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Nigeran Civil Service Bureaucratic Corps From A Generational Lens



How To Revive Public Schools - Tunji Olaopa

Tunji Olaopa

Henry Glassie, the American historian, writes that “History is not the past but a map of the past, drawn from a particular point of view, to be useful to the modern traveller.” This axiomatic statement grounds the fundamental significance of the nature and the relevance of history and historical interpretation in all human endeavors. From statecraft and governance to personal and collective enterprises, history enables us to navigate the present and orients the future. Someone says it is an early warning signal for those who pay the needed attention to its signs. Indeed, for David McCullough, another American historian, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” In this piece, I will like to deploy historical analysis to (a) put the present state and future possibilities of the Nigerian civil service in perspective; (b) outline a generational perspective to enable me to figure out the present state, and (c) give an overall picture of who we are and why we are the way we are in the Nigerian civil service.

A generational framework attempts to provide a trajectory of historical analysis founded on the significance of particular generations in history. History is often reckoned with in individualistic terms, as the deeds and actions of strong men and women. A generational analysis, however, relocates the variable of historical significance to generations of individuals in history; those whose collective actions and deeds contributed to the understanding of the paths and directions that history took and is taking. Of course, generations are very difficult to delineate, and this is because one generation merges into another. But this objection is not strong enough to undermine the distinctness of generations in, for instance, administrative history in Nigeria. In most human rhetoric, the idea of generation plays a useful role. However, we fail to explore the deep sociological and historical possibilities inherent in deploying the concept as a significant variable of analysis. I am deploying the idea of “generational capital” to name the potential and possibilities that a generation can bring to bear on the evolution of a family, a community, a nation or an institution. The obverse is also important: generational deficiency links the unwillingness or inability of any generations to the failure of the recipient of their capacities and capabilities.
The trajectory of the emergence and institutionalization of public administration and the civil service in Nigeria benefits immensely from a generational analysis. There are three generations that contribute capital and deficiency to the institutional performance and productivity quotients of the Nigerian civil service. Of course, the first generation of civil servants and public administration belong to what we now fondly refer to as the golden age of the public service in Nigeria. This first generation unraveled between the 50s and the early 60s. This period coincided first with the inauguration of the Nigerian civil service in 1954 as a nascent institution, and the political independence of Nigeria. These two facts significantly attest at once to the quality of the officers that founded the civil service and the institutional quality of the public service itself. The Nigerian state therefore began its post-independence existence with a very strong and professional civil service, regarded as perhaps the strongest of the colonial legacies bequeathed to Africa. This civil service framework was one nurtured on the traditional Weberian structure which required from civil servants the requisite of anonymity, neutrality and impartiality. Thus, a civil servant’s overall profile is therefore expected to be circumscribed by efficiency, effectiveness, integrity, accountability, responsiveness, representativeness, loyalty, equity, fairness, and so on.

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Those we call the civil service pioneers—Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Samuel Manuwa, M. O. Ani, I. O. Dina, Joseph McEwen, S. Ade Ojo, Ojimiri Johnson, C.O. Taiwo, Fola Ejiwunmi, G.E.A. Lardner, Sule Katagum, Joseph Imoukhuede; Ahmed Talib and Abubakar Koko (both of Udoji Commission), and many more—came into an inherited British civil service founded on a strong tradition. Those that became a part of this institution became living exemplars of its traditions and framework. Choosing a civil service career at that time conferred prestige and status in society. The condition of service supported this class recognition. At this point in its evolution, the civil services were not perfect but they stood out as value-based institutions distinguished in competence, professionalism and moral rectitude. They attracted the best and the brightest. Their internal governance was entrusted to an independent, non-partisan and impartial beacon of integrity—the Public Service Commission. Recruitment was strictly meritocratic and promotion was based on merit and performance. There were attractive competitive and comparable conditions of service and generous and well-funded pension package.

The second generation of public administrators and civil servants is from the late 60s to early 70s, the core of which constitutes those we fondly refer to as the super permanent secretaries. And the list of the members of this illustrious generation of public servants is sterling: S. Olabode Wey, M. A. Ejueyitchie, Abdul Aziz Atta, C. O. Lawson, Allison Ayida, Liman Ciroma, Shehu Musa, Gray Eromosele Longe, Ahmed Joda, Philip Asiodu, Ime Ebong, Mrs. Folayegbe Akintunde-Ighodalo, P. T. Odumosu, N. U. Akpan, Ali Akilu, Francesca Emanuel, Ibrahim Damcida, Musa Daggash, Prince Solomon Akenzua, Prince Festus Adesanoye, Princess Tejumade Alakija, Sunday Awoniyi, Adamu Fika, Olu Falae, G.P.O. Chikelu, Prince Sanda Ndayako, Theophilus Akinyele, Jonah Ogbole, and many others. The permanent secretaries that carried “super” qualifier amongst this corps were so-called because they were called upon at a most desperate and chaotic time in Nigerian history—the civil war period—to deploy their administrative acumen, competences and wisdom to take Nigeria through the pre-war, war and post-war periods. Their challenges also dovetailed into managing the command-and-control structure of the military during and after the war. So, as Theodore Roethke, the American poet, noted, the eyes of these public servants had to see in this dark time.

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Before expounding the trajectory of the third generation of civil servants and public administrators, to which I belong, I need to note a few administrative dynamics and dysfunctions that heralded the emergence of the third generation. From the pioneering generation of civil servant, as noted earlier, Nigeria inherited a civil service that was essentially value-driven, public- oriented and highly professionalized. The values of the service as well as those existing within the Nigerian society of the period were mutually reinforcing to facilitate the core public spiritedness that the profession demanded. An added positive characteristic was the symbiotic relationship between town and gown that allowed for a policy architecture that benefitted from both. While the Victorian value set that grounded the civil service made it inevitably elitist, the real challenge for the pioneers was their inability to interrogate and deconstruct the value foundation of the civil service in ways that connect it with local ideas and traditions. This failure would later have terrible consequences, which the pioneers themselves anticipated.

Both the Adebo Commission (1971) and the Udoji Commission (1974) signaled the moment at which the system ought to have transited from the Weberian, “I-am-directed” administrative tradition, so that the system would be remodeled to facilitate its capacity readiness to carry the functionality of a developmental state. Unfortunately, the system was at the height of its success, preeminence and somewhat too self-satisfied to respond to reform prompting. The administrative dissonance between the civil service and the second and third development planning undermined the vision of placing the Nigerian state at the commanding height of the economy as a developmental state that was able to realize the objectives of transforming the lives of Nigerians. Several series of events—discovery of oil, the immense petrodollar that submerged the national revenue, the rejection of the Udoji recommendation for a managerial rehabilitation of the administrative system, the implementation of the Udoji bonanza which structurally disconnected the service wage structure from national productivity trajectory thus making recalibration within technical-rational parameter complex, and the 1975 purge of the civil service—eclipsed the golden age of the civil service, and aggravated the second generation that was already immersed in bureau-pathology. It was already an open season of societal and administrative anomie. The economy awash with oil revenue had already instigated national profligacy. And Prof. Wolfgang Stolper had become frustrated by the culture of planning without facts or statistics. Once the 80s were fully underway, the Nigerian economic and institutional dynamics was too weak to resist the structural adjustment programmes when they were foisted on the country.

From the 1975 civil service purge to the SAPs de-institutionalization process, the value-orientation of the inherited civil service ethos had been damagingly eroded. Professionalism and public-spiritedness had gone to the dogs! The culture of delayed gratification had been replaced by that of instant gratification (or something-for-nothing). The statist dynamics of prebendalism and clientelist framework could then easily invade the civil service in ways that instigated a culture of waste and redundancies as well as a damaged maintenance and asset managing system. The third generation of public servants were thus heralded by a ballooning cost of governance and an administrative debilitation that were a far cry from the system inherited by the pioneers, from Adebo to Ayida.

