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NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: ELECTORAL COMMISSION IS ALWAYS RIGHT- Niran Sule-Akinsuyi

Nigerian politics in the decades 1979 – 1999 have been on a stormy and bumpy road. At different times along the way, the judiciary shouldered the burden of resolving political and constitutional problems arising from the outcome of our presidential elections with decisions that erased dividing lines in our quest to achieve a united and prosperous nation.

Election to occupy the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the single most problematic threat to national unity and political stability in the country.

Expectedly the 2023 presidential election was conducted amid persistent and prevailing threats to the security and unity of Nigeria. Some thought that these challenges will place INEC in a vulnerable position and incapacitate the work of the commission to a very large extent.

However, the determination of the majority of Nigerians to promote the rotation of power and a sense of belonging for all Nigerians overwhelmed these fears and challenges during the elections.

INEC subsequently re-casted Nigeria’s electoral future with innovations and processes that promote democratic liberty and ensure fear standards in combating electoral malpractices as witnessed in Lagos State, Osun State and the Federal Capital Abuja and other locations across the country.

Although the Presidential election side-lined the Nigerian characteristics in our voting behaviour, the outcome was a locally driven political solution and a new era of power rotation that bore the signatures and participation of youth, women and faith-based institutions.

These are the main assets in INEC’s favour and a splendid achievement in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.

The Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and winner of the presidential election Asiwaju Bola Tinubu led a prosperous campaign and successfully mobilized Nigerians to pursue the ideal of rotation of power outside religious and ethnic considerations in parity with the June 12 1993 Presidential election.

What cannot be wished away in Nigerian politics is that rotation of power has become a legitimate national aspiration and it is a practice that our democracy requires.

The EU observers could not find accreditation in this development as a unique feature in our democratic experience. Every society develops and practices what works for it and such beliefs are to be recognized and respected by other nations.

The observers, in a rush
swam parallel with disturbing media posts, hate speeches, defamation and incitement to violence, aimed at discrediting the outcome of the democratic process.

It is against international norms for foreign observers to act like mercenaries with unfulfilled demands from a warlord. Our sovereignty was affronted by the fact that the observers knowingly jumped into the contest in a scheme to undermine the responsibility of our judiciary.

The Nigerian judiciary as a pillar in the unification tripod will not allow its leg to wobble in resolving issues that may lead to instability or possible weakening of the Nigerian State by any external influence.

Our judges have always shunned tendencies that could magnify threats to Nigeria’s unity and stability. The logic of their decisions is in empowering reforms in our democratic setting and alignment with the realities and compromises inherent in our federal system.

This was the position in the case of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979. Justice Andrew Obaseki made it clear while addressing a class of law students at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of Lagos six years after. The late jurist was one of the Justices of the apex court who sat to determine the 1979 presidential election petition in favour of Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria. In defence of the reasoning of the majority of his brother jurists on what constitutes 2/3 of 19 states, he asked rhetorically “If we had given a judgment that set Nigeria on fire, have we done justice”. A query to which the entire audience thundered “NO”.

This wisdom became a judicial norm which gained consistency in subsequent election petition cases relating to the office of the president from the first presidential election held in Nigeria on 11th August 1979 to the ninth election conducted on 23rd February 2019 where the apex court followed the practice of sustaining the status quo in the national interest.

The Awolowo and Shagari case revealed that elections in Nigeria and particular presidential elections are conducted under special circumstances and courts did not only depend on the statute in adjudication.

In the Awolowo and Shagari’s case, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Electoral Commission as an interpreter of statutory provisions to be met has the discretion to choose one from the meanings where the statutory provision is capable of more than one meaning. It can go no further.

The court went further to state that where in interpreting a provision, there is doubt that the legislature intended a wide view to be taken, so much so that fundamental principles will be disregarded, the court can adopt a narrow view.

The Supreme Court finally held that even though it had been found that there was non-compliance with the provision of section 34 A(1)(C)(ii) of the electoral law, the provision of Section III Sub-section (I) will be invoked, which provides that non-compliance will not affect the result of the election.

In their Lordship’s conclusion, the federal Electoral Commission was right in its determination of the winner and it has satisfied the provisions of the electoral law.

Borrowing from the wisdom of our apex court, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) and other innovative tools introduced by INEC are to aid the electoral process and until our electoral results are “fully computerized” the suggestions by those who are unhappy with the result of the presidential election including social media practitioners and TV anchors “are impracticable”.

