Prof. adekanye  celebrating a mentor at 70
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     Prof. adekanye  celebrating a mentor at 70 Prof. adekanye celebrating a mentor at 70 Document Transcript

    •         Prof.  Adekanye:  Celebrating  a  Mentor  at  70     By     ‘Kayode  Fayemi     Last Friday was civil-military relations scholar, Professor J. ‘Bayo Adekanye’s seventieth birthday. Unlike my Egbons who had written birthday tributes before me – Eghosa Osaghae (The Guardian, 19 August) and Segun Ayobolu (The Nation, 20 August), I didn’t have the privilege of being his student at the University of Ibadan. I met ‘Oga’ as I fondly call him - first in academic journals as a post-graduate student in International Relations at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). Having picked an early interest in a rare aspect of International Relations – Strategic/Military Studies, a recurring name in many of the materials I encountered in relation to Africa in one of the leading journal in the field, Armed Forces & Society, was J. ‘Bayo Adekson/Adekanye of the University of Ibadan. Upon completion of my Masters’ programme in International Relations, I went to the University of Ibadan in search of Dr Adekanye, hoping to convince him to supervise my doctoral thesis. I met him in the Department and he was so warm and receptive to an impressionable young man he was meeting for the first time. He however explained his inability to supervise my proposed thesis on Defence Spending/Military Expenditure in Nigeria, due to an already planned sabbatical at the Dalhousie University in Canada. He 1    
    •   gave me a few ideas on how to proceed with my plans. When I mentioned in passing that I might try the United Kingdom for doctoral studies, he quickly suggested the name of Robin Luckham of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, a renowned authority on the Nigerian military as a possible supervisor. As it turned out, I ended up in the War Studies Department at King’s College, University of London, again because Robin Luckham was on sabbatical at the Australian National University in Canberra. But ‘Oga’ kept in touch throughout his time in Dalhousie and upon return to Nigeria, monitoring my progress and acting as my ‘unofficial’ PhD supervisor. He could claim credit for my making as a scholar in the same manner he could claim credit for the moulding of the Osaghaes, Ayobolus and the Ofeimuns who were his students in Political Science at the University of Ibadan.   Unknown  to  many,  ‘Oga’  could  also  claim  other  credits.    Although  my  brother,  Professor  Eghosa   Osaghae   counts   Professor   Adekanye’s   a-­‐political   nature   as   a   significant   part   of   his  persona,   “in   the   sense   of   keeping   political   science   apart   from   participation   in   the   political  process,”  I  am  not  sure  I  agree  with  this.  Indeed,  I  can  confirm  without  any  fear  of  contradiction  that  his  deep  sense  of  right  and  wrong  occasioned  by  his  religious  fervour  enabled  him  to  also  play   critical   “behind   the   scene”   roles   only   known   to   some   of   us   in   the   struggle   for   freedom   and  democracy   in   Nigeria.     I   shall   illustrate   my   point.   In   the   heat   of   Nigeria’s   military   dictatorship   in  the   1990s,   Professor   Adekanye   was   a   Research   Professor   and   Resident   Scholar   at   the   Peace  Research  Institute  in  Oslo,  Norway  (PRIO).  While  it  is  no  longer  news  that  I  was  involved  in  the  founding   and   running   of   the   opposition   radio   during   our   time   in   exile,   I   can   now   reveal   that  Professor   Bayo   Adekanye   was   one   of   my   collaborators-­‐in-­‐chief.   In   my   shuttle   diplomacy  between  United  Kingdom  and  Norway,  where  the  opposition  Radio  Kudirat  operated  from,  he  was   a   key   link   between   the   democratic   movement   and   elements   within   the   Norwegian   State  sympathetic   to   our   cause.   His   links   with   the   Norwegian   African   Institute   in   those   heady   days  provided  us  with  a  very  critical  platform  of  engagement  in  all  our  activities  in  Norway.         2    
    •   Hence,   while   ‘Oga’   may   not   shout   at   the   rooftops   about   his  resistance   to   dictatorship   and   oppression,   one   cannot   doubt   his   belief   that   committed  scholarship   must   provide   the   road   map   that   will   enable   our   people   take   control   over   their   own  destinies   and   lives.   Second,   in   everything   he   does,   he   believes   that   scholarship   must   contribute  to   the   transformation   of   the   body   politic   so   that   it   becomes   a   useful   overarching   framework  that   promotes   holistic   development   and   democracy   -­‐   cultural,   ecological,   economic,   political  and   social.   In   short,   for   Professor   Adekanye   -­‐     the   scholar   must   link   scholarship   to   political  activism,  no  matter  how  understated.    Indeed,  in  my  view  –  Professor  Adekanye’s  specialisation  in  itself  represents  a  political  statement  about  his  subliminal  commitment  to  the  liberation  of  citizens  from  the  clutches  of  oppression  using  scholarly  tools.  His  intellectual  demolition  of  the    ‘military  as  modernisers’  thesis,  which  was  the  dominant  thesis  in  civil-­‐military  relations  in  the  1970s  served  the  cause  of  demystifying  the  military  in  the  eyes  of  ordinary  citizens  and  budding  scholars   like   me   and   provided   ammunition   for   those   opposed   to   the   military   in   politics.     