By the time my generation came of age, it was already deeply embroiled in the dynamics of the bureau-pathology that has debilitated the civil service. And this was all the worse because we had mentors and seniors who connected us to the golden age in terms of their passion, professionalism and knowledge-propelled zeal for service. They carried the grand narratives of promise and progress tied to nation-building. And they were all too willing to pass on their knowledge and zeal through a generational handholding. Unfortunately, however, it is my generation of administrators and public servants that has to pick up the brunt of institutional decay at its acutest point, and especially when the challenges of national integration and good governance have become more heightened. Nigeria now needs “a world-class public service delivering government policies and programmes with professionalism, excellence and passion”, to quote the vision of the NSPSR. But then, the “professional, efficient, effective and accountable” public servants who understand the system (past, present and in the light of daily growing innovations in public administration) to bring knowledge and skills into capacity readiness may really not be on ground. Besides, there is a dearth of think tanks and consulting firms that have developed services portfolios that have deep enough relevant contents, solutions-frameworks and core competences to address first-hand, the issues and problems for which governments in Nigeria are seeking solutions. And at that in measure that could seamlessly translate into handholding technical support services which MDAs require to excel or to be on top of their game.

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The third generation and its notables (not in any verified order of seniority) would include Aliyu Mohammed, Aminu Saleh, Gidado Idris, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, Ignatius Olisemeka, Baba Gana Gingibe, Abu Obe, Yayale Ahmed, Ebele Okeke, Amal Pepple, Stephen Oronsaye, Oladapo Afolabi, Sali Bello, Goni Aji, Danladi Kifasi, Winifred Oyo-Ita and Folasade Yemi-Esan. They were generationally, confronted from the 80s through the 90s to date, with a huge tide of challenges and possibilities. The managerial revolution that the Udoji Commission recommended confronted the public service with new concepts and practices around target setting, performance assessments metrics, professionalized human resource departments, policy-engaged research, evidence-based policy intelligence, monitoring, evaluation and new project management accountability structures, management and operation research, etc. Of course, the succeeding governments, from independence, were equally concerned with the sustained decline in the effectiveness and efficiency of the civil service, and especially its disconnection from development planning and state objectives. Thus, administrative and governance reforms became key parts of service rehabilitation. But then, the reforms became as transformative as they also contributed to institutional problems. One example suffices here: the Dotun Philip Commission and the Civil Service Reorganisation Decree 43 of 1988 it inspired during the Babangida administration. One major reform item of this reform report was the paradigmatic shift away from the British Westminster parliamentary and administrative tradition to the American presidential system.

Within the remit of achieving a professionalized service, the Phillip Report focused on training to achieve specialization. Civil service officers were targeted based on the high-end qualifications they present at entry, and are required to undergo regular training and retraining. This led to the creation of a new bureaucratic structure made up of assistants, officers and directors. The unintended consequences of the reform transcended its initial objective of a professionalized and specialized service. For instance, the renaming of the permanent secretaries as director-generals was a politicising act that gave them the tenures of political appointees. They therefore occupied offices as long as the tenure of the appointing government lasts. By the late 90s, the fight to regain the value-based practices of the civil service was already getting lost. First, the service was already a mixed multitude—a genuine set of administrators and conscientious civil servants coexisting with a motley of politically-minded bureaucrats more inclined to political orientation, parochialism and primordial sentiments. Second, the category of mentors and seniors who were more than willing to assist in waging the war to relocate the system back to its value-based administrative tradition were already rapidly thinning out due to retrenchment and death.

It was thus that sincere reform efforts were contending with congealing anti-reform bureaucratic practices. Even after 1999 when the democratic experimentation commenced, and the civil service was under the reform imperative of re-professionalization to capacitate service delivery to Nigerians, the phenomenon of organized lateral transfers and the resultant stagnation and promotional block which had built up since the movement of the capital of Nigeria from Lagos to Abuja in the federal in 1990/1, had already become complicated and disenabling to the system. This measure of bureau-pathology was aggravated by a certain level of in-breeding that ensured that the service is not opened up in a structural sense that facilitates a systematic process of infiltration by external expertise and competences through sabbatical leave, staff exchange, projects-based exposures opportunity to officers, and so on. There was also a limited exposure to business and commercial orientation that constrained capacity by officers to take advantage of such emergent business models as PPPs, outsourcing, etc. in the last decades. The service also became constrained by a reluctance to modernize through a critical embrace of new technologies and digitization necessary for the implementation of open (cum electronic) government, and consequently a performance management culture that has the capacity to enhance national productivity Nigeria requires for a competitive twenty-first century economy.

