By Abimbola Adigun
Activists all over Africa will gather at the University of Ibadan Conference centre on Thursday, September 26, 2013 to honour Oludare Ogunlana as he presents his new book to the public. The title of the book is: “MY TIME IN THE CHARGING CLOUD: An Anthology on African Students’ Movement Struggle, Social Justice, Democracy and Good Governance.”
The participants will also seize the opportunity of the gathering to reflect on the future of Nigeria under the theme: “Defining Values for Tomorrow’s Nigerian Progressive Leaders through education.” Afe Babalola, a renowned legal luminary and founder of the Afe Babalola University, will declare the event open.
The public presentation of the book, to be chaired by Prof. Peter Okebukola, will witness the presence of veterans like Gbenga Olawepo, Opeyemi Bamidele, Mike Igaga, Dele Momodu, Dr. Abdul Mumuni Jubrin, Yinka Odumakin, Ezenwa Nwagwu, David Oladele, who was the first President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, and others.
Student union governments’ representatives from various colleges and universities in Nigeria will attend the event, including Yinka Gbadebo, the incumbent president of NANS.
Kingsley Kuku, Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Niger-Delta is the Chief Presenter while Zacheaus Adelabu, Commissioner for Finance, Oyo State, will be a co-presenter.
Also, Victoria Hammer, the Deputy Minister of Communication of the Republic of Ghana and Elizabeth Calyle from Canada are among the foreign dignitaries who have confirmed their participation.
In the endorsement note written by Mr. Kuku, he described Mr. Ogunlana as eminently qualified to author a book on the students’ movement, having been a shining light and an outstanding icon in youth movement in Nigeria, Africa and the entire globe for over two decades. “The book: ‘My Time in The Charging Cloud’ is, no doubt, a collector’s item for conscientious leaders and aspiring leaders in students and youth movement,” Mr. Kuku added.
Also, Dr. Kerstin Sailer, a lecturer at University College London (UCL), who expressed her regret for not been able to travel to Nigeria for the event wrote a solidarity message to Mr. Ogunlana as follow:
“All the best wishes to the students and people of Nigeria, struggling for freedom, equality and access to education. Knowledge is power and it needs to be freely available to everyone irrespective of origin, gender, beliefs or wealth. I hope you will all continue the good work in the firm belief that one day we’ll achieve a better world – one step at a time.”
Meanwhile, the book is divided into four sections with chapters. The first section is on thoughts and reflections of the author. The second section delves on student movements in Nigeria and Ghana and a concise biography of the All Africa Students Union (AASU) and International Union of Students (IUS). The third section is in thirteen chapters covering paper presentations delivered at international events organized by (AASU) in conjunction with international organizations and governments. The concluding section is material documentation of some activities of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), and All Africa Students Union (AASU), while the author held sway as the President and Secretary General respectively
Therefore, with contributions from erudite scholars, diplomats, highly placed government officials, and youth leaders, the book expands the vista of political and intellectual engagements on the contemporary issues, ranging from democracy and good governance, education and development, youth mentoring and leadership, and global peace and understanding for a better world devoid of charging clouds.
For instance, pages 9 to 15 of the book contain a speech delivered by President Goodluck Jonathan on July 19, 2006 at Thwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa. He was a guest of the All-Africa Students Union when he was Governor of Bayelsa State. In his speech, Dr. Jonathan asserted that “the future of Africa depends on the youth and that is why any great leader who is leading any country or state have to plan for the country to succeed.”
In addition, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, former President of the ECOWAS Commission charged students’ leaders on the need for probity and accountability. He said “we must imbibe the culture of the probity, accountability, democracy and the rule of law in our campuses and organizations as a way of promoting it in the wider society.”
All-Africa Students Union, (AASU), under the leadership of Oludare Ogunlana, was the initiator of the popular Kwame Nkrumah Leadership award and Lecture Series, which has featured in Ghana for the last ten years. The aim of the prize, awarded every two years, by AASU is to promote all forms of good leadership designed to “construct the defenses of African Culture of leadership and integrity in minds of men” by rewarding particularly outstanding leaders with vision towards the upliftment of Africa, with the purpose of serving as role model for younger generation in line with the Constitution and Charter of AASU in the spirit of pan-Africanism of late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
The best of these lecture series speeches were selected and included in this book. Of course, the book also contains very educative, motivating and inspiring speeches of the likes of former Governor Bisi Akande, Prof. Peter Okebukola, Prof. Mkpa Agu Mkpa, Gbenga Olawepo, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, former Gov. Adeniyi Adebayo, Prof. Francois Rajaoson of Madagascar, former Gov. Attahiru Bafarawa and Dr. Mohammed Chambas.
In conclusion, MY TIME IN THE CHARGING CLOUD is a delight for development workers and researchers whose activities involve students and youth movements. It gives an insight into the origin and transformation, workings and activities of student movements.
The triumph and travails of youth leadership and the contending challenges facing African youths were captured in thoughtful presentations by a faculty of experts at organized forums nationally, regionally and globally.
Abimbola Adigun is the Director of Public Affairs, Global Agenda for Development