Respect for the outcome of the February 25, 2023, presidential election appears to be the only positive link between our constitution and national unity at this juncture in time. There is justification for our Judiciary to cross the line in defence of national unity and when our corperate existence becomes vulnerable to avoidable shocks arising from the outcome of a presidential election.

The victory of the APC and President Bola Tinubu is well fortified based on the above premises and on account of the demand of the people of the southern regions from the Nigeria State that power must rotate to the South.

Lecturing at the University College, Ibadan on Nigeria’s current affairs in 1962, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa said “We must be concerned with issues that make us understand one another without any tribe dominating the other”.

The search for a fair and equitable polity in Nigeria will continue even after the tenure of President Bola Tinubu.

Niran Sule-Akinsuyi is a former Member of Parliament and one-time Commissioner for Special Duties in Ondo State.

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Opinion

Olatunji Ariyomo: 90-cannon salute to Soyinka

Soyinka visits Sunday Igboho in Benin Republic

When Oluwole Akinwande Babatunde SOYINKA, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, clocked 80 in 2014, this essay raised an 80-cannon salute in his honour as one of Africa’s most enigmatic pathfinder.

At 90, the bard remains a torch-bearer for continental excellence and an inspirational global export from Africa to the world.

The ‘90’ volley count is an intentional multiple of the traditional 21-gun salute in recognition of his exceptional humanity and an acknowledgment of Ogun, his companion deity.

In the African literary precinct, where minds form thoughts and thoughts mold minds, Wole Soyinka, until perhaps another revelation in his class, will remain the definitive Africa’s confounding literary enigma and the actual definition of literature itself for eons to come.

Granted that Kongi himself is not given to wanton adulation or competitive overgeneralization, especially the typically African tendency to rank, I am not Kongi and neither is this bias without basis – or reckless without a just cause.

There were great African writers before Soyinka happened to Africa. Some wrote in their indigenous languages and as a result, had a restricted audience.

There were and there are still great African writers who were contemporaries of Soyinka. Many although contemporaries of Soyinka, wrote in the language of yore leaving the reader with the literary taste that the writer was attempting to re-create the African past. Not Soyinka.

He communicated in the contemporary language of his time and with such suaveness that both awe and appeal. There will continue to be great African writers after Soyinka. Soyinka is however not just a great African writer. Neither is Kongi just another literary icon. He is literature. His life sealed and cemented his place in African history. Soyinka’s being has come to represent a theatre in 3D as his very life embodies the very substance great dramas are made of. At a relatively young age, when many feared to dare, Kongi , a one-man battalion stormed the broadcasting house in the then Western region of Nigeria, and successfully replaced the recorded lies of one of the thieving politicians at the time, with his. That was Soyinka, literature in motion.

By the time the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria were locked in a titanic survival battle with the side claiming to represent a united Nigeria, Soyinka saw through the charade of the kind of unity on offer and dared to embrace a destiny in opposition to the leading tendencies back then – he backed the right of the Igbo people to self-determination if that was what they desired as a people. The core of his stance was very simple, the Igbos had the inalienable right as humans to determine how they would want to exist as a people.

