Former Nigeria’s envoy to Canada and Mexico, Prof Iyorwuese Hagher is a blunt Nigerian who tells it as it is. In this exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, the erstwhile Minister of Steel spoke on his January 5 open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, which went viral three days after; the current herdsmen-farmers’ crises and the…
A fine point of the justice system is that it is built on precedence. Legal precedence is the judicial record of judgements and thus the circumstances that led to them. And if we are to believe experts, a judge cannot upturn a pronouncement of a higher court. But more interesting, at least, for historians, is that the circumstances that led to the judgements happened. And in history, if it has happened before, it is human all too human it will happen again. This point is not just colourful it is important.
If we took up the issue of the controversial policeman, Ibrahim Magu, the following is established. There was once a General Ibrahim Abacha. Abacha in the course of his career and life rose to be an unelected head of state, that is a hijacker of state powers. And interestingly, it so happened that the same Abacha was an anti-corruption crusader via his career as dictator. Till today, Abacha’s siege against bank and other financial thieves are fables of legend. But suddenly, the same Abacha died in fanciful circumstances.
And General Olusegun Obasanjo, another hijacker of state powers, took over, ‘‘electorally’’. And it was established that the same Abacha, who was a fiery anti-financial fraud crusader was, wait for it, a common thief. These are not our opinions. In fact, as we write, some of the endless billions Abacha stole are allegedly being repatriated.
So, a precedent is easily established here. It is that it is feasible for a man to be a notorious, even if closeted thief, and at the same time a popular anti-fraud crusader. And if we are to believe the records, Abacha, himself a thief, was ruthlessly efficient in dealing with his kind, here the financial thieves. And these are matters of public records. So, one can ask is Abacha a thief and the answer is yes. Was Abacha an efficient anti-fraud crusader? The answer again is yea. Ahiazuwa.
Thus the fact is easily established that Magu, who is touted as an efficient, perhaps, even ruthless anti-corruption crusader, could be a bigger thief than those he is pursuing, just like Abacha. That is why no courts have pronounced Magu guilty or innocent, the facts of Nigerian history tell that many who live as criminals, closeted criminals, walk the streets with fanciful images of holy men, of saviours.
Now the other import. But first, let us tap up Martins Oloja. Oloja used to be the editor of The Guardian. He is now something bigger. Last week or about, he wrote a piece ‘‘Project 2019: Nigeria needs leaders, not dealers.’’ To quote: ‘‘Ambassador Isaac Aluko Olokun… was concerned about the thesis of an anonymous racist who… would not like the “the black man because he can’t handle complexity.”
Well, we are not experts on black matters. But we have been witnesses of the Nigerian public scene. And we can say, with profound respect to Oloja, Olokun and others, that the accusation is true, at least, in the specific case of Nigeria. Demonstrably an overwhelming majority of Nigeria public intellectuals, etc. is incapable of abstract or complex thoughts. They think too linearly of our complicated universe to be of any use even to themselves.
Let’s still hook on the wondrous, if intriguing case of Magu. This guy, Magu, is appointed to head the EFCC, a Federal Government institution. Another Federal Government agency, the DSS, has a confirmed opinion on Magu. According to DSS’ public testimonials, Magu has no reputation at all to head the august body, EFCC. One thing must be made immediately clear. It is that we are not interested in the veracity or otherwise of the DSS verdict. We are only interested in the historical fact of it being made.
Now, the nation suffers the indecorum of witnessing ‘‘eminent persons’’ campaigning one or more of the following: That the DSS report is evidence of corruption fighting back. That the president can still go ahead and forcefully install Magu, as his anti-corruption potentate. That Magu is so good at his job that to sack him is to commit a sin against political Holy Ghost, etc.
The point must be immediately made that these taken singularly or in concert is evidence the black man, sorry the Nigerian public canvassers, are incapable of complexities, of thinking through interrelatedness.
This is because in all these campaigns to enforce Magu as our saviour, not one of them seems to integrate the relatedness of the mere fact, not correctness or otherwise, of DSS indicting Magu. The point is that the mere fact of the indictment of Magu by the DSS implies 1. That if the DSS report is false or malicious, it then follows that the head of the DSS in the least must be dismissed. 2. If, however, the DSS reports are of no effects, it means that the DSS is superfluous and must be scrapped.
Complexity theorising demands that immediately one canvasses that Magu be retained, he must lockstep call for the sacking of the DSS chiefs. That is at the levels of complexities; it is no longer feasible that both Magu and the DSS chiefs co-inhabit in the same government. If they do, then that is proof enough this government is into the prostitution of self above good and evil, above history and above logic. In other words, they are 419ing the peoples of Nigeria.
Next, let us bring in the moral of Abacha, of closeted thieves. It then follows that Magu, as an anti-corruption warlord, working alongside the ‘‘untouchable’’ DSS, is tantamount to resurrecting Abachaisms. That is a system where a man will be thieving Nigeria to cleanse Nigerians?
Finally, we are aware EFCC is full of halitosis. Almost intuitively they will charge that this is a case of corruption fighting back. However, in spite of such graven self-righteousness, we make bold to state as follows: Without living a life of almost criminal opulence, first class fliers and all, like EFCC chiefs, we have accomplished greater anti-corruption works than Magu and or EFCC. And we have witnesses to our deeds. With all humility, our book: Corruption in Africa: Resolution Through New Diagnosis, has been characterised as ground-breaking. For instance, Henry Boyo, the renowned economist, has described the book as the best on the subject matter and a way out of corruption in governance. And he said that openly on television. And his, is typical of the quality of reviews our work has attracted.
Perhaps, if the EFCC and Magu are not hard of hearing, they should go into libraries and catch up on lost curriculums. This would serve better than dramatising their ignorance of what corruption is and how not to fight it. Perhaps, again, EFCC and Magu constitute an ‘‘illustrious’’ case study of Nigerians’ inability to think through sitting or emergent complexities.
Nigeria, a collapse of civilisation?
Too often, Nigerian political moralists posture that the trouble with Nigeria is leadership. Let us concede to them their sentiments. But the question is, how long are we to wait for the system to throw up desired leadership? Already, we have waited for more years than it took Singapore to flee the Third World and berth into the first. And we still wait?
But is the problem, perhaps, not wrongly posed? Is it not rather that we have inherited a system that is greater than us? Is it not that Nigeria, a rump of the British civilisation, which we inherited at independence has overwhelmed our capacities?
Nigerian educational system is rotten. Recall the signal tragedy at Queen’s College. Internal security is gone. The Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, kidnapping, armed robbery, etc. seem to have overwhelmed the uniformed forces. And the same situation of hopelessness has traumatised just about any sector. Yet we all are told to wait for leadership.
And the waiting has been since one General Yakubu Gowon. Gowon came and started cutting up Nigeria into states and centralising all powers. Since then Nigeria has had countless types and number of leaders. And not one brought sustainable succour. Is it not because the task is beyond us? Would Gowon through to Buhari, not have fared better, turned Nigeria into a Singapore, if we were a county-country, of no more than just 4.999999 million people?
Is our trouble, not that we are culturally unwired or not literate enough to handle complexities, big data and bigger numbers? And if what statisticians say is to be believed, interactions between units in ecological or complex systems increase exponentially, even as the units increase arithmetically. That is at 180 million people and 36 (plus Abuja) states, Nigeria may be 350 million times (more) impossible to create or manage than Singapore. In fact, she may be unmanageable by Nigerians, stunted as they are culturally and in civilisational terms. Simply, we are just not up to the task. Forget all the posturing. The fact is that what a man or nation cannot overcome in 50 endless years, may be inborn in him. It is like the mythical pathology of the tortoise. If he cured it, he will die. That is if Nigeria as presently configured is to exist she is condemned never to find a leader, to remain an eternal sore thumb. Ahiazuwa.
*Ego-Alowes is author of several books including the classics: Minorities as Competitive Overlords, Economists as Assassins: The Nigerian Connection, Corruption in Africa: Resolution Through New Diagnosis, How and Why the Yoruba Fought and Lost the Biafra Nigeria Civil War.