuaibu had proposed the establishment to a trust fund as a strategy to help actualise Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million out of poverty cycle.

Despite huge achievements the scheme had recorded under 48 years of its establishment, the NYSC had its diversified its approach from career advisory to entrepreneurship development with the high rate of poverty and unemployment nation.

Of the 25 NYSC secretariats that set up post-camp mini-training centres nationwide, for instance, Abdullahi noted that the scheme was recording low patronage perhaps due to lack of training tools or lack of awareness among graduates.

Abdullahi explained the centrality of the ongoing establishment of Skills Acquisition Centre in all geo-political zones to raising entrepreneurs, who he argued, would deploy their entrepreneurial potential for national development.

He, therefore, noted that it was on this ground that the NYSC had proposed to establish a trust fund to equip corps members with requisite skills they need for value addition and financial empowerment as they are completing their national services.

When established, according to the NYSC’s director, the trust fund will also provide resources for the training and empowerment of corps members, especially on skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development. It is a strategy to end poverty as the president has envisaged to lift 100 million out of poverty by 2030.

READ ALSO: Why Govt Shouldn’t Scrap NYSC – HURIWA

Since its creation in 2012, NYSC’s director listed SAED’s achievements to include the establishment of a full-pledged department that would be saddled with the responsibility of streamlining the skills and entrepreneurial activities of the corps members.

Under the Department of Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, Abdullahi disclosed that it had received support from the Access Bank Plc to construct and equip a mega skills acquisition centre for in Gombe for the North-east states.

Besides, according to the director, the organisation is building a similar one in Jigawa for the Northwest states and in Nasarawa for the North-central states. The construction of the Southwest skill acquisition centre located in Ekiti State is already at completion stage.

Abdullahi disclosed an ongoing collaboration with Unity Bank Plc, which according to him, focused on funding business plan development programmes for corps members.

He, also, disclosed successful partnership initiatives with such funding institutions as the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the CBN, which he said, would provide start-up capital for corps entrepreneurs.

To realise these plans, Abdullahi noted that General Electric and Cognity Advisory Nigeria, among others had trained 40 SAED officers on entrepreneurship.

He explained that the SAED, which empowered corps members with the support of its partners, had helped set the corps members on the path to prosperity.

“In the process, more entrepreneurs have been created in the country. Since we started the SAED a decade ago, 20,000 trained corps members have been linked with various government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

“They have been able to access N1.184 billion credit facilities. At the end of the training, the corps members are given interest-free loans ranging from N200, O00 to N300, 000) to start their own businesses in their areas of choice or interests.”

BUnder the War against Poverty (WAP), an initiative designed to actualise President Muhammadu Buhari’s aspiration of lifting 100 million people in 10 years, the director explained that NYSC has been able to train and empower close to at least 500,000 corps members to be entrepreneurs and employers of labour rather than looking for jobs.

Abdullahi explained that the WAP initiative started primarily “as a career advisory unit. Since corps members were faced with numerous job opportunities or job offers, the unit was set up to help them make good decisions”.

In the early years of its establishment, corps members had difficulties in choosing where to work due to the numerous job offers they received even before the completion of their national service, This spurred the NYSC to establish a unit called Job Advisory and Counseling Unit (JAC).

When the job opportunities began to dwindle due to the increasing population of graduates, the NYSC introduced various policies and collaborated with government and non-governmental agencies, which gave birth to SAED as a strategy to check the spiraling rate of unemployment in the federation.

He, therefore, noted that government agencies “have been very supportive of the scheme’s SAED. Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), now Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) sponsored the WAP initiative, one of the programmes aimed at raising entrepreneurs.

The WAP is usually organised to empower corps members with skill and startup loans to professionalize in agro-allied enterprises. It is in line with the Vision of the NYSC to respond to current realities of unemployment by shifting the attention of the corps members from the unrealistic quest for white-collar jobs to that of becoming self-employed after their national service.

Specifically, Abdullahi said corps members “are empowered with such agro-allied skills as animal husbandry, snail breeding, bee keeping, fish farming, grass cutter farming, plantain/ banana sucker multiplication and poultry farming.”

