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An Interview Summary With Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, The President Of The Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU)



Professor Ademola Dasylva At 70: A Labourer In The Vineyard


Toyin Falola

This occasion of the Toyin Falola interviews featured the president of the ASUU, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, fielding questions—from comrades and other stakeholders—on the union’s activities, its objectives, past experiences, and recent engagements with the government. The aim is to intimate the public about the union’s handling of issues bedeviling tertiary education in Nigeria. Hence, the session covered the history of ASUU’s engagement with the government, the content and efficacy of the union’s modus operandi, the conduct of its members, and the possibility of devising and implementing less harmful measures for securing the future of (public) tertiary education in Nigeria.

The question and answer session started without delay with questions posed by the student representative, Eworo Daniel. These included questions on the ASUU’s achievements, its experiences dealing with civilian and military governments, its commitment to student’s welfare, and the possibility of adopting a different pressure tactic outside striking. Responding, Prof. Ogunyemi stated the critical role universities are meant to play in national development, contributing to the development of every sector of national life, especially in underdeveloped Africa. He lamented the sorry state of tertiary education in Nigeria, explaining that the union’s agenda is to ensure that the university is well equipped to deliver its mandate.

According to Prof. Ogunyemi, ASUU identifies with the needs of the suffering masses, unlike its predecessor, the National Association of University Teachers (NAUT). The challenges to the union’s objective lay in the elite’s attitude as there is hardly any difference between civilian dispensations and their military counterparts in their commitment to developing tertiary education in Nigeria, especially as the civilian ruling class is yet largely made up of the same military elements. The union’s experience with both governments was ridden with various instances of draconian displays, including serial banning and the imposition of unfavorable and faulty policies such as the IPPIS payment scheme.

To further bolster his point, the ASUU President recalled a one-time civilian president who called the ASUU “the problem of Nigeria” and likened the union to a snake that can only be effectively handled by dismembering it and stowing its different parts at different locations across the country. In other instances, the union has also been labeled as political and unpatriotic.

Concerning the ASUU’s commitment to student welfare, Prof. Ogunyemi mentioned that the union is committed to ensuring that students get not only a conducive learning environment but also that the teachers whose job it is to educate have the required equipment and are well compensated to ensure that they deliver on their mandate. This way, both students’ and teachers’ interests, which are intertwined, are served simultaneously. He further pointed out that the union has never embarked on strike for the sole aim of teachers’ welfare.

Regarding the issue of finding an alternative to strike actions, which has rippling effects on students’ education and career opportunities and is also damaging the reputation of Nigerian universities, the ASUU president pointed out that it is the only language the Nigerian government seems to understand, and that the union only embarks on strikes when other avenues have failed. These industrial actions, he claimed, have produced some results like the TETFUND, which has aided in refurbishing and equipping some Nigerian universities with dearly required facilities. He, however, suggested that if anyone had a better alternative to striking, the union is willing to consider it.

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The interview proceeded with more questions from the prolific media personality, Tosin Alagbe. Her questions covered what ASUU is doing to prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist, why it seems like the union’s voice is not loud enough when holding the Nigerian government accountable, what ASUU’s position on sexual harassment is, and what the union is doing to prepare universities for another pandemic. In response, Prof. Ogunyemi explains that there is a curriculum review committee in every university and the union’s members participate effectively in curriculum review.

ASUU members collaborate with the NUC by collating feedback from other members across universities. Teachers, he also said, have used their connection and interactions with colleagues in more advanced climes to keep abreast of international trends and have applied the innovative information gained from such interactions in their classrooms. Reacting also to my expansion on preparing students for the new jobs and opportunities, Prof. Ogunyemi lamented the infrastructural deficit in Nigerian universities and poor government commitment to developing these infrastructures asserted limits the possibility for any such preparation.

In response to the suggestion that the union has not been very vocal in holding the government accountable, the ASUU President said such assertion is not correct. ASUU members have been tried for insubordination and sometimes kicked out for exposing corrupt practices in their universities. The union, according to him, has just not been regular enough because the IPPIS and other human factors have bogged it down. Nonetheless, it has always raised objections to corrupt practices, with the IPPIS as one of such schemes flagged as an avenue for corruption. Furthermore, it still issues statements on the deplorable situation of national affairs after NEC (National Executive Council) meetings and through newspaper publications to notify the public on such issues and when specific cases arise.

