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Ethnic and Religious Hatred and the Deceitful Campaigns in Nigeria By Salihu Moh. Lukman

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Ethnic and Religious Hatred and the Deceitful Campaigns in Nigeria By Salihu Moh. Lukman

The American political scientist, John Mearsheimer, in the book, The Great Delusion – Liberal Dreams and International Realities, draws attention to how our capability for critical thinking and reasoning as humans distinguishes us  from all other creatures and makes it possible to dominate our planet earth. It is also the same capacity for critical thinking and reasoning that enables us to create a body of ideas ‘about how the world works. Yet there are significant limits on our ability to reason, which have important consequences for social and political life. One such limitation, our inability to agree about what constitutes the good life, sometimes leads individually as well as social groups to hate and try to hurt others, which in turn causes the others to worry about their survival.’

As Nigerians, the problem of hate is making us lose our humanity so much that the notion of survival both for individuals and groups is more about our ability to defend and rationalise our inclinations even when lives of other citizens are in danger. Our instinct to rationalise unacceptable realities has worsened and is certainly extinguishing our humanity to the extent that there is hardly any difference between leaders and followers as well as educated and illiterate citizens. If anything, our education is making most of us to become leading campaigners and promoters of our disagreements and why we should hate each other on accounts of our ethnic and religious differences. But as Mearsheimer asked, ‘First, are our preferences rational, and do those goals promote our survival or make some other kind of sense? Second, are we acting strategically to achieve our goal?

READ ALSO: Cries for Justice: Sasha and the Burden of Political Leadership

Do we even have any goal and if we do, what is our goal? Is it possible in any way that our goal includes promoting crimes or rationalising it at all? It is very worrisome that as supporters in one or another of the ongoing campaigns to promote ethnic and religious hatreds, we are blinded and deafened by all the distaste for one another that has taken over national conversation. We are unable to see anything good associated with our so-called competing ethnic and religious groups. Everything is about casting aspersion on religious and ethnic groups outside the ones we belong. We profile one another in ways that suggest there is scarcely anything good about citizens belonging to other religious and ethnic groups. Everything anyone coming from other ethnic and religious groups other than the ones we belong pronounces or articulates must be interpreted to confirm our beliefs in how bad other ethnic and religious groups are.

It is so difficult to have any meaningful or objective national conversation on issues that touch on our ethnic and religious inclinations. It is almost as if no interrelationship exists across our different ethnic and religious groups. Yet, almost every day, there are very good reports of inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages in the country. There are interesting accounts of many of our national leaders being married to spouses from different religions. There are also cases of celebrated children of serving leaders married to either leaders or children of leaders from other ethnic groups. The most recent is that of Rt. Honourable Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Representatives who married Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, daughter of His Excellency, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Kebbi State and Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum.

Not long ago, in 2018, there was the high-profile wedding of Fatima Ganduje, daughter of His Excellency, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Governor of Kano State to Idris Abolaji Ajimobi, son of  the late Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, former Governor of Oyo State. These are important positive signpost of interrelationship across our major ethnic divides widespread in the country. Beyond the high-profile weddings that received banner headlines in our news media, there are many cross-cultural weddings of ordinary Nigerians taking place across the country, which never get reported. At a personal level, one is attracted to all these because being Hausa-Fulani married to a Yoruba, one can speak from personal experiences of what it means to successfully negotiate a marriage across our ethnic divide. It is a challenge that requires constant vigilance and engagement of family members to be able to protect and defend the marriage. Part of the reality is that children born in such successful marriages risk being torn apart and made to have identity conflicts because of some dynamic factors that push many of us married across our ethnic groups into some unhealthy hegemonic competitions. The only thing that can protect such children is the capacity of parents to make the needed sacrifices to ensure that the success of the marriage is beyond some notional privileges of exercising power within the family.

To the extent that many of us in inter-ethnic marriages are succeeding means that it is possible to set a national goal, which recognises and respects our differences, as well as encourages us to take all the steps required to ensure that good experiences of our co-existence define our realities and not the bad ones. The point is that there are good stories of positive co-existence in the midst of the loud hate noises in the country. Just as there are positive stories of co-existence, we also share all the bad instances of criminal conducts of bad elements from our ethnic groups, across all the divides. The current challenge around the criminal conducts of kidnappers and bandits who based on all the accounts, hide under the guise of Fulani herdsmen, affect every Nigerian irrespective of ethnic and religious grouping, including those of us who are Hausa-Fulanis.

