Monday, March 8, 2021
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This compilation commences with glowing tributes to the memory of late Emeritus Prof. O.O. Akinkugbe who passed on a few weeks ago. I interacted closely with him through one of his mentees, Dr. Kola Akinroye (then Chairman, Osun State Hospitals Management Board)  who convinced Baba Akinkugbe to condescend so low to assist with getting the Medical School of Osun State University off the ground. He is remembered here because our thoughts address how to replace the depleting set of second-generation Nigerian scholars of international repute that include great stars like the Kenneth Dikes, JF Ade-Ajayis, Hezekiah Oluwasanmis, Ojetunji Aboyades, Akin Mabogunjes, Wole Soyinkas, Wande Abimbolas, Bolanle Awes, Adetoun Ogunseyes, Tekena Tamunos, Oritsejolomi Thomas’, Victor Oyenugas, Olukayode Osuntokuns, Olukayode Oyedirans, Grace Alele-Williams, Obaro Ikimes,  and others too numerous to mention. Will the likes of these stars be replicated again? Only God could tell. Farewell Prof. O.O Akinkugbe.

NIGERIANS ARE GOOD SUBJECTS – NOT ACTIVE CITIZENS – THE IDEAL IS TO CONTROL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN GOVERNMENT — AKIN MABOGUNJE: Emeritus Prof. Akin Mabogunje belongs to the same set of notable academics named above.  I have read Emeritus Prof. Akin Mabogunje’s works on good governance several times. He cannot be easily faulted. His postulations reveal the best and honest intentions and inner desire for the common good.  In one of his papers, Mabogunje argues that: ”If people themselves are not committed to ensuring that those they elect to govern them are made accountable to them, then those Councilors and Chairmen of Local Governments are likely to pay more attention to feathering their own nests than providing services and improving infrastructural facilities of the area they are meant to govern.  In other words, if we prefer to be “good subjects” rather than “active citizens”, we will continue to suffer the deprivations and development-deficit that go with poor governance”

MEETING WITH FORMER VICE-PRESIDENT JOE R. BIDEN JNR –  I am sharing this from my memoirs not as a reputation enhancing piece, but as information that could aid African nations to embrace the culture of good governance that includes accountability and transparency. The first experience is about accessibility to public office holders who must behave like servants not bosses of the civil populace. A few decades ago, I was in the United States for a relatively long time that afforded me the opportunity of asking my wife and children to join me for a few weeks. In the process of completing their immigration formalities in Lagos, they got stuck on account of suspicion that they were intending illegal migrants. But I had enough money on my account.  I felt that the consular officer was unjust in arriving at his decision and decided to act like the average citizen of the United States who presses for his/her fundamental human rights at the slightest opportunity. The rule of law is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the ‘’land of Human Rights’’ like I always describe the United States.

VISA DENIAL: I wanted the issue revisited. Promptly, I landed in the constituency office of Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Joseph Robinett Biden) in Wilmington, Delaware. There was nobody waiting outside to ask for a monetary gift or similar obligations. Biden was there for a pure legislative business of attending to constituents. He was then the Chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and Member of the Foreign Relations Committee.  In other climes, that position commands enough weight to breathe down the neck of the officials who treated my family members’ visa applications.  We spoke for a couple of minutes one-one-one and I submitted a petition quoting cogent reasons why I felt my wife and children were not fairly treated. I latched on to one statement by the interviewer advising my wife to use the money on her account for good purposes in Nigeria. Senator Biden looked every inch a very compassionate and simple personality. He educated me: ‘’Gentleman, those consular officers are officials of the United States Secretary of State. ‘’I have no power to ask them to reverse their decision. ‘’Not even the Secretary of State dabbles into their business. ‘’What I would do is to issue a letter appealing to the Consulate-General in Lagos to review the visa denial decision based on the representations you have made’’

FAMILY VALUES & VISA ISSUANCE: Joe R. Biden Jnr. (who became Barack Obama’s deputy for 8 years) as the 47th Vice-President of the United States wrote a two-page letter requesting that my representations be examined by the United States Consulate in Lagos. Another surprise – Biden said: They will not treat the letter if I send it by fax myself because they would always require the original copy. So please send the letter by courier and let me know the outcome. Promptly, I sent the letter as instructed and two weeks later, the visa denial decisions were reviewed for my family members to join me for vacation. Incidentally, one of the reasons I pleaded was FAMILY VALUES that one of our media/communication channels is currently handling as a social development activity. I utilized subtle ‘’blackmail’’ that someone probably wanted me to commit bigamy by going out with another lady in the United States if my wife was prevented from coming in. Don’t mind me. If legislation on bigamy is to be enforced today in our society, the prisons will be full, majorly of very prominent people.

My wife recently reminded me that we visited the Bidens for dinner when she and our children joined me but I never sustained the relationship.  Let me warn visa applicants who may wish to plead same reason that no two situations are exactly alike in immigration matters. The discretion is that of the consular officer. Besides, times have changed.  Joe R. Biden Jr. in my personal estimation is an extremely simple, level-headed and humble personality. Before becoming the Vice-President, Biden had represented the State of Delaware in the U.S Senate for 26 years. Nobody asked him to quit on account of the length of years or rotational regulations. Our prayers and best wishes for Joe Biden as he contests for U.S Presidency, having won his party’s ticket.  Biden, 77 years old, is coming out in his third bid for the presidency.

Strong support from black voters ensured his successes so far in capturing the Democratic nomination. CNN had on June 16 reported that: ”Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign says it raised nearly $81 million in May, a clear jump over his April figures. ”Biden added to that haul later Monday night when he raked in $6 million through a 620-person virtual fundraiser with his one-time Democratic primary rival, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It was the campaign’s biggest fundraiser to date. “Thank you for asking your friends to help me out. It’s the biggest fundraiser we’ve ever had. And it’s all because of you,” Biden told Warren during the event, according to a pool report.”

DEMOCRACY IN THE UNITED STATES: THE PRESIDENT IS ALWAYS ABUSED – TRUMAN: Harry S.  Truman asserted that:  ‘’It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. . “The buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States who popularized and fixed the phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. He is quoted as stating in his 1953 farewell address that: The President—whoever he is—has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.’’ Some people have rated Truman as the most courageous president in U.S history.  He once stated that: Fame is a vapour, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures: character” He is also on record as asserting that ‘’The President is always abused. If he isn’t, he isn’t doing anything’’ Failure to uphold these very high standards of democratic governance forms the major problem retarding development in Africa.

Below: The Ekemini Dancers of Akwa Ibom State … going places if well managed

ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY: MY WITNESS:  I was in the United States not too long ago for consultations with some organizations for partnership for staging some events in Nigeria. I had previously done some reports on Cultural Diplomacy, the type that in 2010 and 2011 opened up Osun State to the international community. God used me to commence the facilitation of the visit of the US Conference of Black Mayors and the World Conference of Mayors. I actually initiated the contacts and, alongside a few people followed through as directed; a move that brought the US international community, particularly Africans in the Diaspora and participants from all parts of the world to the State. I have always believed that Osun is sitting on a gold mine in terms of its rich culture and tourism sub-sector.

MY VISIT TO A GOVERNOR’S OFFICE – STUNNING:  I made a reference to the foregoing as a preamble to my experiences on accountability in the United States with huge potentials for partnerships and sponsorships. I was in the city, a highly cosmopolitan settlement with a bias for African cultures hoping for the best. As a believer, I have always believed in the efficacy of prayers and, therefore,  prayed several days before embarking on trips. I have always prayed for the abiding presence of God to go ahead of me. And the Lord has been very faithful because of the anointing for accomplishments with ease as the presence of God would always go ahead of me.  That doesn’t mean I pray and God to sleep. I pray and work hard for God to pull my efforts through. And I don’t go into uncommanded assignments.

I commenced my working visit to the City of Atlanta, GA with consultations with the Mayor’s office, and after the meeting trekked to the State of Georgia’s governor’s office.  I knew I was supposed to be monitored electronically. The Governor’s office had no fence! Only one sentry was outside standing at alert with his gun. I walked up to him and demanded to go inside. He never asked to know my name but signaled to me to go inside. More surprises. I entered the hallway and met only one policeman seated by a scanner. He requested to know my mission. I told him and passed me on after scrutinizing my bag by the scanner. I wondered quietly: only one policeman at the entrance to a governor’s office!