On the union’s position on sexual harassment in universities, Prof. Ogunyemi said the union condemns it in all its entirety and that there is a committee that investigates such cases. The committee then reports its findings at NEC meetings, maintaining steady connections and keeping the union abreast with developments. However, the union will not condone/allow any government agency to paint all its members with one brush on account of some bad eggs, as some teachers are known to have excellent and familial relationships with their students. He asserted that there is a need to reinforce existing structures, as some of the notorious elements come into the university system through questionable means and abuse the privilege. He also mentioned a need to properly analyze the problem and work together to situate the solution.

Coming down to being prepared for eventualities such as the Covid-19 pandemic, Prof. Ogunyemi mentioned that the union is not averse to technological innovation and that ASUU had always advocated that universities be well-positioned to respond to calamities even before the present pandemic became an issue. The union has proactively engaged the government to improve, leading to a 2013 funding agreement that the government has failed to meet. Therefore, embracing the change to a digital model of engagement in teaching is not an option for ASUU but a necessity.

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The next in line with questions was Prof. Labode Popoola, the Vice-Chancellor of Osun State University (UNIOSUN). His questions covered areas such as the union’s position on education funding at the tertiary level; financial transparency and service delivery at universities; finding an alternative to strike actions, unionism as a replacement for hard work; and the authoritarian tendencies within the union.

The ASUU President, Prof. Ogunyemi, replied by saying that funding is an ideological issue. He went on to say that the union is not against private funding from alumni associations, nor does it insist that other stakeholders cannot contribute until it comes up with a fixed amount for fees. He maintained that if the government gets its priorities right, it can adequately fund education in Nigeria with some assistance from parents. However, parents are already doing a lot, sharing about half of the burden with the government.

Therefore, increasing fees will generally make education inaccessible to many people. Reacting to further assertions by Prof. Labode that the government cannot, on its own, fund education and that Nigerian parents are willing to do more, Prof. Ogunyemi said the issue is in the percentage, also recalling that governments in other parts of the (western) world still fund tertiary education.

Prof. Labode pointed out that corruption transcends political circles, contrary to popular perception, and that the corruption in the education sector is “legendary,” to which Prof. Ogunyemi conceded that the union is aware of such “leakages.” However, attempts by ASUU members to confront these issues by exposing corrupt elements have resulted in their victimization—suspensions, withheld pay, and layoffs. The union, he said, has taken up some cases even to the EFCC, and yet nothing happens. The challenge is that the union is up against formidable forces from within and without academia. ASUU, he also said, has put mechanisms like the Pension Fund Custodians (PFC) in place. If the union is not satisfied with the use of funds disbursed, it will not release more from the TETFUND.

Reacting to strikes as an instrument of Nigerian unionism that further aggravates an already bad situation, Prof. Ogunyemi started from the assertion that Nigerian universities are not the worst in terms of funding, to which he said we must not wait until we become the worst, but we should consider that we were once amongst the best. He explained that we should not blame the bad reputation of Nigerian education on strikes alone. Rather, we should look at the dilapidated university facilities and unreliable processes that ASUU objects to by striking.

On the allegation that union members have used activism to replace hard work, Prof. Ogunyemi pointed out that, unfortunately, this is obtainable in almost every organization and that it is up to university administrators to resist attempts by political elements to impose unqualified personnel on the universities. This contributes to the problem because when such people come in, they strive to perpetuate the system that brought them in. He also raised the issue of corrupt administrators worsening the situation.

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The final interviewer Prof. Tunde Babawale, a distinguished scholar and administrator, posed questions on what the union is doing to encourage the payment of education tax; ASUU’s involvement with university authorities in ensuring teachers do their jobs; ASUU’s strategy for ensuring accountability among university authorities; the distinctiveness of Prof. Ogunyemi’s leadership; and how gains made under the present ASUU leadership can be sustained irrespective of changing governments. Responding, the ASUU president used the FIRS as a case in point to demonstrate the challenges the union faces on education tax. According to him, the revenue collecting agency has resisted attempts to gain information on such company tax payments, and as such, ASUU has not been able to keep track of the funds collected, and that the union has visited its lawyers to address the issue. Hence ASUU cannot vouch for monies collected and also cannot track projects. Student unions, he says, can play more active roles in this regard. He, however, added that they are engaging with the TETFUND to ensure that the agency delivers.

Coming to members’ work ethics, Prof. Ogunyemi conceded that there are infractions and that some of their colleagues are performing below expectation. He, nonetheless, pointed out that it is important to situate the problem by asking questions such as the percentage of students per a lecturer. Departments now have a higher number of students, and that translates to heavier workloads. This, he said, is not a defense of derelicts, but that with such conditions, enforcement becomes difficult and trying to appear like an insult. He said this also brings up recruitment and how transparent the processes are to ensure that unqualified people are not admitted. ASUU, he said, in any case, is doing its best. It is conscious of its role and responsibility.

On ensuring accountability in universities, the ASUU president said the issue speaks to the role of the Budget Monitoring Committee (BMC), which was set up to prioritize projects. He explained that before a university can access revitalization funds, the BMC must meet and investigate the areas where the funds are needed, then the BMC takes part in contract pricing and awarding. However, the BMC has been rendered moribund in over ten universities. In some cases, the Vice-Chancellor heads the BMC, which is an infraction. If adverse results are gotten from BMCs, the erring university must defend its expenditure before any other funds are released. This way, ASUU has tried to put in checks and balances, despite several victimizations.

Concerning ASUU’s achievements and how they can be sustained, Prof. Ogunyemi pointed out that branches have grown from twenty to seventy in his tenure. However, every president works within a different context, just like both military and civilian governments have their peculiar challenges. He said he could not claim any of the achievements as they are collective and cumulative. Each leader builds on the other’s gain, and this way, the gains can and have been sustained.

The next section of the interview had questions and comments coming in from the audience, after which the host closed the interview session with a vote of thanks and announcement on subsequent interviews.

This is the third and final report on the interview conducted with Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi on April 25, 2021). For its entire recording, see Facebook:


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The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy



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

By Toyin Falola

Western deception has been with Africa forever:

1493: Pope Alexander VI issued a papal bull, “Inter Caetera,” proclaiming the right of Spain and Portugal to enslave Africans and own the land. They were subjects. They stole your people and your land.

1885: Africa was a Dark Continent. It required colonization to become civilized. Europe would bring change and civilize them. They stole your raw materials and truncated your self-development.

1940: When over a million Africans fought in Europe, North Africa and the Far East during the Second World War, the West convinced them they were dying for freedom and democracy. But where in Africa do they receive freedom and democracy? Indeed, Apartheid was inaugurated in 1948 in South Africa.

When will this deception come to an end? So, Gabon and Niger were democracies before the 2023 coups? You must be using the wrong dictionary to define democracy. Cameroon under the invalid Paul Biya is a democracy? You must be confusing the Mali Empire with the modern country of Cameroon. And the presidents who rule for as long as they want practising democracy?

You need a little education.

Recent developments in Africa’s political space, particularly the growing number of military takeovers, have informed fresh queries around the expressions of neo-colonialism in Africa and the commitment to liberal democracy as the ideal political model for the region. The point of reference for these queries is the ceremonial reactions from the acclaimed “champions of democracy” in the West, who waste no time issuing condemnations at every instance of “democratic failure” on the continent without any actual commitment to ensuring that power indeed lies with the people. Not only have these champions of African interests—the United States (US), Britain and France—touted democracy as the best system of political organization to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in Africa, but they have also prosecuted wars, allegedly in its defence, which cost millions of lives and destabilized entire regions. However, it is not enough to accuse our benevolent friends in the West of hypocrisy without providing compelling proof of double-dealing in delivering their duties as democratic crusaders. After all, in a democratic setting, all are innocent until proven guilty. 

As a philosophy of government, democracy has existed since the Greco-Roman times. However, its foray into Africa can be traced to the eve of independence when Britain and France introduced forms of local representation as concessions to indigenous demands for independence. Thus, from 1959, parliamentary elections and other democratic institutions started to become commonplace on the continent. But, as it would turn out, this democratic experiment, which formed part of the third (global) wave of democracy, was to be short-lived—derailed as it was by fluctuating Western interests on the continent. 