For so daring, Soyinka was hunted, hounded, arrested, and imprisoned. That was Soyinka, literature in motion.
Then came the Nobel prize. Prizes, especially super-prestigious types of the calibre of the Nobel have a way of changing their beneficiaries. Most would begin to hang out only with the rulers while then doing their bidding. Not Soyinka. Rather, Soyinka became more Soyinka. From the battle to erase apartheid in South Africa, to the precarious and dangerous challenge he mounted against vicious military rulers, Soyinka was at the forefront of civil action for the protection of the ordinary people from arbitrary rule of the juntas. How the Ibrahim Babangida government loved to dismiss Soyinka as a dramatist! But the dramatist was one of the forces who ensured Babangida was forced into submission and had to abdicate in a hurry when the hearth became too hot. That was Soyinka, literature in motion.
Soyinka in the public service. Before the ultimate showdown with Babangida, Kongi, following a call akin to an ‘if you know how to do it, then come do it’ dare from Babangida, accepted to establish and serve as the foundation Chairman of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC). Many had expected the crusader to fail at this assignment. Not Soyinka. As Nigerians would still admit today, Soyinka’s era in the road safety corps remains a watershed in the nation’s history. That was the era when no officer of the Corp would collect bribes from anybody even though their sister organization, the Nigeria Police, was notorious at the time for only two things – bribery and corruption. As Dele Momodu recently revealed, when an attempt was made to soil Soyinka’s reputation with a smear campaign, news hounds from the African Concord were dispatched to get the juicy details of the ’embezzlement charge’, Kongi, though 28 years behind the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, personally wrote to the bankers of the FRSC with the instruction to make all their accounts public! That was Soyinka, literature in motion.
While Wole Soyinka’s predilection as signposted by these experiences is about integrity, what is right, and what is just, irrespective of tribe, race, religion, or social status – his later life would cement his place as an avowed advocate of universal justice – no matter who the victim is. This is where he stands shoulder higher than any of his contemporaries. While some of them were perennially locked in the defense of their kin, Soyinka’s mind transcended Ake or his Oduduwa clan and captured the universal spirit that defined and separated truly great beings from the rest.
Soyinka the philosopher could be glimpsed from The Interpreters, where the bard sought to know whether it was appropriate to insist on a spot in the water whereas the water as an entity was definitely constantly mowing. In the trial of Brother Jero, it would be difficult to resist a good laugh as the prophet successfully predicted the promotion of Chume to Chief Messenger with an additional prophecy still that he would become Chief Clerk. Soyinka in that work clearly saw tomorrow as every antic of the main character has now become the trademark and a powerful tool through which self-professed spokesmen for God swindle unsuspecting folks in 2014 Nigeria. Soyinka inspires. Any student activist in the past 30 years, would either have used or have heard the famous words “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” taken from The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka. It remains the number one rallying cry to free the souls of the undecided for battle against forces of repression in Nigeria’s unending Armageddon of civil unrest against abusive use of power and positions against the interests of the masses. Of Soyinka, John Updike in Hugging the Shore (New York: Knopf, 1983) says ‘he is remembered in Nigeria with awe, both for a political boldness that landed him in prison and for a commanding intellect that is manifest in every genre he tackles’. And what do you make of the poem, Telephone Conversation? Read the last verse, again;
“THAT’S DARK, ISN’T IT?” “Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see
The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blonde. Friction, caused—
Foolishly, madam—by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black—One moment madam!”—sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears—“Madam,” I pleaded, “wouldn’t you rather
See for yourself?”
– Wole Soyinka in Telephone Conversation

90-cannon salute to Soyinka! The African god of literature is 90. Iba!

By Olatunji Ariyomo (@olatunjiariyomo)

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Opinion

AMOTEKUN AND THE REST OF US By Sola Ajisafe, Esq

Aketi is dead and left behind many legacies ( both good and bad). However, Amotekun is reputed by haters and admirers as one of his greatest legacies.

At its inception, I had the opportunity to be the unofficial publicist to assist my friend and Commander, Chief Adeleye. He repaid me by picking my calls and sending his boys to distressed persons or areas anytime I called.

In 2019, he sent his officers to Osi Community and commanded them on phone when a horde of Fulani herdsmen were leading over 2000 cows with more than 30 men. I alerted him, he sent his men. Those people said they were on their way to Edo State. On another occasion some herdsmen from the Shasha market invaded my friends farm in Osi again and ate his farm. I called the attention of the Commander and he said we should demand compensation. The head of the Hausa/Fulani community from Shaha came and paid the compensation. Around same period, a childhood friend of mine who retires from Elephant cement and invested his life savings on palm tree plantation at Uso had the problems of these herders..I informed the Commander and moved his.mwn to the area. It had abated

Last year, some bands were noticed around my father’s farm in Ose local government. I called the Commander and he gave instructions that the heads of their operations in the Northern Senatorial Sector based in Ikare should mobilise his people across Akoko and Ose and storm the place. They went along with drones. Unfortunately, the information did not reach them in good time. They would have met them there and arrest them. By what was met on ground, it gives signs of kidnappers who used the place as a base for some days.

I have other examples of the exploits, the efficiency and effectiveness of the security outfit. More importantly , they do not take bribes no matter how small or big.

Sometimes ago, I learnt that herders invaded the farm of a Celestial clergyman and ate everything. They met the herders who were trying to show power. The man reported and the cows were arrested. I intervened but my intervention was needless as the man got compensated before the cows were released. This is a testimony to Chief Adeleye and his team. I guess that was in the Aketi years.

