Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monday, January 09, 2012

Beyond transactions and allocation of subsidy. The economics of value

Long time and New years if you still check this place out.

It seems that our government has chosen to handle a profound change from the manual on how to score own goals and make a bad situation worse. Much has been said about this whole mess but for me, putting this Nigeria and its existence at risk is unpardonable. Nigeria is much more than just for those who hold her passport and are born within her borders. It is the boldest African experiment, her success is the dreams, the wish of every well-meaning African and those all over the world who do not subscribe to the inferiority of the people of this continent. It is a sacred trusts that if it fails it confines generations to come to abject inferiority complex. For Nigerians, Africans and the truly committed across the world we owe them the best in us. Worse still we are all trustees by birth and have a profound fiduciary obligation not just to posterity but also to the rest of hopeful and faithful world. As such we are obliged to reflect and respond with a sense of deep responsibility.

Much has been made and rightly so of the Government’s total failure in making a credible case or engaging Nigerians or even preparing them for this policy on ‘subsidy removal.’ It seems to me that they failed the most profound test framing the issue as a technical economic issue hence pushing their economic team out but ignoring that this is a profound adaptive challenge and it is not really their work but the people’s work since they bare the profound effects of this change. I will not use much time on this not because it does not deserve it but because the blaming of personalities ignore a more egregious and deeper challenge. If the government or its advisers bothered they will know that we are trapped in a pattern of immunity to change ,the architecture of which is not fully mapped out either by the Government or its wide ranging popular opposition. It is consistent that we treat one of the most complex countries in the world like a simplistic engine, which with a competent technical authority can be instructed correctly. The consequence is a systemic dysfunction, which drags well-meaning people across all sections of society into desperate and damaging choices.

Our broad economic system of extraction of natural resources, its market exploitation and distribution of the proceeds through proximity and access is no longer fit for purpose. On either side of the subsidy debate the issue is still allocation and management of the proceeds. The fundamental issue is that the system worked for the colonials and partly the 1970s because the numbers worked. A population under 100 million, largely uneducated with lower expectations, each group of elite were able to paternalistic allocate and share opaquely. In the 21st century this cannot and will not work. No matter how you cut the cake and reduce wastage, manage corruption and change Governments the system of rewarding for anything other than value creation, adding value and productivity is doomed to failure. The formal economy that is totally dependent on this transactional changes had by 2002, across all sectors, below 5million jobs. Even if doubled by deregulation in the past 10 years you still have below 10% of the population supported by its expansion. It is woefully inadequate. The true transformation in the short term is not tinkering with this part of the economy but wholesale transformation of the informal economy that involves nearly 90% of Nigerians. It is in this transformation that lies the solution to corruption. If we make the informal economy active, involved and supported we ensure its transparency. We will expand the economy, diversify its capacity, embed real value and uplift lives across the country. With improved capacity for mechanics, tailors, traders and organizing them into effective clusters we improve the tax base of government and inevitably increase citizenship. Much can be done in the short term starting with the markets. For example every member of the National Assemblies community allowance should be conditional to the infrastructure and development of the markets in their local areas.
We must arrive by 2014 to a place where majority of Nigerians have income traceable to productive and legitimate activities in that period government can work to delivering a plan of similar productivity improvements in the public sector and so called deregulation in the organized private sector. In the short term on this issue of subsidy we should have a set of options framed in terms of questions put before a referendum. Government can use the same markets and telecoms organization with overseeing ombudsman or team to decide where we go on this specific policy issue.
It is time to put Nigeria ahead of all our allocating divisions and resources competition we should build her towards the future we want for our children. For me it has to be a meritocratic place of equality of opportunity and wisdom about complexity. We have no right to put her at such risk and we should be humble enough to work beyond or our allocation obsession and our life of entitlements.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stop the Musical Chairs in Oyo State

First as part tax payer in Lagos State I give my unreserved support to Governor Fashola to continue his pursuit of excellence and maintain the role of Lagos as the benchmark for the rest of the country. I however have my eyes set on the other side of the expressway.

