Dr. ashimuneze K. heanacho's piece brings to the fore cogent points regarding the issue of African development. The point is simple, public spaces, properties, and institutions are held to belong to no one, thus those who are powerful asserts their audacious prowess to grab... and grab. The issue with Nigeria today is not that people do not know what is right from what is wrong, in fact, the very identity of many of its spaces are painted by Churches, Temples, different Shrines and Oracles, such as the ones in Okija as well as Christian centers, where the rich and powerful throng yet they are lividly embedded in corrupt practices, and even often share their largesse with religious officials, soliciting their prayers for successful in more futuristic loot.
Thus, that is why, though Dr, Barnett in his response to Dr. Onyeani's chapter regarding African immigrant intellectuals, noted that for Africa to develop more should take to disciplines like Physics. Yes, that is good advice but even our trained physicists are running amok in trying to acquire the title of "Pastor." The "Paksitor" often holds a privilege place in addition to the PhDs. Well those who are less interested in becoming "Pakistor" end up having their cohort of malabouts. Even, almighty President, the Baba of Nigeria, the only wise man in the land is a "Pakistor" after Abacha's terror ordained him in Prison.
The very fabric of our religious consciousness as shown by Dr. heanacho regarding the use of religious idioms such as ancestral libations in ensuring the "disappearance" of public fund into private pockets for the use of community, acquisition of chieftaincy is something that need critical redress. The cogent issue is: how do we navigate the pavement of the forces of traditional matrix in attaining the assumed valuable positive-molded paradise of modernity (or do they call it post-modernity now) or 'Okada- modernity' (modernity on the move). How are Africans to do this? Voices, like those of Dr. heanacho within the African spaces are considered as those of a 'been-to' and are laughed at by those inhabiting those spaces, whose untiring busy-ness (business) is to make wealth at all costs. Roaming and panting many of these wealth-at-all-costs folks are even dying very early, not allowing their robust bodies some rest.
Corruption as a fact in many spaces in Africa is vetted as alright in so far as others within one's sphere share in the largesse. Thus, it is alright to decimate one polity to build another, especially one's hometown, which is the eternal home of the patrilineal ancestors. Once that is done, one can aspire to become a hero, often tagged as a Chief, with many "Kwenu" as appelations. Thus, Africans have transformed the very traditional basis of Chieftaincy and given it their nuanced modern claims and authority. Many chiefs parade the entire spatial sphere of Nigeria with terrible Macho looking gun-crazy bodyguards and sirens blowing all over the place like American fire trucks, though there is supposed to be an unrespected law against the practice of sirening and its cacophonic signatures.
Africans have to deal with many of the issues of corruption, and apart from the military, traditional rulers and clergies have enabled corruption through offering sanctuaries of one kind or another. It is amazing how in Nigeria today many retired Military officers, politicians, and highly placed civil servants and business executives are returning to their homelands saturating the arena of claimants to traditional rulership, not to talk of those who are draining the blood of many cows in suturing their grip on honorary chieftaincies. It is in this manner that even President Obasanjo interjected in the Chieftaincy battle of his native Abeokuta by projecting his own candidate, even to the point of his jailing an opposing Egba Chief who detested his arbitrary insult on their Egba tradition. So, why the interests?
It is within this consideration that I think that the points raised in the Minority report of the Political Bureau of 1987, regarding minimizing the power of these chiefs within the public domain, leaving their funding and sustenance to respective cultural communities must be debated once again. Many of these traditional institutions and personalities are parasitic on the system. It used to be that at least in the North they was an established House of Chiefs, that served as an advisory body in the old days of the regions, which kept them somewhat busy. Today, these institutions as a way of ensuring their own survival are devising diverse ways of trying to sell titles, laud different governments in power through solidarity visits and ensure they get some state patronage. Thus, while maintaining such cultural institutions is worthy we must look at ways of controlling for the social problematics such creates.
In all of these, while we talk about the G-8 as been essential in we must look inwards to examine the modes by which we can rise above the problems of our cultural environment to generate change and ensure the demise of poverty.
Another point that Dr. heanacho makes that needs introspection is, how is it today that someone like Umaru Dikko, crated for his corruption, has today become a saint now enthroned to move Nigeria forward in discussing issues of relevance at the ill-fated Obasanjo's National Conference. Or, people like Sunday Adewusi of the Kill-and-Go days, Ahmadu Ali, whose orders allowed soldiers to suck dry the blood of innocent students in the Ali-Must-Go student upheaveal? It is ironic to see folks like Dr. Joseph Wayas, who escaped from Nigeria in 1983 after the Buhari-Idiagbon coup, running away from Kirikiri and the payment of justice then, now strut around regally in the chambers of that conference. Yes, history is ironic, and history can reverse itself. Maybe, had Joseph Wayas not ran away his fate would have been like the Kirikiri detained who are now long demised - Ambrose Alli, Aper Aku, Barkin Zuwo, Bisi Onabanjo etc. Well, today, the reversal of history has enabled Wayas and Dikko to rub minds again. Bob Marley was surely right, "he who runs away lives to fight another day." Probably, even creating another environment for someone like Umaru Dikko to perfect his older plans of shipping more rice from Thailand and taking graft on import licenses. Also, maybe his crate might be sealed another day, who knows!