BY PROFESSOR A. BOLAJI AKINYEMI B.A., M.A., M.A.L.D., D.PHIL (Oxon), CFR, FNIIA
A PUBLIC LECTURE TO COMMEMORATE THE INAUGURATION OF THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE, 23 FEBRUARY 2013 AKURE, ONDO STATE, NIGERIA
I must start on a note of congratulations. I congratulate the people ofOndoStatefor their good fortune in having as Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko for the past four years. Why should I congratulate you.Because in the past four years, Governor Mimiko has changed the face of Ondo state to the benefit of Ondo people. Let me cite just one example at this juncture. I am going to quote from an international report. A report prepared under the auspices of the Centre For Strategic and International Studies had this to say about the Abiye Initiative: “The Initiative has won early praise from maternal and public health experts inNigeriaand beyond. The programme is seen by many as a promising home-grown effort to build a comprehensive, sustainable, and evidence-driven approach that ensures that women have reliable access to quality maternal health services”(p.2). What has been said about the Abiye Initiative can be said about his initiatives in education, urban development and other fields.
Let me also extend this felicitation to the Yoruba nation,Nigeriaand the Black race. The reason for the linkages will become very obvious later. I also congratulate the people ofOndoStatefor having had the good sense of re-electing Governor Mimiko for a second time. I know that some have said that in that multi-candidate election, Governor Mimiko did not win an outright majority. True enough. I am a political scientist, and I can declare without any fear of contradiction that in most elections in free and democratic countries, candidates and parties often win with narrow majorities. A few examples will suffice: In 1960, John F. Kennedy won with 49.72% of the votes. In 1968, Richard Nixon won with 43.42% of the votes, In 1992, Bill Clinton won with 43.01% of the votes cast. In 2000, George Bush, Jnr. Won with 47.87% of the votes cast. If we go way back, in 1860, Abe Lincoln won with 39.65% of the votes cast. InBritain, in the 2010 elections, the Conservative party under David Cameron which is the senior party in the government won only 36.1% of the votes cast.
It is only where elections are rigged or where it is only a one-party system that winners claim outlandish majorities.
I congratulate Governor Mimiko himself for having won a second-term election. I thank him as a Yorubaman, a Nigerian and a Blackman, for giving me something to boast about in the achievements of a fellow Yoruba, a fellow Nigerian and a fellow Blackman. At the same time, I commiserate with him. I feel sorry for him because having set such high standards of achievement in his first term, he is going to be under considerable pressure to maintain that high level of achievement for the second term. If your child has been recording a position in class of 10 out of 30 students, you heap praise on him or her when he or she moves to a position of 5 out of 30. But if the same student has always been among the first three in the class, and all of a sudden, he falls to a position of 5, most parents will reward that kid with a tongue lashing if not worse. “So what happened to the first three positions? Did those kids have two heads?” And to the mother, the father bellows“come and ask your child whether I sent him to school to play and waste my money” etc. So now that Governor Mimiko scored a distinction in the first term, Iam also expecting another Grade A performance during this term. And so say all of us.
Some of you may be tempted to ask: What does he know about Ondo State? I am not a new comer to this state. I have been visitingOndoStatesince the 1950s. My father, the late Canon J.A. Akinyemi was a member of the Action Group and I used to accompany him to Action Group conferences in Owo. That was in the 50s. In the 90s, I was the leader of the Afenifere assessment team who visited Ondo state to assess the projects of theAlliancefor Democracy Government then under Governor Adefarati. Your present Governor was the Commissioner for health then. I was also here to deliver the Democracy Day lecture in 2000. Since the advent of the Mimiko Administration, this will be my third time of visiting. The first two were private visits, and on each occasion, I drove round with my eyes open. Before the election period in 2012, I came to Akure on a private visit and the Governor himself, around midnight, without escort, without siren and without advance notice, drove me all around Akure for me to see the projects he had on the ground— the mega schools, the market, the hospital, the proposed mechanic place, the electrification of the city roads—. At the hospital, he was mobbed by patients, medical staff, family members of patients. These people were not members of a rented crowd. I know Ondo people very well. They don’t suffer fools gladly. They were happy to see the Governor; he exchanged pleasantries with them, no gun-toting security pushing anybody back. This was true governance at its best.