The director said the NYSC had forged collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which had promoted the spirit of entrepreneurship and self-reliance since it commenced in 2008 with the training of 600 corps members annually.

Through collaboration with the CBN, according to Abdullahi, over 2000 corps members have been reached. “We are sustaining partnership to ensure that at least 600 complete their national service with mindset to establish their businesses”, he said.Abdullahi disclosed that the WAP had been used “to facilitate conduct of advanced entrepreneurial training of seven WAP entrepreneurs at Barry University, Miami, Florida.

Under the initiative, the NYSC’s director disclosed that the National Economic Reconstruction Funds (NERF) gave the corps entrepreneurs credit facilities between N1.8 million and N3 million to expand their enterprises and employ more workers.

“We think the NYSC Youth Trust Fund should be expeditiously established to cut down on the phenomenal rate of youth’s involvement in sophisticated and mind-boggling crimes. The media and the civil rights movements need to key in into this national movement in support of the NYSC Youth Trust Fund now.

Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Opinion

NADECO’s Bliss That’s No More

Published

on

NADECO’s Bliss That’s No More

By

Tony Afejuku

I have been doing some investigation on NADECO – National Democratic Coalition. At this point I do not want to go intoto into what I wish or need to say about this uniquely patriotic body of patriotically patriotic Nigerians (some of whom are dead) who were the original founders and members. But I should like to state urgently that NADECO, the original NADECO, was a movement – yes a movement, of intrepid men, real nationalists, of diverse political, professional and intellectual activities. They were generally public figures who were committed to establishing an imperial state – if I may use the term – of bliss for all our compatriots, an imperial state where no one would be discriminated against and barred from occupying the highest office in the land on account of his/her religious and ethnic background and status. In other words, their commitment was to a scientific welfare state where no form of oppression or any kind of ridiculous schemes for manipulating the people and opinion to serve any selfish interest and class would be allowed and tolerated. The conceived imperial state would discountenance any kind of revenge which would not be allowed to ring anywhere and in all observations and complaints; no malevolence was expected to be seen in any praise or words of praise that should bring bliss to all.

READ ALSO: When God Visits A Beleaguered World

Were these basic values of NADECO not ones of Utopia? Was the ideology of NADECO not suspect in view of the fact that some property-owners would still like to exercise colonial control over their property and their communities where they commanded considerable influence? And who among the original NADECO members and founders were prepared in the real sense of the word to be linked to a different kind of nascent political power as conceived by them? Were they real? Were they genuine? These were some of the questions I posed recently in a discussion I had with a NADECO insider and originator and which I wanted him to answer as simply and as truthfully as possible. Meanwhile, his towered up thoughts shall be in abeyance.

What inspired our discussion (which was part of my NADECO investigation) was primarily the fresh released report of the Lekki procession of last year’s October which was the subject of this column last Friday. Our discussion dwelt on what would have been if NADECO’s divine strive against inequality and predominance of one group or class had come into being. The tarantulas that went to Lekki to bite the EndSars protesters would not have had any place in the land. And your country my country our country would have since become your country my country our country that we always have beautifully yearned to have. All kinds of tarantism would have since bitten themselves out of here. And all our young chaps would have since seen that NADECO is the clearest parable of a pleasurable political body to legitimate acutely the status also of refined political authority to serve the people.

READ ALSO: Covid-19, Managing in Crisis Times And Public Administration

Today we would not have been talking of restructuring as latter-day NADECOists are basically doing. As I understood (and I still understand it) the original NADECO’s capital was that of the political and professional intellectual: oratorical skill as a politician of beauty and rhetorical proficiency as a writer on the ideological sphere of combat to bring to bay that which must be significantly brought to bay to avoid past errors of our politics. NADECO’s politics as originally conceived and planned was the politics of the Superhero, the politics of the Superman. Each original NADECO personage was expected to possess some doses of Obafemi Awolowo’s extraordinarily significant organic intellectual capability and political acumen. To all intents and purposes therefore every original NADECO member knew and understood the meaning and “closeness to real political power” to be employed as Awolowo intellectually did as an important humanist who was very conscious of the main current of our clime. His distinguished reputation was expectedly expected to flow invariably in the consciousness of each one’s own private and public mind.

