Ariyomo Links Underdevelopment to Lack of Elite Consensus

By: Adeboye Ado

A Nigerian engineer, Olatunji Ariyomo, has identified the absence of elite consensus towards development as a primary cause of underdevelopment and the economic uncertainty that the nation has experienced in the past 6 decades.

Ariyomo stated this at the 2024 Engineering Lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) organized by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as part of the first edition of the Department’s homecoming initiative.

Engr Ariyomo, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers who is popularly known as Tunji Light Ariyomo, identified some nation-states as development role models, and ascertained that “for the listed development role models; deliberately growing stock of infrastructure is a mandatory prerequisite to economic competitiveness or sustained and sustainable development.”

Channeling the concept of chaos theory and chaos modeling, Ariyomo explained that “the chaos model’s relationship to chaos theory is the idea that big issues cannot be stabilized or fixed without also stabilizing or fixing the smaller issues.”

He then added “There are very important small issues that have simply made forging an elite consensus around the growth and development of Nigeria difficult. They are also the root cause of the nation’s economic uncertainties in the past 6 decades. Issues of ethnicities, religion, and socio-political conflicts continue to undermine the potential of Nigeria for greatness. The stipulation from the Chaos Model, within the context of this lecture, is that we must address those fundamental and foundational issues in their relatively small or seemingly insignificant form for us to fix the wider or broader issues with Nigeria and thereafter become globally competitive. The seemingly smaller issues are fatal distractions easily leveraged by unpatriotic and unscrupulous elements as cover to perpetrate and perpetuate their selfish agenda in the guise of fronting for the collective”.

Ariyomo also highlighted the unacceptable reality that Britain built the “first rail line in China in 1865 and started one in Nigeria (Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan) in March 1896. The first rail line in Nigeria took them just 2 years to complete. By 1905, China had started building its railways by itself. As of 2024, Nigeria relies heavily on China for the construction of its rail infrastructure”.

The Akure-born engineer recommended that Nigeria must “Structurally fix the seemingly smaller issues and remove the oil that is firing discord and the growing activities of non-state actors across the geo-political zones to enable the formation of elite consensus across ethnic, religious, and socio-political divides. Evolve a model of leadership that creates room for the brightest and most capable among the people to rise into strategic leadership positions. In the UK for instance, from kindergarten to the university, there are systems in place that identify talents and create room for their being nurtured, covertly. This is why within a single classroom in the average British school, there are actually about six disparate classes. Only parents who pay attention would know”.

Furthermore, he advised that the nation must “Concurrently, develop a master plan for all cities, towns, and villages in Nigeria and let everywhere in the country become a giant construction site for the provision of the needed infrastructure for education, health, food security, physical security, transportation, communication et cetera. We must however not build just for building sake. No. Rather, we must build to be competitive. We must build with the additional intent of having such assets rank among the best globally in terms of quality, durability, efficiency, safety, aesthetics, and cost-effectiveness. Each asset, whether national or local must then be supported with a maintenance plan. We can even decide to empower organizations like the EFCC and its equivalent at the state or local councils to go after not only thieves who stole money but officials who allow national and local assets to go to waste from lack of maintenance thereby causing losses as adjunct penalties with even greater negative impact than what is directly being stolen”.

On the way forward, Engr. Ariyomo asserted that Nigeria needs “the political will from leaders who appreciate the vision and are enamored of the future of our people. We need the technical know-how that must be deliberately acquired as part of strategic national and local development plans. We need a lot of money to be created by capable minds who know how to get that done” because “the only limit to our development is our imagination” as Nigeria’s “development will evolve only in the direction of our imagination”.

The 2024 Engineering Lecture was followed by an award ceremony. Eminent members of the university’s community including retired scholars were honoured. The list includes the incumbent Vice Chancellor, Prof (Mrs) Adenike Oladiji the first female Vice Chancellor of the institution as an Outstanding Leadership awardee, a co Guest Speaker and Chief Executive of Peculiar Engr. Olanrewaju Adeleke as an Infratructure Advancement awardee, Engr. Tunji Ariyomo as an Engineering and National Development awardee, retired Prof. A. M Oguntuase the first Head of the Department of Civil Engineering in the institution as an Engineering Pioneer awardee, Prof. F. K. Oke the incumbent Deen of the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology of the university, Prof. A. O. Owolabi, Prof. J. O. Babatola, and Prof. (Mrs) B. D. Oluyemi-Ayibiowu the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, Engr. Anselm Ijebor an alumnus of the department, among others.

The Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Prof. O. J. Oyedejo expressed his appreciation to the university management led by Prof. Oladiji and the alumni of the department for rising to the occasion. He stated that the “homecoming serves as a testament of the enduring bond between the alumni and their alma mater”.

He thanked the alumni for being good ambassadors and for making significant contributions to nation-building in their various areas of operations.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oladiji expressed her joy at the consistent manner that the alumni of the university have demonstrated their love for their parent institution anywhere she has been across the world. She identified some of the current challenges that the university is going through, especially the issue of electricity, and encouraged the alumni to continue to support the university. “If you support FUTA with millions of Naira, we are grateful. If you support us with N1,000, we are equally very grateful. We will formally write to acknowledge and show appreciation for every single kobo that we receive in support of this great school and ensure such monies are utilized solely in the interest of the institution”.

A N500 million endowment fund for engineering equipment was launched at the occasion with a call to all graduates of the department to begin to pitch in in support of the department and the faculty. Old students like Adeleke, Ariyomo, Engr. Abenezer Fabemgbe, Engr. Anselm Ijebor, among several others, were all charged with reaching out to alumni across the world to enable each to give back in support of the Department.

The complete lecture delivered by Ariyomo can be accessed through the link below.

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