I have gone through giving you these details to let you know that I have seen it all. Fredrick Nietzsche, a German philosopher, in his TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS wrote “to learn to see – to accustom the eye to calmness, to patience and to allow things to come up to it; to defer judgement, and to acquire the habit of approaching and grasping an individual case from all sides. This is the first preparatory schooling of intellectuality.” I know what Ondo state looked like in the 50s at least as seen through the eyes of a young adult; I have seen what it looked like in the 1990s and what it looks like now. I am impressed by what I see. I came, I saw and I believed. Veni, Vidi, Credi .It has been a long journey and you should be proud of how much things have changed within such a time frame.
Why do I wax so effusive about the developments in Ondo state? The answer lies in the linkages which I established a few paragraphs ago. I was born into Western Region of Nigeria in the early 1940s. Then it becameLagosStateandWesternState. Then it becameLagosState, OgunState,OyoStateandOndoState. Then it becameLagosState,OgunState,OyoState,OshunState,EkitiStateandOndoState. All through these changes, however, one thing remained constant: my Yoruba identity, an identity which I proudly share with all the inhabitants of these six states and those in the diaspora. Therefore success in any part of Yoruba land is also my success. As the Eyo masquerade inLagoswill say: “Mo ba o yo. Mo sibara mi yo.”
The linkage is wider than this. Any happening in any part ofNigeriareflects on all parts ofNigeria. It is not for nothing that the CSIS report earlier mentioned referred to “OndoState, in the South West region of Nigeria” The report itself draws the wider inference when it wrote: “The purpose of this report is to highlight one such effort, which warrants encouragement and bears watching as Nigeria, the United States, and the broader global community seek more effective and innovative approaches to the challenge of maternal mortality”(p.3).
I am an international relations scholar and it does not take rocket science to observe that the rest of the world cannot tell the difference between one Blackman or another. And when the speech gives the game away, it is only as far as making a distinction between an African and an American. To the extent that the rest of the world cannot differentiate between one Blackman and another, the acclaimed success of a programme inAfricarubs off on all Africans in public perception.
When I got the invitation, signed by the Governor personally to deliver this lecture, the theme I was given was “ELECTORAL SANCTITY, RESULT ORIENTED DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE PLACE OF NIGERIA IN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY”. I thought this is what you get with an intellectual-activist as Governor. I thought I would need a Nobel laureate to translate for me. I carried out a deconstruction exercise of the theme to come up with a title that will keep faith with the theme. The title I came up with which the Governor graciously accepted is LEADERSHIP, DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT: A PARADIGM RELATIONSHIP.
In his speech in Accraduring his first trip to Africaon July 11, 2009, President Obama made his famous remark that “Africadoesn’t need strong men, it needs strong institutions. In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success—– strong parliaments, and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society….” Anybody listening to that would agree that the declaration was in tandem with the popular Nigerian saying that “nobody is indispensable”.
My own reading of history has led me to be less categorical than Obama. Sometimes in 2008, in the course of a lecture celebrating the first Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, I had taken the opposite position that a tree can make a forest.
Historical analysis of periods in a nation’s history demonstrates the decisive impact that strong leadership whether good or bad can have on the life of the nation. Even theUnited Stateshas not been an exception to this. Franklin D Roosevelt assumed office as the President of theUnited Statesat the peak of the economic depression when millions were out of work, banks were failing and what was even more ominous, many Americans out of despair were starting to look at the German experiment under Hitler and the Nazis as a solution to American problems. The previous administration under President Herbert Hoover had proved not only incompetent but had no clue as to the way forward. It took Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal programme to not only rescue theUnited Statesbut to position theUnited Statesin such a way that it was able to rescueEurope, militarily and economically. Yet, beforeRoosevelt, all the institutions were in place: the Presidency, the Congress and the Judiciary. InEurope, Winston Churchill was a classic example of the strongman vis a vis the fate of the nation. Before Churchill became the Prime Minister, Hitler had struck terror into the hearts of the Britons. Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister before him was known as the apostle of appeasement, prepared to give away anything and everything to Chancellor Adolf Hitler to avoid a war. All the institutions were there: Parliament, the Monarchy, the Church, the Civil Service etc. But they were all infected with the virus of defeatism. Then came Winston Churchill. Nothing defined him and what he infused into theUnited Kingdomas his famous speech “We shall not flag or fall. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight inFrance, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island , whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..”
Of course, there is the example of Adolf Hitler himself who turned a defeated and dispirited nation,Germany, into a mighty force that at one time occupied ninety percent ofEuropeand took the combined force of the whole world to defeat him. I do not condone or commend Hitler’s policies. But in the life of the German nation, one man made the difference.
In the modern period, names of leaders which come to mind include Martin Luther King jr in the United States., General Park Chung-Heein South Korea, Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore and other leaders of the Asian Tigers, Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain and of course Mao Tse Tung of China. In the case of Martin Luther King, there were several civil rights movements in existence, including the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) which was formed before King was even born. Yet it took the peculiar personality of King, with a steely commitment to non-violence in the face of extreme provocation and white violence, violence which ultimately cost him his life to capture world indignation over racism inAmerica. In the case of Margaret Thatcher, she dismantled the welfare state system inBritainand reducedBritainfrom a society to just a collection of atomistic individuals.
Each one of the Asian leaders inherited a rundown and impoverished nation and through sheer forceful personality transformed their nations into the prosperous tigers.
Coming to the home front, we all swear by the name of Obafemi Awolowo, at least in this part of the country. The greatest political insult one can hurl at an opponent is to call him an anti-Awoist and the greatest accolade one can be draped with or drape oneself with is to be called or to call oneself an Awoist. Yet we all seem to forget that Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the Premier of the Western Region for only five years during which he seized a basically peasant economy by the scruff of its neck, introduced free education, free health, first ring road in Africa, first Television station in Africa, Liberty stadium, Cocoa House, which was first sky-scrapper in Africa, a string of firsts still unmatched in these days of petrol dollars. Even the charlatans in or out of office who are busy looting the public treasuries lay claim to the Awolowo heritage.
All these examples show the enormous difference that an individual can make in the life of a nation.Two inferences which can be made from the examples cited above are rather obvious. Where the challenges faced by a nation are so enormous as to challenge the very foundation of that nation, individual leadership is more important than the institutions because at that stage, even the institutions of the state, no matter how sacred are in mortal danger. This is what led Horace to say “misfortunes, untoward events, lay open, disclose the skill of a general…”
The second inference is that when you are at ground zero as most of the developing countries found themselves at independence or Awolowo found the Western Region in the 1950s or Mimiko found Ondo state in the 2000s, a strong leadership is a desideratum.
A leader according to Napoleon Bonaparte is a “dealer in hope” or as John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of theUnited Statesput it “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, you are a leader”
I will return to this leadership theme later.
When I was considering the wording of the topic, I put Democracy before Development. I could easily have put Development before Democracy because the jury is still out whether democracy leads to development or whether it is development that leads to democracy.
From the historical analysis above, one can make some inferences. Democracy was able to respond favourably in the case of theUnited Statesby producing Franklin Roosevelt who succeeded in rescuing the American economy from collapse. But it was touch and go as the same democratic elections had produced President Herbert Hoover who proved incapable of addressing the economic collapse that public opinion was starting to flirt with the German Nazi experiment. Even though economic issues were not at stake inBritain, there was also an upsurge in right wing fundamentalism before Winston Churchill stepped into the breach thus ensuring the survival of democracy inBritain. But democracy failed woefully inItalyandGermanyproducing fascist regimes which rescuedGermanyandItalyfrom economic ruin.
The tentative conclusion we can reach at this point is that well established and well entrenched democracies have the capability to lead to and sustain development. It is the capability that is certain. Whether that capability will translate into actuality is another question entirely. It depends on a lot of factors, one of which is leadership.
But that still begs the fundamental question: which comes first, democracy or development? Actually, it is authority that comes first. But that authority has usually been clever enough to pass off itself as a product of democracy. Only 55 delegates, all landowners and picked by fellow landowners drew up the American constitution, and only 39 signed it. Although called a democracy, the political system was controlled by the propertied class. Then gradually, the suffrage was extended to include tax payers, then extended to white men, then extended to white women, then extended to Blacks, a process that took over 200 years. Yet, at each stage, it was called a democracy. The British system proceeded along similar lines, with each stage marked by gradual assimilation and expansion until you got to the stage of universal suffrage.There was the so-called Great Revolution of 1688 in Britain which embodied a limited expansion of the political franchise and which led to gradual expansions of the franchise in 1832, 1867, 1884 and then the final universal suffrage in 1928.
But the critical point is that unless it is a case of a revolution, the expansion is into an already established system with fixed parameters and fixed rules. Unless we are involved in gimmickry, no system short of adult suffrage should be called democratic. As Aristotle put it, “The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is democracy” Economic development accompanied each stage from wealth accumulated from landownership to wealth accumulated through industrialization. To that extent, I would suggest that the history ofEuropeand theUnited Statesprovide the adequate answer that development breeds democracy and not the other way around.
Let me further illustrate this point by the following two quotations from two of the prominent delegates to the United States Constitutional Convention who went on to become Presidents of theUnited States. The first quotation is from James Madison:
In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the opulent against the majority. The Senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.”
The other quotation from Alexander Hamilton:
“All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrolling disposition requires checks.”
Those two quotations eloquently prove my point. To further reinforce my point, John Adams, the second President of theUnited Statessaid “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” TheUnited Statesso-called democracy was in fact founded on a fear and a disdain for democracy. But for philosophical reasons, it has to be sold to the people as democracy; just as the Marxist countries had to sell their own brand of democracy as Peoples’ democracy. And so democracy ends being whatever is called democracy. It is all reminiscent of the dialogue between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll in Alice Through the Looking-Glass:
“When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean —- neither more nor less.” “The question is” saidAlice“whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
An alternative paradigm model in the Democracy-Development dichotomy is derived by the historical experiences ofRussia,China,South Korea,Singaporeand other Asian tigers. They were pure dictatorships driven development leading to phenomenal growth through sustained economic planning and discipline and all dragging their countries from theThird Worldto theFirst Worldto borrow the title of the book onSingaporeby Lee Kwan Yew. Whether Marshal Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao Tse Tung in China, General Park Chung-hee in South Korea, Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore, General Suharto in Indonesia and Tunku Abdul Rahman in Malaya, the story was the same as strong leaders with imposing personalities and a sense of mission led their countries through economic growth to become economic power houses. It was only after economic development, that political freedom and political liberalization were gradually introduced in small doses, thus economic development was driving democracy. In the western sense of the word, only South Korea would pass for a full-fledged democracy.However, by some stroke of irony, this was the same path that the Western countries followed, that is if you agree with my historical analysis earlier adumbrated.
Indiahas always presented a problem for a political scientist in terms of systemic analysis. It credits itself and it is credited as the largest democracy in the world. Yet for most of its post-independence period, it has been ruled by one party, a father Jawaharlal Nehru, a daughter, Indira Gandhi, a grandson, Rajiv Gandhi and the power behind the throne now is the wife of the grandson, who is just waiting for her own son to mature to become the fourth generation of Gandhi that will rule India. Even though there is one person, one vote, the wayIndiais actually carved up into political fiefdoms beggars belief. Humpty Dumpty would be clearly delighted as to the elasticity of the word DEMOCRACY.
I suppose some of you are wondering when I will apply this analysis toNigeria. After all, here we are celebrating a democracy-driven development icon. I concede that in Ondo,Lagos, Rivers andEdostates that I have visited, I can see evidence of dividends of governance, in this case democratic governance. Is there not something unique in the sense that of these four states, three initially were installed through the intervention of the judiciary? Even if we ignore this factor, we still need to ask whether on the national scale, we can claim to be operating a democratic system in Nigeria.Or is it a civilian system? I will not pursue this trend of thought further for now. To move on, I will concede without much conviction that we are operating a version of democracy (civilian rule) especially in contradiction to the years of military rule.
Irrespective of the cyclical game between the military and the civilian political elite in the governance ofNigeria, the biggest threat to our putative democracy is not from the military but from the state of our un-development. In a lecture delivered by Oby Ezekwesili at the convocation ceremony of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, some alarming figures as regards the state of poverty in Nigeria were given: in 1980, we had 17.1million poor people in Nigeria, in 1985, we had 34.5m, in 1992, we had 39.2m, in 1996 we had 67.1m, in 2004, we had 68.7m, and in 2010 we had 112.47 poor people.
Originally, I was not going to go beyond this set of figures but the gravity of the danger we face may be lost in the generality of these figures that I have decided to deconstruct what these figures mean in terms of poverty.
The 2011 Human Development Reportissued by the United Nations Development Programme ranksNigeria at no 156 out of 186 countries, no 1 being the best and no 186 being the worst. Among countries ranked higher than Nigeria in terms of Human Development are Angola (148), Bahamas, (53), Bangladesh (146), Botswana (118), Cambodia (139), Cameroon (150), Cape Verde (133), Congo (137), Egypt (113), Equatorial Guinea (136), Fiji (100), Gabon (106), Ghana (135), Iraq (132), Jamaica (79), Lebanon (71), Namibia (120), even the Occupied Palestinian Territory (114).
There are four categories into which all countries are classified, namely 1) Very High Human Development, 2) High Human Development, 3) Medium Human Development, and 4) Low Human Development.Nigeriais classified into the fourth category. African countries classified higher thanNigeriaincludeSwaziland,Congo,Equatorial Guinea,Ghana,Cape Verde,Morocco,South AfricaandNamibia.
Life Expectancy inNigeriais 51.9 years compared withGhanaat 64.2 years,Cape Verdeat 74.2 years,Moroccoat 72.2 yrs andEgyptat 73.2 years.
A set of statistics which should be of utmost interest to the Abiye initiative is that dealing with the category of “Births attended by skilled health personnel” in terms of percentage. InNigeria, it is 39% compared toSwaziland(69%),Congo(83%),Equatorial Guinea(65%),Ghana(57%),Cape Verde(78%),Morocco(63%),South Africa(91%),Namibia(81%),Botswana(95%) andCuba(100%).
Why have I all of a sudden introducedCubainto this calculus?Cubais the country that I know that has not only a surplus of doctors but the best healthcare system in the world. Yet the country is short of things whichNigeriacan easily supply. Let me suggest a scheme. When the British colonial authorities came here, they established a Government Reserved Area (GRA) in every urban centre all over the country. Suppose as a Federal-State scheme, we were to establish a GRA in every Local Government or dare I say it in every Ward (there are only 9572 wards in the country). In each ward a Government development area is built consisting of a cottage hospital, an elementary school or two, a secondary school, a mini-secretariat to cater for the roads and these other government institutions. Attached to it will be a housing estate for the staff of these institutions. Nigeria should then approach Cuba for a supply of nurses and doctors to man the health institutions, in exchange for building an oil refinery in Cuba and supplying crude oil for refining there and supplying the refined needs of Cuba and selling the rest at the world market. The Nigerian staff for the other institutions will be from the bloated civil service by grading those who agree to go and serve there at a grade higher than they will occupy if they stay at the capitals. Just think about it in terms of the positive effect onNigeriadevelopmental projectiles.
Now back to present day abysmal statistics. For every 1000 births, Nigeria records 138 deaths, for Senegal it is 93, for Madagascar it is 58, for Bangladesh it is 52, for Sao Tome it is 78, for Kenya it is 84, for Swaziland, it is 73, for Ghana it is 69, for Cape Verde, it is 28, for Namibia, it is 48. Population in severe poverty,Nigeriarecords 34%,Sao Tome and Principe10.7%,Kenya20%,Swaziland13%,Ghana11.4%,South Africa2.4%,Egypt1%,Namibia14.7%.
The accumulated totality of these statistics do not reflect the tragedy that has befallenNigeria. The real tragedy is that we have bred several generations who have lost hope in today and tomorrow. They have given up onNigeriabecauseNigeriahas given up on them. I belong to a generation, and I am sure some of you also belong to that generation, who grew up having faith inNigeria. Our expectations were that the sky was the limit forNigeria. My generation was offeredUnited StatesGreen cards without asking and we turned them down because we wanted to come home and we knew there would be opportunities waiting for us to join in the task of nation-building. Now, our youths and even our elders would go through hell to seek US visas. They would commit any atrocity to secure foreign visas and they would endure any hardship and subject themselves to any danger to escape from this country.
Quite recently, I came across an article titled,CARPE DIEM NATION, by David Brooks (International Herald Tribune,February 12, 2013). The views expressed in that article encapsulate what I am trying to say, and I will share some of the views with you:
“Europeans who settled America gave their lives a slingshot shape. They pulled back so they could shoot forward. They volunteered to live in harsh conditions today so their descendants could live well for centuries. The pioneers who travelled West did the same thing. So has each generation of immigrants —sacrificing the present for the sake of the future. This slingshot manner of life led to one of those true national clichés: that America is the nation of futurity, that Americans organize their lives around romantic visions of what is to be.
In 1775, Sam Adams confidently predicted that the scraggly little colonies would one day be the world’s most powerful nation…..In his novel, “GIANTS IN THE EARTH”, Ole Rolvaag has a pioneering farmer give a visitor a tour of his land. The farmer describes his beautiful home and his large buildings. The visitor confesses that he can’t see them. That’s because they haven’t been built yet, the farmer acknowledges, but they already exist as reality in his mind”
As Americans even in the winter of their lives had a vision of the summer of their future, so did my generation at independence had a vision of LIFE MORE ABUNDANT for all. We embraced the philosophy ably put by the Dalai Lama who said:
I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”
But now there are no more values to hold on to. Parents not only encourage their children to cheat to beat the system, they aid and abet the children in the nefarious activities. No one believes anymore in the concept of society. It is everyman for himself and God for us all. Perhaps bringing God into it might have had a salutary effect if not for the fact that Nigerians have created their own God in their own image. In my youth, to be accused of theft or any other criminal offence was tantamount to being banished from society. Not only for the accused but for his entire family. To be convicted was tantamount to suicide. But now, no one asks for the source of the wealth. People in jail, accused of murder run for and win elections. More than a score of members of the Nigerian Senate have EFCC court cases against them. Only inNigeriado you steal billions and escape with less than a million naira fine.
So, where and how did it all start to go wrong? What is the way forward? These two questions lead us back to the centrality of the issue of LEADERSHIP. It is not for nothing that the sub-title of the Report on the Abiye initiative was subtitled“WITH LEADERSHIP, PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE”. One of the comments made in the report apropos leadership was “Successful models can serve as an encouragement to policymakers and health implementers elsewhere and can offer practical examples of what is possible with local innovation, leadership and planning.”(p2).
Our leaders at independence did not have a collective vision of what type ofNigeriathey were going to build. If truth be spoken, there was no collective faith in the Nigerian project. Each of the Premiers with his political associates had a vision for his own region but there was no vision for the whole nation. There were no goals around which a consensus was built. Only three years after independence, whatever system existed was shattered by the thoughtless overthrow of the Western Regional Government. From then on, politics of development was replaced by politics of looting.
To move forward, the political elite must make a conscious effort to arrive at a consensus that will be the outcome of negotiation, give and take, compromises etc. The system to be put in place should not reflect temporary advantages secured through a temporary monopoly of power. We must find a way to building a nation where no man or woman is oppressed, where no man or woman is marginalized, where there is hope for everyone, where a man or a woman through hard work, honesty and integrity will have the opportunity to achieve his dreams. When dreams are killed and visions dulled, the nation is finished.As the Bible has warned us, in Proverbs, “for lack of vision, the nation perishes.”
This is not the responsibility for the many who are poor but for the few who are lucky to find themselves in a position of leadership whether political, economic, cultural, spiritual or traditional.
PROFESSOR A. BOLAJI AKINYEMI, D.PHIL (Oxon), CFR, FNIIA.
Profile of Chuka Umunna,his career and work.
Chuka Umunna was born 17th of October, 1978 to a Nigerian Father and English-Irish Mother, he was educated at Hitherfield Primary School in Streatham, south London, at the voluntary aided Christ Church C of E Primary School (Cotherstone Road) in the Brixton Hill area of Streatham,and at the independent secondary school St. Dunstan’s College in Catford in south-east London. He obtained a 2:1 degree in English and French Law from the University of Manchester and then studied at the University of Burgundy in Dijon in France, and Nottingham Law School in Nottingham.
Education, equality, and community and youth engagement.
He trained at Herbert Smith the large “Magic Circle” City law firm: about his decision to join the firm he said “I wanted to join Herbert Smith because they were a big international firm, very much at the heart of the City, business and finance. Having entered thinking I wanted to be a hotshot corporate lawyer, I ended up wanting to become an employment lawyer because employment relates to people and their relationships. In 2006, he moved to the central London law firm, Rochman Landau, where he mainly acted for individuals and small and medium sized companies. As an employment lawyer, Umunna often spoke in the media on employment issues.
He is “Labour through and through” and says the Tories aren’t serious about equality, “despite what Cameron tries to say with his spin and presentation” and says the BSS is a very positive development, long overdue. But he warns that although Labour has traditionally represented Blacks: “We are in danger of falling behind on that if we don’t increase representation in the future. It’s not just about representation, it’s also about increasing out communities’ general participation in the political process. That’s something we must work on.”
Influence and motivation
At 27 Chuka Umunna has been in main street politics, Influenced by his father who is a died when he was 13. Chuka recalls moment with his father saying “It had a huge influence on my life. I had to grow up very, very quickly.” He added: “Politically my father had a big influence on me. He spoke out against the corruption in Nigeria, for better governance and got involved in politics in Anambra state. He narrowly missed out on winning the governorship of that state shortly before he died in a car crash. He lost because he refused to bribe anyone and was standing on an anti-corruption ticket.
Also motivating were his experiences while growing – In my youth I also often visited my father’s native Nigeria and came face to face with the extreme poverty one sees in Africa in the heart wrenching appeal videos produced by the likes of Oxfam and Comic Relief every year. I simply could not understand why some had so much, whilst others had so little. From there sprung a desire to do something about it and the other challenges we face.
he is presently a School Governor of Sunnyhill Primary School and sits on the Board of Sunnyhill Children’s Centre, both in Streatham Wells. He lives on Streatham High Road.
In addition, he sits on the Board of Generation Next, a not for profit social enterprise which provides activities for young people in London, and has been involved charitable youth work in Lambeth too.
He is a patron of Latimer Creative Media, a social enterprise which trains young people in digital media and a supporter of Cassandra Learning Centre, a charity raising awareness and working to stop domestic violence.
Prior to becoming Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Streatham, Chuka was Vice Chair of Streatham Labour Party from 2004 to 2008 and had held a variety of positions throughout the local party.
In the May 2010 general election, Chuka was elected to represent Streatham having received 20,037 votes, with the number of votes received by Labour rising from 18,950 in the previous general election in 2005. Turnout in Streatham increased by 11.5 percentage points at 62.8% compared with 51.3% in 2005.
He is a member of the GMB and Unite trade unions and sits on the Management Committee of progressive pressure group, Compass.
Since becoming an MP, he has been elected on to the Treasury select committee and become Ed Miliband’s parliamentary private secretary.
In October 2011, Chuka was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, replacing the Rt Hon John Denham MP who announced his resignation from Shadow Cabinet.
In this role, Mr Umunna leads the Opposition Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) team, leading for the opposition on a wide range of issues including business, enterprise, science and universities.
3a Mount Ephraim Road, Streatham, London, SW16 1NQ
Tel: 020 8769 5063
Spotlight on Gbenga Elegbeleye’s contribution
“Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards”
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye motivated by the desire to serve his people in higher capacity, resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives.
- Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports
- Member House Committee on Defence
- Member House Committee on Appropriation
- Member House Committee on Works
- Member House Committee on Environment
- Member House Committee on Rural Development
- Member House Committee on Inter-parliamentary Affairs
- Member House Committee on Solid Minerals
As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These include:
- Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi
- Sports Stadium at Oyinmo St, Ikare
- National Library Ikare
- Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare
- Erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi
- Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare
- Several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others
After serving as Director General, National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others.
Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is happily married to Solape, they are blessed with four children
HON. GBENGA ELEGBELEYE – OTOLORIN
“Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports;”
Hon. Gbenga Otolorin Elegbeleye, popularly called “Otolorin” by his admirers was born in Ikare, Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State. His educational background is made up as A.U.D Primary School, Ikare, St. Patrick’s’ Secondary School, Iwaro-Oka, University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) Ile Ife and Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti.
He obtained the following qualifications in his educational sojourn:
- Primary School Leaving Certificate
- West African School Certificate
- B.A. (Ife), Ile-Ife
- MPA (UNAD), Ado-Ekiti
As a result of his exemplary leadership qualities, in the Nigeria Youth Service Scheme, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was made the Administrative Officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Zone RS3 Kaduna, between 1988 and 1989, from where he ventured into private business.
Motivated by the desire to serve humanity, Hon. Gbenga in 1997 contested and won election as the youngest Chairman, Akoko North East Local Government Council in Ondo State. As a Local Government Chairman, he was also a member of Board of Ondo State Primary Education Board between 1997-98. Before this period, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye was the Assistant State Secretary of the National Republican Convention, NRC for the old Ondo State between 1990 – 1993.
Impressed by his achievements as Local Government Chairman and his successful exploits in other areas of human endeavour, the then Governor of Ondo State, Late Chief Olusegun Agagu in 2003 appointed him Chairman, Ondo State Waste Management Authority, and under his erudite leadership, Akure was adjudged by the then Federal Ministry of Inter-Government Affairs, the second cleanest State Capital in Nigeria, after Calabar, in 2004.
Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports; Member House Committees on Defence, Appropriation, Works, Environment, Rural Development, Inter-parliamentary Affairs and Solid Minerals. As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These includes the following: Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi; Sports Stadium at Oyinmo st, Ikare; National Library Ikare; Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare; erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi, Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare; several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others
Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Ondo State Football Association between 1998 and 2000, Chairman Ondo State Table Tennis Association (2004-2007), Vice Chairman Ondo State Sports Development Committee (2005-2009) and Chairman Rising Stars Football Club, Akure from 2004-2007, Proprietor, Ikare United Football Club, Member, NFA Fair-Play Committee, from 2004-2007, President Youths Sports Federation of Nigeria, Ondo State Chapter from 2003-2009. He also served as a member of the Ministerial Committee on the Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria between August and November 2011 and Member, Board of Directors, Abuja Investment Company between 2011 and 2013.
On May 15th 2013, the then President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, found his rich credentials in Sports Administration irresistible and appointed him, the Director General of the National Sports Commission. President Jonathan made the announcement during the Federal Executive Council meeting of May 15th, 2014.
During his stewardship as the Director General of the National Sports Commission, the Commission has experienced a change in fortune as Nigerian athletes, sportsmen and women have been winning international laurels across the globe.
On Friday 8th November 2013 at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria defeated Mexico 3-0 to win the FIFA U- 17 World Cup a record fourth time having won it in 1985, 1993 and 2007 to emerge as the most successful country in the competition up to date.
This was also followed by another laudable achievement in the 2013 Commonwealth weightlifting game tagged Malaysia 2013 where the Nigerian female lifters won the women’s category of the competition with 8 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronze medals in the competition held in Malaysia in November 2013. This was also followed up with a 3rd placement of the Home based Super Eagles in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) held in South Africa. Nigeria had never qualified for the competition, but the Eagles not only qualified but went as far as winning the bronze medal of the competition after beating hard-fighting Zimbabwe 1-0 in the 3rd place match decided at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town on Saturday February 1st, 2014.
He was Head of Delegation, Nigeria U-17 African Youth Games in Botswana, tagged “Gaborone 2014” where Nigeria gathered a massive 41 medals the best outing so far against the record of 10 medals, to emerge overall 3rd best in the Games after winning 19 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals.
Still under the leadership and stewardship of Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, also as Head of Delegation, Team Nigeria also finished strong in the Glasgow, Commonwealth Games in Scotland. It was Nigeria’s best outing in the history of the Commonwealth , winning 11 golds, 11 silvers and 14 Bronze medals in the 20th edition of the Games held between July 23 and August 3rd, 2014. Team Nigeria also emerged the best team at the 2014 Marrakech Africa Athletics Championships held in Marrakech, Morocco in August, 2014. The Super Falcons beat all African countries to emerge Champions of Africa Women’s Championship (AWC) held in Namibia in October 2014.
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is married to Solape, they are blessed with four children
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