Just when one thinks that our collective sense of morality as a nation has degenerated enough, each day brings us to the reality that we are not ready to learn from our mistakes as a people.
It is indeed shameful and sad that Abba Kyari, the Deputy Commissioner of Police and erstwhile head of the Nigerian Police Intelligence Response Team, was involved in a matter of conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and abet criminal behavior. It is bad enough that one of the most decorated police officers Nigeria has produced, popularly referred to as super cop, was investigated and found wanting by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The unexpected nemesis that befell him is solely a result of the self-illusion of his own public image. Kyari must have considered himself as the anointed and untouchable cop. However, his error of judgment and wrong choice of association with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi has led the nationally celebrated officer into a deep pit of tragedies. A clear case of falling from grace to grass.
It is totally understandable that kyari is going through the most tragic point of his once beautiful police career. And it is very easy to spot on social media how his loyalists, colleagues, friends, and associates shower him with loads of sympathy. Such an act of loyalty is needed to keep him sane and healthy even as he goes through these turbulent waters. However, a sympathetic approach to this case is not acceptable and should not be displayed at a national level as recently seen through the several sponsored media campaigns clamoring for his reinstatement.
As a people, it has become very important that we must see things beyond the prism of individualism, ethnicity, and even religion. It is really alarming that some Nigerians will think that the FBI will be bothered about what part of Nigeria Kyari hails from or the religion he practices.
No one is certain if he will eventually be extradited to face trial in the District Court in the United States, but can we all call a spade a spade and agree that the involvement of a top police officer in aiding and abetting cybercrime is shameful and further dents the reputation of our country.
Some of his sympathizers have claimed that his suspension as the commander of the Intelligence Response Team of the Nigerian Police has led to the widespread kidnapping, banditry, and security across the country. Even though many of these yes-men are unable to provide empirical data to back up their unscrupulous claims, those of us without memory loss are aware that the insecurity challenges across the Southern and the Northern part of Nigeria didn’t start in August 2021 when Abba Kyari was suspended.
One of the problems that have badly affected our nation’s development is that we focus on individuals rather than building institutions that can outlast individuals. The argument that kyari’s suspension has led to the rise of insecurity is a lame one. He will not always head the intelligence unit. Moreover, the Inspector General of Police made a smart move in the interest of the nation by replacing Kyari with highly cerebral and tactical Deputy Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu. Disu’s pedigree speaks volumes most especially his antecedent in the rebranding of the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos Police command amongst many of his previous contributions to the safety of lives and property.
Those parading themselves as Kyari’s sympathizers seeking his reinstatement should be mindful of the shamelessness of such an act. As a nation, we are already an object of scorn internationally, and the unimaginable hypocrisy of this nature is what has kept us from moving forward. No matter how we want to see it, we are better to let justice prevail, bury the discussion of Kyari’s reinstatement, as such plead is not good for the already bastardized image of our country and the police. We must not forget that the EndSARS protest resulted from the poor image of men of the Nigerian police and the accusation of brutality, corruption, bribery, and the flagrant abuse of human rights levied against them. This is a major reason why the supporters of kyari should thread with caution since his actions have further made a mess of what is left of the little reputations of the Nigerian Police.
Hassan Ogbaji wrote in from Makurdi
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Why Bola Tinubu Must Never Be Nigeria’s President?
By Festus Adedayo
So I was at the Alausa Governor’s Office in Lagos. Accessing the governor was like seeking needle in a haystack. His Press Secretary sent words up that an irritant interloper had come to ferret response to a newsmagazine’s damming expose on the governor. After hours of waiting, a commissioner (names withheld) sauntered in and met me where I sat immovably like Mount Kilimanjaro. “You can’t write that story,” he began in a steely voice sauced with veiled threats. “Go back to Ibadan. We will talk to your boss.” That was how the story never saw the light of the day.