In essence, the third generation of administrators and civil servants were confronted both with the challenge of modernizing the public service, and the imperative of becoming twenty-first century public servants patriotic and professional enough to drive the public service as a valuable complement to the demand for democratic governance in Nigeria. Each of the two generations was confronted with its own unique challenge. The first generation had to ensure that the inherited civil service retained its value-based framework so as to be able to function in the newly independent Nigeria. the second generation had to retain the functional efficiency of the civil service to be able not only to conduct the civil war but to also rehabilitate a war-torn Nigeria. The third generation is confronted with the challenge of democratic governance and the imperative of modernizing the public service to achieve efficient service delivery. And this challenge is all the heavier because the administrative and governance dynamics of the 60s, the 70s and the 80s cannot match up with the series of administrative and governance ideas that have all formed to insist on modernizing the government and its public management framework for an even better performance protocol and productivity than ever before.

Managerialism has transformed the way we understand government, governance and management. Essentially, the idea of the twenty-first century government is one that is democratic, citizen-centric and seamless in the way it connects its efficient and technology-enabled public service to an enlarged governance space that allows both the government and other nongovernmental and nonstate actors to brainstorm and strategize on how to generate policies that facilitate better service delivery to the populace. And the idea of a 21st century government is practically impossible without a corresponding 21st century public servant—constrained by ethical values (i.e. integrity, honesty, respect); democratic values (i.e. responsiveness, representativeness, rule of law); and professional values (i.e. excellence, innovation)—with the capacity to create and continually recreate public values within a framework of entrepreneurial dynamics that allows citizens’ and societal satisfaction. In essence, the twenty-first century public servant must be willing and able to operate in a VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous—environment, armed with a large dose of public-spiritedness and a sense of the public service as a calling in the Levitical Order.

. Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies
(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .


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Moral Values In A Changing World



Prof. Hope Eghagha

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

JUSTICE: This world has degenerated into abysmal filth, immoral ungodly concupiscence, infantile greed, atavistic, primitive acquisition of property, and satanic hopelessness! The judiciary, the political class, the church, our royal fathers, and most other socio-cultural institutions have fallen into the cesspit of indiscipline and lack of respect for ethics! The Labour movement that used to be in the forefront of discipline cannot be trusted anymore!

MARIAM: Hehehehehehe! Okpoyibo! Big grammar is talking. I must invite Hon Patrick Obahiagbon to compete with you on explosive vocabulary.

PROFESSOR: That’s an old song. Our parents said the same thing some forty odd years ago.

UMUKORO: You are right; it is the way of the old to berate the world and say the past was better!

JUSTICE: Kindly don’t reduce the profundity of my introspective submission to the jejune level of the banal as has been the hallmark of pseudo-intellectuals in the polity!

MARIAM: I am going to get a new and bigger dictionary. I can’t find Michael West anymore!

JUSTICE: If you still restrict yourself to the archaic confines of Michael West, then you are a victim of historical detention, arrested development, and exploration of the brave new world!

MARIAM: I give up!

UMUKORO: Who still uses a dictionary in the 21st century? Ask Google my dear, ask Google!

JUSTICE: Your infantile and rudimentary knowledge of homonyms limits your capacity to process thoughts of the new century. Away with you, thou physically beautiful body without an intellectual soul. I take exception to people denigrating my exceptionally brilliant exegesis on the state of Homo sapiens!

PASTOR: ‘And in the last days, iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold’, so said the Master. The time is here!

PROFESSOR: A broken record! A broken record waxed hundreds of years ago!

PASTOR: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved!

PROFESSOR: Saved from what? Another holocaust? Another atomic bomb dumped on humanity?

PASTOR: Do you spurn sacred and biblical prophecies?

PROFESSOR: General prophecies mean nothing to me. Look here Mr Pastor. For all the false prophecies which members of your infernal gang of profiteering pastors gave before the last general elections, you should be behind the bars of God!

JUSTICE: It is not late, not too late at all. The hounds of heaven are waiting for all the false pastors, especially those who have commercialized the Lord’s work! A wonderful and abominable thing is happening in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the people love it so!

PROFESSOR: One preacher I knew used to say that one false prophet was more dangerous than 100 armed robbers. Now I understand why!

UMUKORO: Armed robbery is no longer fashionable. Pen robbery fetches millions of naira with one stroke. Just add two zeros to the figure or transfer public funds to a private account.

PROFESSOR: I spoke metaphorically!

PASTOR: When it is becoming fashionable for persons of the same gender to marry and be recognized by the state, then the world is coming to an end.

