Thursday, June 1, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - RELUCTANT TO VENTURE OUT‹Re: prof'column

Ayo,  Most politicians and entourage (which in this instance includes wife) are subjects who fall within the remit of Lasswell and Merriam's, Psychopathology & Politics; a study which many on this List will know all about. One of the featured areas relating to the fragile psyches of many politicians, is, they point out, the need for deference (in the instances they're talking about, very great need for deference); and the devastation caused by "withdrawal" of this deference when the politician concerned is caused to withdraw from politics. It would seem Her Excellency, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has indeed a great need for deference. Tis fortunate Rev Taiwo has good friends. What, one wonders, will be the effect on the highly-tuned sensitivity/ ego of Her Excellency when her husband, departs Office—which at some point he will? Will she need institutional treatment? Knowing just a little bit of the Nigeria character and temperament, I would suggest this to be highly unlikely. Mme may well get on just fine on the strength of her own  initiative and engagements. There may be also a continuing aggregation of admirers, who will ensure Mme Ambode retains high profile in the cha-cha-cha meedja—rather like the glorious Opral Benson (wife of the suave/ handsome man-about-town and Federal Govt Minister, TOS Benson) kept the Society meedja of the late 1950s and early 60s enraptured with her fabulous outfits—featuring particularly her magnificent headresses; and this long after TOS had departed Office. 

Anyway, given brickbats wielded by politicians (and in this instance, wife); and your recent past column dealing with tactical skills relating to politicians in electoral combat; and the high emphasis on exploiting the often rich field of ad hominems and varied forms of behaviour/ mis-behaviour; I am caused to reflect on the shortly forthcoming Brit National elections, and in these final pre-elections stages, the resort of both the lead figures, Mrs May (Conservative Leader) and Mr Corbyn (Labour Leader), to personal assaults of varied rhetorical gravity. 

When I started to set down a few thoughts—seeking some parallels/ relevance with Africa elections; and the brickbats I well remember—I found myself ranging round in waters shallow, and of greater depth and extent. But I finally made it back to shore. 

There may be a few thoughts in what follows that bear reflection/ may be of interest. Tis perhaps useful/ informative sometimes to bring in issues and perspectives from foreign/ external contexts that may cause us to re-adjust our reflective considerations and perceptions. 

They follow below. 

Best,  Baba m




We have a UK National Election on Thurs. 
Today through the letterbox, came two Election Flyers. 
One from the Lib-Dems; the other from the Green Party. (See Attached items)
No sign of Conservative or Labour literature so far. 

I looked em over. 

So where is the reach of issue and interest that marks the increasingly inclusive world of today? Where is the commitment to the still-urgent need to level up Education provision and standards in all regions and countries worldwide? Where is the focus on unified World Economic needs—the simple matter of working from rudimentary food, industrial and business requirements; the base platforms for practical attainments and living requirements? Where is the imperative of terminating the Arms Trade, and deploying funds saved in the vital imperatives of Infrastructural needs—electricity/ water/ drainage/ roads/ rail/ air transport particularly? Where is the agreed will to forge new and fully available Health centres and facilities? Where are the mandatory initiatives to meet the Migrant Demand—a huge demand we in the West have greatly stimulated by the "good life" alluringly projected through our Western meedja? Where are the initiatives by us in the homelands of Migrants; initiatives seeking to aid countries concerned in enhancing opportunities to provide Youth with the challenges they so greatly need, and that can ensure release and utilisation of latent gifts/ skills/ genius amongst indigenous folk concerned? Where is the will to make reparations to peoples and communities of the Middle East, upon whom in the last 30 years we have brought vast killing of largely innocent folk/ devastation of lands/ destruction of the often delicate co-operative structures of religion/ culture and communal life? Where is the commitment to withdraw from the nightmare of Syria/ to cease the continuing assault on lands and folk there?

In fact where is the commitment of any of the UK National Parties to extend their attention to ANY issue that extends in any committed and serious way to our brothers and sisters by their billions who live beyond the shores of Fortress Britain? 

Tis virtually a blank space.


What we find is hammer and tongs assault, one party on another, re:  Minor shifts (trumpeted as huge) on Policies concerning:  Health/ Education/ Employment/ Housing/ Gender Issues/ Economic Adjustments/ Climate; and not much more. 

Indeed, there is little basic difference to what we hear at election time in most Africa countries—except that in Nigeria and other countries, the latter issues hardly draw mention. Certainly the vigorous engagements of "character assassination" as May and Corbyn currently tangle, have a very familiar ring. Though it must be said, neither has claimed to carry forward the Vanguard and Mantra of the Madiba. But there's time yet. 

The only difference? 

As the perceptive and realistic Prof Remi Sonaiya, 2015 Presidential Candidate, observed at one point, prior to the Nigeria elections:  'Well, we all may share basic problems. But there is a difference. Developed/ Western countries have in place their institutions and infrastructures. And these support fulfilment to a very large segment of their populations, advanced services/ support/  a welfare cushion where needed/ and opportunities in all areas; that in the majority of Africa countries a serious start has hardly been made." …To which might be added:  if our oligarchs and rulers have their way, obstruction and increasing stagnation—with all the stupidities, waste, dangers and death these reinforce—will simply grow. Progressive impoverishment of the 98ers of Africa is what our Western cha-cha-cha of "Deevelopment and Deemocracy" has brought to these our amazing/ wondrous/ imaginative/ caring/ long-suffering/ immensely courageous/ communal, but largely abandoned and benighted folk. It is more than a tragedy. It is obscene. 

Sadly, the Rulers/ oligarchs of our "developed countries", as clearly demonstrated in these pre-election political postures/ cacophony, merely confirm that we remain a very long way from gaining the leadership that can ease us away from our condition of "savage infancy" that has characterised our behaviour/ cemented in our beliefs/ attitudes and structures/ institutions of life and living, since the advent of our Social Group Living some 10,000 years ago. 

Cybernetics, with its ww reach, is opening up many paths. 
But our meedja says little about this. 

People ARE moving beyond National/ cultural/ religious boundaries; and at exponential rates. But of course our rulers/ oligarchs are increasingly active in their efforts to shut down these new avenues which emphasise  "we are all one". Leaders in these Cyber fields of advance are labelled by rulers/ oligarchs/ and their meedja friends, "enemies of the state"—though they are careful to narrow their targeted individuals, and not to shout too loud. Their "crime" of course, is having the audacity to tell us the truth—which must be suppressed/ not be permitted to reach common ears on any account. Darkness goes back of course not merely to the long history of often criminal mis-behaviour of our rulers/ oligarchs; but to the entrenched institutions of politics and law that have  long provided validity and cover. However, times, they are a'changin'. 


So in Brit? Little different in form and engagement from Nigeria and other Africa elections. Little attention to real issues to which the vast majority of electors/ folk so greatly wish to direct the engagement of Government. Much attention to constructed issues that can bring little if any serious change in the directions sought by each country's 98ers. It is all an immensely complex and costly exercise to argue with much shouting and posturing, whether specific policies and objectives should be shifted the width of a cigarette paper, from right to left/ or left to right. 

But then, of course this is always what it has been about. Oligarchs, from the days of Divine Right/ Kings/ Queens/ Obas/ Chiefs; all have depended on us ordinary folk being urged/ coaxed down the tramlines of various forms of "participant governance". The result? The original Pyramid of Power remains steep/ the number of the Exclusive at the Top remains small—some say, in this modern day, even smaller that in centuries past—albeit with a broadening of the middle section of the pyramid. 

And so, on Thursday, 8 June, we are urged to do our patriotic duty to go to the polls and exercise our franchise. A franchise offering a set of policy options; all of which seek earnestly to cllng to that vital central ground. Each suggesting much. But in fact offering little, if anything. All have been set by a combination of tradition and continued bargaining between the few who set these parameters; the various elements of the Political Class. 

