International Public Administration and Nation-building: Beyond Professor Ladipo Adamolekun’s I Remember 

Public Administration is a sub-discipline of Political Science, which is a constituent of the Social Science. It is used to refer to public governance in which case we are talking about the management or administration of public establishments. It can also refer to non-profit governance when we consider non-for-profit establishments. Besides, because of the multidisciplinary character of the scope of Public Administration as a discipline, emphasis is generally placed on the study of public programme evaluation, policy analysis, ethics at work, human resources, organisational theory, statistics, public financial management, and budgeting all of which are considered to be the pillars of public administration theory.

What is useful and noteworthy is the purpose of public administration: to prepare people for public service, to train their minds on how best to organise government’s development agenda, implement its policies and respond to socio-economic and militaro-industrial challenges. Training in public administration and policy-making is a desideratum for people who are interested in becoming a civil or public servant, an international functionary or a diplomat. It is also an important requirement for organisations dealing with international affairs either in the area of business, cultural exchanges or protocol and etiquette.

 While public administration, as discussed above covers the national level, the notion of an international public administration refers to the administration of international institutions at various levels: bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral. It is also a discipline concerned with the study of international bodies, its internal policy-making processes and purposes. Put differently, while public administration at the national level is much concerned with the implementation of public policy, international public administration deals with the global public, especially in terms of how to respond to global questions and challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, trans-border terrorism, human trafficking, UN Systems, institutional structures, etc.

All the ingredients of public administration and international public administration, either as managerial or occupational, political or legal, are flowing in the blood veins of Dr Ladipo Adamolekun, a Nigerian by ius sanguinis, having been born in Iju, Akure North, Ondo State, an international functionary per excellence, and a Professor of Public Administration by dint of hard scholarship. He will be eighty years old on Wednesday, 20 July, 2022.

Public Administration and National Insecurity

As noted above, one major purpose of the study of public administration is not only to facilitate the implementation of government policies, but to ultimately ensure good governance. It is generally accepted that national development cannot thrive in an environment of insecurity. Without peace, virtually all resources meant for economic growth and development have the potential to be diverted to the prosecution of crises and war.

In this regard, Nigeria is faced with many crises and conflicts: armed banditry, Fulani herdsmen imbroglio, agitations for self-determination, Boko Haram insurrection, Islamisation controversy, Fulanisation agenda, ISWAP terrorism, etc. How do we explain that all the teachings by Professor Adamolekun, as well as by his other public administration lecturers, have not enabled civil and public servants to contain the foregoing manifestations of insecurity in the country? Nigerians who also trained abroad have also taught many Nigerian officials currently in government. Why is it that the knowledge and impact of public administration has not helped in the containment of national insecurity in Nigeria? Asked differently, how do we explain that Nigerian experts excel abroad and are internationally recognised as experts of repute but are not adequately so recognised at home? 2004.

Even though the environmental conditionings of public administration in Nigeria are generally inclement, the very case of Professor Adamolekun is quite different and exceptional. He has been awarded several honours and distinctions at home and abroad. The highest national prize for academic and intellectual attainment in Nigeria, ‘The Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) was given to him in December 2005 while the Lead City University in Ibadan, Oyo State, conferred the D.Sc. (Public Policy and Governance, honoris causa) on him in 2016. This is in spite of Nigeria’s inclement conditions.

From international perspectives, he was an international functionary with the World Bank in Washington DC from January 1987 through July 2004. In 1975-1976, he was also a Public Administration Officer at the United Nations Secretariat, New York. Consequently, the issue is not only about professional competence and expertise which he has in abundance. The problem, which is quite critical is that he, along with many other sophisticated professors in the public administration sector and generally in the humanity and social science disciplines are gradually leaving the scene. They are aging graciously.

Professor Akinjide Osuntokun, a diplomatic historian has attained the age of 80 and has become an observer of national politics. Professor Rafiu Ayo Akindele, a Professor of International Organisation, has similarly become an octogenarian. Professor Alaba Ogunsanwo falls into the same category. In fact, Professor Bolaji Akinwande Akinyemi is another octogenarian but who is still showing and saying that there is nothing like retirement in intellectual life. After many foreign policy initiatives – Technical Aid Corps Scheme, Foreign Policy Consultation Doctrine, Concert of Medium Powers, Black Bomb advocacy – he has again come up with the establishment of a Nigerian Academy of International Affairs as a special think tank to assist Nigeria’s foreign policy processes and professionalization of international relations.

Additionally, there is also the aspect of language diplomacy in which Professor Ade Ojo, former Director of the French-Nigeria village, is also an expert. He is also an octogenarian. Different scholars are working quietly on publications for many of these professors in their honour. I am not unaware of the efforts being made to also welcome Professor Adele Jinadu into the exclusive club of the octogenarians with also a befitting Festschrift. Without any whiff of doubt, they truly deserve to be honoured. However, who are their disciples? Who are to sustain their legacies? How much have they impacted on public administration of Nigeria?

