In fact, it is because they are hidden in the apparent plainness of the data that there is a subject called mathematics or statistics at all.
If there be a prize for the most ignorant peoples or nation, Nigeria and Nigerians may make the top three. It is only in Nigeria that all stripes of supposed experts seize the public squares and mouth all kinds of statistics, lies and damned lies. And what worsens matters, is that these so called experts often come with some pedigree. To give a popular example, one readily witnesses lawyers talk magisterially as political experts on National television channels. However, if you listened critically you will notice that these personages don’t possess the political register. Anyway whether it is the television channels that push the error is something one never knows.
However, the point is this. It is a rare event to be an expert, not an orator, in any given discipline. To be an expert in two disciplines is irrevocably a black swan event. In other words, it is near impossible to have say an expert lawyer who is an expert political theorist. But in Nigeria this tribe of omnibus experts and commentators come two for one kobo. For those still in doubt, just check out on CNN, BBC, etc. Every time they want political opinions they call up political theorists. If it is for legalese they hire in top legal minds. They never mix any two disciplines.
And one comes to elder statesman Paul Unongo. Give it to the devil, Unongo is one of the brightest, most cerebral big name ‘’kids’’ around. He is as sharp as nails. Yet, alas, he is given to slips, logical slips, of not knowing his boundaries, of not knowing when to hedge.
In an interview, Unongo was asked: President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of favouring the North in his appointments. Do you think Buhari has been fair to all regions? And he replies: ‘’I don’t believe that anybody, who bothered to look at the statistics, can make that accusation. If they said certain political appointments and certain security appointments have been denied the people of the South-East particularly, that would be in order – I would say ‘yes, it looks like that’. But that is the only thing. Otherwise, who is running the government of Buhari? It is the South-West. So, anybody who says it is unfair is being economical with the truth.’’
Well, his points are well noted. But whether Unongo has been a teacher or student of statistics is entirely a different and crucial matter. Is he? Judging by his fairly unsophisticated use of the ‘’spreadsheet’’ one did say no.
Now, statistics just like mathematics is a search for order, for insight. Statistics is not in the accumulation of numbers and figures. Additionally, the searched for orders or insights are not themselves apparent in the numbers and data. In fact, it is because they are hidden in the apparent plainness of the data that there is a subject called mathematics or statistics at all. So Accumulation and display of numbers may be termed descriptive statistics. But to get to inferential statistics you need the mind over data. It is only when you achieve the mastery of mind, not the eyes, over data, that you becomes a statistician.
If I may recall, as a student of statistics in Kenya, my professor a wiry Briton named Ken Donald warned ‘’you don’t look at statistics with your eyes.” “Gimanze,” as he falsely pronounced my name “you look at statistics with your mind. Statistics is mind over data. Statistics is not in the eyes garrisoning the data. Most of the mistakes of irrationality, not excluding those of the Nazis against the Jews, are the errors of numbers overwhelming the eyes.” “The tragic fact,” he continued, “is not that the men are afflicted with eye diseases. It is a matter of inappropriate use of equipments. Men use their eyes when they should deploy their minds, over numbers.”
In other words the fault is not that Unongo is afflicted with blurred vision or eye disease. The fault is that he is using the wrong diagnostic equipments, has given up on his mind for his eyes. And as is indicated, Unongo is bound to trip and get himself and those he represents junked with statistics. The rest is the recalcitrance in correcting that which is a statistically established error.
Now, the details are as follows. Statistically and just as well politically, not all representations are equal. And the fact of this is taken into account by the tool of statistically weighting numbers and data. Thus the fact of a given man or region being or hosting the presidency by coup or ballot, cannot be taken as the equivalent of appointing a man B and or his region RB, into the Vice Presidency. This is made further worse by the peculiar Nigerian example of a president as provided for by a forged constitution being more powerful than the devil.
In other words a vice president for all practical purposes is a drone, a cuckooed drone. This is also constitutional.
To adjust for this, you weight the numbers or offices. As matters stand today, it is an open secret that the president has about 75% directional control of all Nigeria’s constitutional powers. So if the president comes from region A, region A has 75% directional control by “default”. Of course these are not precise statistical numbers. They are tendencies and one can bank on them.
So it is an error for a teacher of politics to want to project the autofiction that all offices are equal. And this is what Unongo did by innocently, all too innocently, tallying his figures. In his words again: “Take a look at the people driving the ministries and the economic agenda of Buhari. They are from the South-West.”
Luckily, even in his defence of his principals he admits to the very fact he opposes. According to him “the people driving the ministries and economic agenda of Buhari.” That is these men have been headhunted to turn the wishes of a Buhari into their commands. Unongo as is clear concedes this fact reflexively. And that is enough ‘’sample’’ of a witness incriminating himself and or his principals.
1. Immediately this weightedness of power, of who is prince and entitled to power, that is Buhari and group, and 2, who are viziers and condemned to serve the prince, the Southwesterners by Unongo’s account, is given, we can conclude as follows.
The larger implication of this prince-vizier dichotomy is that only the princes can be and are on a mission. The viziers are like commercial lawyers. They are in it for their briefs not to serve their own mission. And they are expendable. But the princes of power are not. The princess of power are like the base upon which you count, in numbers and statistics. They are the invariantly given. But the others, the viziers, the Southwesterners, are mere utilities. Again dispensable as Unongo hints.
In other words, it can be said that by the carefully choreographed appointments, the Buhari agenda is to turn the northerners and himself into princes of power and the southwesterners into viziers. As for the east they are dar-el-harb, politically and otherwise?
Unongo spoke on several other things and they too are riddled with errors of eyes over data. But it is meet to admit the following. The Unongo style error is endemic. There has not been an sophisticated analysis of the power-personnel gambit in Buhari’s Nigeria. Nobody has for instance bothered to weight things. Yet everybody is talking – much noise and little signals.
Too often, to give an example, Nigerian commentators treat Buhari as if he is a colonial officer. Unongo is guilty of this too. What do we mean? Well during the colonial past, a British administrator, say Lord Lugard, is a third party to the warring natives. So whichever natives he hires are the only and entire statistical data in the matter. But when an interested party, a Buhari, by fact of being Nigerian, a Muslim, a northerner, replaces the colonial officer, he or such as he, is a part of that data. That is you can’t not speak of Buhari’s distribution of offices/appointments without including Buhari himself and the office of the president in that sample/population in consideration.
Perhaps, Unongo’s proclivity to such an error can be explained. He like some of us trained under colonial masters. Predictably perhaps, his categories are thus fixed and fixated on colonial models, however vestigial. However, even if this “vestigialism” explains Unongo’s errors, what of modern Nigerian commentators? How come they are in ignorance, treating the president like he was a third party in the issue? The point is that immediately this error of the president as a non-sample population is corrected, the revelations are frightening. Yes, to have the north [or any region] keep the presidency is to have them keep nearly everything. To next have them not distribute the security forces across the country and to begin to talk of statistics is to talk junk logic.
The fact is that the statistical distribution of power, including but offices today, in Buhari/Unongo’s Nigeria, is 91.9999% northern. And it is all too likely Unongo knows this. Otherwise it will too frightening to speak of Unongo’s ignorance. Ahiazuwa.