By  always   insisting   on   clarifying   the   sociological   and   institutional   underpinnings   of   the   military,  Professor   Adekanye   taught   us   early   about   a   more   nuanced   assessment   of   the   military   which  does   not   treat   the   institution   as   a   monolith   or   defines   the   military   simply   by   the   excesses   of   its  aberrant   officer   corps.   But   he   never   spared   those   excesses   and   his   magisterial   work   on   “The  Retired   Military   Phenomenon”   represents   one   of   his   strongest   assaults   on   the   irresponsibility  and  selfishness  of  the  military  caste  in  Africa  whilst  also  underscoring  how  deeply  entrenched  they  have  become  in  the  polity.     In   his   writings   and   in   my   own   personal   encounter   with   him   over   the   years,   “Oga”  articulates   the   need   for   democracy   to   be   relevant   to   the   masses   of   African   peoples   as   a   means  of   liberation   from   the   scourges   of   capitalist   exploitation,   orchestrated   by   neo-­‐liberal   paradigms  and  neo-­‐colonial  institutions.  To  date,  he  is  perhaps  one  of  the  most  influential  voices  in  civil-­‐military  relations  and  conflict/ethnic  studies  in  Africa.    He  has  also  played  some  significant  role  in  peace  and  conflict  studies  particularly  in  divided  and  multi-­‐ethnic  societies  as  an  adviser  to  the  United  Nations,  African  Union  and  ECOWAS.    As  a  teacher,  he  has  been  a  major  source  of   3    
    •  inspiration   to   a   retinue   of   younger   scholars   across   Africa   like   me.   He   has  brought   to   bear   on   the   world   of   civil-­‐military   relations   and   conflict   studies   the   weight   of   the  concerns   expressed   by   African   scholars   on   a   consistent   basis.   Recalcitrant   and   impervious   as  Western   scholarship   can   sometimes   be   to   things   external   to   it,   many   of   those   concerns   now  receive   acknowledgement   in   civil-­‐military   relations,   security   sector   governance   and   conflict  management  in  a  routine  manner.       Ultimately,  what  Professor  Adekanye’s  remarkable  life  has  proved  is  that  moral  values  and  intellectual  ideas  remain  the  key  tools  in  the  struggle  for  democracy  and  development,  and  until  the  battle  between  democracy  and  authoritarianism  is  won  at  the  ideological  level,  a  clear  and  decisive  victory  will  still  elude  forces  aspiring  towards  democracy  at  the  barricades.  This  is  a  sobering  lesson  for  the  present  circumstance  in  which  we  find  ourselves,  and  a  reason  why  we  need  the  contribution  of  our  thinkers  to  enable  us  fashion  correct  strategies  in  the  struggle  to  deepen  this  fragile  democracy.  It  is  clear  now  that  the  forces  that  were  responsible  for  the  crisis  in   which   Nigeria   was   plunged   in   the   1990s   are   still   very   much   around.   They   are   perfecting   their  strategies  for  chaos  and  re-­‐organising  their  foot  soldiers  for  yet  another  assault  on  the  forces  of  freedom  and  democracy  in  our  land  under  the  guise  of  religiosity  and  terrorism.  While  we  must  never  let  the  perfect  become  the  enemy  of  the  good,  we  must  also  not  delude  ourselves  that  we  have  arrived  at  the  promise  land.         One   critical   element   in   Professor   Adekanye’s   life   is   his   infectious   humility   and  understated  elegance.  I  should  like  to  elaborate  on  this  if  only  because  it  is  a  quality  that  is  in  dire  need  in  our  current  quest  to  rebuild  and  reposition  the  Nigerian  state  today,  particularly  amid   current   uncertainties.   Although   far   more   knowledgeable   than   many   of   us   about   most  things,   ‘Oga’   is   never   tired   of   seeking   clarification   on   issues   or   asking   for   insights.   He   will   knock  on   all   doors   in   his   quest   for   knowledge.   For   Professor   Adekanye,   the   search   for   good   ideas  should  not  be  hindered  by  age,  gender,  race,  religion,  ideology,  ego  and  all  the  other  issues  that  have   unnecessarily   prolonged   our   underdevelopment.   This   is   the   hallmark   of   a   great   mind,   and   4    
    •  we   are   encouraged   by   his   example   to   be   humble   in   our   occupations,  professions   and   in   our   relationship   with   one   another   as   we   seek   solutions   to   the   manifold  problems  that  confront  us.       Yet   all   of   what   I   have   written   relates   to   the   “Oga”   Adekanye   I   know.   It   is   not   a  suggestion  that  he  is  blemish-­‐less  as  only  the  Almighty  retains  such  an  attribute.  But  this  is  also  a  tribute  to  his  amiable  wife,  Professor  Tomi  Adekanye  –  my  own  political  leader  in  the  Action  Congress   of   Nigeria   (ACN),   who   must   claim   part   credit   for   my   Oga’s   success   story.   Even   with  what   some   might   consider   as   his   foibles   and   faults,   I   have   no   doubt   that   in   him   the   researcher,  the  teacher  and  the  silent  activist  come  together  with  all  of  the  ideals  that  can  help  us  change  the   way   we   think   and   act   about   scholarship,   activism   and   democracy,   social   justice,   human  rights  and  development.       It  is  a  distinct  pleasure  to  join  in  honouring  and  celebrating  the  life  and  works  of  –  an  accomplished   scholar,   notable   mentor,   exceptional   teacher,   and   pan-­‐africanist   ideologue.  Happy  birthday  to  a  beautiful  mind.    Dr.    J.  ‘Kayode  Fayemi,  a  civil-­‐military  relations  scholar,  is  Governor  of  Ekiti  State.       5