In the Nigeria of today, education has been completely bastardised by Government. Educational certificates are no more than a chiffon de papier in terms of value. Little respect is given to academic lecturers. And without any gainsaying, Nigeria has become a terra cognita where people claim to have certificates that are always lost in transit; where they attend schools but would not know or remember the exact names of the schools they attended; and where it is not possible to ascertain the certificate-issuing authority of certificates possessed. In Nigeria, politicians have special certificates that the INEC has purportedly perused and accepted for electoral purposes, but evidence of which neither the owner nor the INEC has ability to show the public on request.

This is the situational reality before Professor Adamolekun and other present octogenarians. When they are still living, the problems are not being addressed. It is useful to note that Professor Adamolekun obtained a DPhil (Politics) from the University of Oxford in 1972. Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, who turned 80 on 4 January 2022, similarly obtained his doctorate degree from the Oxford University earlier in 1969. Professor Akinjide Osuntokun holds a PhD degree in History from the Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1970. He turned 80 on 22 April, 2022. He is a few days younger than Professor Alaba Cornelius Ogunsanwo who turned 80 on 6 April, 2022. All these professors have foreign educational background and cannot be ordinary in status.

Thus, there is no disputing that all these professors along with Professor Adamolekun were born in the same year. They are all renowned scholars nationally and internationally. They are diplomatists and their reservoir of sagacious ideas and fountain of public affairs knowledge cannot be easily quantified. With this, why is Nigeria in permanent trouble with herself? Why have teaching and learning not helpful to the extent that there are only politicians who are always wrapped up in the glory of institutional corruption, political chicanery, electoral magouilles, and are always sophisticated in politics of hypocrisy? These are some of the questions that all the octogenarians should seek to address in their period of retirement and reminiscences before they become nonagenarians. Certainly they will become nonagenarians because it is the will of God. But which type of Nigeria will they be witnessing at 90?

Without iota of doubt, both public administration and international public administration cannot but have their challenges. The issue is not simply about teaching and learning. Besides, public administration is also subject to the whims and caprices of political will and the case of the Kuje jail break clearly serves as a good illustration of the challenges. Apart from the conflict between the controversial hegemonic Fulani agenda under President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) and the institutional objectivity of purpose of public administration, Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has also reminded us why the Government should be held directly responsible for the Kuje prison saga because of its policy of remissness and neglect.

In this regard, Section 28 (1) (2) and (3) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act clearly provide for measures to be taken to ensure adequate security protection but these constitutional provisions were not complied with. Section 28 (1) stipulates that ‘there shall be provided monitoring devices to protect, control and safeguard correctional activities, including observatory towers, double perimeter walls, close circuit television, body scanners, e-monitoring devices, electrically activated alarm systems, and other instruments of restraint.’

As provided in paragraph (2) ‘the Correctional Service shall establish and maintain a fully equipped armed squad, intelligence and investigation unit to enhance security, surveillance, monitoring, intelligence gathering and protection.’ And perhaps more importantly, paragraph (3) has it that ‘in deploying the facilities under sub-section (1) priority shall be given to the security requirements of maximum security custodial centres.’

Thus, the law is not ambiguous. Where there is ambiguity is at the level of why the provisions have not been complied with. Why should the military security guards at the Correctional Centre be withdrawn on the eve of the incident? Why has there been no political will to prosecute the sponsors of terrorism? These questions point to the fact that the non-compliance with Section 28 of the Correctional Service Act cannot simply be a resultant from financial insolvency to procure the security services required. Consequently, why should anyone have qualms with any octogenarian preferring to let the sleeping dog to lie? Why shouldn’t they keep their peace? But, is keeping silent not beyond Professor Adamolekun’s I Remember in terms of consequences?

Beyond I remember

Professor Adamolekun at 80 has every reason to rejoice, because, when Professor Tunde Adeniran noted in 2012 in his “Oladipo Adamolekun: A Colossus at 70,” public administration in Nigeria still had an impactful meaning, technique and focus. Today, when the same colossus is about to turn 80 on 20 July 2022, public administration is no longer meaningful, as the technique and focus of ensuring objectivity in public governance have been thrown into the dustbin of history to the unfortunate advantage of selfish political interests.

Professor Adamolekun, an epitome of public administration, has taught the subject for the purposes of better governance, national progress, efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Service. However, he celebrated his 70th Anniversary in a Nigeria that opted to begin a journey of self-effacement in 2012. At 80, the journey appears to be still quite farther while the travelling fatigue is also deepening. This situation cannot but be quite agitating for Professor Adamolekun, especially that Nigeria’s public administrators and political leaders have brought total indiscipline and institutional corruption into the political governance of Nigeria. One typical illustration of indiscipline that has sustained insecurity is the issue of abduction of school children, meaning that many things are still fundamentally wrong with the political administration of Nigeria.

In a letter No. HMSE/FME/147/Vol.1/150 of 12th March, 2014, which is currently circulated in the social media, written by Barr. Ezenwo Nyeson Wike, then Supervising Minister of Education and addressed to His Excellency, Dr Kashim Shettima, then Executive Governor of Borno State, Dr Shettima was ‘enjoined to make contingency arrangements for candidates from public and private schools in your (his) State to sit the examinations in safe location.’ This advice was given against the background of abduction threats and deepening crises of insecurity in Borno State. Most unfortunately, however, the Borno State Governor did not comply. He did not heed the Federal Government’s directive to relocate the candidates writing the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE). In fact, he was accused by former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, of frustrating the war against Boko Haram during his administration by unnecessarily exposing the girls of Chibok Secondary School to danger.

Put differently, how much of public administration do public administrators and political leaders know, particularly in terms of nation-building? Why is public administration not made a basic subject of study as from the secondary school level, bearing in mind that possession of a school certificate or its equivalent is required to be eligible to contest for the presidential office? What prevents the use of Public Administration as an instrument of guide in nation-building? Why is Nigeria most insecure and unstable today and more than ever before?

These questions are raised for two reasons: likelihood of a more deteriorated public administration in Nigeria with the choice of Kashim Shettima as the running mate of the APC Standard Bearer, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 2023 presidential elections. This is because Kashim Shettima is publicly believed to have been aiding and abetting Boko Haram insurgency. This raises questions about the future of public administration: it has the potential to be further bastardised to the detriment of better governance. Public governance will in effect be largely influenced by terrorists and national insecurity will become more complicated.

Secondly, how will the likes of Professor Adamolekun respond to such a situation? How happy will he or they be to see that all their past efforts have been frustrated by naked politicians? It is against the background of these questions that the celebration of Professor Adamolekun @ 80 is quite interesting and that his ‘I Remember,’ should be a catalytic dynamic in rebuilding a new Nigeria if the environment will so allow.

‘I Remember: The Autobiography of Ladipo Adamolekun,’ is the title of the memoirs of Professor Adamolekun published in 2016 by Safari Books Ltd, Ibadan. But what did he remember? Why did he write his name without any adjectival title? Obadiah Mailafia gave one reason: there is ‘absolutely no trace of arrogance or condescension on his part’ (vide archive Secondly, Professor Adamolekun remembered his experiences as a junior teacher in the 1960s when he was frequently shuttling between Ajuwa Grammar School, Oke Agbe, Akoko, Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure, and Christ’s School. He was a ‘strong Latin Student,’ who had a distinction in Latin in his O’ level grades in 1961. He remembered having participated in the activities of the Literary and Debating Society and Newspaper Committee meetings and moderating debates.

Two points are noteworthy about his experiences as a junior teacher. First, he was always sought to come and teach, even if it is for one month, by Christ’s School or by Oyemekun Grammar School, his alma maters, simply because he was good as a junior teacher to the extent that he never applied to have jobs but always invited to come and assist. Secondly, he was largely impacted upon by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s My Odyssey in which he read in 1962 that the Igbo were superior in ability to the Yoruba, an observation that he found offensive. He joined Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group because, unlike Azikiwe who was a pan-Nigerian, Awolowo was both a champion of the Yoruba and a pan-Nigerian nationalist. More importantly, he remembered his experiences with Nigerian civil servants, ranging from

Messengers, clerks, and secretaries to young administrators, middle-level managers and higher civil servants, notably permanent secretaries.’ 

The lesson from his experiences include ‘the need for attention to dress (smart casual as a minimum) and grooming when visiting the office of a higher civil servant.’ And how ‘career civil servant making highly controversial political statements – some of them clearly partisan – and yet pleading that the civil service should remain “non-political” and non-partisan.’ And perhaps most importantly, Professor Adamolekun, former founding Head of Department of the Public Administration at the University of Ife, remembered in his Diary Entry of June 10th, 1985 that ‘the deterioration of the university system is baffling – mediocrity and sycophancy triumphant. Very difficult to adjust to the decline in level of integrity and scholarship,’ which is one of the major dynamics of his desire to disengage from the University of Ife and take advantage of the many windows of opportunities opened to him internationally.

The pertinent and constant question here is, if as at 1985, there was already a deterioration of the university system in Nigeria, what really is the impact of public administration on the university system, in particular, and on the Public Service, in general? Answers to the questions must go beyond Professor Adamolekun’s I Remember. His life as an academic, his stint in politics, his life as an international functionary with the World Bank, and his life as a retiree or independent scholar ought to be a guide in the making of a better Nigeria.

As noted by Isaac N. Obasi in his ‘Celebrating Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun at 79,’ on 27 July, 2021, so far, he is the only academic in the discipline of Public Administration in Nigeria to receive in 2005 ‘the most prestigious award of the NNOM given to distinguished Nigerians who have been adjudged to have made outstanding contributions to the academic, intellectual and professional development of Nigeria and the world at large.’ Again, in the words of Yinka Olatunbosun of ThisDayLive, Professor Adamolekun had the good fortune of being raised by parents who placed a premium on education. And since the age of 19, (he) had kept a diary – a trait inherited from his parents.’

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