UMUKORO: Sodom and Gomorrah incurred God’s wrath with that abomination!


MARIAM: When Supreme Court judges dispense political justice, then the end of the state as we knew it, has come.

UMUKORO: Even in America! Democratic judges give judgment guided by the so-called liberal values of the democrats while republican judges give conservative verdicts like abolishing the right to having an abortion!

JUSTICE: What then is justice?

MARIAM: Self solution! Your name is justice!

PROFESSOR: Aren’t we mixing oranges and apples in the same basket?

PASTOR: Let the tares and the wheat grow. At the harvest the Lord shall do the separation of sheep from goats!

JUSTICE: Eschatological metaphors can be used to rationalize and explain currents and undercurrents of contemporary events. It is very convenient to do so!

PROFESSOR: I am disappointed that our Nobel laureate could make such a one-sided pronouncement on the 2023 general elections. Unlike him, he didn’t speak like a man who comprehends the totality of our traumatic experience in February 2023!

MARIAM: But he spoke his mind. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression!

JUSTICE: He spoke with the finality of a judge. I respect him for that. But he should also like an elder have acknowledged the level of rigging and violence which marred the exercise. The general thinking is that he is silent on that aspect because a friend of his now occupies Aso Rock!

MARIAM: That is a most uncharitable thing to say about a man of such intellectual distinction and moral probity!

JUSTICE: Excuse me! Has he occupied any public office in the country to enable you to arrive at that conclusion? Has he been tested?

MARIAM: His name is a shield. His name travels before him.

JUSTICE: Why did he wait for the PEPT to make a pronouncement before proclaiming his tigritude?

PROFESSOR: Let’s leave that old man alone jor! I’m more interested in the shuffling feet at the CBN. What exactly is going on? Was there no due diligence before Shonubi was asked to act as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria? Didn’t they know, couldn’t they have suspected that he was part of the rot that ran that institution aground in the dying days of the former president?

PASTOR: Alas, it has given the president the opportunity to appoint his own man as governor. The new man by all account is competent and exposed in the financial world!

PROFESSOR: My only worry is whether he will have the gumption to say no if he receives obnoxious directives from his boss.

JUSTICE: How many appointees in our country have the liver to say no to the indiscretion of their bosses? It is not in our DNA!

MARIAM: In Lagos state, the Speaker of House said no to the governor on the appointment of some commissioners! The heavens did not fall.

PROFESSOR: The heavens almost fell. But that speaker is arrogant. No big man can trust him. Or was he dancing to music being played in higher quarters to spite the governor?

MARIAM: Who knows! It is possible. The ways of politicians are not straightforward. How could he say that he and the governor are colleagues! He has no respect for the office!

UMUKORO: I felt sorry for the governor! This attempt to humiliate him all in the name of politics.

JUSTICE: I hear it is all about 2024. If he is thinking of becoming governor, that statement will return to haunt him in future!

PASTOR: Now! Now! Now! Is the Dubai visa ban still hanging over us or Mr. President got the desert kings to lift the embargo?

JUSTICE: Is there any ‘gbajue’ going on?

PROFESSOR: Hahahahahaha! The more you look, the less you see. Proverbs to bones and silence!

UMUKORO: I don’t think it is ‘gbajue! It is possible that there was an agreement in principle which would require Nigeria to finetune certain details before going public. A federal government cannot tell lies about such public matters!

PASTOR: When the saviour comes, let him that be on the rooftop not come down to be saved. You will run to the mountain and the mountain will be melting!

MARIAM: And the sea will be boiling!

PROFESSOR: Who will save us? Who can take the nation back to factory reset? Shall we invite Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, and Ahmadu Bello to rescue us?

PASTOR: Perish such thoughts please! Those men have not been able to save themselves. How can they save anybody? Jesus Christ is the answer!

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A Response To Toyin Falola’s Obasanjo, Obadide And Obajoko



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

By Yinka Agbetuyi

Toyin Falola’s “Obasanjo, Obadide and Obajoko” is a timely article that captures the complexities and contradictions of a Yoruba (even Nigerian) in transition. It reframes the questions: ‘transition to where?’ How will this transition be better managed? Until these two questions are adequately resolved Yorubaland (and Nigeria) will always be in constant crises.

