A. B. Assensoh, Indiana University
In Praise of "Alukoism"
Although Nigeria and Ghana now seems to be at each other's brotherly throats economically, several Ghanaians feel that the issues at stake are mere misunderstandings of regional cousins that will soon evaborate in the context of regional cooperation and unity; to many Nigerians and Ghanaians, it is like the loud and "bitter" noises that often followed soccer matches between Nigeria's Green Eagles and Ghana's Black Stars of old, the time when soccer was real football. A.B. Assensoh, a former Journalist in Nigeria, very much thinks remembers the old times with a lot of admiration and euphoria. Here, he writes to praise Professor Aluko (in USA/Africa Dialogue No. 1043) and, in a nutshell, also to pose a few questions that disturb him about Nigeria's $30 billion Paris Club debt.
When growing up, I and my many brothers and sisters (as my Dad, indeed, had 22 sons and 26 daughters from his six wives) used to attend large traditional and political rallies, at which notable citizens were as well as royal personages were carried in gold-plated royal stools and palanquines as signs of respect and opulence. That practice is not common these days but -- after perusing Professor Aluko's excellent "debt relief" declaration (similar but superior to to the "Ahiala Declaration" of the erstwhile "Biafra"; the "Aburi Declaration" of the Gowon-Ojukwu meeting in Ghana; and other Third World declarations), I feel that Nigerian leaders should bring a gold-plated stool (or a royal palanquine) to carry Brother 'Bolaji (Aluko) "shoulder high" to Abuja to help President Obasanjo's government and its economic experts. Indeed, many of us have unlimited praise for "Alukoism", as his brand of economic theorizing also includes answers to queries, problems and meaningful suggestions but not just criticisms of African leaders and nations. Therefore, long live "Alukoism."
Thank God that Nigeria's debt is not yet in trillions: or candidly, which will be bigger, millions or trillions? It is early in the morning, but I guess that trillion is larger than million! On the other hand, I want to confess that I sometimes find it difficult to remember how many zeroes that make a billion or a trillion. Therefore, I seriously wish to know (1) about the Paris Club accountant or financial expert that kept the annual debt figures, since Nigeria's independence in 1960, to arrive at the $30 billion Nigerian debt that is in negotiation now?; (2) that, apart from Nigeria suffering economic alienation and a measure of strangulation from the Paris Club, what will happen if Nigeria boldly decides to halt all negotiations in order to probe this huge debt to find out which specific aspects are tainted with corruption, malfeasance and possible financial exaggeration?; (3) is it because Nigeria reportedly earns so many millions of dollars per day from oil and gas revenues that is why the Paris Club did not cancel the country's external debts outright?; and (4) where does Nigeria stand now in her quest for a Security Council seat at the UN in view of what the country reportedly owes the very Club, whose members may have a lot to say (including using Veto Powers) when it comes to which African countries are deemed viable and bona fide enough to sit down to drink coffee as well as chit-chat with them? Like Brother 'Bolaji (Aluko), who rested his case in economic theorizing, I too rest my histo-political case for now, but I need some answers to share with my graduate students as they debate the "Bolaji Declaration" and other discussions!
P.S.: As I await answers to my feeble queries above, I also want to draw Dialogue readers' attention to a newly-published excellent book that has been edited by Professor Obioma ("Obi") Nnaemeka of the Indianapolis campus of Indiana University (IUPUI). This very useful and fascinating book is titled, "Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourse" (Praeger, 2005). The 288-page book has a powerful introduction (pages 3-18), in which Dr. Nnaemeka quoted an intelectual sister as underscoring the following: "Sister Obi, now that they have placed our toto on the curriculum, we have to defend it." (page 3). Please, find the time to read the Praeger book that is being reviewed soon in "African and Asian Studies Journal" of Leiden, The Netherlands.