Guiding Western interest in Africa from the 1950s was the ideological war between the West (mainly the USA) and the Soviet Union. The “Cold War,” as it came to be known, was the first incident to unmask the real intentions of the West for post-colonial Africa. In their quest to emerge as the world’s sole superpower, the US and the Soviet Union, who actively strove to undermine each other’s influence by, among other things, advancing their political ideologies around the world, turned to Africa as another important frontier of conquest. While the Soviet Union armed African revolutionary movements against their Western colonial overlords and provided support to openly communist governments, Washington concluded that, to effectively check the spread of Soviet influence on the continent, it was more expedient to enthrone biddable leaders in African states than it was to woo them with any ideological arguments or economic incentives.

Anxious to ensure power was handed over to reliable politicians, Britain and France became eager participants in the US policy in Africa. Together, the US and its allies targeted venal local strongmen, preferably with military backgrounds and authoritarian tendencies, who, in collaboration with its intelligence agencies, ousted legitimate/democratic governments. Notable victims and beneficiaries of this plot included (in the former category) Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo DRC, Sylvio Olympio of Togo and (in the latter category) Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo DRC and Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, to mention a few. Consequently, thirty-three African countries that achieved independence between 1956-1970 became authoritarian immediately or not long after. 

Another demonstration of the complete disregard that the West has for democracy, peace/stability and human rights in Africa is its willingness to engulf the entire region in conflict so that it can achieve its “strategic interests.”  Once again, we begin from the Cold War era where, having recently come out of a highly destructive war in Europe (in 1945) and being cautious of engaging in another, the West and the Eastern Bloc turned Africa into the site of their proxy wars. In southern Africa, where the US considered both Angola and Mozambique as areas of “strategic interests,” Washington armed the 200,000 Portuguese conscripts, who went on to fight a protracted war against local nationalist revolutionaries, with imported weapons, which included defoliants and napalm. In Angola, the US, in cooperation with Apartheid South Africa, backed the National Union for Total Independence (UNITA) against the country’s (Soviet-backed) leading national liberation front, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). There were also similar cases in northern Africa where Sudan was funded and armed by the US against Egypt and Ethiopia, who had also pitched their tents with Moscow. These conflicts and the resultant proliferation of arms saw the loss of millions of African lives from war and famine and a general destabilization of the region. 

While the West cannot be said to have been directly involved in all the occasions of transition from democratic to authoritarian rule, in more than a few instances, the leaders of newly independent democratic/multi-party African states seized the opportunity of Western patronage to quickly switch to one-party/despotic rule. In other cases, it was the corruption, resource mismanagement, “tribalism,” patrimonialism, clientelism and imperialism perpetrated by a Western-backed ruling political class which formed the basis of military takeovers (coups). Nevertheless, in this atmosphere of quasi-democratic rule, full-fledged despotism, military rule and Apartheid—where national resources were siphoned by kleptocratic regimes and millions of Africans either became refugees or died as a result of civil wars, hunger, and human rights abuses—our western “friends” were content to look the other way if the government in place proved itself an ally of Washington.      

Perhaps the most glaring example of the West’s democratic hypocrisy in Africa was its age-long support for the highly racist and politically repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. Like the French, who were able to cajole Washington into believing that they were fighting communist-backed insurgents in Algeria, the South African Apartheid regime, for forty years, posed as the last bastion against communists in Africa—an attitude that was able to secure a steady flow of western arms. This, alongside the West’s tacit approval, allowed for one of Africa’s most despicable shows of human debasement, carried out in the name of imperialism and racial superiority. After all, as President Ronald Regan remarked in 1981, South Africa was “essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have.”  

The end of the Cold War changed Western attitudes towards Africa. Without the Soviet threat, the West leaned more towards development diplomacy and foreign aid regimes as the main thrust of its foreign policy in Africa. Foreign aid to Africa, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. Already saddled with the task of building vibrant economies whilst also harmonizing the aspirations of the different ethnic nationalities which characterized them, African countries, especially in Francophone Africa, also had to grapple with the undermining economic and political agreements they had been coerced into signing with their erstwhile colonial overlord as a condition for independence and continued patronage. To make matters worse, some African countries were, at the end of the Cold War, either fighting or had just come out of civil war. This, combined with the widespread corruption and mismanagement of national resources which characterized Africa’s tyrannical governments, put many Af5rican countries at the mercy of international monetary agencies (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and their financiers whose aid they were now heavily dependent on. 

