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Guiding Lights: The Enduring Influence of Olufadi Balarabe Teniola

In the realm of academia, Olufadi assumes the role of a teacher with remarkable finesse. His lessons are not mere lectures; they are experiences that captivate hearts and minds alike. His depth of knowledge, combined with his passion for imparting wisdom, creates an environment where learning is not a chore but a privilege. The clarity with which he conveys complex concepts and his ability to spark curiosity are testaments to his teaching prowess.

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BY: OBANLA RIDWAN OLAWALE

In the journey of education and personal growth, there are those exceptional individuals who play roles far beyond their titles. Olufadi Balarabe Teniola is undeniably one of these extraordinary souls. A mentor, a teacher, and a brother, his influence reaches far beyond the confines of a classroom. As one fortunate enough to be under his guidance, I find myself filled with gratitude for his unwavering dedication and inspirational words that have shaped my path.

In the realm of academia, Olufadi assumes the role of a teacher with remarkable finesse. His lessons are not mere lectures; they are experiences that captivate hearts and minds alike. His depth of knowledge, combined with his passion for imparting wisdom, creates an environment where learning is not a chore but a privilege. The clarity with which he conveys complex concepts and his ability to spark curiosity are testaments to his teaching prowess.

Beyond the classroom, Olufadi seamlessly transitions into the role of a mentor. A mentor goes beyond imparting knowledge; they instill values, provide guidance, and serve as a steady presence during moments of uncertainty. Olufadi embodies all these qualities effortlessly. His determination to see his mentees succeed is palpable, and his commitment to their growth goes beyond the boundaries of a typical mentor-mentee relationship. It’s as if he carries the dreams of his mentees alongside his own, propelling them forward with unwavering support.

However, it is in his role as a brother that Olufadi truly stands out. The camaraderie he fosters creates an environment where open dialogue flourishes. His ability to connect with his mentees on a personal level is a testament to his authenticity and genuine care for their well-being. His encouraging words act as a constant reminder that success is within reach, and his belief in his mentees’ potential is a powerful motivating force.

In reflection, it’s impossible not to recognize the profound impact Olufadi has had. His determination to guide, his words of encouragement, and his role as a brotherly figure have shaped countless lives, mine included. The paths we walk are illuminated by his wisdom, and the hurdles we face are met with the strength he has instilled in us.

To Olufadi Balarabe Teniola, a mentor, teacher, and brother, your presence in our lives is a gift that keeps giving. Your determination and words of encouragement have not only molded us academically but have also guided us on our journey of self-discovery. As I, Obanla Ridwan Olawale proudly stand as one of your mentees, I can confidently say that your impact is immeasurable, and your legacy everlasting.

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Opinion

FEATURED : Re-engineering Support Groups to Strengthen democracy and Good Governance 

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By Mohammed Funsho Abdullahi

I assume that we are here today because we all have deep regard for the work and activities of political support groups. Therefore, as someone whose path into politics was through political associations, I will use my personal experience as the baseline for my address on the theme of this conference.

While the conventional route into politics for most people is through the political party, the fact that the formal political structure, which the party represents, offers limited opportunity for people to influence decisions even if they participate; it makes a lot of sense that most aspiring politicians of today prefer to partake in the political process through one political group or the other, considering that group politics confer shared advantage that may not ordinarily be available to politicians with preference for individual political efforts. I believe this advantage of political associations, which support groups offer, is what Arthur Bentley had in mind when he said “group is the single most important factor in political process.”

For the purpose of this very conversation, and without prejudice to what might have been your understanding of what political support group means, I will say that support group, for me, is any organized body of individuals who share common values and organize activities mainly for the purpose of influencing the political process and decision-making in the way and manner they desire.

This will lead me to why people join or form support groups, the uses or importance of support groups, my personal experience with support groups, and finally my suggestions on how I think support groups can effectively be re–engineered to strengthen democracy, particularly in Kwara State.

Support groups are important political elements in political decision making, particularly in plural and democratic society. They influence political decision making through variety of ways, including electoral activities such as voter education and sensitization, vote canvassing, campaigning etc. Through these activities, support groups contribute greatly to strengthening democracy and democratic process by setting political agenda, encouraging political participation, enlightening citizens on political and governance issues; and providing a platform for collective action.

