Sage of Growth: Reflections of a Policy Economist
SAGE OF GROWTH…REFLECTIONS OF A POLICY ECONOMIST was published in 2016 and reprinted in 2020. The author systematically presents between lines of facts the mutual relationship between the former labour leader and Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomole and the present Governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki. It is written to meet the yearnings and aspirations of those who desire to equip themselves with useful information ranging from economy, socio-economy, civil society, politics, etc. The master craft of the quintessential work follows a line for line guide on the actualities of a success driven society.
The author is Taiwo Francis Akerele, a trained banker with World Bank experience, member of several literary associations, reliable shoulder of the Adams Oshiomole led Edo State Economic Team where Godwin Obaseki served as Chairman and former Chief of Staff to Edo state Governor, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki.
The 208 pages book combines together mostly inspirational words that expose one to understand the fact that genuineness, effective and qualitative leadership are requirements in the vast age of socio-economic change, where successes rest on the shoulder of integrity, prowess, diligence, dedication and hard work. Chapter one (1) x-rays the fundamental historical growth of the author, his community life and all monumental memories of an African child, acknowledges the role of customs and traditions as a sacrosanct tool to hold our core values in high esteem as a people and understanding the fact that it is the antidote for ensuring and guaranteeing an egalitarian and safe society.
The great contribution of the author, Taiwo Francis Akerele lies in his ability to generate varying useful contents on debates on issues and challenges in assessing donor funds in a developing economy and the herculean process and responsibility shouldered when trying to access funds responsibly from donor agencies. However, the book attempts to explain the Edo State genesis of engagements with international partners and how it earned the trust and confidence of the international development association through the execution of reforms that preceded partners’ entrance into the state.
Dr. Kenneth Kalu, Assistant Professor of Global Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, in his foreword on page 7, states that the book lends credence to the fact that resilience, perseverance and endurance are keys to success. Kalu, also, in his note reminds us to sustain the ancient values which are constant in ensuring a decent and equitable society by striving to determine that we illuminate our world wherever we may find ourselves, and by working assiduously to expand the common good for the benefit of all. In the book, Kalu went further to ascertain that the book be recommended for politicians and everyone aspiring to be true leaders of tomorrow to adequately prepare and have the orientation on the virtues of selflessness and dedication in service.
On page 28 of Chapter 1, having given a vivid description of Akoko-Edo as the largest local government area in Nigeria and one of the most endowed communities in Nigeria the author therefore, exposes his personal reflections on the identity questions in Africa where he states that colonialism in Africa brought about serious identity problems for most countries within the region.
Taiwo in furtherance presents to readers that the introduction of Christianity and the preaching of the Bible both in Churches and in schools gave rise to serious conflict of interest amongst the people. The challenge of managing the identity crisis within the communities further widened the gap between cultures. In the final analysis, the African culture was nearly annihilated and in its wake the continent lost its value systems that held the societal fabric together. The loss of those values accounted for why we have so many churches and unbelievers today and yet few Christians and few good done to sustain humanity.
In his remarks on the back page, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Executive Governor of Ekiti state states that the book authored by Taiwo F. Akerele is coming at the right time in our quest to mentor young Nigerians to aspire to leadership roles in all spheres of society. He also states that Akerele demonstrated tenacity and maturity during his day as a pro-democracy activist, banker, top bureaucrat, development and policy economist and youth enthusiast. He went further to commend him on his views which are a reflection of his pedigree as a social crusader, he dived into his upbringing at Igarra, Edo state, in a communal neighbourhood of strict Christian and traditional life contributed to his being a thoroughbred, opinionated and humble individual.
The book is in nine (9) chapters. The author in his cleverness laces the book with soothing photographs that describe every event presented, with on the spot photo back and front page, professionally captured, with ancient Igarra hut, buildings and rusted roofs, with a clear photograph of the inspired author looking at the great virtues of the community placed on the back page. The colour of the book is a perfect blend of nature; with fresh morning dew that over shadows the hills of the community, surrounded by trees, rocks and grasses.
In page 53, the first page of chapter 2, the author talks about his early life. In the words of the Author, “There is no iota of doubt that we are currently in the days of uncertainty where individuals are gullible and believing all manner of superstitions. Having drawn a number of illustrations from my past experience while I was growing-up, matched with the present days’ achievement I find it difficult to juxtapose between the orthodox ways of nurturing which I benefitted from to that of the contemporary days. I observed that the norms and virtues are gradually dwindling and fading away, often times, I ponder and wonder what could be the reason for the setbacks”. The other parts of this chapter also expose his educational, activism and moving into the labour market and venturing into politics.
The chapter 3 (pages 88 to 97) presents issue for debate and consideration, domestic racial discrimination and survival and the bane of social-economic development as a people. In page 89, the author states;“The Nigerian State has struggled to retain her position as the Giant of Africa since her post-independence because successive administrations have failed to embrace global economic change. “I have lived in Nigeria where good values were significant, where people lived quality lifestyle with government support, where social security for citizens was the top priority of government, where people loved passionately, where people in authority were responsive to the citizens and made utmost priority the welfare of those they represented, where public schools were seen as pride of every parent, where quality education mattered, where public health system was delivered to door steps and focused medical personnel employed into the system.
Considering the obvious change from the Old Testament to the New Testament leadership therefore, it calls for debate to understand the extent we as a nation have derailed from accessing affordable health delivery system to seeking medical attention abroad, from having confidence only in public health centres to priding in local private hospitals, from having boreholes in front of every home to lacking clean and affordable water supply. Instead of increasing educational standards by investing more in basic education to strengthen educational institutions and to gain the confidence of the public the state has rather become a tool for under-development because over the years it has spent so much resources in nurturing uneducated, ignorant and nonchalant people, who in turn were empowered to aspire for political offices unlike then when only educated people drove the affairs of government.
Following the Nigerian weak electoral system violence has increased significantly, party members who genuinely play politics are being burnt alive before, during and after elections, youths and children are killed by rented thugs. The institutions established to generate resources for government have been colonized by the elites for personal interests. Unemployment is on the increase because most government workers are fond of reducing their ages to stay longer in the service and this has increased cybercrimes and fraudulent engagement of young people”, in the authors word.
In factual appearance, chapter 4 presents photographs of the author in various projects sites and presentations, World Bank and Edo state government officials with the former Governor, Adams Oshiomole, it further presents issues of sojourn to rapid development, history of Edo state with a map showing the 18 local government areas, galvanized with the political, industrial, educational history of the state.
Pertinently, in chapter 5, the author on page 111 buttresses a point in his personal perspective that the World Bank through the window of the International Development Association (IDA) has lent helping hand to several developing countries spanning several decades since the end of the World War 2. He added that The International Development Association has largely achieved its aims and objectives through granting concessionary credit to poor countries on ‘friendly’ terms and conditions repayable through four decades with a typical 10-year moratorium, a condition that has been termed as pro-poor in development parlance.
He states that although, the World Bank Group has come under harsh criticism from a section of the Global Civil Society for partnering with all forms of government whether democratic or undemocratic, but the Bank had insisted that there is a strong relationship between the quality of life of people all over the world and the quality of governance and development. He adds that the challenge of demarcating between where the boundary needs to be drawn in the area of partnership necessitated the establishment of a very strong and sometimes difficult to meet conditions or prior actions before availed credits could be made available to borrowing entities particularly in weak states and states that lack internationally-accepted system of governance for instance democracy and constitutionalism.
The author presents document about the International Development Association (IDA), what the IDA does, the road to 1st Edo Development policy operations, specific reform executed by Edo state government, fiscal governance, economic planning and project monitoring, additional reforms carried out, fiscal sustainability, acknowledgement of reforms’ efforts, etc.
In Chapter 6, the author expresses that disbursement of bank funds to borrowing entities such as Nigeria is not as easy as a headline will make it look. Owing to its laudable disposition the approval given by the Executive Directors of the Bank for the disbursement of the budget support for Edo State in March, 2012 was subjected to the internal mechanism and peculiarities of the Nigerian State. Other pages of chapter 6 the presents the State Employment Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR), Project Development Objective (PDO), Expected Prior Actions Before Effectiveness, Detailed Prior Effectiveness Programme, Reflections on Fiscal Federalism, Looking Forward, 2006 Census and Fiscal Federalism. While chapter 7 presents an article on Deepening the Marshall Plan for the Nigeria’ North East: Practical Solutions to a Ravaged Populace and some articles published on the poor state of the Nation and North – East by Reuben Abati, titled; In The Same Country and Prof. Pat Utomi entitled; The Death of a Sense of Outrage; chapter 8 tenders an unresolved gratitude to people who have in one way or the other left a beautiful mark in the success story of the author. The last chapter (196 to 201) gives us the memorable photo album of family members, friends and associates in happy moments.
The author, who is perceived as a Son of disciplinary parents has received enormous commendations for the valuable resource material good for every politician, businessman, the clergy, civil servant, and the traditional institution; as well as student of history, political science, and developmental studies in general.
“A book of this nature, coming at this crucial stage of our national life, is one of the best ways to motivate Nigerians, but especially our youths and those in positions of authority, to imbibe the spirit of patience, tenacity, service and selflessness – all critical ingredients for building a decent society that attends to the needs of its members.” Dr. Kalu.
Without mincing words, this book is a needed antidote to enable a worthy emulation of our today government for proper application of selflessness and humility in service. Also, this book indeed is a salvage to help elevate our society again and regain our lost glory. A must read.
Title: Sage of Growth: Reflections of a Policy Economist
Author: Taiwo Francis Akerele
Place of Publication: Lagos State
Publisher: Policy House Limited
Date of Publication: 2016
Edition: Reprinted (2020)