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A shout-out to an older brother at 70 – Tola Adenle

July 20, 2012

Iju Public Affairs Forum

This essay, one of my reports of the Iju Public Affairs Forum series which is an initiative of Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, was my November 15, 2009 column for The Nation on Sunday.

The Forum now holds annually and this year’s edition holds tomorrow at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and coincides with the 70th birthday of Professor Ladipo Adamolekun whose First Class Degree in French is from the University of Ibadan, an M.Phil from Ife and an Oxford University Doctorate.

Ladipo  is one of sixty-one (61) distinguished academic recipients of the Nigerian National Merit Awards – one of eleven {11) from our native Ondo State.

Internationally-recognized as an authority on Public Administration a field in which he has authored several books, Adamolekun had a stellar career at The World Bank after retiring as a professor from the University of Ife in the 80s.  He retired from The Bank a few years ago after almost two decades.

Iju in Akure North Local Government is his base, his Lagos home, a “stop-over” and he also qualifies as a Washingtonian!

He is an “Independent Scholar”, although as a non-academic, I do not know what this means and must ask him one of these days!

Like my favorite people who are all turning 70, Bra Ladi makes the landmark birthday something I should look forward to:  he – like those few – makes IT seem like the old 50.

A very Happy Birthday, dear brother. T.

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I may be PDP but I’m a democrat!  Ondo’s Senator Olajumoke at Iju Forum  –  Tola Adenle

Readers can sense the equivalence of putting words in Senator Olajumoke’s mouth but the title reflects what most attendees believed Dr. Olajumoke tried to get across in “On being a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” at the 16th outing of the Iju Public Affairs Forum which just completed sixteen consecutive outings in four years.  Determined to make a difference to the lives of the masses Olajumoke may be but one would hardly know it from the almost adversarial position conference participants took when he made his second appearance at the Forum: standing before them was a symbol of the do-nothing very expensive legislature that adds to Nigeria’s economic problems.

Incidentally at the inaugural session in February 2006 during the chaos of the last part of retired General Obasanjo’s (rGO) full-blown dictatorship, Professor Bankole Omotoso presented a paper which I titled Subverting public institutions shortchanges democracy.  Dr.  Olajumoke chaired that session and this time, Omotoso came from his South Africa base to chair On being a Senator.  The friendship of the two – note their [socialist] beards and dressing style – dates back to graduate school in Edinburgh although Olajumoke would later go to Russia for part of his graduate school where he must have picked up – like most African students of 1960’s Soviet Union – some Leninism! Older people of the 50s/60s saw bearded acadas as socialists/communists a la late Dr. Otegbeye and late Lawyer Isola-Osobu.

Being a Senator would play well at the National Assembly complex because the Senator gave a thorough analysis of what and how the Upper Chamber operates.   The paper started with how Olajumoke finally decided to run for the Senate against an earlier decision the week rGO’s elongation project collapsed.  He campaigned under the room-for-few PDP umbrella after paying the one million naira “intent fee” to the State’s PDP as well as funded 3,105 delegates to the state’s party primaries; he describes the costs as “draining” unlike the past when “communities sponsored candidates for elections” as opposed to now when “party members struggle and indeed bribe their ways to be delegates at conventions … delegate takes money from more than two aspirants … capable aspirant might lose out … due to lack of funds … aspirants borrow money, incur heavy debts and sell their properties to get elective positions.”

While the Senator condemned these major flaws in electing representatives, he offered no suggestions on how these undemocratic, corrupt practices can be stopped.

Olajumoke said he was particularly interested in the Senate because he believed – and rightly so – that the Yorubas – I dare say, all Nigerians – need strong representations at this level.   In my opinion, his Ondo constituency got very capable hands as opposed to his PDP competitor [in the PDP primaries], Adetokunbo Kayode, the minister who has given the SAN awards a poor image. Olajumoke – like the Biblical Namaan’s whose ‘but’ was leprosy – has PDP as his big ‘but’.  As he acknowledges, rGO-led PDP, “due to absence of internal democracy and for an inexplicable reason concurred to a bogus zoning arrangement – whereby the Yorubas were to be the number four (4) in the land.”

Whatever advantages the Doctor had over The Prince – a past recipient of an Award for non-excellence by this column: solid education, the state’s university pro-chancellor, exposure … are weighed down by the heavy baggage of the reactionary PDP.  It is possible Olajumoke believed he could contribute to change these PDP but the party’s structure is so pervasively crooked that it CANNOT accommodate progressive thoughts or elemenst.  Those who join it must change to fit the mould or get thrown out. The chairman of “the only party that can take this country to greater heights” just issued an ultimatum this past week:  “abide by the party’s decision [on who will rule Anambra made by non-Anambrarians at Abuja] or leave.”

PDP is the world’s first political party that needs no voters to win elections.

At the Senate, Dr. Olajumoke voted for retired Col. David Mark over former civilian Governor Akume because “George Akume made a slip in his address” although a skeptic would see old Ministry of Defence alliance at play: a former Permanent Secretary aiding a former officer who Nigerian masses WILL NEVER consider a gentleman.

Here are a couple of frightening facts:

Only a third of the Senate is needed for a quorum and all senators belong to multiple committees with some belonging to as many as six!  It reminds me of  Alhaji Badamasi Kabir (PDP-Katsina) of the House who reportedly “never attended sitting twice since the inauguration of this House” because he “runs errands for Yar Adua in the villa … travels without informing the Speaker …”. This was in 2008.

Okay, Alhaji supposedly won one of Alhaji Yar Adua Girls’ sweepstakes.

This past week, Yar Adua’s letter requesting “lawmakers” to be allowed to present the 2010 Appropriation Bill to its joint session November 19 was not discussed by the House because  retired Col. Tunde Akogun, House Leader and his deputy who should have led the debates, were unavailable.

Nigeria IS a banana republic and an almost-failed state.  Get busy on my utterance, “lawmakers”, rather than do what you overpay yourselves to do.

With space running out, listing what our lords and masters do is less important than using a couple of comments/questions to illustrate the paper’s reception and the mood of the participants – the nation’s mood.

There was overall skepticism about the contribution of the legislature to development; overall belief that the legislature’s poor performance contributes greatly to the country’s poor development, and that there are far too many committees, too huge salaries and allowances contrasted with few laws and weak performance of legislature’s oversight duties.

“This paper gives insight into why Nigerian politics is bedeviled by corruption and violence … there is so much money invested …by the individual and it has to be recouped somehow … PDP  is almost unbeatable because it would have a huge war-chest.  It is a vicious cycle in which democracy actually breeds systemic corruption”:  Professor Dele Olowu, a participant.

Kole Omotoso closed the proceedings by stressing the critical importance of ideas for development.  He highlighted some of the sixteen Forum sessions including those on Language and Cultural Democracy.

 

LAST WORD:  FIFA’s Jack Warner, active backer of Nigerian Football, [please] pay Hislop and other Trinidad & Tobago’s footballers to the 2006 World Cup their rightful allowances forthwith.  I watched T & T performed beyond the sum of her parts four years ago.  Okay, the Nigerian-type alleged understating of your country’s football earnings under your leadership is NOT true.  Your favored Nigeria may even win a hollow victory in spite of some of the kids looking MUCH older than the stipulated 17-year old.  Yeah, there was a “random” test that perhaps missed Captain Chukwudi who was with PH Sharks’ feeder-team eight years ago when he would be under 9!  Pay your young compatriots.  This casts a shadow on you, and on FIFA’s “fair play”.

Olukayode Thomas of Next on Sunday Sports’ Section is promoting this appeal.

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