December 8, 2023

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Nigeria @ An Inflexion Point: OBIcracy vs Gerontocracy, Plutocracy & Kakistocracy

Ik Muo, PhD

I wish to sincerely apologize to my readers for bombing them with these VERY BIG words; for actually speaking in grammatical tongues. It is not in my character but serious issues require serious analysis and the seriousness has just started  with the grammatical bombardment. However, there is nothing to worry about;  I will fulfill all scholarly protocols by providing a detailed  operational definition of terms. I also have to confess that this is not my first time of writing on the quartet of Inflexion-point, Gerontocracy, Plutocracy Kakistocracy. In 2019, my community, Igbo-Ukwu faced the kind of scenario facing Nigeria today; the need to make right choices for the future of the town. We had an unusual opportunity to fill almost all the key positions in the town administration: The Idu (king), two out of the three traditional chiefs and the President General. It was an unusual opportunity to start afresh and I was led by the spirit to write an open letter to the people of Igbo-Ukwu titled: Umunem, Igbo-Ukwu is at an inflexion point. At some other time, I wrote another open letter to my people titled ‘Before I Die’ where among others, I warned against the dangers of Plutocracy and Kakistocracy (30/4/21). Since this is NOT about  Igbo-Ukwu, I don’t want to go into how those scenarios played out and to want extent the town heeded my warnings and advice. Of course, you know that no prophet is recognised by his own people (Luke,4:24)

Given the indescribable  and elastic powers of the Nigerian president which  continues to grow organically,  it is indubitable that the 2023 presidential election is another opportunity for us to start afresh as a nation, ( my mouth shut-up!)sorry, a country, and to avoid  the perennial regret about ‘the road not taken’. That is if we do not become another Afghanistan (Talibanised) or Sri-Lanka (disorganised citizens-power, mobocracy or ochlocracy) or both, before then. In 2015, Nigerian entered a rickety ‘one-chance’ bus when a group of desperate, disparate  and voraciously avaricious fellows ganged up to grab power(which they did not know what to do with) and promised us from top to bottom change.  I warned; many others warned  and even the Bible warned us about those chanting change(Proverbs,24:21)but it appeared that they applied some remote control  to make us temporarily loose our collective sense of reasoning.  Today, we know better. We have experienced the bitter taste and we don’t need anybody to ‘open our eyes’.  2023 is thus an opportunity to rescue what is left of the one-legged giANT of Africa and the hope of the global black community.    Nigeria is SURELY at a strategic inflexion (inflection)point

strategic inflexion point is a stage when an organization must respond to disruptive changes in the environment effectively or face deterioration; a decisive moment in the course of an entity that creates an opportunity for a significant change, requiring that it changes its fundamentals and current path  for the better! If the inflexion point is not optimised then, nsogbu dikwo( ‘troblems’  lie ahead)! It does not always lead to disaster but creates opportunities for those who are adept at operating in the new, emergent scenario. An inflexion point  is also similar to the ‘tipping point’, the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable change takes place. (See Malcolm Gladwell (2007)The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference). In effect, we are ALMOST at a tabula-rasa ( clean slate)scenario! The cylinder is almost empty and we have the opportunity to refill with the right quality and quantity of gas so as to fire FULLY on all cylinders. It is time to move from our potential greatness to actual greatness but that is if we get it right.

And guess what? The great Shakespeare had Nigeria in mind when he declared in 1599 that There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyages of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea we are now afloat and we MUST take the current when it sails or lose our ventures. (Julius Caesar). Such a tide is afloat in Nigeria today.  However  that tide in the affairs of men which Caesar referred to was not man-made, it was an act of God!  It is God that created the unfavourable combination of circumstances  in which the Nigerian environment has become fertile for real change; not chaaanji! For the benefit of strangers in Jerusalem  or those who pretend not know where we are today, let me undertake a brief recap; to provide a justification for the study on  why we need to CHANGE our trajectory, why I believe that the 2023 is an inflexion point for Nigeria.

