Dele Momodu has been quite popular, especially today as a This Day hand. But it serves well to recall that he is, or was, a successful publisher. His publication, Ovation [is it rested?] is some kind of the newspaper of record for Nigeria’s rich and powerful in their afterhours. So it can be assumed that somehow he knows this country, especially about those ‘’afterhours truths’’ nobody tells in the open. That is to say he has been close enough in the course of business to smell the armpits of some of the most powerful citizens of Nigeria. And the rot he is inhaling is terrible. Almost choking for breath Momodu still manages to cry out:
‘’Nigeria has suffered too much since attaining Independence…. We have tried all sorts of permutations and configurations but nothing has worked to our collective benefit. Each time we thought we were close to Eldorado, something came from the blues… put us all into absolute disarray. I sometimes wonder… why are we so jinxed?’’ Before Everything Falls Apart, This Day, November 26, 2016.
In all these, it is well to recognize a certain unstated fact. It is the absurd assumption championed by ‘afterhours’ elites. For this cherry club the problem with Nigeria is leadership. So they change from one leader to another to no avail, as Momodu attests. Now, the counterintuitive fact is that there is not one historical case of a country that was developed by its leaders. The counter-intuitiveness is underlined by the fact that despite our light headedness, reality is not self-evident. Sometimes one needed the finest equipment, perhaps Neutron microscopes to spot any vital element of his own or nation’s workaday reality.
Thus at levels of deeper, that is necessary, not contingent truth, a country contrary to urban myth, is developed by her peoples. And of the peoples, the tribe who contributes the most to the development of any nation is her tribe of scholars.
But this is where the confusion sets in. A scholar [in developmental terms] is not the guy, professor or not, who has literacy in known theories and memoirs. A scholar is the guy who ‘’accelerates the speed of light’’, in the guise of new knowledge. That is a scholar is the hero who introduces a new fundament. If you missed out on this, you are less than a developmental scholar.
Nigeria has failed because we have not produced developmental or real scholars – not artists as important as those are. It is important we distinguish artists [of beauty] like Achebe, Soyinka, etc., from scholars [of logical or primary sciences] like Thucydides, Newton etc. The two types may be taken as seeds in one pod but are not one. In the artists’ class, we have done really well. But of real scholarship all we have are dudes who are fluent in current lingoes. In soccer terms we have had utility players not Messi-style rainmakers.
And the fact of our consequential failures is projected by the history of the rise of European prosperities. A careful study and cross-matching of European prosperities will indicate not just correlations but causality with their advancements of knowledge. In other words, Europe, indeed any country, may only be as rich as her scholars make possible. That is scholarship, not leadership, is the outmost limits of human existence. Thus the library is actually a frontier or an expeditionary force. The library, not the statehouse. Leadership at best is a garrisoning support squadron. If you can’t grasp this ‘quantum reality’ then you and your country will not only be undeveloped, but undevelopable. Leaders are not an elite unit; scholars remain their value superiors.
So the idea of procuring prosperity is not in changing the dramatis personae. To procure prosperity for a nation or an individual the active ingredient is in ideas, not persons. That is if you changed the persons at play 1000 times upon the same ideas, you have 1000 and one times the same person. The point is, it is only ideas that are at work, the men are merely at play. If we don’t understand this, then we are doomed like Ikemefuna in Things Fall Apart.
And nothing illustrates this tragedy of men at play being mistaken for forces at work like Robert Clarke’s pitch at Channels 25-11-16 breakfast show. Clarke, a SAN, called for the military to come back and fix Nigeria into a workable mould. The question arises: why is he obsessed with the military as saviours? Why not lawyers, accountants, journalists or even armed robbers? This is so since coup makers are types of armed [political] robbers. So their cousins, the highway robbers, might just as well do the job?
If we make mental experiments, we may perhaps come to knowledge on how ideas not persons explain things. Count the number of Nigerian ‘’republics’’ by ideas, not persons. The result is that we have had only two republics as an independent nation. There was the republic we ran up until Major Nzeogwu’s madness and the other instituted by the tyrant, General Yakubu Gowon. In every sense Mohammed, Obasanjo, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalami, Obasanjo again, Jonathan, Buhari again, are all actors in the same tragic play which is gowonism. So with gowonism as a flawed script, every incarnation of it however fanciful or well-intentioned is doomed to fail. And in ignorance we seek for new actors, messiahs, not new scriptures, not new plays.
The miracle is that we have not broken down or up as a state. Since our ignorance has not killed us, it is plausible we may be immortal, even if only in our miseries. Perhaps if ignorance can’t kill us, not even the gods can.