Connect with us

Interview

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia On The Parameters Of A Failing State

Published

on

Obadiah Mailafia: The Grip Of Grief
Professor Toyin Falola

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

A CONVERSATION WITH DR. OBADIAH MAILAFIA, PART 4

By

Toyin Falola

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia On The Parameters Of A Failing State

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia

This occasion of the Toyin Falola Interviews featured as a guest of honor, the erudite scholar and accomplished development economist, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, to field questions on whether or not Nigeria is a failing state. We might agree that this is one query that sits securely in the minds of many a Nigerian, no thanks to the poor state of affairs in the nation’s economic, security, and governance aspects, which has won it the label of a failed state in some intelligent circles.

As it stands, even the very notion of Nigeria as a nation continues to generate dispute given the rising instances of crises developing along ethnic and religious fault-lines. According to some people, the rising expressions of loyalty to sub-national identities over any national sentiment that has characterized Nigeria’s slow but sure decline into utter chaos and predictable disintegration can be blamed on the nation’s arbitrary origins. Nevertheless, whatever problems Lugard might have visited on Nigeria through the 1914 amalgamation, there were periods in the nation’s development history when it showed great promise and competed favorably with the best economies of the world. How then has Nigeria fallen to such depths of socio-economic crises and severe insecurity?

The recent Toyin Falola Interviews provided the platform for stakeholders and concerned citizenry—in very uncertain and unsettling times—to participate in a discussion aimed at adequately identifying the Nigerian situation, how it developed, and the possible ways to come out of it. Thus, the interview opened with a welcome address and introductions delivered by the chief host and moderator, who also set the agenda for the day’s interview by presenting its theme: “Is Nigeria a failed state?”

Ms. Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, an accomplished media personality and the first interviewer, set the ball rolling with questions on why Dr. Mailafia would refer to Nigeria as a failing state when many others might call it a failed state; whether Nigeria as a corporate entity will survive, and if it deserves to; why the naira is failing so “precipitously,” and what can be done to bolster it; and how can meritocracy be taken seriously in the country to make it count?

READ ALSO: The Power Of Oral Tradition: Oba Kiladejo On The Role Of Women In Ondo History

In his response, Dr. Mailafia noted that the development of the concept of “failed states” has not yet been fully concluded, surrounded as it still was by controversy. He, however, went ahead, after some description of the deplorable state of affairs in the country, to elucidate that, as it were, Nigeria exhibits most of the identified symptoms of a failed state, including long periods of violence and the lack of state monopoly of the instruments of violence, the collapse of the economy and state institutions, widespread poverty, the failure of the state to deliver public goods, civil liberty, the rule of law, protection of human rights, and administration of justice. And that his decision to use the phrase “failing state” in describing Nigeria’s current situation was only due to his optimistic nature and some “residual nationalism.”

According to Dr. Mailafia, Nigeria cannot survive as a corporate entity based on the current trajectories of decaying infrastructures, poor governance, grand corruption, climatic changes, and lack of government capacity. And on whether the nation deserves to, he accedes that given the number of atrocities and bloodletting committed against innocents across the country, it ordinarily should not. However, the teachings and injunctions of his Christian faith make provisions for grace and redemption, but with one caveat: Nigeria must not continue to tempt fate.

Speaking on the falling value of the naira, Dr. Mailafia provided a historical account of the currency’s decline, from its days of advantage over the dollar till the present, where it is fast losing its value as a legal tender. These progressive stages of decline, he said, started perceptibly with the Structural Adjustment and currency devaluation of the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida regime and have been maintained by high inflation, the deficit in the balance of trade, lack of faith in the Nigerian system, misguided policies, and what he called “the dollarization of the economy.” He also alleged that vested interests have captured the country’s apex bank (CBN). To reverse this trend, a development strategy is needed, likewise a genuine interest in saving Nigeria.

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia On The Parameters Of A Failing State

Crisis in Jos as people were running to save their lives.

Concerning the restoration of meritocracy, Dr. Mailafia talked about the difference in the standards set for educational performance (cut-off marks) across the country’s regions. He claims that not only does this undermine the entire purpose of education, but it also affects service performance where underdeveloped and unqualified personnel occupy positions of public service. For him, instead of engaging in nepotism, the regions affected should invest in mid-way schools to help struggling students come up to par.