The overall success of this system is of course that it serves to ensure we all remain within our boxes—tis 400 years since there was serious disagreement and Civil War. But shift was short-lived. Cromwell and his Parliamentarians were duly to learn that Brit folk had imbibed heavily, and for too long, the ethics of Kingship; that the inner momentum of Feudalism in modern form was part of their preferred fabric of life; and hence they chose to revert to the path of Restored Kingship, with all the inequities/ suppression/ waste associated with it restored; a condition from which only in the past 60 years has the ordinary Brit started to break free. And even then, with difficulty. The imprint is branded deep. 

Politics:  The art of the Possible? Indeed, true. But it all depends on who sets the parameters. And in Brit whether these relate mainly to inward-turned "Fortress Brit" mentality; or whether perhaps there is recognition of modern folk with broader cyber-horizons that clearly indicate that a very sizeable proportion live in a world of mind/ heart and issue, far beyond Fortress Brit?  

So long as the reinforced deference to tradition and its institutions remain embedded, then so long will Brit elections—like all elections of our modern world/ developed and developing—be a matter of engaging in the ritual of anachronism. The major objective of elections, as these days formulated and conducted, is that of providing a vehicle for validation and legitimacy through the ww Mantra of Deemocracy of the latest variant of oligarchic/ Divine Rule. 

My vote? It is of course a secret. But tis possible I shall cast my ballot for Mr Jerrey, our Green Party candidate. (See Attached item) The reason? Simple. He tries to be an honest man; to speak up for "the Common Good". And to "Stand up for what matters".  His statement:  "I think politics should be about aiming for a better, brighter future. I want to represent you in Parliament so I can demand real action on issues that affect us all." …But what of all the urgent ww/ Wider World issues I raised at the start of this comment?  Well, tis possible to deduce support in principle. But not a word in his statement  takes us beyond the shores of Fortress Brit. …The current incumbent MP for our Mid Sussex constituency, Nicholas Soames, has not yet been heard from. But then he's virtually an automatic for re-election. This is a very Bright Blue Conservative South-East stronghold. …A bit like one of Chief Humphrey Omo-Osagie's well-organised Benin seats, where it was said, "You could name a dog 'john Brown' and it would be elected." 

So my problem remains. If none of the candidates touches on the issues that clearly are core to ordinary folk of this modern ww day we live in; who can I vote for? Maybe it would be more patriotic and honest NOT TO VOTE AT ALL? 

Baba m


From: Prof Ayo OLUKOTUN <>
Date: Thursday, 1 June 2017 16:06
To: Prof Ayo OLUKOTUN <>
Cc: Prof Toyin FALOLA <>, USA-AFRICA dialogue <>, Tunji Olaopa <>, 
Subject: Fw: prof'column

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
From: Ayo Olukotun <>
Sent: Thursday, 1 June 2017 12:01
Subject: prof'column

