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Career Choice And Employability



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


Grace Ego Omoni

That man must work is a command by God. Paul the Apostle warned that if you don’t work, then you must not eat. Again the book of Proverbs 12:27 asserts “The lazy man does not roast any game but the diligent feeds on the hunt.” This implies only when you are engaged in work will you find something to eat. These illustrations go to show the importance of work. Nothing is as frustrating as having an ordinary life whereas within your heart, you know that you have potential.

Unemployment in any society is a danger to the people because it can lead to all sorts of criminality as being witnessed in Nigeria today. The Nigerian Constitution stipulates that any citizen between ages 15 years and 64 years is qualified for employment either in the public or private sectors. Today, the population of Nigeria is about 200 million people.

According to statistics available, about 67%  of the population are supposed to be gainfully employed. However, this is far from being a true account of the Nigerian situation. It is a well-known fact that each year, more and more school leavers roam the streets without any tangible job. Everyday, young people move from  the rural areas to the urban cities in search of jobs that do not exist. For them, obtaining Western education has elevated them from being rural dwellers to the exalted position of being city inhabitants who must not farm. So they flood the cities looking for white collar jobs that befit their educational qualifications.

It is also a well-known fact that  education is the instrument for and the key to national  development. Education is an agent of civilization.  Without mincing words, it is the instrument for poverty alleviation, political sensitization and participation, economic development and transformation, social and technological development and building of the new man.

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The new man that education is supposed to make is like a thorn to the nation today. The general concession is that there is this unemployment saga ravaging the country. That is what we believe and we all blame the government for failing to create industries and an enabling environment for its citizens. Have we looked at this problem from another point of view? Each day, I read  advertisements about vacancies existing in different organisations and institutions, yet, there is the issue of unemployment! Does it mean that these vacancies are not genuine? Have we considered this possibility that people may have educational qualifications without the necessary skills to fit into these vacancies being  advertised daily?

This brings us to the topic: “Career Choice and Employability.”The school is a place for training and developing individuals physically, socially, economically and intellectually for them to become useful to themselves, their families and the society at large. The National Policy on education clearly states the training of individuals to be self-reliant and be fully integrated into the society as part of the objectives. Thus, education without being being self-reliant or without being fully integrated into the society is a misnomer and a disaster to the nation.

It is the failure of our educational system to address this issue that has resulted in  problems of unemployment leading to crimes such as Yahoo syndrome, armed robbery, prostitution, thuggery, religious crises and bigotry, oil bunkering, kidnapping, drug taking and trafficking, killings, destruction of lives and property and others.

The educational system has to look into the issue of career choice or selection vis-à-vis employability.  Learners  need a system where they will prepare themselves to fit into the world of work and not just acquiring educational qualifications whether relevant or not. Education in Nigeria from the beginning should marry what is to be taught and the usefulness to the demands of institutions and organisations outside the school system. In the school, there are four basic categories, namely: the humanities, the sciences, social sciences and vocational/ technological faculties.

There is the need for the curriculum content to be reformed to meet the various demands in the world market. Learners should understand what career is, the different careers available, to choose the right career by matching it with its employability prospects.

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Career, Career Education  and Career Choice:
1) Meaning of Career: According to Egbule (2004), career is a variety of work and non-work situation which usually spans throughout the entire life of the individual and is generally related to a pattern of decision, transactions and adjustments which affect an individual’s role in work, education, leisure, family and community development. Career is the totality of work one does in one’s life continuously from cradle to the grave and from one educational level to another.

Career according to Akinade (2005)  is a more modern and broader term than occupation or vocation. To him, career is a group of similar jobs or work-related roles  found in different institutions or organizations. It is the totality of work one experiences in a life time. Career borders on what an individual does for a living to enable him or her to be economically independent and to be able to cater for his or her immediate family without constituting a nuisance in the society.

There are different kinds of careers such as medicine, teaching, accounting, nursing, journalism, farming, carpentry and catering.

2) Career Education: This is a particular teaching, training and learning an individual undergoes to improve his or her knowledge and develop skills that are used to choose a career and progress in the world of work. In other words it is planned -for educational experiences that facilitate a person’s career development and preparation for the world of work. It is all of the experiences through which one learns about and prepares for engaging in work as part of or a way of living. This is the duty of the school. So, it is not just being in the school for the theory work but engaging in practical experiences in the learning environment  in preparation for the everyday activity and demonstration of  skills acquired in specific areas in the organizations or  institutions one finds himself or herself as a worker.

3) Career Problems:  These are difficulties, confusion, worries and realities related to career decisions, influence of friends and significant others like parents and siblings, work performance, adjustments and incongruence of the work environment and inadequate or unsatisfactory integration of life roles.

Career Choice: 

Choosing to do anything comes from the mind.  A philosopher once said that we must decide what manner of men we wish to be and what calling in life we would follow and that it is the most difficult problem in the world. Adolescents over the ages are faced with the problem of making choices such as who and who to follow, the type of way to dress, how to talk and that of career. The rate of unemployment and underemployment and diverse job opportunities are making it increasingly difficult for   adolescents and young people to take decisions on the career to choose. Entering into a wrong career can lead one to job insecurity, wrong planning in terms of further education or being unemployable in any relevant institution or organization.

It has been observed that wrong career choice by our young graduates has rendered them unemployable hence people are mistaking it for an unemployment saga in this nation. It is important for learners in schools to learn more about different careers, the prerequisite qualifications, the prospects of courses leading to such careers occupations, the hazards involved, the institutions  offering such courses, learning about self (your interest, ability and talents). Equipped with these, young people will be able to take decisions on the type of career they would prepare for.

The labour market is a great determinant in choosing a career. It will help them to acquire necessary skills, attitude and information for them to successfully enter the labour market at any level of education. The mistake most  university admission  seekers and their parents or guardians  make is insisting on just going in for any course without thinking of the future. So, they become unemployable because the choice of course to study was made ignorantly. Career information is very, very important.

Sources of information are numerous.  The home, friends, local government offices, ministries, youth centres, the mass media, professional bodies, organisations, educational bodies, examination bodies such as WAEC, JAMB, and schools ( brochures, syllabuses).

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In the schools, career guidance and counselling and career libraries are good sources of information to assist young people make right decisions on the choice of career or occupation.

Factors that Influence Career Choice:
Two main factors that influence the choice of a career are either internal (personal) or external ( environmental).
Internal or  Personal Factors: These emanate from within the individual. They include one’s intellectual ability,  interest, personality, self-concept, talent and aptitude.

(a) The adolescent needs to know his or her level of intellectual ability and understand that certain careers require higher level of intellectual ability. For instance, courses like medicine, law, engineering and pharmacy require very high JAMB scores to gain admission. Such a level of high intelligence is also expected while performing in work places. Thus, the person (school leaver) must choose a career according to the level of intellectual ability for optimal performance.

(b) Interest: To obtain job satisfaction, the individual needs to choose a career he or she is interested in. To help in knowing one’s area of interest, the use of psychological tests like Vocational Interest Inventory (VII) and Motivation for Occupational Preference Scale (MOPS) becomes inevitable. When one of my daughters finished JSS three in those days, my husband and myself had concluded that she would be in the science class because she performed wonderfully well in the Junior School Certificate Examination.

However, on classification into  the Senior Secondary School, she was placed in the Art class. We were furious. I rushed to the school to complain about the placement, I was referred to the school counsellor who explained why my daughter fell into that category. The Vocational Interest Inventory was used and her responses to the items showed that she was art-oriented. Today, she has a  first degree in English language and a Master in Literature in English.

(c) Personality:  This is the totality of  an individual’s  characteristics in terms of behaviour, feelings and mind set. These have to be considered in career choice to know where one can fit in.

(d)  Self-concept: Awareness of one’s potentialities and limitations will help in choosing a career. The image or picture of who you are, the type of life you want to live and the type of people you would want to work with will influence your choice of career.

Others like talents and aptitude are also related to the choice of career. Do you possess the exceptional ability or quality with which to perform tasks involved in your choice of career?  Some careers are also based on sex differences. It has been observed that in those days, the teaching and nursing professions had more of females while careers like engineering and  medicine  had more of males although the trend is changing today because of  career counselling in schools.

(2) Environmental or External Factors: These include: the home, socio-economic background of parents, family size, the school, economic prestige factor, rural-urban influence, cultural and religious background.

(a) The child first learns about career from parents and significant others in the home and as he grows up, he is exposed to other careers until he or she takes a decision on one.

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Teachers of English will agree with me that from time to time when learners are asked to write essays on their choice of occupation, the majority write on their parents’ own. This is because the formation of the child’s motivational traits and career interest is first in the home. This may change as he or she mixes with others outside the home.

(b) Another factor is the parents’ socio- economic background. For instance children from high income homes can afford to attend the best schools where they are exposed to better learning environment compared to poor homes who may not be able to send their children to conducive  school environment.
(c) Family Size: The number of children might influence career choice. Parents with small families have less financial constraints than those with large families.

(d) The School: Some schools are science-oriented while others emphasize the arts and such systems might affect career choice.  The curriculum, facilities, teachers and  peers influence the child’s vocational choice. It is essential that heads of schools should ensure that attention is paid to the sciences, arts and social sciences to enable learners to have a variety of choices.

(e) Urban and Rural factors. The level of exposure of learners in urban areas is definitely higher than  those in rural areas. In the urban areas there is a variety  of professions that the students are exposed to on a daily basis. As they interact with peers and parents in these cities, interest in different careers is formed unlike in rural settings where such jobs are limited.

Others are cultural and religious background. For instance, some individuals hate to read law because to them corruption and injustices are perpetrated. I know of a lawyer who rejected an appointment from a firm because he discovered fraudulent practices going on there as part of the system.

Way Forward to Ease the Problems of Career Choice in Relation to Employability in Nigeria:

(1) Compulsorily, Career Guidance and Counselling should be enforced in schools.
Career counselling is the process of assisting counselees to make meaningful career decisions and plans for their lives. Here, they are exposed to different courses, their advantages and disadvantages, organising career day/ week, inviting different professionals to come and give talks preferably wearing their work attire ( balloon debates); organising drama on different careers

(2) Going on field trips or excursion to different industries, organisations, institutions, both private and public where the students will have a practical view of the skills  involved. When they come back, discussion on what they saw is organised after which they do a written summary of their observations.

(3) Entrepreneurship education should be introduced and intensively done in schools. Here the adolescents learn about different trades and skills which can give them opportunities to be self-employed. Such include fashion designing, catering, barbing, tiling and building. Thus, apart from their main professional courses, these adolescents can do their own private small-scale business while seeking bigger jobs where they can excel in  their areas of study. This is being practised in many African countries such as South Africa, Guinea, Ghana and Liberia.

(4) There is the need for schools to introduce the activity called job shadowing where students are sent out once in a while  to find out more about jobs in the labour market. With this they find out on their own those careers that are more needed in the society.

(5) The curriculum should be made more robust by encouraging vocational and technological studies where practical skills are required. Educationists and industries have asserted that polytechnic graduates are more competent in skilled work than university graduates. A change or reform in the content of the curriculum towards skill-oriented courses will be of benefit to the nation.

(6) Self-development is very important. Encourage job seekers to go for diploma courses that will train them in areas being sought in the labour market.

(7) The education industry should encourage would-be admission seekers to go in for courses being sought in the labour market. In collaboration with the state and federal governments, scholarships should be given to students who are studying courses into careers that are in high demand in the labour market.

(8)Aptitude and vocational inventories should be used by counsellors to help identify where students can fit into as they seek admission into higher institutions of learning.

(9) Parents and guardians should avoid forcing their children and wards into choosing careers. This affects them adversely.

The late  Fela  Anikulapo Kuti went to the university to read medicine and ended up in the entertainment industry and so many others. I know of a professor in French language today whose parents forced her to be in the sciences during her secondary school days. Even though she made her papers at the school certificate level in the sciences, she decided to read French. Today, she has tremendously excelled in this area  and is outstandingly recognised  nationally and internationally.

(10) Young people should avoid being influenced by their peers. Go for courses you can pursue without falling into depression.

(11)  Counsellors should be posted to schools at all levels to groom our young ones on career choice.

Conclusion:  Career choice is a necessity in the present Nigeria because it has been observed that it is really not the issue of unemployment but unemployability. There are many vacancies still unoccupied because no competent hands to fill them. It is therefore the opinion of this write-up that if career choice is properly handled by counsellors through the various organs identified  the issue of unemployability can be curbed.

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A Savage Outing In The Name Of Electioneering 



Prof. Hope Eghagha

By  Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

It is in the nature of man, supposedly enlightened and exposed, to occasionally reveal the savage aspects of the homo sapiens. There is a beast in every man as evident in Lord of the Flies by William Golding where children trapped on an island reveal savagery unbecoming of apparently innocent kids. French novelist Emile Zola in la Bete humaine wrote about how ‘individuals are derailed by atavistic forces beyond their control’. Similarly, whole communities sometimes expose the savagery in their hearts in time of tension. When it is interethnic, interracial, or interreligious, that is, when it concerns group behaviour, it could have devastating consequences on society just as the xenophobia directed against Nigerians in South Africa led to deaths of innocent immigrants. This is the only way I can describe the last mob mentality and the ethnic hatred that seized Lagos last week Saturday before, during and after the governorship and House of Assembly elections. Sadly, this ugly spectacle occurred in some other parts of the federation, especially Kano and Rivers State. The Igbo are being profiled, vilified, and made a target of mass hysteria!

Whoever thought that we still harboured such a degree of ethnic hatred in our hearts some sixty-three odd years after independence? And the silence of the elite while savagery reigned was mindboggling. Was this orchestrated from the highest level of society? Did they, as the world did during the Rwandan massacres, look the other way? Is there ever going to be integration or cultural acceptance of the ‘other’ in our disparate polity? Add to these the deployment of a supposedly cultural rite of purity, the Oro festival, to drive fear into the hearts of potential voters on the night before voting commenced! It seems we are not ready, not molded, not fashioned for democracy. Hoodlums went round voting points and prevented anyone who did not look Yoruba or who had non-Yoruba names from voting.