    It is very important that the essay brings out the fact of extant kingships alongside modern polities in Europe like the UK and Belgium, (there are still twelve extant monarchies in Europe) where the monarchs are not subordinated to modern politicians and humiliated thereby. So which West are the Yoruba (and Nigerians) copying?  Newfound lands, mainly the US – as well as Australia and Canada- stolen from the aborigines.

    Yoruba people and fellow Nigerians must constantly be reminded that the success of the anticolonial struggles was about stopping such occurrence in Africa.  Perhaps Yoruba Nation advocacy was geared toward the same goal, but lacked effective strategies. At the last stop before Tinubu’s unexpected victory, the groundswell was for Yoruba Nation advocates to go into partnership with other Nigerian ethnic nationalities and evolve a workable blueprint that takes into consideration each group’s preference and the rate of and speed of integration into the totality – the North’s preference at independence, and Awo’s true federalism- supplanted unfortunately by the adoption of an American presidential federalist model, hook line and sinker!  My reaction over the decades is that Nigeria is not necessarily vying with others for the position of the 51st state of the US.

    In my own summation in diverse forums, as it exists now in Europe, the royal houses should be clearly delimited and given definite CONSTITUTIONAL roles and worthy remuneration. First Class traditional rulers should earn the same salaries as sitting governors (Nigeria can afford this option many times over from a mere fraction of its stolen wealth if recovered). Monarchs will in turn underwrite the integrity of the polity by being constitutionally tasked with the appointment of auditors who will scrutinise State spending (states and federal) and projects in their domains and report directly back to such MONARCHS for onward transmission to state chief executives and the presidency.

    Traditional rulers should be elected and appointed only by traditional councils and their appointment signed into law (but not subject to nor subordinated to) the state governors.  After all the days of crass illiterate caricature of traditional rulers is long gone.  Traditional rulers should therefore be structured as parallel instruments of and facilitators of governance in a check and balance structuration of governance, in a carefully integrated whole to achieve total governance – the transient and the permanent. Lesser traditional rulers should be administered by the First-Class rulers (in council) who will recommend their emoluments, (and functions) subject to rankings to state governments.

    Only First-Class rulers (in council) should be able to recommend the creation and elevation of lower ranked rulers to the states according to the existing norms of such communities, (they did this well enough in the precolonial days) and the state government should only administratively approve or reject such recommendations based on financial contingencies. This formulation should neutralise party politicking in the creation and maintenance of traditional rulership.

    Yes, traditional rulers must be constitutionally barred from seeking and accepting contracts from their states of origin and from the federal government, the same way a governor is not notionally entitled to be awarded a contract by their own government.  In the British system, this is called declaration of interests by parliamentarians (whether in government or not) in the register of interest book.  This is to prevent conflict of interests of the person in government (and their associates) and their official duties.  This provision demonstrates that greed is a universal phenomenon unless and until checked by relevant laws (witness the UK Parliament’s expenses claim scandal in 2010.)

    Now that the Tinubu struggle has been fought and won, the Yoruba Nation advocates, must in continuation of their activities not rest their oars on the ship of State, but intensify such by taking the lead in the quest for this new reality, by reaching out to like minded nationalities across the country to achieve the constitutional change for a better, stable and prosperous tomorrow for Nigerians.

Prince Agbetuyi is a Professor of Comparative Arts & World History at the Edutronix Institute, London.


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Use Your Penis: Hopes, Expectations And Realities Of African Migrants In Europe



The panelists at the event.

By Leo Igwe

The issue of migration to Europe has been in the news. There has been intense discussion on how to tackle the flow of migrants to, not from, Europe. There have been reports of boats carrying migrants capsizing or missing on the Mediterranean Sea. Many Africans have died trying to enter Europe via the Sahara desert. North African and European countries have taken measures to curb illegal migration and human trafficking. Still, the migration flow out of Africa continues and shows no signs of abating. Why has the migration of Africans or migration from Africa become such a huge problem? What are the hopes, experiences and realities of these migrants?

