April 23, 2024

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From My Archives: Nigeria @ An Inflexion Point: The Choice Before Us

Ik Muo, PhD.

Just before the 2023 ‘elections’ I  discussed grievous position of Nigeria and outlined the choice before us as that between OBIcracy, plutocracy, gerontocracy and Kakistocracy. As we celebrate the anniversary of the epic decision as moderated by Mahmood and INEC, I deem it necessary to resurrect this piece and here we go:

It is not in my character to bombard my readers with these VERY BIG. But serious issues require serious analysis and the seriousness has just started  with the speaking in grammatical tongues.  Given the  indescribable power of Nigerian president, which grows organically as the days go by, it is indubitable that the 2023 presidential election is another opportunity for us to start afresh and to avoid  the perennial regret of ‘the road not taken’. In 2015, Nigerian entered a rickety ‘one-chance’ bus when a group of desperate, disparate  and voraciously avaricious people ganged up to grab power( which they did not know what to do with) and promised us from top to bottom change. Today, we know better and that is why I believe that  2023 is an opportunity to rescue what is left of the wooden-legged  giANT of Africa and the hope of the global black community.  Indeed, I believe that Nigeria is at a strategic inflexion point! 

strategic inflexion point is a period 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 opportunities for a significant change from its current path, to change the  fundamentals, for the better! If the inflexion point is not optimised then, nsogbu dikwo( ‘troblems’  lie ahead)! It 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  in 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! It is time to move from our potential greatness to actual greatness; that is if we get it right! And guess what? 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. ( Brutus, Jilius Ceaser).

Today, the choice between us is like that between  day and night. We have two broad options; to choose OBIcracy, which goes beyond PO  or the insufferable troika of plutocracy, gerontocracy and Kakistocracy

OBIcracy, is the theory, practice  and philosophy of politics as practiced and espoused by Obi. It is also seen as a system of government where savings is the goal, producing is the strategy and funding the SMEs is the  philosophy. OBIcracy espouses inclusiveness,  shared prosperity, ‘youthocracy’, social cohesion, compassion and preferential interest in the poor, underprivileged and marginalised.   It prioritises character, competence, openness, pro-people policies, respect for the rule of law, civility and moderation in speech and action whether in public or private life; clean, simple and credible lifestyle and all round education and exposure  sufficient to lead Nigeria from the ‘nth’ world( we had long gone far below the third) to the current world and to the future.  It is built around  a holistic concept of integrity, which always seeks the good of others; it believes that if something is not good FOR BOTH SIDES, then, it is not good for either side.  It also SOLEY thinks and works around whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent and praiseworthy( Phil,4:8) It  abhors desperation and ambuscade,  and believes strongly in equity,  while adopting the golden rule!

Plutocracy is a political philosophy in which a state is governed or ruled by the wealthy; where the power of the ruling class derives from their wealth. Usually, there is a transition from democracy to plutocracy. The state starts from a democracy, a quasi-democracy or a pretend-democracy in which the state pretends to be democratic, but its principles and practices are anything but democratic. Then the ruling or ruining elites gradually introduce and execute plutocratic policies. Such plutocratic policies in Nigeria include indirect primaries, which make it easy for the rich to buy the delegates and even other candidates  as it happened in the recent APDP ( APC+PDP=APDP) primaries, and ultimately, the electoral operatives; the insistence on physical voting which makes it difficult for the poor candidates and parties to have ‘structures’. In the last mega-primaries, delegates were bought for as much $25000 apiece and much more for coordinators and delegate-wholesalers (Bulk dealers in the delegates market). Poverty has been deliberately weaponised as the poor  who are bent on putting food on their table choose to  monetise their votes. In the forthcoming presidential elections, some of the candidates want our votes and they do not give a damn about buying the votes and have the capacity to buy the votes. The emphasis is not on what they will and can do for us; it is about their ability to overwhelm their opponents and the voters with CASH! Unfortunately, the monies are from the public purse. Under plutocracy, we go for cash and discountenance verifiable records of achievement, competence, commitment and character.  Surprisingly, plutocrats are deeply religious because they draw their principle form  Ecclesiastes 10:19: Money answereth ALL things, including political power!

We also have the political philosophy, principle and practice of gerontocracy; a form of ‘oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population. In many political structures, power within the ruling class accumulates with age, making the oldest the holders of the most power’. In Nigeria where the youths consist of 60%+ of the population, people who are 80+ are striving to lead! How can they  linkup with the online generation? How can they communicate with the millennials? What kind of vision can those on the injury time visualise? How can ‘A-grade’ elders visualise a society which by the normal course of nature, they will not be a part of???

And then, we have  kakistocracy; ‘a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens.  This is the worst-case scenario in which Nigerians, with their eyes wide open, go for the worst, least qualified, most incompetent, the most Machiavellian or most unscrupulous! How can Nigerians who are creating and breaking records in all fields of human endeavour  all over the world, and who need an  conducive environment to replicate their global records at home, go to bed with kakistocracy?  

Fellow Nigerians, ‘Chineke nke igwe ndi agha(the Lord of hosts), who knows the  end from the beginning promises us that ‘never again will I expose you to the contempt of other countries…; I will restore the years eaten by the locusts, the  cankerworm the caterpillars and … Nigeria  will never be humiliated again( Joel,2: 19-27). But all the promises of God are conditional and these ones are no exceptions! We have to do the right things, seize the opportunities that He has created with both hands,  and think of the future, not just  about stomach infrastructure of here and now! It is our responsibility to SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNE moment! The slate almost is clean and it is up to us to write the right things on it!

For us to optimise this scenario  and come out of the inflexion point stronger, we MUST embrace a paradigm shift.  The new paradigm requires us to put our best foot forward, to start with our first and best eleven rather than ‘managing’  whatever any group presents to us. Thus, we should ask henceforth , always and  with all seriousness, whenever anybody presents himself or herself to serve us, IS THIS THE BEST? This is and should continue to be the refrain anywhere anybody is presented for service in any part of  Nigeria today and evermore.

Frantz Fanon tells us that Each generation must discover its mission and fulfil it or betray it!(Wretched of the Earth).   The mission of this generation, which has become sharpened by the current state of affairs, is to ensure that Nigeria is placed on the sustainable right path; that we lay the foundation for the greatness that we have been yearning for; a yearning that has become more strident  in the past 7+ years when we have been recklessly wrecked from top to bottom by people who promised us heaven on earth. At this inflexion point, we must  choose between OBIcracy and plutocracy, gerontocracy and kakistocracy.  And without mincing words, OBIcracy is it! It is not the time to vote for somebody because he is ‘eminently qualified’ as a former  PG student of mine told me. When I asked him to market his preferred candidate on the bases of character, competence, physical and mental alertness and integrity, he  went blank. It is not time to vote for a serial contestant, who do not find Nigeria good enough for habitation. We have seen where the last serial contestant landed us.  It is not time to vote for somebody because it is his turn. It is also  not time to vote for people who will either privatise our commonwealth or share it with their boys( some of the boys are 70+).This is an opportune moment, and we MUST seize this lifetime opportunity.  

I have spoken!

That was my advice a year ago. Unfortunately, we chose or rather Mahmood Yakubu announced that we chose the detestable troika of plutocracy, gerontocracy and Kakistocracy.  A lot of votes were not counted and  thus did not count but some of us  made that ignoble choice which the Supreme Court had ratified. It is saddening that in the year of the Lord 2023, we, with our eyes wide open, went for Kakistocracy. Government of the worst, least qualified, most incompetent, most Machiavellian or most unscrupulous! We forgot the 3Cs of life: Choices, Chances and Changes; that we must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change! What type of choice did we make and what type of change did we expect… that is  assuming that we made that detestable choice! And we have seen where we are in just one year.

  In just one year: Empty airports,  prices in flight, …           looting of foodstuff.

Where do we go from here? Do we enjoy the rape because we have no option? Do we stand under the bitter-kola tree and tell it that it is bitter? Or do we strategise for the future, which must come? The choice is both personal and collective.

Between Poverty, insecurity, and hunger

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