Democracy manages diversity. It does not emphasize difference. Lagos and Kano exposed our dirty underbelly both to us and the rest of the world. In some states, governors, their surrogates, and political gladiators, seized the instruments of state to intimidate their opponents. Political exclusion is antithetical to the practice of democracy. By engaging persons of all backgrounds before elections, they court voters. To set hoodlums on innocent citizens because they have a different view is dangerous to the survival of the Republic. The experience last week calls for a reconsideration of the creation of State Police. State governors will unleash them on opponents without let or hindrance. If non-state actors could unleash terror on voters, it is left for us to imagine what uniformed officials could do in the name of the law.

It is instructive that while hoodlums attacked and harassed voters last Saturday, policemen and other security agents looked the other way. In some states, policemen openly snatched ballot boxes. Such acts make citizens lose faith in the state. It is a recipe for civil disobedience. If a state actor, elected by the people in any part of the federation decides to lead a sustained protest against the federal government, we would have a deadly situation in our hands. And that is how breakdown of law and order starts.

Persons of Igbo ethnic group who reside in Lagos must also refrain from making provocative statements which could generate hatred and rejection. To claim that Lagos is no-man’s land is provocative in our current circumstances. Lagos has been a good home to all, both good and bad. It has offered an opportunity for citizens who came to Lagos with a nylon bag exit as landlords and rich businessmen. All those who have found accommodation and a source of income in Lagos must respect the codes of social engagement. But state officials should not react to misguided statements from troublemakers in the land.

The people of Lagos and the State government must wake up to the realities of 21st century Lagos. No government has the power to exclude potential voters because they may support candidates that are not favoured by the establishment. And they must carry the mob of area boys and ethnic jingoists along in re-understanding their environment. In a truly democratic setting, governments initiate policies that could win them votes from certain demographic sections of society. In a multiracial society, the dominant class engages minorities with favourable policies as shown in the American experience.

What happened during the election was a form of coup against the people in a clinically arranged exercise by the state. Bullets and missiles were fired by non-military savages. Threats and intimidation restricted access to the ballot box. Some citizens who had access to the ballot box had their votes nullified. The so-called game changer BVAS was made a laughingstock. The young people watching the elections exercise are being encouraged to adopt dishonest means to achieve their goals in life. Yet, the victors have been pronounced. Cheating pays in this environment. It should be possible and indeed mandatory to order new elections to be carried out in any part of the federation where snatched ballot boxes prevented a conclusion to the exercise. This will reduce the criminal practice. The perpetrators must be brought to book. There is no report that those scoundrels who attacked innocent citizens last week have been arrested.

There must be a restitution. There must be punishment. There must be consequences for brigandage and violence. By allowing such rigged elections results to stand, we are digging the grave of democracy. Any politician who rigs his way into office lacks legitimacy. The people are angry. The people are waiting for the opportunity to have their pound of flesh. BVAS may have been compromised now. In future we will have an INEC chairman who will firmly ensure that election processes and results are sacrosanct. This will be in an era where the INEC chairman is appointed and fired by the people through the National Assembly. There will be an INEC chair who is not partisan, who will be prepared to do right by the Nigerian people. Until we have a truly independent electoral commission, thugs and their masters will continue to rule over us.

Out there Nigerians are angry. Bitter. Disappointed. Almost in despair. They believe the INEC Chairman misled them into believing that the elections would be free and fair. That INEC in connivance with the federal authorities deliberately sabotaged the dreams of the people. We are not sure whether that perception can ever be erased. Whatever it is, INEC and the current political class have taken us back to the Stone Age! Which is sad! Discontent has been driven underground. And until there is a purgation, only God (not the many false prophets around) can tell us how this macabre drama will end.



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Unending Passion For Reform: A Peep Into My Memoir And The Future Of Nigeria



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

In 1976, Karl Popper, easily one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, published his autobiography, the Unended Quest. It was the philosopher’s attempt to capture in graphic, simple and autobiographical form, the trajectory of his intellectual life—how his existence came to be circumscribed by a series of philosophical ideas that eventually defined not only his fame as a philosopher but also his existential fulfilment as a human person.

“An autobiography is the story of how a man thinks he lived,” says Herbert Samuel, the British liberal politician. Of course, for Karl Popper, the intellectual autobiography is a testament to a life that became philosophical at a young age. It was while working between 1922 and 1924 with a cabinetmaker, Adalbert Posch, that he first fell in love with epistemology and started wrestling with the dynamics of knowledge that derived  from the early influences a book-filled house had on him.

By the time Popper published the Unended Quest in 1976, I was still in the process of my preliminary educational formation, with no clear clues as to what life held or in what directions I was  headed. I was deeply enmeshed in the exuberances of a secondary school student who sees life in terms of the day to day excitements and rascality. But then, I had also began accumulating some specific life experiences in terms of social relations and unexplained incidences. Three are significant here for my intellectual, political and spiritual life formation. The  first , my first brutal
initiation into Nigeria’s zero-sum politics, happened in 1965 when the horrific consequences of the political antagonism between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief S. L. Akintola landed squarely in  my little world in the South-West. I was right in its path. The terrible fact of a person being doused and burnt by thugs was kept indelibly in my confused and shocked mind that would later start groping for answers to human inhumanity to human.