Oyo state in general and Ibadan in particular holds a unique and special place in the National consciousness. In spite of recent erosion it is still the capital of research and publishing in Nigeria. In recent times Ibadan and by extension Oyo state has been greatly reduced in the National consciousness to regular political conflicts (not unusual) but also a provincial backwater. Her sons and daughters leaving in droves to record the unacceptable credit of being the only urban metropolis to record a drop in population as urbanisation across the country increases annually by 5.8%.

Oyo State has three front runners for the post and role of Governor. They are the current Governor , Chief Adebayo Akala, Ex Governor Rasheed Ladoja and Former Senator Abiola Ajimobi. Whoever becomes Governor has their job truly cut out for them as politics as exploited the differences amongst people especially pitting those who would zone Governorship to Ibadan people against some other areas. The issue should never be where you come from but the merit and potential that you have to effect change, transform lives and inspire collaboration with the citizens. It is worthy of note that no matter how bad it has been in Ibadan the most neglected part of Oyo state has been Oke Ogun.

The incumbent Governor has had more than the four year term set out constitutionally to make his mark. He at best has tried to conduct targeted management of decayed and decaying infrastructure. He has been bereft of ideas and shown very little capacity to transform the state. His treatment of public servants has been nothing short of irresponsible. The capital city has become a disgusting panorama of hastily constructed, badly maintained, ad hoc shop fronts. There is total lack of any civic authority to manage the excesses of people desperately seeking subsistence in the face of an ’owambe’ government. Mechanic yards strewn major thoroughfares, trailers have their way across the expressway within the city limit, Iwo road is a bottle neck of deep road craters and scrambling motorists without any intervention from any traffic authorities. The markets which are the heartbeat of the city are all in constant devolving cycles. The Government trots out Mapo Hall and roads across the old town as accomplishments. If that is all it has achieved then it is a depressing picture of lack of competence.

Nothing the incumbent Governor has done was done without the active and tacit support of some in the city of Ibadan. In fact Governor Akala became the Governor through the choices of two sons of the City of heroes. The late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and the Ex Governor Rasheed Ladoja. Ex Govenor Ladoja an accomplished entrepreneur and a proven original thinker enters this contest with an interesting and attractive manifesto. His record in office has been largely transactional and obscured by his successor. His progress in human development in the state is undermined by his failures on infra structure maintenance. However worse he has a record of poor judgement. In his alliance with Alhaji Adedibu, his choice of Chief Akala as his Deputy Governor and now his decision to split the Ibadan vote by seeking office in the face of the opportunity to leverage this largest block of votes so that the state can move on from the legacy that he and Alhaji Adedibu have saddled on its back.

Former Senator Abiola Ajimobi is a proven executive as a former CEO of National Oil (now Conoil). He is also a proven civic minded individual with successful social entrepreneurship through his Vocational centres across the land. He represents a real opportunity to move beyond the musical chairs in Agodi between Chief Akala and Alhaji Ladoja. Like Ladoja his manifesto is ambitious and encouraging. Unlike Ladoja he represents a new way ahead. Some want to vote Ladoja because he paid salaries on time . It is like calling me Father of the year because I paid my children’s school fees. It is my obligation as it is the responsibility of Government to meet its obligation to public servants. It is a mark of how low the standards have fallen in Agodi that this is considered a selling point.

It is arguable that both Alhaji Ladoja and Governor Akala will benefit from the Constitutional immunity from EFCC prosecution in cases that are still going through the court system but we need a clean break. We need a competent executive in Agodi and the choice is Abiola Ajimobi.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Power over or Power with

Nigeria will vote into power over the next few weeks and the key determinant of people’s choices will be based on analysis of the fundamental challenge of this greatly loved and often vilified country. For many who believe her problem is corruption and indiscipline they will choose General Buhari retired, an honest and strict man who oversaw the worst drop in the countries economic history and ran one of its most authoritarian dictatorships. For those who see the key challenge as generational they are most likely to cast their vote for Mr Ribadu , a post independence poster child who ran one of the most successful intervention against corruption even though many saw him as just a political attack dog. For those who want to end the irrational and badly engineered hegemony of tribal as well as sectional majorities well the current President is their choice. Then you have the articulate performance of Mallam Shekarau who seemed to have captured those who wanted someone with the Presidential command of an audience or subject.