Early in the year, I got an information that some ” kidnappers” were arrested with many dogs and detained at Okitipupa. They were arrested in Akoko. I did my findings and confirmed it was true. But pronto, I was informed when those people were.released based on a ” padi-padi ” arrangement by some powerful northern governors and our Oga here It was painful but I could not do anything so that I won’t be accused of playing politics. But it was a fact that those people snd their dogs were released based on give and take mode.

About two weeks ago, I was in a car with some friends along Osi road through the Express. The road was blocked with over a thousand cows. We came down to ask them to direct their cows from the road they said ” no English”. None of us understand Hausa. We demonstrated what we wanted them to do, yet, they pretended not to understand. I now said we would all Amotekun, it was at this point one of them spoke English and said, ” go and call them”. They were incensed and care less. If it were before, they would take to flight.

As if this was not enough, I was in my farm in Idoani yesterday, right there in my farm, I met over two hundred cows eating away. I was surprised. I could not do anything for two reasons. One, the herders was nowhere to be found. Two, there was no network to call anyone, whether Chief Adeleye who I always call or he would direct his men in Ose. Even the men in Ose are already overstretched. My crops was invaded and I could not do anything. I returned back to Akure dejected, disappointed, surprised and angry. I was helpless.

I have not been able to hold myself to confront this menace and loss. Unbeknown to me, a dày before my trip to the farm, I heard what happened at Igoba and how those fellows caused a standoff yet the army was unable to do anything.

Chief Adeleye had been doing a great job before. What is happening? What about the law concerning cows roaming the street, what of underaged children leading them? What are we afraid of or what is the benefit and who is the beneficiary of this laxity. If Fulani herders could block road in broad daylight to challenge Police and the army, what will they not do in the bushes?

More than money, Amotekun must be allowed to do their job and they must be protected. They should not be under any watchlist or instruction. The reason Amotekun under Chief Adeleye and Doyin Odebowale succeeded in his own area was because, Aketi gave them the needed support and gave them the wing to fly.

I have been hearing stories of the rot creeping into AMOTEKUN. The motivation for the job is receding. We must support the government to succeed on this Amotekun for the good of all. Amotekun must not die like Aketi died. We must support Amotekun to protect our people. I have seen the source of the hunger in the land. Our bushes are crawling with herders and their cows.

We need help.

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Opinion

NIGERIA’S INFRASTRUCTURE, GROWTH AND THE CHAOS MODEL by Tunji Ariyomo

BEING A LECTURE DELIVERED BY ENGR. OLATUNJI ARIYOMO, FNSE, AS GUEST SPEAKER AT THE 2024 ALUMNI HOMECOMING OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AKURE (FUTA) TAKING PLACE AT THE UNIVERSITY MULTIPURPOSE HALL AT OBANLA, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AKURE, ONDO STATE, NIGERIA ON THE 24TH OF APRIL 2024.

{Protocol…}

First, kindly permit me to show my immense appreciation to the leadership of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of this great institution for organizing this homecoming event and for tapping me as a Guest Speaker. Allow me to equally extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Department, the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, other Schools, and the past and present management of the university starting with the team led by Prof. Peter Adeniyi when he was Vice Chancellor and those led by his successors such as Prof. Bisi Balogun, late Prof. Biyi Daramola and the incumbent first female Vice Chancellor of this institution, Prof. Adenike Oladiji. These wonderful people have worked relentlessly to turn FUTA from just one of the many to the best university of technology in Nigeria steadily in the past 15 years and to an outstanding citadel of learning that now consistently ranks among the top 3 best universities nationwide in a global ranking. From the Federal University of Tension and Agony, our alma mater has morphed into the Federal University of Tenacity and Accolades. We are simply very proud of you.

When I was first approached about this lecture, the organizers wanted me to speak on the topic “Building Sustainable Future: Green Infrastructure and Economic Resilience in Civil Engineering”. I interrogated the topic and asked myself, won’t we build infrastructure first before we even go green? So I employed what we call the Speaker’s License to tweak the topic to – Nigeria’s Infrastructure, Growth, and the Chaos Model. The chaos part was deliberate – to get our attention. I must confess that I consider every occasion such as this as a very significant opportunity to trigger debates wherein our ultimate consensus can help reshape or lead to the re-evaluation of extant infrastructure ambitions and infrastructure delivery strategies and practices in Nigeria.
The Engineering Practice
I have been informed that this is going to be a multi-disciplinary gathering. It is therefore pertinent that I try to explain some of the core concepts and terms that would feature prominently in this lecture at least for the benefit of those who are not engineers. To begin with, the term engineering is derived from the Latin ingenium, meaning ‘cleverness’ and ingeniare, meaning ‘to contrive, devise’ (IAENG, 2016). Engineering is the professional practice in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences, gained by study, experience, and practice, is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind (Freyberg, 2006). Engineering therefore has an identity (as a professional practice), a distinctive process (knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences), and an objective (to build economically for the benefit of mankind) .