The second encounter was more intellectual—I met Plato on a shelf in the personal library of my uncle, Chief Alfred Olaopa. His copy of Plato’s Republic became immediately fascinating to me because of its dialogic form. But then, my grasping mind got more than the dramatic form that gave form to Plato’s philosophical ideas, insights and arguments. By the time I had arrived at the University of Ibadan for a long immersion in political science and political theory, I had already found a way to connect between the degenerating democratic experiment of ancient Athens that instigated Plato into philosophic reflection when Socrates was killed, and the debilitating condition of post-independence Nigeria that I witnessed as a six-year old boy in a small corner of Oyo State, in modern Nigeria. My university sojourn gave me the theoretical framework with which to make sense of my groping for meaning of the Nigerian experience.

My third encounter was more spiritual. In 1976, after my witnessing thuggery and just about when I encountered Plato’s reform vision in the Republic, I suddenly developed an intense headache that snowballed into incessant migraines that lasted for ten years. There was not anything we did not try, from tablets to herbs; and from hospitals to churches. Of course, my parents concluded it was a spiritual attack. I took the mental pain to my days at the university before it was finally resolved well after my graduation and youth service. But I learnt a lot about spirituality and God from that trauma.

By the time I joined the Presidency in 1992, and eventually the civil service, I had come full circle in my introspection and reflection about my place in the world, my research focus and direction. All of what I considered to be Nigeria’s cogent predicaments, the fundamental problems with the public service, the role that the civil service can play in reconstructing the Nigerian project. And
at this point in my personal formation, I have developed a philosophy of reform in its administrative, technocratic and social dimensions.

This is where I found the uniqueness of my life trajectory—and the urgency of publishing a memoir: my intellectual and professional maturation is tied in with the concerted efforts to find resolutions for Nigeria’s postcolonial predicaments. And it is my desire to share my own little efforts with those who have similar
patriotic aspirations and would want to keep holding up the flag. This is the key import of The Unending Quest for Reform. I am in the forefront of the narration because I believe that providence had projected my being into the cauldron of the unfolding and unraveling of the Nigerian state at
the time I was born, just some few months before Nigeria came into politico-administrative existence via her flag independence.

As I narrated in all the pages of the memoir, the entirety of my intellectual development, from secondary school to the University of Ibadan, as well as the entire trajectory of my professional coming of age and maturity had been devoted to understanding the Nigerian project and assembling the credentials and competences to find ways and means by which to make Nigeria work  positively for Nigerians. I consider myself to be a minor protagonist in a narrative that maps how the Nigerian state has evolved over the course of its independence, and how it has failed to keep up with the imperatives of her greatness. The Unending Quest for Reform is a narration about the historical unraveling of the Nigerian state, the great ideological conceptualization of its future, especially during the first republic, the operationalization of the colonial landmines, especiallyt through one of the greatest institutional inheritances (the civil service system), the weaponization of Nigeria’s plurality by those who would undermine Nigeria’s greatness for their greedy primitivec accumulation the struggle to get back on track, especially by the civil service and its effort to administratively redirect Nigeria’s infrastructural development—all from my perspective.

Even as a minor protagonist in Nigeria’s political drama, I consider myself to be significant in her search for greatness. The Unending Quest for Reform is my account of my diagnosis of my life
within the trajectory of Nigeria’s protracted search for nationhood. Therefore, I do not see this as self-indulgent in any sense. Eleanor Roosevelt got my intention quite right. For her, “Autobiographies are only useful as the lives you read about and analyze may suggest to you something that you may find useful in your own journey through life.” There is a generational and professional handholding gesture that I intend this memoir to concretize. Even though the memoir speaks about some dimensions of my life, it is meant to specifically outline my journey from the first encounter with Nigeria’s institutional dysfunctionality to the administrative philosophy that could transform her governance and institutional reforms.