As we look at the rest of the world days before this election however what lesson is the challenges and standard raised and flying across the Middle East teach the Nigerian voter? What lessons is emerging at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century? What is clear is that the 21st century abhors hierarchy . It is also through that it is not impressed about the size and range of your hardware. What emerges is that the challenge of the 21st century is power with; rather than power over. so how do our Presidential candidates fare as 21st century leaders who can enable the best angel of Nigerians so they can transform their country. Make no mistake about it the transformation of Nigeria will not be done in Aso Rock or even in the respective state houses but in the shacks, face me I face you , bungalows and duplexes of the 28 million Nigerian families. On the key issues that Nigerians have raised as priorities which are employment/economy, Power and education.

On Econmy

The Buhari/ CPC manifesto is the most specific and detailed on the economy and has key highlights especially integrating the informal economy as well as reform of the Land use Act both of which can be transformational. The Ribadu principle of creating macro economic discipline is similar to the Jonathan approach both are broad brushed and appear transactional however therein lies the challenge. The Buhari principle assumes that government has power over the economy rather than creating the climate for enabling the private sector. On the other hand lack of greater specificity in both the Ribadu and Jonathan are more focussed on the enabling environment.

On corruption

The Ribadu manifesto is the most transformative recognising implicitly the issue of equality of opportunity and the need for a system of creating value over concentration on the efficient and transparent distribution that underpins both the Jonathan and Buhari outlooks. The Ribadu manifesto looks at Corruption as challenge not just in Government but in all sectors of society and commits to enabling a value creation culture that will open up responsibility. In fact Ribadu of the three has the real not imagined track record for the best intervention against corruption in Nigeria.

On Power

The Ribadu manifesto is by far the clearest statement, setting out an agenda for capacity improvement and the increase in energy sources. It specifically engages the longer term and sustainable needs of Nigeria. The Jonathan manifeto is short on facts but maybe relies on the Energy Policy of the Government which recognises the role of the Private sector as does the Ribadu position. The Buhari or CPC manifesto is focused solely on increased capacity with a broad statement on alternative energies.

All the manifestos ignore the most sustained and profound trend in the Nigerian landscape i.e. the issue of urban migration or urbanisation and its implications for the future. It currently grows at about twice the rate of population growth ie. 2.8% per annum population growth and 5.8% Urban population growth. They also ignore the unsustainable nature of the population growth and its effect on the ability to provide quality life. Far more revealing is their position on Women’s development. Jonathan’s plan is totally silent on Women’s issue or their special role in transforming the country. In the Buhari/CPC manifesto it appears Women are an afterthought . It essentially guarantees that women have their constitutional rights and representation. The Ribadu Manifesto puts the women’s agenda at the top of their list setting out the implementation of all international commitments to the development and transformation of the lives of women. It is also the only Manifesto that gives specific focus to the majority of the Nigerians, the young people.

The Presidency of the Federal republic of Nigerian is not a place for temper tantrums. It is a sacred role to enable the dreams of nearly 150 million Nigerian for a society in which they can pursue prosperity. The challenge is to find the leader who recognises we need authoritative engagement, not authoritarian pronouncements, that inspires ownership not encourage dependency, one that understands that it is ultimately to share in our power not have power over us.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Nation Builder

The world is watching somewhat befuddled as the inspirational Obama mantra ‘Yes we can ‘ has become reduced to ‘Damn he couldn’t’. What was supposed to be a call for national commitment to a collective aspiration towards to ‘audacity of hope’ has been reduced to ‘we expected him to walk on water and he didn’t so take him to the stockade’. I suppose that is the choice in the US but only that it gives lie to this constantly refrain here in Nigeria, if only we had that leader.

