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Am I Really The Dad?: Paternity Matters

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BOOK REVIEW: Ayo Joan Olatoyosi's Thesis, Antithesis And Synthesis Of Life

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Grace Ego Omoni

If an individual does not know his or her root, then such a one has no idea what the future holds for him or her in the traditional African society especially  where the patrilineal  family system is practised. Among several ethnic groups in Nigeria,  the Yorubas and the Ukwuanis in the South West and the Niger Delta respectively, the identity of the individual is held in high esteem. The nomenclature or heritage of the family is known and preserved through their cognomen known as “Orikri” in Yoruba and “Efa otutu imusu” in Ukwuani. The cognomen of the family talks about the attributes of the family stock.

According to Akinwowo, the cognomen refers to the praise, chants, recitations and poetic lyrics of achievements of a group’s ancestry which are intended to provide a great amount of historical or biological information of that person’s identity. The purpose is to preserve a record of  the valued past of the family the person  comes from and to spur  him or her to greater achievements in emulation of their ancestors. In fact, it fosters hope for the individual. Often when a child wakes up early in the morning  to greet, the parents  burst  into praises and chants about the family’s exploits in the past  that made them outstanding in their ancestral vicinity either in terms of bravery or the profession in which they are noted for.

A child who fails to  exhibit such characteristics or ancestral attributes embedded in the cognomen of the family is often suspected as a bastard leading to paternity questions by the father or other family members secretly or outright !  Fathers of such children accuse their wives of infidelity and traditionally find ways to discover the truth. The above history is given to help the reader understand that in our African society, identity is of utmost  importance for an individual’s social and cultural  survival. Anything that will cause  the individual to have issues concerning his  or her identity as a member of the family  is often greeted with pains, shame and sorrow.

READ ALSO: Tonto Dikeh Gives Reasons For Leaving Ex-lover, Kpokpogri

Today, the issue of paternity fraud has become so rampant that many families have been disrupted. It  has led to controversies, unknown illnesses and even  deaths. The reader will agree with the writer that cases of promiscuity, adultery, infidelity and all sorts of sexual misdemeanor have become the order of the day among the young and the  old, the single, the  unmarried as well as the married, the highly respected and low, the have and the have not. In time past,  married women rarely engage in extramarital sex or else, she would have to face the wrath of the gods.

Nature has a way of exposing this evil and the woman is  made to confess. For instance, the child or the woman in question may fall sick and defy all manner of treatment and may  even die if she failed  to confess. The man who also knows that the wife committed such a crime and failed to tell his family members might also be afflicted with inexplicable occurrences until solutions are sought traditionally.

Paternity fraud as noted earlier is very much in our midst. Sometime past, there was this young man who could not get his wife pregnant. The twin sister to the wife who also was married had had her own children. Their mother was worried and sought   trado-medical help. There and then, they were told that the husband was answering the  name of one who was not the father.  The young man forced his own mother to say the truth and  to take him to his biological father. There was a legal tussle! The  other man  sued for  damages and asked for  millions of naira as compensation for the investment in the child. It was after this that the young man  started having his own children.

The mother was thrown out of her marriage and the new father could not marry her because he had  his own legal wife.  The woman became the greatest loser! A recent one was that of a young woman who had  two sex  partners,  got pregnant and  was forced into marrying the richer of the two by her parents. Nature proved them wrong for she eventually had the child, it was an albino! Everyone  in the village  knew the paternity of the baby. The mother of the girl’s  other sex partner happened to be an albino! That was how she was sent packing to  settle with the biological father of the child. There are so many other instances. A friend told me how  a 63-year-old man was brought to her family even after the death of their father. The sibling  could not deny his paternity because they all saw the perfect resemblance between their late father and the man.

In this article, the following sub- topics  will  be briefly  discussed: Parent and Parenthood; Paternity Fraud; Causes of Paternity Fraud; Consequences and  Counselling Strategies.

Parent and Parenthood:

During marriage ceremonies, one of  the prayers people hold in high esteem is that of the new family being blessed with children, hence the alligator pepper is used  for the blessings because   of the belief that it symbolises fertility. Being a father or a mother is greeted with pomp and circumstances. Thus,  a parent is a person’s biological mother or father. A parent is one from whom a child is descended. The term generally refers to the natural biological or natural father and mother of a person whether  they  are married or not. At times the parent could be a  surrogate, adoptive, foster or guardian but in this write-up, the parent  here is limited to the natural or biological person(s). Parenthood is the state of being a parent. Specifically,  it is the function of being a parent.