I remember vividly that this is the clear mandate I received from Chief Simone Adebo, in one of those crucial encounters I had with him that clarified my incipient yearning for administrative and institutional transformation through research and praxis. He was worried that civil servants in Nigeria are often the butt of derogatory representations and scurrilous analyses that tied them to damage done to the Nigerian state. And yet, these civil servants fail to provide the insights into their professional intervention in the administrative dynamics of Nigeria, especially through personal narratives and systematic documentation. The Unforgettable Years, Chief Adebo’s autobiography, serves the grand purpose of outlining the critical years of the founding of the Nigerian civil service system and that was tied to the working of Nigeria’s plural unraveling. That autobiography had to have been written because Adebo himself constituted a legacy that represents the golden age of Nigeria’s public service. To read The Unforgettable Years is to not only understand how the civil service system came into existence and developed, it is also to understand the roles that the civil servants and politicians played in the first few years of Nigeria’s postcolonial existence. More than this, it is also to understand how the famous Awolowo-Adebo model of
politics-administration dichotomy was operationalized in ways that gave birth to the infrastructural wonders of the old Western Region. This is the same sense of immersion that one gets when reading Chief Theophilus Akinyele’s Beyond Pushing Files, or Prof. Akinlawon Mabogunje’s A Measure of Grace. It was partly what I wanted to achieve when I compelled the late Prof. Ojetunji Aboyade to approve the biographical narrative of his life and experience as an intellectual and civil servant. In A Prophet is with Honor, I narrated how Aboyade embodied the town-and-gown framework, and how the trajectories of his life and professional experience were connected with the deep desire to enhance the development of Nigeria. I am therefore hoping that this memoir will also be a part of the existing and excellent personal narratives of significant public servants that complement Nigeria’s political and administrative histories, and critically gesture at the fundamental place and roles of the public service in Nigeria’s development agenda.

The Unending Quest for Reform was written within the best tradition of memoirs. Caroline Knapp, the American writer, captures this essence beautifully: “By definition, memoir demands a certain degree of introspection and self-disclosure: In order to fully engage a reader, the narrator has to make herself known, has to allow her own self-awareness to inform the events she describes.” The self-disclosure that underlies this memoir is meant to point outside of myself and the experiences I have accumulated to a larger national context that facilitated most of these experiences and how the dynamics of governance and institutional reforms that define my professional and
philosophical endeavors could be turned towards the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians.

In eighteen chapters, I wove a long story that began from my native town in Aáwé and ended within the trenches of institutional reforms within the public service space in the presidency and
other MDAs in Abuja. The contours of that intellectual and professional unraveling took me to several parts of the world and brought me in contact and engagements with several people. I was brought to critical points in my understanding of the trouble with Nigeria, to quote Chinua Achebe. Since, for me, the civil service represents the most crucial point in the developmental awakening of the Nigerian state—as a democratic and developmental state—I dare say I was brought to a fundamental understanding of what is wrong with that system and how it can be fixed. I did the rounds of all the significant institutional nodal point, and I researched theories and administrative practices across the globe that could shed light on the way forward. I have been a part of some of the fundamental attempts at administrative restructuring in the Nigerian civil service. I have also
partaken at some high-level and high-powered committees and sessions to hammer out some of the crucial documents around which institutional reforms have been anchored. By the time I became a permanent secretary, I had been able to harness all my knowledges and administrative competences, and formulated a three-pronged framework.

First: I was able to craft my objective around the need to understand and add value to the ongoing reform efforts geared towards strengthening the capacity base and professionalism of the civil service as a critical factor in national development. Second: I gradually commenced developing a reform philosophy and strategy premised on the need for the evolution of a productivity paradigm designed to generate a dynamic thinking process to resolve the crisis; which requires a workforce that is professional, confident and productive and a reform that effects critical structural and behavioral  changes that motivate the redefinition of the Federal Civil Service in the pursuit of
performance and innovation at all levels. And third: from the objective to the reform strategy, I was able to formulate what I consider to be the fundamental role of my status as a permanent secretary. It became clear to me that my reform philosophy automatically places a huge responsibility on a permanent secretary as a change agent.From the Career Management Office to Information Technology ministry, I was presented with multiple opportunities to bring my reform philosophy to bear on the internal administrative limitations and possibilities of the MDAs. By the time it dawned on me that deep-seated systemic changes required far more strategic alignment of the administrative and political, retirement had already happened in 2015. Fortunately, I was not caught napping. One of the most significant lessons I learnt from my many years of mentoring by the late Aboyade was the critical link between Nigeria’s development agenda, the civil service system and think tanking. The business of reform cannot be understood in terms of insider dynamics alone. There must be a way to carry it on with patriotic fervor even right from outside the institutional frames of the civil service. This was the reflection that led to the emergence of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP). The ISGPP is conceived to be an independent organisation devoted to research and executive education for those in government and other sectors of society in Nigeria and the rest of
Africa. Essentially, it is meant to function as a policy and research think tank whose fundamental objective is to address the skills and competence deficit that would transform public bureaucracies and the political arrangements of Nigeria and other African states in ways that will make them work even better for a responsive democratic governance and inclusive development.

