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True Federalism And Labour Issues

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

By Salihu Moh. Lukman

Background

After its March 2, 2021 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announced that ‘should the need arise, it has empowered the National Administrative Council (NAC) to declare and enforce a national strike action especially if the legislators continue on ruinous path of moving the National Minimum wage from the Exclusive to the Concurrent Legislative List.’ In addition, the Communique of the meeting signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and Acting General Secretary, Comrade Bello Ismail also ‘condemned and rejected in its entirety the ploy to decentralise Nigeria’s judiciary through the establishment of State Judicial Councils describing the move as unpatriotic, self-serving and an attempt to throw Nigeria into judicial and social chaos.’

It is important that as a nation we are able to engage these issues with the democratic understanding that these are negotiable items based on recognising that every interested Nigerian has the inalienable right to express and canvass for positions as provided under the 1999 Constitution as amended. It is however worrisome that both the language and content of the NLC Communique fall far below the standard of NLC and smacks of undemocratic posture of intolerance and imposition. This is partly because, there is hardly any attempt to provide any justification of why minimum wage should be retained in the Exclusive List or the disadvantages of establishing State Judicial Council beyond some claims to entitlements and condemning people promoting these changes. The threat to go on strike is needless and to allege ‘attempt to throw Nigeria into judicial and social chaos’ is simply cheap blackmail. Besides, while Nigeria may not be said to be in any judicial chaos today, are we not already in some form of social chaos in the country?

Minimum Wage Challenges

No one can dispute that as a nation, we are faced with the challenge of developing a framework for minimum wage review, which should be indexed with workers productivity as well as cost of living realities. The mere fact that often it takes upward of five years for minimum wages to be reviewed in the country is both an anomaly and a reflection of our stagnant labour relations reality which also is a reflection of the weakness of the labour movement. If workers have been able to contribute their role in the nation’s revenue, why should it be difficult to ensure annual or even quarterly review of minimum wage? Part of the distortion so far is that the question of workers’ productivity is hardly a reference point in matters of wage determination especially in the public sector.

It may be convenient for the leadership of labour, including the NLC, to retain current framework of determining minimum wage based on the capacity of federal government. Unfortunately, our union leaders have weakened themselves so much that their negotiating power is hardly oriented based on knowledgeable disposition about workers input in the production process at all levels in the country. The only weapon they seem to use so often to win concessions and agreements is strike. Blackmails and muscle flexing have become an important integral strategy to discredit perceived opponents. Name calling and campaigns by the NLC leadership aimed at blocking any consideration of proposals to change our harsh realities as a nation are now very common.

Today, we have a minimum wage of N30,000, which unions have been unable to achieve implementation in many states and many private sector establishments. In fact, even at the time of negotiating the minimum wage of N30,000, there were problems of getting the old minimum wage of N18,000 in many states and private establishments implemented. Some of the states that were able to implement the minimum wage are barely surviving. Rather than objectively reviewing our challenges, our labour leaders imagined that name calling and threatening political leaders with strikes is the way to go. This is most unfortunate. NLC leadership may want to share the full picture of status of implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, both in the public and private sectors, with Nigerians.

Elementary analysis would caution against the consequence of continuing with a centralised framework for minimum wage legislation based on using the financial capacity of the Federal Government to fix national minimum wage that is hardly informed by economic indices of work output across the country and reflecting all sectors of the economy. Such a framework can only result in either shortchanging workers in high-revenue states/areas or over-stretching employers in low-revenue states/areas. Certainly, a review of wage fixing theories would highlight these challenges and perhaps dangers.

It needs to be stated emphatically and unequivocally that although there is increased revenue in the country, which has resulted in improved financial profile of especially states and federal governments in the country, it has not favourably altered the structure of government finances. Some of the underlying factors would include factors of corruption, which the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to fighting and has been taking initiatives. While we may debate about the level of success, it should be a welcome development to have input from our leaders of non-governmental organisations such as the NLC in terms of what needs to be done at all levels in order to strengthen our fight against corruption and therefore increase the financial capability of all governments especially at state levels to be able to accommodate increased wages for workers. In all these, beyond the lamentation against political leaders in the country on the issue of corruption, what are the specific demands of NLC on fighting corruption in the country given that it is a problem that have ravaged all sectors and all levels of society, including the labour movement?

Besides, given characteristically unstable international oil market, current levels of oil revenue are on decline. It is to the credit of the Federal Government that non-oil revenue is increasing and in the case of many states, capacity to mobilise internally generated revenue has increased. What all these suggest is that the nation should be able to assess these emerging realities and accordingly reconfigure wage determination process in recognition of revenue realities of the constituent units of our federal system and as well as ensuring that our national capacity to affirm the ability of private sector employers to operate and therefore create more employment are not undermined. Therefore, to use the capacity of the Federal Government as determining variables for minimum wage fixing would be almost suicidal.