Why, then, do people join or form support groups? Basically, as Pluralists suggest, the existence of a common need and a sense of group identity and consciousness create a sufficient condition for the formation of any effective political support group. This means that formation of new political groups arises in response to the needs in the society. This view was strengthened by the work of a brilliant American Academic, David Truman, who observed that group formation “tends to occur in waves” and is greater in some periods than others. Of course, you all already know that the formation of support groups occur in droves every time we approach major elections.

Like I said earlier, formation of groups is often in response to a specific need. When we converged in Kano in March, 2013 for the ‘40 Under 40 Forum’, we were responding to the growing youth agitation for political participation and recognition as we approached the 2015 elections at the time. That Kano gathering birthed the GENERATIONAL VOICES, an internationally recognized mass movement of politically active young Nigerians calling for the birth of a new political culture and the mobilization of the numerical strength of our large youth population to influence political outcomes.

Generational Voices was a great movement which received the endorsements of prominent individuals and international bodies, including the United Nations, but it could not deliver on its grand ideals due to lack of consistency. However, as 4 opposition parties at the time began the process of merging together to form a single political entity that would be strong enough to confront the then ruling party, PDP; some of us who had participated in the ‘40 Under 40 Forum,’ and the activities of the Generational Voices it birthed, saw the need to establish a platform to bring together young progressives from across the merging political parties in order for us to join the then emerging new party, which later became the APC of today, as a block. The process was driven by Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed, a former presidential aide and national youth leader of APC, and we officially launched what we named the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF) in Sheraton Hotel on the 4th of May, 2013, a clear three months before the birth of APC, which INEC officially registered in July, 2013 as the product of the merger of then 4 opposition political parties. So, APYF has existed even before its mother party, the APC.

I will still come back to reference APYF and some other support groups that I have been a part of as I discuss some ideas for re–engineering political party support groups to strengthen democracy. However, I will leave the aspect of how support groups can influence governance to my brother, the Chief Press Secretary to our amiable Governor, who I’m sure will give us some exciting perspective on that.

For me, to re-engineer support groups in order to play any significant role in strengthening democracy, a number of things must happen:

1. Political party stakeholders need to have a better understanding of the role and importance of support groups. Support groups must be treated as a significant component of the political party structure, rather than as mere assemblage of ordinary political or campaign volunteers.

2. Support groups themselves must have the maturity to band together and work together in order to enhance their strengths and importance. In the last election, a whole committee, which incidentally was chaired by our own Akeweje, Chief Raheem Adedoyin, had to be set up as part of the Presidential Campaign Council to register all credible support groups and bring them together under one single platform. Why was this necessary? It was because support groups themselves lack coordination and the will to cooperate for a greater purpose.

3.Support groups must have a strong founding vision and work to earn a good reputation. This will greatly determine the influence such support groups can bring to bear, both within the party and in the political process as a whole. When we set up the APYF, our vision was to bring together young people from across the 4 political parties that were about to merge at the time under a single platform. And when we did, every single member keyed into the group’s principle of self regard, and it is an unwritten rule that APYF members at any level must not go around begging political actors for money. Our goal was already captured in our slogan: TAKE PART TO TAKE CHARGE. Our objective is to take part in the political process in order to have a chance to take charge of our lives, it is never about chasing money.

4. Again, considering that support groups enjoy the laxity that party executives do not have, they must be willing to serve as the conscience of the party and protect the core ideals of democracy. As Chairman or leader of a support group, for instance, I can fault the party when I feel it’s going wrong, Comrade Duduyemi as an incumbent State Youth Leader of the party on the other hand cannot do that, unless of course he wants to be looking for another address other than the party secretariat by the next day. Therefore, support groups must learn to use their near freedom from political pressure and control to strengthen democracy by defending and protecting its core ideals. I will give an example here.

When the Mai Mala Buni led Caretaker and Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) was instituted following the removal of Comrade Adam Oshiomole as party national chairman, the idea was for the Buni Committee to stabilize the party and hold convention within 6 months. Inaugurated in June, 2020, the Buni Committee failed to release any program of activities for the convention, which was its major assignment, by December of that year when its mandate expired. The committee sought and got an extension of time for another 6 months, but instead of using the time to organize the convention it was asked to do, they started foot dragging and the committee was still in place by October, 2021, almost a year and half; for a committee that was meant to stay for just 6 months.