As 2010 draws to a close and we get ready for the ‘race tracks’ of 2011 it is worthwhile to step back and reconsider what it would actually take to truly transform Nigeria. Lets start with the nature of our challenge. I think many commentators totally underestimate what it would take to truly transform the lives of over 100 million people. In fact in my estimation only two countries have done it with legitimacy and genuine development i.e. China and India . The others such as US, Russia have used degrees of exploitation and abuse of others and used the resources of ‘colonies‘ that they are models that cannot truly be replicated. Indonesia which is closest to Nigeria in key characteristics has in spite of its progress loads yet to do, similarly Brazil to name just two. Pakistan is in arguably a worse state than Nigeria. So very few countries have fully been able to truly meet the challenge of that size population effectively. However those who have show certain qualities; a culture of enterprise; a commitment to excellence; an obsession for transformation and yes desire for experimentation and innovation (especially in the economic space). In the case of both China and India there is corruption as well as tyranny of different sort in the public space. Their leaders are no paragons of virtue and their governments are not simply as open and as accountable as the Western standards that we parrot daily.

Nigeria is also different to most others with the exception of Indonesia in that it is extremely complex in its composition and in the mix of organisational elements that it tries to wield into a cohesive system of operation. Worse than most of these other countries the language it tries to use to inspire, communicate and organise the transformation is borrowed and alien to her people. Simply the work of transforming Nigeria is a phenomenal task that must have at its foundation a lot of original thinking. It is therefore unfortunate that two orientations most prevalent in the way everyone and especially the elite of all stripes and ideology thinks and behave are the complete opposite of what is required. Nigerians are transactional in everything even when talking revolution as well as cut and paste in approach. You can blame transactional orientation on the fact that we come from mostly trading traditions and most of our ancient city states evolved from primarily trade. However this has worsened through the extractive and distributive system that funds our government and underpins our formal economy. It is unproductive and ineffective for the unique and enormous challenge of a nation in pursuit of excellence and prosperity in the 21st century. Yes , we cut and paste all the time. We borrow as consumers ideas fashioned out of hunger and experimentation in the West and import them wholesale into our context without any genuine adaptation or cultural fit. We assume westernisation is the only modernisation but both China, India and even Indonesia disprove this.

We have pursued letters behind our names and passed many exams to achieve this but the effect has not been education or curiosity or even embracing innovation. It has been a people so regimented and conservative in thought that in spite of evidence of failure they cling to infallability of borrowed ideas. Nigerians have no business in the extolling of traditions or being in the girdle doctrines . Experiment or be dammed , innovate at all cost should be our mantra.

To truly transform as we must we all need a new mindset. We need to move beyond this dance of criticism and commentary to the orientation of nation builders. Looking for so called leaders in government is a failure to understand the 21st century. A time where hierarchies fall daily , a period where it is not about the intelligence of the few but the wisdom of multitudes. We must be the ones who set the agenda clearly so that we are agreed and understand the standards on which we will elect governments who deliver our will. To get to that clarity we need our churches, mosques, associations, unions, clubs and community groups refocus on ideas and their importance in shaping new paths. This starts with us taking responsibility for finding solutions, the more original the better. It starts in the family giving voice and platform to the curiosity of our children rather than smothering it with oppressive ageism. We need a communal space that is active , engaged and oriented towards finding sustainable solution. It is the individual, family and community that are the building blocks of a nation . It is time to take responsibility and build our nation and transform our lives, that cannot be the job of government and even it is they are uniquely incompetent for it. To transform, a good government will help but we need a generation or two of committed nation builders. Now that is the revolution that will not be televised.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Repost from Article of Leonard Shilgba , A Nigerian Citizen and Nationalist.