READ ALSO: The Audacity Of False Prophets

Parenthood is the function the father and mother assume when a child is born. They have the responsibility to give spiritual, emotional, educational, financial and social  care to the child. Married couples anxiously wait for them to become parents but when the waiting is prolonged,  there the trouble starts. Some engage in extramarital affairs that lead to paternity matters. Sexual pervasion  prevalent in the society has led to  serious pathetic paternity issues and these have made men to become aggressively agitated against female culprits  and most often  seek to be convinced whether they are actually the father of the children born to them and in whom they are investing . Again, many of these children exhibit characters not found in the ancestral history of their families as indicated in the cognomen. This has heightened the doubts in the men whether these children possess their genes; hence, the question, “Am I the  real Dad?: Paternity Matters.”

Paternity Fraud:

This may be a new term but its occurrence in the society is as old as man. Paternity fraud occurs when a man is incorrectly identified as the father of a child. The underlying assumption of paternity fraud is that the mother of the said child deliberately misidentifies  the biological father. Of cause, in our society an old aphorism  asserts that it is only the mother that knows the father of her child. In other words, while maternity is a matter of fact, paternity is a matter of opinion! When a mother deliberately gives false information to the husband as being the father of a child at birth after being pregnant for some other man, it is referred to as paternity fraud. It can also be called misattributed paternity, paternal discrepancy or paternal unknowingbility.

About a year ago, the media carried the news of a bank managing director who  was actually the biological father of  the children of his female subordinate in the organization. The revelation led to the eventual  premature death of the legal husband of the woman.  The society was mad at the story and demanded  justice. Many children today are in the dilemma of searching for their real biological fathers and men/ husbands are also secretly nursing the fear whether they are the actual fathers of the kids they are raising and investing in. Paternity issue therefore arises when  a man is claiming to be the biological father of the child while the mother is denying or when the mother is claiming that the man is the father and the man is denying the paternity or when a child demands to know his or her actual biological father.

READ ALSO: Why I Love Kids

Causes of Paternity Fraud:

Some of the factors precipitating this phenomenon in Nigeria and worldwide include:

a) Promiscuity: This is the practice of multiple sex partners without discretion. Men and women are involved. Sexual weakness is prevalent among adolescents, the young, the adults as well as the married and the unmarried who engage in indiscriminate sex habits. Many are into multiple sex relationships with no regard to societal values and norms. The entertainment industry is part of this problem of promiscuity with films presented to viewers who fail to differentiate between make belief and reality. When viewers put into practise these negative presentations in films, the result is unwanted pregnancies which they deliberately  give to their husbands for those who are married or to any man of their choice if unmarried. This is indeed paternity fraud in action!

b) Infidelity and Adultery: The terms refer to  sexual acts by men and women who are married outside their marriage. It is also called extramarital affair. Infidelity refers to any violation or betrayal of the mutually agreed rules  and boundaries of an intimate relationship. When it occurs, it is typically viewed as marital betrayal. Some women go into it as a retaliation or a revenge mission against their cheating husband. Other causes of adultery or infidelity are poor communication, low self-esteem, delayed pregnancy and infertility problem between husband and wife. It is the act of the man or woman having sexual intercourse with a partner other than his or her spouse.

In fact, any sexual liaison other  than ones’ husband or wife is  infidelity. It means that the person has committed adultery and a breach of mutual contract in Christian and civil marriage. In traditional or Muslim setting, it may not be tenable for the man for they practise polgamy. Again in our African society, the gravity of infidelity or adultery is of a more serious offence on the part of the woman. Infidelity or adultery can lead to paternity fraud when pregnancy is involved. The woman has the tendency  of fraudulently or deliberately presenting the child as the husband’s own to avoid shame.

However, if the man is suspicious, he is likely to contest the paternity. Again many have given reasons for such acts. Some say that it might be that the husband cannot father a child and since society frowns on infertility, the woman goes out to get one to save the face of the husband. However, if it is a unilateral decision by the woman alone,  there is bound to be paternity matter. Either that the real father of the child will come back to claim the paternity  of the child or the real husband will totally reject and goes to the court or to the traditional council to prove  that he is not the father with evidence  and  medical backup. It should be noted that women who cheat on their husbands lose respect in the society and it might cause them their marriage especially when it pertains to paternity issues.

c) Poor Orientation: Many people have poor orientation about the sanctity of marriage and why it  is necessary to exercise decorum in practising extra-marital sex outside marriage. They also have poor knowledge of what it does to the nuclear and extended  family. Inadequate training on marital issues by parents, religious institutions and counselling centres are part of the problems of paternity matters.  From the religious point of view, sex outside your marriage is sin and there are  consequences before God and man.  Added to the above are  girls being forced to marry men they do not love. Greed for wealth is another probable reason especially if the spouse is poor and she finds another man enticing her with money. Again some women are of easy character and may not be satisfied with staying with only one man.