But overstaying was not the only problem with the Buni Committee. Preparatory to the national convention, the Committee held Ward and Local Government Congresses across the country which were marred with complaints over undemocratic method of imposition of candidates, forcing leaders on party members at the grassroots in the name of consensus. Yes, our party constitution makes provision for consensus, but it must not be a coercive one in which members are forced to accept a premeditated outcome as a mutually agreed option. A forced outcome cannot be a consensus, because any procedure that does not uphold the freedom of choice of individuals is an aberration to democracy.

Hence, when we saw what was going on, which clearly deviated from APC’s ideals as a progressive party, coupled with the widely held belief at the time that the Buni-led Committee was playing out a script; we set up the APC Rebirth Movement to protect the sanctity of the party and compel Buni to do the right thing. Ismael Ahmed was the Youth Representative on the CECPCP, but that did not stop us from doing what we did. This again speaks to the question of where the loyalty of support groups should be directed: Is it to political leaders or to the party?

There are indeed support groups that, even from their names, you know the founding principle is to support a particular candidate or politician . But unless your group is named MOHAMMED ABDULLAHI SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT, then your loyalty should be to the party which is long lasting than the entire political career of any single politician. Which reminds me, whenever I worried about APYF members in Kwara not getting due recognition from the government of our party in the state, I heard stories that it was because the group belongs to so and so person. I’m using this opportunity to restate that the APYF does not belong to any single person . It’s a group that has existed for over 11 years, with verifiable history. We rotate the leadership of the group: Jide Nurudeen from Offa was the pioneer Chairman, I was the second, then Tunde Salau and now Bala Daba. We all have individual politicians we admire and are close to, but none of us has the influence to single-handedly deliver the group to anyone.

Back to my recommendations on how support groups can strengthen democracy, I believe it is important for members of support groups to be devoted enough to put their money where their mouths are. When we did APC Rebirth Movement, it was within ourselves that we mobilized the money needed to fund all our press conferences and other media engagements, with each member giving according to his financial strength. Clearly, a support group that goes around soliciting money from political actors or party functionaries already forfeited its independence, which is needed to fight in defense of party values and democratic principles when occasion required.

Then, the issue of leadership of support groups is also key. The biggest cause of instability within many support groups, which is hindering their capacity to adequately contribute to strengthening democracy, is the issue of leadership, especially for youth-based support groups. For many of us, young people, we hardly want to follow our peers, which is the reason we have so many emergency support groups everywhere, some with only about 10 to 20 members. Everyone just want to be a king in his corner. But in this game of politics, you must be deliberate and sincere to yourself. Instead of leading a group that leads you nowhere, it’s wise to identify and defer to one single, competent and transparent individual that can lead your group to make impact in the political process.

Another issue is party recognition. You can’t contribute to strengthening democracy when the political party your group claimed to be affiliated to is not even aware of your existence. You can’t claim to be my child if I don’t recognize you as such. Therefore, the idea of claiming to be a support group of a political party, when in fact the party and its leadership are not aware of your existence look to me like self deception. For your participation in the political process to make any sense, the party and all those who matter within it must be aware of your existence, value and contributions.

8. Finally, adhering to the culture of collective ownership is key for support groups. As a group , you can’t be seen to be violating the principle of popular participation , which is the hallmark of democracy, and then you claim you want to strengthen democracy. In fact, those who condemned the value and significance of support groups in our political system based their argument on this point. They reasoned that instead of fostering democracy, support groups stunt democracy; because, according to them, the interest of most support groups is usually a representative of the interest of the active few within the group. Therefore, for a support group to attain the strength necessary to take significant part in strengthening democracy, it must ensure that it gives all its members the due regard necessary to elicit their full participation in the activities of the group. In other words, the principle of collective action is important for a group seeking the influence necessary to strengthen democracy.

