I once ruffled the delicate feathers of our delicate Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala. As a mere mortal, he was born with irredeemable weaknesses, chief among is spendaholism. If his legendary spendocracy had been used in arming the youths of Ibadan with sound education, I will not take up the role of a rabble rouser.
The role of a one-man advocate urging the artisans like Lanihuns, Lanlehins, Ladokuns, and Ramonus who work in my house to ensure that their children are future Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, Journalists, Accountant and Bankers would not have been my cause.
Ibadan is in serious intellectual famine. And to crown the anti-intellectualism hanging on the city, savage illiteracy is quickly encircling Ibadan. The city is in the throes of intellectual bankruptcy.
Old, shinning stars like Richard Akinjide and Victor Olunloyo have rested their glory on nostalgia. The temper of the younger generation is not embracing intellectualism, robust learning, discursive public engagement and high scholarship.
Rather, artisans like the Lanihuns, Lanlehins, Ladokuns, Ladojas and Ramonus are twinning the academic destiny of their children. Modern fashionable route is to learn Western education and Islamic education or vocational training like carpentry, barbing, bricklaying, tailoring, plumbing, electrician, singer and Adedibuism, which in translation is rascality.
Of a truth, majority of Ibadan people are muslims but modernism and the explosion of other faiths like Christianity is configuring the old pride of a theocratic haven. While Western education is receding in importance, Islamic education is commanding a rebarbative resurgence among Ibadan indigenes. The old, ancient, stuffy ‘ile kewu’ where illiterate ‘alfas’ wield medieval power over helpless tots are still visible. Ibadan women, some of whom have opted to be enslaved as ‘elehas’, still walk about in black purdah as they choke cheerfully under the burning African sun.
The youths of Ibadan, in a sordid mockery of fate, are neither packing Zik nor Sultan Bello Halls of the University of Ibadan with tomes in their hands. They are outrageously and tragically embracing bricklaying, tailoring, plumbing, carpentry, barbing and vulcanizing. Daring ones with brave heart go for the thrill of ‘okada’.
Why are the Ibadan people becoming enragingly and devastatingly illiterate? Nationally, there is a mockery of scholarship. Schools, colleges, and universities are becoming a shatteringly useless and worthless enterprise. Educated national leaders are the cruellest symbols of the worst kind of role models. The grubby truth of ‘amalarised’ Ibadan politics still favours a dreadful, thuggish and eccentric figure of Pa Adedibu. Uneducated, ghastly, uncouth, carnal but Adedibu, in spite of his tragic flaws, dined with national leaders and directed the destiny of Ibadan with his vapid ‘agbero’ rhetoric. Even barely literate Ibadan politicians had to negotiate a jolly conformity with the ‘strongman of Molete’ or face graceless political oblivion.
Ibadan needs a new guidepost. The city needs a robust, intellectual calibration among its elites. The youths need to be given long, absorbent tissue papers which will wipe clean their lukewarmish antipathy towards education. The youths of Ibadan have been cut away from the norm of academic reality for far too long. Ibadan has to peel off the yoke of its intellectual backwardness by encouraging the Lanlehins, Lanihuns, Ladojas, Lagokes and Ramonus to power up and reconnect into public, discursive tradition both at local and national levels. I am filled with a blend of mortal shame that Ibadan has no towering, intimidating, formidable public intellectual who bestrides our engaging public space.
Yes, we have produced iconic Alhaji Ayinde Barrister and Waheed Osupa, two foremost Fuji musicians I enjoy intensely. Ibadan needs to produce its own Soyinka and Achebe. The time is up to revolt against the crippling orthodoxy which regards Ibadan as an ancient city of ‘amala’ ‘alfa’ ‘elehas’ and ‘wetie’ politics.