The next set of questions were posed by Dr. Lasisi Olagunju, a distinguished scholar and editor with The Tribune. These touched on Dr. Mailafia’s thoughts on the North exporting crises to other parts of the country, the reintegration of “repentant” terrorists into society; why as a contestant to the country’s top position he felt Nigeria deserved him and vice versa; what the next president of Nigeria should do regarding the country’s designation as the “poverty capital of the world,” the role of the North in the situation, and whether Nigeria should be restructured, dissolved, or if it should just be business as usual. In response, Dr. Mailafia conceded that the North is plagued by insecurity, featuring rampant killings by insurgents and terrorist groups like the Boko Haram and ISWAP.

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

Furthermore, he pointed out the extent of social decay in the country, especially in Kano State, the high divorce rates, rampant drug addiction, large number of out-of-school children (Almajirai), and high levels of deprivation. According to Dr. Mailafia, the morally bankrupt elites have intentionally turned a blind eye to all of these social evils, choosing instead to perpetuate ignorance among the masses while attempting to drag other regions down to their level. However, he requests that the North must be looked upon with compassion and that any (new) administration intent on resolving these issues must first endeavor to look at the North with objectivity as the North is “deprived.” Additionally, such an administration must also reconcile the warring parties, return the out-of-school children to class, and employ more teachers to cater for their education, as the former has the potential of becoming a ready army in the hands of mischief-makers.

On the reintegration of alleged “repentant” insurgents, the guest of honor pointed out that there is nowhere in the world where that is obtainable, especially where such insurgents are integrated into the armed forces after just two weeks of rehabilitation. He alluded that this has adversely affected counter-insurgency efforts, with hostages being privy to sensitive information before they are executed. He also spoke against the practice of giving all such intervention attention to “repentant” terrorists while their victims are left to all manner of hardships. This, he said, was in very bad faith.

Addressing the question of his ambition to become president, Dr. Mailafia revealed that he tried to serve the nation and that it was up to the Nigerian people to decide if he was whom they wanted. He remarked that he was ill-prepared for the last elections he contested and also failed to gain the backing of certain “elders,” without whom one would be “on his own.” Nevertheless, the 2019 Nigeria presidential election candidate of the African Democratic Congress party promised not to victimize those who have attacked and killed his people should he be allowed to serve.

Reacting to the question on Nigeria’s designation as the poverty capital of the world, the former central banker and development economist agreed that with such levels—over 50 per cent of Nigerians (more than 100 million) living below the poverty line—of poverty, the situation truly deserves to be labelled so. He pointed out that this challenge has been exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread insecurity. Other contributory factors identified were those of prioritization and the failure to diversify the economy. Therefore, to turn the situation around would require a significant industrial revolution as the only way to employ the vast masses of unemployed citizens. There will also be the need for a comprehensive social transfer network to ensure resources get to those in need; empowerment of people, especially women; access to land and credit, with emphasis on agriculture; and support for Nigerian youths. He stressed support for the youths, explaining that “any nation that ignores its youths is digging its own grave.”

Coming to restructuring, dissolution, or “business as usual” for Nigeria, Dr. Mailafia stated that he stands for restructuring. Even if he does not subscribe to the idea of dissolution, he does not condemn secessionist voices. He explained that he believes Nigeria deserves another try because, despite the historical circumstances around its birth, the country was not a product of chance. He recalled that the peoples of the region had a long history of interaction before any British creation. According to him, Nigeria is worth fighting for because of what it represents to all long-suffering African people worldwide and for black people everywhere. For those who suggest business as usual, Dr. Mailafia called this a mistake.

READ ALSO: Dr. Obadiah Mailafia And The Nigerian Story Of Leadership Failure

The third interviewer, Prof. Iheduru Okechukwu, an experienced and widely published political scientist, asked a broad spectrum of questions that were anchored to Nigeria as a failed state and centered on Nigeria’s huge debt profile and who foots the bill; the condition of human rights and the place of the rule of law; if it were smart for the Nigerian diaspora to invest in the country; and if what happened to Jos was emblematic of a failing state, and whether it was reversible. Reacting, Dr. Mailafia noted that the issue calls for sobriety and retrospection. For him, he cannot tell what the loans are used for, citing the 1.3 billion USD loan President Buhari took in 2015 in the guise of rehabilitating the North-East, whereas there is no evidence of rehabilitation. He pointed out that if loans must be taken, measures must be put in place to ensure that such loans have a “calculated guaranteed return on investment;” otherwise, as he pointed out, these loans would be paid for by our children. He also highlighted the condemnable practice of project inflation.

Dr. Obadiah Mailafia On The Parameters Of A Failing State

On diaspora investment, Dr. Mailafia said this was critical to Nigeria’s survival and prosperity, given the delicate nature of its economy and the role such substantial amounts of remitted funds have played in the success of the world’s fastest and best economies, e.g., China and Singapore. He also explained that the Nigerian diaspora cannot help but send these monies as they all have dependents at home; moreover, about 70 per cent of the funds remitted are for family use and not direct financial investments. He, however, reiterated the importance of such remittances to the Nigerian economy and the need to devise better means of investing these funds to gain maximum social returns.

Reacting to the infringement of human rights and other freedoms, and why he should not be prosecuted for making unsubstantiated claims. Dr. Mailafia noted that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.” He pointed out that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC), which was dishing out rules, was embroiled in a corruption issue. He also stated that those concerned about “hate speech” mainly were against voices that contradict their opinions and interests.

Moving on to the human rights issue, the guest speaker avowed that though the human body can be killed, the truth cannot, and nobody can stop an idea whose time has come. As to why he should not be prosecuted for his earlier comments on the nation’s state, Dr. Mailafia responded that his comments were not made-up but were gotten from reliable sources he refused to mention for their safety. He confirmed that he has never recanted any of his comments because it is not his character to peddle tales and falsehood. He added that he only spoke up as a concerned citizen who could not sit back and feign ignorance about the widespread and relentless killings.

About Jos, Dr. Mailafia described the city as pleasant, with a temperate climate and hospitable people. He stated that the change in the city’s temperament resulted from the aggression inflicted on the people. This, he explained, was perpetrated through strangers who were imported into Jos and who have killed, evacuated, settled, and renamed whole villages. Another reason identified for the change of attitude in Jos is the prevalent indigene discrimination around the country, which Dr. Mailafia said the people of the state have been victims of, especially in Hausa-Fulani dominated states like Kano, Katsina, and Sokoto. According to him, these instances of aggression and discrimination against the people of Jos have transformed a peaceful and almost docile community into a relatively harsh one.

READ ALSO: Is Nigeria A Failing State?

Dr. Mailafia agreed that the Jos scenario is symbolic of Nigeria’s status as a failing state. He expanded that this is exemplified in the inability and possible lack of will by the state to check the widespread insecurity and killings in the country, emphasizing the cases of Benue, Southern Kaduna, and Niger State, where people have been killed, villages burnt, and vast chunks of land taken. The guest speaker closed with a prediction that the affected people will yet rise to reclaim their ancestral lands, no matter how long it takes. But, that as a man of peace, he advocates that this should be pursued in non-violent ways.

(This is the second report on the interview with Dr. Obadiah Mailafia on August 15, 2021. Well-attended, the number of live audiences was 1.3 million on six platforms. For part of the transcript, see Facebook https://fb.watch/7q9qf8tqEd/ Or YouTube: https://youtu.be/vskrSktBGJY).

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

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Interview

Kadaria Ahmed To Interview Attahiru Jega

Published

on

Kadaria Ahmed To Interview Attahiru Jega

Kadaria Ahmed,  a leading Nigerian/British journalist and media entrepreneur is set to interview a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof.Attahiru Jega.

Ahmed  sits on the board of trustees of the International Press Institute Nigeria and has been recognized as one of the five most influential people in Nigeria’s media landscape. Kadaria is a recipient of grants in support of her work in accountability journalism from leading donor agencies, including the Ford Foundation, PLAC and MacArthur Foundation. She is the Executive Director of Daria Media, a content company focusing on public service journalism. She is also the Managing Director of Radio Now 95.3 FM, a radio station broadcasting out of Lagos. Radio Now provides factual, unbiased, Nigeria-focused media products that empower citizens to hold power accountable, build social consciousness, and promote nation-building. 