Those who have farms are being affected by activities of these criminal elements too, notwithstanding our Hausa-Fulani lineages. Nevertheless, those of us whose farms are located in the Northern part of the country and not in the Southern part are also faced with the painful reality of these criminal elements. If anything, the report of activities of bandits in the North West and North Central confirm that the problem of taking over forests by bandits also affect the North in the same way, if not worse, which should make all of us to be equally interested in pushing our government to tackle the problem. The reality is that, if care is not taken farming activities have already been disrupted in the North on accounts of criminal conducts of these bandits and kidnappers. The level of disruption is such that hunger is about to set in as most law-abiding citizens can’t go to farms due to all the threats of kidnappings and  their associated consequences, including possible loss of lives. Unfortunately, given all the hate campaign going on in the country, all public debates are reduced to expression of support for one ethnic group against another.

The point is, across our ethnic and religious divides, we share both the good and the bad. Part of the problem is that we want to have what we believe is good alone and we don’t want to cooperate with each other to solve the common problems. And whatever is bad is interpreted to be associated with other groups, which then lead us to believe that possible measures against groups outside us is what is required. There is therefore always the tendency to locate what is bad outside us and imagine that we can monopolise what we believe is good even as it is clear that whatever is bad can only find its way into our society with the support of local collaborators. There are alleged roles of traditional, religious and community leaders, including security personnel in the criminal acts of banditry and kidnapping in every part of the country. This is not in anyway being raised to defend or rationalise these criminal activities but to emphasise the need for unity in the country in order to resolve the problem.

One of the chapters in his recent book, Talking to Strangers, the Canadian journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell, asked the question “What Happens When the Stranger is a Terrorist?” This seems to be at the heart of our current national debate in Nigeria, which was activated by the order of Ondo State government of January 18, 2021 that elicited the response of Mallam Garba Shehu of January 19, 2021. All these have produced chains of events in the country, including actions by one Sunday Igboho in Oyo State issuing ‘quit notice’ to Fulani groups to vacate parts of Oyo State. Although Oyo State government has condemned the pronouncement of Igboho, already there are reported attacks of Fulani settlements in Oyo State. Threat of arrest of Igboho allegedly announced by Mallam Garba Shehu is yet again generating more campaigns promoting ethnic hatred in the country.

The conclusion by Malcom Gladwell, about strangers being terrorists, which is exactly the problem manifesting itself in the forms of banditry and kidnapping in Nigeria need to be recognised by every Nigerian irrespective of our differences. ‘Whatever it is we are trying to find out about the strangers in our midst is not robust. The “truth” … is not some hard and shiny object that can be extracted if only we dig deep enough and look hard enough. The thing we want to learn about a stranger is fragile. If we tread carelessly, it will crumple under our feet. And from that follows a second cautionary note: we need to accept that the search to understand a stranger has real limits. We will never know the whole truth. We have to be satisfied with something short of that. The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility.’

It is almost predictable that our hatred for another will make us to dismiss the cautionary appeal of Malcolm Gladwell. More worrisome is that some of our leaders and public officials are completely possessed by what is clearly the anger in the land. Worse still, is that there is hardly any social or political enquiry taking place or if there is, everything is about rationalising and reproducing the current public anger and hatred for one another. It is very painful that as Nigerians, we are highly blinded and deafened by our anger against one another. Notwithstanding our anger, we want one of our tribesmen and women to rule the country in a democracy whereby such a person must win votes from every part of the country, including from groups we hate and also encourage them to reciprocate the hate.

Everything has become toxic, which as the American journalist and blogger, Ezra Klein in the book, Why We’re Polarized drew attention to how the toxic reality ‘compromises good individuals with ease. They do so not by demanding we betray our values but by enlisting our values such that we betray one another. What is rational and even moral for us to do individually becomes destructive when done collectively.’ If it is rational and moral to consider proposals to arrest and prevent criminal activities of bandits and kidnappers at state level, why is it impossible to consider a uniform proposal nationally, especially given that the problem affects all citizens from every part of the country? This could be as a result of what Ezra Klein identified as the logic of polarisation, which is ‘to appeal to a more polarised public, political institutions and political actors behave in more polarised ways. As political institutions and actors become more polarised, they further polarise the public. This sets off a feedback cycle: to appeal to yet more polarised public, institutions must polarise further; when faced with yet more polarised institutions, the public polarises further, and so on. …we exist in relationship with other political institutions, that they are changed by us and we are changed by them…We don’t just use politics for our own ends. Politics uses us for its own end.’