            AYO OLUKOTUN
For Governor Akinwumi Ambode, whom this writer has commended on previous occasions for edifying governance strides, the last fortnight was billed as a season for showcasing his achievements, and the continuing importance of Lagos.The opportunity of marking Lagos at fifty coincided with Ambode's mid-term report, and conversations around the prospect of Lagos mutating into a smart city, as well as a tourism and investment hub. Applause, most of it well earned, flowed freely from a grateful public for such interventions as enormous road construction in key parts of the city, the Light Lagos Project, and the renewal of Lagos State University after protracted turmoil.
Suddenly, there was a jarring, off key note in a melodious train, a shrill cry interrupted the songs of praise, a crisis of reputation and of image has suddenly erupted. The story has been well told, but it bears narration. The governor's wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, had attended an anointing service at the state owned Chapel of Christ the Light presided over by venerable Femi Taiwo, who was ministering on that fateful day, the 14th of May. Disappointed that she was not called first to be anointed, Bolanle reportedly stormed out of the church in a huff, defying all entreaties by church leaders to return to the service. Official sanctions fell swiftly and rapidly upon Taiwo, who was not only given a letter of sack, but was asked to vacate his official quarters within 24hours of receiving the letter. But for the compassionate intervention of some church members who offered Taiwo accommodation, the full brunt of homelessness and displacement would have fallen on him and his family.
Unsurprisingly, the social media was agog with spirited discussions and condemnations of official highhandedness, in which sanctions were far in excess of alleged offence. Alleged? Yes, because Bolanle had a choice, however angry she became, to have shown grace under pressure by staying the course, letting others get anointed before her, thereby demonstrating humility, a spiritual virtue, and earning kudos for identifying with the common folk. That, of course, was the road not taken, leading to the miasma which punctuated the jubilee celebrations and victory train of Ambode and Lagos State. Obviously, the so-called clearing of Bolanle by the Christian Association of Nigeria is beside the point, as it only affirms what is already well known, namely, that Ambode had the power to fire and hire the Chaplain. The issue in contention, however, is whether that power was exercised with due diligence, and in the context of the values of people oriented governance, championed by Ambode.The event raises several issues, some of which include power versus justice in an emerging democracy, the so called bottom power, governmentality, and the tradition of leadership ominipotence. Before developing the conversation further, this writer invites the readers to contemplate a short take. 
Prof. Adigun Agbaje, eminent political scientist it was, who broke the jolting news of the passing, last Monday, of Abubakar Momoh, well known political science professor, and civil society activist, who was the Director General of the Electoral Institute at the Independent National Electoral Commission. Aristocratic by birth, Momoh committed class suicide in Marxian parlance by devoting his scholarship and activism to the struggle for a redrawing of the social map, in favour of the oppressed and under privileged. Momoh and I were both senior academics at the Lagos State University, where he stayed on to become Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and a much sought after public intellectual and conference speaker. He was totally devoted to the academic calling, and had few other joys besides devouring the contents of a new book in his field, or doing a paper to sketch out the outlines of a paradigm shift, or preparing himself for the next conference, be it in Australia or the Phillipines. A compassionate man, he had no problem with sharing with the needy, the very last naira in his pocket, even if that meant depriving himself, temporarily, of safety net. He will be missed, and sorely too, but his lengthy publications and books will continuously index him as a remarkable scholar, who was never at home with rehearsing received knowledge without subjecting it to devastating scrutiny.
To return to the initial discourse, it is interesting to note that one of the fallouts of the harshly disciplinary action meted out to Taiwo is the instant reduction in the membership of the church. Many members had apparently voted with their feet by staying away from a set up, where the axe can be so thunderously wielded against a minister, who narrowly escaped being reduced to homelessness within 48hours. There are some who prefer to side step the issue, in the hope that a public with short memories, will soon move on to the next governance warp. Some even argue that Ambode's performance has been so stellar that we need not bother ourselves with the unusual exercise of state power. I differ from this position, for Ambode or indeed any public official cannot perform better, if all he hears are the sounds of oriki (traditional praise songs) from journalists, who have chosen to become the echo chambers of officialdom. Recall, for example, that the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in his Democracy Day Broadcast, mentioned that the Buhari administration is learning from its mistakes. This is a recognition of the fact that, contrary to the mindset of many Nigerian office holders, public officials are fallible, and those who point out their weaknesses, omissions or commissions are not enemies or traitors, but in many cases are offering public service.There is too much of the we versus them syndrome in our political conversations, which makes it difficult for office holders to learn from their critics. Ironically, they learn even less from media that merely chorus their good points, and never say even a word about what they haven't done so well.
If Taiwo had not been queried for any offence before this event, then there is a breach of due process in administering to him on this occasion the maximum sanctions possible, including his ejection from official quarters within 24hours. That apart, considering how difficult it is to find alternative accommodation in Lagos, nothing would have been lost if a decent interval had been given to him to vacate official quarters.A government which has pledged to alleviate the sufferings of citizens should not be seen to be promoting hardship or oppression, just because some are perceived as 'disrespecting' office holders. This action evokes the concept of the African state, discussed by scholars such as Achille Mbebe, which conceives it as threat and terror, rather than the protector of citizens. This may not have been the intention of Bolanle, but in over reacting to what should have been overlooked or played down, the matter veered in the direction of the autocratic exercise of power.
To redeem the situation, and to restore the visage of his achievements, Ambode should call back the chaplain, restore his official quarters as a demonstration of charity and fellow feeling, which appear to have been the defining characteristics of his two years in office, before the sad event

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