The Sun News

Sai baba: The dilemma continues

In our essay, Sai Baba’s Dilemma, we echoed what we had espoused in in two of our books, Corruption in Africa: Resolution Through New Diagnosis and Economists as Assassins: The Nigerian Connection. The point is that development may be classified, indeed is best classified as the ratio of the powers of citizens to those of leaders. That is how much power citizenry exercises in respect to those exercised by their leaders is the best tracker of their development, economic and otherwise.

All we are saying is that at its bottom development has less and less to do about economics indices. These indices GNP, GDP, median salaries, etc. are merely the expressions of more fundamental forces. These more fundamental forces are the forces of citizen’s powers and how they are distributed or scattered in a given society.

The follow-up logic is that immediately you get the power configuration right, the economic indices will literally and on their own emerge and on a positive note. This is what Americans mean when they speak of ‘‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’’ or even the more poetic Obama’s ‘‘Yes, we can’’. The implication is that if you get the citizen-leadership power leverages right, as the Americans apparently have, the prayers of the Lagos Omonile, the Area Boys, will be granted you and your nation. That is both man and his nation, like the Yankee and God’s Own Country, America, you will be in grace. And you will be working like ants while earning like elephants. That is the whole of development is built on an Omonile philosophy: On how to work as ants and earn as elephants. Or if you wouldn’t feel insulted, it is how to work like Nigerians, to work in Naira and earn like Americans, in dollars. Ahiazuwa.

And this state of grace, it is well to recall, is not fixed by leaders. It is the work of the thinker-founders. Americans were lucky. Their true founders were some of the greatest minds ever, for example, the enlightenment giant, John Locke. America’s so-called founding fathers, like George Washington, etc.  were merely foremen, who were humble enough to work out in life the drawings and conjectures of their superiors, men like Locke. That is, as persons Americans are no better or bigger dudes than you. It is just that they got better citizen-leadership power leverages, which were designed by the great architects of the mind and man.

And the import of generous citizens’ power distribution has time out and time in been confirmed by history. Whether it is ancient Greece, or Chinese Tang Dynasty, Italian City States or even Nigeria before the coup makers, as thugs took over power, it is the depth and spread of the citizenship powers that will unleash economic development. That is as we have conjectured the richest and most powerful states in history are the states with the most plural and diffuse citizens’ power configurations.

Anyway, a certain gentleman called in to raise issues on Sai Baba’s Dilemma. His point is that my mention of the USSR/Russia was in error or ignorance. More substantively, he claimed that the Russian system was working well and great, that I was running Euro-American propaganda for a Nigerian audience. But we have good news for him and the many who think in error that to develop a people you need a dictator or the centralisation of powers in one man, say a Sai Baba.

A Financial Times report quoted a Russian crony of the president, Putin. To capture due flavour, we quote in some length:

‘‘Alexei Kudrin, the former finance minister, was asked by Mr. Putin last year to come up with a new strategy for economic policymaking for the next term…. Outlining his plans on Friday, Mr. Kudrin said: “We have come to face the problem that Russia has fallen behind technologically in the world. That, in my view, is the most serious challenge we face in the coming 10 to 15 years.” Mr. Kudrin said the Russian legal system needed to be reformed to give protection to property rights and to make court decisions more transparent. He also called for a scaling back of the state’s role in the economy and the break-up of monopolies.’’

“We are currently at a historically low pace of economic growth, even lower than during the period of stagnation in the Soviet era,” Mr. Kudrin said. Without reform, average growth would remain below 2.4 per cent even by 2021, he added…. Prolonged stagnation under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev is believed to have contributed to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union….”

‘‘… Some of the experts Mr. Kudrin consulted for his project said they pushed him to present a vision under which Russia would transform into a democracy firmly anchored in the western world.”

That means decentralisation of power, a certain political competition. Failure to reform threatens Russia’s security, Putin adviser warns. FT.com 14-01-17

In a word, all the guy is saying is that for economic fortune to roll in, Russia got to liberalise power. If we next come to Nigeria, we may report the following. An admirer of President M. Buhari, a fellow northerner and Muslim, has this quote on the president and related matters.

‘‘To understand the source of my worries, one has to look at the distribution of the headship of the various security agencies in Nigeria. If you look at our National Security arrangement objectively, you will see that apart from President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the current Chief of Defence is from the same geo-political zone with the President. Both of them are northerners, Hausa Fulani and Muslim. And the same thing goes for the Chief of Air Staff, who is a northerner, Hausa-Fulani and Muslim.

Besides, we have the Chief Army Staff, who is a northerner, a Muslim, although not Hausa-Fulani. We have in addition, the Minister of Internal Affairs, who is a northerner, Hausa-Fulani and a Muslim. Now, we have the Inspector General of Police (IGP), who is a northerner and a Muslim although not Hausa Fulani. Don’t forget that the Independent National Electoral Commission is headed by a northerner, Hausa-Fulani and Muslim. Don’t let Rivers election crisis lead to Hausa-Ijaw conflict, Yakassai tells Buhari. Sun — 14th January 2017.

Taken together, the question may be what do they amount to? It is self-evident thus that wherever power is concentrated, the economy and even more society itself, necessarily declines or self-destructs. And history shows that no economists can upturn this iron and unbreakable sociological law. In other words, it is clear that Nigeria in running a Russian or czarist style governance is doomed economically. And if the economy is gone, the society will consequentially and, perhaps, on its own crumble. So, power pluralisation and all-inclusiveness is not just to save the economy but to stabilise the society.

The purpose of this is to warn Nigerians that Abujarisation of power will only lead us to the darkest part of hell in economic terms and possible Rwandarisation in political terms. To repeat: No economists can magic us out of it. In modern times you either share out power all pervasively or you and your nation will perish. Like with Brezhnev, it may not be in your time. Like Brezhnev it may come immediately you are gone and were deluded you have fixed things in stone.

Perhaps, it will now do us no harm to take on real life examples. Simon Kolawole, a This Day hand wrote: ‘‘David Cameron, then British prime minister, was campaigning ahead of… election. He visited a hospital…. As he was talking to a patient, the doctor came out and started protesting. ‘You are invading my space,’ the doctor said. Cameron quietly left. If that happens in Nigeria, his security aides will first brutalise you before you are arrested and dismissed from service for “disrespecting constituted authority” [apologies to elected governors, presidents, etc. of Nigeria]. Our leaders think that they are gods. In civilised societies, they see themselves as servants.’’ Tell-tale Signs of Underdevelopment. This Day. January 15, 2017

The writer treats it as a moral issue or the dilemma of agent-principal disharmony or conflict of protocol. It is more than that. The fact is that the power asymmetry between the Nigerian and his leader is rather the cause of his underdevelopment, as citizen and that of his nation. Like Fela would say, it is Double Wahala for our living bodies.

Thus it is safe to say that Nigerians fighting for the pluralisation of power, which includes so-called true federalisms, are our best and most insightful economists. And this follows from the fact that power is the first and, perhaps, only fundament of man or society. Power is the blood; how power is developed and configured is the heart [beat] of national or individual development. If for any reasons you got blood and heartbeat issues, then you got a pathology only the devil can cure. And the devils are not in the business of healing the sick. They need the many more folks in hell for company. Will Nigerians oblige them? Nigeria ronu.

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