Therein lies the difficulty, how do we move our politics out of this polarised equilibrium? Both citizens and political leaders get trapped in the deceitful consciousness that the solution lies in our bias preferences, which encourage us to further polirise our society and our citizens. As our society and nation is more polarised, the problem of criminality gets bigger and overwhelming. Unfortunately, rather than pushing leaders of political institutions and actors to strengthen their relationship in the country in order to initiate uniform responses in tackling common challenges across the country, we seem to be more disposed to getting them more polarised. Regrettably, for our leaders to continue to enjoy our support, they must identify with our divisive choices. Otherwise, the electoral prospects of our leaders will remain in jeopardy. This is a reality, which has imposed the leadership of hatemongers.

READ ALSO: Narrow Politics And Questions Of Democratic Development

There has to be a way out of this mess. Our political leaders and our party need to assert their authority in mobilising alternative responses, which should inspire Nigerians to rise above the current high wave of ethnic and religious hatred in the country that is weakening our capacity to arrest and prevent criminal activities. No doubt every Nigerian must be worried about what is going on. Much more troubling is the fact that pronouncements of Mallam Garba Shehu on these issues tend to unfortunately accentuate our polarisation. While recognising that it is necessary for government to make some public responses to most of these developments, should it come from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President?  Being a matter that may require clarifications bordering on both issues of interpretations of the law and policy of government, one would have thought it is better handled at ministerial level. Besides, given the nature of such issues, a strategic approach should have been to allow for instance the minister of information to continue to manage the responsibility of communicating positions of the Federal Government, since the issue is not just about position of the president. It also involves the need to engage state governments.

The way things are, it is difficult not to conclude that mandated agencies of government are unable to discharging their statutory responsibility as required because once the president spokesperson makes public statements, capacity to initiate any response may be obstructed. At this point, as APC members and as Nigerians, it is important to appeal for moderation in the way this issue is being managed. With the level of polarisation in the country, crazy responses from people such as Sunday Igboho and their likes in every part of the country are further worsening the situation. That can never be the goal of the government.

READ ALSO: Open Letter To APC Leaders – Politics Of Change: APC On The Brink

The other issue is also the need to strengthen our politics to be able to manage this kind of difficult realities. So long as we are going to remain as a country with all our diversities, there will always be this kind of difficult challenges requiring skillful and careful handling. This may require that our political parties are able to intervene when problems of our polarisation get activated to the level of manifesting as a threat to our peaceful co-existence as a nation. As a party, APC has a good experience when it comes to managing problems created by ethnic polirisation in the country. This is because in 2017 when the madness of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB and the so-called Arewa Youth got heightened so much that there was the senseless ultimatum to Igbos to vacate the North and a national debate on restructuring was producing all manner of proposals including maps of break-away parts of Nigeria, the APC National Working Committee under the leadership of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun initiated internal consultations leading to the appointment of the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai led APC Committee on True Federalism. Although yet to be implemented, the report of the Mallam Nasir Committee on True Federalism provides a standard template of how a party in government should handle difficult challenges of polarisation.

Certainly, if the party was able to move recommendations contained in the report of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai Committee to the level of implementation, the current levels of misplaced anger against the APC and the Federal Government in the country would have been moderated. Maybe the challenge we have today presents a golden opportunity for APC to be able to initiate processes of implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism. What maybe required in the circumstances is for the APC Caretaker Committee led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni to initiate internal processes of consultations both within the party and across the executive and legislative arms of government. Given that there already exists APC tripartite consultative committee, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo with both the party Chairman, HE Mai Mala Buni, Senate President, HE Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiala and PGF Chairman, HE Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha and Chief of Staff to President, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari serving as members, the initiative to commence processes of implementation can be started.

We need to appeal to our leaders and our party to rise to the occasion of this challenge facing our dear nation beyond the current public anger. Our leaders should be reminded about the words of Malcom Gladwell in the book, David and Goliath to the effect that ‘much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of …lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And second, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the source of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors. And create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seem unthinkable. We need better guide to facing giants.’

While it is tempting to continue to interpret our current disagreements based on our deep momentary anger and hatred for one another, it may be the true catalyst for our attainment of greatness. That can only happen if our leaders are able to insulate themselves from being among the drivers of public anger and hate based on which they are able to painstakingly lead the country in a new direction of unity and national co-existence. May God guide our leaders to lead us in a new direction that can guarantee peaceful co-existence founded on love for one another across all our ethnic and religious divides. Amin!

This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum

 

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Opinion

Modelling Success: Dr Adedeji Adeleke And Adeleke University

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

By Toyin Falola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

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

Read it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Concluded.

Afejuku can be reached on 

08055213059.

 

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Aáwé’s Day Of Glory And Development Challenges

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The Alawe of Aawe, Oba Cornelius Taiwo Oladokun

By Tunji Olaopa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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