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Just the other day the  CEOS of Britain Inc (Boris Johnson) and Italy Inc (Mario Draghi) resigned, not because they are tired, but because  they lost the confidence of their parliamentarians. In Nigeria however, our president openly confessed that he couldn’t wait to leave office because he was ‘tired of working 6,7 or 8 hours a day’ for Nigeria, a county of 200m+ and yet, nothing was said about it beyond the rantings of irritant news media and their jobless columnists.  Even on occasions when our parliamentarians got angry, (over insecurity, insubordination of the customs boss, budgetary figures, and the electoral bill) NOTHING happened. Of course we should not be surprised because the Senate President unabashedly said he would approve any request from the Buhari (especially Chinese loans) because he meant well for the country, while the Speaker declared that preferred being rubber stamp to being at  loggerheads. The funny thing is that while the president is just getting tired of Nigeria, Nigerians are long tired of him and eagerly await his exit from the exalted and most powerful office in the world.

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Sometime ago, the bandits desecrated Aso-Rock, infiltrated the NDA, and shot down a military aircraft. They attacked Kaduna Airport, bombed the Kaduna-Abuja train and took over Kaduna-Abuja highway. They then attacked the presidential convoy, invaded the high profile Kuje Prison with 1001 motorcycles, where they preached and even shared money to the inmates. It is reported that about 40 security reports were sent on that embarrassing assault on our defense architecture. And then an Emir in Zamfara crowned Adamu Aleru, certified bandit declared wanted  for mass-murder and the security people all over the place pretended not to know that he was the man on their advertised wanted list. As the presidency was busy explaining why they cannot bomb the forests, the bandits audaciously threatened or rather promised to kidnap the president( who, as usual, was not aware of the promise) and el-Rufai and followed it up by attacking the Presidential guards(  we lost tens of soldiers) and invading the strategic Zuma barricade.  Even  another republic in Abuja occupied by chickens has just been invaded. And we are hearing of collusion between the hunter and the game in which money is shared and some criminals  are being treated as ‘gofment-pikins’, such that while some people are shot at sight for thought crimes, others are treated with Christian Dior deodorant. There are even rumours that some banks go to the bandits in search of deposits!   Minority senators had moved for presidential impeachment and after some wry drama, he was given six(6) weeks to do something! Now rather than  secure the capital and take the battle to the known bandits, Unity schools within FCT  and even universities have been closed  due to worsening insecurity. Citizens are in effect advised to RUN. If Abuja is not safe, then, where else? And in a cruel twist of fate and a global attempt to ridicule us, PMB  was invited to deliver a lecture on insecurity electoral sanctity and rule of law in Liberia… and he accepted. And yet, the APC chairman has given him a high B in the security front, while Fashola is sure that rational Nigerians should vote in Tinubu to continue with the wonderful works of PMB. And despite all the humongous sums budgeted and disbursed, the National Security Adviser has just declared that Nigeria does not have what it takes to fight insurgency.

We have a disquieting  level of unemployment, underemployment, misemployment (an engineer teaching in a private primary school) and malemployment(a graduate selling recharge-cards).  If you are lucky to see a $, it costs N710 (up from N170 when Emefiele, the presidential wannabe, took over) and is inching steadily to N1000 And  the EFCC has invaded BDC operators; a stone age, byzantine strategy in a supposedly free market economy! Debt servicing is 119% of revenue in the first 4 months of 2022 (described by Economist Intelligence Unit as  the worst in the world); ASUU is on strike since 14/2/22 and NLC  has protested in support in a situation when N265bn has been invested in foreign education   this year (May 2022). Even primary school pupils are in on the protest while the Right honourable Speaker is enjoying the comfort of a well equipped class room, taught by motivated teachers in a well-managed clime. Yet the contract approving Federal Executive Council was mum about the ASUU strike or  the thousands of youths roaming the streets or NLC impending national strike when it met on 27/7/22.

Corruption is being vigorously contained in  this fantastically corrupt country while the Accountant General could easily privatise N100b+,  as agency fees for disbursing public funds.  The price of fuel surreptitiously rose to N179(it was just reduced in Zimbabwe) while the landing cost is N470  and we have spent N23trn  in the past 17 years on amoebic subsidy which PMB rightly described a scam.  For the first time, the subsidy payments exceeded the revenues from oil, a case of the pot being heavier than its contents. JetA1 Fuel,  when it is available, goes for N900, the same price as diesel and kerosene.  Airlines are closing shops, heating up  the overpopulated labour market and one-way flight tickets are inching towards N100,000. Well one mischievous fellow argued that flights are still VERY CHEAP when compared with the probability of kidnap on the roads  or rails and N100m ransom! Lending rate is at 25%  as against deposit rates of circa 2%  in an environment where inflation rate is 19% and still rising. However, the pretty Minister of France has scored her boss, PMB, an A+ in economic and financial management.

I agree with Dr Agu Onyezuruoha that the economy has been banditised. I however add that there are two forms of the banditisation: the physical( by Aleru et al) and the fiscal( by our Accountant General et al). Now, the words of James Adams  are being fulfilled in our very before: There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt. Unfortunately, it appears that we are  viciously  being attacked-and conquered- simultaneously by these two forces, working independently or in sync with each other.

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Social tension is unbelievably high and the perception of fulanisation and northernisation is gaining momentum. And yet after 7 years of a Northern Fulani-Moslem President, the ruining party picks another Muslim from a zone that provided the CEO and the Deputy CEO for 16 years  in the past 23 years and paired him with another Muslim ( for which some unknown Bishops, had to be procured  to shore up the MM ticked),  an impudent fellow whose philosophy is restructuring my foot! The ‘main opposition party’ also  believes that Northern Fulani Muslim is the best bet for the presidency. They ignored the reality that Nigeria is in a hyper-state of polarisation.. seethes with inter-ethnic distrust and inter religious discord and … Buhari’s nepotism  has exacerbated feelings of sectional  injustice and marginalisation( Okey Ndibe). The Ministers of Defence and of Police Affairs, National Security Adviser, Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, DG of DSS,  Commandants General of Customs, NSCD, Immigration and Fire Service, Chairman of NDLEA etc, etc, are from the North creating the impression that some people  are just onlookers in this  Nigerian project. Suddenly people who have benefitted from obscene quota and scandalous Federal Character policies are reminding us that religion does not matter( while Islam is splashed everywhere in our constitution) and are talking of competence. All this is happening when our HDI is among the worst in the world and capital importation has just dipped by 81%!

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Indeed, as Asa sang during the NNPC repainting ceremony, there is fire on the mountain!. Deji Ige( Let there be light) who asked  which way Nigeria( Sunny Okossuns,1983 and that was when the way was still clear) bemoaned the Nigerian situation in which poverty is a stakeholder, hunger is the breadwinner, fuel scarcity is a citizen, the reward of teachers is still in heaven, salary remains a punishment for hard-work and cow is equal to ( indeed more valued than)humans due to a rickety, myopic leadership’  driving us recklessly into the obviously  shark infested deep blue sea

Reverend Fr Sly Ameh compared Nigeria to the  traveller   on the road to Jericho who was attacked by a band of bandits( it did not start today)  beaten,  battered, robbed, left for dead, lying prostrate on the road side( Luke,10:25-37). Nigeria is sick unto death,;it is like a car which engine has knocked and requires not just an ordinary driver but a dexterous  mechanic. 2023 is indeed an opportunity to start afresh. Any mistake now is fatal. Lasisi Olagunju reminds us that modern medicine ordinarily prescribes  surgery as a remedy for a birth defect  or at least, compulsory long term support. I believe that it is time to perform that painful surgery or at least, install a sustainable long term support.

They have gone to the land of no return. I commiserate with the families, especially the spouses. May the Good Lord have mercy on their souls and strengthen their families at these sorrowful times.

 Ik Muo, PhD. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026624