IDEAs Episode 132 IDEAs Radio Bows Out: Final Episode Review

IDEAs 7th July 2023

IDEAs Radio Bows Out: Final Episode Review

Chukwudi Ezugwu started by referring to the saying about “good things coming to an end”, to which Ayo Obe replied that it might be better to stick to “all things must pass”, as it might be rather bold to talk about IDEAs as “good things”.  Chukwudi said that regular listeners would know that the programme came up on Friday afternoons and that it was engaging, interactive and educative.  He said that people would learn so many things as Nigerian citizens if they apply it in the daily activities of government and governance.  He  asked Ayo to explain the significance of IDEAs

Ayo replied that IDEAs is funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s anti-corruption programme, but that she hadn’t wanted to call it the ‘anti-corruption programme’ because she felt that we as Nigerians, by constantly harping on about corruption, prime people to expect it, and to tie the words ‘Nigeria’ and ‘Nigerians’ to ‘corrupt’ and ‘corruption’.  She wanted to accentuate the positive, and to talk about the things that – if they were present – you would not find corruption.  That meant Integrity, Ethics and Accountability – if you have those things in your Democracy, you are on the way to battling corruption.  She mentioned other qualities such as Transparency, but said that we tend to have the idea that corruption is something that other people do, and don’t link it to our behaviour, for example when caught in a traffic transgression and wanting to get out of it as quickly as possible.  We don’t want to admit that even our day-to-day interactions can constitute corruption.  Of course people in government come to campaign and talk about fighting against corruption, but if certain events were put to them, they would deny to their last breath that what they had done was corruption.  Ayo had recently listened to a programme which discussed a public officer who had been caught on tape stuffing money into his pockets, and when told that he was going to be questioned about it, boldly said that he was ready for any questions.  She said that he would no doubt have a way of explaining, but if he was asked whether he thought that he had behaved with Integrity, whether that was how he would like to see his children behave in regard to him, there might be a better realisation. 

Ayo said that the main issue was Accountability, and said that among the many guests who had appeared on the programme, she would mention groups like BudgIT Nigeria and Tracka NG, because they had made the business of demanding Accountability in our Democracy something more than just the dry, boring issue of whether money was allocated, how was it spent and so on.  She said that when she came to prominence in Nigeria, it was as the Deputy President and then the President of the Civil Liberties Organisation, and while she wouldn’t say that it was ‘glamorous’, it wasn’t hard work in the sense that we were fighting against a common enemy, getting the military out and fighting for Democracy.  But once you’ve got Democracy, Ayo continued, that is not the time to rest on your oars, or to assume that now you have Democracy, everything else would fall into place.  Groups like Tracka and BudgIT came in to show why we need to “Follow the Money”.

Ayo said that the other part of IDEAs, particularly in this second series which ran from 2021, (because there was the first series from 2018 to 2020) was focused on the need for Accountability Integrity in our elections, so we had groups like the Civil Society Situation Room, YIAGA Africa, the Transition Monitoring Group coming to talk about that aspect of our Democracy.

Ayo said that it was also important to realise that it was not just in relation to money that Accountability could be demanded, noting that the programme had seen at least four of the doleful anniversaries of the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School at Chibok in Borno State in April 2014, nine years ago, and that people had come on the programme to say that those girls (and everybody who is kidnapped) must be Accounted for.  Actual lives of people have to be Accounted for, and this was not just a question of how money given to the military or other security agencies was spent, but about the lives of members of the Armed Forces, Police and others in their battle against bandits, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province etc. and making sure that our lives are secure.  IDEAs has demanded Accountability about that.

Ayo reminded Chukwudi about the COVID 19 lockdown and how he had been coming in to the studio when most people were staying away.  That era had brought home to her the importance of the issues of Integrity, Ethics and Accountability, because they contribute to something that governments need.  Quoting the words that “a nation is not governed which has perpetually to be held down”, she explained that if the only thing governments could do with their citizens to make them do what it wanted was to force or coerce them, to hold them down, then it wouldn’t be free to govern.  So governments need to build up a legacy of trust, so that when it says, for example: “This disease is serious, you need to wash your hands, and take other measures” etc., people would cooperate because they trust what their government is saying.  Unfortunately, Ayo observed, it was a sad reality that the element of trust had not been there in most cases, and that made things difficult.

