Sunday, January 21, 2018

How President Buhari Falsified Professor Achebe's Greatest Thesis

By Jimanze Ego-Alowes
I have a certain interest in President Muhammadu Buhari. It is not as a fellow citizen. My interest in Buhari is as an object of study. And this is in the course of my day job as an independent scholar, a lay historian.
*Chinua Achebe
And matters get interesting. It is only that one small aspect is missing. To some preempt oneself, one wishes that Professor Chinua Achebe was well and alive. Achebe is the lead and most famous proponent of the thesis that the problem of Nigeria is a problem of leadership deficit. And it is all well with and for us.
However, let us recall the following. By the time Buhari was elected president, Achebe had many years earlier, written a certain book, The Trouble with Nigeria. And in the ensuing years, the book had turned into a cult-like icon and classic. Surprisingly it acquired a pandemic pan-Nigerian following. That is the only book by a Nigerian writer quoted by mullahs from the north, bureaucrats from the west, merchants from the east and just about everybody else.
In the end Okonkwo threw the Cat and Achebe had persuaded all Nigerians that what ails them is leadership. As things go, it was pure speculation. And it was particularly seductive because Nigerians believed they never had good leaders. So Achebe consolidated his profile not only as a literary genius in the class of Homer. Achebe was now something of a theoretical Hegel. That is, Achebe was someone who could write as an angel and think as a god. But history and experiences are the ultimate markers of truths. Is ABC true? Just don't die, time will tell.
And now there was a certain man named in the fashion of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. And in a certain year of the Lord, the same Jonathan was elected the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And suddenly there was the uproar in town, that Jonathan was ill-effective, clueless, and even, don't believe it, ethnicist. And, apparently, a pan-Nigerian coalition came together to shove Jonathan aside. And fall, Jonathan did. He fell off the high and dizzy cliffs of power, of Aso Rock. Today, poor, pitiful Jonathan is like the rest of us - a commoner. Today, even his wife's properties, high street assets, are being demolished. And the reasons are no other than that Jonathan and spouse are now like us, commoners.
But we have our own speculation on these things as to the fall and collapse of Jonathan and his administration. It was the venom of the G2 conspiracy. The G2 is the special protocol arrangement of the southwest and the core north. Their game is to quarry Nigeria into being a captured and reserve territory of their own. And the G2 just couldn't put up with the fact of a south-south, non-tenured citizen, a Jonathan running shop as if Ijaws are security council or G2 members. So they had to invent things against him. And in the course of the invention they recruited venerable names like ace journalists and even a Nobel prize winner. See Abraham Ogbodo's Buhari's Presidency: Facts and Fiction.
And that didn't even end Jonathan's troubles. The conspiracy went intentional. Obama, Jonathan claimed is on their payroll. And America on Obama's instructions rolled in some fearful warships near Nigeria's international waters. That was classic gunboat diplomacy and support. And all these players came together and threw Jonathan under a moving bus. It is a long story, so let us let things rest.
If we returned to the Buhari matter, the following happened. Buhari as a person and persona was sold to Nigerians as very upright bloke and a rare moral genius. And that was besides his dexterity for transformative management, especially in times of national political and economic cholera. In a word, Buhari was the leadership Professor Achebe spoke and dreamed of.
And from there things took a life of their own. Suddenly Buhari was compared with the best names of human history, sometimes sacrilegiously, with holy names. In short Buhari was a brand and sold to the Nigerian public as a temporal Mahdi. Take him, we were canvassed. The promise was that by the time Buhari is halfway through with things, Nigeria would have been a district of paradise. And a majority apparently believed and voted him in.
And luckily the elections were pretty well we are told. And Buhari won, we repeat. That is on the indices of good leadership - a people's assessment of their prospective democratic leader based on his antecedents, on personal integrity, Buhari had it, more than Nigeria needed. In other words Buhari was the best leader Nigeria never had. It is only that now by the conspiracy of the G2 machine and a miracle of things, the best president Nigeria never had, was now given her. In flesh, in spirit and in full powers.
So without saying so we were on the test verification of the Achebe thesis. History never was so kind to provide a Petri dish. Achebe's hitherto unverified claim is that if we had a good leader - a Buhari say - Nigeria's problems will vanish. Now there is an ancient saying in natural philosophy. A Russian mathematical guy, Mikhail Gromov, gives it in modern idiom: But the physical level of rigor is higher on certainty than the logical one, since reproducible experiments are more reliable than anybody's, be it Hilbert's, Einstein's or Godel's intuition.
Yes, we have always held that Achebe's intuition in this matter is wrong. We have also asserted that his logics are additionally woolly and rigged. But let us provisionally grant Achebe is correct and cool on this. And now Nigeria has found in practice an Achebe style and dreamed of, for a leader. At this juncture we would not allow for buyer's remorse. So it is to be assumed that Buhari is as he was sold. Ahiazuwa.
At this point, Achebe's thesis has to stand or fall on its ability to be made replicable and or checked against experiential and experimental results. Now the report card on a good leader as Achebe speculated or dreamed of is out. And the list of those signing and giving the report cards are the Buhari hand in gloves partners. Dele Momodu, Chief Bisi Akande are just two who have scored their Buhari a failure. So we stop with them to save reading time.
It may thus be said that with the Buhari experiment Achebe's leadership thesis has been debunked, falsified. And as happens in science - politics is one, perhaps that is why we say political science - a search for new paradigms is indicated. The old Achebean one, has failed him and his nation.
Yet, one is troubled. Despite the collapse of the Achebe leadership thesis, a list of new kids are about the block insisting that what they have come to offer is new leadership. My question is, are these men not con-men? Or is it that they have their minds diseased with their yearn for power and glory? So much so that they want to embark on a frigid path on the beefless myth it flows? Nigeria ronu. Ahiazuwa.


  1. Oguchi Nkwocha, MD., MScJanuary 21, 2018 at 11:42 AM

    When Achebe was still alive, and he penned the same nonsense about leadership being the problem with Nigeria in an OPED with New York Times (NYT) (I believe), a counter-opinion was sent to NYT and they refused to publish it. Before then, I had personally written to challenge him (any opportunity I got; granted, he might not have personally seen any of those responses) on his erroneous unshakeable assumption-turned-doctrine that the problem of Nigeria is a leadership problem.
    No! It's not a leadership problem. That's completely false.
    The problem with Nigeria is a structure problem.
    From day one; and as long as Nigeria exists in any form.
    The structure of Nigeria presents all the problems that Nigeria is suffering today. It is not about leadership, stupid: it is about structure.
    So, when you try to fit a square peg in a round hole and it does not work, don't make a thesis of how the problem is really with the operator's characteristic or quality.

    That's why I was so disappointed with Achebe, and wrote him so.

    It's structure, stupid, not leadership, when it comes to Nigeria.

    Oguchi Nkwocha, MD., MSc.
    Nwa Biafra
    A Biafran Citizen

    1. Mr Oguchi Nkwocha, you just displayed with arrogance your inability to decode satire when you see one. You didn't understand the point the writer was making at all. Next time, try and understand a piece very well before rushing to comment.


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