The complete metamorphosis of the butterfly is a thoroughly adequate analogy for civilisation: the gradual progression from egg to slug to pupa to imago [the beautiful butterfly]. In the Nigerian context, it starts with the colonised state to the inexperienced independent nation-state to transitional nation-state to strong state. The furthest stage Nigeria ever go to was the ugly butterfly that never blossomed. However, after the initial euphoria of the return to democracy, it is now evident that Nigerian politicians and clergy are busy reversing the progress of the nation back into the stage of a slug as a consequence of their thefts and misrule; it suits them well. But does it suit the everyday citizens?
Nigeria once [for several years] had constant electricity, reliable tap water supplies, a world-class education, a modestly corrupt civil service, a postal system that could be depended upon, rape was associated with slum areas, robbery was not something that bothered people, people drove their cars to their home towns 100s of miles away by night, educated women did not have to sleep with men to get employment, kidnapping was unheard of, sexual attitudes were responsible, people were not desperate enough to be easily conned by clergymen, major politicians did not serve rice with an apron in the streets to win votes. Most of all people wanted to be something, upwardly social mobility was open access and the moral cost of doing wrong was high. And this is not a glossy nostalgia for something that never happened, we all lived it even better if one is old enough to remember.
Where has it all gone? Continue reading
“There is no good name for a terrible disease” – Urhobo proverb.
“The solution to Africa’s problems lie solely in Africa” – George Ayittey.
Coconut Head Corruption (CHC) is a term derived from the vocabulary of George Ayittey. He is a distinguished U.S. based Ghanaian economist and is used to describe the observed hollow-headedness and thoughtlessness exhibited by corrupt African leaders and their clients. These Big Men Ayittey is critical of have engaged in corruption since the beginning of the post-colonial era. Ayittey consistently and emphatically in his works and on social media uses words like “Coconut Leader”, “Coconut combat” or “Coconut solutions” to address misgovernance and lousy leadership in African. Coconut-prefixed words as Ayittey uses them is just one aspect of the sincere, blunt and uncompromising zeal with which he is opposed to corruption and deliberate under-development in Africa. Solving Africa’s problems is not a ‘popularity contest’; it is about consistent successful approaches and outcomes; political correctness has not done anything for Africa (Ayittey 1992).
A keynote lecture presented at Green Economics Institute 11th Annual Conference at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, England on the 29th of July 2016. The moderator was Miriam Kennet, the CEO of the Green Economics Institue.
When the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari announced an increase in fuel price, from N87 to N145 litre of petrol, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, did what Comrade Adams Oshiomhole would have unfailingly done in the same position. Call for a “people’s strike/protest” as a means of curtailing “excessive profiteering” favoured by capitalists and free marketeers in the country and make life fairer for the common man. Oshiomhole as NLC president had vehemently and publicly rejected the notions; (a) striking workers shall not be paid work-related incomes and (b) courts do not have a right to enforce judgments that can criminalise a strike/protest action.
President Muhammadu Buhari won many die-hard supporters purely because he refused to play the game of “begging bowl politics” at a time when Africa’s innumerable dictators were queuing up to take IMF / World Bank loans as global neoliberalism aggressively dictated. If Buhari had accepted the aggressively marketed neoliberal-induced loans, General Ibrahim Babangida might have never become president and Nigeria’s recent history different. Conversely, if Buhari had remained in office enduringly then with the “no loan” stance, Nigeria might be up there today with Botswana, a nation that rejected IMF / World Bank loans. However, Buhari, now a democratically elected president is actively courting loans from economic powers, the most recent being China. What happened? Egnahc? Continue reading
The claim to being knowledgeable and intelligent as well as acting in denial of knowledge and intelligence, simultaneously, is as Antinomy of an unusual kind. Knowledge is power only when it is usefully and unarguably applied. Is knowledge power to the African? The mental dynamic of the derisory ontology of the African is a perhaps fortuitous acceptance or nefarious imposition of an irrepressible “Antinomy”. Simply put, it is the acceptance of the African that the non-African has done better in and for the world and can only bring about more good. Such is twinned with the recognition that Africans have done very well in and for the world and can only do worse or nothing. It is a self-defeating belief that some gifted Africans “transcend” by way denial and demonstrating their exceptionality and ‘non-Africanness’. The contemporaneity of this Antinomy is neither extreme nor false. Africa’s past glories and excellence are as relevant as the one-time vivacious Mongol Empire is to the present-day Ulan Bator. Let us stick with today.
An Open Letter to African Academics, Scholars and Intellectuals
Upon reviewing the current upheavals in North Africa and elsewhere on the continent, I felt it is necessary for us – African academics, scholars and intellectuals – to take stock and a fresh look at ourselves: What role have we played in advancing the cause of liberty and improving governance in post colonial Africa. Our record is not very good. Sometimes, self-criticism is necessary in order for us to make progress. You do not have to agree with what I am going to say – diversity of opinion is healthy. There have been outstanding individuals among us who risked death to champion the cause of freedom in Africa. However, as a group we have let Africa down badly by not providing intellectual leadership to the democratic struggle. Continue reading