Wednesday 21 February 2018


Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, the Executive Director of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation (OAF), and last child of late elder statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, turned 70 yesterday, 20th February, 2018. Her father, Chief Awolowo, GCFR, was a Nigerian nationalist and thought leader who fought for our independence from the British colonialists. Are we discussing the father or the daughter, Tokunbo?

That's what happens when you have a parent with impeccable pedigree. Even when the offspring is the subject matter, it is difficult to resist the temptation of discussing the high achiever parent. With such noble parentage, it is no surprise that Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu is indeed an amazon and icon at 70. She celebrated in Ikenne, Ogun state, her ancestral home. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other notable personalities were in  Ikenne to rejoice with her. Tokunbo is a former Ambassador to the Netherlands.

I vividly remember that her leadership qualities were on display in the early days of the OAF in the 1990's when I was drafted into the communique team. Then I was Head, Department of Political Science, Lagos State University (LASU). Others in the pioneering team of OAF are Kayode Samuel and Dr. Sina Sambo (deceased). Tokunbo came forth as a polished and thoroughbred professional with a passion for immortalising her father's legacy via the OAF.

Kudos to you, dear sister at 70. I wish you many more happy years... 

Wednesday 14 February 2018


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the immediate past President of Liberia, has become the first female to win the coveted $5m prize for African leadership. Sirleaf is a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and Africa's first elected female President. She won the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership on Monday, 12th of February, 2018in recognition of her effort to re-build her country following two civil wars.

Sirleaf left office late January, 2018, after overseeing the first democratic transfer of power in Liberia since 1944. The 79-year-old Nobel Laureate came to power in 2006, just two years after the end of a 14-year civil war that saw more than 250,000 people killed and another million displaced. During her two terms in office, Sirleaf tackled the spread of the Ebola disease in Liberia, developed the economy and championed the cause of women.

Salim Ahmed Salim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation's prize committee said: 'Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the realm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war, and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institutions. Throughout her two terms in office, she worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Liberia...'.

Salim further said: 'Such a journey cannot be without some shortcomings and today, Liberia continues to face many challenges. Nevertheless, during her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundation on which Liberia can now build...' Mo Ibrahim's reaction to Sirleaf, the 2017 #MIPrize Laureatte: 'I am proud to see the first woman Ibrahim Laureate, and I hope Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will continue to inspire women in Africa and beyond...' See for example

The prize was founded by Sudanese telecommunication billionaire, Mohammed Ibrahim and the winner receives $5m over 10 years and $200,000 annually for the rest of their lives. Previous winners include former Namibian President, Hifihepunye Pohamba (2014), former Cape Verde President Pedro Pires (2011), former Botswana President Festus Mogae (2008) and former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano (2007). Nelson Mandela became an honourary recipient of the award in 2007.

Candidates for the award are all former African executive heads of state or government who have left office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term. In some years, the award, which was launched in 2006, has not been awarded, as no candidate was considered qualified enough.

Despite her popularity and global recognition, Sirleaf left office with a mixed record and trailed by criticism. Despite breaking the 'glass ceiling', she was criticised for not doing enough for women to win seats in government. Her administration's tackling of the Ebola virus was also called into question. Sirleaf herself recently admitted to underestimating the low capacity of skills in government and the 'cultural roots of corruption'. These and other problems, including weak economic growth, unemployment and the escalating illicit financial outflows, are some of the issues her successor, George Weah will have to deal with in the coming years.

Congratulations, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first elected female President in Africa. We, African women are very proud of you. I am anxiously waiting for the day when my dear country, Nigeria, would celebrate her first female President who would be a Nobel Laureate and Mo Ibrahim prize winner just like Sirleaf! 

Related Links

*Nigeria's Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala named 1st female African of the year   

Saturday 10 February 2018


On the 9th of February, 2018, Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD) held a forum with theme 'Three decades of democratic transition in Africa' in Abuja. The event was chaired by Prof. Attaghiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The discussants were Profs. Ibrahim Abdallah, Jibrin Ibrahim and Boubacar N'Diaye. Ms. Jeannette Enoh was the only female panelist. I was invited in my capacity as Senior Fellow, CDD and distinct voice in civil society. My intervention made allusion to the fact that though democracy may not be the best form of government, it is preferable to any form of authoritarian rule. I would rather have African countries learn from their mistakes in imperfect democratic settings than in any military or fascist regime...

The trajectory of multi-party democracy in the last 30 years was traced, and the forum concluded that African countries fall into three strands viz;

*Countries working towards true democracy.
*Hybrid democracies - these are countries practicing a hybrid of democracy and authoritarianism. These countries follow the tenets of democracy, but are authoritarian in practice.
*The authoritarian states which are now conducting elections as a means of legitimising themselves in Africa.

Besides, the integrity of elections was identified as as a key factor in the stability and sustainability of democracy in Africa. We need to put democracy in perspective. What are the continental goals of democracy? After three decades, the following are noted:

*The silent majority remain unheard.
*Institutions remain weak and are not delivering democratic goods.
*Democracy is NOT equivalent to good governance.
*There's contradiction between democracy and capitalism.
*Certain peculiarities of the neo-liberal state cannot be brushed aside.
*Inclusive governance is a sine qua non for effective democracy. However, there are two major types of problem with inclusivity viz;
-Citizens who refuse to participate in the democratic process &
-Citizens who are prevented from participating in the democratic process.
*Frustration with the level of regression of democratic values should not in any way tempt us to consider the dangerous and nonviable option of military/authoritarian rule.
*There should be more reliance on taxation than dependence on the Extractive Industry for revenue generation.
*Prebendalism (money politics) needs to be curbed by strong institutions.
*Procedural democracy is not enough. It needs to transcend into substantive democracy that delivers the much needed democratic goods to the populace.

The consensus was that there is a clear nexus between procedural and substantive democracy to the extent that the former leads to the latter - with visible benefits for the average citizen... 

Related Links

*Review of 'Tyrant': Shakespeare on Power by Stephen Greeblatt        

Friday 2 February 2018


Between the 26th and 28th of January 2018, Change Agents Academy (CAA), an arm of Apostles in the Market Place (AiMP), a platform for Change Agents held a three day training programme. The training is the pioneer edition for persons desirous of making a lasting impact in society. I was one of the participants. An Apostle in the Market Place is a nation builder who through the application of Biblical principles is able to transform society.

The faculty that facilitated the pioneer class comprised:

*Segun Olujobi - Chair AiMP
*John Enelamah - Senior Pastor at End Time Revival Ministries (ERM)
*Toyin Matthews - Lawyer
*Bunmi Adeoye - Technocrat in the office of the Hon. Minister for Trade & Industry

CAA equips individuals with skills and tools necessary to translate their burdens into change projects i.e. vehicles for societal transformation. It does so by helping Change Agents identify, articulate and fulfill their burdens for programmes that positively impact society. The main Change Agents currently being supported by AiMP are educators, job creators and transformational leaders.

The follow up intermediate and advanced sessions come up in March and April respectively. I can't wait to start applying the numerous principles of self-discovery, maintaining relationships, success, rigorous practice, personal discipline, making the most of every opportunity, contentment, etc in the market place...