TO CONCLUDE, I must emphasize that in politics, as in many endeavors of life, direction is more important than speed. Instead of hurrying to form support groups, we should ask ourselves what value we intend to add to the democratic process with the formation of such a group; and whether it would serve a greater goal for democracy if we create a new group rather than energizing and bolstering existing ones. For me, it’s not the number that counts, it’s the impact. So, Long live to the impactful support groups, and long live the APC.

GOD BLESS KWARA STATE, GOD BLESS NIGERIA!

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Opinion

[Op_Ed] | Meet a Successful Businessman and Philanthropist: Ahmad Abdulkadir Firdaus

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By AbdurRaheem Sa’ad Dembo

The fascinating story of Ilorin born businessman but resident in Kano, Ahmad Abdulkadir Firdaus is the one filled with a rare commitment and tenacious disposition. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Aquarich Integrated Services, Hydro Blue Water and Habidaus Global Concept in Kano. Indeed, no businessman or an entrepreneur would ever tell you it is easy to be in business or self employed but he has been making remarkable progress against all odds.

It interests me to write about him because I have been in the know of how he has positively metamorphosed from being an employee to become an employer of labour in the commercial city of Kano. Firdaus story is not a fairy tale as those who know him can attest to his growth in the Kano business community.

Sincerely, it is through observation of him I got to know practically that you don’t invest in a business if you don’t have time to monitor it, otherwise you would be feeding the greedy and glutton among your workers inadvertently, and before you know it, the business has collapsed. They don’t want to know how you come about the capital for the business but they would be ready to drain the resources to comatose, since no one would be around to have critical monitoring of their activities.

Successful businessmen do have challenges and that of Firdaus is no exception, especially given the current stifling inflation in the country. You must have the courage and sagacity to pull through in business with sincerity and promptness.

There was a time I visited Kano, precisely February, 2022 to attend the 40th Anniversary of Mass Communication Department in Bayero University, Kano, my alma mater. I observed him in the office and I discovered that he has full grasp of what it entails to run a business. He is an economist, so one shouldn’t expect less from him.

He is very strict but pragmatic. His strictness cannot be likened to nefariousness but proper way of doing things. He doesn’t cut corners. He will never bargain for substandard products.

As an entrepreneur you have a goal, but it should be predicated on your customers satisfaction. Without them your business will face retardation and sluggishness. That is why when you agree on a day and date for the supply of goods, do not renege. Customers develop confidence in someone based on their experience over time. If their experience is positive you are in for a good time with them.

Discipline as a core value in any setting, be it political, social or economic, will help anyone to grow; especially in business, financial discipline is key. To the best of my knowledge, Firdaus has it and his prudence is a great deal of idea.

My relationship with Firdaus

We are both from Ilorin but we didn’t know each other until we met in Bayero University, Kano. Although we gained admission the same time, he was a year ahead of me because his was a direct entry. Since graduation, the relationship has been sustained till today; alhamdulillahi! He is a thorough person, he neither receives ideas and/or opinions nor treat issues dogmatically. It takes a sound and convincing explanation of a subject matter to get him on the same page with one.

Our good friends, they say, are our lives. At one’s lowest hour, one must have that one person in whom to confide. This is reminiscent of Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter in which it is said “confiding in others allays  pain”.

Our relationship has transformed beyond friendship, it is now a familial bond. I can remember when I attended his wedding in Kaduna in the year
2009 and he reciprocated by attending my wedding in Ilorin together with his wife, an epitome of a good wife.

He is based in Kano but his door is always open to visitors. You can’t visit his family without giving a good account of their hospitality and humility. Great men are synonymous with humility and that has been my conviction over the years.

His Philanthropic Activities

He is a finest gentleman with a kind heart and generous disposition.He does not have a Foundation through which he reaches out to the less privileged because he believes giving to people is a personal thing and does not require publicity. His argument has been that he is doing it for the sake of Allah, not for people to praise him, and that getting a reward for doing good is preregative of Almighty Allah.

This is unlike politicians; there is no way they can keep in secrecy if they render assistance. If they don’t say it out, oppositions would use that against them, that they have neglected the people after gaining their mandates. So it is easy for him to do it in his own way, because he is not a politician.

There are cases of where he has helped and those people would be the one to tell me much later. If he helps you the third person would not hear about it. Emphatically, he has been kind to me as well.