She added that even now, when government has removed the fuel subsidy, is harmonizing the rates of exchange for the naira, imposing taxes – whether immediately or in the future; for all of that we need to hear from our government that our sacrifices now will lead to benefits in the future.  Government needs us to trust it when it makes such statements so that we cooperate and put up with the hardships, but if we don’t trust that our government will in fact ensure that the future rewards are indeed ours, it will be difficult for us to make those sacrifices being demanded of us.

Chukwudi said that the problem of trust was that over the years people have encouraged the government to take the lead to ensure that they win back public confidence when it says that we should tighten our belts and make sacrifices etc., but that we see that those in government are not tightening their own belts or making sacrifices, but are still enjoying, with convoys, allowances and carrying on as though there is nothing wrong, while expecting the people to make adjustments.

Chukwudi remarked that whenever IDEAs was on, we could be sure of getting some real ideas, and invited Ayo to mention some of the prominent organisations and people who had appeared on the programme over the years to lead the way in showing us how to make our country better.

Ayo replied that she had already mentioned some groups such as the Transition Monitoring Group, BudgIT, Tracka and others who had brought issues down to the level of the individual, but that we had also had the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye who had been our guest and revealed that the ICPC was in fact working along with TrackaNG.  The programme had also had some distinguished lawyers, Ebun Adegboruwa SAN, Ike Akaraiwe SAN who had come to explain some of the legal issues to us.  She said she could not forget the irrepressible Habiba Balogun who is so much a part of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign along with Monday Ojon who had also been our guest in the studio. 

Ayo said that she really needed to thank all of them, and in fact had so many thank yous to make.  Of course she must thank the MacArthur Foundation, without whose support the programme would not have been possible, and the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) which is based in Kano under the leadership of Mallam Y.Z. Yau – it administers the grant for the IDEAs programme. 

Ayo said that she also had to thank Nigeria Info itself as a radio station that had agreed to host our programme.  It was true that IDEAs paid for the airtime, but for the station to give us this prime slot that catches listeners as they are going home on a Friday afternoon and gives us a captive audience was a much-appreciated benefit.  Ayo said that she couldn’t but comment on the unfailingly warm and friendly welcome she had whenever she came to the studio on Victoria Island, right from the commissionaires who always find her somewhere to park, the men at the gate, the young ladies on the reception, the irrepressible Kenneth who comes bouncing down the stairs to bring her up to the studio.

She said that the IDEAs project would have been difficult indeed without the on-air personalities of Nigeria Info, and mentioned Aghogho Oboh who had been her companion in the studio for so long, and then Chukwudi Ezugwu himself, who not only held the fort during the time of the COVID 19 lockdowns, but continued after.  Also Sandra Ezekwesili who stepped up to the plate – often at short notice – and even stood in as the interviewer when it turned out that Ayo was to be the guest! 

Ayo thanked Deji Dosunmu-Johnson who is IDEAs Radio’s ‘Tech man’ behind the scenes, maintaining the IDEAs website, posting podcasts of our broadcasts as well as Transcripts and Blogs and also running IDEAs’ Facebook page.  Ayo said that the programme would probably never have started at all if not for her co-producer and co-presenter, Rotimi Sankore, mentioning that she knew that everybody was looking forward to his return to regular broadcasting.

Lastly, Ayo said that she also had to thank the listeners.  IDEAs Radio’s 15 minutes did not allow it to be interactive on air, but it was surprising how one could be identified from one’s voice alone, and that although she was informed that there are some listeners who “don’t understand why Mr. Rotimi allows you on his programme”, the ones she had met in person have been too polite to offer anything other than encouragement and even praise.

As the programme bows out, she asked listeners to remember the issues that IDEAs is about: Integrity – look for it, Ethics, Accountability.  Once you look for those things, it will enable you – without having to hang the label of corruption around somebody’s neck – to say what a person should be aspiring to.

Thank you, and goodbye.

Well, now that IDEAs Radio has come to an end, do you have any final comments on the show?  Do post your remarks below and join in the conversation.

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