READ ALSO: Attahiru Jega: The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

 Ahmed’s passion for public service journalism is driven by a creed to confront inequality, injustice, and the pitfalls of identity politics. As a result, she has created, produced and anchored programmes through which she has set the agenda for national conversations on significant issues, and at times, influenced policy. She has written extensively and has been published in national and international newspapers, including the Daily Trust, The Guardian, Premium Times, and the Financial Times of London. 

 Ahmed sits on the Board of Trustees of Mutual Assurance Benefits Plc. She is a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigerian Institute of Directors. She started her career at the BBC. Ahmed has an M.A. in Television from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a Bachelor’s from Bayero University Kano. She is a Chevening Scholar.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

10:00 AM Austin CST

Register and Watch:

https://www.tfinterviews.com/post/attahiru-jega

Join via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88686434686

Watch on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tfinterviews/live

Watch on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2lvX7A2iVndiCq0NfFcb0w/live

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Interview

Attahiru Jega: The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

Published

on

Attahiru Jega: The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

Attahiru Jega The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

A Conversation With Prof. Attahiru Jega (1)

By

Toyin Falola

Many people know Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega as a Nigerian intellectual with a zeal for excellence and a flair for brilliance. His popularity came from his roles and involvement in the recent political history of the country where he served as the umpire of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria in 2015, presiding over the electoral process of the period that went down as one of the most credible and transparent democratic processes in the history of the country. The success of his tenure as the umpire of that institution during that period could be attributed to his intellect and brilliance, knowing that doing such a great job and having a national appeal for being reasonably fair in an election in Nigeria’s political engagement could be difficult, if not impossible. However, more than the assignment required brilliance and intelligence; it also demanded courage and determination. Courage because of political machinery and chaos agents who were usually hired or engaged by willing political figures to scuttle the electoral process for their provincial intentions. Determination because Nigerian political evolution is at a stage where it could be potentially overburdened by numerous distractive events such as the deliberate sabotage by politicians themselves or the apathy of the citizens, the former reason of which is done for an apparent end.

Due to his date with excellence and purity of intentions, Jega’s involvement in the said elections eclipsed his remarkable actions in other human endeavour spheres where he had recorded equally laudable milestones and landmarks. Not many people know that he was a golden success in academics where he reached the pinnacle of his career, of course, because academics are notorious for being hidden from the face of the public as they are not politicians. This is not because academics are naturally anti-social but because the nature of their engagements prevents them from being personally known by many people. So, if one gets to the level of being publicly identified, two things might predictably have been the case. First, they must have been crucial to the reshaping of their social world because of the solutions they bring to the table, and as a result, society is not an ingrate to overlook their contributions. Second, they must have belonged to the political class of the academic circles. It is hard not to pinpoint Professor Jega to any of this as he was and still is a success in each of his involvements, which has singled him out for accolades and recognition from across the world.

READ ALSO: Tunde Odunlade And The Evolution Of Nigeria’s Contemporary Art Scene

Professor Jega was born in 1957 and raised under the supervision of foresighted parents. It would have been generally impossible that he lacked the requisite knowledge of the country’s political escapades and its various episodes of wonderful and exhilarating experiences. Of course, there were projections in 1960 and the period that preceded Nigeria’s independence that the country would break into different nationalities, presumably because there were reasons to concede to the opinion that the country is divided along ethnic and religious lines. To be candid, it was a miracle that the country had disappointed the world as this assumption has become more of a hallucinating product than an empirical conclusion. No one would understand how the country survived in the habit of planting nationalist spirit that could be sustained much even after the famous civil war of 1967. All these political events are responsible for the mounting of pressure on individuals who are selected to function under some institutions because not only does the history of the country perpetually reminds them of the possibility of communal suspicion, but it also tells them why they could trigger national controversies provided they are not careful in their duty. But beyond being excellent in these situations, Jega is a success in vocational skills, policy knowledge, and professional engagements amidst others.

