Wednesday, 28 December 2011


                      LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
                              By:  Denja Yaqub
As the entire world cross into a new year, Nigerians are obviously crossing into yet another year of clear hopelessness. The year 2012 draws the country and peoples quite close to year 2020, the year everyone have been encouraged to look up to for Nigeria to be one of the 20 most industrialized countries in the whole world.
Mr. President, the year 2020 is just about eight years from 2012. We are ambitiously hoping not just to be industrialized, but to be one among twenty most industrialized in a world where we are about the only country without electricity; where we do have oil rigs but no refineries; where we have so many universities but of no global quality; where all factors of production, except market, is absent.
Mr. President, while every Nigerian, including you, wish we have our beloved country listed as one of the most developed in the year 2020, it is a pity that we will all be disappointed that the year 2020 won’t meet our collective aspirations, if in the year 2012, the entire country lack public electricity and your government is determined to up the pump price of petroleum products through the removal of subsidy.
The petroleum sector has deliberately been made by successive Nigerian governments as the only sector on which the national economy depends. The sector has not only been overburdened but has become a conduit for corrupt practices by key government officials and their cronies. All the 36 states of the so called federation do not even think workers salaries in their states can be paid without oil money, which is usually shared monthly among states by the central government in Abuja.
The revenues that have accrued to the federation account over the years have largely found their ways into private pockets of high level government officials, including presidents.
During the General Olusegun Obasanjo military regime, there were widespread allegations, which eventually led to a public probe, that over 2.8billion dollars from the petroleum fund were missing. There were similar allegations that several billions of dollars accruing to the country following a sudden rise in the price of crude oil in the international market could not be accounted for by the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. The Abacha regime was alleged to have stuffed trillions of oil money in his private Swiss accounts. The very short regime of General Abdusalami Abubakar was similarly accused of inability to account for oil funds. In fact, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha indicted General Abdusalami while giving testimonies in a Lagos High Court recently. The civilian regime of Olusegun Obasanjo ushered in a new dimension to corrupt practices in the oil sector. Contracts for Turn Around Maintenance of oil refineries were budgeted for but the funds would later disappear without trace.
You seemed to have presented Nigerians with so much hope that even traditional opposition strongholds voted for you during the April Presidential election in 2011. Mr. President, no one can yet explain why there was such a massive trust in a man not a few clamored for to be sworn in as the country’s Acting President when the absence of our elected President left the entire country on auto pilot. Perhaps your public mien confused not a few. Very many saw in you a man that understood our collective predicament, coming from a background of several lacks. At least you told all Nigerians during your campaigns that you had no shoes while in elementary school. We all thought you won’t do anything to remove the few tattered shoes we were left with by successive governments before yours. But now, it has become obvious that you and your government will do everything possible to ensure the rest of us give up the few shoes we have left.
Your economic policies, just like all other policies of your government, do not seem to have the generality of the Nigerian people as its central focus.
We are still bewildered why your government, a government we all thought will have new visions, new missions, and indeed give us new hopes by rebuilding our massively devastated economy through reindustrialization, is so much in haste to do nothing.
The electricity sector, which is key to industrial development, is yet to have a share of capital commitment from your regime. Education, being the factory of human resources, is still not of priority to your government. The health sector has finally collapsed so much that the rich fly out for the treatment of common stomach aches, while the poor majority queue up in what is left of our hospitals only to end up in mortuaries due to lack of affordable drugs, healthcare equipments, well trained medical personnel with access to contemporary technology and training.
Mr. President, all Nigerian roads have collapsed. Some states, not just communities, are no longer accessible. Even Abuja, the Federal Capital is not easily accessible by road without a risk to life as the only road connecting the south to the capital city has become deathtraps and it is taking decades to fix.
Contracts have been awarded and re-awarded without completion. Even in Abuja, where there are better roads within the main city, the quality of the roads is such that it is a mere temporary construction obviously with clandestine plans for refurbishment in less than a decade, to keep the corruption tap running.
Your government’s refusal to honour collective agreements is even more embarrassing. And this has further encouraged most Nigerians not to trust you or anyone in your government.
Even when a proposal for the negotiation of a new minimum wage was submitted, it took threats of a national strike for a team to be constituted for the negotiation. It took another threat of strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress for the agreement to be signed and sent to the National Assembly for enactment into law. But for another threat of a national strike, Mr. President wouldn’t have signed.
And now, Mr. President, while most states have complied with the new Minimum Wage Act, which you signed into law, your government is yet to implement same. It was a huge embarrassment that you claimed during your meeting with representatives of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUCN) that you were not aware the new wage act has not been implemented to federal workers. Nobody believed you and nobody will.
Mr. President, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have been on strike. Perhaps, you will say you are not aware. But, it is yet another monumental embarrassment that strike by these patriotic academics is on issues that both the Obasanjo regime and yours do not consider important. The issues are largely about the urgent need to revive our dying universities, which you obviously prefer dead. It is still unexplainable that your government chose to establish nine federal universities rather than inject more funds into the collapsing old universities.
During your campaigns, you promised Nigerians you will create more jobs; revive electricity; resuscitate the oil industry; etc. you said loud and clear in your slogans that you will transform Nigeria and her impoverished citizenry. We now know they were mere campaign slogans or gimmicks.
On assumption of office as President, in just few hours after you were sworn in, it became very clear that this President has an agenda that is obviously not his. Like every other thing, your agenda was obviously an imported one, supplied by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF did not only supply you the agenda, they also supplied you with the implementing personnel.
All those talk about you begging Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to join your cabinet are all balderdash. She was sent to you to deliver a policy that will quicken the extermination of already impoverished Nigerians. These policies have been rejected by the peoples and governments of several countries in Europe, Asia and even Africa, including the Nigerian people. These policies led to the collapse of several governments. And one is yet to understand why you are so much in haste to implement a policy you obviously don’t even understand.
The tell tale being bandied around by you and other IMF cronies like Ngozi, Sanusi, Dieziani etc are the same Nigerians have been told since 1978 when the General Olusegun Obasanjo military regime first increased fuel prices.
Not even the United States dare remove subsidy on any key sector in her national economy. Even when private firms were in crisis, the Obama administration intervened and saved them with public funds.
The cliques you claim to be benefitting from fuel subsidy are very well known to you. For the avoidance of doubts, we will assist you with their names here. The chairperson of the clique is the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); the Presidency; individuals and companies owned by your friends like Mr. Femi Otedola and his Conoil. The senate has mentioned and published their names. So, if they are the problem, what is expected of a patriotic government is to apprehend these people and organizations and get them to refund what they may have taken illegally.
It’s a shame really; that a country considered one of the major oil producing countries is now a leading oil importing countries. When President Obasanjo was in office, each time he raises the pump price of fuel, one of his numerous reasons is that he wants to repair refineries. Instead, what we now have are four completely dead refineries. The roads he claimed he would repair have all gotten deeper in craters. Industries have totally collapsed or relocated to neighbouring countries. And consequently, we have several thousands of people out of jobs. With the absence of public electricity, and your intention to increase the cost of fuel this year, the remaining industries will all go. Even the informal sector that has kept most hitherto unemployed people busy will disappear as well. And not even the almost one trillion naira security vote will contain the rate of crimes that will follow.
Mr. President, those who are encouraging you to ignore the general opposition to your determination to remove subsidy on petroleum will abandon you completely when you begin to pay the price, because there will be very massive protests across the country, the magnitude and characteristic will be such that you could never have imagined. You seem to be reading our people wrongly.
Even the pervasive menace being unleashed on Nigerians by Boko Haram will grow deeper, because what led to their advent is certainly much more than religion. It is socio economic. A group who have publicly declared lack of interest in formal education because majority of those with formal education are yet to find a place to use their certificates will certainly be ready to advance further than flying the banner of religion when the rest of Nigeria rise up in unison to demand for good governance. Nigerians are not as docile as you seem to assume.
In Nigeria today, there are bottled up anger of varying degrees and all everyone is waiting for is just a spark, and you will provide the spark when you remove fuel subsidy.
You do not need to remove fuel subsidy before getting us good roads; new refineries; good and accessible healthcare services; qualitative educational institutions; functional electricity etc. If you half the number of your special advisers/assistants, ministers and reduce the cost of maintaining your kitchen you can build refineries and light up the country with functional electricity. The issue of reducing the number of ministers is a constitutional matter and Nigerians will be ready to support an amendment to this effect, not your seven years single tenure plan. We don’t even need more than two or three people from each state in the National Assembly. Why should we continue with thirty six states, many of which are mere imaginations of what a state should be?
In countries where good governance thrives government and its officials sacrifice their allowances, in some cases reduce their salaries when they are hit with economic recession. No sensible government will impose further poverty inducing measures on the citizens during recession because economic recession itself is a major breeder of mass uprising.
We can’t accept to pay more for fuel when we can’t identify what you and your friends have sacrificed. We can’t pay more for anything when one of your key ministers has been publicly accused of buying a mansion in Europe for several millions of dollars. Why should anybody believe Nigeria is broke when your government had to hire two aircrafts to convey your delegation to Australia just because they wanted business class?
Mr. President, no one believe you or your government and everyone is just waiting for the spark when you finally ignore us and increase fuel prices through the removal of fuel subsidy. What will follow will make the year 2012 the year that the entire country will rise in unison for total liberation.
Mr. President, we need a happy new year.