Nigeria, the North, And How It Will All End

By Leonard Karshima Shilgba, PhD

Wednesday, 06. October 2010

To the families of Nigerians that lost their lives in the dastardly bombing act on October 1, 2010, I can only express regrets that with unabashed abandon, elders such as Adamu Ciroma and his colleagues, under a nondescript organization called NORTHERN POLITICAL LEADERS FORUM, are exploiting their misfortune and that of the nation to make as much political capital as possible.
I am a Tiv man from Benue State, who happens to be a Nigerian by the craftsmanship of the British. I am called a Northerner by geographical convenience. Accordingly, I shall open my heart and speak advisedly on some serious issues that have beset us as a nation most lately. I appeal to the reader to follow me carefully and thoughtfully as I make reference to some statements I have made in some previous articles for elucidation.
I saw and wrote about what I saw in November 2009 in an article entitled: "On Yar’Adua’s Incapacitation, the Constitution, and a Dream" the following words:
"It was Sunday night on November 22, 2009. I went to bed and had what you may call an open vision or a dream. Nigeria’s president at the time, Mr. Umar Yar’Adua had died. I saw that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice-President assumed the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There was uneasiness, particularly in the northern part of Nigeria. In this dream, Dr. Goodluck declined the request by the North not to contest the presidential elections in 2011. Then, the unease turned to something inexplicably dastardly."
The bomb blasts on October 1, 2010 and the near euphoric reaction by people like Adamu Ciroma, the "Northern Political Leaders Forum" and their supporters did not come to me as a surprise. But I know exactly how the drama shall play out. Nigerians, we must not forget so soon:
When Boko Haram struck in 2009, Ciroma and his "Northern Political Leaders Forum" did not ask the late president (Umar Yar’Adua) to resign. When the leader of Boko Haram was killed in the custody of Nigerian security agents in an extra-judicial manner, apparently to silence him in order to protect his sponsors, Ciroma and his collaborators did not ask Yar’Adua to resign. How dare Ciroma and his collaborators to insult the intelligence of Nigerians!
Repeatedly, Nigerians have been butchered and killed during "religious riots" in Northern Nigeria, the latest and most recurring being the Jos and Plateau State pogrom. Ciroma and his group were silent and did not ask President Yar’Adua, who was president during the peak of the crisis last year, to resign.
I am sure Ciroma was in Nigeria when the first act of bombing was carried out in Nigeria under the dictatorship of General Babangida, when Dele Giwa was killed. I don’t know if he called on the General to resign.
We have lived in numerous crises orchestrated by the generation of Adamu Ciroma; I am not aware that Adamu Ciroma has reacted passionately, calling on the president or Head of State during those crises to resign.
Just recently, when the late President Yar’Adua left the country without a leader, and so in crisis, it was people like Adamu Ciroma, who threatened that nobody should remove Yar’Adua. He has never shown any interest in the preservation of this country, Nigeria.
We know exactly what the generation of Adamu Ciroma is trying to do. We know what exploiters of the nation’s recent misfortune are eager to accomplish. They seek to sow seeds of discord and split further the north and south. They seek to cut off whatever remaining emotional attachment between the north and south. To what use is our education if we fail to see through this? They want to sustain the politics of divide that has left our nation swooning. They delight in holding the back of the mirror before us and yet abusing us for our inability to see our faces. They use religion to separate us while by their acts and utterances they show they aren’t religious at all. But the end of the present drama shall depend on how President Jonathan handles issues. I shall provide some insight into what he can do and should do if Nigeria will survive this latest onslaught:
Avoid Distraction: The end has definitely come for those veterans of divide-and-rule politics. President Jonathan should desist from making further comments about the on-going investigation into the bombings of October 1, 2010 and allow his aides and relevant security officials to address us on the progress of the case. The reason is simple; whatever he says shall be misconstrued by professional politicians who want to mock the nation and distract from hunting down killers of our patriots who innocently lost their lives on October 1, 2010. Take, for instance, his recent statement that MEND did not bomb Abuja on October 1, 2010, but "terrorists" did. I listened to him. He went further to say that "terrorists" such as bombed Abuja and engaged in kidnapping recently in Nigeria committed such heinous acts, not for any altruistic reasons such as