Engineering subjects or sub-disciplines are diverse and include civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, metallurgical engineering, material engineering, agricultural engineering, petroleum engineering, computer engineering, financial engineering (IAENG, 2016), cost engineering, industrial engineering, biomedical engineering, systems engineering et cetera.

Flowing from the foregoing, the engineering profession is responsible for the building of infrastructure for the benefit of mankind. Put differently, it is safe to assert that infrastructure, particularly physical infrastructure, is the product of engineering. But what is infrastructure?

Infrastructure
The concept of infrastructure effectively covers physical, social, and or virtual assets depending on context. This is because infrastructure is “both relational and ecological … being the balance of action, tools, and the built environment” (Star, 1999). We no doubt have also seen the word infrastructure nebulously stretched to include food or political hand-outs as instantiated by the notorious example of ‘stomach infrastructure” in Nigeria. Basically, infrastructure refers to “the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function” (Sullivan & Sheffrin, 2003). The World Bank considers infrastructure sectors to include “energy, information and communications; mining, transportation, urban development, water supply and sanitation” (World Bank, 2001). The American Heritage Dictionary of English Language (AHDEL) focuses its contemporary definition of infrastructure on the following:
i. An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system.
ii. The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons (AHDEL, 2010).

On July 15, 1996, President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 13010 defined infrastructure as “the framework of interdependent networks and systems comprising identifiable industries, institutions (including people and procedures), and distribution capabilities that provide a reliable flow of products and services essential to the defense and economic security of the United States, the smooth functioning of government at all levels, and society as a whole” (Moteff & Parfomak, October 1, 2004).

From the above, it is clear that infrastructure need not be physical alone. Of course, within the context of our discussion today, our focus is physical infrastructure. That said, the US presidential definition is nonetheless consistent with what could be described as a definition from a national security point of view even as Section 1016 (e) of the USA PATRIOT and Homeland Security Acts, in response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks defined critical infrastructure as systems and assets – whether physical or virtual. In its explanatory notes on usage, AHDEL explains that the term “has been used since 1927 [this is supported by Oxford English Dictionary (2019)] to refer collectively to the roads, bridges, rail lines, and similar public works that are required for an industrial economy, or a portion of it, to function” and that “perhaps because of the word’s technical sound, people now use infrastructure to refer to any substructure or underlying system” including extended use to cover people e.g., “that terrorist organizations have an infrastructure of people sympathetic to their cause”. AHDEL added that it’s “Usage Panel finds this extended use referring to people to be problematic” (AHDEL, 2010).

Having examined the now limitless application or usage of the word infrastructure, within the context of our discussion, we shall be restricting ourselves to physical assets required for a society to function as our acceptable definition of infrastructure.

Notable Historical Public Infrastructure
One of the earliest public infrastructures built by man was the Appian Way or “Via Appia” which was built in 312BC in Rome during a war with the Semnites, a central Italy tribe, Compared to Romans, the Semnites were twice as populous and had a land area twice the size of medieval Rome (Hyde, 2017). Yet the Romans defeated them principally because Rome had the Appian Way. That road conferred two strategic advantages upon Rome by allowing troops and supplies to easily reach the battlefields.