Monday, 19 December 2011


We should all see the impending battle against the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria as a collective one. Anyone who have been involved in the struggle for social justice in any form either as trade unionists or as conscious progressive activists should know nothing has ever been personal in any collective struggle against social injustice and should not take this as one.

We all feel the excruciating pains our government's misdirected policies have unleashed on us all and it will be the highest form of diservice for anyone known to have always been on the side of the people to suddenly abandon our people or even do anything to demobilise the people.
We exist because we have a purpose here, and so far we all have been actively discharging these over the years and we shouldn't suddenly misplace our collective purpose to inprint our names as being anti - people.
We all need to continue to be resolute, organised and focused on what the movement has to do to retrieve our country from the grips of agents of mass destructions who are determined more than ever before to deepen the pains of our people through imperialist scripted policies.
For me, I believe we will win this battle and I'm convinced this is not the time and space for promotion of discords of any form.
Labour and its allies-peasants, artisans, students etc must be united in absolute determination to win this battle and I have no fear that our unity is even stronger now and we should do nothing to weaken this unity.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


December 14, 2011

Press Release

The 2012 Budget: A Disaster Waiting To Happen!

A critical perusal of the year 2012 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday showed clearly that the present government has no intention to lead the country out of the present socio- economic crisis. The budget, which was tagged: Budget of Fiscal Consolidation, Inclusive Growth and Job Creation, is actually an anti-peoples budget designed purely in the service of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and their local lackeys who dictate to the Nigerian government. It is a disaster waiting to happen.

 In particular, the exclusion of fuel subsidy in the budget is not only tragic, but a declaration of war on the Nigerian people. Thus, the Nigerian people will have no choice but to confront this challenge.

This further attempt to impoverish workers and the Nigerian poor, is coming at the heels of increased tariff on electricity, the move to massively sack workers in the name of merging parastatals, the attempt to collect more taxes through the return of toll gates, the refusal to adequately fund education, and refusal to pay minimum wage, which is an impeachable offence. 

Despite the country’s security challenges, it is curious that the Jonathan government has allocated a massive  lion share of the budget to security. In the first instance, the major cause of the increasing wave of insecurity in Nigeria is lack of education and mass unemployment, which are direct consequences of the general collapse of public infrastructure such as public electricity, roads, education, health etc. The security challenges are further compounded by lack of political will and abysmal ineptitude of security agencies.

No one should underestimate the general mass poverty, unemployment and discontent that has increased bottled up anger in our polity.  The removal of fuel subsidy will provide the spark for mass protests such that even the increased security vote cannot buy enough arms to contain.

Since the government of Jonathan has elected to punish the Nigerian people through a budget that is poverty inducing and will cause a lot of hardship, the Nigerian people will have no alternative but to resist.

We call on all Nigerian workers and people to begin preparations for a general strike and mass protests. The people must be prepared in the next few weeks when the Jonathan administration begins to implement his anti-Nigerian policy. Nigerians should prepare to occupy the streets and public institutions to prevent them from being taken over by anti-patriotic forces. 

 The NLC leadership will be meeting on Tuesday December 20, 2011, to firm up strategies and give directive on the commencement of   this protest and the resolve of workers and the Nigerian people to reclaim their country back.

We call on the National Assembly to side with the electorate and the Nigerian people by refusing to pass this budget.

We also ask the Jonathan administration to seriously have a rethink by reviewing his budget proposal, or be ready to take on the Nigerian people.

Owei Lakemfa

Ag. General Secretary

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Goodwill Message by Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, mni Governor of Edo State, at the 10th Year Colloquium Organized in honour of Prof Bade Onimode on Saturday 10th December 2011 at the Omonogun Hall, Lokoja, Kogi State

I wish to thank the comrades and friends of Prof Bade Onimode, who have taken the initiative to organize a colloquium in memory of this illustrious patriot, revolutionary thinker, organizer, humanist and scholar of international renown. Prof Onimode deserves any efforts to celebrate his person and his contributions as an activist, scholar and intellectual statesman.

Bade, as we all fondly called him, enriched each of us who knew him as a scholar and activist. He furnished the global progressive and revolutionary anti-imperialist movement with a devastating critique of the economic and political structures of finance and monopoly capital.

Prof. Onimode’s stature as an international scholar derived from his deep theoretical versatility and the originality of his critiques, which manifested in his analytical synthesis of classical Marxian paradigms with the highpoints of the Dependency School.

In addition, he helped to generate theoretical legitimacy for the quest for African alternatives, which resonated in mainstream scholarly and policy literature and discourse all over the continent.