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Be that as it may, there are certainly challenges that need to be addressed. The challenges border on ensuring the availability of enough financial resources to guarantee higher levels of wages in the country, in the context of which issues of minimum wage can be correctly computed taking both production and cost of living indices into account. NLC should approach this based on a strategy of strengthening its own organisational capacity to negotiate improved conditions in the country and not look for easy approaches of centralised minimum wage fixing that are not sustainable, which include retention of a faulty constitutional provision such as the provision of item 34, Part 1 of Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

As it stands, item 34 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule is not sustainable and could only expose Nigerian workers to greater risks and danger. Being conversant with the internal logic influencing leadership thinking in the Nigerian trade movement, it is quite worrisome that NLC is approaching these matters less objectively. It has never been the case that workers will get justice on matters of employer/employee relations bordering on pay and entitlements with simple reference to the law. Had that been the case, there would be no need for unions. The business of unions will always be to develop strategies and carry out actions that can result in improved working conditions and better pay. These are issues bordering on workers input to the process of revenue generation.

The big worry is when matters of pay and benefits are delinked from these factors, which appears to be the logic of the NLC argument with respect to national minimum wage legislation in Nigeria. Of course, it could be argued that this has been the case, perhaps since the 1970s. That it has been the case does not make it right. What has been the tradition of NLC and Nigerian trade unions is the courage to campaign for what is right especially in relation to workers benefits and welfare. It is a matter that requires a good measure of intellectual and political capacity. The position of NLC with respect to minimum wage fixing in Nigeria is weak intellectually and politically unfounded.

Informed by the need to respond to our national challenges bordering on operating a centralised minimum wage fixing framework, the APC Committee on True Federalism argued that ‘each state should be free to decide on its level of remuneration based on its resources and productivity. In fact, the committee is of the view that all labour relational issues should be federalised, and each state is free to determine its own labour laws.’ With all our challenges, which are reflected in the failure to enforce a minimum wage legislation in many sections of the country, ideally, the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Movement should be effectively preparing itself to develop new strategies of ensuring the emergence of a new framework to strengthen a mechanism for justice in the workplace, covering issues of wages, benefits and other entitlements. They should be able to ensure that negotiations for states labour laws are properly guided by relevant international standards, including International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.

A major difficulty is that the Nigerian Labour Movement represented by NLC and TUC are operating a centralised model of organisation whereby every issue regarding labour relations is concentrated at the national level. This has inadvertently weakened the capacity of state councils of both NLC and TUC to successfully negotiate issues affecting workers at state levels. This is also why there is so much difficulty in getting state leaders of NLC to achieve the implementation of the minimum wage even when it has become law.

It is important we recognise that our current challenges as a nation require a complete overhaul of existing frameworks. Whether in relation to minimum wage or all the other issues affecting all sectors of our national economy, we are faced with a reality that questions all the existing frameworks. Any suggestion to hang on to all the frameworks that have become source of our national pain and crisis in the country can only create more problems. In many respects, it can be argued that the question of negotiating new proposals aimed at addressing these challenges is a democratic obligation. If at all our democracy can prove its relevance and capacity to move our country forward, it is dependent on how much openness and tolerant Nigerians, including all our interest groups, can be.

Against all these, one wonders, what is the position of NLC regarding all the debate on True Federalism? Proposals of moving minimum wage to Concurrent List is only an integral part of the debate. NLC prides itself, being part of organised labour, as ‘about the only truly pan Nigerian organisation with diverse membership that cuts across tribal, ethnic and religious affiliations which has continued to speak and champion for the rights of Nigerians regardless of creed and breed.’ With all these claims why is the NLC unable to speak or intervene on the issue of blockade of supply of food items from the North to the South by Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN)? With AUFCDN being an affiliate of NLC, which at the time of the NLC NEC meeting (March 2) was going through very difficult times and Nigerians also going through difficult times as well, is it that the issue of blockade of food supply to the South is not an important matter requiring the attention of the NLC and perhaps a resolution in the Communique of its March 2nd NEC meeting? It is not only on the issue of minimum wage that NLC should demonstrate its nationalist credentials. Nigerians want to see a pan Nigerian NLC actively providing a united rallying point for the resolutions all our divisive challenges.