Similarly, the first passenger-carrying public railway in the United Kingdom was opened by the Swansea and Mumbles Railway at Oystermouth in 1807, using horse-drawn carriages on an existing tramline (please see Figure 2). Advancement in steam technology later led to the commencement of the first locomotive-hauled public railway in the world over a 40km long route on 27 September 1825 in the UK. In 1869, Queen Victoria commissioned two railway coaches, which were built at Wolverton Works by the London and North Western Railway and designed by Richard Bore. The railway would later confer four strategic advantages upon the United Kingdom. It became a central solution to the nation’s transportation challenges sometimes representing more than 20% of all passenger journeys in Europe (NR Press Release, 2010). It evolved into a major employer of labour. The rail industry back then employed 115,000 people and supported another 250,000 through its supply chain (Oxford Economics, 2018). It emerged as a key source of revenue to the United Kingdom and construction technical know-how became a significant source of foreign exchange earnings for the United Kingdom. The British Government commenced the building of its first rail line in China in 1865 and started one in Nigeria (Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan) in March 1896. The first rail line in Nigeria took them just 2 years to complete. By 1905, China had started building its railways by itself. As of 2024, Nigeria relies heavily on China for the construction of its rail infrastructure.

Diane K. Drummond (University of Leeds) examined British investments in overseas railways systems and found that British capital investment in railways globally by 1914 was 40.68% of Britain’s total capital investment overseas which equaled £3,763.3 million that year . The annual Interest paid on British Investment in Railways overseas from 1905 to 1906 (see table) was 83 million British Pounds (Paish, 1909).

Comparatively, the discovery of oil in Dubai in 1966 triggered the development of the present Dubai. Regardless of the economic implication of the oil booms, Dubai’s ruler at the time, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (1958 – 1990) commenced aggressive investment in functional infrastructure in the realization that oil as a resource was finite and that one day Dubai would run out of oil (Dubai Online, 2019). As a result, he began to build an economy that would outlast oil. In doing this, what was his focus? Functional infrastructure. By 2018, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, a total of $30.82 billion was spent in 2018 by overnight international visitors in Dubai, a 3.8% increase over 2017 ($29.70 billion). This makes Dubai the city that brings in the most tourist dollars worldwide, with Mecca coming second at $20.09 billion (compare nurture versus nature aphorism). On average, a visitor spends $553 per day in Dubai (DDT, 2019). Yet, Dubai attracted more tourists than ever before in 2023 than at any other time in its history. It welcomed 17.15 million international overnight visitors that year based on data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) (Mediaoffice.ae, 2024).

It is important to quickly state that oil was discovered in Nigeria in commercial quantity in 1956 by Shell-BP, ten years ahead of Dubai. As it is with the rest of the UAE, about 95% of Dubai as a federating unit’s Gross Domestic Product is not oil-based. As of 2018, Crude oil accounted for less than one percent of Dubai’s GDP (Edmond, 2019) whilst tourism accounts for as much as 20% (Dubai.com, 2018). “The relentless commitment to infrastructure development turned Dubai into the Mideast hub for finance, information technology, real estate, shipping, and even flowers” (Winkler, 2018). The guiding philosophy behind infrastructure development in Dubai is thus the deliberate application or use of a moderate amount of crude oil reserves to generate the infrastructure for education, healthcare, manufacturing, trade, and tourism, in order to build a world-class economy that can attract commerce, tourists and folks seeking better life!

A common factor From medieval Rome to Victorian-era Britain to modern Dubai, there is a common theme to each of the spectacular development successes that have been highlighted – a deliberate effort to grow specific infrastructure so as to gain a specific development advantage. Iconic legacy infrastructure projects and adequate physical assets were developed for education, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, trade, and tourism, in order to build each of those economies into a global destination of choice. Once effective, those countries’ infrastructures, in turn, became critical assets that were central to service delivery, employment generation, revenue generation, and in many instances as ‘exports’ yielding foreign exchange earnings through sales of expertise (as Britain did in the 1800s and as China is currently doing in many African countries) or ‘tourist dollars’.
It is correct to assert that for the listed development role models; deliberately growing stock of infrastructure is a mandatory prerequisite to economic competitiveness or sustained and sustainable development.

Chaotic Development
Most of us here might have asked in the past or probably be asking right now “Why can’t Nigeria be like the United Kingdom”? Or “Why can’t we be like the UAE, like Dubai”? Why is it that though Britain built the first railways in both China and Nigeria, why is Nigeria wholly dependent upon China for its critical railway assets over a hundred years afterward?

The answer stares us in the face although we may refuse to acknowledge it. Nigeria is the eponymous ‘egbinrin ote’ – complex plots of schism and divisiveness. Our country presents a unique case in convoluted conflict of identities that make cooperation towards a united altruistic goal difficult although not impossible. I have studied countries that transited from crisis to stunning success such as Japan, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Germany after the ruins of World War II, or those that were crawling fledgling nations some 40 years ago such as Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates et cetera, They all have experienced linear growth based on their elite consensus to develop and a focus on infrastructure development as a primary or fundamental strategy towards economic competitiveness. None of them however harboured or accentuated their fatal differences as a definitive policy of state as Nigeria has done.