At first, these Bretton Woods institutions were content to grant loans/aid, at debilitating interest rates no less, to authoritarian leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power and, in return, provided the former with mineral and other economic concessions. However, without the Cold War pressures, more emphasis was placed on the liberalization and capitalist/free-market aspects of US foreign policy to guarantee return on investments. Soon enough, Structural Adjustments Programmes (SAPs) were introduced as a precondition for further loans/aid. Said adjustments, which demanded limited government intervention in the public sector, i.e., removing government subsidies in energy (fuel/gas), education and health care, brought untold hardships to already suffering populations. And as research has shown, poverty and non-tax revenue make for the ideal democratic environment. In other words, “when the government is not beholden to citizens for its funding, there is less accountability and less reason to democratize” (Tilly 1990). Instead, leaders simply use the “free” funding from natural resources (oil) and foreign loans/aid to buy enough support to remain in power. 

Judging from the various expressions of Western interests in Africa over decades, it goes without saying that the West simply pays lip service to ideologies when convenient. Although many Africans might not object to the cynical pragmatism that has always guided Western foreign policy in Africa, I dare say they will not stand for the continued lies and hypocrisy that have characterized Western reactions to African developments. Even if the above-described instances of Western hypocrisy in Africa were to be argued to be in the past, it is a living past for Africa.  

Africa, today, still has authoritarian governments in place whose political repression and human rights abuses go on unchecked by our democracy and rule of law-loving friends in the West. After being siphoned by kleptocratic governments, our commonwealth still finds its way to Western banks, where it sits and improves the local economy. Western interests continue to impoverish Africans and destabilize their regions. So, Africans are today saying to the West, its diplomats, presidents, and the other agents of its propaganda: “Your gambit in Africa is up. Our people are awakened!”   

The West has sold you a fake product called democracy. Africans, your vote is not a sign of democracy. It is no more than a deception. There is no democracy without accountability. You are just voting thieves to power. There is no democracy without transparency. You are just using your votes in support of crooks and thugs. There is no democracy without good governance. Your vote is facilitating theft. Maybe you are waiting for your turn to steal. There is no democracy without development. Your vote is moving you back to the Stone Age. Even early humans knew when to replace stones with iron during the Stone Age. Africa, you don’t have a democracy. Anyone you have not appointed cannot disappoint you! Citizens are being deceived, and they are deceiving themselves. Organize yourselves at various levels and think of alternatives to democracy or, at the minimum, how accountability and transparency will form the core of your democratic practices. Your lifetime president is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian kleptocrat far worse than the combination of Doris Payne, Stephane Breitwieser, Simon Leviev, Veerappan, Derek Smalls, Vincenzo Peruggia, Bonnie and Clyde, Natwarlal, Carl Gugasian, Frank Abagnale, Anna Sorokin, Albert Spaggiari, Jesse James, Anthony Strangis, and Bill Mason. Do you know these names?



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Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe 

A theory of change explains how activities, measures, and steps undertaken to address a problem could facilitate or help realize certain changes or outcomes. It articulates how an impact would be achieved and some progress made. In this case, the expected outcome is an end to witch-hunting in Africa. Unlike in Western countries, the persecution of supposed witches persists in the region. Witch bloodletting takes place in many parts of Africa. The persecution of people accused of witchcraft leads to horrific abuses and death. Alleged witches are attacked, tortured, lynched, imprisoned, or banished. They are subjected to jungle justice, trial by ordeal, forced disappearance, and internal displacement. Simply put, those who are accused of perpetrating occult harm are treated without mercy or compassion. Incidentally, the impression is that nothing could be done to combat or neutralize this dark and destructive phenomenon, that witch hunting is cultural to Africans. The impression is that seeking to eradicate witch-hunting in African societies is a futile effort. This notion is gravely mistaken and needs to be corrected. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches was launched in 2020 to correct these misconceptions and facilitate effective actions. It works to fill the missing link in the activism against witch persecution in the region. The AfAW is a protest initiative, and exists to challenge and dispel allegations of witchcraft.