the liberation of the oppressed, but for personal selfish gain. An objective listener understood what the president was saying, "Don’t hide under a group such as MEND to commit criminal acts; you are a terrorist, pure and simple." The question is, who is MEND that bombed Abuja? Let us see his face. If some criminals claiming to be MEND have refused to show their faces, but rather chosen to hide behind some four-one-nine-like emails, and others, who have been known to be MEND’s leaders have publicly disassociated themselves from the crime, then it is not difficult to say MEND did not commit the act but "terrorists" did. And once investigations unearth sufficient evidence, those individuals shall be charged to court in their names and not in the name of some faceless MEND. What the president said was deep, but people choose to hear what they may.
Avoid deceit: In an article, "Nigeria: Interpreting Times And Events", I warned, based on what I saw at the time, that we were living in a period of great deception; that the mutually assured destruction of politicians, who shall betray each other leading up to the 2011 elections, shall lead to the liberation of the good people. I then warned that Jonathan was not clean. If President Jonathan will help himself and therefore, Nigeria, he must not use any information at his disposal, which should have been used to free Nigeria, to rather score for himself political points and blackmail his political opponents. He must not allow himself to be frightened from taking decisive steps simply because some people may impute wrong motives. If he does, he is done for. The law must strictly take its course, whosoever is affected.
Avoid destructions: Why will the president go beyond the INEC’s request for extension of time to seek further amendments to the electoral Act 2010, which shall allow his aides, ministers, Ambassadors, Chairmen of Boards of parastatals etc., to vote in party indirect primaries? This is exactly what I was wary about when I wrote the article "INEC Should Stop This Distraction and Confusion!" President Jonathan must not shred any existing laws for the immediacy of self-service.
No zone or region of Nigeria presently has a stable and strong leadership to guarantee a convenient split-up of the nation. I therefore, believe that should Nigeria be forced to break up by the provocations of elders such as Adamu Ciroma, who have lost self-control, the consequences of further break-ups shall make every mile a country in the aftermath. The North (of which I am a member) has no right to decide who should run for an elective office or not. Besides, no man or woman, elder or youth has the mandate to speak on behalf of the North in the same way no man presently (post-amnesty) can speak on behalf of MEND. Ciroma and his "Northern Elder Politicians Forum" do not speak for me and many other Northerners. I understand that Dr. Iorchiya Ayu, a fellow Tiv man, is a top official of that forum. He and all his colleagues in that forum do not speak for Dr. Leonard Shilgba and Northerners in general. And I believe that given my training and passion, I deserve to be heard and my views deserve to be examined too. Ciroma speaks for himself; and his group must not arrogate to itself the responsibility to speak on behalf of the North. I will surely speak at the polls just like any Northerner or Nigerian from whatever region can do if they so choose. When I reach out to cast my vote, at that moment I have the power to decide politically who shall govern me. Enough of this nonsense! These are people that have destroyed Nigeria, left our children dying before they reach the age of five; left the amajiris of the North uneducated while they send their children abroad and to expensive private schools in Nigeria; left the north far poorer than any region in this country; left the north with horrible roads just as in other regions of Nigeria; and left our country with poor social services. They cannot deceive northerners of my generation, not with our education at least, unless our degrees are as useless as their arguments have been.
As I conclude, permit me to make some profound assertions:
There shall be no military take-over of government in Nigeria.
Many politicians will make a snare and fall inside. Some shall pay with their lives. Stray arrows shall get them.
The mystery woven shall be broken; the faces shall be revealed. That is the task of President Jonathan. If he deviates an inch from the true rule of law, betrays compassion, yields to pressure from "Traditional rulers" and "stakeholders", he himself shall be consumed. Remember King Saul. If you spare King Agag, the throne shall be taken from you. I have spoken. He that has an ear let him hear.
I speak to King Agag. Although you say in your foolish haste, "Surely the bitterness of death is past," you are deluded. For you shall be hewn down, even if not by the hands of a disobedient President Jonathan. "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." You shall be blown up in pieces.
These are no ordinary times.

