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Man can be nourished on myths not bones

Give it to Bola Tinubu, he is a colossus. Whatever are the slips he has suffered, he reminds us of the quip of Gibbon, a British historian. Even in its ruins, according to Gibbon, one can still glimpse something of the splendour and greatness of a fallen empire. Accordingly, one can hazard that, even if Tinubu were to fall today, his name will run large in the nation’s annals.

But having said this, it is important that we remain chroniclers, not praise-singers. The purpose is not to diminish him. The purpose is to give future statesmen a measure around which they may push their ambitions.

Just the other day, Tinubu clocked 66. And for such as he is, schedules of events were put together. And one of those was the assessment of the man Tinubu at Television Continental, by some journalists hanging in at the station.

Now the other details are as follows. In the course of our political science workshops, especially around the East, there was often a Tinubu contradistinction. It was repeatedly mentioned that Tinubu started with just one state, Lagos. And from such small beginnings he was able to Messi or dribble his way to controlling the entire South West or substantial parts thereof, that is, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and, lately, Edo.

But these are the inertial facts. Stated glibly, they explain nothing. We generally left matters at the levels of the canvasser’s unsophisticated grasp of matters. You cannot argue with a mob, not even a mob of one.

But on the Television Continental, I saw rather seasoned journalists repeat the same surface grasp of an inner essence. It was alarming.

Now, the rite of how Tinubu was able to turn the political waters of one state into the wine keg of several states is as follows. First, those who state the bare facts of one-state-to-five are correct, but not prescriptively so. What they are saying is arithmetically correct, but geometrically wrong, as it were.

To understand what happened, the following is perhaps indicated. In secondary school mathematics, there is something called BODMAS: Brackets Of Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction. What it means, I am told, is that, if you are given a set of mathematical operations that require these procedures, it must be order-dependent, to get it right you must follow BODMAS.

The moral is that life in most instances follows mathematical laws. And in this Tinubu affair it does. Without BODMAS no one can understand the prevalence of Tinubu. And to test the case, let us do ourselves a query. If we reversed the order [Bodmas] of political operations, the following is indicated. If Tinubu was the governor of any of the other states, say Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Edo, would he have succeeded in his magic of reconsolidating the political corridor into one contiguous electoral zone for himself?

The answer is, no. The fact of it does not rob anything from Tinubu. But the facts and truths of it are more important than the reputation of a Tinubu or any hero.

So a question is suggested. Why is it that Tinubu, granted his genius, cannot reconstitute the same political corridor starting from any bloc other than Lagos. The answer is money. As the financial historian Naill Ferguson has pointed ou, hegemony is the same thing as hege-money. That is to say, imperialism, even of the most benign kind, is a money game and a money-fuel guzzler.

Now, recall our good old George Orwell. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others. The fact of this is even truer with municipalities and states. On paper, Lagos and Bornu are the equals of one another. However, operationally, Lagos is really bigger than several whole West African countries in socio-economic terms. And Bornu is also classed as one of the poorest reaches in the world. We are quoting Emir of Kano, Sanusi, on this. And he should know.

Even more, Lagos has a fantastic cash-flow, certainly the best of the states in Nigeria. While the big oil states like Akwa Ibom and Rivers may look forward to monthly allocations, the Lagos tax revenue faucet gushes liquidity eternally. All a Tinubu needed was to show up with a bowl to collect his fill. And this is not to forget that, as it is said, “The most important word in the world of money is cashflow. The second most important word is leverage.” (Robert Kiyosaki).

And Tinubu got them all. Of leverage, that explains why Jim Ovia, chairman of Zenith Bank, endured all the sweat and boredom to sit out the 66th birthday colloquium. Sometimes, the uninitiated naively say Eko is for show. No, Eko is for money. And the bankers are in the mix. To start with, Tinubu is/was their landlord. And the import of landlordism has been publicly hinted. DSTV cable TV providers were once charged with discriminatory listing-in of local Nigerian TV stations on their menu. And Lagos State Television, LTV, was specifically mentioned among others. The DSTV spokesman explained things. A key part of it was that LTV was included because Lagos is their landlord state.

So it is clear that a Tinubu, as a pan-zonal hegemon, would not have fared well if he began his life as a regional governor of any state other than Lagos. It is clear that the treasury of any of those states would have failed to fund his ambitions, cash for cash, funds flow for votes, as Lagos did.

Those states just would not have been able to fund his wizardry or hegemony ambitions, if he had them. Yes, it is true men can transcend their time and place but only by drawing for strength and nourishment from their roots. It is just like it is of trees. The branches may only rise as high as the roots sink deep. This is an iron lore. And it can’t be broken because a Tinubu is at work and play.

In other words Political BODMAS decrees that, if you start from Lagos, you may capture and consolidate the other states. If, however, you start with any other state, you cannot capture and consolidate Lagos and remnant zonal states. One can conjecture that, given the same circumstance, an Abiola Ajimobi, an immense and bright strategist, might be as good a political wizard as a Tinubu. But as the teacher says “time and chance” have not happened to him. Meanwhile, we say happy birthday to Tinubu.

 


History is not what happened but what is proved to have happened

Was writing invented by accountants? Okay, this: I am a The Browser addict. The Browser by the way is an e-site. The site curates, culls and republishes the best English language articles from all over the world. And they are so excellent at the job. The articles are really well-informed and cutting-edge. The Brower home page always comes with a quote corner. Today 30-03-18, they ran a quote: “Writing was invented by accountants.” (Philip Hensher).

That sounds great, but we hold objections. The details are as follows. First, users are often not the inventors. Also, inventors need not be members of the given industry. The cognate example of double entry accounting is instructive. Luca Pacioli was a mathematician, among other things. And of these things none was being an accountant. Yet he invented the central tool of modern accounting – the double entry format or tool. That explains why a Dangote is able to keep track of his business and thus why he is rich at all.

What are we saying? It is that there is no proof that a group of accountants or one of them invented writing. There is only proof that writing was first used by accountants, to record business transactions. That is to say that writing was either invented for accountants, aka Luca Pacioli and the double entry framework, or was invented by accountants themselves.

However, it is and will be historically presumptive to gift the accountants what we are not sure is theirs. This is especially so with our history of double entry and several other inventions. Yes, most inventions come from within the discipline. But this is especially so if the discipline is a primary one, like mathematics, philosophy, philology, physics, etc. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that most inventions, especially fundamental inventions used in industries and professions, are invented by thinkers and practitioners from outside their professions and realms.

The example of axial age is perhaps suggested. It was invented by a philosopher Karl Jaspers. Now, it is essentially a historical metric tool. Assuming Jaspers lived in an age where writing was not much around, or his works were lost as has happened in and of ancient Greece, perhaps axial framework would have been said to have been invented by historians. Today, axial classifications are an entire historical procedure. And we can all easily remember Sun Tzu and his masterpiece, “The Art of War.” Today, “The Art of War” is a world-famous business primer. Sun Tzu was never a businessman.

To summarise, writing is too fundamental a tool to have been invented by accountants. It is clear that up to our own age, accountants have been marginal professionals, if not people. It is a historical given that the best brains of an age gravitate to the top disciplines and professions of that age.

Accountancy only came of age, if it ever did, in the days of pre-Enron collapse. Even today, accountancy is not yet as hot as snow. The top brains don’t go there. And lest you think I am beefing other guys and or being partisan, I can tell this. I am really an accountant myself. Am I a top brain? No by trade and profession. But I confess, I will be glad to queue behind my superiors. Ahiazuwa.

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