Why Greatness Eludes Nigeria

O. A. Asemota

Mar 20, 2018

While contemplating the title of this article, two thoughts came to mind:
(1) What is the problem nature of the elusiveness of polity greatness? In other words, given that there are infinitely many existential problems, How should one specifically categorize the problem of the elusiveness of polity greatness?
(2) What is the historic and economic nature of the elusiveness of polity greatness? In other words, what role does history and economics play in the elusiveness of polity greatness?

Next, I was interested in some deep inputs. It occured to me to ask Peter Oye Sagay who has spent many years researching problem-categorization (in fact that is what tectechnics is about) and Iremisan Adegiga who is a history buff but majored and worked as an economist for many years. I have access to these two individuals who are deep thinkers but generally keep a low profile so asking them for inputs was easy. There is an adage that says: there is no need to go looking for a hoe for your farming, if you have excellent hoes at home.

Let us first remind ourselves that Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth with a multitude of talented citizens, is far from being a great polity despite a very promising beginning. For example, in the mid 1970s, Nigeria was rated at par with India, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia by the UN and its currency was strong (1 naira was about $1.55). We need not be-labour the point on the current state of affairs relative to the aforementioned nations. It is a fact that greatness eludes Nigeria.

My discussion with Peter Oye Sagay on thought (1):
O. A. Asemota: "Is it correct to say that the elusiveness of polity greatness is an existential problem?"
P. O. Sagay: "Yes. It is a P6 scenario. Simply stated, a grouping/interaction scenario. All of politics has P6 as the problem of interest. There are other Pj Problems at play. This is always the case in problem categorization. However, there is always a problem of interest in the array."
O. A. Asemota: "Now what solution should one be looking for in a P6 scenario?
P. O. Sagay: "compatibilty based on commonality of interest. This is the key. No group performs optimally, if its members are not compatible. Compatibility is interest based. The macro realm is a derivative of the quantum realm where everything is interest-based. For example, in covalent bonding, the bonding atoms are primarily interested in whether or not a mutual valence shell electron equilibrium is possible by sharing electrons and in ionic bonding the donor atom is interested in whether or not the donation of electrons helps it to realize its valence shell electron equilibrium. Ditto for the acceptor atom. These atoms that are the building blocks for all material things group by establishing compatibility based on common interests and as a result, they are able to form complex and efficient molecules. Now perfect compatibility may not always be possible due to variation in interests. However, there must be a minimum threshold of common interests inorder to establish the compatibility that can glue members of a group together."
O. A. Asemota: "Wow! this discussion is shorter than I expected. You arrived at the core of what I was looking for quickly. Thanks. "
P. O. Sagay: "Take care."

My discussion with Iremisan Adegiga on thought (2):
O. A. Asemota: "What role is history and economics playing in the lackluster state of Nigera?
I. Adegiga: " A lot. The initial reason for the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 was stated by Lord Harcourt the colonial master for whom PortHarcourt is named."
Lord Harcourt: “We have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the Treasury. The promising and well-conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and is about to effect an alliance with a Southern Lady of means. I have issued the special license and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruitful and the couple constant! The Nigerias are not designed to be a great Trust but a great Federation." (Lugard and the Amalgamation of Nigeria, pg.30).
I. Adegiga: "You can see from Lord Harcourt's statement that the amalgamation was initially based on selfish interest. The cost of upkeep of the North was becoming an unwanted burden on the British Treasury so the union was designed and implemented as a way out. The leaders of the First Republic tried unsuccessfully to implement a viable Federation. The military dictatorships that followed cemented the non-consentual union and the democracy that now exists is primarily a re-cycling of the military dictators in civilian agbadas. So, there has never been a serious attempt to discuss and implement a compatible union based on common interests.
O. A. Asemota: "Very nice historic summary. What about economics?"
I. Adegiga: "the economics is similar to the historic. It too started with the British economic self-centeredness whereby Nigeria was economically groomed to cater to the British economic needs through exports and expatriates. By the time the oil boom came, the military was in power. They established corruption among themselves like the country had never seen before and they succeeded in converting many civilians to political stealing and in planting the seed of corruption that blossomed without control. Economics is about an entity's income: source and expenditure. When the income of a polity is often stolen, little or no money is available for both short term and long term investments. The consequence is a lackluster state of existence. In fairness to the British and a few of the leaders that came after them, some investments were made. For example, the British made some investments in education like the establishment of colleges and universities, and Abuja and some infrastructures were built after them. However, the point being made here is that in the final analysis the accounting ledger is cumulatively a lot more red than black and there is both absolute and relative development lag as a nation."
O. A. Asemota: "Any advice for our leaders?

I. Adegiga: "Be statemen always and political thieves never."
O. A. Asemota: "Thank you very much."

I. Adegiga: "My pleasure."

There is not much I can add to this article after my discussion with these two friends other than to note that the Federation that Lord Harcourt envisioned has not materialized. However, there is hope because healthy living requires that hope be kept alive. Discussions of why the realization of the great potential of Nigeria continues to be elusive have been going on for decades. Criticisms, analyses, suggestions and opinions have been in abundant supply over the years. Yet the country lags relative to other nations. What is clear is that time is running out for the actualization of the Federation Lord Hardcourt envisioned and designed. When the time is up, the constancy of the non-consentual union arranged by Lord Harcourt et la will be no more. The bridegroom and the bride will then return to the households of their respective families.

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