Without blowing my own trumpet, I believe that with The Unending Quest for Reform I have created a narrative on the necessary imperative of keeping the business of reform always on the
front burner of administrative and institutional performance and productivity through change management and reform. That is what the title of the memoir is meant to address. The need to keep
modernizing the institutions of performance and productivity that will enable the public sector to keep delivering services efficiently never ends. And this unending imperative is frankly and bluntly juxtaposed with the protracted but not-so-successful reform efforts of consecutive Nigerian
governments since independence. The Nigerian reform landscape has never lacked genuine agenda and blueprints that critically diagnose and assess the imperative of reforms and what needed to be done. Unfortunately, they have all ended in the trash bin of haphazard implementation. And so, from the perspective of my reform experience, the discerning reader ought to have fathomed why I would think this memoir should matter within the transition to another republic in Nigeria. The Unending Quest for Reform sums the entirety of my experience, passion and reflections about transforming Nigeria, and the strategies and tactics by which I reckon the transformation could be achieved. We cannot afford to let the fifth republic be another wasted effort in governance and institutional restructuring. In the memoir, and as a framework that signposts the future of a revamped public administration
system that backstops the larger governance agenda that any new administration might want to leverage for national transformation, I set out a series of recommendations for reform. These could be taken to be part of the tangibles that my academic researches and professional experiences as a
scholar-practitioner have yielded over the years. The most fundamental logical reform step for the new administration in Nigeria to take, as a governance and administrative imperative, I noted, is the creation of a change space. This is a space that enables the new Nigerian leadership to harness competences, skills and strategies that enable it to push institutional and governance changes despite contextual circumstances and pressures. A change space is therefore the context that facilitates transformation through the committed efforts of several change agents, from the politicians and government functionaries to the civil and public servants. This automatically focuses on the fundamental role of a transformational leader as the moving force that catalyzes the change space into a domino effect of several innovative changes and reforms. The focus of the desired transformation to be initiated in the change space is the transformation of the policymaking
dynamic such that policy becomes strategic and motivated by policy intelligence and research
emanating from a technical configuration of town and gown institutional arrangements that bring the strategic offerings from the universities, think tanks and industries to bear on how the government make and implement policies. Reforming the public service system is meant to facilitate a deep-seated culture change that transforms professionalism and public-spiritedness. This is meant not only to improve the efficiency of the civil servants, but to also galvanize the system into optimal performance and
productivity. This must necessarily commence with a very high level of revamped gatekeeping dynamics through the civil service commission that not only streamline recruitment metrics, but also collaborate to facilitate the emergence of a critical and functional communities of service and practice, like the National Association for Pubic Administration and Management (NAPAM). Internal administrative reforms commence with the institutionalization of performance
management systems that are underpinned by competence-based HR function and practices, as well as the inauguration of a multidisciplinary platform that serves as the launch pad for the emergence of a senior executive service drawn from sectors of the Nigerian societies, including the Nigerian diaspora. The essence of the performance management framework is to serve as a precursor to a full-fledged modernization of the service delivery capacity of the public service
through the transformation of government business, transformation of corporate governance principles, and the undermining of the adversarial elements in labor unionism. The new administration cannot also underestimate the crucial significance of the public-private partnership protocol as the engine of efficient service delivery to Nigerians.

All memoirs hold some form of enlightenment for the assiduous readers. I want to believe that The Unending  Quest for Reform possesses the same possibility. The advantage of reading it is that it provides three levels of engagement. For those interested in the pure narrative of my coming of age within a Yoruba Christian home, chapters two, four, five and the coda are your starting point. If your forte is an understanding of my intellectual becoming, then chapters one, three, four and seven are critical. I outlined my spiritual trajectories in the coda, and chapters five, six and seven .My  professional development, administrative challenges and achievements, and reform philosophy are the subject of chapters eight to eighteen. But then, since no narration of a complicated life can be that seamless and smooth, an immersive reading of The Unending Quest for Reform is required for full noenjoyment. I hope you will be able to pick a copy to get an insight into how my life intersects a vision of Nigeria as a democratic and developmental possibility.

.Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, Professor of Public Administration and Founder, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP),Bodija, Ibadan.



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Religious Mumu



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

By Toyin Falola

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

Religion remains a much-debated issue, especially in Africa. It is one of the determining factors of our identity. It determines who we are, our beliefs, actions and reactions, and even our thought processes. Africans had their own culture and traditional religion until the advent of western civilization, which brought with it the ‘gift’ of Abrahamic religions—,Christianity and Islam—and judged African traditional religious practices as evil, pagan practice and witchcraft. The missionaries did a thorough job of making people believe that their religion was superior and righteous. Africans accepted these imported religions, and their traditional beliefs began to fade. Christianity and Islam are now the new order, and people are extremely devoted to these newly found Gods. 

The Toyin Falola Interviews recently played host to music composer and songwriter, Beautiful Nubia. The question of Beautiful Nubia’s stance on religion pops up during the interview. He is known to promote African spirituality but has also defended foreign religions as advantageous. In response, he talks about his ancestral line: his paternal family were Olu Orogbo devotees (the Yoruba god of letters), and his maternal family were Ifa priests and Esu devotees. He said, “religion has always fascinated me like it gets people’s minds.”  He opines that spirituality ties into what gets people so much into religion. Although he no longer practices religion, he affirms that these religions have positively influenced people to do good and show kindness to their fellow human beings.