Clearly, today’s NADECO – if it still exists – possesses a mind which has since changed from the conscious past of progressive politics and governance to the conscious present of political and administrative restructuring that is remote from the awareness of the past that the current NADECOists’ consciousness is not at all prone to develop.

Who are or were the original NADECO members and founders? Comrade Jonathan Ihonde, an original member and founder – a foremost one – who was highly instrumental to the coming into being of the organized organization committed to wiping out of our land the poison spiders of our politics, is writing a book on the subject. The book is detailing what I don’t want to detail here. For now it is suffice to say that on account of the late MKO Abiola’s plea to him when he purposely came to visit him in Benin City, Comrade Ihonde, the creator of the then very popular NTA Benin “Hotel de Jordan,” a high drama of politico socio-cultural dimension, went to the late Chief Anthony Enahoro to plead for MKO Abiola after contacting various interest groups from every region of our country. This was after IBB killed Abiola’s presidential electoral victory in 1992. Of course his SDP – Social Democratic Party – top guns and fellows had bitten him badly. He meant and vowed to survive the poison of his party’s tarantulas.

READ ALSO: Lekki Procession One Year After

NADECO was thus born in Benin City. The Soviet-trained Comrade Jonathan Ihonde became the organization’s revolutionary Vice-Chairman after Chief Anthony Enahoro was equally elected/appointed its chairman. Other patriots who were visible members/originators of NADECO were Mr. Mike Ehimah (Secretary), the late Senator Olu Akpata, Mrs. Nadena Emovon, Mr. Alex Ayatola (Enahoro’s PA of Igbo stock) and others I cannot immediately recall. Of course, the late Alfred Rewane was aware of the formation and was part of it from inception even though he was abroad at auspicious times of its meetings. But he was NADECO’s indisputable tower of financial strength. Eventually, it was agreed that Abiola’s Western Nigeria should champion the divine battle against the injustice which the northern juntos led by IBB master minded.

Chief Anthony Enahoro and Mr. Alex Ayatola were mandated to visit the late Chief Michael Ajasin at Owo to persuade him to take over the leadership and to gaze into the far field in the endeavour to give Abiola joyful splendour and to usher bliss post-Awolowo to our fatherland. Chief Ajasin had the full mandate to reach out to fellow like minds from his region and elsewhere to give daylight happiness to everyone in the land. The rest from my end is history. But how many of us now cannot but be giddy with pain – how many of us? Are the tarantulas still not poisoning our bliss and happiness? “There must be punishment and justice” (not revenge) to cleanse your country my country our country when our Superman appears. The consciousness of the original NADECO must be re-awakened in us. The real progressive leftists have been silent for too long. We must wrench our true daylight from the darkness and dark hands and dark grips of the current poison spiders that are worse and more than worse than pythons. And let me share this gem with you: the Supreme Spiritual Masters of Merit (SSMM) are seriously turning well in their deathless states.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Opinion

Covid-19, Managing in Crisis Times And Public Administration

Published

on

Covid-19, Managing in Crisis Times And Public Administration

By

Tunji Olaopa

The year 2020 would be remembered in the annals of world history as the year that the coronavirus visited the world and transformed every dimension of human endeavors, from eating and greeting habits to administrative frameworks and the way we see the human world. With millions already dead and many more infected, especially through many variants deadlier than the original virus, the pandemic has already defined a new normal in human relations and activities. It does not take any serious reflection to see that public administration becomes the most significant human endeavor to be challenged not only in dealing with the pandemic, but also in responding to the ordering of the human world in a post-COVID-19 world. All across the world, public administration has often been called upon to deal with wars, pestilences, development efforts, and state projects of all kinds. In Nigeria, for example, public administration had to contend with the task of prosecuting the Nigerian civil war as well as outlining an administrative framework for a post-war social rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The implication of this assessment of public administration and its confrontation with existing realities of each period in history is that public managers must always operate efficiently within what has been called a VUCA — volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous — administrative environment. In such an environment, public managers and the public service are tasked beyond what the traditional administrative machinery is  able to take charge of. This is the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has created a volatile situation determined by the unpredictable behavior of the virus. This makes the administration of human activities even more complex than it usually is. For instance, the lockdown procedures come with stringent economic realities that affect human freedom and well-being.