READ ALSO: DNA Showed I’m Not The Father Of My Three Children – Judge

Consequences of Paternity Fraud

a) It leads to distrust between husband and wife.

b) It disrupts marriages and leads to divorce which will eventually affect the upbringing of the children.

c)It leads to health hazards and premature  deaths. Out of frustration, the man or the woman might decide to commit suicide.

d)The extended family may decide to ostracize both the child and the mother and even their own son if he refused to let mother and child go.

e) The child of controversy may become permanently and emotionally devastated leading to deviant behaviour or even suicide. Such a child loses his integrity in the society. Some people will deliberately mock and rebuff such a child in order to have the opportunity to make him know that he has no identity in the society.

f)The woman loses integrity in the society and becomes  the object of ridicule.

g) It leads to conflicts and disunity in both the family and the society.

h) The socio-economic status of the family may change for the worse.

Counselling Strategies:

i) Couples should attend marriage counselling sessions before tying the knots.

ii) Parents should teach their children the rudiments of marriage and sanctity of fidelity. The girls must be counselled to shield the pride of womanhood by being decent.

iii) Couples should go for fertility screening before  plunging into marriage.

iv) Seminar on sexuality education is mandatory before and after marriage.

v) Churches, schools, health care givers and religious bodies should from time to time give frank talks on marital matters such as husband-wife relationship, coping with delayed pregnancy, fertility issues as well as consequences of cheating, infidelity and promiscuity.

vi) Doubting couples should go for DNA tests.

vii)Go to paternity courts instead of taking laws into their hands which might result in more scandal or murder cases.

viii) Couples should be taught strategies for  coping with stress and emotional incapacitation due to paternity matters.

ix) Couples should learn to be patient and wait on God as well as seek medical help from gynecologists when there is delay in getting pregnant by the husbands.

x) Parents should desist from coercing their daughters into marrying men they do not love.

xi) The content of the school curriculum should include marital counselling as a subject and just embedded in home economics.

xii) The government, voluntary organisations and private individuals should establish counselling centres where issues pertaining to marriage are addressed.

xiii) People should learn to stop this madness of promiscuity ravaging the society. Women especially need to exhibit self-control. Sexual intercourse is not food!

xiv) The entertainment industry should be selective in the films produced and presented to viewers.  Those promoting indiscriminate sex practices should be scrapped and government needs to  monitor the producers’ activities and place bans on illicit films from the market.

xv) Intending couples should  compulsorily  visit the hospital to know their genotype and Rhesus factor. These will help  them  to determine whether they are compatible in terms of child bearing or not. Please Christians take note. God will not give you sorrow. Every good gift comes from God. So if your Rhesus factor is not compatible with your would-be spouse  think twice before you continue with  the relationship. Parting at this early stage is better than infidelity and engaging in paternity fraud inside marriage.

READ ALSO: It Is School Resumption Season Again

Paternity fraud is fast taking over our valued cherished family system.  The rate of paternity fraud in the world today is alarming. Women shamelessly talk about their extra-marital affairs in court when being questioned. In fact, women have lost the pride of womanhood in our society especially in the western world and Nigerians are copying them forgetting their ancestral root! There should be a  rethink. Many  fathers are no longer sure whether the kids are their real biological offspring .

Most traditional families are fast losing the attributes of their ancestral achievements found in the children born into the families. Premature deaths and disillusionment are now rampant in Nigeria. There is the  need for society to go back to the roots. Women, you are being challenged to please show respect for womanhood.  Be role models to the younger generation. Desist from adulterous acts and be content with your marriage. God expects you to procreate following the rules thereof and do not create the atmosphere for the men to ask: “Am I the real Dad?”

The price paid for a happy marriage is sacrifice. Be ready to stick out your neck to make sacrifice to keep the relationship. If you refuse to, the relationship will die and the consequence is a breakdown of law and order in the society, thus carving out a bleak future for the innocent children you brought into the world.

