Sunday, December 02, 2007


There are few times I have agreed with Dele Momodu the celebrated publisher of Ovation Magazine and an old friend from university. His success with Ovation magazine is very astute especially in using the Nigerian obsession for lavish consumption and showing off. He is also a very good serious journalist when he bothers to express that side of himself. I just finished reading his latest column in This Day newspaper on Ibadan and I agree entirely with his analysis and call to action. Ibadan as many have heard said is the Intellectual hub of Nigeria and should be its Research and Development Capital. Its proximity to Lagos and its tradition for churning out the best minds are only secondary to the fact that it has scores of Higher Education Colleges and nearly ten universities within 100km radius. Ibadan should be like Cambridge/ Boston axis in the United States.

I am an Ibadan man, I sweat Oluyole. My family goes back to before the Efunsetan that Dele Momodu talks about. My dream day starts with Alapa seeping palm oil or Ekuru with drops of salt as well , I would follow with a lunch of Amala supported with abula with Oro fruit as dessert. I perpetually search the web to add to my stock pile of Epo-Akara and Barrister CDs . I know my Itu taba from Foko. Ibadan is at the heart of what i represent. Oke Ibadan is the brand for the views I express. I have never fully addressed the role of Alhaji Adedibu, the strong man of Ibadan politics even though apparently my family has a long history with him. Without being bogged down in history recent events are also instructive which include my brother Saheed running against his Son for Senate in Ibadan. His Son was brought back belatedly to Nigeria a day before the primaries and 'pushed up the line' in an arranged exercise of democratic success. As a result I should not be a fan and i am not. However Alhaji Adedibu's so called Amala politics is actually a modern Robin Hood operation without the romance. Whilst the elite, modern politicians in the State do not want to 'dirty' their hands with the great unwashed of Bere, Molete, Agugu et al but would rather sup in Bodija with their Middle class supporters, they seek to use Alhaji as a bridge to the working classes. He demands his price with little scruples which he proceeds to share with many whose needs blind them to the longer term consequences of their actions. Ibadan has become his playground unfortunately without any checks and balances. It reminds me of the stories about the behaviour of Bashorun Ogunmola of old whose only restraint was my Great Great Great Grandfather Balogun Ibikunle. As such there is nothing new about an 'erratic' Ibadan 'Strongman '. Adedibu is not the problem but a symptom of broader old disease present in all of Ibadan. It is manifested by an exceptional acceptance of nuances, a studied ambivalence towards conflict, a romantic indulgence for rascals and a pragmatic amorality. It is a double edged sword that allows deviant geniuses to thrive but also cultivates despotic eccentrics. The latter is essentially true when inspirational leadership is totally absent as a true north for the people. This is the root of present predicament for in the absence of vision the people are perishing.

Many now accept the conventional wisdom, that Ibadan is in terminal decline. His young (yes he is male or how else would you describe the home of warriors) desert in droves for the accepting anonymity of Lagos. They run for dear life from the slow death offered by an older generation trapped in gossip, personal conflict and unproductive traditional rituals. They run from the early evening shut downs and the lazy hand of routine. Who can blame them?

I however hate to disappoint the lazy common sense that is now the song and dance of the nattering punditry in the Country as well as wider Diaspora. It is too early to sing the demise of Ibadan and its rusty roofs. It will be a costly thing not just for the city, the state, the country but for the whole of West Africa. Recently the Economist in a piece of inspired commentary raised the vexing issue of the death of the publishing industry in Nigeria and the attendant difficulties for the New breed publishers like Farafina and Cassava. It missed a critical point, the backbone of the entire Nigerian publishing industry which in turn is the centre for West Africa is on one street in Ibadan. As you drive from Sabo to Jehrico crossing over the railway lines you can see them on the left side in their varying states of decay and disuse former giants that carried the entire African Writers series which are classics in the same manner as any in the world. Shadows of a once great industry the churned out Achebe, Ngugi, Camara Laye, Soyinka amongst many others. This is a metaphor for Ibadan , a harbinger for Nigeria , an omen for West Africa and a tragedy for the continent South of the Sahara. If nothing is done it will be a true loss for the rest of the World. It is time for all and sundry who care for the power of ideas, the role of innovation and the genius of the African mind to participate in restoring Ibadan to its intellectual best. The alternative is the mourn another 'Timbuktu' this time watching it happen in real time.

Dele Momodu's article is linked below.


Sherri said...

i was going to say:
haba affa, e renle, is this a case of ohun ani langbe laruge?
but, i have to admit u are right.

ijebuman said...

I definitely understand your piece better than Dele Momodu's article, however it never ceases to amaze me the way everyone in ibadan seems to avoid the Adedibu issue and the impact of his actions in ibadan.
I thought Ibadan was the city of warriors, it seems like the city of cowards these days.

Onibudo said...

Sherri as usual we shave the point . Agbalagba soro o la gun, e mo pe ekun ni o sun. We need to step to the plate on this. Baba Ijebu oro sunuku, oju sunuku lafi wo. It is not the fear of Adedibu but an understanding of the complexity of the issues that leads to restraint. Remember Alhaji Adelakun 'Eruobodo' we always have had war lords that have divided the people and in time we take measure of them. We choose our battles very wisely so that we win the war . That is not an act of cowardice but position of wise warriors. Tani je ode apa erin ni wa ode apa eniyan?

ijebuman said...

since you're dropping Yoruba proverbs, here's one to make you ponder.
Kàkà k'ó sàn lára iya àjé, ó fi gbogbo omo rè bí obìnrin; eye wá subú lu eye

Onibudo said...

E ku owe. E wi imi. But remember this my brother. Mo meye bo lati apo o ri ori re o wipe o dudu, O ti ri iru re na. Until then do not classify us as cowards. It is great to engage in the nuances of proverbs. Ire O

30+ said...

My optimistic side says the mourning of another 'Timbuktu' has long started.

Ibadan is another victim of the decadence that prevails in Nigeria as a country. While Ibadan indeed had relevance in the era when Nigeria valued quality education and research. The present day Nigeria is very much interested in quick wins, paper wealth (money) and there is less room for intellectual wealth.

On the issue of Adedibu I concur with ijebuman, "ko san lara iya aje" rara. I was rather appalled when at the last gubernatorial elections Adedibu was reportedly arrested for having election / voting printing machine in his molete residence. I just knew that this man had took his overbearing political influence too far.

A ko yo ogun kankan ja, and mi or ri eye kankan ti a nmu bo lapo, eye ti fly lo long time. Furthermore gbo omo ogun ti ope oju osuwon ti na papa bora "Ogunmola" (i.e. Adedibu) nikan loku bayi. Until Adedibu passes on to the other side, the face of politics in Ibadan remains the same.

On a lighter note the mention of alaapa and ekuuru brought memories of my grandma. When will i sit down to eat ekuuru and eko again.

Onibudo said...

I hope I will be rocking Alaapa and Ekuuru in the next few days. We can agree to disagree. Giving up till Adedibu dies means he has won. There is a emerging effort many deep including the leadership of Olubadan . It is not just media hyped as Adedibu's actions are. On all other points I concur.