Ahmad Abdulkadir Firdaus does not allow his busy schedules to deprive him of the opportunity to reach out to people through associations. He is currently the Vice President II of Bayero University Kano Alumni Association, the national body. He is also the Vice Chairman of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Kano Branch. He is a Patron of Ilorin Emirate Students Union, BUK Chapter.

He is a detribalized Nigerian; his hand of fellowship spreads beyond his tribes and associates.

His business sojourn

Firdaus joined Royal United Nigeria Limited in Lagos State in 2007. He was later transferred to Kano office where he rose from the position of Accounts Assistant to become Regional Manager, North. In his words “I joined Royal United Nigeria Limited in 2007 through my Guardian, Dr. Abdullahi Jibril Oyekan”

Ahmed Abdulkadir Firdaus was born to the family of Alfa Ahmad and Hajia Halima of Ile Machine, Oju Ekun Oke, Adangba, Ilorin and grew up at Sebutu compound, Ilorin. He had his primary and part of secondary school education in Ilorin before proceeding to Lagos where he completed it. He is happily married with kids.

Below are his Educational background, Awards, and excerpts of the interview with him.

Academic Qualification

In 2005 he bagged B.Sc. Economics from Bayero University, Kano with second class upper. He also obtained Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2011 from the same institution. In 2006 he obtained Proficiency Certificate in Management and graduate member from the Nigerian institute of Management.
He became an Associate member , Institute of Chartered Economists in Nigeria (2006).

Awards

Award of Excellence by Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, IEDPU Northern Zone, 2023

Award of Excellence by BUK Alumni, Ilorin Emirate chapter, 2023

Award of Excellence by An-nur Islamic Organization, BUK, 2021

Award of Excellence by Ilorin -Ifelodun Social Group, Kano, 2021

Markazul Ulum Wal Maharif Islamic School Dei Dei, Abuja, 2020

Award of Excellence by National Association of Kwara State Students, BUK Chapter, 2019

Award of Excellence by Ilorin Emirate Youth Development Association, Kano, 2019

Award of Excellence by Ilorin Emirate Students’ Union, BUK, 2016

Certificate of Merit by National Youth Service Corps, Corps Welfare Association, Giginya Barracks, Sokoto, 2007

Merit Award (Chairman Fundraising) by Ilorin Emirate Students’ Union, BUK, 2005

Merit Award (Financial Secretary) by Ilorin Emirate Students’ Union, BUK, 2005

Merit Award (Member Fundraising) by Ilorin Emirate Students’ Union, BUK, 2004

Merit Award by Markaz Agege Alumni Association, BUK, 2003/2004

Al-Adabiyya Alumni Association, BUK, 2003/2004

Merit Award (Active member) Ilorin Emirate Students’ Union, BUK, 2002

Interview Session

What do you sell?

I sell different types/brands/sizes of Tyres and TableWater (HYDRO BLUE)

What could be the catalyst for your success in the business world?

Determination, patience, and passion can drive a business growth.

Nigerian economic challenges are enormous, but I always tell myself that if Dangote can do it, I can equally do with determination.

What advice do you have for upcoming entrepreneurs?

Business requires pragmatism, goal-oriented, and target. Including the culture of discipline

At the early stage of business, they must be available (full participation), adopt austere approach, have some level of accounting knowledge, and financial discipline.

They should understand that there is no shortcut to success; Rome was not built in a day.

Is it always rosy for your kind of business?

Not at all, like the Yoruba would say, a person that knows the day he would make plenty of sales might know the day of his death. Is just a saying nobody knows when he or she will die. No one can determine the day he or she will make enormous sales. However, business is unpredictable, most especially in the face of the current inflation that has influenced price instability.

It is obvious that even in the business world there are challenges but your ability to cope with its complexity and dynamism will determine how far you would go. This doesn’t rule out the significance of prayers as you weather the storm gradually. Our young men and women should cultivate the habit of sincerity and patience. Nothing good, they say, comes so easy. Get-rich-quick syndrome can’t be a way out of poverty but the road to doom. Patience is key to every facets of our lives just as Hausa saying “Hakuri maganin zaman duniyan”. Meaning patience is the key to successful life.

Firdaus, as a businessman is an example of those who would do their businesses diligently and would not surcharge the people.

