If you want to be a rainmaker in Nigeria today, here is one golden chance. All you need is simple. Seek out the nearest Baba Ijebu and bet that the recently purchased Presidential Economic Advisory Council is billed to fail. If you did, the odds are 99% plus, you’ll win a jackpot. In plain words, it is almost certain that the advisory gang led by Professor Doyin Salami is bunkum: https://punchng.com/breaking-soludo-rewane-salami-named-in-buharis-new-economic-team/.
The reasons are:
Aso Rock is labouring to be clever by half. Midstream, it has suddenly discovered that her economic gambles aren’t panning out. In fact, the universal verdict is it is a disaster.
Alas, at midstream, reality is that going forward to disaster is often easier and more compelling than turning back to safer shores. Surely, the momentum of things is irrevocably fixed towards the fatality of fate. At this point, all advice is received as noise, not signal.
Fancifully, the Presidency is not able to discern the connectedness between the economic performances and the politics of a system. For them, you can retain the extant structures and yet magic brave new results. In other words, the government wants to run Nigeria as a maximalist state, but with the benefits of a federal union. This is a self-cancelling and thus unworkable proposition. Anyway, ignorance is a toxic asset. And we pay for being systems-ignorant with underdevelopment.
The persons appointed to the council appear to constitute a potpourri of thinkers and tinkerers. As distinguished as they may be individually, there are no signs that they belong to a school of thought. In other words, they are not likely to blend into a thinking team. In markets, as in football, it is the team, not the stars, that win the big leagues.
Additionally, economics and prosperity work along a tendency, not a scattershot of tendencies. That was how General Sani Abacha got it some right. Abacha, like the APC, believed in pure tyranny and, consequentially, the control of all, including economic, forces. Each needed total control as “nuclear arms” against opposition and the peoples.
Thus Abacha hired a socialist maximalist-state-minded professor, Sam Aluko, to think things out for him. That is, Aluko and Abacha were two nuts in one pod. Aluko, while alive, for instance, swore despite evidence that Abacha was a saint. Anyway, that is the way of apparatchiks, “lovable fools to party lords.”
But more interesting are the persons in the council. It is not clear how weighted the views of Professor Chukwuma Soludo and Bismarck Rewane will be in the great gathering of the council. But one thing is clear, the duo make media-genic copies. The matter is so much they are already the faces of the council. Meanwhile, none of the two is in any dedicated position in the council, as chairman or secretary.
Curiously, the two were speakers at one recent talk shop, curated by a church centre.
According to Rewane, Nigeria’s problem is attitude/lack of discipline, and has nothing to do with need for new economic insights or revelations. And to prove his largely exotic assertion, he recruited the “evidence” of a Nobel Prize winner and economist, Professor Joseph Stiglitz.
Firstly, it is as unimaginative as it is unscholarly to foreclose on new insights and newer speculations. And it goes against the grain of history. There have been several instances were Nobel-level thinkers got it wrong or were beaten to things by rookie scholars. And this happens across disciplines, from physics, Einstein, to biology, Watson.
Since economic turnaround is our interest, here is a related example. The economic miracle of Germany happened because a startup scholar held up against established eggheads. The story goes: “The German economic miracle… is usually attributed to the then Minister of Economics… Ludwig Erhard… but… it was the two economic officials… who were really responsible. Their names were Karl Bode, an American, and E.F. Schumacher… famous as the author of ‘Small is Beautiful.’” (“The Hungry Spirit” by Professor Charles Handy).
Actually, youthful Schumacher, a “just-in-time” economist, was the thinker. Bode was a mere enforcer.
Perhaps it should not be lost on us that the German economic miracle is the model for the rest, and that includes Japan and its Asian progenies, not excluding China. Moral, you needed rookie geniuses, not establishment fixations, for things brave and new.
In other words, that a Nobel Prize winner said it is not a proof of anything, other than he said so. In fact, given the data as are, contradicting the Nobelist is a chance to win your own Nobel or move your country forward.
Again, a Stiglitz as any other Western scholar can’t be making such Rewane-like pronouncements in their countries. It’s against the logic of being a thinker. What saying so means is that your job-order as scholars has collapsed. It is thus time to make way for moralists, for imams and magicians to run the economy, if not the entire system.
Of course, Soludo had the lectern too. And he began by betraying a friend, who mercifully he didn’t name. According to Soludo, his friend asked him, in Igbo – further profiling the man, etc. – that he should not be accepting the invitation.
For an answer, Soludo was about the usual run of the Nigerian scholar – how it’s patriotism that drives them. Anyway, he was wrong here.
First, patriotism is of no help to scholarship or thinking. You can’t think patriotically – to do so is a disaster. In other words, you can’t join a faculty as a thinker because you are patriotic. The only patriotism that is open to the scholar is, restrictively, to his imagine-nations, not his geographic notations.
Now, things get interesting. The Igbo man, as Soludo betrayed him, had more insight than Soludo on the matter in issue. The reasons are as follows:
One, Soludo is in error to think that there is a country standing called Nigeria. No, no such entity exists currently, if it ever did. Achebe wasn’t nuts when he wrote “There was a Country.” Achebe knew “that a country is not a group of persons trapped in a geography. A country is a group of people who have self-chosen a geography, and possibly a geography of the mind,” Mother A’Endu.
Nigeria actually is an empire. It is just that its state capture moguls pretend to be running a federation, a country. However, they are actually operating a tyranny, a medieval, Arab-like suzerainty.
It is this order of things that ex-dictator, Olusegun Obasanjo, called out as Fulanization, etc. Obasanjo, a part-contributor to this Fulanization by default, has suddenly woken up to his mistakes, which, apparently, he dare not admit. Anyway, the signs and wonders of this Fulanization, etc., are everywhere. And they poke Soludo in his two eyes. For instance, the security food chain studiedly excludes Soludo and bloodlines. In other words, Soludo and his peoples are at best condemned to be viziers, only hirable to serve, but never to be princes, never to be rulers. Apparently, Soludo is happy for this, looking forward to his payday.
There are two facts to this: A. Soludo is being patriotic in error. He is being “patriotic” when a nation does not exist. Except, he is proto-patriotic, it is fair to say that Soludo’s political education is inchoate; B. Soludo conflates an empire with a country. In other words, it serves his “personal” not history’s glory, that he is an OBE, Obedient Servant of the Empire.
Most importantly, we don’t know of any instance in history where patriotism saved scholarship. In other words, there has not been any history of great scholars who have been great patriots.
To summarize, it’s safe to state that a country is as poor, is as underdeveloped, as her scholars are patriotic. And Nigeria is a sufficient proof. All else is in humour. Ahiazuwa.
A brave new author is born
If Nigeria is to be saved, it is obvious her scholars must get into the ring, toe to toe, pound for pound, and this on the roadshow. Luckily, they are not disappointing us.
A book, “A Turnaround: From Grass to Greatness,” is to hit the bookstands. Written by Barrister Mrs. Christiana Chinenye Ndubuisi, it is an archetypal story of turnarounds, most memorably told.
Perhaps, this book and its insights should interest the presidential economic advisory council. Of course, the best developmental stories of nations are little other than personal turnaround stories writ large. And Nigeria is in dire need of brave new voices like this.
The public presentation is to be graced by dignitaries, including Chief Tony Okonkwo, GMD, Topwide Ventures, and Grant Idika, CEO, Techas Petroleum. Venue: Magrellos, 85, Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos. Date: Saturday 19th October. Time: 12 noon.