The main goal is to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. This objective sounds like an ambitious goal or some pipe dream, but it can be achieved. And AfAW aims to end witch hunting based on an informactional theory of change. This theory rests on two pillars: information and action because witch hunting persists in the region due to lack of information, or misinformation, and due to lack of action, inaction, or infraction. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches uses this two-pronged approach to combat witch-hunting in Africa.

At the global level, there is a lack of information about witch-hunting in Africa. Although a lot has been written and published on witchcraft in African societies, many people in Europe and America claim do not know about raging witch hunts in the region. Part of the problem is that these publications are filled with misinformation and misinterpretation of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in the region. Scholars have presented witchcraft accusations as benign and useful to African societies. Meanwhile these accusations are not in any way gentle or pleasant. Studies have portrayed witchcraft allegations as stabilizing and harmonizing mechanisms. They have overlooked the critical and skeptical perspective of witchcraft beliefs. Scholars have largely ignored the accused side of the story, the harmful and destructive consequences of witchcraft imputations. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we work to correct the misrepresentation of witchcraft accusations in Africa. We campaign to draw attention to this imbalance in the perception of the phenomenon. But correct information is not enough. Balanced interpretation does not suffice. To combat witch persecution, information needs to be turned into action, into effective policies and interventions.

On the action side, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches takes measures to address the problem because lack of adequate information has occasioned inaction or infractions. Wrong information has resulted in apathy and indifference towards witch hunting in Africa. Many international agencies are reluctant to act; they have refused to take action or to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. With adequate and balanced information, international organizations would take appropriate actions.

At the local level, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to fill the information and action gaps. Many people accuse and engage in witch hunts due to a lack of information or misinformation. Accusers act based on a lack of information about the cause of illnesses, deaths, and other misfortune. Many people persecute witches because they have incorrect information about who or what is responsible for their problems, because they are not informed about what to do and where to go, who or what to blame for their misfortunes. Many people do not know what constitutes sufficient reason and causal explanations for their problems. As part of the efforts to end witch-hunting, the AfAW highlights misinformation and disinformation about causes of misfortune, illness, death, accidents, poverty, and infertility, including the misinformation that charlatans and con artists, god men and women such as traditional priests, pastors, mallam and marabouts use to exploit poor ignorant folks. The AfAW provides evidence-based knowledge, explanation, and interpretation of misfortunes. It informs the public about the law and other existing mechanisms to address allegations of witchcraft. The AfAW sensitizes the public and public institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. It sponsors media programs, issues press releases, makes social media posts, and publishes articles and blogs on witch-hunting in the region.

In addition, the AfAW facilitates actions and interventions by state and nonstate agencies. The post colonial African state is weak so state agencies have limited powers and presence. So the AfAW encourages institutional synergy to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. The AfAW petitions the police, the courts, and state human rights institutions. It  pressures them to act, to collaborate and take appropriate measures to penalize witch-hunting activities in the region. With an informactional approach, witch hunting in Africa would slowly decrease and diminish. Witch persecution would be a thing of the past within a decade.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which aims to end witch hunting in Africa by 2030.

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A – Z Of Ibadan Achievements



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

By Toyin Falola

I am glad to accept the invitation of the Ibadan Descendant Union, the Dallas Branch, celebrating its 25th anniversary on September 23rd, 2023. As the Keynote Speaker, my topic was not imposed on me. In the spirit of the occasion and speaking to city fellows, I know I must be in haste before the amala becomes cold. Approaching 71, my words keep coming, far more than at 41. As the words continue to pour, let me employ them to praise the greatness of Ibadan, which I once eulogized in a piece, “Ibadan: My City of Fame”.

A story of political cunning, martial strength, and intellectual passion unfolds in Ibadan’s rich and fertile fields, like the brilliant hues of a tapestry stitched with strands of heritage, bravery, and ingenuity. As we travel through the history of Ibadan, a city that stands as a beacon of human resilience and ingenuity, we discover stories of remarkable individuals who have risen to great heights through courage and community solidarity, shaping a society that not only honoured its past but eagerly looks forward to a bright future.