 

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Opinion

Modelling Success: Dr Adedeji Adeleke And Adeleke University

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

By Toyin Falola

Success is a broad concept that has been widely researched and discussed for many years. While there is no specific formula for achieving success, certain principles are commonly observed among individuals deemed to be successful. Success transcends mere material wealth or professional achievements; it is a phenomenon shaped by intrinsic belief, goal setting, dignity, and respect for divine will. Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, exemplifies the principles of success through his life and impact on individual and societal growth and development, serving as a beacon of inspiration to many and reflecting these values through his accomplishments.

Success is believing in one’s capabilities and potential. Successful people have an innate sense of self-efficacy, confidently believing in their ability to take actions that will lead to the attainment of set goals. Such a belief is a powerful source of motivation, as it pushes one to remain consistent even in the face of adversity and to approach tasks proactively and with a positive outlook. Successful people also understand the significance of setting clear, specific, and attainable goals.

It is worth noting that while the path to success is often super-frustrating and challenging, it is achievable with well-defined goals and persistent efforts. As such, one must continually aim forward, transition step by step, and ultimately weave together a remarkable success story through various engagements by preparing detailed actions that translate into bigger ambitions. The journey to success begins with unwavering self-belief, which is not merely about confidence; rather, it is a deep-rooted conviction in one’s ability to achieve their dreams. This resilience is required to face life’s ups and downs with a positive mindset, seeing opportunities where others see obstacles.

Success is not only due to human will and actions but is also influenced by environmental factors that can pose significant challenges. These factors can become potential stumbling blocks if the individual does not believe in the power of their dreams. Dr. Adeleke’s story is indeed one of belief in self and in the guiding influence of divine will. Despite the numerous challenges he encountered on his way to achieving his set goals, he believed in himself and his immense potential, also trusting in the divine purpose for his life. This propelled him forward, enabling him to build a legacy that cuts across different areas, including education, business, and philanthropy.

Accepting divine will means a careful, responsible acceptance without succumbing to extraneous rules or laws that rob us of our confidence and authenticity. This perspective fosters humility and gratitude and an acknowledgement that our achievements are not solely ours but are also gifts and opportunities that come from a higher source. Dr. Adeleke exemplifies humility and a powerful sense of purpose. Despite his immense success, he remains grounded and attributes his accomplishments to divine guidance.

His philanthropic efforts include huge contributions to education and community development, demonstrating his commitment to giving back and serving the greater good. Dr. Adeleke’s story indicates that true success is a harmonious blend of self-belief, goal setting, and submission to a higher purpose. It is about striving for excellence while remaining humble and purposeful.

From Dr. Adeleke, we learn that the idea of success is personal and varies from individual to individual. It is not defined by societal standards or criteria but by one’s own goals and values. Through inspired actions, individuals can realise that success is achievable for anyone who believes in themselves, sets clear goals, and respects divine will. Modelling success requires more than ambition and hard work; it involves an inherent belief in oneself, discipline in setting and pursuing goals, and a humble recognition of the divine influences in our lives. Dr. Adeleke’s life is a testimony to this whole process of success, demonstrating that success is both an internal and external journey.

Dr. Adeleke exemplifies that success is achieved through belief, goal-setting goals, and respect for divine will. He has shown that his achievements stem not merely from external factors but from nurtured internal qualities. For everyone to be successful, they must follow these prescripts and approach their goals with belief, intention, and reverence toward the divine. Belief provides the motivation, while goal setting charts the course. Goals, when clear and well-defined, act as a blueprint and a guiding light, directing actions and decisions and making the path to success easier. Goals break down the seemingly insurmountable journey into manageable steps, making the path to success more navigable.

Remarkably, Dr. Adeleke’s success in business and life is proof of his strategic mindset and commitment to setting goals. His achievements with Adeleke University and other ventures illustrate how his endeavours have successfully evolved through effective planning. Milestones play a crucial role in goal planning and maintaining focus, and Dr. Adeleke’s invaluable achievements in different spheres of life epitomise that setting realistic goals and pursuing them with dedication and hard work yields significant rewards.

 

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Opinion

Sogolo’s Moral Values And Social Change In Nigeria (5)

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Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

Our reading of Professor Godwin Sogolo’s mature opinions on our moral values and human situation in general terminates today.

Read it!