Leonard Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria and President of the Nigeria Rally Movement ( ).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ibadan regeneration (ongoing)

Over the past few days remarks made by Mallam Ribadu the former Chairman of EFCC during his lecture at the late Bola Ige birthday event has earned caustic response from the Oyo state government through Chief Gbade Ishola. Without rehearsing both angles I think it is a welcome thing that regeneration of Ibadan has become a topical issue. It is however an issue that requires a different discourse than that of a partisan political nature. I will avoid choosing sides because what is at stake is far more significant than who is right or wrong nor is it about the coming election.

The city of Ibadan represents a totally unique space in the history and potentially future of the nation. It has been the largest indigenous city of its kind in Africa but also the intellectual cradle of the Nigerian state. If we valued anything in our current transactional mindset it would be this city that evolve through a unique, meritocracy into a warrior republic using a constitution experiment that remains largely intact today. She carries three powerful dimension for our future, a habit of cultural innovation that includes the first television station; a platform for intellectual curiosity and academic expression that spawned the first university; a network of informal commerce that is translated into scores of open air markets including the largest market for indigenous textile in Oje. To say that Ibadan has regressed is not to focus blame on any one party in what should be a partnership to preserve her legacy and generate a vision to renew her.

Ibadan is perhaps the only city in Africa that is bucking the trend in urbanisation especially in the number of young people she has lost. The downward trend for the city started with the much vaunted Structural Adjustment Programme of the Babangida regime in the mid 1980s. This policy that decimated the Nigerian middle classes destroyed the vibrancy of Ibadan which was the most middle class of all cities in Nigeria. The disdain in which the universities, research institutes and that almost uniquely local focus i.e. ‘publishing was treated wiped out the intellectual values, skills and industries. The lack of priority for education also destroyed the place as an education destination from across the country. The middle class values of community , perseverance and long term effort were killed and replaced with neo liberal individualism leading to the triumph of the hustler class. Shame died and became replaced with wanton materialism. Ibadan has never recovered. Subsequent governments, local and national have neither had the desire nor have had the resources to prioritise Ibadan above other things they feel necessary . It does not start with the present government in Oyo sate. There is of course the inevitable structural problem of a potential ‘world centre’ in a largely rural, agricultural state. Maybe the challenge of renewing Ibadan might be a drain to ‘development’ in other parts of the State?

These challenges have not been helped by the false division amongst the citizens of our metropolis. The identification of indigene versus resident is a very poor choice. The founders of our great city came from all over Yoruba land to find fortune through valour and might rather than from birthright and bloodline. Nowhere is merit more forcefully enforced as the standard of excellence than in the ancient home of Oluyole. We as citizens have also failed our city in not creating a large enough umbrella as is our tradition. We failed to make talent, excellence and love for the betterment of our land as the only standard for determining whether one qualifies as Ibadan or otherwise. No great city is a creation of government alone but a result of the collective vision and contribution of her people , businesses, civic organisations and government in partnership. Even if the Oyo state government believes it has done some things the honest truth is that there is a lot more to do. Our city now has a shop front in every house, our roads struggle to absorb traffic because of the number of cars struggling for space. Nowhere is there more research institutes than Ibadan but they are not connected by the highway of this century in fibre optic broadband. The publishing industry in magazine road is a very pale shadow of the ‘capital ‘ of west africa that it was. I know from Mallam Ribadu’s comments that he cares and i know from my limited interaction with Chief Gbade Ishola that he is passionate about Ibadan. We can have a civil dialogue about the best way ahead.

Last year we started this process with Mesiogo initiative (outside of government and politics) to work across stakeholders for a long term regeneration for our city. We have a draft plan from robust dialogue that includes survey of nearly 5,000 citizens and a town hall meeting that involved all works of life. Lets continue this dialogue and effort without succumbing to self serving partisanship. No one has a monopoly of ideas or responsibility as we strive to continuously evolve Ibadan not just to the greatness of her pioneering past but also higher to the possibilities of prosperity for many more generations to come.

Join us :