He is in Kano, doing his business with utmost standard and excellent customer relations. Please patronise him for a life changing experience.

abdurraheemsaaddembo@gmail.com

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Opinion

[Op_Ed] : My Encounter with Angelic FRSC Officers

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By Abdulrasheed Akogun

Nigeria, like many other countries, has its fair share of issues when it comes to the conduct of uniformed men. However, what is concerning is the tendency of Nigerians to amplify and focus on the unprofessional exhibitions of these individuals, without acknowledging and celebrating in equal measures, those who are dedicated to their duty and exhibit professionalism in their work.

Yesterday, I experienced a situation that highlighted this penchant nature of Nigerians. After finishing three grueling exams at Kwara State University, Malete, I was not only famished but also extremely thirsty. The scorching sun made it even worse, and my attempts to find cold drinks proved unsuccessful. Thus, I resigned to fate and headed back to ilorin. Along the way, I was stopped on the road by officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), just before the Jebba/Bode-Saadu express-crossing to Shao.

These uniformed men politely stopped me, requesting for my licences and paper, the first statement that unconsciously came out of my mouth was I’m famished and thirty. Ironically, while I was scolding myself silently, I noticed the officials showing genuine concern.

They offered me an extremely cold Coca-Cola, tailor made for my situation and even gave me some mangoes. Their professionalism and kindness were truly admirable.

Unfortunately, my thirst and hunger made it difficult for me to fully appreciate their gesture and think clearly. I regret not being able to take a group photograph with them as a way to document the encounter.

That notwithstanding, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate and commend these unsung heroes. While I only managed to remember the names of two of the five men I encountered, Mr. Aloba and Mr. Sulyman, I believe that all of them deserve recognition and appreciation.

I kindly request anyone reading this to shower these individuals with prayers. They deserve our support and encouragement for their dedication to their duty and their ability to demonstrate professionalism, even in the most challenging circumstances.

While it is important to address the unprofessional behavior of some uniformed men in Nigeria, it is equally crucial to highlight and commend those who exhibit professionalism and perform their duties diligently.

By doing so, we can foster a better understanding and appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices made by these individuals.

Abdulrasheed Akogun is an Ilorin based multiple award-winning Investigative Journalist

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Opinion

Saliu Mustapha And His Trending Leadership: A Case Of A Perfect Fit For Representation

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In the dynamic landscape of Nigerian politics, the role of effective leadership cannot be overstated. It is a rare occurrence when a leader emerges who not only embodies the aspirations of his constituents but also captures the attention and admiration of citizens nationwide. Such is the case with Senator Saliu Mustapha, the distinguished representative of Kwara Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly.

From the bustling streets of Ilorin to the far-reaching corners of Nigeria, Senator Mustapha’s leadership has become a topic of widespread discussion and admiration. His ability to connect with people from all walks of life, coupled with his unwavering dedication to the welfare and progress of his constituents, has earned him a reputation as a beacon of hope and a catalyst for positive change.

At the heart of Senator Mustapha’s leadership is a profound understanding of the needs and aspirations of the people he serves. His commitment to grassroots development and inclusive governance has endeared him to his constituents, who see him as a trusted advocate and ally in their quest for a better quality of life.

But Senator Mustapha’s impact extends far beyond the boundaries of Kwara Central. His visionary leadership and exemplary track record have caught the attention of Nigerians across the country, who see in him a model of effective representation and transformative leadership.

In a political landscape often marred by cynicism and disillusionment, Senator Mustapha’s leadership offers a glimmer of hope and a reminder of the power of principled leadership to effect meaningful change. His dedication to the ideals of service, integrity, and accountability serves as an inspiration to leaders at all levels of government and a testament to the enduring strength of Nigeria’s democratic institutions.

As Senator Mustapha continues to chart a course of progress and prosperity for Kwara Central and Nigeria as a whole, his leadership remains a shining example of what can be achieved when leaders prioritize the interests of the people above all else. In him, Nigerians have found not just a representative, but a true champion of their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah is the Chairman and CEO of Bush Radio Academy

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Opinion

How Otunba Ajiboye Is Repositioning Nigeria’s Cultural Values- By Saeed Tijjani

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“Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle” by Albert Camus

On January 12th, 2024 the appointment of Otunba Biodun Ajiboye as the Director General, National Institute For Cultural Orientation (NICO) under the Federal Ministry of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu hit the Nigerian airwaves.

An appointment that has been described by Nigerians, cultural experts, cultural icons, corporate organizations among others, as befitting and deserving.

This is not far fetched from the fact that Otunba Biodun Ajiboye is a renown cultural icon whose activity in the international cultural festival, tagged world sango Festival saw over 20000 foreigners in Nigeria in the year 2013.

The new NICO DG and currently the Otunba Muwagun of ORO Kingdom was also on a tour of cultural expedition with the late Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III to Cuba and Brazil in 2014 to appreciate the importance of Yoruba culture in the Americas.

A cultural outing that has distinguished his capacity and love for the growth and expansion of Nigeria Culture.

The passion for culture is always displayed in every of his ceremonial dressing, as a disciple of the late Alafin of Oyo, he mostly appears in his “abeti aja” cap and a well tailored kembe and Royal Dansiki.

Away from being a cultural icon, as a respected Leader in both media and telecommunications, the Cultural ICON understands the ideas and what it takes to contribute to the success of Nigeria’s creative economy.

With a successful background in media and advertising, he is a luminary in the industry.

In less than 3 months upon his assumption as the 6th Director General, National Institute For Cultural Orientation, He took the bull by the horns radiating his commitment on not leaving any stone untouched towards ensuring the success of the agency inline with the #RenewedHope mantra of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that birthed the creation of the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy.

The NICO Boss has reiterated that inline with President Tinubu Renewed Hope Agenda, his vision for NICO is ensuring cultural renaissance, championing cultural regeneration, and advocacy in the rich tapestry of the Nation while harnessing culture for National Development.

As part of his commitment to ensuring a resounding success in office, He paid a courtesy visit to the Honourable Minister of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy, Hajia Hannatu Musawa where he expressed his eagerness to collaborate with the Ministry, emphasizing on the pivotal role of cultural orientation in the nation’s creative evolution.

The Cultural ICON has set the machinery in motion to promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage propelled by his vision of a nation with a true “Cultural Identity”

Inline with one of the Institute’s objectives of serving as a focus for orientation in cultural matters for Nigeria’s policy makers and other government officials, The NICO Boss also noted that the Institute under his watch will focus more on training political Leaders, Legislators, Diplomats, Military and para-military Leaders.

In his quest towards achieving this and repositioning the Institute, he also parleys the National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (NATCOM-UNESCO) in Nigeria.

He has also struck strategic partnership with top agencies like The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) where NICO partnered on inter-agency collaborations towards re-orienting Nigerians on the need to revive its cultural values as a tool to fight and eradicate corruption in the country.

In a bid to strengthen the involvement of young people in the safeguarding, transmission and promotion of Nigerian culture towards equipping them to become experts in safeguarding the nation’s Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) collaborated with NICO and the University of Calabar to undertake the training, this was made possible by the Otunba Ajiboye led administration.

The Cultural ICON also secured approval from the Management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to commence teaching of Nigerian indigenous languages in 36 states of the federation and the FCT. This is part of his vision towards driving national re-enactment of Nigeria’s cultural values.

The Oro Born technocrat also revealed his plans on how Nigeria through NICO can earn huge foreign exchange through proper packaging and enhancing Nigeria’s festivals and tourism potentials. He noted that if these are properly put in place they can serve as a good foreign exchange for the country that will help to boost its economy.

In his quest towards a policy realignment that will mandate the inclusion of at least 20 percent of cultural content in films produced in Nigeria, He also partnered the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to explore areas of collaboration towards achieving the renewed hope agenda of the president Tinubu.

He maintained that he’ll drive the Institute’s core mandate and reposition it to take its right responsibility within the dictate of the Act that created it through effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders both in public sector and private sector.

Otunba is committed to re-enacting cultural values in Nigeria as one that is characterized by vision, diligence and steadfast, dedication towards advancing the cultural landscape in the country.

These uncommon traits of Otunba Biodun Ajiboye has also been confirmed by His Imperial Majesty, Arole Oduduwa Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, CFR, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife in his press release where he commended President Tinubu and expresses satisfaction over Ajiboye’s appointment as NICO DG.

