USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Yoruba Affairs - Fw: Prof. Olukotun's Column

Can someone wake him up?
Can yesterday return?
And twist today and reenact the good old days of prosperity?
Who can wake him up, wake he that knew the way?
Who can wake the seer up,
The seer who the stubborn agents never wanted but avoid?
Who can tell him to return to the land that was once full of energy?
Who can wake him up
He whose whisle covered the land of Oduduwa
And echoed beyond?
Who can wake him up,
The one who lived and remains as others blood today?
Who can wake him up,
The one whose fight for the masses
Never ends?
Who can wake him up,
The one that put a smile on the faces of his admirers
And made his enemies to wonder and wander about?
Who can wake him up,
The one that appeared to illuminate the land of his people and the territory of all that cared?
Who can wake him up,
The one whose ideas never die?

Bayo Omolola


--------------------------------------------
On Fri, 3/10/17, ayo_olukotun via Yoruba Affairs <yorubaaffairs@googlegroups.com> wrote:

Subject: Yoruba Affairs - Fw: Prof. Olukotun's Column
To: "Ayo Olukotun" <Ayo_olukotun@yahoo.com>
Cc: toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu, "Tunji Olaopa" <tolaopa2003@gmail.com>, "Tade Akin Aina" <tadeakinaina@yahoo.com>, taleomole@yahoo.com, "Tanure Ojaide" <tojaide@gmail.com>, "Awolowo Foundation" <awolowofoundation@yahoo.com>, r-joseph@northwestern.edu, "Bolaji Akinyemi" <rotaben@gmail.com>, "M Insa Nolte" <M.I.Nolte@bham.ac.uk>, "Bolaji" <erinje@yahoo.com>, mvickers@mvickers.plus.com, "nimi" <nimiwari@msn.com>, "Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso" <jumoyin@gmail.com>, hafsatabiola@hotmail.com, "Adigun Agbaje" <adigunagbaje@yahoo.com>, "USAAfricaDialogue" <USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com>, "olubomehin d" <olubomehind@yahoo.com>, "Ebunoluwa Oduwole" <ebunoduwole2k2@yahoo.com>, "Felicia Ohwovoriole" <eruvwe2006@yahoo.com>, "Wale Adebanwi" <waleadebanwi@gmail.com>, "Yoruba Affairs" <yorubaaffairs@googlegroups.com>, "Femi_Osofisan Osofisan" <okinbalaunko@yahoo.com>, "Odia Ofeimun" <odia55@yahoo.com>, "Paul Nwulu" <p.nwulu@fordfoundation.org>, "Prof. Bayo Okunade" <bayookunade@gmail.com>, profbayo_adekanye@yahoo.com, "nikeajayi_52" <nikeajayi_52@yahoo.com>, "Redeemer's" <vc@run.edu.ng>, "Bisola F" <bisolafalola@gmail.com>, "Jide Owoeye" <Babsowoeye@gmail.com>, jadesany@yahoo.co.uk, "Olukoya" <koyaogen@gmail.com>, chibuzonwoke@yahoo.com, "Akinjide OUNTOKUN" <josuntokun@yahoo.com>, "Olufunke Adeboye" <funks29adeboye@yahoo.co.uk>, "Chukwuma" <innocent.chukwuma@fordfoundation.org>, "Lanre Idowu" <lanreidowu@gmail.com>, "mimikofemi" <mimikofemi@yahoo.com>, "Chukwuma" <innocent.chukwuma@fordfoundation.org>, "Noel Ihebuzor" <noel.ihebuzor@gmail.com>, "Aribidesi Usman" <ARIBIDESI.USMAN@asu.edu>, "Wale Ghazal" <walegazhal@gmail.com>, "William Fawole" <fawolew@yahoo.com>, "Wale A.Olaitan" <anujah@yahoo.com>, "Kayode Soremekun" <paddykay2002@yahoo.com>, "obasa" <segunob@yahoo.com>, "Prof. Gabriel Ogunmola" <gbogunmola@gmail.com>, "SEGUN" <gbadeg2002@yahoo.com>, "Oyebanji Oyeyinka" <Oyebanji.Oyeyinka@unhabitat.org>, "Lanre Idowu" <lanreidowu@gmail.com>, "Prof. Lere Amusan" <lereamusan@gmail.com>, laioso@ymail.com, "Abimbola Asojo" <aasojo@umn.edu>, "Abiodun Salawu" <abiodun.salawu@nwu.ac.za>, "Christian Ogbondah" <chris.ogbondah@uni.edu>, vc@abuad.edu.ng, "dele Ashiru" <ashirudele@yahoo.co.uk>, kpdasylva@yahoo.com, "Olukotun Bob-Kunle" <bobkunle@yahoo.com>, "Adebayo Olukoshi" <olukoshi@gmail.com>, adebayow@hotmail.com, "Akinjide OUNTOKUN" <josuntokun@yahoo.com>, "bode fasakin" <bodefasakin@yahoo.co.uk>, "Olayemi Foline Folorunsho" <offlinenspri@gmail.com>, "Albert Olayemi" <bolayemi_2005@yahoo.com>, "Azubuike Ishiekwene" <azuishiekwene@gmail.com>, isumonah@yahoo.com, satobiyan@yahoo.com, tobajane@yahoo.com, "arinpe adejumo" <agadejumo@yahoo.com>, "fatunde" <ariyikef@hotmail.com>, rotimisuberu@yahoo.com, "Toks" <olaoluwatokunboh@gmail.com>, "tunde babawale" <tunde_babawale@yahoo.com>, "Solomon Omorodion Uwaifo" <so_uwaifo@yahoo.co.uk>, segunabujinadu@yahoo.com, "Jinmi" <jinmiadisa@gmail.com>, "Mojubaolu Okome" <mojubaolu@gmail.com>, "hassansaliu2003" <hassansaliu2003@gmail.com>, "Warisu Oyesina ALLI" <alliwo@yahoo.co.uk>, "Babatunde" <babatunde@lincoln.edu>, anujah@yahoo.com, "Attahiru" <attahirujega@yahoo.com>, "david atte" <david_atte@yahoo.com>, "ADEBAYO OYEBADE" <aoyebade@tnstate.edu>
Date: Friday, March 10, 2017, 12:13 AM










Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.




From: Femi Babatunde
<ofemibabatunde@yahoo.com>Sent:
Thursday, 9 March 2017 07:57To: Joel
Nwokeoma; Ayo OlukotunReply To: Femi
BabatundeSubject: Prof. Olukotun's
Column


Awo
Lecture: The past as compass


Ayo
Olukotun


"Much
of Chief Awolowo's success was due to his confidence that
the white British
rulers of Nigeria were not superior to Nigerians, and that
Nigerians can indeed
achieve great things that the British rulers cannot." –
Topnotch historian, Banji
Akintoye at Awolowo's Birthday Lecture, March 6,
2017

 

Ordinarily,
Birthday
lectures, even of influential leaders are tiresomely
repetitive, sometimes
incredibly boring. The same familiar praise words, the same
sacred priests
ministering at the shrine of carefully policed
interpretations of history, and
much the same true believers affectively slain in the spirit
year after year.

Interestingly,
however,
there was an unusual high turnout of citizens, high and low,
cutting across
political persuasions at Monday's Awolowo Birthday
Lecture, delivered by
globally acclaimed historian, Professor Banji Akintoye. How
do we explain the
fact that a huge and diverse audience showed up on Monday
morning to join in
the celebration of a politician, admittedly a hugely
successful one, who died
almost 30 years ago?

Of
course, I know about
the administrative and organisational skills of Dr
Olatokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu,
Nigeria's former Ambassador to the Netherlands and the
Executive Director of
the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation. In this respect, she of
course evokes her
father who manifested the unusual combination of social
vision with
administrative acumen, as General Yakubu Gowon, former Head
of State and the
Chairman of the event reminded the audience. But the more
fundamental
explanation is that, admit or not, Nigeria is once again,
drifting in
treacherous political waters and is in need of consolation
from its glorious
past, as it is in need of a compass to guide it out of what
Akintoye called "these
terrible times".

There
is no better
illustration of the current impasse than the imposed mystery
and political
abracadabra surrounding the health of President Muhammadu
Buhari, currently on
extended so-called medical vacation in London. As a
substitute for clear
political communication and trust generating openness we are
fed at intervals
with news about whom Buhari has lately spoken to on phone.
This is a vacuous
and unintelligent political strategy which has the intended
intention of
showing that something is wrong.. For ordinarily, it should
not be news that
the President who has been away for over a month called his
spokesperson who
should otherwise be in close touch with him or condoled with
a former head of
state over the loss of a relation. So, the political class,
in what is
unfolding, as a replay of the late President Umaru Musa
Yar'Adua saga, has
dropped the ball and owes the nation an explanation and open
apology for
leading us into a wilderness brimming with ghosts and
gnomes. It was as if
Nigerians are once again rummaging aspects of their
illustrious past to glean
comfort, insight and understanding last Monday. Akintoye,
whose lecture is
titled "The Awolowo Legacy and its Message for Nigerian
Youths", did not
disappoint the expectations of the audience. He succeeded,
as the opening quote
suggests, in explaining why Nigeria dropped from a projected
world class
stature to its current morass. Before developing the
narrative further, this
writer characteristically digresses to offer a short, if
somewhat personal
take.

On
Monday, as I
returned from an assignment, word was given to me by a
relation that my father
whose 100 years Birthday celebration we had planned for
April had passed on. Pa
S.D Olukotun, in whose library I discovered early in life,
the pleasures of
reading widely and wildly, had been with us for so long,
hardly ever falling
sick, that we took his age and vigour for granted. Surely,
or so we assumed, his
medical vacation in Ibadan would be a short-lived one, more
so, as he was being
treated by some of the best experts in Nigeria. There was
one foreboding
however. He showed little, if any, enthusiasm about our
plans for his hundredth
Birthday. He did not object but hardly passed any comment
either.

Displaying
a rare gift
of scanning future events, my senior colleague and Punch
columnist, Professor Niyi Akinnaso, spoke with Daddy on the
phone and actually begged him not to depart before the April
celebrations. This
turned out to be a futile plea. The senior Olukotun will be
remembered and
sorely missed for his love of education, community
leadership, acute intelligence
and the ability to turn the tables on adversity, ability
which had obviously
waned in his final encounter with mortality.

To
return to the
initial discourse, Akintoye summoned a vast array of
empirical evidence,
anecdotes and reminiscences to suggest how wayward and
disabling the country where
Awolowo and other pioneers stood at par with the white man
had become. For
example, the famed educational innovations of Awolowo, for
which Universal Free
Primary Education is merely a generic metaphor, had given
way to the disastrous
neglect and underfunding of that social service by
successive leaders. Hear
him: "The persons who have been controlling most of the
affairs of Nigeria
through the federal government since independence are
apathetic or even
downright hostile to education". A passionate federalist
in the mold of
Awolowo, Akintoye went on to lament that federal "policies
and federal
dictation of the nature, content and direction of
education", have had tragic
effects.

The
point here is that
even if we had a visionary federal government which we have
never had the luck
of having thus far, it will still have been unwise for that
government to
squeeze educational policy into one suffocating straight
jacket, as this runs
against the logic of federations in which the federating
units are co-equal
with the centre. But then, the woes of imposed uniformity,
in which even the
curriculum of university education is determined by the
National Universities
Commission, are compounded by an often mediocre centre
lording it over
constituent nationalities. Akintoye points up as fallouts of
governance failure,
the victimization in xenophobic outbursts of Nigerians in
South Africa, East
Africa and imaginably under a Donald Trump presidency in the
United States.
Obviously, were Nigeria a better governed country, the
deluge of immigrants
frantically besieging other nations for what their country
does not offer them
will be very much reduced.

Importantly,
Akintoye
draws the portrait of Awolowo as an unequaled planner,
political and policy
strategist who developed a template for governance rather
than make policy on
the run or in reaction to contingencies. This is one lesson
which successive
generations of politicians has failed to learn. And in this
respect, what comes
to mind is our current situation in which, as former Central
Bank Governor
observed, Buhari inherited a bad economy but made it
worse.

The
final part of
Akintoye's message to Nigerian youths contains advice and
suggestions on how
our youths orphaned by non-performing governments can turn
things around.
Specifically, he urges them to believe in themselves,
downgrade complaints
about an inclement environment and strike out for their
future. They can best
do this by reading about inspiring steps taken by leaders
such as Awo at very
tender ages. That will not be enough. They should devote
themselves, as Awo did,
to the love of learning by relentlessly seeking information
and knowledge.
Finally, they should join the struggle to make Nigeria
better through a
reversal of the current over centralised mode of
governance.






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