IJU Public Affairs Forum Series
The objective of Iju Public Affairs Forum Series is to provide an opportunity for the exchange of views among participants on selected topics focused on governance and development. The inspiration for the Forum Series is the strong evidence on the critical role of ideas in societies over the centuries: ideas matter. I was determined to bring the importance of ideas to the consciousness of as many interested persons as possible.
The commissioning of LADIPO ADAMOLEKUN PUBLIC AFFAIRS LIBRARY in January 2006 in my compound in Iju also served as the maiden edition of the Iju Public Affairs Forum (IPAF) series which was organised in two phases: a quarterly phase and an annual phase. The quarterly Forum sessions were organised between 2006 and 2009 and sixteen papers were presented. All the papers were edited and published in 2010 – a gap year for the IPAF series – as Ideas for Development. Proceedings of Iju Public Affairs Forum Series, 2006-2009.
The following are the topics of the presentations at the sixteen quarterly sessions which also constitute the chapters in Ideas for Development…
- Establishing and Nurturing Democracy: the Example of South Africa.
- Perspectives on Africa’s Development Performance
- Politics of Leadership Succession – African and International Comparisons.
- The Political Restructuring that Nigeria Needs
- Rethinking Public Service in Nigeria
- Spiritual Dimensions of Development
- Cultural Democracy: a Path to Nigeria’s development
- African Perspectives on Women in Development
- The Nation’s Economy – Thinking Through Nigeria’s Oil Wealth Beyond 2012
- Nigerian Universities and National Development: Time for Drastic Corrective Reform
- Language, Education and National Consciousness
- Nigeria’s Role in African and World Affairs Since 1999
- Intellectuals in Politics
- Two Decades of Democratic Consolidation in the Republic of Benin, 1990 – 2009
- The Role of the Banking and Finance Sector in National Development since 1999.
- On Being a Senator of the Federal Republic.
The annual IPAF sessions were organised between 2011 and 2015 and below are the topics of the presentations:
- Whither Nigeria? Directions for Future Development
- Higher Civil Servants and their Political Masters
- “Pockets of Effectiveness” in Nigerian Public Service and Lessons for Accelerating National Development
- Women in the Nigerian University System: Achievements, Challenges, and Prospects for a Gender Responsive University System
- Subnational Governments and the Development Process in Nigeria
The first two were published as stand-alone monographs: Whither Nigeria? Directions for future development (2012) and Higher Civil Servants and their Political Masters (2013). And the last three have been published as Essays on Public Management, Gender and Sub-National Governments (2016).
Participants at both the quarterly and annual IPAF Series were drawn from the ranks of academics, public servants, and professionals from the private and voluntary sectors and the media, with attention to gender and intergenerational mix. Although the majority of participants at the quarterly sessions were from within sixty kilometres of Iju, that is, from Ondo and Ekiti states, over one-third were from outside the immediate catchment area, mostly from Abuja, Ibadan, Ife, and Lagos. The participants at the annual IPAF Series were roughly 50 percent from the immediate catchment areas and 50 percent from the more distant cities cited earlier.
Most participants came through self-selection – they either contacted the convener (me) or my wife, the co-convener; and some others came along with the speakers at the different sessions. The average number of participants at the quarterly IPAF sessions was about 30 while the average at the annual sessions was about 55. Only the 2012 IPAF Public Lecture which also served as the key event in celebrating my 70th birthday was attended by over 350 persons, including about sixty (60) students from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. Overall, a total of about 250 participants attended two or more of the IPAF sessions. (I exclude the significant number of one-off participants at the 2012 special session). Over one hundred of the participants attended five or more sessions; they would qualify as the regulars.
Of the sixteen speakers who made presentations during the quarterly IPAF Series (2006-2009), two came from outside the country: Professor Kole Omotoso, writer and social critic, from South Africa and Ms Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, a foremost feminist theorist and leader, co-founder and Executive Director, African Women’s Development Fund, Accra, Ghana. (She relocated to Nigeria in October 2010 when her husband, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, became the Governor of Ekiti State). And one can add Ghana-born Dr. Victoria Kwakwa, who was the Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Abuja Office when she made a presentation at one of the IPAF quarterly sessions in 2006. Other speakers included the Ambassador of Benin Republic in Nigeria, Dr. Mouftaou Laleye, Professors Jide Osuntokun and Tunde Adeniran (former Ambassadors of Nigeria in Germany in the 1990s and 2000s respectively) and Senator Bode Olajumoke.
Professor Adele Jinadu, one of Africa’s leading political theorists, was the speaker at the first annual IPAF session held in 2011. The speaker at the 2012 IPAF session that was organized in the form of a Public Lecture was Ms Amal Pepple, a former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The three other speakers at the annual IPAF sessions were Dr. Joe Abah (2013), former National Programme Manager, State Partnership for Accountability, Responsiveness and Capability (SPARC), funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and currently Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR); Professor Olabisi Aina (2014), Professor of Sociology at Obafemi Awolowo University and founding Director, Centre for Gender and Development Studies, Ekiti State University; and Dr Afeikhena Jerome (2015), National Coordinator, State Peer Review Mechanism, Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
The presentations at the IPAF sessions were generally disseminated through the print media. Furthermore, some speakers and participants must have shared some of the ideas discussed at the sessions with their contacts inside governments at the federal, state and local levels. There is also the hope that Ideas for Development (2010), the 2012 and 2013 monographs, and the Essays on Public Management, Gender and Sub-national Governments, will help to increase the dissemination of the ideas exchanged at the IPAF sessions and ensure that they remain accessible to a wider audience through libraries at home and abroad.