The professional life of Attahiru Jega is worthy of attention because the attraction that an academic usually has is determined by the fecundity of his intellectual productions. The intellectual who wants to be in a public discourse must always produce something on which the society can feast intellectually. In 2015, Jega published a work titled Election Management in Nigeria: The Evolution of the Nigerian Electoral Process 2010 – 2015, an enlightening document that sheds light on the challenges that engulf the country’s electoral challenges. The book highlights the relationship between Nigerian politicians and those over whom they conduct their political businesses. It stresses that while the former has continued to outsmart the people by devising numerous processes of manipulations, the latter have refused to refrain from being pawns in their political chessboard. The professor is aware that the problem does not inherently lie with the victims as they are often helpless in decision-making in the country. They are rigged out in the elections that would shape their economic and social life by the individuals determined to achieve their parochial ambitions to the detriment of others. In such an environment, the power does not and cannot be said to belong to the masses per se.

For people in academia, this particular book remains something that feeds their minds and cleanses it of dirt because not only does it exemplify the electoral process between the years involved as something that can give a clue as to the political progress of the country, but of course, as also something that can educate them as to why the political class takes the route that they take in getting power. The issue is that many of these power hunters have been so attached to it that other aspects of their lives are poorly fed. And because these aspects are languishing in the abyss of abandonment, they cannot see the impermanence of power and the brevity of relevance that accompanies it. Nearly all elections held in the country, as the book reveals, are marred by various inconsistencies that are caused by violence and hostilities of unknown magnitude. In elections organized within these highlighted periods, as it is nearly all others, there were perpetual cases of ballot boxes snatches, votes-buying even in the queue of voters who performed their statutory duties, and underage voting. Regardless of these issues, there are also the more significant political issues in the ring of power where impositions are made on the ones in control of elections. Apart from the fact that there are situations where monies meant to run the elections are deliberately reduced to stifle their efficiency.

READ ALSO: Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Conversation With Attahiru Jega

Jega’s cardinality to the country’s political development is strengthened by the fact that he had released similar academic works that validate the heinous disposition of politicians in the country some five years before he released Election Management in Nigeria. It is interesting to know, for example, that in Nigeria at Fifty: Contributions to Peace, Democracy and Development, a book he co-edited in 2010, the country’s history was examined, as well as how it has substantially maximized its potential  to facilitate peace or improve the democratic culture of the country. For all it is worth, the book x-rays the country’s trajectory and comes up with the finding that it has defied torrential tides that would naturally have capsized it in the process. It registers that the country has experienced the displacement of its nationalist entitlement at different times and has surprisingly repositioned itself back to the appropriate level where it can seamlessly operate without contradictions. But then there are the dots that often challenge the country’s unity because it stains their lives and taints their collective image. In the said 50 years, Nigeria has experienced all sorts of things that could have threatened its survival, for example, the politicians showcasing their greed when in power, but the country remains indivisible because there seem to be the Trojan horses that save them in times of critical challenges.

More appealingly, Jega has worked so expansively and commendably on the issues of elections and has penned down some books that address persistent electoral shenanigans, apparently because he has a theoretical understanding of the issue and has most predictably considered how challenges associated with elections organizations can be curbed. This explains his intellectual brilliance in Strategies for Curbing Election-Related Politic Violence in Nigeria’s North-West Zone, published in 2003. The work is a beautiful piece that can help the country win the war against electoral violence that has been enshrined in national politics and political attitude. Although the book concentrates on how the issues around electoral violence in the North-West zones of the country can be solved, it does not score low in helping to paint the issue of electoral manipulations that occur in every quarter of the country’s politics. More than anything, a close relationship is established in the book between the idea of not properly educating the younger ones (the youths generally) and their susceptibility to being used as an instrument of destabilization and destruction during electoral processes. When individuals are not exposed to the opportunity of studying, they would be preoccupied with some frivolities that would be inimical to the collective safety of the society itself. This is the structural maladjusted nature in some parts of Nigeria that makes its people prone to election violence.

Attahiru Jega The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

However, the book reveals that beyond the issue of education is the insincerity of the political leaders. Leaders are usually perpetrating elections violence because they gain exceedingly from that engagement. The problem has remained because they fail to understand that the democratic culture is entrenched first by the attitude that leaders show when they lose elections, which contributes incredibly to the escalation of violence or the promotion of peace. The fact that their reactions in every post-election period would ultimately determine what their followers would do. When leaders contest, lose and refuse to accept defeat, it sends a wrong signal to the people. Their followers who want to impress them double-cross the process and scuttle it whenever they realize it would yield negative results for their paymasters. In essence, the book explains that the beginning of violence is attributed to these conditions because they first determine the people’s attitudes toward elections before inspiring their negative responses. In short, the book provides the structural and systemic downsides of the country’s electoral institution and offers practical solutions to the myriad of challenges consuming the process of elections there. The strategies offered in the book range from the government granting autonomy to the institution to giving them appropriate reinforcement and reimbursement for the project, among many other things.