Moral Imperatives of the 4TH Industrial Revolution (4IR)

The 4th Industrial Revolution is already transforming the way we live, work, and interact. One of the key areas in which moral values will have a significant impact is in the development and implementation of emerging technologies – artificial intelligence, automation, big data analytics, genetic engineering, etc. These technologies have the potential to revolutionise industries and societies, for good! But, they also raise complex ethical dilemmas and challenges. For example, the fear is that the widespread use of artificial intelligence and automation in the workplace would lead to job displacement and economic inequality. While these technologies have the potential to increase productivity and efficiency, they also have implications for workers’ rights, fair distribution of wealth, and human dignity. Moral considerations for justice, equality, and respect for human rights must be the guiding principles in the development and deployment of the new technologies. 

Furthermore, the collection and analysis of massive amounts of personal data raise concerns about privacy, consent, and the potential for surveillance and manipulation. Moral values such as privacy, autonomy, and informed consent are essential in ensuring the protection of individuals’ rights and freedoms in the digital age. As technologies continue to advance, it is important to consider the implications they have for our value systems, and to address potential ethical dilemmas before they become widespread. That assessment falls within the purview of the humanities in general, and philosophy in particular.

Another important function of moral values in the 4th Industrial Revolution is to address the socio-economic implications of the new technologies on employment, income inequality and social cohesion. Moral values such as compassion, solidarity, social justice, etc., are essential in ensuring that the benefits of the emerging technological progress are shared equitably, and that vulnerable populations are not left behind.

The 4th Industrial Revolution has the potential of either exacerbating or mitigating the ecological challenges that we currently face, depending on the strength of our moral values and the decisions and actions of individuals, groups, businesses, governments, etc., in connection with the issues of environmental sustainability. Technologies relating to renewable energy, smart grids and circular economic models offer promising solutions. But, they require a commitment to moral values such as environmental stewardship, intergenerational responsibility and sustainability. It is important to prioritise these values so as to minimize the negative environmental impact of the new technological advancements in furtherance of sustainable development.

In adapting to the new technologies, we must bear in mind that moral values also guide issues relating to personal ethics and the well-being of the individual. The constant connectivity, information overload, and digital distractions that come with the 4th Industrial Revolution pose serious challenges to the issue of personal identity and mental health of the individuals in matters of inter-personal relationships and group interactions. We need to develop faith and confidence that the human ingenuity that created the new technologies is also able to devise means of controlling its negative consequences. For instance, if you ask ChatGPT to provide information on how to prepare a nuclear bomb, the response will be that it cannot help because it is dangerous and illegal. That is how values can assist in controlling the negative and disastrous effects of the new technologies. What the people need are moral values such as empathy, compassion, mindfulness and digital responsibility, essential for cultivating a healthy and balanced digital life that puts premium on the collective interest.

Finally, although I have emphasized the role of Philosophy in this discussion, I must add that other disciplines in the humanities also have their unique roles to play in the 4th Industrial Revolution: the classical studies and history can provide models of  personalities, social institutions and historical events that have propelled human civilisations in the past: linguistics and the languages perform communicative functions that give the individual an understanding of human relations and the working of social institutions, while the creative, visual and performing arts recreate human models, personalities and events, both real or unreal, thereby informing and inspiring the people. And, of course, the discipline of religious studies helps the individual in coping with the vicissitudes of our confusing world, further complicated by the flux of unending changes.  Together, the humanities are designed to prepare the individual to understand, control and adapt to the new changes. Already, Western nations, led by the United States of America and some European nations, have shown the moral and political will by working together on ways of controlling and adjusting to the changes that will accompany the 4th Industrial Revolution. Very recently, the American President, Joe Biden, announced a joint project with Microsoft to setup an AI control Centre in the US. Africa, especially Nigeria, cannot afford to miss out, again, on the journey of moving to the next level.

Conclusion

Historical antecedents, years of bad governance, misplaced values and ill-conceived education system, have led to a state of moral crisis in Nigeria. The social ills have had the most severe impact on Nigerian youths who, today, lack the moral foundation needed to transform the animal (Aristotle’s tabula rasa) into a human person. Not only is a large proportion of our youths denied access to basic education, the few that are lucky to have access, have been taught nothing but techniques that are bereft of positive moral values and integrity. It is obvious that Nigerian youths are ill-prepared for the arduous and compelling demands of a changing world. Surely, there is an urgent need for  retooling  our educational curricula, with emphasis on the inculcation of moral values in our youths, to save the nation from descending into the Hobbesian state of nature, anarchy  and more importantly, to enable our society to  keep pace with the changes that are coming with the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Concluded.

Afejuku can be reached on 

08055213059.

 

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Opinion

Aáwé’s Day Of Glory And Development Challenges

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The Alawe of Aawe, Oba Cornelius Taiwo Oladokun

By Tunji Olaopa

July 5 2024 was a historic day in the political and cultural annals of Aáwé town. That day was the memorable culmination of more than thirty years of a struggle to achieve the status of a beaded monarch for the Alaawe of Aáwé, Oba Cornelius Taiwo Oladokun. And the Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, made this feat possible by the singularly courageous act of cutting through the red-tape of political shenanigans and prejudices to underscore historical imperatives that have to do with the cultural status of Aáwé as a significant Yoruba community in the southwest. Aáwé has always been a town that has been shaped by sociocultural and political conflicts and circumstances. And so, it becomes inevitable to connect this current breakthrough with the trajectories of so many others that situate Oba Taiwo Oladokun right within the dynamics of the Aáwé forebears and the Aáwé mystique.

What I have been calling the Aáwé mystique derives from Aáwé’s pragmatic mix of critical enlightenment, communal investment deriving from social capital, and educational commitment that facilitate the capacity of a small town to forge its own path within the context of complex sociocultural ferment from then till now. Aáwé’s strength lies in the generational, communal and diasporic investment that birthed great names that contributed to Aáwé’s image of resilience and progress. Even though Aáwé is a small Yorùbá town, it carries the weight of great achievements — the aggregation of its diverse indigenous pool into a developmental capital that propels continuous advancement in social, cultural, economic and political terms. Aáwé’s indigenous pool is made up of the expatriates abroad who invested in educational advancement and those, equally educated, who stayed behind to keep up the chain of communal commitment and advancement.

This mystique is founded on an even more fundamental governance principle that takes the grassroots seriously as the basis of a distinct and peculiar development founded on subsidiarity and social capital. These two principles form the basis of local governance that embeds governance and development in traditional institutions and the will of the members of the grassroots. I have provided these sociological and political narratives to underscore two points. The first is to underscore the rationale behind the doggedness and courage of His Royal Majesty, Oba Cornelius Abiola Taiwo Oladokun. This kind of struggle and sacrifice to realize the transformation of the status of the monarchy at Aáwé could only further elevate the status of the town and the historical forbearance of Aáwé’s forebears. The Kabiyesi is only following in the footsteps of the Aáwé ancestors who kept up the trajectory of historical and cultural responsibility to the town and to posterity. The new beaded crown is therefore a testimonial to the historical resilience of Aáwé as a small town that withstood the complexities and intrigues of being situated within the context of larger Yorùbá historical circumstances that had the capacity to swallow it up.

More importantly, therefore, beyond the pomp and circumstances of the coronation, I am reading the entire event as Aáwé’s Nehemiah’s moment. At a very critical juncture in time, the biblical Nehemiah came to that conscious moment when all circumstances became propitious for him to take on the challenge of harnessing the will of the people and the resources of the land to reconstruct the walls of Jerusalem. I am convinced that Aáwé has reached its own critical moment when there is a conjunction of history, vision and possibilities; it is a moment to rehabilitate the shared vision that has never failed to unite the Aáwé homeland and the Aáwé diaspora, or the Aáwé people and its distinguished elites towards a sustainable developmental future. Given the committed efforts of Aáwé’s ancestors to the Aáwé mystique, there is already in place a vast demography of generational capital — in terms of human capital and available resources — that creates a space of possibilities. What must then be added is a context for the sharing of opinions and blueprints for moving Aáwé forward. And it is the responsibility of the Alaawe to facilitate the flowering of the space that accommodates different shades of opinions and scenarios within leadership large-hearted seminal spirit; especially the peculiar one, required to manage a demographic of people with perhaps one of the largest professors and professionals per capital in the world, for moving Aáwé forward.

Like Nehemiah, these needed conversations and discourses need to be had around the urgency of taking Aáwé to the next level of composite development. There is no questioning the visible and tangible level of infrastructural achievements that dot the landscape of Aáwé as a result of self-help efforts. And they are though few, but too numerous to be mentioned, from the Oba’s palace to the Odo Sogidi tourist center, and from the police post to the bank. We must also not fail to mention the industrializing spirit of the late Chief (Sir) Anthony Amoje (the Otun of Aawe and his Amo Sanders), Chief Debo Omotoso (the Asiwaju of Afijio and his Bond Chemicals), etc. These self-help and industrial activities tell a tale of communal and collective responsibilities to the perceived need of a community that has always been aware of itself. However, by reason of this significant event of the crowning of the Aáwé monarch, we are challenged to rethink Aáwé’s development status and to take the self-help initiatives a fundamental step further. This is to the extent that the existing self-help efforts provide the enabling motivation to ground real development that transforms the well-being of the Aáwé people.

I mentioned that part of the Aáwé mystique is the available demography of people and resources that have been accumulating for a long time. This implies that there is really no need to reinvent the development wheel in putting Aáwé on the map. Starting from the Egbe Omo Ibile Aáwé to the Aáwé Development Plan: The OPTICOM Approach — and the ongoing but relevant Chief Emmanuel Adisa, the Asiwaju of Aawe-led attempt at developing an Aáwé Vision 2050, a blueprint that encompasses Aáwé Economic Renaissance and Restructuring for Economic Activities and Revitalization — speaks to the larger intention to take Aáwé beyond its present status in terms of leveraging local governance principles. For instance, Professors Ojetunji Aboyade and Akin Mabogunje’s OPTICOM — from optimum community — represents a unique experimental approach to grassroots mobilisation for community development. It is an attempt at establishing interactive platforms between researchers and grassroots producers in a unique synergy that facilitates the critical flow and fusion of knowledge and expertise. The OPTICOM thesis rests on the assumption that traditional structures possess the inherent capacity, borne out of centuries of adaptability and resilience, to bear the weight of responsible policy initiatives properly managed by equally responsible and development-sensitive leadership.

A revitalized OPTICOM approach, adapted to current development challenges, will provide the framework for transforming individual efforts into cooperative endeavors. For example, Aáwé farmers could be given the opportunity of re-organizing into enhanced cooperative societies and the building of entrepreneurial networks that could connect them with multi-sourced credit and infrastructural supports within a structured agro-processing industry value chain. This feeds directly into the poverty alleviation component of the Opticom model that is meant to reduce the burden of individual efforts that do not usually amount to much outside of cooperative capacities. This also speaks to Aáwé’s small and medium enterprises whose tenacious capacities as cottage industries not only delimit Aáwé’s comparative advantages, like the ebu ose (black soap) industry, but also remain the key to the creative industrial and economic transformation of Aáwéland. When the late Prof. Mabogunje consolidated this component in the celebrated experiment in Ijebu Development Initiative on Poverty Reduction (IDIPR), its success had the critical support and the transformational leadership inspiration of the HRM the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona. This is then the crucial benchmarking of traditional governance structure and development achievement that Aáwé needs to emulate.

The development drive in Aáwé is also tied further to the dream of connecting Aáwé to the world, especially through age-long struggle to facilitate the establishment of a tertiary institution, as well as the urgent construction and rehabilitation of Aáwé’s network of roads and highways. Three highways are crucial in this regard—the Aáwé-Ife Odan, Aáwé-Akinmorin and Aáwé-Iwo roads. These are significant contributors to the industrialization of Aáwé. At the sociocultural level, Aáwé is also embedded in a historical and cultural axis under the sway of the Alaafin of Oyo. This places a heavy burden of wisdom and diplomacy on the Alaawe to find the right amount of relational skills and diplomacy that will make the peaceful coexistence between the different interests within Aawe town and those in diaspora on the one hand, and with our neighbors on the other, the centre-point of Aáwé’s development. And given that the days of imperialist expansion are long gone, what we are left with is a scenario of mutual and peaceful coexistence within the context of regional advancement that Aáwé itself can benefit from.

Therefore, even before the euphoria of the crowning ceremony wears off, it is time to commence the process of communal dialogue instigated by the Alaawe, the council of chiefs, Awe Development Corporation, the numerous egbe omo ibile Aawe, the Aáwé elite at home and in the diaspora, and the Aáwé people themselves. It is high time Aáwé took its place in the comity of places that deploy local governance through the political and sociocultural sophistication of their traditional governance structures to connect their people to human flourishing. This is a critical junction when the broken walls of Aáwé’s development trajectories needed to be rebuilt. And I believe the omens are auspicious sufficiently for us to re-start the formidable engine of progress.

Olaopa is a Professor of Public Administration, and Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission, Abuja.

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