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Importance of Legislature To A Democracy

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

By Salihu Moh. Lukman 

In the last one-week, since the protest of Tuesday, June 25, 2024 by young people against the Kenyan Finance Bill submitted to Kenyan parliament by President William Ruto, Nigerian social media platforms have been abuzz with posts and video clips of issues around the Kenyan protests. One of them is a clip of Sen. Crystal Asige, who within about 10 minutes eloquently and succinctly captures both the essence and connection of democracy as the guardian of the people. Central to that is the legislature or parliament, which makes laws and performs the function of oversight or being the watch dog over the Executive and the Judiciary, through which it defends public interests. This is not an easy task. Being able to discharge such a task requires high moral standing, which is about sacrifices and ability to resist , in other words capacity for self-denial. 

The video clip of Sen. Asige went viral in practically all media platforms in Nigeria, with many interpretations, including calling on Nigerian legislators to emulate the Kenyan Senator. This is a tall order, which may simply just bury or dismiss the salient points made by Sen. Asige, which are not only valid in Kenya but in every country of the African continent. What is the salient points Sen. Asige made, which must not be lost? I will attempt to present the highlights of the salient points and how they manifest or negatively impacted on the performance of the legislature in our context in Nigeria. More importantly, an attempt will be made to highlight what needs to be done to reposition the Nigerian parliament or legislature in order to make our democracy functionally representative of the interests of citizens.

While expressing opposition to a motion for the Kenyan parliament to go on recess, Sen. Asige drew attention of her colleagues to, as a mark of respect for the innocent lives lost, recognise that  ‘Parliament stands to represent its people, parliament does not close to run away from its people’ as ‘respect for young men and women who have lost lives who are now muted because they cannot speak due to …horrifying scenes’ witnessed by the killing of Tuesday, June 25, 2024 of more than 20 people. Without repeating all the valid justifications, Sen. Asige provided for opposing the Finance Bill submitted to parliament by President William Ruto, which among others aimed at generating additional $2.7 billion in domestic revenue by introducing a wide range of new taxes on Kenyans, Sen. Asige made the point that ‘darkness fears democracy’. 

 This is more of a hypothetical statement highlighting what ought to be especially if democratic institutions, such as parliaments or legislative bodies are able to competently and effectively serve as the voice and representatives of the people. In fact, the parliament or legislature represents the most distinguishing feature of democracy, and to that extent the main reason why ‘darkness will fear democracy’. Darkness is  clearly all the wrong policies and initiatives taken by elected governments and leaders, which come under the searchlight of very clear and well-informed representatives in the legislative arm of government who perform the oversight function of regulating the conducts of elected governments and leaders and ensuring that they are aligned with the overall interests of citizens.

The video clip of Sen. Asige went viral on Nigerian social media platforms largely because of considerable feelings of envy by many aspiring Nigerians who feel a sense of loss with the quality of legislative business in Nigeria. There is no doubt that these are legitimate expressions, which need strategic initiatives to domesticate realities whereby ‘darkness’ could fear ‘democracy’. Perhaps, it is also important to acknowledge that there are instances in this Fourth Republic whereby the National Assembly, which is the legislative body at the Federal level in Nigeria truly rose and defended the interests of Nigerians against attempts by sitting Presidents to railroad their way with bad policies or initiatives that conflict with wider interests of Nigerians. Some of those instances include the landmark victory of the 5th National Assembly against the Third Term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo under the leadership of Sen. Ken Nnamani and Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari. There is also the ingenious doctrine of necessity passed by the 6th Senate, which resolved the stalemate and confirmed Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President in February 2010 during the sickness of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua under the leadership of Sen. David Mark. 

 Beyond these two instances, there are other cases of interventions by many courageous members of the two chambers of the National Assembly in Nigeria. However, there is a deep feeling of concerns among Nigerians that courageous voices of individual legislators in both the Senate and the House of Representatives are fading away and both chambers are becoming more like rubber stamps. Partly because of the faint or almost complete absence of courageous voices in the National Assembly, the President and the members of the Executive body of Government are practically getting away with virtually every wrong decision that is injurious to the well-being of Nigerian citizens. A good example is the impulsive declaration of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to end petroleum subsidy without any clear plan, followed by another impulsive decision to float the Naira exchange rate against other international currencies with hardly any plan.