Jega has given an unquantifiable magnitude of benefit to the country, and we cannot deny his ambience of productivity that he stands to give more. Because of his intellectual posture and productions, he has added to the excellent image of the country and thus demystified all manner  of assumptions and conclusions. Jega has functioned as the Pro-chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Jos, from June 2021, where he has added numerous feathers to his already dignified cap of excellence. Adding many epoch-making accomplishments as an administrator, his position has redefined the office, and he has not reneged on making outstanding contributions in nearly all academic works targeted to improve the sociopolitical and socio-cultural milieu of the country. Undoubtedly, he is expanding the frontiers of knowledge and information by redefining what it means to be a leader and how essential leadership roles are to advancing a people or civilization. Between 2004 and 2010, when he was the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, the school felt the presence of a great man who continues to reshape the activities of the institution for important landmarks.

READ ALSO: The Menace Of Bullying In Hostels – The Sylvester Oromoni Tragedy

In the same spirit, Jega has been a Member, National Universities Commission (NUC), Strategy Advisory, and Nigerian Universities Reforms Committee from January 2018 till the present. His assignment on the committee has already begun to register his numerous ideological convictions, great as they are, as he continues to provide them with beautiful and excellent ideas that can be used to launch the country to its deserved position in the committee of nations. The NUC has realized that the advancement of the country’s academic system requires individuals with values and vast experience because, without dynamic thinking, there would be challenges in advancing the course of a society. And it is evident that the community that refuses to adapt to changes that can be got from the association of people to emerging trends would be perpetually languishing in the abyss of degeneration. This awareness informed Jega’s selection into the commission, and there is no question that he would revolutionize it with his outstandingly impressive ideas. He has done it with the electoral commission he headed between 2010 and 2015, and almost anyone familiar with the democratic culture of the country would confess to the excellence of his engagements.

A cursory look at Jega’s research engagements immediately reveals that he is given to peace advocacy and dialogue. He has been an ambassador of peace not necessarily by the mandate of any association but by his behaviour and the ways he conducts every activity designated to him. We have seen this on several occasions where he was very meticulous with his duties and responsibilities. Numerous of his research works centre on the issue of peace and how it can be sustained in the global society. This is predicated on the fact that the world would encounter numerous challenges if people cannot integrate their multicultural and multidimensional identities that are mixed aggressively. The fact that nature is complicit in this interrelationship cannot be underplayed, as people who depend primarily on agricultural production, for example, are usually forced to leave their habitat in search of a better alternative due to the ecological conditions of the places where they are, except they want to perish with time. How is it, therefore, possible to attain peace when it is discovered that the migrants, for instance, would require land for the survival of their identity, and their host communities also need the same land for the protection of their economic values? These issues demand a new paradigm, which the Professor has offered in many of his books.

Attahiru Jega The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

The man is arguably incomparable with his contemporaries in terms of community service. The fact that he is involved in society-improving activities consolidates the assumption that he cannot be undermined in the political and sociocultural limelight associable with the country. This humble Professor has contributed to several workshops, both in and outside the country. His contributions are those of a resource person whose knowledge and intellect are used to improve the quality of academic and community engagements. Part of being a valuable individual to the community is when you bless the society with your knowledge or intellectual fecundity. Numerous public lectures are held by Jega, where he gives people the opportunity to interact and interrogate ideas that would be used for the benefit of mankind. Not many people would forget in a hurry how his contributions in the newspapers in the country contributed to their intellectual growth.

