One of the reasons I don’t honour lots of speaking engagements in Nigeria is the hassle of road travel


27750358_10215581427032554_2833090469303394592_nSpent over 2 hours stuck around Sango road this morning due to a combination of very bad roads, yesterday’s rain and Dangote’s trucks. ( I am sure if Dangote’s trucks were removed from the roads for just a single day, there would be a significant decline in accidents. The number of his trucks I saw in accidents or very bad conditions on that road was too much)

And I dont care if that road is Federal, State or Local, no human being should be subjected to having to pass through that road more than once in a life time. It’s that horrible!

Anyways I got to Ilaro town and the place looked a lot different from 2000 when I was last there, some good, some bad. The sense of nostalgia was overwhelming with almost every place I saw brought back memories of ‘good’ escapades.

I was impressed by the transformation on campus and the movement of the main school to what we called the Engineering Complex then.

It was heartwarming seeing the very cordial exchanges between the student leaders and the young Rector ( Arch Aluko- used to know him then as a very young lecturer, but he looks much older now). I was impressed by the very open and jovial (but firm) way he engaged the student leadership on issues affecting them.

There was none of that Nigerian chief executive gragra-none of that constituted authority stuff. Where he differed with the students, he refuted their stance with logic and superior examples.

Last time I saw something similar was when I was an officer of the Students Union at Oxford and had regular interactions with the school authorities on student issues. Young people feel a sense of leadership and reciprocate respect (usually) when treated as adults.

I enjoyed engaging with the students on the topic of leadership, especially in a rapidly changing world, where old platforms are crumbling and new platforms defying age, geography and the old norms are rising by day. I had a good back and forth with them.

Seems like yesterday when I was sitting on the other side as a student at Ilaro myself. Thanks to my Mr Mugsit Yusuf for facilitating the invite.

Took some time to visit old haunts like the Staff Nursery and Primary School I attended (hadn’t changed much) and left almost 30 years ago (man don dey old o), the house we lived back then (Flat 6B) next to the Abibus, Egbeyemis, Aregbes, Olufowobi and a whole lot of others.

I was about to leave town when I was invited to sample some local cuisine of amala and ewedu with the usual assortments.

I was going to say No,so that people on Facebook don’t start thinking I like food. But then I remembered what I went through on the road in the morning , and felt I deserved a small reward. Or what do you think?

Excerpts from my talk;

“Greatest Nigerian Students!

Permit me to stand on all existing protocol.

Good morning all.

My name is Idris Ayodeji Bello and I am pleased to be here today for a number of reasons.

1. While this is my first time back in Ilaro in 18 years- since 2000 , it is also the place where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where I learned to speak, to walk, I attended nursery and primary school within these polytechnic walls, started secondary school in this town and came back for my OND here, so it is truly heartwarming to be back.

2. Also it is an honour being here at the invitation of those I would consider my fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts, most of who probably saw me running around in my underwear as a toddler. So no matter what I might have achieved today and what I say here today, I am sure all they see is that little kid-Ayo Bello -or Bello Bello as some used to make fun of me back then.

3. I am especially delighted to have the opportunity to address the student leaders- who I call our leaders of today-I say leaders of today, because in Nigeria -if you call yourselves leaders of tomorrow-that tomorrow never comes-as we have seen in the political space.

Let me start this talk by telling you about my own leadership journey which began in 1996 on this campus sitting where you are now…….”


About Idris Ayodeji Bello

Afropreneur & Partner, LoftyInc Ltd (Operators of the Wennovation Hub) Leading expert in deploying technology and innovation to drive public sector reforms and enabling good governance. Passionate about bringing about positive change in Africa through innovation and entrepreneurship!
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