The consequence of this reality is rock-bottom crash of living conditions in the country as a result of unimaginable decimation of the value of incomes. Now more than one year after, there doesn’t appear to be any logical response from the government and hardly any dedicated debate in any of the two chambers in the National Assembly around these issues. Not even during the debate for the passage of the 2024 budget. It is no secret that Nigerians are in shock and highly disappointed by the performances of the 10th National Assembly that so far holds the most expeditious record of the passage of executive bills, including the scandalous reversal to an old National Anthem that hardly makes any sense without any public hearing. As it is now, thanks to the 10th National Assembly, the President Asiwaju Tinubu’s government is operating three budgets concurrently – 2023, 2023 Supplementary and 2024 Budgets. There are speculations that a fourth – 2024 Supplementary Budget is on its way, which, if that happens, will be expressly passed and accordingly makes it the fourth concurrent budget running.

How did we get to this abysmally low level of legislative practice whereby it can almost be said that in Nigeria, democracy equates darkness? Without going into detail,  a combination of many factors, which has taken place over the last 25 years is  responsible. Some of the factors include the reality whereby systematically the leaderships of both chambers of the National Assembly have been downgraded to the status of appointees of the President. That was largely made possible by the fact that the party machinery or organs, which are supposed to serve as the platforms for negotiations have been weakened and also subordinated to the President. 

Consequently, beyond having a democracy that equates to darkness, like in the Kenyan situation described by Sen. Asige ‘unity’ is being ‘violently gunned down in the streets, not by men, but by monsters who have no concern for human lives’. Unlike in Kenya whereby the monsters are only associated with nefarious activities of trigger-happy overzealous police officers, in our context in Nigeria they are also amorphous, operating as Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers and other variants of terrorist groups in the country. And unlike what Sen. Asige observed with respect to Kenya that ‘although this government has demonstrated that lifeless Kenyan bodies are not to take precedence over their punitive finance bill, young Kenyans have looked their oppressors in the eyes and shown them that when it comes down to the wire, there are only two times to be brave – when you feel like it and when you don’t’. Nigerians only wish the same could be said here in our context. 

Punitive policy decisions of successive Nigerian governments, including the present one are taking precedence over the lives of citizens. Fifteen trillion Naira is being expended on a costal road from Lagos to Calabar. Billions have been expended on a presidential yatch, vice president accommodation, purchase of luxury vehicles for elected and appointed government officials, including members of the National Assembly, a new presidential aircraft is about to be procured, etc. The list is almost endless and keep growing and the cost is simply punitive. 

Although young Nigerians are making every effort to engage these issues, the absence of an organisational strategy, compounded by a lack of inclusiveness have blocked opportunities for young people in Nigeria to effectively confront our today’s forces of darkness. As a result, many are asking the question, ‘when will young Nigerians stand up and look their oppressors in the eye and show them that when it come to the wire, there are only two times to be brave – when you feel it and when you don’t’? When that time comes, will Nigerians have a strong voice in the two chambers of the National Assembly to echo their grievances and speak on their behalf like Sen. Asige did for the Kenyan youth? 

 From all the social media discussions in Nigeria around Sen. Asige’s intervention in Kenya, there is a strong agreement with the point she made expressing ‘profound disappointment with the current government and its forceful assault on crowd of innocent youth …by its nefarious police officers who have got raw guns on unarmed young citizens peacefully exercising their constitutional right towards an uncaring,  corrupt and wasteful government in their eyes that has turned its back on them’. The fact is that the perception of majority of Nigerians is that the Nigerian government is uncaring, wasteful and has turned its back on citizens. It is a painful reality, which unfortunately doesn’t elicit the kind of debate expected in the two chambers of the National Assembly.

In other words, there is a complete failing on the part of the two chambers of the National Assembly and its members to serve as a check on the President and members of the Executive. This has created an atmosphere of denial corresponding to application of ‘brute force … against’ citizens, which means ‘brute force’ is ‘the operating system’ ‘built into the fabric of today’s government’. Given such unfortunate reality, innocent and law-abiding Nigerians are daily and hourly losing their lives. And like Sen. Asige rightly captured, ‘when they kill us, they are killing themselves …the arrogance from some of these top government officials has been outrageously condescending to young people, disgusting and reminiscent of narcissistic abuse’.

It must be admitted that Sen. Asige was not only a representative of Kenyans, but she is also indeed a representative of Africans. Nigerians, and indeed Africans, are proud of her courage, vision and foresight to make those historic interventions at a time when democracy is receding in the African continent and forces of darkness becoming more and more arrogant and outrageously condescending against citizens. One of the messages, which must be reechoed to all our political leaders in Nigeria, especially leaders and members of the two chambers of the National Assembly is the point Sen. Asige made to the effect that ‘Clinical psychologists will tell you that a narcissist will first love you, then they will manipulate you, then they will gaslight you into believing their lies, then they will devalue you and finally…they will discard you once they have what they want’. 

