Goodwill Message from The Founder and Chairman, Governing Board, Alaiyeluwa
Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona CFR, The Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland
It gives me extreme pleasure to send this goodwill message to the staff, friends and followers of the Institute. In the intensely hot and humid weather of the tropics, dreams are born and tend to die very quickly. In the economic and social frying pan of our country, Nigeria, and our continent, many dreams are stillborn while many others are postponed for eternity. We give thanks to God, therefore, for making it possible and for providing me with the wherewithal and long life to bring to fruition my long-standing dream of major interventions in the tertiary educational sector through the establishment of a Professorial Chair in Governance, which took off in 2016, and the birth in quick succession of an Institute for Governance Studies, both located at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria. In this respect, I wish to pay tributes to the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Professor Saburi Adesanya, and the incumbent, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji, whose collaborative efforts made it much easier for the dreams to become reality.
As someone who had the good fortune to participate in governmental affairs way back in the 1960s as Minister in the old Western Region, I have always nursed a burning desire to see things take the orderly and edifying shape they took in those years. Let me say in this connection that the Western Regional Government in which I served as minister had less than a dozen ministers and yet delivered political and social exploits, becoming one of the most progressive governments that Nigeria ever enjoyed. The banes of our developmental arrest are our prodigal governmental lifestyle as well as rank corruption in public life. Nonetheless, as I remarked on March 10, 2016 at the launch of the half-a-billion-naira Endowment for the Professorial Chair held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, we cannot afford to give up. Indeed, on that occasion, I sketched out a vision to reclaim what would appear to be our lost years in the area of governance, challenging our intellectuals to dream new dreams and to think outside the jaded boxes of our perennial failures and constant backslidings.
As you will know, the idea of the Institute was mooted by distinguished Professor Toyin Falola in the course of a distinguished lecture he gave in 2018 during the tenure of the pioneer occupant of the Professorial Chair, Professor Ayo Olukotun. Once broached, the idea not only resonated with me but seized hold of my cognitive map. I then set to work immediately, looking for ways to translate this beautiful idea into reality. Why was this so? You will recall, as I remarked in my autobiography, Awujale: The Autobiography of Alaiyeluwa Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, CFR Ogbagba II, education, in particular quality education, has always been very dear to my heart. In that book, which I urge you all to read, I made it clear that “Our educational system requires very special attention. The root of all our developmental problems, our stifled national growth and shortcomings in our national behaviour, can be largely traced to the weakening of our educational system”.
I saw a golden opportunity, in the idea of creating a Governance Institute, for bringing into existence a roadmap for remedying our endemic setbacks particularly if such an Institute could pioneer innovative research into our recurring problems, building on the governance strides we have attempted to make in the uplift of Ijebuland. The Professorial Chair and the Institute are expected to complement each other, in mutually reinforcing ways, with the Institute becoming an intellectual powerhouse from which the wider society and government can draw policy ideas, ideas that not only flash but also bring to harvest badly needed changes in our governance ethos.
I am glad to note that the Institute took off in May 2021 with the appointment of Professor Adigun Agbaje, former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, as the Director-General, assisted by equally distinguished Professor and noted newspaper columnist Ayo Olukotun and a complement of staff and office infrastructure which allowed for kick-starting the project. As many visitors to the OOU campus have remarked, we are at the tail end of the provision of befitting upscale buildings close to the Faculty of Law which when completed will announce the Institute to the world in a grand style.
Previously, we have been able to provide uplifting accommodation for the Professorial Chair, the Director-General of the Institute and a conference facility, elegantly furnished, which will house, at least in part, the stream of visitors expected at the Institute as it begins to find its feet. We have done all these not in the hope of any material gain whatsoever but as a way of paying back to humanity.
God has been kind to me and has enabled me to spend thus far over a billion naira to ensure that the Institution helps to chart a clear path to good governance as the nation gropes for a redemption of its educational, political, economic and social architecture after years of lack of progress.
Permit me to add that I envisage the burgeoning Institute as a centre of topical discourse of innovative ideas and research that will transform higher education and policy-focused governance interventions beyond their current mediocrity. In the same breath, I will hope that as it grows, it will bring around far-flung network of scholars from the rest of Africa and the world who will contribute their quota to governance practice, policy and theory. Consequently, I expect it to stimulate the current and next generation of scholars, technocrats and intellectuals to develop homegrown solutions to the seemingly intractable problems of our world. I hope the Institute will be at the forefront of intellectual agenda setting and provide theoretical and empirical grist for the kind of innovations that will move our world out of the wilderness in which it has been stranded for too long.
Welcome. I wish everyone a pleasurable encounter with what promises to be a learning and research centre of national, regional and global renown.