In August I was invited to speak at a seminar on migration. The focus was on the migration of Africans to Europe. The event took place in Bergen, Norway. As a doctoral student, I lived in Germany for six years. I was invited to speak at programs on migration. Governmental and nongovernmental agencies in Denmark and Germany organized the events. I did not find these events interesting because the focus was on human trafficking and the role of African juju and witchcraft. Do not get me wrong. Human trafficking is a huge problem and needs to be addressed. But we have to tackle the problem from the root. These events were by my estimate a complete waste of time and money because organizers and participants were not ready to tell themselves the truth, face the facts and address the real issue. They want to make themselves feel good and privileged while talking about these helpless Africans streaming to their shores. Organizers were more interested in marginal voodoo, and oath-taking issues. They made it seem as if there was something unusual about African migration. But there was not. Migration is as old as human beings. Humans from all races and regions have been migrating from one region to another, from one country or continent to another. Before this recent wave of migration out of Africa, people from Europe, America, and Asia have been migrating to Africa. They are still migrating for business, social, economic, religious, and political reasons.

Contemporary African migration is mainly economic. It is driven by poverty, miserable living conditions, and the devastation of African economies by European, Asian, and American companies. To tackle the problem of migration, African economies must be fixed. The continent must realize an economic leap. Now instead of focusing on the economic roots of the problem and how to address them, many Europeans and Americans expend energy discussing trivialities, such as the role of voodoo and so-called powerful witch doctors in Nigeria. Well, at these events, I told the organizers the bitter truth. I told them to forget this juju or voodoo talk and face the reality: the destruction and revival of African economies. I told the organizers what they did not want to hear. And they never invited me back.

But this time around it was different. The organizers were not Europeans or Americans. A Nigerian student at the University of Bergen staged the event. He contacted me some months ago, drawing my attention to the plight of African migrants in Norway. He explained how many who travel to Norway and other European countries had their hopes and expectations dashed. Many who migrate to this country or other European countries end up entrapped. They are compelled to go into things they did not plan to do. Many migrants end up in a new form of slavery, in a marriage to a European citizen. Left with the option of going back to Africa at the end of their study or marrying to get the documents to stay, many end up contracting a marriage, in many cases a paper or document marriage. These marriages entrap them, they turn these migrants into errand boys and girls. Many of them are mistreated. They suffer silently. If they misbehaved, their partners would threaten to report them to the authorities and get them deported. I was told that many in the African migrant communities were not helping matters. Someone told me that he approached some migrants seeking and wanting to know how he could navigate migration issues. But the person told him: “Use your penis”. I guess for a female it would have been a case of: Use your vagina. While studying in Germany, some African migrants told me how they were sexually exploited, and dehumanized before they could get legal documents to stay in the country. One woman told me that everyman who wanted to help her wanted to sleep with her.

So, the program was cathartic. It provided a space to let out these pains, sufferings, disappointments, and frustrations.

The event brought together ‘free-will’ migrants and Norwegians. The panelists were from Ghana, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Belarus. I was the only international guest on the panel. Other panelists discussed the hurdles that they have faced, and the challenges that they confronted trying to live and integrate in Norway. As one panelist noted, many who come to study were unable to find a job at the end of their program. In many cases, they graduated and found out that there was no job for them, or they were unable to speak the local language, which was a requirement for many jobs. Another panelist from Ghana, married to a Norwegian, discussed her challenges as a migrant parent in Norway. She recounted how her child had suffered racism in the school. She narrated an experience where the child did a group assignment with four other white Norwegian children. And the teacher gave her child four marks for the assignment and other group members five marks.

There was some discussion on illegal migration and the risks involved. Some Norwegians in the audience noted that many African migrants knew about the risks they could face migrating to Europe. And still, they decided to embark on the risky journey. There was a lot of focus on migrants and their experiences traveling from Africa. However, little or no attention was paid to the European connection with the problem, the fact that western foreign economic policies have devastating effects on African economies. Africa is a market for Western goods including Norwegian stockfish. Apparently Europe needs African markets not African migrants. Western multinationals are relentlessly plowing and plundering the resources of Africa in ways that have displaced the local populations. African professionals are leaving in droves. They are migrating to work in the West and the Middle East. So, Western economies profit from the migration flow and the cheap labor it provides. Western countries benefit from the economic status quo that has turned Africans into migrants and refugees in Europe and America. To contain the flow of migrants to Europe, the situation in Africa must change. African economies must begin to grow and improve. Western governments must end the economic exploitation of Africa.

Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.

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