Establishment of State Judicial Council

So far, the recommendation for the establishment of State Judicial Council as contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism is informed by the need to correct the anomaly of a federation that has a more or less unitary judiciary. If we are to operate a truly federal system, why should we have a critical sector such as our judiciary being over centralised? Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who was the Chairman of the APC Committee on True Federalism made this point very clear during the 50th Anniversary Lecture of Arewa House on October 31, 2020 when he stated that ‘State Judicial Councils should be established, while the National Judicial Council should be limited to the federal and appellate courts.’

Specifically, the APC True Federalism Committee recommendation is that states should have State Judicial Council, which should take over ‘the functions of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in relation to state courts. This will be more in tune with our federal system. At the same time, it will preserve the independence of the judiciary in the states through the State Judicial Council similar to the function of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in relation to federal courts.’

The APC Committee specifically argued that ‘After very careful deliberation, the committee notes that of the three arms of government, the judiciary is the most centralised. The committee therefore recommends that each state should have and control its own judiciary including appointment, promotion, discipline, transfer and remuneration of judges. The function of the National Judicial Council, NJC, should be limited to federal courts only while the constitution should be amended to establish states judicial committees to be responsible for state courts. Their powers in relation to the state courts shall be analogous to the powers of NJC in relation to federal courts. This of course will be without prejudice to inter-service transfer in which case such transferees will come under the relevant judicial service. Section 6(5)(K) should be amended to make it clear that states can establish courts to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which the states can make laws.’

What is the position of NLC regarding reforming the nation’s judiciary? The standard of NLC is that it always has a comprehensive position. If it is going to object to any proposal, it will always be within the context of advancing its own position. It is difficult to situate NLC’s objection to the establishment of State Judicial Council based on a clear proposal of how we should proceed as a nation with the task of reforming our judiciary. Or is the NLC suggesting that reforming our judiciary is not needed? It is therefore very disappointing that the voice of NLC is missing in all the debates on True Federalism or Restructuring. Perhaps on account of its absence in all these debates, all manner of divisive campaigns is going on in the country.

APC’s Response to our National Challenges

No one should deny the fact that Nigeria is going through existential challenges. What is required in the circumstance is for all patriotic citizens, organisations and leaders to step forward with proposals on how to respond to these challenges. As a party, APC Manifesto is very clear regarding its commitments to the critical challenges facing the country. Although it can be argued that it has its internal challenges, it is important to restate that unlike in the past, APC leaders and governments controlled by the party never respond to these challenges based on the strategy of imposing its positions on Nigerians. If anything, internally, there is a consultative process. It is on account of that, given the national challenge of resolving issues around the campaign for true federalism or restructuring and in line with commitments as provided in its manifesto, the APC in 2017 set up the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai-led Committee on True Federalism.

 

The committee reviewed the reports of the 2005 National Political Reform Conference and the 2014 National Conference based on which it identified thirteen (13) issues requiring some responses. The thirteen issues are – Creation of States, merger of States, Derivation Principle, Devolution of Powers, Federating Units, Fiscal Federalism & Revenue Allocation, Form of Government, Independent Candidacy, Land Tenure System, Local Government Autonomy, Power Sharing & Rotation, Resource Control and Type of Legislature.

Memoranda from Nigerians were invited and public hearings in all the six geopolitical zones of the country held. Dedicated public hearings for labour, women, youth, civil society and physically challenged groups were held. Unfortunately, both NLC and TUC did not honour invitations to the dedicated public hearings. But in many of the zonal public hearings State Councils of NLC and TUC participated. Based on all the submissions from the public hearings, the committee adopted the following recommendations:

Creation of state – creation of state is not expedient given the bureaucracy and attendant cost but recommended the need to attend to the isolated case of South East zone where there is the demand to balance states to be equal to other zones.

Merger of states – recommended constitutional provision for legal and administrative frameworks for states that may consider merger provided it does not threaten the authority or existence of the federation.

Derivation principle – recommended amendment to section 162 (2) of the constitution to allow for upward review of the current derivation formula and its adoption in respect of solid minerals and hydro power.

Fiscal federalism and revenue allocation – recommended amendment of Allocation of revenue Act 2002 to ensure upward review of current revenue sharing formula to states.

Devolution of powers – recommended the transfer of some items on the exclusive legislative lists to concurrent and residual, which include foods, drugs, poison, narcotics and psychotropic substances, fingerprints and identification of criminal records, registration of business names, labour, mines and minerals including oil field, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas, police, prisons, public holidays, railways and stamp duties be transferred to concurrent list.

Federating units – recommended retention of current political arrangements with states as federating units. In order to continue to manage constant agitation to make geo-political zones federating units, recommended that group of states can cooperate on a regional basis in line with section 5 (3) of the constitution.

Form of government – recommended continuation of the presidential system but concerns about corruption and high cost of governance should be addressed with all seriousness.

Independent candidates – recommended that anybody who wishes to contest as independent candidate can do so provided that such a person shall not be a registered member of a political party at least six (6) months before the date set for the elections, his/her nominators must not be members of registered political party, he/she pays a deposit to INEC in the same range as the non-refundable deposit fee payable to candidates sponsored by political parties to their parties, which should be determined by Act of the National Assembly and the candidate must meet other qualification requirements provided by the constitution.

Land tenure system – recommended that the land use act be retained in the constitution in the greater interest of national security and the protection of Nigeria’s arable land from international land grabbers.

Local government autonomy – recommended that LGA should be removed from the constitution and states be allowed to develop local administrative system that is relevant and peculiar to respective states.

Power sharing and rotation – recommended that the complexity of power sharing and rotation be managed at party level rather than in the constitution.

Resource control – recommended amendment of Petroleum Act, LFN 2004, Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, Land Use Act, 1978 and Petroleum Profit Tax Act, 2007 so that states can exercise control over natural resources within their respective territories and pay taxes or royalties therefrom to federal government.

Type of legislature – recommended retention of current system but with downward review of running cost.

Other issues

Beyond the 13 issues, the committee made additional recommendations on 11 issues, which are considered necessary to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and make it functionally appealing to wider sections of Nigerians. The two issues of minimum wage and establishment of State Judicial Council are part of the 11 recommendations, all of which came from the submissions received from Nigerians from all the public hearings across the six geo-political zones. The 11 additional recommendations are:

 

Demand for affirmation of vulnerable groups – recommended that vulnerable groups (women, youths and physically challenged persons be given adequate attention in terms of appointment in government jobs and political positions, including creating dedicated advisory role at all levels.

Citizenship – recommended a comprehensive review of all constitutional provisions on indigeneship and residency status to eliminate all the pervading primordial sentiments on citizenship and indegineship so that ethnic affiliation begin to give way to birth and residency.

Ministerial appointment – recommended amendment to section 147 (3) of the constitution to remove requirement on the president to appoint ministers from every state who must be indigene of the states.

State constitution – recommended that state constitution is not a priority.

Role of traditional rulers – recommended that each state explore ways of incorporating traditional institutions into their governance models based on which respective House of Assembly enact appropriate laws.

Community participation – support all efforts to promote increased community participation in governance within the framework of two-tier federation.

Minimum wage legislation – recommended that each state should be free to decide its remuneration based on its resources and productivity

Elections – recommended that every tier of government should have autonomy in conducting its own elections

Governance – recommended the review of scope of immunity granted to governors and deputy governors

Judiciary – recommended the creation of State Judicial Council to exercise the function of National Judicial Council in relation to state courts.

State alignment and boundary adjustment – recommended that section 8 (2) and (4) of the constitution be amended in order to subject any request for boundary adjustment to a referendum as the case with the creation of states and local governments under section 8 (1) and (3) of the constitution.

The full report of the committee was submitted to the APC National Working Committee on January 25, 2018 organised in four volumes are:

 

Volume 1: Main Report. – http://pgfnigeria.org/2018/01/29/volume-1-report-of-the-apc-committee-on-true-federalism/

Volume 2: Legislative, Executive and Other Action Plans http://pgfnigeria.org/2018/01/29/volume-2-report-of-the-apc-committee-on-true-federalism-action-plan/

Volume 3: Project Communications Report & Online Survey – http://pgfnigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Volume-3-Project-Communication-and-Online-Survey.pdf

Volume 4: Summary of Memoranda and Analysis of Data – http://pgfnigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Appendix.pdf

Volume 2 of the report contained proposed legislative bills for either constitutional amendments or changes in all the relevant laws based on the recommendations contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism.

In all of these, the APC is not approaching these issues with the classic arrogance of a governing party. If anything, it can be argued that the matter is still being debated internally within the party. It can also be argued that the APC’s approach is to allow for engagement such that in the end, both with reference to minimum wage, establishment of State Judicial Council and all the other recommendations, the democratic process of negotiating these issues should determine the eventual agreement that should emerge.

No decision is made on all these issues. As far as the APC is concerned, it is Nigerians that should decide based on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended. This should mean that the National Assembly will have the leading role and representatives of Nigerians in the National Assembly will drive the process. No doubt members of the National Assembly truly reflect our diversity as a nation. Some members of the National Assembly are as passionate as most Nigerians in terms of fast-tracking the process of resolving our challenges. Across all our parties, there are representatives who are taking initiatives to facilitate the process of resolving our challenges.

 

Certainly, Hon. Mohammed Garba Datti, member of the House of Representatives, representing Sabon Gari Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, is one person that has demonstrated abiding commitment to ensure that we are able to move our nation forward by sponsoring a bill to move minimum wage to the Concurrent Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution in line with recommendations of the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism. Being a member of APC and also one of the representatives of the 10th House of Representatives in the National Executive Committee of the APC, it is within his competence to initiate a legislative process on any of the recommendations in the APC True Federalism Committee report. Any Nigerian who disagreed with him should take advantage of the legislative process to ensure that the bill is not passed. Part of the democratic logic is that all interest groups including the NLC can activate the process of lobby and advocacy to mobilise members of the National Assembly to adopt their positions.

 

Negotiation Versus Imposition

Ultimately, the question is, are we going to negotiate these issues and emerge with agreements that reflect the choices of Nigerians? Or are we going to just dance around the issues and scheme for overpowering contending interests? If negotiation is our choice, why should disagreement become reason for condemnation? Are we negotiating to contract agreements based on capacity to win support? Or is it that we can only win the support of fellow Nigerians if we threaten perceived opponents?

Be that as it may, as democrats, we have no option but to negotiate. As far as is known, the NLC is a democratic organisation and the capacity of its leadership to negotiate is never in doubt. However, to move into the over drive mode and threaten representatives in the National Assembly with strike because individual members such as Hon. Garba Datti Mohammed, have sponsored a bill in the House of Representative on the need to move minimum wage to Concurrent List is simply unacceptable. Why should NLC reduce itself and Nigerian workers into disparaging lawmakers and calling them ‘hireling in the plot by … sponsors to disorient, injure, and exterminate Nigerian working class’?

 

This is not the NLC that is pro-active and progressive. It smacks of intolerance and project an organisation that is only interested in imposing its position. As far as NLC and its leadership are concerned, it is either you agree with them or you are against the working class. Once you disagree with them, you are declared a sell-out or anti-working class. No evidence, factual or imagined, is required. This is certainly not the NLC that used to be a true reflection of the progressive aspirations of Nigerians and to that extent therefore open to engagement based on which it is able to unconventionally provide leadership in a way that accommodates the diversity of our nation and society.

 

Is the proposed bill seeking to move minimum wage to the Concurrent Legislative List in the Nigerian Constitution not going to be subjected to public hearing? Why is the NLC not preparing to engage the public hearing? May be the best form of engagement is to prevent any public hearing from taking place with the threat of a strike. But with or without the public hearing, why is the NLC not able to deploy the strike weapon to compel resolution of all our democratic problems, including the achievement of true federalism, however it chooses to define it?

 

Conclusion

Somehow, it is difficult not to conclude that NLC and its leadership have a misplaced priority. As a union federation, its primary responsibility should be to ensure that Nigerian workers are able to have all it takes to guarantee maximum production. Wages are supposed to be the share paid to workers for their role in production. As things are in Nigeria, at all levels, production is low and in many cases wages, especially in the public sector, are hardly a function of workers’ productivity. Part of the difficulty, which our democracy must address is the question of developing the labour market. With more than 200 million population, could NLC be contented with its current low membership of far less than 20,000?

 

Beyond creating jobs, the quality of those jobs is important. The whole notion of decent jobs is compromised so long as workers don’t earn living wages. Living wages will be a far cry if the current low productivity indices are retained. The implication of what NLC is campaigning for is that current unacceptably high levels of unemployment and low wages should be retained. If the truth is to be told, the minimum wage of N30,000 in the present-day Nigeria for any family is an apology. In terms of potential, if our workers are optimally productive, minimum wage should not be anywhere less than N100,000. What is the proposal of organised labour, including NLC regarding how to increase employment, have decent wage that is indexed with both workers productivity and cost of living realities? Is it even an issue for concern for our labour leaders that workers productivity in the country is low?

 

We need to take responsibility where it matters most. Nigeria is faced with a lot of problems and the earlier we come to terms with the reality that the only way we can solve our problems is to think out of the box, the better. Resolving these issues requires a holistic approach, which should be about reviewing all our existing frameworks. If we want to be a federalist nation, centralised frameworks will completely undermine the capacity of our institutions to meet our national needs. Thinking out of the box requires that we first accept that part of why we have most of our problems, including low wages, in the country is because of existing distortions in our federal system. We need to develop our democracy and we need to ensure that as a nation we operate a truly federal system.

 

Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum. But 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.

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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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