But I reasoned that many security officers would be on surveillance by the camera inside the office, or in a hidden location. There was nobody waiting for official consultations or contracts. Nobody was looking for undue favour.  Not too far away was located the governor’s secretariat to which I was directed. I went in and was confronted by a warm atmosphere of very friendly and courteous aides of the governor. Again, I reasoned that all transactions were recorded by closed-circuit television. I want to believe that the heathens that raged out of envy back home in Nigeria, would have successfully completed that assignment in Atlanta.This notwithstanding, they never behaved as if they were doing me an obligation. But the importance of capacity building, as well as training and retraining of public servants cannot be underestimated. It has been established that an untrained professional is worse off than his/her counterpart who is physically constrained.

Why Atlanta? Numerous opportunities for collaboration, partnerships and sponsorships. The State of Georgia with headquarters in Atlanta has for long been a reputable community of black wealth, higher education, political power, and culture. Remember Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jnr originated and operated from that community. In the State of Georgia, the Mayor of Atlanta is a relatively young black lady 50-year-old Keisha Lance Bottoms. Another black lady, Stacey Abrams, backed by Oprah Winfrey ran on the platform of the Democrats for governor of Georgia against Republican Brian Kemp, a former Georgia Secretary of State for 8 years before emerging its 83rd governor. If she won, she would have made history as the first black female governor in the U.S.

IMPORTANCE OF GOOD GOVERNANCE – In all, I saw these as far advanced conducts than exhibited in African nations. The major objective of seeking power is to govern or control society or organization in accordance with established principles, norms and values. The positive effects of good governance largely account for why the global community has come to accept this principle as the formula for advancement in all settings where governance (political or corporate) is practiced and adopted as the mode of conducting affairs and businesses. Good governance is evidently the single most important factor in promoting development, and the vehicle for the delivery of good governance is the public service.

THE PRESS AS THE UNOFFICIAL FOURTH ARM OF GOVERNMENT — DONALD TRUMP VS CNN: This account below left me gasping for breath. Ordinarily, the American president as landlord of the White House cannot evict a correspondent attached to the White House! I initially thought that if I reside somewhere and I say I don’t want you around, you must keep off.  Indeed, there is no better example of a democratic society than the United States where citizens are always protecting their rights by appealing to the courts for remedy and the enforcement of their fundamental human rights. Donald John Trump, is the 45th and current President of the United States.  White House media managers withdrew the official pass of a CNN correspondent on account of an unruly behavior. The accused – Acosta and CNN were accused of frequent targets of President Donald Trump who has always accused CNN of unfair coverage of his administration.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE RESCUE The Bill of Rights provides constitutional protection for certain individual liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to assemble and petition the government. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids the government from abridging freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly cited the due process argument in granting Acosta a two-week injunction to get back to work. The White House initially fought back, saying it had made a preliminary decision to keep Acosta out when the two weeks were up. The White House respected the ruling of the court, took Acosta back and remarked that “President Trump believes strongly in the First Amendment and interacts with the press in just such a way. But Acosta who was vindicated tweeted that: ‘’We are not the enemy of the people. “I am not your enemy. ‘’You are not my enemy. ‘’It is wrong to call your fellow Americans the enemy. ‘’We are all on the same team. ‘’We are all Americans.”

DEMOCRACY: An erudite Nigerian scholar, Prof. Akin Mabogunje has submitted that: ‘’ democracy is not just about how representatives are chosen. It is about how the citizens are regarded in the decision-making process – whether they are believed to be individually the equal of those making decisions and have the freedom to accept or reject any decisions made on their behalf or whether they are inferior beings on whom any decisions can be imposed.’’ He continues:  ‘’Accountability of elected representatives to those who elected them at each level of government and not to any other body however highly placed, is thus central to the operations of a democratic system.’’  The foregoing proves that the press must behave responsively by cooperating with the government and the governed; and monitor the performance of government with a view to preventing deviation from agreed objectives, while also providing platforms for the governed to react to government’s policies and activities.

AMAZED – ACCOUNTABLE JOURNALISM:  The United States ranks 48th among nations for press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders (RWB). I read with utter consternation a report contained in the Kansas City Star newspaper edition of May 7, 1918, that states expressly a view that it could be treasonable to support a President of the United States! I probed further to know the grounds: “The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty, to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. ‘’To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.” —Teddy Roosevelt, Kansas City Star, May 7, 1918

Pix Credits: Axios.com, wikipedia

 

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