September 2020 - Omomayowa Olawale Abati
Interview of the Fellow of the month
September 2020 - Omomayowa Olawale Abati (Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Political Science, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa)
"I have equally benefited from the vast peer support network of junior and senior researchers at IFRA-Nigeria. The importance of this kind of peer support network is that they make the graduate school experience productive, enjoyable and rewarding."
Being part of the IFRA fellowship…
Describe yourself briefly
My name is Omomayowa Olawale Abati. I am currently enrolled as a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Political Science, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa. I hold a non-residential fellowship with the Centre of African Studies, The University of Edinburgh, UK and also a Laureate of the Council for the Development of Social Sciences in Africa’s (CODESRIA) College of Mentors, Dakar, Senegal.
Since when are you a fellow of IFRA-Nigeria?
I was officially registered as a Fellow of IFRA-Nigeria on December 1, 2018. However, I have been engaging with IFRA-Nigeria organised events prior to my official registration. My first encounter was when one of my friends attended the 2018 International Masterclass on “New Forms of Popular Transport of Goods and Persons in Nigeria”; he returned and shared his readings with me. It was at this point it became obvious that I needed to engage more with the Institute. So, I made a decision to apply in the next round application for her Masterclass, and I must say it’s been a productive experience with IFRA-Nigeria, ever since.
How have you benefited from IFRA-Nigeria?
It has been an immensely beneficial engagement with IFRA-Nigeria. First, I participated in the 2019 International Masterclass on “Researching Public Spaces in African Cities”. The Masterclass came handy because I was planning a research on informal road mending in Ile-Ife environ, at the time. So, the research skills learnt at the Masterclass helped to design appropriate research methods to implement the project. Even after completing the research, I had the opportunity to get critical feedbacks from other junior fellows I met during the Masterclass. Today, that research article is forthcoming in top rated peer-review journal.
This year, I have participated in every online seminar organised by IFRA-Nigeria. Aside the opportunity of honing my research skills, I have equally benefited from the vast peer support network of Junior and Senior Researchers at IFRA-Nigeria by participating in numerous other conferences, workshops and trainings organised by IFRA-Nigeria. The importance of this kind of peer support network is that they make the graduate school experience productive, enjoyable and rewarding. It is a known fact that graduate schooling can be a lonely journey without focused and productive peer support network. Even with the best of mentors at one’s disposal, the impact of peer support networks cannot be overemphasised.
Recently, while partnering with two other colleagues (one of them is also an IFRA Fellow), I won the IFRA-Nigeria Grant for COVID-19 Data Project. The application for the grant came at a time when we were nursing the idea of collecting some COVID-19 related online data for possible future research project. Seeing the call for application, we put together a grant proposal and we were awarded the grant. We currently are rounding off the project and it has proven to be another beneficial experience for me.
Have you contributed to IFRA in any way?
I must admit that I have not had as much opportunity to contribute to IFRA as I have had to benefit from IFRA (covering my face). Maybe this is due, in part, to distance in location between Ile-Ife, where I am resident and Ibadan. Nevertheless, I assisted with organising a Training Workshop on “Making the Most of Newspapers as Sources” in 2019 at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
A bit more about yourself….
What are your main research interests?
My research interests hovers around two broad areas of governance; digital governance and urban governance. With digital governance, I understudy how governance (states and non-states) institutions use digital technology to inform and engage the citizenry, while with urban governance, I understudy how state institutions regulate the informal sectors and also how public infrastructures are used by informal actors.
What research project are you currently working on?
Aside the IFRA-Nigeria funded COVID-19 data project which is almost completed, my most important research project at the moment is my doctoral thesis, which is aimed at problematizing youth (under)representation in Nigerian and Ethiopian Lower legislatures. I will be using a comparative case study design and mixed methods to collect data. Among other things, my fieldwork will feature ethnographic visits to both country legislative houses and a number of political party meetings and rallies. Some aspect of the planned ethnographic visits will require additional funding to implement but I am hopeful that I will get some external grants to cover it. Aside this challenge of funding, I am very excited about the research and cannot wait to commence fieldwork, after international travel restrictions are lifted.
What is the main advice you will give to a junior researcher ?
Judging from what has aided my short journey so far, I will say to all junior researchers like myself, get connected with the a productive and focused peer support network and register with good research capacity building institutes like IFRA-Nigeria. For doctoral candidates, peer support networks like “Doing A PhD in Africa” and “AuthorAid” are very focused and supportive.
Beyond these wider networks, it is equally important to build your own network as well. Look into your department and connect with the other graduate students who share your vision of scholarship. Share opportunities, progresses and challenges with one another. This way, you build a network of support peers to aid your growth. This was how I summoned the needed courage to apply for some high ranking funded international conferences that I have been opportune to attend. When my close research associates mention that they are submitting an abstract for a call for paper to attend a conference, I cease the opportunity to read the conference call thoroughly and find areas that align with my research interest. Many times, the responses come back positive and I get to test some of my research ideas at those conferences. The feedbacks help me to develop the articles into good research papers.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
First, I am working on completing my doctoral programme under three years. After my doctoral research, I hope to secure a post-doctoral offer in the United Kingdom or Canada. This, I believe will set me up for a scholarly research and academic career. I hope to make an indelible mark through my scholarship by publishing with first-tier journals and publishers and by also providing quality mentorship to junior colleagues as I climb higher on the scholarship ladder. The latter is very important to me because I have been opportune to enjoy quality mentorship from senior scholars too.
Anything else you’d like to share with us…
To say that IFRA-Nigeria is doing a wonderful job with her series of seminars, workshops and Masterclasses is an understatement. These programmes are filling an important gap in research capacity development of up and coming academics and researchers in Nigeria. This should be duly acknowledged and rewarded by the Nigerian state and academic community. Thank you.
More information about Omomayowa Abati