He contributed his quota to popular struggles in Nigeria, especially in mobilizing resistance against Military dictatorship. He led the Academic Staff Association of the University of Ibadan, the fore-runner to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), up to June 1978, when he was sacked by Gen Olusegun Obasanjo’s Regime. In that period, the alliance of Labour Movement, the Left, students’ movement and other popular forces was at its peak, driven by a common quest for social change. It had just given the Military Government a bloody nose through a massive national students’ uprising supported by popular forces, including intellectuals like Bade.

Beyond that, although he was a hugely successful academic, he maintained organic links and a regular working relationship with the Labour Movement, from the shop-floor to the leaders.

Bade’s death remains painful to those of us who knew his worth and who can appreciate how much the nation, the continent and the world have lost by his death. But we are comforted that his progressive ideas and the agenda of an African Alternative, which he promoted, have not relented. They continue to clarify our thoughts and inspire our actions.

May the soul of our comrade, brother, leader and co-patriot continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord, Amen.

Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, mni

Governor, Edo State

Sunday, 11 December 2011

December 11, 2011
Press Statement
ASUU-Federal Government Deadlock Is A Call To Chaos!
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has watched with concern the ongoing discussions between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal government over honouring an agreement on the funding of universities and revitalizing other infrastructural deficits in the educational system.  Given recent impasse in the talks between both parties, it is apparent that the Federal government is not serious in granting a listening hear to the cry of Nigerians being championed by ASUU, to commence tackling decisively the deteriorating standard of education in the country.
Some of the contending issues, in the recent strike action of ASUU, are the sustained massive funding of education, including allocation of a minimum of 26% of the annual budget of government to education, condition of service, university autonomy and academic freedom. 
We recall that since 2001, there had been an agreement between ASUU and the Federal government on these issues, with review expected every three years. Rather than keep to this appointed date in 2004, government had foot-dragged, and only acceded in 2007 to commence re-negotiations after several strikes by the union. Even then, it was not until 2009 that the Federal government found it expedient to conclude negotiations and sign an agreement. The implementation of this agreement after two years is now the bone of contention! 
It is rather sad that a government, which should be the custodian of rule of law and trust, could so blatantly observe in the breach a Collective Agreement it freely entered into with the union. This bare-faced dishonesty and derision for education displayed by an administration that ostensibly espouses transformation is not only treacherous, but scandalous.
Nigerians are   aware of the abysmal fall in the standard of education in the country and the implications for the national economy in a highly competitive and knowledge-driven world. While in the last decade federal budgetary allocation to education was an average of 8% that of some countries in Africa, which are less endowed, was about 30% consistently in the last few decades. The result of this neglect in funding education is that the best university in the country is not among the first 6000 in the world. In the school certificate exams in recent years, the country had recorded less than 20% passes, with some universities unable to award degrees to students due to mass failures.
Given these glaring facts, it is sad for the Federal government to be so prodded into appreciating this dismal situation through strikes. More worrying, is that its indifference to positive action, tells volumes about those we have so mandated to rule over us – a collection of   self-seeking and greedy ruling class   that is insensitive to improving the standard of   education for the Nigerian people.
We note with trepidation, that violation of collective agreements mutually entered into between employers of labour and unions, with government leading the culprits, is becoming a vogue in our industrial relation system.  The agreement on the minimum wage, and its non-implementation by some state governments, and even the Federal government, is a case in point. Any employer or government that so violates Collective Agreements with impunity, is only inviting baskets of strikes and social chaos, and if that be the wish of the ruling class, the labour movement is ready for it. 
The rot and decay in our institutions of learning demands a declaration of a state of emergency in the educational sector. Thus, we support the perseverance, consistency and patriotism displayed by ASUU, and call on students, workers and all Nigerians who mean well for this nation to stand by the union in this defining moment of the struggle for improved standard of   education and sustainable human capital   in our country.
We urge the Federal government to respect the agreement it mutually entered into with ASUU, and desist from plunging the country into a crisis in the educational system with reverberating industrial dislocation in other sectors.

Chris Uyot
Head, Information & Public Relations, NLC

Paper delivered by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola at the Colloquium held in honour of late Prof. Bade Onimode in Lokoja on Saturday, 10th December 2011. The Governor was represented by Engr. Abimbola Daniyan, the Chairman of the Osun State Tourism Development Agency (O-TOURS).

Paper delivered by the Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in honour of Professor Bade Onimode, late Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria,on Saturday 10th December, 2011 at Lokoja, Kogi State.




I belong to a generation of direct beneficiaries of the labour and ideas of the pioneer leftwing academics who taught and fought in the struggles for the socialist transformation of Nigeria, guided by the thoughts of Marx, Engels and Lenin, adapted to the concrete conditions of Nigeria. This fine circle of leaders was the core of the Left movement at Ibadan inspired by the open, courageous, hard working, resourceful, and Spartan Comrade Ola Oni. We were inspired and educated by this circle of leading lights of the movement that included Comrade and Professor Bade Onimode, the effable, cerebral, suave, courageous organic intellectual and protégé of Ola Oni. To remember Bade Onimode is to recall and critically re-examine the story of the formation of that generation of student leaders of the Left (to which I belonged) and on whose shoulders fell the burden of leading the movement at Ibadan after the catastrophe of ‘Ali Must Go’, the wholesale removal in one single day of the most advanced sections in thought and praxis of the Nigerian Left (my categorisation). This is the story of a most-critical period in our development and our emergence, evolution and ascendancy in the leftist student movement and leading up to where we are today. Our emergence is inextricably linked to that tragic and unjust expulsion of the movement’s leading lights, who were all based in the higher institutions in Ibadan. The leadership, schooled in the grand tradition of leftwing debate: studied public criticism, grand standing and propaganda did not ponder much its weakness, until that event. It was now forced by the undisguised tyranny of General Obasanjo’s military rule to ‘go underground’, working quietly and becoming generally more cautious and alert to its many vulnerabilities, including security, one-way strategy, financial and organizational. Literally, we (the stub that was now left of the movement) had to learn to stay hidden in plain sight. This compelling situation imposed a burden on us to become more intelligent and more strategic, rather than to remain sacrificial saints, (no more show-boating), and to pose the question concretely for the first time about our simplistic and noisy debates on “tactics and strategy” on the pages of newspaper. We now must pose more damning questions about our self-awareness, direction, etc and examine the movement’s survivability, once taken for granted, tough questions for a student-movement. We soon recognized that we were now the movement’s engines, but now of fractional horsepower, and dispersed; we were visible but we must choose anonymity, guise and coordinated tactics as the keys to survival, not bravado. We knew we had to dig deep into the texts and liaise more actively but not always openly to quicken our education and organising skills. That burden fell squarely on GG, Jimi Adesina, Dan and Olanubi, and demanded to criss-cross the land for kindred spirits. We were present but chose to not be seen, until our time would come (when overwhelming necessity of action compelled identification). For, were the movement to lose its young, budding and inexperienced second line leaders, it would have perished and gone into oblivion, left with cadres with insufficient grasp of Marxist theory, and who could be respected and trusted by the seniors now forced into limbo. Literally we were holding the x-ray to our bodies in self examination. Who really are we? What are we up to and what would it take? How helpful is our approach to the situation? How do we cope relying on our lean resources? Are we being creative, thinking and acting right in the direction of our objectives? What are we not doing right? It was a time of soul searching in the Left. All of a sudden, from the euphoria of public debate and public action we retreated and learnt to reconfigure for effectiveness, not merely media noise.  It would appear that we have been all along only a bunch of brash, young and “radical” publicists enjoying our fantasies and a larger-than-life media presence, but little prepared for the realities of the daunting struggle to change society, until this turning point event. We had come to the ultimate question and challenge: how to change one’s self (first), in order to change society meaningfully.  The new generation of very young leaders rose to the challenge and eventually deepened the movement’s roots and appeal and groomed their successors, many of whom continued along the line of the publicist-cadre and would become better known. And thanks to the yearly Ife Book fair. Always resourceful, finding solutions to daunting problems, Comrade Ola Oni revved up the Socialist and Progressive Books, and 5 Odeku Close, Bodija, Ibadan never diminished but the bare furniture took more bashing and his wonderful wife Mrs Kehinde Ola Oni was ever ready to receive and attend to the needs of any number of itinerant visitors, good and evil. The known and proven comrades were assured of a place to lay their heads when stranded in the sprawling universe of Ibadan.