The Nigerian Tribune, of which I was its Features Editor during this period, had sent me in pursuit of the facts or fiction surrounding the news magazine report. The principal of that ancient school, Government College Ibadan, (GCI) at the time had suddenly gone AWOL, incommunicado and inaccessible as the proverbial excrement of the masquerade. Grapevines alleged that Alhaji Lam Adesina, then governor of Oyo State, had ordered that all data of the school’s attendees between the period of Governor Bola Tinubu’s claim of attendance of GCI be brought to him in the Government House, where they were brought under governmental lock and key. The media that was seeking corroboration or the antonym of the claims, went after the GCI Principal. He had disappeared into thin air. Perhaps, a one-on-one interview with the governor would do?
In 1999, one Dr. Waliu Balogun wrote a petition against Tinubu leveling a number of damning allegations that bordered on fraudulent claims of educational attainments. Among other things, he accused Tinubu of lying in an affidavit attached to his Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) form that he lost his degree certificates while he was on exile between 1994 and 1998. The newsmagazine later published those details in a gripping expose which left sour tastes in the mouth.
One after the other, all Tinubu’s claims, sworn to under oath in the Form CF001 he filled with INEC were shredded to smithereens by the magazine’s story. St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, which he claimed to have attended, the magazine said its investigative reporting found never existed just as his name was conspicuously missing from the records of the Government College, Ibadan which he claimed to have attended between 1965 and 1968. Indeed, GCI’s alumni association, the Old Boys of the school, debunked the claim. So also was Tinubu’s claim that he attended Richard Daley College, Chicago, between 1969 and 1971. Punctured also were the governor’s claims of having attended the University of Chicago in the U.S. between 1972 and 1976, as well as obtaining a B.Sc degree in Economics from the university. A request to those institutions for affirmation of Tinubu’s studentship by the magazine was a resounding No. Till date, in spite of his having vanquished the legal principalities spearheaded by Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), with the Supreme Court voiding Fawehinmi on technical grounds, none of Tinubu’s classmates, schoolmates or even teachers, has come out in public to counter the facts of the legal behemoth erected against him.
Four years later, in 2003, it was time for Tinubu to fill the Form CF001 again, in pursuit of his second term bid. His enemies who were waiting for him to make those claims again were dazed when they saw what the governor filled. In all the columns, the gentleman simply filled NOT APPLICABLE; Primary School, Not Applicable, Secondary School, Not Applicable and University, Not Applicable. Could that have meant that the man never attended any school?
Tinubu was not alone. Rife as expectations were from the new-found Nigerian republic in 1999, like alligators, renowned for incredible nasal power of smelling a drop of blood even in ten gallons of water, Nigerians smelled crises in the cache of scandals that involved newly elected office holders of the republic. Less than three months after commencement of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria began to manifest noticeable cracks. It took political scientists and students of Marxian dialectics to allay our fears and tell us that those cracks were curative, self-correctional and akin to the Marxist theory of thesis and antithesis which, when they jam, produce a synthesis.
In quick successions of messy, damming scandals, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, Senate President Evan(s) Enwerem and Bola Tinubu got entangled in seismic, roiling scandals of identity misappropriation, subversion of their oaths of office and perversion of truth. While the latter two were swept away by the typhoon of the crises, Tinubu not only survived the wire mesh, to spite the allegations, he is today one of top three most consequential, powerful Nigerians alive and a presidential office aspirant to boot.
Salisu Buhari, the affable and young Speaker of the lower parliament had just been unraveled by the media as an age inflator and certificate forger. Hitherto, a Kano-based businessman, Buhari shuttled into politics but two weeks into being in office, the rested news magazine, TheNews, in its February 16, 1999 edition, published details of his age and certificate forgery. The magazine wrote that he was actually born in 1970 and not 1963 as he claimed.
Again, TheNews put a lie to Buhari’s claim of having graduated from the University of Toronto, stating that he not only never attended the school, the mandatory youth service he claimed to have underwent at the Standard Construction in Kano was a ruse. On July 23, 1999, like a rain-soaked squirrel, Buhari was contrite, disgraced and admitted all the allegations. “I apologize to you. I apologize to the nation. I apologize to my family and friends for all the distress I have caused them. I was misled in error by a zeal to serve the nation, I hope the nation will forgive me and give me the opportunity to serve again,” he murmured as he resigned from the House. He was subsequently convicted of certificate forgery, sentenced to two years in prison but later got pardoned by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Senate President, Evan Enwerem, was to kiss the canvass a little while after. In the race for the senate presidency, he had sidestepped his closest sprinter rival for the office, Chuba Okadigbo by 66 to 43 votes. Shortly after his ascension in 1999, Enwerem was shoved into the sieve, scrutinized on allegation of identity opacity. He was held up on the fire-spitting wire gauze for falsification of his name. A ball-fire of controversy erupted on whether Enwerem’s real name was Evan or Evans. In the melee, on November 18, 1999, his ouster, spearheaded by Okadigbo and his allies, became a fait accompli.
Between his consequential emergence on the political turf of Nigeria in 1999 and now, only an armchair, analytical yokel will underrate or belittle Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s awesome and colonizing genius in Nigerian politics. He became so consequential that some translucent analyses compare him to the sage, Obafemi Awolowo. It will appear that immediately he got away from the drowning tidal waves of that identity theft legal tango and the lacerating fisticuffs of his numerous political adversaries, Tinubu tightened his muscles on the political levers of Lagos, a state which had always been the microcosm of Nigeria since it became the federal capital of independent Nigeria in 1960. He saw how the almighty power of the media, like a mammoth whale, almost succeeded in capsizing his ship of state and political career.
Rising from the ashes of the crises, Tinubu encircled his claw-like fists on the media, meandering himself into its total corpus and essentializing himself in its operations. While English crime thriller writer, René Lodge Brabazon Raymond, popularly known as James Hadley Chase, says that fear opens the wallets of the rich, Tinubu’s street chemistry, which he deploys, says that licit and illicit favours, prebends and perks imprison consciences and arrest captives faster than glue gum traps mice. Unconscionably, Tinubu waves these aces with the magisterial clinicality of a professional executioner, succeeding in the process in harvesting a huge political, media, government, judicial, corporate, etcetera clienteles inside his massive pouch.
The truth is that, since 1960, seldom has Nigeria had a political aficionado who deployed the genius of the streets in the service of politics as Bola Tinubu. Scarcely can anybody have the mis/fortune of encountering him without becoming a captive of his cash influence. Someone once said that even the god of Mammon would be envious of Tinubu’s sagacity in deploying its monetary weapon.
Within the span of his Lagos governorship of eight years, from someone who those who knew him said was passably well-to-do, Tinubu grew a monstrous wealth, such that a 2015 back page opinion piece in the Sun newspaper claimed he owned almost half of Lagos and urged Buhari to clone the Vladimir Putin method with which the Russian president neutralized drug czars who funded his presidential emergence. Within this period, Tinubu also acquired a humongous political influence in Lagos and outside of it that could rank that of Pharaohs and emperors of old. In 2007, an ex-governor, who witnessed the miasma of power flakes encircling him as he arrived the Lagos airport, jealously told me that it was godlike.
Superficial analyses of Tinubu claim that his vice-hold grips on Lagos can be found in his ability to recreate and “build” persons in state and national offices, as well as sustaining a linear pattern of succession. This, such analysts claim, reflects his sagacity. Those who know the modus operandi of this power retention system machine however put a lie to it. To them, deep underneath it is an opaque, yet fastidiously maintained and pervasively sustained mega corruption and perpetuation of self hegemony by a carefully mastered mind coercion that is promoted by a cultic abidance to an oath of allegiance.
Those who see Tinubu’s strength in his fluid recruitment of aides should also be able to answer why he suffers huge casualty of his investment in such persons? Could it be that he uses them as indentured viceroy? Or that the rebellion we see from them is an attempt to set themselves free of his hold? From Babatunde Fashola, Muiz Banire, Akinwumi Ambode to his erstwhile lickspittle, Rauf Aregbesola and many others, there must be a single thread that unifies Tinubu’s foot soldiers’ rebellion against him. Unfortunately for Tinubu, this same set of soldiers, knowing the secrets of the sustenance of their power machine, are today against his emergence as Nigeria’s president and will willingly supply the fire that will incinerate his ambition. In Yorubaland today, apart from Lagos and Osun States, which APC governor can Tinubu claim to be under him?
If nothing else, the controversy provoked by Chief Bisi Akande’s My Participations unraveled the mythic notion that Tinubu promotes his aides to the top for the love of country. Back and forth arguments, especially on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s nomination in 2015, revealed that not only is the Lagos landlord obsessed with self alone, ascension of others in his loop is secondary and is subordinated to personal interest. The world saw that Tinubu grudgingly acceded to Osinbajo’s candidacy only when his personal interest hit the rocks.
Last week however, Bola Tinubu paid a visit to President Buhari, a few hours after the latter granted an incoherent interview where he claimed that if he named his successor, the fellow could be assassinated. A content analysis of the president’s statement must have revealed to Tinubu that he could never have been the one Buhari was referring to. Tinubu must know that Buhari knows that a plan to murder Death would be easier done than assassinating Nigeria’s Mafia don, the Capo dei capi himself.
The most mis-recommending criterion against a Tinubu presidency is that, in mental depth, the Lagos Landlord is just a whiff higher than Muhammadu Buhari. Remove the Cockney accent he feebly mimics, you will find out that most times, his extempore speeches lack coherence, logic and verve.
Counter arguments have been proffered against the school of thought that says that Tinubu’s ultra-stupendous wealth should not recommend him against vying for the Nigerian presidency. You will recollect that the military apparatchik argued along this line against an MKO Abiola presidency. Abiola, they said, was as wealthy as to grant Nigeria loans. Weak as the argument was, it is strong in Tinubu’s disfavor for its moral and deleterious implications. While the world knew that Abiola’s wealth was procured from international dealings, especially in ITT, Tinubu is said to own a pie in virtually every sector of Nigeria’s economy, ranging from oil, steel, finance (tax), airline, real estate, media, you name it. These are funded in names of shells and proxies. In all these, as the Americans say, we can see the bucks but not the shop. What morality will Nigeria be preaching by having a president of such opaque composition and disposition?
Either real or imagined, it is said that the only thing that is real about Tinubu is his person and that every other ascription on him is a borrowed robe. He has not come in the open to effectively disclaim the allegation that his name is not his name; that the parents he claimed were not his’; that the certificates he claimed to be his are not and that the schools he claimed to have attended didn’t know him. I don’t know a baggage huger than this for a country like Nigeria that is struggling to sell herself to the world to now have its president burdened by this pernicious pedigree.
With the calamity that the Buhari presidency has posed to Nigeria, it will be more calamitous to have a Tinubu as his successor. Governing Nigeria is not all about identifying surrogates who will man critical political offices for future political gains. Nigeria needs a cerebral, healthy, comparatively morally overboard president, a man, borrowing from Oscar Wilde’s description of his gay partner friend, Sir Alfred Douglas in De Profundis, who is not a man for whom the gutter and all that is in it fascinates.
One would have expected Tinubu to heed the counsel of Apala music icon, Ayinla Omowura. Omowura must have had in mind leaders who are heavy-laden, burdened by baggage of their past, when he counseled that, as all shrubs and leaves in the forest should not be the predilection of a herbalist seeking curative herbs; not all palm trees in the forest should excite the palm-wine tapper either. In Yoruba, he expressed this as, “gbogbo ewe ko l’ojawe nja; gbogbo ope ko l’onigba ngun.” Sagacious leaders who carry stupendous moral baggage of the Tinubu hue should know the forests they should venture into.
The forests of presidential contest that the Lagos Landlord is about to venture into is what same Omowura, in his vinyl, referred to as “igbo odaju” – the forest of the heartless, the carapace-hard heart hunters. Anyone who does not have the benefit of a real mother – a real mother’s prayers are like magic, steeped in mystical and metaphysical powers. Anyone, said Omowura, who does not have a real mother who can provide witchcraft protection for them, should not venture into the igbo odaju. Never! Abraham Lincoln, father of American nation, also alluded to this when he said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
Some Yoruba lament what they call the predilection of Yoruba in pulling themselves down. This piece would be their perfect example. It is thinking like this that has condemned Nigeria to stagnation. The truth is, Yoruba are very proud of their pedigree and wear it like a lapel on their sleeves. So how can same Yoruba who have preached moral uprightness to the rest of the world for centuries, now queue behind a man who cannot point his right hand at his father’s homestead? Let the rest of Nigeria be rotten egg. Yoruba will still underscore societal purity. It should gladden us that Yoruba are the ones revealing the maggots in their home so that when they expose others’ maggots, they will occupy a higher moral ground. It is better for Yoruba not to lift a presidential leg forward than lift one that is riddled with a festering and putrid sore. In any case, what Nigeria needs is a president that is a leader who is not crippled by ill health and is adequately schooled in the nuances of 21st century solutions to our self-inflicted, existential challenges.
Since independence in 1960, six ‘major’ Yoruba sons have attempted a shot at Nigeria’s civilian presidency (excluding fringe aspirants of the Babangida political guinea-pig era). They are Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chiefs Abiola, Bola Ige, Olu Falae and Olusegun Obasanjo. If Tinubu carries through his recent declaration, he will be joining this pantheon. Of this lot, Tinubu would be the only one whose pedigree is shrouded in a miasma of dubiety.
Yoruba will totally support Tinubu in his presidency dream if he agrees to fill in the INEC forms all those claims he made of his roots in 1999. He must fill in the 2023 Form CF001 St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, as his primary school; Government College, Ibadan; Richard Daley College, Chicago and the University of Chicago as his alma maters, without Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi swearing on oath that he filled them for him by proxy.
Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.
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Professor Bolaji Akinyemi At 80
By Akpandem James
Some weeks before the 2014 National Conference rose to bid farewell to officials and delegates, the Lamido Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustapha sent a letter to him. It was dated June 27. The Lamido indicated that the Adamawa Emirate Council would like to honour the officer with a chieftaincy title. Six qualities endeared him to the Emirate, according to its custodian: patience, expertise, fairness, fearlessness, justness and firmness.
In the letter, Alhaji Mustapha noted: “I have observed your patience, expertise in handling of the National Conference, fairness, fearlessness, justness and firmness during the three months I have been participating in the plenary of the Conference. These are things which informed my decision to honour you with the traditional title of Hasken Adamawa, which means the ‘Light of Adamawa’”.
With expressed humility and profound sense of appreciation the man received the Lamido’s letter; and accepted the emirate’s honour with pride. Few weeks after delegates must have all settled in their homes, and some completed their Ramadan obligations, the Adamawa Emirate went agog. And Akinwande Bolaji Akinyemi, professor of political science, a man from Osun State, South West Nigeria, became the “Light of Adamawa”. He was born on January 4, 1942. January 4, 2022, makes him 80 years old. He is now an octogenarian.
Conferment of titles in Nigeria often comes with exaggerated platitudes. Usually done to confer status and justify the action. The conferrer usually paints the conferee in glowing colours, even if not real. Not this one! Those associated with Prof Akinyemi or have encountered him, no matter how brief, would corroborate the Lamido’s observation about the erudite scholar and celebrated diplomat. He is not enamoured of titles. He is used to them; and so would not be unnecessarily excited about an addition. Titles rain on him. It would be a wonder if he is able to reel off-hand all the academic, professional social and cultural titles he has garnered in his 80 years of sojourn on earth.
The fact remains explicitly that the man has traversed the global space and has left imprints that easily recommend him for acknowledgement, appreciation and recognition. The 2014 National Conference was one of such stops where he pulled off a brilliant performance which almost everyone acknowledged and commended. When that offer by the Lamido was announced at plenary, it received a standing ovation. That was a clear endorsement. Diligence has become his signature. He stamps it everywhere he goes. That is why he comes highly recommended for tasking assignments, even in retirement.
If Prof Akinyemi was not at the 2014 National Conference, the story would certainly not have been that exciting. He acted the bridge-builder at every contentious intersection and worked with the few real patriots among the delegates to see that situations never tipped over. As would be expected at convocations where tribesmen jostle for relevance, an intermediary often gets a black eye. He did get; a number of times. That notwithstanding, his eyes remained on the ball.
Even at the level of the Conference leadership, his role was obvious; but much more than that, his mien was soothing. Whenever there was a disagreement, misunderstanding or jostling for power, he would step in to interpret the mandate and offer a leeway. He is a man of monumental sagacity. He would acknowledge the chairman, the Hon Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi as a man of integrity, a man with an open mind. He gives credit to the leader and tells anyone who cares to know that “we all owe the success of the Conference to Justice Kutigi.”
True, Justice Kutigi who died on October 21, 2018 was also an intellectual giant in his field – Law. He retired after serving as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). He was very jovial and patient, but could not stand those who wear arrogance as a virtue. Whenever he was tempted to feel feverish, Professor Akinyemi would step in with a balm. And the situation would be arrested.
Notwithstanding, and where necessary, Professor Akinyemi could be very insistent on those things he is passionate about; even if standing alone. Rather than accede just for the sake of it, he tries to convince and buy over. He is neither interested in popular narratives nor dispositions; he interrogates issues and makes his decisions based on reality, fact and commonsense. He disagrees with his friends, colleagues and compatriots on some very critical subject matters. They sometimes assume it is betrayal or that he has sold out. But you need to convince him to the contrary. That is what he does also. Convince and convict. So the Lamido’s observations on him were real. No exaggerations. Not patronising!
He sits conveniently on any seat and delivers with intellect and panache. He is calm, cerebral, sociable; but very firm. In his consciousness, frowns jump in between smiles. He often begins with a welcoming smile; but when taken for granted, he frowns; and then returns with a reassuring smile. I learnt it is the nature of diplomats, but this one is a diplomat extraordinaire. He wears trust like his trade-mark bow-tie. He makes friends easily. Although he is very jovial, patient and tactical, he does not welcome betrayal with hugs.
In the common parlance, it could be said that the name Professor Bolaji Akinyemi rings a bell. That bell started ringing since when he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. in 1964. He moved over to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, U.S.A. where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs (1965) and then to Trinity College, Oxford where he bagged the D. Phil. (Oxon) in 1969. Ever since, the bell has been ringing. Now he is 80; and the bell is still ringing. Lest I forget, he is an Igbobi College old boy.
It is an indisputable fact that Akinyemi is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated intellectuals. His foray traverses spheres, platforms and subject matters. His imprints are on the sands of the major continents of the world; and in some of the most prestigious institutions across the globe. Back home, he is a familiar name in institutions – academic, corporate, community and governance. He has served in both the military and civilian political dispensations. He has led several diplomatic shuttles to countries and world bodies on behalf of his country and global institutions.
His citation is intimidating. His feathers are legion – colourful plumes that would make the Peacock green with envy. He was the chairman of the National Think Tank (2007); member, Presidential Committee for the Resolution of Conflicts in Nigeria (2013); member, Presidential Electoral Reform Committee (2007 – 2008) and Minister of External Affairs (1985 – December 1987) during which period he initiated the Technical Aids Corp. That initiative saw Nigerian professionals being sent abroad for volunteer work; to promote the country’s image and status as a major contributor to Third World development.
He was the Director General, Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos (1975 – 1983) and in his time the Institute became a household name bubbling with research and institutional activities. He was the deputy chairman of the 2019 National Conference, a body set up by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to address weighty issues that have over the years been canvassed by the different stakeholders, but which were routinely ignored. It was an important national project aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving long standing hurdles to national cohesion and harmonious development of the country. It was to discuss the future and particularly the unity of the Nigerian federation.
He has walked the academic corridors severally and gallantly. He has been a Visiting Professor in African Studies, DePauw University, Indiana, U.S.A (1960 – 1970); Instructor in Politics of Developing Nations, North-Eastern University, Boston, U.S.A. (1965 – 66); Visiting Professor in Political Science, Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A (1970); Lecturer and later Senior Lecturer in Political Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1970 – 1975); Visiting Professor, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva (1977); Visiting Professor, Diplomacy Training Programme, University of Nairobi, Kenya (1977); Regent’s Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles, California (February 1979); Visiting Overseas Scholar, St John’s College, Cambridge (1984); and Professor of Political Science, University of Lagos (1983 – 1986). He has held more than 10 international consultancy posts and published more than 15 books and 42 articles, among others.
He is not done yet. Up till now he runs an online weekly interactive programme “truMyeyes with Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi” (Thursdays) during which he shares his views on various international events. On January 9, the Ijseha Society will in Lagos be hosting a lecture in his honour with the topic: Prof. Bolaji A. Akinyemi @ 80. The lecture, which will also feature a book presentation, is to be delivered by former Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Henry Odein Ajumogobia.
Prof. Akinyemi is a Life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, England and Fellow, Centre for International Studies, University of Cambridge, England (1988 – 1990). He holds the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).
Being a bright and cheerful fellow, it has become part of his routine to be sending colourful flowers to his friends and colleagues every Sunday morning with the inscription “Have a good Sunday and a blessed week.” So, Prof, this is also wishing you a happy birthday and a deserving triumphal entry into the octogenarian club.
• James (fnge) was in charge of Media and Communication at the 2014 National Conference.
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Waziri Adio Is My Man Of The Year
By Ehi Braimah
It is not always the case that we find Nigerians who go into public service and serve with distinction. I must confess that it is always a rare achievement. This is the story of Waziri Adio; journalist, publisher, communications strategist, public policy analyst and until recently, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
I believe that no matter what, Nigeria will always be blessed in spite of the way we “think and behave.” Thankfully, we can boast of great minds like Adio – and we have many of them – who serve without blemish in public service.
Regardless of where we come from, we all have a duty to make Nigeria a better place; nobody will do it for us. By the time we introduce “State of Residence” in place of “State of Origin”, I’m sure it will reduce ethnic tension and rivalry.
The reality is that we have good people around us but our biggest headaches are also Nigerians who not only refuse to do the right thing, but are also happy to de-market Nigeria at every given opportunity.
In my September 17, 2017 article titled, ‘Making Nigeria a better place’ published in TheCable, I argued that Nigerians – both at home and abroad – are “doing great things to inspire monumental changes and development in Nigeria.” I added that Nigerians must “modify their thinking and orientation” so that Nigeria, like USA, UK, UAE, Singapore, Norway, South Korea and China can also become “a land flowing with milk and honey”.
So when Simon Kolawole, publisher of TheCable, asked “if a new Nigeria is possible” in his column to celebrate the launch of Adio’s memoir, my answer is an emphatic “YES”. With people like Adio, a new Nigeria is definitely possible.
When this occurs, we would be able to achieve the much needed “critical mass of ‘good people’” and be in a position to turn the tide. It is not rocket science. From that moment onwards, Nigeria will never be the same again. In fact, we won’t look back. What do we really want? We need “champions” that are ready to lead Nigeria on the path to greatness and I know it is possible.
Adio wrote about his experience as head of NEITI in his book, ‘The Arc of the Possible’, which was launched in Abuja recently. You may not believe it but Adio struggled financially while he was the boss at NEITI because he did not allow “budget padding” in exchange for gratification. Those who wanted kick back know themselves, so he was forced to raise funds elsewhere. He replaced frustration with innovativeness.
How do you head a government agency in Abuja and refuse to “chop” money? How do you resist pressures from influential people and “acting big men” who throw their weights around, seeking favours without becoming a victim just because you said no to their requests?
In one instance, Adio was even branded “anti-Muslim” when he is a Muslim himself just because he directed that all staff must log in their out-of-office movements during office hours. He did not exempt himself from the directive but you might be wondering what was wrong with a very simple and harmless directive. His sin was that he was doing “sabisabi” too much.
According to Adio, some fellow Muslims ganged up against him over the directive and accused him of “violating the constitutional rights of Muslims”. Can you beat that? In most ministries, departments and agencies, some staff are “professional” late comers and they do not want to be reprimanded neither are they ready to change their ways, yet at the end of each month, they want to be paid in full.
You cannot rob peter to pay Paul, or eat your cake and have it, can you? But that is the way we roll in Nigeria. Adio noted that some staff would disappear from their desks for hours “under the pretext of going for something not work-related”. Despite stern warnings, the attitude continued. This is common practice. We enjoy giving tonnes of excuses just to stay away from work for private engagements.
Are they saying they don’t know that dodging work affects our economy’s productivity and GDP? This country can only become great when we are ready to do the right thing. Right now, I don’t think we are ready; we are just a bunch of jokers. Two previous national re-orientation campaigns targeted at Nigerians to evoke a sense of national pride did not move the needle one bit.
First, it was “Good People, Great Nation” campaign when the late Prof Dora Akunyuli was Information Minister. This was followed by “Change begins with me” campaign under the present administration championed by Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture.
These concepts — on paper — are beautiful; we cannot deny that fact. But were they impactful? Did they achieve their objectives? It is not enough to approve a colourful PowerPoint presentation deck; it must be followed by painstaking execution that should be sustained with measurable outcomes.
Multi-media campaigns of this nature ought to be organic to foster a buy-in culture which was why the campaigns did not succeed in the first place. Nigerians just have this habit of not trusting any government, no matter what they say. Until we bridge the “trust gap”, no emotional marketing campaign will make sense neither will it help anyone.
For example, how do we explain that national revenues are dropping but government spending is going up? Nigerians know what is going on and they cannot be fooled. What we see year in, year out is wasteful and reckless spending because government money has been described as “free money”. Meanwhile, we are borrowing more money with a huge chunk of our revenues used to service the debts.
In spite of the banana peels thrown at him at NEITI, Adio decided to lead by personal example. He believes that “change must begin with us” and therefore led from the front. Although in the minority, he represents a “new generation” of Nigerians who are ready and willing to make the difference in whatever station they find themselves.
Adio is a silver lining in the dark and ominous cloud hovering above and around Nigeria and that is why he is my Man of the Year, 2021. Here’s a man who returned his official car and laptop after his five-year tenure ended. I’m certain he would have been called all sorts of names because it is strange for a public officer to behave that way.
What we normally do is to buy off every government asset in our possession for next to nothing, or net book value at best. Some people will abuse him for trying to be a “yeye reformer” and pray for him to be sacked or for his tenure to end abruptly or quickly. Anyway, his records are there for all to see and he’s happy for the opportunity to do things differently while it lasted.
Change agents such as Adio are seen as spoilers for not “co-operating to steal” government money. When they leave office, they are described as “good riddance to bad rubbish”. Adio is not “bad rubbish”; he is a good man, a remarkable public servant and distinguished professional. He is one of the brain boxes we need to fast-track our development agenda.
Adio displayed extraordinary talent, courage and innovation at NEITI and refused to cut corners even when some highly placed Nigerians kept asking him to “bend the rules”. After reading Simon Kolawole’s piece, I also asked myself this question: why is it always a problem to do what is right in Nigeria?
As an efficient manager of resources, Adio was able to reduce the cost of producing audits by half and he released beneficial ownership register for the extractive sector amongst other significant achievements.
It is evident that Adio’s future is bright and assured. Nigeria will still benefit from his talent and experience. Honestly, I don’t know how he did it but staying put in public office at the helm for five years as Adio did and still holding his head high can only be possible for a man on a mission. For example, he insisted that procurements and recruitments must be carried out “fairly, competitively and transparently”.
I congratulate him for his outstanding performance and first class stewardship at NEITI. We need more men – and women – like him who have to capacity for innovation and the courage to avoid abusing public office. It will be difficult for one man to purge the public service of virulent corruption but Adio can become a role model and symbol of excellence – both in Nigeria and beyond.
Perhaps, building the culture of transparency and accountability should be the benchmark for evaluating public officers’ performances based on Adio’s experience. Another important validation criterion would be how well they are able to manage conflict of interests to achieve a higher sense of purpose.
Most of Adio’s work at NEITI included raising public debates and promoting policy solutions on matters such as data on signature bonuses, reconciling payments including unremitted funds by NNPC, crude oil and refined products thefts, the need for a new petroleum industry law and disclosing beneficial ownership. NEITI is part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for improving transparency and accountability in the extractive sector in countries that follow the EITI standard in oil, gas and mining operations.
After a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of Lagos, Adio earned an MS degree in journalism from the University of Columbia and capped it with an MPA in public administration from Harvard University.
He was editor and columnist at ThisDay newspaper. At different times, Adio was a Fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and an Edward S. Mason Fellow in public policy and management at Harvard University.
Braimah is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Naija Times (https://naijatimes.ng)
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