He states, “Any organized religion has a set of dogma or doctrines they use to guide you to put you in there. You are there; it is like a strait jacket to keep you on the straight and narrow. Why I said religion is a good thing is because the purpose of this is to ensure that you stay on the straight and narrow, that you do good things.” We can agree that religion has contributed to the rise of morals to a certain extent, as the fear of God keeps many people from doing evil. It has curbed wickedness and negative traits inherent in humans and made many people see the world in a new light. Religion has spread the message of doing good and becoming a better human being.

                                        Beautiful  Nubia

The issue, however, is not the practice of these religions but the ability of leaders to sway people easily. Although imported religions have helped to stop the extremities of African religious practices, it has only accentuated people’s gullibility. Beautiful Nubia further states, “What is wrong with religion is that it gives certain people the power to use their followers. It is not the religion itself; it is the human beings who run these religious organizations who use their power to extract money from them and push them in the wrong direction.” Owning a church is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get rich, particularly in Nigeria. All that is needed to succeed in this business is to be a good actor, have nice clothes (suits, particularly), can win people over with words and give yourself an extraordinary title such as Rabbi

It is common knowledge that the major reason why people attend church and Jumat services religiously are that they seek solutions to their problems. As much bad governance is enough to seek God’s intervention for various human issues ranging from terminal illnesses, protection, promotion, unhappiness, barrenness, unemployment, and marital problems, to poverty, which is an average African’s motivation to seek God’s face, also cause people to become staunch believers. To get swift, miraculous answers to these problems, many people fall prey to the traps of “men of God”, who only look to fill their pockets and bellies. This explains why a “pastor” would shut down his church after winning a 100 million Naira bet.

Pastors and Muslim clerics are considered mini gods who can do no wrong. The Bible verse, “touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm,” is an ever-ready response by Christians in defense of their highly revered pastors who would not think twice before taking advantage of their desperation to get their problems solved. They forget that a “man of God” is first a man. Religion has rendered humans gullible to the extent that they excuse things their religious leaders do that are not even in tune with what is written in the Holy books. How do you explain a pastor who sleeps with a woman looking for the fruit of the womb and says his sperm is the anointing that will cause her to have her child? What do we say to a pastor who instructs his congregation to bring a greater percentage of their salaries to him so that God can answer their prayers? Should the man who claims to be an alfa but has exploited so many people in the name of being a ‘wonder healer’ be left alone? Churches and mosques nowadays see the desperation of people and feed off it. Many people come to church for prosperity and get ripped off the little they have, all in the name of miracles, signs and wonders. You could be in a church service and then suddenly hear the pastor say, “I see seven stars. I need seven people who will give the Lord Seven Hundred Thousand to come out now at the count of seven. One, Two…Seven!” You will be amazed at the number of people who will run to the altar to give the ‘Lord’ that amount of money in this present economy. Unsurprisingly, some borrow money to give to their pastors to receive blessings, then struggle to pay back the borrowed money. Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop.

These men of God add false doctrines to their fraudulent, shady activities. Beautiful Nubia quotes his mother, a Christian singer, as saying, ” any church where they are a lot of people there, you know there are telling them lies there.” He made an example of a Muslim cleric who tells his followers that every other person is evil, an infidel and a pastor who tells his congregation that their Jesus is not a Jesus of poverty, that He died for them to be wealthy. It is now rare to find churches that preach about the kingdom of God and how to live a life that pleases God. Churches today entice and then mislead people.

Sometimes, people realize all these things are wrong but lack the courage to question these atrocities. According to Beautiful Nubia, “…as a child, you are fully indoctrinated, and as an adult, you are scared to question these beliefs.” Asking a pastor why he preaches only prosperity and how to get rich as a Christian would be considered as seeking the wrath of God because the pastor can call down fire to consume his ‘enemy’. Questioning an Imam on why he sleeps with young girls will only attract curses from the Quran on such a person, followed by “who are you to question God’s prophet? The ways and dealings of God are mysterious”. Really, who dares question these men of God? The fear that has been unconsciously programmed into your mind from a very young age holds your voice and makes you look away from the evils of these religious leaders.

This is not to say that there are no genuine men of God, but there is a plague of greedy religious leaders who, because of their power over their members, influence them to bend to their will while satisfying their greed and lust. “We should not focus too much on religion being our enemy. We need to focus more on ourselves, fix ourselves, and we can use traditional wisdom to do that”, says Nubia. The way we question and demand accountability from the government should be the same way we question our religious leaders. Not every “God says” is true. The Bible in 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved , believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Many religious leaders are gods of their bellies and are only out to exploit people to put food in their fat stomachs and live expensive lifestyles with their poor congregation’s money. Child of God, shine ya eye!

This is Part 1 of the report on the interview with Beautiful on March 19, 2023. The extensive interview, which has received millions of views across different platforms, talks about the role of music in society. For the transcripts, see:




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