“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…”
– ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens
The opening excerpt above is culled from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, published in 1859, the book is Charles Dickens’ most famous work of fiction. It is also one of the best-selling books of all time. The tale, follows two connected families from London and Paris in the 18th century, the novel is about love, loss, inequality, justice, and morals.
Nearly three centuries after Dickens’ publication, we now focus attention again on two cities also in different countries and the same continent, just not Europe but now Africa. Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State in Nigeria and Kigali, the capital city of the nation of Rwanda. Both cities with recorded history dating back to the 1800s.
Worthy of note is the fact that with a land area covering 26,338 square kilometres, Rwanda is rated the world’s 149th largest country. However, covering approximately an area of 28,454 square kilometers, Oyo State in SouthWest Nigeria is clearly larger than the nation of Rwanda.
The Oyo State landscape consists of old hard rocks and dome shaped hills, which rise gently from about 500 meters in the southern part and reaching a height of about 1,200 metres above sea level in the northern part.
Known as the “land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda’s landscape is mostly hilly and mountainous. The Virunga Mountains, located in the northwest part of Rwanda, contain the country’s highest peak, Karisimbi, which reaches nearly 15,000 feet. Two major African rivers, the Nile and the Congo, flow through Rwanda.
Now to the cities; Ibadan city in Oyo State Nigeria, covers a total area of 3,080 square kilometres while the city of Kigali in Rwanda covers just 730 square kilometres… interesting right?
Enough of the Geography lessons, let’s try brief history, shall we? Ibadan, located on seven hills, is a one-time ancient formidable Garrison and home of warlords who not only defended their city well but also regularly got summoned to help other towns keep their territorial integrity. It was founded by the Warlord, ‘Lagelu’ around 1829. A military legend and Yoruba generalissimo from Ile-Ife, Lagelu founded two of the three towns (Eba Odan and Eba’dan) that eventually became the city of Ibadan.
The economic activities of Ibadan include agriculture, commerce, handicrafts, manufacturing, and service industries. An important commercial centre, virtually every street and corner in the traditional core and the inner suburbs of the city is a market square or stall.
The name Kigali comes from the Kinyarwanda prefix ki- combined with the adjective suffix -gali, which means wide or broad. This was originally applied to Mount Kigali, most likely because the mountain itself was broad and wide, with the city later being named after the mountain. Located in the centre of the country on the Ruganwa River, Kigali was a trade centre (after 1895) during the German colonial administration and became a regional centre during the Belgian colonial period (1919–62). It became the capital upon Rwanda’s independence in 1962. In 1994 thousands of Tutsi in Kigali were killed by Hutu gangs and the Rwandan army.
Nigeria Governors Forum in Kigali
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), convened a three-day Executive Leadership Retreat for first and second term Nigerian Governors in Kigali, Rwanda from 24 to 26 August 2023, on the invitation of His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. The retreat was dedicated to fostering dialogue on reimagining leadership and leveraging innovative technology, drawing inspiration from Rwanda’s transformative journey.
His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde FNSE, DSc, GSSRS, in his capacity as Vice chairman of the NGF, led the delegation from Nigeria.
“Our discussions have equipped us with adaptive leadership strategies and identifying pathways to effective governance and nationwide sustainable development”, he remarked.
Rising from the abyss of genocide in 1994, Kigali is today a force to reckon with globally. On visiting the Kigali Genocide memorial centre where about 250,000 victims were laid to rest, one might struggle to reconcile the old war torn Rwanda that survived a nationwide civil uprising as well as a hugely debilitating genocide, with the newly emerging first world city of Kigali. If Paul Kagame of Rwanda can do this, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State can and will definitely do better.
No doubt, evidences abound from the first four years (Omituntun 1.0) dispensed of already in Oyo State; from massive landmark infrastructural feats such as the ambitious and iconic 110km Ibadan Circular road amongst other hundreds of kilometres of road construction, delivery of free quality education up to Secondary School level, prioritising the welfare of workers and the residents via prompt payment of wages and emoluments, improved delivery of quality healthcare via upgrading and equipping at least one Primary Health care Centre per ward, providing maximum support in cash and kind to Security agencies to ensure Security of life and property… all these while ensuring ample management of State resources. It is however not surprising when former and current Governor colleagues visit the Pace Setter State and openly admire the giant strides of Governor Seyi Makinde while adding the usual questions…”How do you do it? And where do you get all the (financial) resources from?”
Suffice to say that Governor Seyi Makinde is not just leading Oyo State but much more crafting a legacy for himself and for generations unborn to behold and benefit from such that he can look back at the end and remark, like Charles Dickens; “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…”.
As we look forward to the commissioning of completed projects for the rest of his second term (Omituntun 2.0), it is only trite that one rallies more support for the peoples Governor to succeed even much more in the remaining forty-five months in office.
God bless Oyo State,
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Oladayo Ogunbowale is Special Assistant on Communications to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.