READ ALSO: Can Civil Service Profession Be Saved from Politics?

One of the greatest challenges of the public service, especially in a postcolonial administrative context like Nigeria, is the determination of what bureaucratic model could best enable a public service that is effective and efficient sufficiently to deal with the challenges of the VUCA environment while also smartly delivering democratic services. Max Weber, the German philosopher who did a lot to influence the emergence of the traditional administrative model, was also confronted with this kind of VUCA-situation in the early twentieth century. The crisis situation came as a result of the hostility between the German Emperor, Wilhelm II and his Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, over the content of foreign and social policies. The emperor’s erratic foreign policy has been considered to be one of the root causes of World War I. Max Weber was a very keen philosophical observer of the defeat of Germany in the first world war, as well as the bureaucratic implications of the power tussle between Wilhelm II and Chancellor Bismarck. For instance, he noticed how administrative dominance of the state consolidated in the absence of a strong political leader. This led him to reflect deeply on how to juxtapose political leadership with a bureaucracy that assists  the state in terms of modernisation and development.

Weber’s understanding of the crisis led to a need to model politician-bureaucrat relationship in ways that determine the boundaries of power and authority around policymaking. For Weber, the way out was to generate a bureaucratic tradition that centralized legal-rational authority founded on hierarchical structure and a one-size-fits-all service-wide standardization of governance and operations. The command-and-control structure constructed the public servant as apolitical, loyal, neutral and anonymous. With the bureaucratic model, Weber achieved a crisis management dynamic in the aftermath of the first world war. The question, however, is whether that Weberian model is sufficient to handle the crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 and the myriad challenges of the new normal. This question resonates even more so in a postcolonial context like Nigeria considered one of the worst administrative settings in Africa. An even more fundamental question is how can public services  become efficient in a time of crisis like the pandemic and its future variants?

Putting the questions like this speaks to the need for organizations like the public service to recognize the necessity of change as the most constant factor that demands of organizations a reform template made up of continuous learning, change management and iterative incremental improvements. In organizational development theory, organizations usually fall prey to three development traps that define what has been called the “first cycle” of the bureaucratic culture. First, organizational success leads to self-satisfaction and an unreflective defense of the status quo. Second, size brings the fragmentation of organizational procedures that takes the public managers far away from customers’ feedback which serves as the mechanism for innovative growth. Third, the age factor implies that the older an organization gets, the more it breeds tradition which over time tends to supersede innovative and creative handling of challenges.

READ ALSO: What Does The Future Hold For Public Administration?

The question of high-performing public service in a time of crisis also demands the emergence of astute public managers who see decision-making as the nerve of organizational efficiency. In other words, the smart public managers need to transform the public service into a bold, preemptive and high-performing organizations with the capacity to make fast and effective decisions in the time of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. However, decision-making must not be allowed to degenerate into groupthink that hinders individual and organizational creativity, information overload, analysis paralysis that leads to indecision, or overconfidence in the crisis management competence in ways that create tension at both the operational and strategic levels.

The efficiency of any CEO or public manager depends on three critical competences. The first is the capacity to effectively delegate authority in a way that prioritizes the discretion of a crisis manager to independently work in the organizational frontline within a framework of exceptions to the rules that do not however erode the normal regulations in ways that break down the organization. The second competence the public manager needs requires creating a balance between the command-and-control dynamic on the one hand, and participatory team-based decision-making approach on the other.

The third competence that a crisis period demands, is the need for intelligent public managers to be open to alternative scenario planning that anticipates both uncertainties and possibilities. This enables the public servants to bring multiple perspectives to policy challenges and public service delivery using foresight techniques to test different scenarios, and building resilience into policy design from potential shocks and unforeseen events.

