All through history, finding and keeping round and square pegs in their respective holes has never been a Sugarcandy Mountain party. It’s a tough job for experts and committed people! Therefore, President Bola Tinubu must keep working round the clock, looking for leaks and blocking same.
Take a look at the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), which, at its inception, was with its spectacular fanfare and related brouhaha. OFN was with the notion of an idea whose time has come; but the intangibles waited patiently for it. As fate would have it, the scheme’s promoter eventually became its albatross. The man wasn’t a farmer. In other words, he became a farmer by accident – a disastrous accident at that! And the nation paid dearly for it! OFN was destined to feed the nation any day! But where’s it? As things stand, Nigeria, more than ever, is in need of OFN, but should she go to ‘Operation Feed the States’ or ‘Operation Feed the Local Governments’ for agriculture to have a meaning? How much is a crate of eggs in ‘Obasanjo Farms’, how much is it in Kaduna and how many people can afford it?
Tinubu urged Nigerians to tighten their belts in the face of the biting socioeconomic reforms; that better days lie ahead! But they are groaning and grumbling that the presidency and the legislatures are swimming in opulence and maintaining empty, needles and expensive shows. They are complaining about the high cost of governance and that they want it moderated. They are saying that many of the president’s friends and political functionaries are milking the state through multiple pensions as former governors and ministers. Since time and things have changed, Nigerians want to practise large-scale and massive farming to stimulate production and regulate education and private school operation. These are the issues and these are tasks the Tinubu administration must not leave undone. When initiating policies and programmes, the president must bear in mind that the favourable creation of favourable conditions does not mean that people will have to suffer before they start reaping the dividends of democracy. If they must, then there should be appropriate palliatives for all and sundry.
The president must work assiduously at redefining, redirecting and reconstructing his administration’s policies and programmes along the line of equality, liberty and solidarity. He must take a cue from Presidents George Washington whose tenacity, patriotic devotion and ability to make decisions during difficult times made him lead America to become a success story; and Franklin Roosevelt, whose ‘New Deal’, encapsulated in the combination of confidence, political savvy and strategic analytical reasoning, helped in setting ‘God’s own country’ back on the path of national economic and growth.
When Amartya Sen talked about development as freedom, these are parts of the issue! Indeed, freedom is development, especially, to the individuals. The ‘japa’ locution is the seeking of socioeconomic freedom for an individual; and, once there’s an inhibition, there is nothing else that society can offer as a substitute. Life is good in London! Life is good in the USA! Unfortunately, the 9th National Assembly attempted to erect a psycho-sociological barrier at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, insisting that a certain class of Nigerians shouldn’t go out of the country in search of a good life, which Nigeria could not offer. Wasn’t the government asking for trouble?
This again boils down to suppositions and assumptions. For example, people jump into projects without realizing that the end product of a project is not about its narrative; that it’s just a calculated projection; that calculated projections are always fraught with unimaginable interferences from nature and allied factors; and that expertise and management are needed for a projection to come to reality. Of course, that’s why dictators are typically ruthless. As a matter of fact, dictatorship has to be discussed for people to make up their minds on what to actually hate.
What are we saying? As long as foreign countries continue to mentor their economic programmes to reflect certain economic indices which also reflect in people’s standard of living, ‘japa’ will continue to happen to Nigeria. Even if it’s to reflect the world’s economic dynamics, man will always move in search of greener pastures. Hunger is a driving force. Likewise, opulence is as inviting as it’s a rock-hard motivation. So, those who think mere legislation will stop Nigerians from leaving the country had better understand that pragmatic laws which disregard the position of stomach infrastructure will always collapse like a pack of cards. It’s therefore unfortunate that our men at the legislative chambers could remove the people from their considerations and still hope to be relevant.
Culturally, there is a problem. The way through which the Yorubas view and value education is different from the way others do. While the latter sees only its economic imperatives, the former sees more than that! Economic considerations, why not? But then, social trappings are sociologically more important. For example, should researchers decide to review literature on failed governments and why governments fail, it’d get to a stage where they’d become exhausted and frustrated because nothing practically would be different, or have changed. So, one would begin to wonder what actually went wrong because, in real studies, that in itself is a course for study. But, again, this is Nigeria, where a typical scholar is intolerant of criticism! What we have here is a towering voice out of the lot who wants everybody to reason like him or her, or wants the world to believe that he or she is familiar with the minds and thought processes of others.
In our clime, almost all our policies in education are deliberately structured towards regional, tribal, religious, and family agenda. Quota system is still being adhered to as if we have endorsed institutional limitations. Not only that, the capable is governed by the incapable, with the ideas of the intellectuals being subjected to the foolish elements of quota. Economic opportunities for other Nigerians have also been limited. To make matters worse, we always believe in superhuman above super institutions. The result of such is what we see in the ‘Super Cop’ Abba Kyari, who got consumed by the otiose system he met on ground.
The major academic challenge which any attentive observer of governance in Nigeria must look into is why Nigeria has not produced another Wole Soyinka since 1986. Soyinka was a smart, ruthless nonconformist. That’s why he reared his head in Nigeria’s murky and suffocating academic environment. Had ‘Kongi’ not discovered himself early enough, he most probably would not have become a Nobel Laureate. While the likes of Chinua Achebe subscribed to the prejudiced thinking of others, Soyinka was so cosmopolitan in his worldview that he destroyed all the cobwebs on his path and … roared. As luck would have it, the ‘Iroko’ had long blossomed before others could wake up from their slumber.
In Nigeria, problems persist at all levels, even in the academic world, which is still suffering from neocolonialism. Generally in the ivory tower, the town has entered the gown. The love of money has ruined the path that leads to the truth. Ironically, before now, theories were established by the truth. Nowadays, supposed truth runs around to establish or support a theory. So, the time has come for the Nigerian academia to be totally weaned from piecemeal or spoon-feeding arrangements. President Tinubu has a lot to do in restraining the japa-compliant Nigerians from finding reasons to run away.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])