The name Bade Onimode, Professor, leading Marxist political economist, intellectual of high standing and a natural leader among his peers, still evokes positive emotions for our  generation. We were a generation first lured and excited to radical and later revolutionary thought by the many rancorous debates and symposia organized virtually weekly by the remarkable Black Nationalist Movement and the Marxist Socialist Youth Movement at Ibadan, the shapers-in-chief of campus public opinion in the 70s and early 80s. The crisis and trauma following the killing of Kunle Adepeju, a student not actually involved in the protest of that fateful February day in 1972, not far from the UI Library, aroused from slumber a new generation of Nigerian students formally used to compliant (obsequious) conduct. They became assertive and amenable to marshalling by enchanting leaders, who resolutely rallied students and society behind the banner of Scientific Socialism and Pan-Africanism, even though few had clear ideas about what it really meant. The generation soon began finding and making a steady stream of fine, persuasive, committed, sometimes truculent and most of all courageous debaters and intellectuals that had ever trodden the Nigerian soil. They represented several academic disciplines and fields like in the heydays of the Greek Democracy, assuredly attracting and holding spell-bound large crowds of students and teachers alike, toward socialist ideas, like a compelling magnetic force that soon became regular fixtures of campus life. Plain hand-written posters were the means of announcing and publicising the big debates and symposia on the campus, and every new poster on the wall, (and we had many) immediately drew crowds in throngs and riveted their attention to the next feast of words, words that struck a chord the young generation of the 1970s students and won their hearts and attention of the relatively young teachers (and still resonates today decades after). We were gradually drawn into critical thinking and examination of the world (Our Divided World), of our society (Africa in History), and later of our own very lives (The role of the educated youth in the transformation of society). The members of the inner circle (cells) would get more tutoring on the works of Herskovits, Maurice Confort, ‘Three Sources of Marx’s Thought’, Mandel’s ‘Marxist Economic Theory’ Theory of Surplus Value, ‘The Manifesto of the Communist Party’, ‘Lenin on Religion’, ‘The Path Played by Labour in the Ascent from Ape to Man’, Criticism and Self-criticism, Frantz Fanon (Wretched of the Earth), Amilcar Cabral (PAIGC African Liberation), and many more texts, including combined volumes of the turgid works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and texts from Mao Zedong (Yenan Forum on Literature; Remembering Dr Norman Bethune; Little Red Book). From Zed Publishers UK flowed in pamphlets of Ernesto Guevara’s works on the Socialist Transformation of Man; Intercontinental Press (Journal of the CP USA); Theory & Practice; all were voraciously consumed as the struggle rapidly became our very lives. Some of us even contemplated taking the struggle full time! Thanks to Comrade Ola Oni who had persuaded us against such a course- the Revolution will need you to man Industry and Technology, Comrade, ah don’t do that! Such was the commitment of that generation in the face of the catastrophe. Bade Onimode and all members of that circle served the people’s cause with so much commitment we were ready to give up our career on realising the enormity of the work thrust upon us at the time.



That movement brought in speakers and teachers from diverse fields but honed in the radical tradition, with only one vision- the radical transformation of Nigeria. A movement whose intellectual wing, and invariably its foundation, was laid in Ibadan by none other than the mentor of many radical leftwing intellectuals, Comrade Ola Oni, the evangelistic, ascetic purveyor of the socialist vision of the ideal society, the Ekiti-born anti-capitalist high flier from King’s College, Lagos who had just returned from the crucible of leftwing British intellection, The London School of Economics and became a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Science, University of Ibadan in 1961. Ola Oni, simple, very accessible, calm, self effacing, self-assured intellectual power- house of the Nigerian Left, lit the socialist torch in UI, the light of which attracted a small number of devoted followers in Ibadan. Ola Oni taught the course ‘Marxist Economic Theory’ by Ernest Mandel, an elective from which many students indoctrinated to treat Communism with suspicion bothering on fear kept their distance. One important exception was the courageous Bade Onimode (‘Bade’) as Comrade Oni fondly called his most devoted student, the notable one who had the courage to enrol. Others were soon to follow as the balance of social forces began to shift in favour of new strange ideas that many had in the past generation distanced themselves from out of fear. He would feature in many student union symposia that gained for him increasing audience and soon became the natural first port of call for those with alternative world views.



Dr Akin Ojo, Olu Agunloye, Laoye Sanda, Biodun Jeyifo, Eddy Madunagu, Niyi Osundare, Lara Leslie, Godwin Darah, Jimi Adesina, (these were first, students, and later, Lecturers in UI).  Omafume Onoge joined the Faculty of Social Science from Harvard University in 1974.  Notable transient figures in Ibadan circle: Zondo Sakala (ZANU scholar in the late 70s and later Resident Representative of the African Development Bank about 2004 -6); Jonathan Zwungina 1977, Senator 1999 to 2003, and Gboyega Adeyefa who moved over from The Polytechnic, Ibadan in the mid-80s. Seeking new horizons some of these moved to various institutions and joined the stems of the movement they found or started up from scratch. The Ola Oni circle collaborated with groups far and wide in Nigeria to support their efforts and to exchange ideas.


Dr Segun Osoba, Biodun Jeyifo, Dipo Fashina, Toye Olorode, GG Darah, Femi Taiwo, and several more were the academic core.

Notables in the student core over the years: Femi Taiwo, Dapo Olorunyomi, Owei Lakemfa, Femi Falana, Lanre Arogundade, and many more.


The staff core of the movement in the University of Lagos: Dr Akin Oyebode, Opeyemi Ola Ebenezer Babatope, were notable.


Further afield other poles were forming around Comrade Ikenna Nzimiro

UNIVERSITY OF CALABAR: Dr Eskor Toyo and the Madunagu Pair, ever so dedicated spurned several protégés through unceasing activities.                                   AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY ZARIA

Late Yusuf Bala Usman and Ntiem Kongwai, Yusufu Abdurahman, Kabir Yusuf, Tanko Abdulai, and others.

KANO: 45 BELLO DANDAGO ROAD: Baba & Sally Omojola paired to mentor several cadres and created a natural base for dissemination ideas to the fruits and flowers of the coming revolution.


A whole movement grew up under the wings of Ola Oni, his cohorts and his protégés, leading up to the linking of efforts across the country’s higher institutions, and to the eventual formation of the Patriotic Youth Movement. With Labour Education as his forte,  Ola Oni,  always found ways to link hands with Labour, and Farmers Movement- the Agbekoya in Ibadan (under Chief Tafa Adeoye). All the leg work, organizing skills, and amazing courage of conviction and doggedness required were never in short supply from Comrade Ola Oni and his loyal protégé and political economist, Bade Onimode, Sociologist, Laoye Sanda, always following in tow with the research work, propaganda writing falling on the Literary Critics, BJ, GG working into the deep night for several days to make sure a publication, press release, or a major socio-economic thesis was churned out in response to an issue from the student movement, workers, farmers, Government, the international arena, the socialist countries, etc. The zenith of this activism and for the entire movement was and remains the All Nigeria Socialist Conference in Zaria, 1977 and thereafter the individual egos made an issue of every little point of difference. The Socialist Working People’s Party of Comrade Dapo Fatogun, and later the Socialist Party of Workers, Farmers and Youths was formed by Comrade Ola Oni following the split. A personality often barely mentioned and when mentioned is given a secondary role is the late Marxist lawyer and past President Alao Aka-Bashorun, by far the most popular and principled past President of the Nigerian Bar Association, provided financial support to the movement across the board regardless of the cleavage. That is the awkward price paid for anonymity, and quiescence in every generation. The socialists were never obsequious servitors, never timid, and never short of sophisticated reasons why not, but always short on reasons why they should choose to work together. This was strength but it also constituted one of the movement’s main weaknesses-no one wants to be seen to back down in an argument, public or private. Where everybody is so bright and tenacious in the defence of their favourite thing, chaos is never far off.


These debates, which backdrop was the social ferment that had been brewing in Nigerian society following the catastrophic civil war, ended in 1970, the predatory manoeuvrings among the ruling elite that precipitated it, and the war’s  aftermath that made the military the lords of Nigeria the consequences of which concretised in successions of oppressive and murderous rulers, and bottomed in the demonised rule of General Abacha and the ironic effect of draconian and murderous rule that galvanised the dead collective conscience of Nigerians and finally re-energised our dulled senses and re-awakened the pro-democracy movement.

 The unrelenting criticisms against military rule, the ever resonating calls for  more equitable distribution of the benefit accruing from the ballooning proceeds from crude oil exports to a broader segment of society led to robust debates for free education nationwide, democratic governance of university education. General Gowon’s reneging on his promise to return Nigeria to civilian rule in 1973 led to mass demonstrations in the leading higher institutions of learning and the three big cities of the West, Ibadan, Lagos and Benin and gradually Zaria. The call for democratic governance followed the rapid succession of military coups resulting from ambitions to gain political ascendancy over rivals in the power usurpation game as the means to control the national treasure chest. The resulting instability from the constant threat of coups had made military rule so risky even to the usurpers that the military yielded ground and set itself a date to return to the

Barracks to allow its generals to retire to enjoy in peace the wealth they had accumulated.


Murtala Mohammed’s regime which supplanted that of Gowon indulged in populist radicalism: the purges in the corrupt bureaucracy, backing Nigeria’s foreign policy with the power of petro-naira by stamping Nigeria’s authority position as the Black World’s most populous nation, calling the bluff of colonialists and racists in Southern Africa, and generally backing all nations who were seeking independence from proxy and direct colonial rule. The zenith of this radical posturing was the speech at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Addis Ababa in 1975 which radically changed Nigeria’s political alignment and gradually accelerated the internal political orientation in favour of radical, socialist world-view. Nigeria had entered into a definitive support for the liberation movement across Southern Africa. The Ibadan circle linked up with Mohammed to support his radical vision by liaising with the liberation movements. This would soon lead to an influx of students and representatives of the liberation movements from South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, principally, and more concrete support for the liberation struggles.  Mohammed was assassinated by the imperialist inspired reactionary international plot which main goal was to truncate the radical direction that Nigeria was towing and thus prolong the stranglehold on Africa.


The Constitution Drafting Committee of (50 minus 1) wise men was set up to write a military ordered Constitution for us. Nigerians were now more reflective about the tragic course of our history and were determined to take power out of the hands of the anti-democratic forces. The entire process without a doubt, nudged and compelled us toward the formation of a coherent world view, and formulating our own construct of the world as it then was, and creating our dreams for what the future should be, and challenging us to build that world. In other words, we learnt to articulate our own alternative perspectives on life in the underdeveloped neo-colonial reality that Nigeria was in our days growing up, and worse still today, in our mature adult life.

The stimulating cerebral, and challenging postulations issuing forth from the many weekly discourses, debates, symposia that always pitched the establishment academics in the fast-paced battles of wit and grit conducted virtually on weekly basis and built on the podium in the North Campus Assembly Hall. For us in the movement that was the public show, we had more direct exchanges in Room GD1 at the ideological classes of the MSYM when we took lessons on the Dialectics: Logic, Philosophy, History, Economics, and Nature.  Sooner the works of the great men who were our ideological teachers and models would become permanent public fixtures as the Nigerian crisis of underdevelopment deepened beyond easy remedy and cosmetics.


Both the Marxist Socialist and the Progressive Pan-Africanist movements (Black Nationalist Movement) started out in the University of Ibadan. That act of courage in response to the turning point event (the killing of Kunle Adepeju in 1972) helped to radicalise the students’ movement in both the University and the Polytechnic. Late Banji Adegboro and his late cohort Solomon Agunbiade (Chairman Mao) were the leaders in UI. The Polytechnic, Ibadan caught the bug in the same year of the felling in cold blood of Kunle Adepeju, 1972. It launched out immediately after the Nkrumah Day celebration in Lagos where Comrade Ola Oni and his circle of young academics (Bade Onimode, Laoye Sanda, Omafume Onoge, Akin Ojo, Adebisi, and others) were in the fore front of this ground-breaking endeavour, as usual. Our many symposia featured late Tai Solarin, Ebenezer Babatope,  Chief Arifayan, Bisi Morafa, and others.


Danladi Oladele (Lado) a Polytechnic Building Engineering student who was present at the 1972 Nkrumah Day celebration in Lagos, brought the news leading to the move to inaugurate the BNM Polytechnic Branch. The first President was Egunjobi (Electrical Engineering student) and the General Secretary was a lady, Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo (the well known TV broadcaster in 1990s). The Polytechnic Ibadan Chapter had the likes of Civil engineer Peter Esione, Tosin Awonusi, Tunde Adewunmi, Segun Odegbami, Danladi (Lado) as founding members of the movement at the South Campus. The Basic Studies students would join two years later in 1974 when the Higher Schools were stepped back and in its place A-Level programmes were consolidated in the Polytechnic, Ibadan, thus bringing together many of the bright students from secondary schools in the West in one place for a taste of higher education! In the same year 1974, barely two years after the founding of the BNM, there was a bloody conflict between the traditional owners of the Poly (the Professionals) and the new and larger population of no-holds-barred young men just out of secondary school (the Basics). The conflict led to the unification of the Students Union as one entity and its formal recognition through a single all-embracing Constitution (Your Polytechnic Hand Book, 1975), leading to a more vibrant campus life. More female students enrolled in the ‘A’ Levels Commerce & Communications and Natural (Biology, Chemistry) courses, dramatically raising the female presence in the then almost male only Polytechnic. This had a salutary effect on student life and increased the number of ears attentive to radical Pan-Africanist and Socialist ideas canvassed by young persons like themselves. The UI-Poly interactions drew in radical leftwing ideas from the University teachers and enabled the desire for debate and excitement common to young people when not repressed to blossom, and from this point forward a new and younger generation was drawn into the struggle at the Poly end. This was where we caught the sparks from Ola Oni which were being rekindled by his protégé and former student Comrade Laoye Sanda who taught the General Studies course on the Evolution of Human Societies, an application of the socialist theory of Historical Materialism, (Dialectics and Philosophy was left for the faithful who would soon be joining the Marxist Socialist Movement in room GD1 or Small Auditorium). This little auditorium was also the inaugural place of election into the Students Representative Council (SRC). The first notable and genuinely leftwing student in the SRC was Comrade Ayo Oladipo Ajayi (1976/77 Deputy Speaker), nominated by another (Abimbola Daniyan) for Speaker position but was defeated by one vote by Shina Agboluaje. Next came Rauf Aregbesola (Speaker 1977/78) and thus began the real consolidation of the radical and socialist orientation of the Student movement as the MSYM and BNM gained more and more influence on students’ politics. Key figures in the development of the movement in the Poly included enthusiastic staff advisers and mentors: Laoye Sanda, GG Darah, Bade Onimode, and Omafume Onoge. Its first leaders were Jinadu, Gbenga Awosode, Dipo Ogunmolu, Ayo Ajayi, Abimbola Daniyan, Rauf Aregbesola, Bola Babalakin, Gbaye Olanubi, Femi Aborisade, late Kunle Bakare (Bakunsin) and many more. Fela Anikulapo Kuti had a special relationship with us and in 1979, a few months after another devastating criminal assault- the burning down of Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, the BNM and MSYM invited Fela to deliver his ground-breaking lecture on African civilisation and the Nkrumah Pan-Africanist vision. That lecture changed the perspective of those Marxists who did not think much about the value of Black Historical and Cultural heritage and achievements. The movement led in the pioneering and innovative strike action of the Nigerian Polytechnics (the struggle before Ali Must Go) the 1977 mass pack-out by students of polytechnics nation-wide in protest against the watering down of the polytechnics’ study Curricula following the forced introduction of the now moribund Nigerian National Diploma. The action lasted 3months of sustained campaign and Government had to reverse its decision. Neither death nor property damage was suffered in the process.   The movement had become prolific and an influence for good in students affairs and gradually became a major force in the Poly. Dipo Ogunmolu was PRO in 1975/76. Finally, one of its own won the top spot of the Students’ Union as President following the crisis-induced exit of the only student to ever occupy the two top spots of the Polytechnic Students’ Union, Shina Agboluaje: Speaker of the House (1976/77) and President (1978/79). Abimbola Daniyan succeeded Agboluaje and we revolutionised every aspect of Poly life for good, a legacy we all look back on with excitement and an inspiration for our present and future work. The movement whose sparks were lit by Ola Oni’s coming into UI in 1961 groomed many stars and above all created over several generations a network of committed and inspired fighters for justice that has yet to be replicated in Nigeria.  Bade Onimode was one of us and he never bid these shores farewell for good until he breathed his last. He was resourceful, he saw and found different ways to reach his goal. He was a committed and inspired fighter in the mould of true worthy pioneers- they never give up.  This movement was only defeated by the wholesale destruction of the Nigerian economy through rampant theft, interminable  devaluation of the naira, consequences of which many in the intelligentsia could not cope with and having no other trades to ply took their brains elsewhere, or simply put, they defected with reasons.



Comrade Onimode’s work would put him in front of world audiences at conferences, in his books, and his constructive response in search of viable answers to the crisis of Africa: famine in Ethiopia, economic dislocation of the States of the Sahel, and generalised crisis, including the crisis in advanced capitalist economies and the final straw, the collapse of the Soviet economy and now the crisis of socialism which hitherto was the ideal pursued in all our discourses.  The Chinese in fact published in China Reconstructs an article that made many in the Ibadan circle to say the least shy away from debating the two systems- titled ‘Re-understanding Capitalism’. Ordinarily, that would have been dismissed as ‘revisionism’, but matters had come to a head, academics could no longer pay their ways to conferences, or afford bare necessities. As the saying goes when the stomach holds its compelling debates there is little time for sterile argument. Many emigrated, faced with crisis of inexplicable proportions. Now, most directly Nigeria’s underdevelopment despite her overwhelming endowment in human and material resources must get the attention of Bade Onimode’s brilliant mind. He rose to the occasion, giving many of us socialists on leave something to get excited about again, as he punctured one monetarist argument after the other in the heydays of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, and the debate about IMF loan for Nigeria.


The raging debate on the proposal being championed by the Federal Government to remove the assumed subsidy on petroleum fuels provides us a unique and ideal opportunity to explore with insight what would be Professor Bade Onimode’s position were he to be here today. The purported goal of subsidy removal is to plug leakages and promote efficiency of resource utilization, a desirable end without a doubt. But is this really so?

First, all economic systems foster one form of subsidy or the other, no matter what the puritan economics may say. Marxism asserts with sound logic the implausibility of pure economics, economics makes sense only in the context of the political environment governing it, and it cannot therefore be isolated from the living realities of a society, and thus what we are really talking about is political economy. The matter of who determines or has the power to allocate or arrogate value to commodity is therefore, intertwined with politics as we see in Nigeria today.    Energy is the key to mobility, to transportation, and in a barely functioning (dysfunctional?) economy like Nigeria’s, riddled with corruption; all seems to be fair in the raging class warfare of unequal access. Energy’s role is so overarching that it plays more than an arterial role in our economy and polity, and where there is an unequal distribution of power among various classes and segments of society you can expect an unequal bang for the buck that passes around in the system. Energy is the life blood by which the many inequities have been cushioned since the decades of draconian devaluation of the Naira. Handling it requires much more deftness and delicacy than has been brought to bear thus far by its champions. It is the short course to solving an economic riddle –that of releasing surplus resources, (typically by cutting wasteful consumption) and rechanneling toward  more productive activities  and major developmental priorities. The term ‘power’ here will include access to resources such as information, knowledge, saleable skills, intelligence, contacts, finance, etc. In an economy that is heavily skewed in favour of those who have virtually unlimited access to these resources (power), equalising the cost of any resource on the basis of its face value when it plays such a central, arterial role in the political economy will levy higher costs on the poor who have at best inadequate access and minuscule purchasing power individually. Seeking to achieve efficiency of resource usage this way only further dislocates the poor and reinforces the wildly disadvantageous asymmetry of purchasing power between social classes and geographical regions. This is a long way of saying fingers are not equal, so do not set them same tasks; give each the task that it is best suited to by its  unique design. Socialists like to put it this way: from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.

The reality of wide variance in the efficiency and capacity of demand and supply across large swathes of the Nigerian economy presupposes the existence of relative subsidies. It may be argued whether it is practicable to have these bridged or even eliminated in the medium or long term. The question that remains is how best to achieve this equalization. Preference in such matters is never a matter of pure economics but one that is rooted in ideology; and putting it simply, who will take the beating with minimum backlash, in other words who is the fall guy or as we say the ‘mugun’: the one whose father has no gun. A society that chooses to bash the disadvantaged, downtrodden fatherless/motherless orphans, children, the aged and the infirm is surely pointing the way it wants its future to be-helpless and hopeless. Economics, after all, is the social science of how the rich, powerful and well connected corner all the best things for themselves whilst leaving the rest to struggle interminably for what’s left, or simply vegetate away. They too will eventually get a gun.


Balance the books in favour of those with less power and of little means. Those who have more can afford to spare some of what they have. Pay cuts for the upper income brackets, higher taxes for the higher income brackets, corralling the idle speculator’s cash into the treasury, etc. If you ask me, let charity begin at society’s top, let those who rule the roost show good example, and they will garner the moral authority to make the change that we need. Cash so released can be routed into more productive activities and priority economic and social projects that will bring benefits to all. And, no free meal for the able-bodied; money should be earned. Welfare can be workfare.

But what does a dysfunctional society do with those who will round trip, divert and pilfer the extracted surplus and the managers in charge of contracts for the priority economic projects and social services who are ever ready take their cuts? Our society has no choice than to deal with its ethical values, moral and character problems. That’s our Achilles heel, the weakest link in the chain. Little wonder that the Chinese take draconian measures to tame this common monster of greed.


Bade Onimode had a great gift for making and keeping friends. His sense of camaraderie, ready smile, forthright arguments, attention to details often missed by most, his ability to draw on simple analogies to illustrate his points, and disarm the opponent, all of these characterise his holistic and wholesome approach to debate, a trait he shared with many of the leaders of the Ibadan circle. He was a fine, personable and ready debater who took the time to study and master his craft to a high degree of refinement that his competence drew friends and foes alike to him and dumbfounded his critics. He would sometimes get impatient with the rehashing of trite arguments and passing same on as learned stuff.

Comrades, no matter how junior or young, learnt early from the Ola Oni example of simplicity, humility and accessibility, to develop these humane qualities to the extent their temperament could permit.  A comrade was and still is for us dearer than those related to one by birth, and so were friends who were not in the movement because of their misgivings and especially the often imponderably high level of risk exposure to State security apparatus. Comrade Bade Onimode kept such loyalty to his Ibadan classmate, they mutually addressed themselves as ‘Boy oh Boy’, Chief Michael A.Olorunfemi, the liberal Economist who attended London School of Economics Home of Socialists academics (who was not an Ola-Oni disciple)! At this time Bade was in Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Monetary Economics. His friend badly needed Milton Friedman’s authoritative Econometrics lectures and Bade dutifully made regular mailings of these to LSE as long as his friend needed it. Chief Olorunfemi, later in his career, became Nigeria’s OPEC representative and Director of Research at OPEC headquarters, Vienna, and upon his return to Nigeria in 1993 was promoted Deputy Group Managing Director of NNPC and Group Executive Director in charge of NAPIMS at a time of instability in the organization and culminating in his unexpected exit in 1995, via a radio announcement as the military did in those days, thus leaving him disorganised. Bade Onimode, unsolicited rallied stoutly to support him and made available to him every help he could get to enable his adjustment to his new life. It is also remarkable that the Chief’s company (Mak Mera’s ) first contract with Mobil Producing was to train indigenous contractors in Eket on how to working with the oil company. Bade Onimode’s skilful down to earth approach enabled him to bond with the Chiefs and tycoons alike and made the training a big success that led up to more jobs for Mak Mera, making it one of the leading training companies in Nigeria Oil & Gas industry. What greater tribute could we pay to genuine friendship?



It is easy to recall Professor Bade Onimode’s skilful analysis, and suave explanation of sometimes intriguingly complex ideas in the simplest of terms, at once accessible to the academic, and members of the free readers association daily crowding around newspaper vendors on the streets of major Nigerian cities in the peculiar days of the IMF Loan/Anti SAP debates, and soon, Fuel Subsidy Debate ‘to take or not to take’. The Government side harangued us with ‘one litre of petrol is cheaper than one bottle (30cl) of coke’, and so the price of fuel must go up, to put a stop to the smuggling of petrol! Bade Onimode’s highly informed contributions at the famous debate at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos about 25 years ago when he said ‘Nigeria consumes what it does not produce and produces what it does not consume’ and he went on to illustrate it by asking each one to look at what they were wearing. That simple step swung the debate against taking the IMF loan for SAP (structural adjustment) and it still resonates. That is the stuff of the organic intellect that was Bade Onimode. And, that set the direction for the expectations of majority of Nigerians from the debate. The answer was emphatic-do not take the loan! Rather, restructure the national consumption and production and preferences. 

I am confident that our academia with all the shortcomings in the system has many more of the Bade Onimode ilk. The point is to not let their efforts go to waste. Nigeria remains complex and the unanticipated political forces now playing the violent roulette is foreboding of serious troubles ahead. The population mix is favourable but it is not favoured by the current disposition of state financing, without re-directing which Nigeria stands no chance. The large number of youths must find gainful positive engagements in enterprise and employment. To achieve this demands a sea change in the education system: injecting huge sums into transforming education and converting it into a directly productive force. The goal of teaching and learning is to produce capable minds who are not afraid to use their hands and entire being to more intelligently confront the challenges of life. We must rid the land of mass poverty, hunger and the irrelevance that we see everywhere in Nigeria today. Time is running out. Life is still a struggle to be fought and won.

I thank you all for remembering where we began from.


Comrade Professor Onimode was Chairman of the London based Institute For African Alternatives (IFAA) from 1986 to 1996; Member of the Eminent Persons Committee of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the African Centre for Development and Strategic Studies; and Vice Chairman for West Africa on the Board of the African Economic and Social Research Forum of the defunct Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Consultant to many Afro-centric international development bodies including, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) pioneered by Dr Adebayo Adedeji. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Here is the view of another close aquaintance of late Prof. Bade Onimode, as published on the 14th of December 2001, less than a month after his death.

''Professor Bade Onimode on Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria
By Stephen Lampe
December 14, 2001
A phase in the existence of the human spirit who bore the name Bade Onimode came to an end on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 at the National Hospital in Abuja.
Bade Onimode was a Professor of Political Economy and a onetime Deputy Vice Chancellor with responsibility for academic affairs at the University of Ibadan. He continues his experiencing in another plane of existence in accordance with the Divine Laws of Creation. I join others in wishing him God’s grace in his new abode and pray that he be guided and helped to travel on the path that leads to Paradise, the final home of human spirits who fulfil the purpose of human existence.
Bade Onimode was a good friend and I shared with him many hours of hearty discussions about politics and society, about economic philosophy and economic performance, about social injustices and inequities, about family life and, in recent years, about religion, spirituality, and the so-called mysteries of life. Perhaps, in future, I will be able to share with readers some of the enduring lessons arising from what I know of the life of Bade Onimode.
For now, I should say that I rejoice with Bade for the substantial legacy he has left behind by his commitment to social and economic justice as well as a better understanding of political economy. And I will here comment on the report of his last major research project before his transition, which was on fiscal federalism in Nigeria. Unquestionably, Bade Onimode's academic career, spanning over 30 years, was highly productive in quantity and quality and was also especially pertinent to critical socio-economic concerns of Nigeria and the less developed countries around the world.
Through his many books, journal articles, contributions to various national and international conferences and, not least, through the many students Bade Onimode taught and mentored, he established himself as a foremost intellectual force in the discipline of political economy, especially from the patriotic perspectives of the so-called Third World. After relinquishing the office of Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Onimode embarked on a major research project in 1999, which he entitled "Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria: Options for the 21st Century".
He published his findings in late December 2000 as a 189-page Research Report. Professor Onimode's research provides information on the actual revenue allocation practices in Nigeria beginning from the colonial period. To move forward on our revenue allocation system, it is certainly helpful to know how we got to where we are now. It is for this reason, that Professor Onimode's Research Report is so timely and has so much practical significance. I commend it to all senior officials of the Federal, State and Local Governments, elected officials, especially members of the National Assembly, and others who share an interest in a stable, peaceful and progressive Nigeria.
As described in the Report, the objectives of the research were to:
1. Provide feasible policy options for the return of Nigeria to fiscal federalism after years of flawed fiscal unitarism under military dictatorship;
2. Elaborate the bases for such options through an opinion survey of legislators, officials and members of civil society in the six geopolitical zones of the country as well as a review of revenue allocation practices in federal systems around the world;
3. Suggest possible political options and programmes for the implementation of fiscal federalism, and strengthen the theoretical and political logic of fiscal federalism in Nigeria, taking account of the emerging challenges and opportunities facing the country.
The methodology of the research consisted of an opinion survey, personal interviews, a historical study and analyses of Nigeria's fiscal review systems from 1946 to 1999, and international comparative analyses of fiscal federalism. Persons surveyed included 30 from each of 14 States selected from the six geopolitical zones. Thus, there were 420 respondents selected on the basis of their States. Small and large States as well as urban and rural local governments were included in the sample for each zone.
For each State, there were 20 legislators, 5 Local Government Chairmen, and 5 senior bureaucrats from the Governor's Office (Secretary to the State Government, Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of Finance and Economic Development, and a Director in each of those two Ministries). Also included in the survey were a total of 40 Senators and members of the Federal House of Representatives chosen from States other than the 14 States included in the sample mentioned above. In addition, there were respondents from Federal parastatals, such as the Central Bank, NNPC, and NEPA, and representatives of civil society organizations like the National Labour Congress.
The findings of the opinion survey and the study of past fiscal reviews coupled with the outcomes of the international comparative analyses lead Professor Onimode to identify some fundamental issues. One is the need for true fiscal federalism to ensure social justice, equitable resource distribution, and stability in the Nigerian federal system. He states that the transition to fiscal federalism should be seen as part of the resolution of the "national question" in Nigeria.
In this connection, he calls for an appreciation of the fact that federal finance is not just an economic issue, but fundamentally a constitutional, political, and social question. He remarks that many past fiscal reviews in Nigeria "pandered to putrid economism and neglected serious non-economic questions in the federal fiscal system". (Economism is the belief in the primacy of economic causes or factors). Professor Onimode states: "A notorious example of this economism is the wholesale elimination of the significance of the derivation principle. The derivation principles share in revenue allocation was drastically reduced from over 50 percent in the 1950s and early 1960s to barely 13 percent through successive fiscal reviews. This demands the urgent restoration of the political economy to federal finance in Nigeria."
The Research Report also draws attention to the political programme for the restoration of fiscal federalism in Nigeria. Professor Onimode asserts that the bottom line of the programme must be the resolute rejection of military dictatorship and the imposition of its unified command structure. I applaud this conclusion. I had earlier written an article in this Column with the title "Musings on Future Military Misadventures" in which I warned that there were people who were (and are) still prepared to regain power through military coups and would fabricate opportunities for such a misadventure.
The Federal Government, the governments of those States that are committed to democracy as well as members of civil society organizations must make contingency plans, just in case some soldiers and their many civilian collaborators decide to try again. Lovers of democracy should make it abundantly clear that it is civilian rule or the end of one Nigeria. But talk is not enough; planning for resistance is essential. And there are lessons to be learned from Yugoslavia and the Philippines.
In the concluding chapter of his Research Report, Professor Onimode states that the restoration of fiscal federalism requires political negotiations among the three tiers of government and major social forces in civil society on what he calls "six thorny issues". One is the imperative of decentralization from the existing excessive centralization of the fiscal and political systems. The second is the redistribution of powers among the three tiers of government. The third, which is closely related to the second, is the review of revenue allocation in favour of the States and the local governments. A fourth factor for the restoration of fiscal federalism is, according to Professor Onimode, an upward review of the share of the derivation principle in revenue allocation.
As regards revenue allocation among States, he argues that the criteria should be reviewed; currently the criteria favour the big States with large populations while penalizing the smaller States. The sixth and final "thorny issue" that should be addressed is the need for a special deal for the oil-producing areas. Beyond the replacement of OMPADEC with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), unresolved issues include fiscal allocation for derivation, resettlement, fair and prompt compensation of victims of ecological damages, and the enforcement of the provisions of the Mineral Act on the mining companies. Moreover, Professor Onimode advocates well-conceived schemes of genuinely participatory development with active roles for youths and grassroots communities in the oil-producing areas.
I did not speak with Bade Onimode since he started working for the Presidency as a member of a team of economic policy advisers (as reported in The Guardian of Tuesday, December 4). I do not, therefore, know what exactly he was doing. It is, however, my wish and hope that the current Federal Government will be able to achieve major progress on revenue allocation along the lines indicated in his research report. It would be one fitting tribute to Professor Onimode�s life of dedication to social justice and rational political economy. ''