READ ALSO: The Church And The Challenges Of A Nation

Fashioning new professional skills set involves several other requirements. First, it demands a human resources management architecture around which a new professionalism will be built. Second, this affects the way we reflect on the workplace, work structure and work dynamics that will affect the performance and productivity Nigeria needs. And thirdly, the professionalism must be undergirded by new culture and value changes that enable the public servants to focus on the new enabling values and ethos as well as helping them to think outside of the administrative box.

The idea of scenario planning speaks to the familiar four stages of “forming-storming-norming and performing” model of organization formation that enables any institution and organization to become efficiently formidable not only in dealing with a present challenge but also in anticipating future situations. A public service that wants to be efficient in the new normal created by the COVID-19 pandemic must, within the imperative of scenario planning, adopt a framework of strategic thinking that becomes strategic by challenging the status quo, challenging assumptions and framing strategic choices that allow the public service to not only wade through the difficult times, but also make the best of the situation for the benefit of the citizens.

Furthermore, such a public service must reorder its institutional and structural dynamics and frameworks through several processes, in organisational development trajectory, that must continually refresh the organisational dynamics and prevent it from going into institutional stagnation. These include: (a) Learning organization: An all-out effort is required on the part of managers to keep its employees educated on the latest technology, systems, knowhow and processes; (b) Total quality management: TQM involves employee involvement, teamwork, decision-making, problem-solving, high-level involvement, adopting a work culture aimed at growth and quality of product and services. TQM requires total commitment, removing fear psychosis  due to failure at lower levels, development of successful work culture and continuous improvement; (c) Visioning: Visioning envisages as to what the organization would look like in the future. It is related to the shape in terms of which HR facilities, the growth and the needs of people it is likely to fulfill. Based on the vision, database is required to be built, leading to interpretation of information, arriving at suitable decisions and setting a course of action leading to growth. Visioning refers to looking at the organization in ‘totality’; and (d) Virtual organizations: Getting whole system in one room, evolving action plan and implementation.

READ ALSO: When God Visits A Beleaguered World

In the new normal, public administration is now doubly tasked to achieve an efficient service delivery to the citizens. This means that it cannot not be business as usual for public managers, not in terms of the traditional bureaucratic culture and definitely not in terms of the skills and competency sets. The new normal requires a new public service that is smart and decisive with regard to a decision that transforms the well-being of citizens who are struggling to make sense of their environment.

Prof. Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and  Professor of Public Administration, the National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos

tolaopa2003@gmail.com

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Opinion

Ibadan: My City of Fame

Published

on

Ibadan: My City of Fame

By

Toyin Falola

I have searched; I have attempted, and I conclude that there are not enough words to quantify how much Ibadan     the city of the brave and fierce     means to me. Yes, I did attempt to describe my love for and affinity to the city in my memoir, A Mouth Sweeter than Salt, but I have since acquiesced that Ibadan is that indescribable lover. It is valid to say this love and affinity can be likened to what everyone feels towards their city of birth and origin. However, for me, it is beyond that.

Ibadan is my place of birth; the city of my forebears; and the place where I was raised. What I am today has its roots in where I was born and the receptivity of the environment in which I grew up. It is what psychologists call the nature-nurture continuum. A wise man reminisces, and in reminiscing, he is able to tell how circumstances interwove to produce a unique turn of events. For decades, I have researched and produced papers and studies in history, and at the heart of my scholarly works is African history. I am deeply interested in African history, and that interest can be traced back to Ibadan. As breastmilk to a neonate, Ibadan was my first taste of Africa. Thus, at the mention of Ibadan, or whenever memories of Ibadan surface, a fountain of happiness and contentment surges in my heart, so much so that joy flows through my veins and touches a smile upon my lips.

READ ALSO: Is Nigeria On The Brink?

Culturally rich, historically blessed, full of resplendent human resources—Ibadan—the city of the brave! To be born of Ibadan parents is to be doubly smart in human dealings. To be born of Ibadan parents, in Ibadan, is to be triply knowledgeable on how to navigate this world of humans. Fortified with thrice as much knowledge and smartness, I ventured into the world. But not until I had learned at the feet of my people. But to love Ibadan goes beyond having natal affiliations to the historical city. Spread like a terrestrial mat across seven hills, Ibadan is famous for its bravery and the intelligence and dexterity of its warriors. Military strength and prowess were at the heart of the dealings of Ibadan people in the past. From the very beginning, the rulers of old Ibadan were warriors who had to prove their superiority by the number of wars they had successfully led their charges to win.