We begin this voyage by traversing Ibadan’s dynamic political and chieftaincy terrain, where the pursuit for honour paints the backdrop of a society steeped in martial culture. This is a city that pulsates with the heartbeat of its people, continuously growing and remaking itself via a kaleidoscope of power dynamics and civic turmoil. Individuals ascending to chieftaincy titles in this dynamic metropolis are more than just leaders; they manifest a tradition steeped in heroism, endurance, and community cooperation. When we delve further, we discover that the quest for honour is more than just a race for prestige. It is a vibrant celebration of the rich and diverse traditions that constitute the foundation of Ibadan’s distinct identity. Civil disturbances are considered possibilities for societal reform in this setting, fostering governance that shapes a robust and adaptive civic identity. As we search through Ibadan’s historical documents, we discover a city that stands as a tribute to its citizens’ tenacious energy and inventiveness, constantly weaving its past and values into the intricate fabric of its distinct character.

The vivid tapestry of Ibadan’s tale continues into the arena of military power, where victory echoes reverberate through time, influencing the communal rituals and martial practices that have defined the city’s vast past. The revered streets of Ibadan echo the attitude of solidarity and fearlessness that characterized ancient warriors. A closer examination reveals leaders who inspired and galvanized armies with weapons and words that moved the soul, cultivating a cultural milieu in which military achievement symbolized civic pride and camaraderie. Leaders like Balogun Ogboriefon evolved to personify the deeply ingrained belief system centred on togetherness and fearlessness. These charismatic figures led their societies through transforming experiences that defined civic values and fostered a collective sense of cohesion and direction. As a result, civil unrest in Ibadan should be viewed as a potent catalyst for political development and advancement, forming a dynamic and resilient civic identity that matches the lively traits of urban cultures seen in ancient city-states.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that military conflicts that once echoed through the city’s streets have now become an integral component of a fascinating narrative that acts as both an educational tool and a source of inspiration for its residents. The merging of past and present delivers a colourful portrayal of historical information through this lens, feeding civic culture with a potent blend of inspiration and advice. Continuing from the complex tapestry that underpins Ibadan’s historical landscape, we now focus on the intellectual areas that distinguish this magnificent city. The hum of intellectual debate, the vigorous interchange of ideas that has been a trademark of this urban sanctuary for generations, can be heard throughout Ibadan’s bustling streets and peaceful corners. The scholarly pursuit, profoundly embedded in the city’s mentality, acts as a beacon, attracting minds from all backgrounds and promoting a culture of intellectual energy and innovation.

The intellectual enthusiasm is not limited to the sacred halls of learning; it permeates every aspect of Ibadan culture. Streets are transformed into open forums, where wisdom and insight are traded with the same zeal as goods in a bustling market. Every person, it appears, contributes to a swirling vortex of information and creativity, from the little child reciting folklore learnt at a grandparent’s knee to the seasoned academic scribbling theories in scholarly publications. This ongoing engagement with learning with intellectual inquiry imbues the city with an enlightening atmosphere that permeates every nook and cranny. This intellectual curiosity, however, is not a new feature; rather, it is deeply established in Ibadan’s history. The city has long been a study centre, where traditions and customs have been recorded, preserved, and studied. A location where the quest for knowledge, for unravelling the complexities of human existence, has been a constant force driving people to seek wisdom in the teachings of the past and the discoveries of the present.

And, as if responding to the ancients’ pleas, Ibadan’s modern academic institutions stand as mighty strongholds of knowledge, where the quest for understanding crosses borders and cultural barriers. The University of Ibadan, a towering educational institution, is a light of scholarship, attracting minds worldwide. A new generation takes up the mantle of scholarly endeavour here, amid the halls resonating with the echoes of intellectual giants, ready to carve out their place in the unending narrative of human discovery and understanding. This old institution’s convoluted passageways are a combination of tradition and modernity. A synthesis of many fields of study, where rich lore from the past meets innovative findings from the present, generating an environment that fosters critical thinking and innovation. The intellectual traditions that have characterised the city’s history are given new life by introducing new views and cutting-edge research approaches. This harmonic fusion of old and modern, tradition and innovation, creates a fertile foundation for ideas to take root and develop, contributing to a lively intellectual ecosystem constantly reshaping Ibadan’s societal landscape. The spread of knowledge extends beyond academic circles and into the streets, producing a culture that values intellectual involvement and scholarly discourse.