In a conflicted scenario such as this, a good way to understand the stifling underdevelopment of Nigeria is through the concept of chaos in science and engineering. Whilst this may appear foreboding, it nonetheless offers hope.

As part of the learning process, the average pupil engineer while in training must come across the concept of entropy. This is a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work. Entropy is often interpreted as the degree of disorderliness or randomness in or of a given system. Chaos theory on the other hand simply states that a system where no randomness is involved in generating future states in the system can still be unpredictable. Essentially, the basic tenet of chaos theory that relates to entropy is the idea that the system inclines or leans towards ‘disorder’ (Truong-Son, 2016), that is, unpredictable. Overall, chaos theory deals with things that are impossible or very difficult to control and predict. Now our colleagues in computer engineering or science are familiar with the ‘chaos model’.

In computing, the chaos model is a structure of software development. It was noted that project management models whilst sufficient at managing schedules and staff, do not provide methods to address ancillary issues like computer bugs or other technical concerns. At the same time, programming methodologies, while effective at fixing bugs and solving technical problems, do not help in managing deadlines or responding to customer requests. Sometimes I see some nexus between the dilemma presented by this situation and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in quantum mechanics in relation to the precise simultaneous measurement of the position and velocity of an object. The objective of the chaos model is therefore to attempt to generate structures that will bridge this gap (ACM SIGSOFT, 1995). In effect, the chaos model’s relationship to chaos theory is the idea that big issues cannot be stabilized or fixed without also stabilizing or fixing the smaller issues.

Gentlemen and ladies, can you see where I am going?

There are very important small issues that have simply made forging an elite consensus around the growth and development of Nigeria difficult. They are also the root cause of the nation’s economic uncertainties in the past 6 decades. Issues of ethnicities, religion, and socio-political conflicts continue to undermine the potential of Nigeria for greatness. The stipulation from the Chaos Model, within the context of this lecture, is that we must address those fundamental and foundational issues in their relatively small or seemingly insignificant form for us to fix the wider or broader issues with Nigeria and thereafter become globally competitive. The seemingly smaller issues are fatal distractions easily leveraged by unpatriotic and unscrupulous elements as cover to perpetrate and perpetuate their selfish agenda in the guise of fronting for the collective.

Furthermore, remember that I earlier implied that whilst the entire scenario of the Nigerian Underdevelopment Dilemma presented as a candidate for some form of chaos modeling and therefore foreboding, it nonetheless offered hope. This is because I have come to the conclusion that chaos is in fact natural. Order, on the other hand, though desirable, is unnatural – and has to be earned.

Overall, in modeling Nigeria’s development dilemma, the biggest albatrosses to her focus are the underlying small problems of tribe, religion, and system or method of governance. What the chaos model suggests in the Nigeria scenario is that these issues must be stabilized, fixed, or addressed for the bigger issue of development to take place. The holy book pointedly asked – “can two walk together unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3).

Our Potential
Nigeria is the hypocenter of Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy. With a population of over 228 million (UNPD, 2024) , Nigeria’s GDP was 472.62 billion US Dollars in 2022 and has averaged 125 billion US Dollars from 1960 until 2018 (Trading Economics, 2024). Nigeria has one of the largest crude oil and natural gas reserves in Africa with significant deposits of other largely untapped minerals. The nation has an 853 km long coastline, 344,000 square km of arable land, and a strong age mix that supports innovation and entrepreneurship.

In spite of her great potential, Nigeria as a collective has failed to efficiently apply moderate resources to build a critical stock of infrastructure or generate the infrastructure for education, healthcare, manufacturing, trade, and tourism, in order to build up Nigeria or Nigeria’s economy. There is a common theme being violated by Nigeria – the disregard for a deliberate growth of infrastructure stock as a mandatory prerequisite to sustained and sustainable development. These common themes permeated the development examples I earlier listed in the course of this lecture. To the contrary, Nigeria appears to have forged an entrenched habit of recklessly applying her resources to service frivolous, bogus, and often superficial needs that constitute no asset either in the immediate or in the future. The paradox is astonishing when annual budget rituals reveal humongous expenditures on inanities as priority expenditures from limited resources while the nation goes cap in hand to beg for loans purportedly to service critical infrastructure. From her independence in 1960 till date, Nigeria has, at least, experienced 3 major oil booms which proceeds should have triggered the type of deliberate and structured development required to put order in her chaos.