The evolution of Ibadan is worthy of aesthetic praises in itself. Ibadan, at inception, was just scattered war camps on an unmarked forested territory. Lagelu, touted as the founding father of the now extensive city, only wanted a common ground for warriors from Ijebu, Ife, and Oyo. What started as a haven of defense rose to become one of pre-colonial Oyo Empire’s most respected and famous cities. Ibadan went to wars, and Ibadan won wars. Ibadan military gurus were known to specialize in the art of going to wars and winning them.

Miniature industrialization sprang up in some focal cities in Nigeria   Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, among others. With this miniature industrialization came amenities such as the railway, which strengthened the commercial and political importance of a city that was strictly a growing expanse of war camp settlements. Ibadan has greatly developed, and it is still developing. Three things are enviable about Ibadan: its large expanse of land that spreads so far; the boldness of Ibadan citizens to speak their minds, even at gunpoint; and the beauty of Ibadan’s historical aesthetics, better viewed from Layipo, which now houses Bower’s Tower.

READ ALSO: Is Nigeria On The Brink?

The history of Oyo    as a region and then as a state    cannot be complete without the mention of Ibadan. Decades after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates, there was the compartmentalization of the new Nigeria, resulting in the regional system of administration, which ran till the independence of the state. And, which other city in Western Nigeria would have become the regional capital, if not Ibadan? Ibadan was the regional capital of the Western region, from where the administration and development of the various extensions of the Western region took place. Today, we have Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara, Delta, Edo, Lagos, and Ondo    states whose development started from the days of the Old Oyo region, when Ibadan was the center of administration and developmental policy-making. Ibadan is, today, the capital of Oyo State.

READ ALSO: Toyin Falola: A Gong And Drums To Honoured Merit

Self-actualization comes for different people in different ways. For many scholars, self-actualization comes from the continual recognition of their works and a commitment to lifelong learning. I am among such academics and scholars who see these two phenomena as a means of self-actualization. Thus, this should help you have an inkling of how thrilled I am to be receiving the Doctor of Letters degree from Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, domiciled in the city of history. I have received several Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) degrees, but this one, from Ibadan, my City of Fame, is a degree for which I went into an academic sojourn. My life and times have been principally about histories    through studies, analyses, and extrapolations. And yet, another history is made as I am the University of Ibadan’s first graduate of the Doctor of Letters degree in the humanities. For this, I am grateful, and I am delighted to identify with one of the most prestigious universities in Africa and a citadel of learning for excellent and world-class education.

It feels amazing to be back home, to my City of Fame, and to receive this honor with the deepest gratitude to everyone who made this remarkable journey worth the while. I appreciate the support I received from the Provost and Deputy-Provost of the School of Postgraduate Studies, as well as my examiners and evaluators at various levels, and the Director of the Institute of African Studies. To those who facilitated the paperwork, payment of school fees, the assemblage of diplomas and essays, the heavy running around, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Professor Adeshina Afolayan and Mr. Wale Ghazal. Professor Ademola Dasylva, in his relentless promotion of the University of Ibadan and what it stands for, paid for the elegant academic gown. I am grateful for the invaluable guidance and encouragement I received; all these spurred me on and made this day possible.

There is the affection, joy and fulfillment that come with us as humans and the humanities. This degree and other awards are testaments to the richness and importance of the work I have done and continue to do as an historian. My affinity with the Ibadan School of History is equally significant. All these culminate in a climax of deeply-seated emotions that I will embalm and keep with me for as long as I breathe.

READ ALSO: Is Nigeria On The Brink?

Again, I sincerely want to thank everyone who made this history-making occasion possible. Thank you all.

The above was Prof. Falola’s  gratitude statement  on the conferment of the D.Litt. degree at the University of Ibadan on November 17, 2021.

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: