IJU PUBLIC AFFAIRS FORUM marks the 70th birthday of its Initiator, Ladipo Adamolekun: 1 of 3 – Tola Adenle

July 24, 2012

Iju Public Affairs Forum

I had had no doubt in what direction Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, the initiator of the Iju Public Affairs Forum (IPAF) would organize his landmark birthday. A church-goer, I just knew he would not want a full-blown service at which a pastor – Reverend, Archdeacon, Bishop or Archbishop of his Province would give a sermon! By the way, he could have had an Archbishop at the service because His Grace, The Most Reverend Oluwole Abe, the recently-retired Archbishop of our Province – is from Iju. It is not his style nor that of most of us in the family, but perhaps more important is the fact he would want his mother who is alive to witness any form of service because the nonagenarian is no longer that mobile.

 

We had an intimate Holy Communion service in Mama’s living room with about a dozen family members on Friday, July 20th which was the anniversary of his birth, an event which our self-educated father, an intrepid record-keeper who had no formal education, recorded as having happened at exactly 4.00 a.m. That is so much like our father whose biography, Those were the Christians … J.F. Adamolekun of Iju in Akure North, was written by this blogger and published in 2005: no fan fare, no aso ebi (hundreds of uniformed friends and family), no razzmatazz!

 

The celebrations continued on Saturday, 21st with a well-received Lecture presented by The Honorable Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple at the Federal University of Technology, Akure.

 

Check 2 for Ladipo Adamolekun’s down-to-earth way of doing things. While most such celebrations always take guests through the wringer – at least to us up-country folks – of the Institute of International Affairs at Victoria Island, Lagos, with its killer traffic back-ups, a guest could make Ikeja to Akure, about 250 miles away, in about the time it would take from the same place to V.I.! The attendance and departure points of guests for the 11.00 a.m. lecture confirm the ease of accessibility of most places except Lagos to most Nigerians.

 

The goodie bags contained two publications: Wither Nigeria? Directions for future Deveploment, the second publication based on the IPAF Series AND “Ideas Matter”: Ladipo at 70! Selected Writings (2007 – 2009), presented as a DVD.
Where in the world were goodies to munch on as we drove home, Prof???

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The Iju Public Affairs Forum and the Public Affairs Library are two different gifts by Professor Adamolekun to the Nigerian public. While the IPAF allows for lecturers on different political and social issues presenting papers which are later discussed by attendants which have always included academics, top civil servants (retired), NGOs, including a fair share of whom have been women, the Library is Adamolekun’s gift to students, especially at graduate level in the surrounding universities.

Within an hour’s drive to Iju where the university occupies a two-story building are: the Federal University of Tech, Akure (12 miles); University of Ado-Ekiti and Afe Babalola U. (17 miles); Adekunle Ajasin, Akungba (about 50 miles) and the soon-to-open Elizade U., Ilara-Mokin (23 miles). Graduate students around the area can often be found in twos, threes and groups each of the few times I’ve stopped by.

I covered more than a dozen of the first sixteen editions of the IPAF in my now rested weekly essays for The Nation on Sunday from its inception during the first quarter of 2006 to 2009. Thereafter, the IPAF changed format from a quarterly to an annual event because the one-day duration was always too short for the arrival and departure of guests from Lagos, Abuja, etcetera, as well as the one-menu lunch, iyan (pounded yam) and the time constraint almost always led to abbreviated Questions and Answers part of the procedures.

There was a break in 2010 and last year, the IPAF resumed with the new format that allowed time for more speakers to cover wider ground even within the same subject.

Contributors to the 2011’s theme of “Wither Nigeria” include Professor Adele Jinadu in a paper titled “Directions for future development”; Joe Abah, a Research Fellow at the Maastricht Grad School of Governance in The Netherlands wonders aloud on the question of “Wither Nigeria?” with a question of his own: where is Nigeria going as a country; Jumoke Adamolekun’s paper sees no solution than for us to go back to the drawing board because – in her words – “Nigeria, Plc would, by now, be certified a failed venture” as a business venture.” Professor Tunde Adeniran presented Some Reflections on the Constitution as basis and pointer to future development as his own answer to “Wither Nigeria?” Adeniran, a former professor, of Political Science is a published poet who served under the Obasanjo government as Minister and later Ambassador to Germany.

Ms. Funmi Olayinka, Ekiti’s Deputy governor, submitted a paper on Directions for Future Development – Ekiti’s Experience while Professor Jide Osuntokun’s submission answers the question by looking at the Future of Democracy and National Stability.

Professor Kole Omotoso, the only person to have personally presented papers twice even though he now calls the Western Cape in South Africa home, writes about Middle Classism: the new Engine of Change in which his knowledge of Middle East politics, especially Egypt, comes in very handy. He was at the University of Cairo as part of his grad studies.

Ms. Kehinde Ajayi, Professor Dele Olowu and Dr. Tunde Oyedeji also contributed to the 2011 IPAF’s Series in Religion and Poverty, An Appraisal of Nigeria’s Three-Tier Federal System and Democracy is un-African? Or is this Viewpoint just Cynicism, respectively.

And Adamolekun’s presentation on Challenge of Federalism, Democracy and Development took Forum attendees on, among other points, a journey through the much-discussed “Inevitability of a devolved Federation”, political restructuring and autonomy.

These wider insights into a single subject shows the advantage of the new format of an annual lecture in place of the old one.

THE 2012 IJU PUBLIC AFFAIRS FORUM (2 of 3): “No nation can rise beyond the capacity of its public service” – Ama Pepple. [Later this week].

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