In the green gardens and lively courtyards of Ibadan’s educational institutions, ideas that have the potential to revolutionize society, question the existing status quo and drive growth are born. Here, in the heart of Ibadan, a new generation emerges, armed with the instruments of knowledge and the spirit of inquiry, ready to face the difficulties of the modern world to contribute to a story that transcends millennia, a story that is constantly being written with each passing instant. There blossoms a dazzling tale of expansion and renaissance within the heartbeat of booming urbanity, an anthology that knits past and present into a vivid tapestry of innovation and cultural engagement. The bustling city of Ibadan awakens to embrace a future stitched with golden threads of aspiration and drive as the sun rises, filling the sky with the hues of a new day.

As we continue our examination of this extraordinary city, we cannot ignore the significance of cultural collaboration in forming its modern landscape. Ibadan’s rhythmic pulse is an outstanding symphony, synthesizing diverse cultures and traditions that have found a home within its warm embrace. These intertwined storylines have generated a rich and diverse cultural tapestry and a dynamic and resilient community united in its pursuit of growth and innovation.

    A live testament to the city’s global nature can be found in the bustling markets, where an orchestra of dialects fills the air. Trade and commerce transcend transactional boundaries here, morphing into a dynamic cultural exchange dance. An ever-changing ballet in which things, tales, and traditions weave a rich narrative that vibrates with the harmonious melodies of cooperation and mutual respect. As one travels through the city’s busy streets, it is clear that the feeling of community flourishes here. The streets, bustling with the energy of a people unified in purpose and vision, represent Ibadan’s unwavering spirit. This is a city where neighbourliness and a profound feeling of belonging form relationships that transcend generational boundaries, where the wisdom of the elders feeds the seeds of the future, nurturing a society ready to play a crucial role in the world arena.

Again, the story does not finish here; rather, the narrative is ever-changing, sculpted by the hands that construct, nurture, and invent. The pulse of progress is tangible, sparking a rebirth that sees the city reach previously unimaginable heights. Ibadan is on the verge of a new era, ready to seize chances that promise progress and wealth. The city’s edifices, testaments to human ingenuity and resilience, rise to the sky, representing the lofty goals of a people eager to carve their place in history. The developments we see now are a testament to the numerous hands who have worked tirelessly to mould Ibadan’s trajectory, a path distinguished by tenacity, ingenuity, and a relentless quest for greatness. This booming innovation cluster is where the past meets the future, where tradition and modernity dance in unison, giving rise to a beacon of hope and progress on the African continent. The brilliance of human collaboration illuminates Ibadan’s path, a tribute to the potential within a society united in purpose and vision. 

As the sun sets and the sky turns gold and scarlet, Ibadan retreats into a tranquil embrace, a sanctuary where dreams are nurtured and visions are born. Ibadan whispers tales of a great past and alludes to a future filled with limitless potential under the twinkling canopy of stars. A future in which the city takes its rightful place in the international arena, a beacon of growth and creativity, a tribute to the perseverance of human endeavour. 

As we stand on the verge of a new day, the lively city of Ibadan asks us to join it on its journey, distinguished by growth, expansion, and a firm confidence in the limitless potential of human ingenuity and cultural engagement. A voyage that invites us to see the unfolding story of a city that epitomizes the throbbing rhythm of progress, a story that promises to resound with the harmonic melodies of growth and prosperity for future generations. As the story progresses, Ibadan becomes a living witness to the powerful ability of human ingenuity and cultural exchange, a vibrant tableau of a city on the move, eager to embrace a future full of promise and opportunity. As this piece on our exploration of this vibrant urban tapestry concludes, we are left with a vision of a city reborn, a city ready to forge its path into a future that gleams with the promise of progress, prosperity, and limitless possibilities, ever-ready to assume its rightful place on the global stage. Finally, with its rich history, intellectual prowess, and dynamic cultural mosaic, Ibadan invites us all to be a part of its ongoing tale, a story that promises to captivate, inspire, and serve as a beacon of hope and progress in our ever-changing world. 

Let us all witness Ibadan’s developing story, a city poised to stun the globe with its brightness, resilience, and unshakable spirit of innovation and progress. IDU, congratulations!


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