As we approach the uncertain aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many developed and developing societies remain shaken, disrupted and precarious. Jobs and austerity are the main tacit or stated socioeconomic fear of most people. The political economy of despair we are witnessing never enters the perception or the historical heritage of a nation, place or people with positive reception. We accept COVID-19 as a global pandemic is a tragedy. Most will survive it, but the death toll remains staggering and the caused disruption colossal in many countries. Our daily transactions, interactions and relations society and the economy rely on had to cease indefinitely, but for how long?
The problem for most citizens around the world is the survival of their regular economic and social expectations. Individuals have had to deal with many trenchant uncertainties at once, unawares. Jobs, businesses, opportunities, property, status, privileges, leisure and rights, many aspire to or worked so hard to attain are now looking like the glimmers of a past era. Yet, in our free-market-oriented world, orthodox economic theory demands everyone without exception must be rational in their actions. Rational cannot prevent winter or make disasters disappear instantly. To ask robust rationality of citizens under conditions of despair or even prosperity is quite a stoic demand. The political economy of despair under the current paradigm is never complete without the contradictions it produces.
There is a keen fascination among young men, particularly at leading schools and universities around the world with the “captain-pirate” mode of rebellion or disobedience against the injustices and excesses of the status quo in society. It is not surprising. The literal meaning of a pirate and the piratical life is one of thieves and the means of thieving, respectively. Its significance in the context of fraternal orders of young men is consanguineous with the metaphor of Robin Hood – stealing from the rich or powerful to give to the poor or weak. The young or seasoned pirate, as he solemnly swears at his initiation, under the direction of his captain is thus necessarily an agent of social justice in society.
Recently, Wole Soyinka has been credited with stating in a speech or article titled “Where Did We Go Wrong?” stating a list of the very youthful ages of the Nigerian leaders and pioneers in the immediate post-colonial era. The wordings then goes on to adore the colonial youth of as men of vision and ability. I very strongly doubt that Wole Soyinka either said such a thing in public or wrote it. If he did, he must have gravely overlooked the realities and context that produced the very youthful leaders and pioneers of Nigeria’s past, which he is one. Nigeria’s youthful leaders, therein hailed, have left the country an insuperable legacy of misgovernance, corruption, polarisation and disaster. What is the fuss about Nigeria’s bungling first leaders? Nigeria produced youthful leaders in Nigeria for regrettable reasons, with truly pitiable consequences.