Africa Utopia 2014 was inspiring – lots of African young leaders shared their views on the importance of Africans working together within the continent to move Africa forward. Among the guest speakers were Ronanke Akinkugbe, VP & Head of Energy and Natural Resources at FBN Capital Limited, Nigeria: Ola Orekunrin, Founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria: Larry Madowo, Technology Editor and News Anchor at NTV Kenya and many more amazing young leaders from across the continent.
One of the compelling questions asked by the friends of Africa at the event was around Africa and the burden of tribal loyalty at the expense of national interest. I was particularly interested in this area given I grew up in an area where royal family are held to the high esteem not because of their amazing contribution to the development of their communities but just for the virtue of being from a royal family.
Time was not on our side so not a lot was said, that or people were still unsure about the best way to approach our overbearing monarchs who by virtue of birth make demands for royalties but could not be held responsible for any of their adverse actions.
In today’s Nigeria we have kings demanding contracts from the government which were awarded not on merits but to avoid yet another tribal clashes. A good example of this was the Ife-Ibadan motorway that was awarded to Oba Okunade Sijuade’s company in the 1990s. I remember clearly the locals grumbled about the length of time it took to complete, actually it was never completed as there were pot holes enough to swallow a Beetle VW in one part of the road commissioned as ‘finished’ at a time.
Citizens see this but were afraid of holding the king responsible. If we were to move forward, how do we deal with situation such as this in a way that respect and admiration for the traditional monarchs remain intact while everyone works together for the interest of our nation.
Maybe what we really needed in this area is to be brutally honest amongst ourselves when we tell our stories. Royal families in Nigeria are on government payroll, a form of compensation for their work in the communities. Fair enough. I have seen a lot of instances whey local royals had displayed incredible leadership providing community support during difficult times.
However, where do we draw the line in terms of the involvement of non elected post holders especially when national interest is at stake?
On a light note, here is a couple of videos from the event by amazing young Nigerian women leaders: