Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State, organised a two-day International Conference between Monday 22nd May and Tuesday, 23rd May, 2017, in honour of its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Benard Eronmonsele Aigbokhan. The conference titled “a festival of free thought on inter-disciplinary introspection in uncertain times: a timely conversation on communication, economics, governance and poverty” to celebrate Professor Benard’s academic and leadership accomplishments.
The interdisciplinary conference brought together scholars, professionals, government leaders, practitioners, students and global figures to discuss, examine and propose solutions to the most pressing development challenges facing Nigeria.
The chief host of the event, Pro-Chancellor, Samuel Adegboyega University, Elder (Dr) Bisi Ogunjobi, described the honoree as a consummate administrator, workaholic and a servant leader. He said that the hallmark of Prof. Ben is his humility and integrity.
Elder Bisi charged discussants to layout new ideas without the hindrance of officialdom and diplomatic niceties. He further urged them to speak with candor, honesty and conviction and constructively geared to build on the cornerstone of legacy for a better government capable of meeting its mandate of foresting growth and development in the country.
In her opening remark, the chairperson of the event, Professor (Mrs) Christiana E. Okojie, commended the management of Samuel Adegboyega University for the honour bestowed on the Vice-Chancellor. She said Professor Ben did only demonstrate academic excellence but also leadership capability, which bequeathed him the grace as the President of the Nigerian Economic Society. She thereafter encouraged young scholars to learn from integrity of work done by the Vice-Chancellor and desist from academic redundancy.
One of the keynote speakers, Professor Pat Utomi, discussed on the topic “THE POVERTY OF DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS. How A Multidisciplinary Approach made a leadership champion of an Economic Growth Activist”? In his discussion, he critically analyzed some issues regards the nation’s state of economy. among others discussed were:
Why are Nations Poor? Why is human history clustering countries into groups that have made the great escape from misery, those emerging from misery and those that seem stuck in it. Very importantly why does peace and prosperity mark the time of being for some who live in certain countries and life for those who live in some others noted for wars, Kwashiorkor, extreme poverty and a vision of the coming anarchy.
At the end, Prof. Utomi concluded that Leaders are critical for setting course because they vision and direct a path towards the envisioned state. Just as importantly, leaders help groups adapt to change. As Rewan’s axiom in organizational Learning points out: unless the rate of learning is equal to or greater than the pace of change in the environment (L>C) the organization is progressively becoming a dinosaur.
Even though Policy Choice matters as Paul Collier argues, leadership matters even more. To groom leaders is to build Nations and to overcome economic adversity.
Mike I. Obadan, a Professor of Economics, University of Benin, & Chairman of Foundation for Education & Development, Benin City, Nigeria, was another keynote speaker at the conference. He discussed on the topic “Governance and the Challenge of Economic Development in Nigeria”. Obadan said that Nigeria, like other developing countries, has overtime, sought to promote economic growth and development as core national objectives. But then, for some time now, the attainment of these laudable national objectives has been predicated on good governance and democracy.
These have become increasingly important fundamentals for efficient economic management and development. Economic development and democracy cannot be guaranteed in a sustainable way without good governance.
Professor Mike Obadan concluded that Pervasive corruption and poor economic management are two features of bad governance that have constrained the ability of the country to attain the laudable goals of development: high per capita incomes and improved standards of living; poverty and inequality reduction; full employment; human development; environmental sustainability; and overall physical development of the country.
He urged government to avoiding palliative approaches to fighting corruption and money laundering including the notorious plea bargaining. What is needed is the more radical approach of inflicting the capital punishment on proven corrupt people.
The convener of the conference, head of department of Mass Communication, Dr Nicholas Idoko appreciated keynote speakers and other invited guests. He urged participants address issues discussed during syndicate sessions.
The conference featured serving Vice-Chancellors, former Vice-Chancellors, scholars, political economists and students.