READ ALSO: BOOK REVIEW:Camouflage: Best Of Contemporary Writing In Nigeria

One would marvel at his systematic approach to issues of public and national interest, given the ability to adapt to events regardless of their ethnic or religious colouration. But when one realizes that his areas of interest are vast and can accommodate a wide range of intellectual angles, one would see the reason for his flexibility and simplicity. For all it is worth, Jega’s interests span across politics and governance in Nigeria, democracy and democratization in comparative perspectives, African political economy, elections and electoral processes, among other things. In essence, anyone interested in politics must have an accommodating view of issues and matters, mainly because the complexity of politics is informed by the interaction of groups and their interest, and anyone who would have a good view of the idea would be open-minded to issues around it. It, therefore, explains why Jega is naturally accessible to all in this context. Nigeria’s politics is so broad that it requires corresponding openness for the people to better understand it.

Anyone who has put in the magnitude of work that Jega is putting up would undoubtedly have results to show for it. In reality, it is a universal truth that when people are diligent in their engagements, they will receive the appropriate rewards that match their dedication. Jega has received several awards from prestigious bodies for his remarkable contributions to the issues he presides or conducts research on. In 2015, he was honoured by the Nigerian Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) in New York, which conferred the Integrity Award. Likewise, this cerebral individual was given an Achievement Award by the Kebbi State Government, Birnin Kebbi, at the State’s 25th Anniversary in 2016. This did not deny him the honour of being singled out in 2017 as an Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 237 Class, for his involvement and contributions to various academic activities that promote ethical scholarship.

There are so many other ones than can be mentioned here. What has remained constant is that Prof. Jega is an exceptional man across the board. Please join us for a conversation with this renowned Nigerian academic and former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

10:00 AM Austin CST

Register and Watch:

https://www.tfinterviews.com/post/attahiru-jega

Join via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88686434686

Watch on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tfinterviews/live

Watch on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2lvX7A2iVndiCq0NfFcb0w/live

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

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Interview

Tunde Odunlade And The Evolution Of Nigeria’s Contemporary Art Scene

Published

on

Attahiru Jega: The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

Tunde Odunlade And The Evolution Of Nigeria’s Contemporary Art Scene

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

A  Conversation With Tunde Odunlade, Artist And Humanist (1)

 By

Toyin Falola

Nigeria boasts of a considerably old and long history of art tradition–painting, sculpture, carving, weaving and poetry—with some, like the famous Nok culture (1500 BC), reaching back thousands of years. Other established antique art cultures from Nigeria include those of Igbo-Ukwu (900AD), Ife (1100-1450AD), Benin (1440AD), Esie (1200-1500AD) and Owo (1500AD). Together, these art cultures have inspired the creative energies of several generations of Nigerian artists and contributed to establishing Nigeria, and indeed Africa, as a center of ancient and sophisticated indigenous art traditions.

Tunde Odunlade And The Evolution Of Nigeria’s Contemporary Art Scene

Photo: Tunde Odunlade Arts Gallery, Ibadan.

Notwithstanding the antiquity of Nigeria’s art cultures, they only came into prominence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when more discoveries and excavations were made of buried artefacts from various regions around the country, sometimes by accident. These discoveries occasioned a growing interest, especially amongst European anthropologists and archaeologists, in the artistic traditions of the peoples of the area, initially to ascertain their level of cultural sophistication. Notable amongst the crop of expatriate personnel at the forefront of this activity, who incidentally also set up early institutions for the study of Nigerian art, were Kenneth Murray, Bernard and William Fagg, and Thurstan Shaw. The activities of this group led to the establishment of a Nigeria Antiquities Service in 1943 and the founding of the Nigerian Museum in Lagos in 1957, which provided an early avenue to showcase Nigeria’s rich and sophisticated art traditions.

Tunde Odunlade And The Evolution Of Nigeria’s Contemporary Art Scene

Photo: Toyin Falola, Tunde Kelani and Alao Adedayo at the Tunde Odunlade Arts Museum in Ibadan, on November 20, 2021

Nigerian art has come a long way from the days of ground-breaking archaeological discoveries and excavations and has grown to occupy an esteemed position in the world of arts. This outcome is owed to the contributions of generations of Nigerian artists and art enthusiasts— Aina Onabolu, Ben Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillo, Uche Okeke, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Dele Jegede, Jimoh Buraimoh, Twins Seven-Seven, Prince Taiwo Olaniyi and Rufus Ogundele, Samuel Ojo, among others—who are considered the fathers of modern Nigerian art. Building on successive achievements, these artists drew from various indigenous art traditions, combining traditional art forms with other modern influences to create a sophisticated Nigerian contemporary art culture that commands extensive international appeal and acclaim.

READ ALSO: Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Conversation With Attahiru Jega

Particularly central to Nigeria’s contemporary art development is a tradition known as the Osogbo School. The Osogbo School of Art was an offshoot of the Mbari Mbayo Club of Ibadan, which was established in 1961 by a cluster of young writers with the assistance of a Jewish-German teacher at the University of Ibadan, Ulli Beier, and his wife, Suzanne Wenger. Its objective was to provide a platform for African artists, writers, and musicians to develop and showcase their skills to a more vast audience. Soon after, this concept was transferred to Osogbo, where the club expanded beyond its intended purview to accommodate “unemployed primary-school dropouts.”

Tunde Odunlade And The Evolution Of Nigeria’s Contemporary Art Scene

Photo: Prominent elite, Dr. Samson Ijaola and his wife, Dr. Yemi Ijaola, at the Tunde Odunlade Arts Gallery, Ibadan

In 1962, workshops were held in Osogbo to train local artists who were also encouraged, through local patronage, to remain committed to their indigenous art traditions to prevent the indigenous art culture from degenerating, especially in the face of the attractions of an accessible tourist market. The success of this endeavor, in the long run, not only saw to a thriving local art scene, but it also provided the Nigerian contemporary art with consistent international appeal.

Today, Tunde Odunlade, a second-generation artist of the school, continuing in the tradition of the Osogbo School, has succeeded in reinforcing the esteemed place of Nigerian art in global rankings and breathing a new life into a neglected and struggling industry by displaying uncommon initiative, resourcefulness, and creativity. Through his numerous achievements, he has shown the endless possibilities available to young aspiring generations. A master in his rights, Tunde Odunlade draws from a rich Yoruba culture and history, combined with extracts from modern-day Nigerian experiences to create dynamic pieces. He has also displayed versatility with his craft, excelling as an actor, teacher, musician, and artist.

READ ALSO: Alaafin Of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III: On History, His Kingdom, And The Yoruba

Odunlade, who creates textile and graphic arts, is especially renowned for his batik art tapestry and for developing a unique batik application process that he calls “flotograph,” which combines different textile print techniques—calligraphy, marbling and batik—to create organic abstractions. A believer in making “art with a purpose,” the artist has shown a laudable commitment to using art to bridge the gap between cultures and peoples and raise awareness amongst the people at home and in the international community about Nigeria’s plight and potential. In this regard, he founded a non-profit organization, the International Campaign for Better Arts and Cultural Awareness (ICBACA), and a for-profit gallery, the Tunde Odunlade Artists’ Cooperative Gallery in Ibadan. He co-founded the Toki Memorial Art Centre in Ibadan, which has been instrumental in the discovery and nurturing of artists who have gone on to achieve international acclaim. He has also coordinated many workshops and exhibitions at home and abroad, engaging young people, adults, and fellow artists (colleagues). His 2001 art exhibition, “Together We Rebuild a Nation,” addressed the severity of the implications of Nigeria’s external debt and contributed to the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala debt-relief campaign that resulted in Nigeria’s debt cancellation.

As a testament to the quality of Odunlade’s craft, his works have featured in numerous prestigious art shows and are displayed in many reputable institutions around the world, including the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington D.C; the Victoria and Albert Museum London; the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Pete, Florida, USA; the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum (DIA); the Northern Illinois University Museum (NIU); and the State House in Lagos, Nigeria. Some of his works have also made their way into the personal collections of many private individuals in Europe, North America, and, of course, at home in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Musa Adedayo And Alaroye: The Future Of Yoruba Language

Tunde Odunlade is a visiting lecturer and artist-in-residence at several universities in America, including the Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA); and the Michigan State University. He is a member of the Visual Artists Network (VAN) of the United States and the National Conference of Artists, New York State Chapter. He is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundations, Rockefeller foundations MacArthur Foundation, New York University NYC, and several other national, state and counties endowment for the arts.

As a result, there is no denying that Tunde Odunlade, like the great names before him, has rendered invaluable service to the development and sustenance of Nigeria’s contemporary art culture.

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

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: