By Chukwudi Nweje The Nigerian Third Force Movement has rolled out its action plan for the 2019 general elections. Prominent members of the group include former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, Tafawa Balewa, and Prof. Pat Utomi….
Suddenly everybody who is opposed to progress in Nigeria is exposing himself. They are all largely men. But what has become tragic is that there is now an international ring to it.
But first things first. The first major voice that articulated the matter was the accidental civil servant and the purposed conservative, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai. In an interview, El’Rufai claimed that the persons campaigning restructuring are not in the know of what exactly it means. The interview was on Hard Copy Channels television show. El’Rufai’s evidence? He claimed, ignorantly, if you asked 10 Nigerians what they mean by restructuring they will come out with 15 distinct definitions.
Well I thought Rufai, who is the governor of Kaduna State, was purposefully ignorant. It serves well to so be, if one is a politician. What is important to a politician is not telling the truth. What is important to an El’Rufai is winning the next election. And if that demanded a political lie, the average politician not excluding El’Rufai will tell. And one never takes him seriously.
But the matter got a twist, a fearful twist. An American envoy, whose names I can’t recall, also made it on the Channels television, last week. But this time it was on its morning show. The envoy was asked his opinion on restructuring. To the amazement of just every enlightened mind he repeated the gibberish that Nigerians are not decided on what restructuring is. He repeated the mantra after his own style. For him, if you asked 100 Nigerians they did give you 120 opinions on restructuring.
I was particularly amazed. Is this guy a CIA agent? If not, how could he be so ignorant of matters of utmost simplicity? Or is he become typically Nigerian, too blissful in his ignorance? Or perhaps as someone suggested it is all connected with the visit of former British Prime Minister. And what about you may ask. The matter is that Tony Blair, a former UK prime minister visited El’Rufai. And as if that was not mystery enough, someone speculated openly that El’Rufai is being cherry picked by international powers to take over from Buhari. That is Blair was an imperialist envoy sent to fix Nigeria after their own best servings? And they have apparently found a helping hand in the purposeful El’Rufai?
Anyway whatever the situation is, the following are the facts as they are. There is nowhere in the world in which any matter that is human all too human, has an agreed definition or categorization. Even in uptown American if you sampled any ten Americans, amongst them senators, fools, envoys and local Evans – I am sure they must have theirs – one thing is sure. It is that they will have 10 plus N definitions of what democracy is.
And the matter is simple, is universal. It is that there are no consensus definition of any matter that cannot be mathematized. It is because of the unmathematical texture of human nature that voting is adopted in our human too human affairs. We vote not because logic has failed. We vote because nothing human can be mathematized, subjected to supreme logical precision. Voting is actually a cross-concession we make to logic and our human fallibility. Man is not deity, is not pope. As whole beings, we are fallible. So voting was invented to resolve the dilemma between man failing to be pope and our divine mathematical capacities. Doing mathematics is the nearest we have come to being deities, being gods. Mathematics, not the religions and their scriptures, is the true, okay, truer scriptures. The rest are just the inspired fictions of self-assured poets. They were written by the Soyinkas of the old. A scam? Well the jury is in. Ahiazuwa.
Thus we are justly reminded there are no controversies over arithmetic, but not over religions, which are human all too human. If you don’t understand this then it is not too much if you went back to school. So voting is not a default situation. It was invented – rationally by the Greeks. The same Greeks also invented mathematics as a rational science, axioms and all.
Not to sound too far off let us take this urban history. Just lately, one of the most beautiful women in the world died. Professor Maryam Mirzakhani is Iranian. She is married to a Czech guy. And they both live and work in America. She is the first woman to win what is dubbed the Nobel Prize in mathematics. It is called, I am told, the Fields Medal.
What interests us here is this. In the course of her obituary a thread of articles and conversations were re/published about her. An interesting part of this thread may aid us here. Just like me, you don’t need any knowledge of mathematics to be carried along. It goes:
‘’Mr A: Mathematics may be a language but, as this article clearly shows, it also requires its own specialist dialect, or jargon, in spoken and written ‘natural’ language. This is clearly necessary, in just the way that specialist language is necessary in other disciplines, including the humanities. For those who criticise the humanities for its use of ‘jargon,’ please keep this in mind.’’
‘’Mr B: The difference is that the specialist mathematical language is precisely defined and understood the same way by all who use it. The jargon of the humanities is such that not a single term has a definition agreed upon by everybody. So it’s much less helpful than mathematical natural language.’’
‘’Mr C: The less precise language of Humanities is a function of a discipline not about (relatively) predictable and abstract numbers. That doesn’t make the Humanities any less valuable to us.’’
The implication is that imprecisions are imbedded, necessarily, in all humanistic concepts, such as restructuring. And that despite this imprecision, what [spectrum of meanings] restructuring has, does not make it any less valuable to us as a people. And that is especially if we are decided to be great. The fact is supported by history. Take the American constitution. At the time it was being forged, there were divergences, not just on concepts but on categories. But since the American founding fathers, who in being N in numbers, had N plus 1 opinions, were interested in being honest with themselves, they sat down on a roundtable. So what democracy means to Americans, did not pre-exist their debates. Democracy and its meaning were forged out of the debates. That is over the same matters men had variant opinions and definitions, argued and finally came to conclusion by majority votes. Voting we repeat is a non-mathematical human all too human compromise.
And that is what is expected to happen with restructuring. Everybody, including accidental civil servants and purposeful politicians, will humanly all too humanly come with his idea of what restructuring means. And they by majority votes or such other roundtable instruments, will decide what restructuring means to Nigerians.
The greater point is that deciding restructuring via roundtables is incomparably superior to and more serviceable than doing so via coups and thuggery. The twain of coups and thuggery are one and the same thing. And that is where the mystery is. How come what is restructured via coups, that is, through thuggery, is suddenly acceptable to an imperialistic envoy and comprador El’Rufai, etc.? Or are they assuming coups, guns and thuggery are better ways to institute a modern nation? Have Americans deteriorated so disastrously? No wonder they voted in Donald Trump, another thug?
And lately we have had a long list of men as ignorant as they are certain or powerful, join the fray. There is a Rotimi Fasakin who is a motor-mouth of the APC/Buhari administration. He was out on Channels television last Sunday preaching the same ill-besotted gibberish. And Professor Awwal Yadudu, apparently a professor of law, was out also on Arise Television on Nigeria: A Governance Question…. He was showcasing his ignorance of N persons having N plus 1 opinions in matters human all too human. And not to be beaten, Rochas Okorocha has thrown in his mufflers. Okorocha who runs shop as Imo State governor is quoted thus: “Every geo-political zone has its own interpretation of restructuring. To the South-east, restructuring means creation of an additional state. Nigeria needs repackaging not restructuring. Punch 18th July 2017.
That following is what happens in America and other democratic orders. There are necessarily variant opinions, interpretations and categorizations in all matters human too human. For example, the so called manufacturing/rust belt America and the emergent Californian/ICT regions have differing takes on what internationalism and globalization mean for America or how best to go about them. And even the adoption and constitution of the Senate was divisive amongst Americans of the era. That it is now a fait accompli, should not confound the historically sub-literate.
In all, it is what the Americans or indeed any democratic peoples decide, by the compromise of voting that happens, that becomes the definition of terms, not excluding restructuring. Anyway, no American governor or professor will be ignorant enough to charge that there are variant opinions in human matters. Why? Out there the educational system is generally working. Thus before you become a professor, a governor, even before you become a fool, you are taught one thing. It is that you don’t speculate with your ignorance. And of things you don’t know you ask around. And to aid in the process they have invented Google. If you don’t know, Google it. Please don’t showcase your unknowing.
Lastly, the story of this Iranian lady has a resonance for me. In my earlier book Economists as Assassins: The Nigerian Connection, I had remarked how Nigerians despite self-adoration are cultural dwarfs. I used the popular Lindaikejiblog.com, Nigeria’s bestselling e-portal, as a metering tool. When the great Iranian lady won Fields Medal Prize, 2014, it made the headlines in the world’s print and social media. But not in Nigeria. However I am happy to report that Lindaikejiblog.com reported her death even as no other Nigerian print or social media I am acquainted with did. As a people we are too ignorant, too culturally depreciated to do well. Sorry, we actually live as heroically as pets. Poor, poor, pitiful us.