 This aptly describes the fate and circumstances that awaits the leaders and members of the National Assembly and has been the reality, which accounts for the problems of high turnover of members, including leaders of the National Assembly. Certainly, the 10th National Assembly is not going to be different. To get this seemingly current pliant and wily-nilly leadership, President Asiwaju Tinubu courted members of the National Assembly in both chambers. Now, with all sorts of incentives to leaders and members of the two chambers, including 74% budgetary increase in the 2024 allocation both the leadership and members of the 10th National Assembly are being manipulated to approve every proposal of the President.

Note that the 74% increase in the Budget of the National Assembly raised the allocation to N344.85 billion from the initial proposal of N197.93 billion. The other additional incentive borders on some of the allegations surrounding activities of Committees of the two chambers during oversight supervision of governmental agencies. Committees are being alleged to reduce oversight functions to the business of extorting money from agencies of government. Related to that is the fact that the management of budgetary allocations by leaders of the National Assembly is shrouded in confidentiality. Even remunerations of members are similarly shrouded in confidentiality with many claims of rooftop salary payments. There are also allegations of budget padding, which is more like slush funds in the name of constituency projects controlled by members. 

Part of the challenge of our democracy is that the two chambers of the National Assembly are only accountable to themselves. The Public Accounts Committees in both chambers are expected to oversight management of funds allocated to the National Assembly. Somehow, these are issues that contribute to the current reality whereby the National Assembly, its leadership and members lost the moral authority to regulate the conduct of the Executive Arm of government. With that, they function practically at the mercy of the President and members of the Executive Arm, almost as if they were employees of the Executive. Using all these incentives, the President and members of the Executive arm seamlessly turned on the ‘gaslight’, which leaves members with no option but to believe and approve every proposal submitted even when they are injurious to public interests. Having served as the machinery that hurts the people, they become liabilities and therefore eventually get discarded. 

There are certainly many credible, experienced and very patriotic members in the two chambers of the National Assembly. But the question must be asked about when can such members of the Nigerian National Assembly regain or recover their human and democratic souls and begin to show up and promote national debates on the floor of the Nigerian parliament capable of reawakening the confidence of Nigerians about our democracy? When are we going to have truly Nigerian patriots, who are selfless, visionary and forward looking in the Nigerian parliament, whose moral standing is unquestionable and could serve as the political hard currency required to illuminate our democracy? When will Nigerian democracy grow such that members of the National Assembly will earn the respect of not just the Executive Arm but also citizens on account of which the current travesty of operating at the mercy of narcissistic reality, which both destroys leaders in the Executive and Legislative Arms is overcome and a new era of accountability and transparency enthroned in the management of public resources? 

The point is, Nigerian democracy, as it is, is not functionally representing the interest of citizens largely because the parliament represented by the two chambers of the National Assembly – Senate and House of Representatives – have involuntarily submitted themselves to the narcissistic control of the President. Until and unless the parliament can free itself from the President, it will almost be impossible for it to develop the capacity of defending and protecting the interest of Nigerians. That will require a holistic approach of undertaking deeper reforms of Nigerian politics such that the survival of Nigerian politicians is not a function of the ‘benevolence’ of the President. This will necessarily require that political parties in Nigeria are transformed beyond the status of being shadow partners to the President. If that is to be achieved, the organs of political parties must not only be allowed to function, but their decisions must be binding on every leader and member of the party, including the President.

Certainly, Sen. Asige must have acted based on the existence of a superior political infrastructure, which enables and affirms the independence of the parliament with strong political parties that protect and encourage members to serve as representatives of the people. We must renegotiate Nigerian democracy, based on which a new framework of political party operations, management and operations are instituted to liberate our elected representatives from the clear narcissistic control of the President. It is only when that happens that Nigerian democracy can produce elected representatives, including National Assembly members who can guarantee that ‘Unity is our financier, liberation, passion, justice, anger, disillusionment and dissatisfaction are all our financiers’ as submitted by Sen. Asige. May God Almighty touch the hearts of all our elected representatives, including President Asiwaju Tinubu and leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly to submit themselves to the process of renegotiating Nigerian democracy to produce truly elected representatives who can guarantee that ‘darkness will fear democracy’. Amin!

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Modelling Success: Dr Adedeji Adeleke And Adeleke University

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

By Toyin Falola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Opinion

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

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Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

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

Read it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Concluded.

Afejuku can be reached on 

08055213059.

 

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Opinion

Aáwé’s Day Of Glory And Development Challenges

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The Alawe of Aawe, Oba Cornelius Taiwo Oladokun

By Tunji Olaopa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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