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Nigeria’s Centenary Celebration: Sobowale sues for egalitarian society

BY IKENNA ASOMBA & OLASUNKANMI AROWOLO

As the nation rolls out the drums to celebrate 100 years of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, next year, political communications expert, Prof. Idowu Akanbi Sobowale has charged government, stakeholders and citizens to join hands together in building an egalitarian and peaceful society.

Sobowale made this charge, Friday, while delivering the 35th Public Lecture of Covenant University (CU), Ota, Ogun State, entitled: Communication, Politicians and True Democracy, at the university’s chapel.

Chronicling the history of the nation, he explained that, “Nigeria has gone through a chequered history in its relatively short span of existence as an independent nation. Next year (2014) will mark the centenary of the amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Protectorates to form the entity, Nigeria.

“In this period, the country has cascaded through different phases of experience – colonial subjugation, inter and intra-ethnic wrangling, a bloody military coup d’etat, a civil war, then a long spell of military rule, return to democratic dispensation and an uneasy co-habitation among the various ethnic components of the federation.”

Arguing that the country’s history has been spiced with  large doses of maladministration, nepotism, corruption in high and low places and general discontentment, the Professor of Journalism noted that the duty of all citizens “is not only to retrace our steps but also launch out to build a more just, egalitarian, prosperous and peaceful society.”

Meanwhile, in his 45-minute interactive lecture, the don blamed Nigeria’s stunted growth and development of appropriate democratic culture on the ineptitude of politicians.

He said; “The lack of useful communication from our politicians or the unwillingness on their part to communicate beneficially has resulted in the stunted growth and development of appropriate democratic culture in Nigeria. This has also affected many facets of our national life.

“Those who govern us do what they like with impunity. The majority of the people who bear the brunt of the misrule  that goes on in our land have not been cultured or empowered to ask questions and demand explanations when things do not seem right.

“How many of our politicians go to their constituency offices regularly to be consulted or informed of the activities going on in their constituencies or on the needs of their people? How many of them have formed the habit of reporting their activities regularly to their electors? If our legislators adopt this reporting  system, it is definite that greater due diligence would be applied to government business.”

Sobowale, who was three- time Special Adviser and later Commissioner for Education in the first and third civilian governments of Lagos State, nonetheless, submitted that for a just and egalitarian Nigerian society, “politicians need to engage those they claim to be representing in active communication,” adding, “the critical stakeholders, journalists and other communicators, political and appointive office holders, and the citizens themselves, should play their roles well to ensure that Nigeria transits to the next level of democratic growth and development.”

In his remarks, the Vice- Chancellor, CU, Prof. Charles Korede Ayo, who also represented the Chancellor, Bishop David Oyedepo, (Ph.D), described Sobowale as an oracle, who has made his mark in public administration and training of professional media practitioners.

Corroborating Sobowale’s stance on how government can be accountable to the people, the VC sued for a transition to e-government in Nigeria.

His words: “All over the world, especially Africa, e-government, the application of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to public administration has not worked. E-government will no doubt, enhance government-to- government interaction; government-to-employees interaction; government-to- business interaction and government-to-citizens interaction. Without a working technique towards government-to-citizens interaction, e-government will fail anywhere.”


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