ColumnsTurf Game

Is it always the economy, stupid?

Building the society comes first in rank and precedence over the economy. Nothing can reverse this order of nature. Not leadership, not bleeding hearts.

Jimanze Ego-Alowes

A recent news report brings us this: “Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday insisted that Nigeria needed a President with a sound knowledge of the economy to make headway. This, he said, was what a former German Chancellor, the late Helmut Schmidt, who was one of his international friends, told him during a discussion about African countries.”(Obasanjo: Nigeria needs president who understands economy)

READ ALSO: How Yoruba leaders convinced Obasanjo to reconcile with Atiku
Obasanjo

Though the authority Obasanjo quotes, late Schmidt, is a great and mighty man, Schmidt’s advice is completely misplaced and mismatched. Schmidt is working on a maxim that is true for Germany but not true for Nigeria. For the Germans, the power-sharing nature of their federation, that is, the relationships between the various tiers of government and the people, are stabilised and settled. What is true for Germany is true for most of Europe as she currently is. A recourse to history tells us a bit. Europe had to fight several wars to come to a sense of what stable political and thus economically viable orders they can have. The historical lesson is that, if you don’t have that stable existential order, a people or their community cannot come to greatness, economically and or otherwise.

Nothing in this is to push we go to war. We have had one already and are worse for it. The best we should do is to understand what finally happened in and with Europe. What next we should do is to improve on that. History is there for us to learn from, and not to stare at.

In summary, it may be said that modern Europe has built up its several constitutions and bound its several constituencies by harmony, not by force. Europe, to be stable, had to gather around the roundtable not the battlefronts. The wars of Europe never obliged her any greatness. The battles of Europe failed her. It is the roundtable that saved Europe. Today, Europe, or the greater West, is the most successful precinct of the world, in economic and or other terms. The secret sauce to this is in their well-founded existential or political orders.

But that is not exactly the current Nigerian scenario. Nigeria as is has ditched the roundtable. And as perhaps is indicated, Nigeria has no stable constitutional order. A constitutional order to so be is a self- supporting, a self-existent order. A constitutional order is not an order run and maintained under the barrel of the shadow of guns or other coercions. That’s why it is a constitutional, not a dominance, order. A dominance order is an empire, not a nation-state like arrangement. And as history and logic show, all empire-like orders are in spite of themselves built to collapse. This is an iron lore.

In other words, the empire is not a sustainable economic unit. This failure of empire as an economic proposition, it is well to restate, is due to its failures in founding an equitable and negotiated stable political or constitutional order. In other words, empires are by nature too atrophic for sustainable economic progress. To summarise, having a mutually, a freely constitutively agreed political order is the first law of sustainable economic development.

Currently, Nigeria has no such constituent order or experience. Nigeria, as presently is, is whittled down by incongruence in issues of structures and power-sharing. The consensus is that the current Nigerian order is empire-like. It is arbitrarily and thus in unfairness and lack of equity imposed on the rest of the country by sections wielding the army and security forces as their tools. In the end, they have architected a Nigeria that is more of an empire than a nation of peoples. Or as a wag put it, Nigerians are a people trapped by one geography. Nigeria as a country is a huge concentration camp. Her peoples feel diminished. Thus there is no drive to really be a great and mighty people. We need freedom to realise the best that is Nigeria.

And this lack of operating freedom is so much that, in Nigeria of today, the hottest political lexicon of the moment is restructuring, restructuring and restructuring. And to worsen things, the current APC political machine or monster has entrenched and widened our worst cleavages, our worst nightmares.

So, the reality of a Nigeria as a house divided against itself will so remain till Nigerian political elite find a common ground to work and play the nation’s constituent and collective destinies. It is over this common ground that zones and citizens may productively relate among themselves, their state and or country, economically and otherwise.

The point needs repeating. The current operating system, which was designed and imposed by the largely region-dominance military, is not serving anybody well. The greater point is that it is this matter of empire-like structure that will ensure that our economy never takes off on any positive trajectory. So, correcting our skewed federation is a matter of life and death, both in existential and in economic prosperity terms.

Anyway, the historical experience has shown that, if a people do not get their political power architectures right, they will never get any other thing right. Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari has dutifully reminded us of this. His Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind hands us the records.

The summary import of all this is that development is an order-dependent procedure. In other words, the foundational structure of politics or power-sharing comes and must come before that of tilling the land or building an economy. A country is not a unit of the market or stock exchange. The stock exchange is a unit of the society of a country. Building the society comes first in rank and precedence over the economy. Nothing can reverse this order of nature. Nothing, not leadership, not bleeding hearts. Not German Chancellors or Nigerian dictators.

Thus, contrary to Obasanjo’s assertion, Nigeria needs a politically-savvy guy, even if he happens to be an economic illiterate. Buhari’s failures are economic, no doubt. But the worst of his sins are political. It is the politics of exclusion. It is the politics of wanting to consolidate Nigeria as an empire. And a great part of Buhari’s economic woes are in Nigerians’ patriotic resistance to move any economy forward that will be used to enslave them. People are resisting being made to feel like slaves in their own country. That is, it is legitimate, patriotic to undermine an economic or political arrangement that aims to make slaves of free citizens. The old lore is still well and alive. Nothing for us without us. It is only the empire that excludes the people allegedly to serve them. And in the end ruins them. Nigerians ronu.

READ ALSO: FG to develop special economic zones in geo-political regions

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Let Atiku and Obi run

Much dust has been raised on the choice of Peter Obi as Alhaji Abubakar Atiku’s Vice President. Whatever is the matter, the following should be on notice. The idea that Igbo are divided on the choice of Obi is more of reading the noise and not the signals.

First, on the streets of Owerri, Aba, Enugu, Abakaliki, as well as Onitsha, Obi is some kind of a political folk hero. Out there, the universal sentiment is that Obi is our best leg forward. I was astounded by the telephone poll I conducted across the eastern states. Everybody is for Obi. To the easterners, Obi is of export quality and more. It is a kind of ‘he is our son in whom we are well pleased.’

Second, I think the political leaders of the East were misunderstood. They said that they were not consulted or read it in the papers just like other citizens. It is the aspect of reading in the papers as other citizens that is not quite it. Being stakeholder-operators, it is meet that they be taken in confidence and be pre-informed, even if not consulted, over the pick of Obi. Our understanding here is that Obi was among the three or so names shortlisted for the honour.

Immediately the East sent in its shortlist to Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, their work was finished. The rest was up to Atiku. However, whatever happened, it is proper the matter be attended to with an eye to resolution, not stirring the dust. And that resolution should be in the direction in which the ordinary southeasterner has signalled. And that signal is that Obi is our choice. And darkly they are threatening the wrath of the people will befall any politician who scuttles this their singular wish. Our advice to any politician is to choose his battles and to never go to war against the people. The people have spoken: Atiku-Obi is what we approve. And the choice of the people is the choice of God.

However it won’t do any harm if Atiku-Obi would get about their GSMs. They should be calling on their friends to calm the political seas, not ruffle the waves. What is more important is that it is a fissure of one political family. And politics is all about conflicts and their management. It is only in paradise that politics is played without opposition. Down here on earth, genius is to charm opposition into consensus. For me and my household, we wish Atiku-Obi the successful run they deserve. Ahiazuwa.

READ ALSO: The Atiku-Obi ticket

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