Healthcare facilities in many parts of Nigeria remain a nightmare. Transportation and traffic experiences remain frightening. Spatial planning is often absent with market vendors taking over sidewalks of limited roads to ply their wares. Many pupils learn on bare floors in several public schools. Our public facilities are often an eyesore – with the saddest examples being our international airports where the convenience and toilet facilities would often make you shake your head in disgust and wonder what is going on in the minds of our visitors! The walls and floors are often unattended for years. Facility maintenance does not simply exist in our thought ecosystem.

Hope
Remember that our definition of engineering concluded with the words “…for the benefit of mankind”. Remember too that we have established that infrastructure is essentially a product of engineering. Recall also that we have confirmed that Nigeria has found it difficult to convert her unique natural advantages and human resource endowments into economic and social benefits for the country and the majority of her citizens and that this has fatally denied her the evolution of such assets that can drive a competitive economy.

Order is the antithesis of chaos. Addressing public infrastructure deficits is a methodical way of creating or simulating order or restoring order. Fixing infrastructure is in fact the quickest way for Nigeria to attain social equity. This is because the average public infrastructure represents the common platform of goods and services capable of equitably addressing the communal needs of the people regardless of status.

You may have observed that I have not dwelled upon the need to craft development plans or visions. Do not get me wrong. Visions are necessary for the generation of such plans that can make infrastructure development a success. But visions are useless to a man perpetually in slumber. We crafted Vision 2020 several years ago. Before that, there was Vision 2000. At the time we unveiled Vision 2020, it seemed so far away. Then we crossed our legs, tilted our caps over our faces, folded our hands, and went to sleep. Similarly, the year 2020 came in indeed – and quietly passed. The words of John C. Maxwell hold true a “Vision doesn’t come alive until the leader models it”.

As earlier stated however, the biggest albatross to Nigeria’s ability to mirror the successes of the likes of the UK, Dubai et cetera are the underlying unattended small problems of tribe, religion, and system or method of governance that best serve the people. From the chaos model, it will be nearly impossible to fix the bigger challenges of infrastructural development and economic prosperity without stabilizing these other small issues. What the chaos model suggests in the Nigeria scenario is that these issues must be stabilized, fixed, or addressed for the bigger issue of development to take place.

Recommendations and Conclusion
Structurally fix the seemingly smaller issues and remove the oil that is firing discord and the growing activities of non-state actors across the geo-political zones to enable the formation of elite consensus across ethnic, religious, and socio-political divides. Evolve a model of leadership that creates room for the brightest and most capable among the people to rise into strategic leadership positions. In the UK for instance, from kindergarten to the university, there are systems in place that identify talents and create room for their being nurtured, covertly. This is why within a single classroom in the average British school, there are actually about six disparate classes. Only parents who pay attention would know.

Concurrently, develop a master plan for all cities, towns, and villages in Nigeria and let everywhere in the country become a giant construction site for the provision of the needed infrastructure for education, health, food security, physical security, transportation, communication et cetera. We must however not build just for building sake. No. Rather, we must build to be competitive. We must build with the additional intent of having such assets rank among the best globally in terms of quality, durability, efficiency, safety, aesthetics, and cost-effectiveness. Each asset, whether national or local must then be supported with a maintenance plan. We can even decide to empower organizations like the EFCC and its equivalent at the state or local councils to go after not only thieves who stole money but officials who allow national and local assets to go to waste from lack of maintenance thereby causing losses as adjunct penalties with even greater negative impact than what is directly being stolen.

What do we need to get all these done? We need the political will from leaders who appreciate the vision and are enamored of the future of our people. We need the technical know-how that must be deliberately acquired as part of strategic national and local development plans. We need a lot of money to be created by capable minds who know how to get that done.

Ladies and gentlemen, the only limit to our development is our imagination. This is because development will evolve only in the direction of our imagination. Thus, beyond mere wishful thinking and rhetoric of good plans or intentions, Nigeria must in practical terms begin the serious job of economic delivery of 21st-century infrastructure across all sectors. This must be the sole focus of our budgets. This must be deliberate. This must be compulsory. THANK YOU.

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