It’s pleasing to say that Nigeria is lucky to have Otunba Biodun Ajiboye as the custodian of its cultural orientation, another good choice made by President Tinubu towards the actualization of the Renewed Hope agenda.

Culture which makes for group identity and unity is key to genuine nation-building, Otunba Biodun Ajiboye is bringing everything and everyone on board to ensuring the success of President Tinubu towards national development and economic advancement by promoting and projecting the Nigeria’s Cultural values to the world.

If development can be regarded as the enhancement of our living standards then efforts geared development cannot ignore culture.

The United States of America is said to be where they are today as a result of management and development of their cultural values.

It’s our collective responsibilities as a Nation and as people to support Otunba Biodun Ajiboye in his quest to promote Nigeria’s Cultural values.

Saeed Tijjani is a renown online media Practitioner from Kwara State and can be contacted via saeedtijjani3@gmail.com

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Opinion

[Op_Ed] Rethinking Nigeria’s Future: A Call for Unity and Governance Reform

During the 2023 elections, the APC resorted to divisive tactics, exploiting religious and cultural fault lines to secure power. This manipulation not only underscored the party’s desperation but also underscored a lack of vision for inclusive governance.

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The deafening silence that greeted our warnings about the consequences of re-electing the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2023 general elections mirrored the depths of Nigeria’s societal divisions. In a nation rich with multicultural diversity, the failure to grasp the inherent strength in our differences remains a poignant reality.

During the 2023 elections, the APC resorted to divisive tactics, exploiting religious and cultural fault lines to secure power. This manipulation not only underscored the party’s desperation but also underscored a lack of vision for inclusive governance.

From 2015 to 2023, Nigeria witnessed a stark regression across all key indicators, from economic growth to security, with the ruling party failing to address any of the nation’s pressing challenges.

It is disheartening that, amidst the fervor of choosing new leadership, fundamental considerations are often overlooked. How could a nation knowingly reinstate failure? Despite eight years of lackluster governance, the APC’s return to power exemplifies a failure of collective memory and foresight.

The persistence of religious and thought leaders in endorsing a regime that perpetuates widespread poverty highlights a systemic failure in our societal ethos. A revolution of our thought processes is imperative, urging Nigerians to prioritize critical analysis over blind allegiance.

Embedded within our societal fabric is a pernicious tribal and religious chasm, perpetuated by politically motivated propaganda. Yet, true progress necessitates a collective embrace of unity, transcending divisive rhetoric.

Amidst the prevailing adversities, baseless tribal and religious arguments only serve to deepen societal schisms. To chart a path forward, we must transcend these divisions and embrace a unified national identity.

While acknowledging the reinstatement of failure under the APC, unity remains our beacon amid the storm. Our diversity, if harnessed effectively, promises immense benefits in decision-making, creativity, and community development.

Efforts to further divide us are intensifying, especially on social media. Recent calls for a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system, warrant serious consideration. The inherent flaws of the presidential system, exemplified by its inefficiency and lack of accountability, underscore the need for reform.

A parliamentary system, tailored to Nigeria’s diverse landscape, offers a viable alternative. Drawing inspiration from past successes, such as the era of Sir Tafawa Balewa, a parliamentary framework ensures enhanced governance through transparency and accountability.

Unlike the current presidential system, wherein power is concentrated in the hands of one individual, a parliamentary model distributes authority, fostering a culture of oversight and collaboration. The ability of parliamentarians to hold the Prime Minister accountable reflects a democratic ideal sorely lacking in the current system.

Nigeria’s democracy, rather than a mere emulation of foreign models, should be uniquely tailored to our socio-cultural context. The inherent diversity of our nation renders a centralized leadership model untenable, necessitating a shift towards inclusive governance.

In pursuit of national progress, the overhaul of our governance structure is paramount. The presidential system’s detrimental impact on local government authorities and the judiciary underscores the urgency of reform.

As we navigate the complexities of our nation’s future, unity and governance reform stand as linchpins of progress. By embracing our diversity and reimagining our governance framework, we can forge a path towards a more prosperous and inclusive Nigeria.

Sincerely,

Farid Abdulrazzaq Salman Esq

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