Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Threading the dark side of power in Tomoloju’s Mujemuje

By Anote Ajeluorou

Acquiring and retaining power is sometimes a cartelised equation where certain people with common interest pool resources together to achieve their goal. And so in parts of the world associations like the Freemasons and the likes operate. But in Africa, reputedly the dark continent, such power cartel seems entrenched and operates with sinister outcomes. It is such that power is not only measured in financial strength of individuals in such associations, but in their involvement in occult participation and other forms of evil operations that come with disastrous consequences both for the individual and society at large.
  This is what forms the crux of one of Ben Tomoloju’s plays, Mujemuje (literally meaning ‘catch and eat’) performed last December at University of Lagos as part of his 60th birthday celebration. A brick factory located in Akpaitako town threatens the very existence of the town. Chief Alowole Ayeruagba has major stakes in the factory and has two hirelings, Osi, a native of Akpaitako and Equator, as armed killers who do his dirty jobs. In the expansionist drive of the factory, Akpaitako town has to be relocated; this pitches the town against the factory owners, as they confront the bulldozers sent to flatten the town.
  But Osi is at cross-roads; it was the factory’s coming to town that aborted his educational ambition when his school had to make way for the factory and his parents couldn’t afford to send to a school far away. Now, he is working for the same man, who again is determined to sack his town for his factory’s expansion. It’s clear Osi has taken enough beating from one man; he is willing  to abandon his duty post to the evil that Ayeruagba represents. He convinces his fellow henchman, Equator to see reason with him and turn a new leaf, but they had to be discreet about it less their evil boss turns on them.
  Ayeruagba was a poor railway security official who could barely make ends meet. Even at that, he was ready to add Abebe as wife to the one he already had and one child, Tolani in spite of Abebe’s pregnancy for another man at the time, a man who left for studies abroad and so abandoned Abebe to care for the pregnancy. This was the time Ayeruagba accidentally runs into his old school mate, Babajo, a man who has moved up the ladder of life; he has his hands in all juicy pies in the economy. For old school mates’ sakes, Babajo is willing to help his friend, Ayeruagba. They promise to meet at a rendezvous in the dead of night. Ayeruagba doesn’t know it is to be his initiation into the Supreme Council of Patrons, a deadly occult group. So begins the evil fellowship that would consume Ayeruagba.
  For starters, Ayeruagba has to forfeit use of his manhood, as sacrifice for the financial wealth the cult would grant him. It’s an irreversible decision, and he has no say in the matter. Accepting to attend the meeting which intent he knew nothing about is enough consent to abide by whatever rules obtain.
  As the ragging battle for the soul of Akpaitako town escalates between the brick factory and the inhabitants, things come to a head among members of the Supreme Council of Patrons. They begin to trade accusations among themselves; it becomes clear how they illegally claim sections of the economy with their supernatural powers; how they eliminate their opponents and create mayhem just to protect their vested interests.
  As is usual in such cases, it’s time for Ayeruagba to make his own sacrifice to the deity of their evil association by donating his most valued blood relation. In fact, the deity knows its prize already; it picks Ayeruagba’s only child and newly graduated Tolani, a first class! Ayeruagba is stunned and protests wildly, but to no avail. The deity has made its choice of victim for all the wealth Ayeruagba has gained from associating with it. It’s double loss to Ayeruagba; it is the same occult deity that rendered him impotent on becoming a member years back. Now, the same deity is bent on consuming his only daughter since Wese, the child Abebe bore in his home isn’t exactly his. It’s at this moment of crisis that Wese’s father turns up to claim his son. But Wese chases him away for abandoning the woman (his mother) he impregnated…
  Ayeruagba is at his wits’ end as his world spirals downhill, with protests ragging and threatening his factory and the life of his only child and daughter hanging in the balance. On the night the deity is to take Tolani, Ayeruagba decides to keep vigil and arms himself with a cutlass. But just before a member of his evil group comes in, he falls asleep. Tolani is taken away to sate the appetite of a bloodthirsty deity. When Ayeruagba discovers the calamity, he commits suicide. But meanwhile, Equator and Osi had joined forces with the protesters of Akpaitako to stop the demolition of the town. In their watch they stumble on the Supreme Council of Patron’s meeting and chase them away. They also stumble on Tolani about to be killed, and rescue her.
  Tomoloju’s play is apt in this political season. Politicians and businessmen and women of all shades who court extra, supernatural powers to advance their ambitions imperil not only themselves but the entire society. In their quest to own the whole world and lord it over their fellows, they enter into all sorts of shady associations that eventually require human blood sacrifice. Ayeruagba’s example is instructive. He loses his manhood just to gain wealth. With two wives and abundant wealth, what is a man without his manhood? What is money without the human essence? The only daughter he manages to beget becomes the choice blood vine for the god he chooses to serve in exchange for his soul and wealth. His cry of protest against the deity’s decision to take his daughter is pitiable and laughable, as it often happens to such sub-humans who fall for such pettiness to gain power and wealth.
  Will man ever learn not to ensnare himself for the ephemeral acquisitions as power and wealth that ultimately haunt him all his life? It’s at the heart of the matter, and Tomoloju has given a slice of what it takes when man chases power and wealth at all costs.
  Students of Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, performed the Mujemuje.

Jonathan best suited to found a modern Nigeria

Jimanze EgoAlowes is an uncommon scholar. His two books, Minority Competitive Overloads and Corruption in Africa: Resolution through New Diagnosis come with innovative thinking that will shock many a Nigerian academic out of their laziness or lethargy. In this interview with ANOTE AJELUOROU, EgoAlowes faults certain ways of thinking and Nigeria’s power architecture, with its G2 of North and South-West feeling of power entitlement, and says President Goodluckc Jonathan is the best man suited to reposition the country since, as a minority, he can’t but be fair to all parties concerned

Sir, your book faults existing scholarship on corruption blamed solely on leadership. What exactly is wrong with it?
  What is really missing is that we have as a people, as scholars refused to look at the problems with our own eyes. Rather than be scholars, we seem to prefer to be congregants, to be believers. Scholarship, we all seem to forget, is not religious affirmation or service. That is, scholarship should never turn from inquiry into belief. And it doesn’t matter whose authorities we are called upon to believe.
  The matter, one may remark, is not just on corruption. As far I know, one is yet to see a Nigerian social scientist innovate the legacy knowledge upon which he is trained. Our scholars seem to be curators, librarians, and not liberators and founders of new knowledge. That singly is why and how the Nigerian system, including leadership, is not well and running.

What is metropolitan social architecture of development that marginal scholars like ours are failing to understand about America’s power make up?
  It is also generic. Most Nigerian scholars read and interpret American history as if it has a one to one correspondence with Nigerian existence. To give an example, are the states in terms of equality of senate seats in America the equivalent of our own states? The answer is no. But that is another matter, which needs full discussion. There have been no attempts or capacities to translate or convert one metropolitan experience into another into our local equivalent.
  The point is that even history written in English by Americans or whoever else, of other lands, need to be ‘converted’ into Nigerian or other local terms to make meaning and be of any utility. This is the concept of para-history we developed in our earlier work, Minorities as Competitive Overlords. And there is the necessity to see world history for what it is. It is an epic. It is a continuum. To copy, you have to advance it. That capacity to advance history is the minimum club fee one pays to be admitted, to participate and partake in civilization.
  The example of America wears well. When Americans founded their republic, the idea was to produce a superior Europe, to innovate old Europe. And this was despite the fact that old Europe was the greatest human society of the time. Despite this, American founding fathers wanted more than Europe, and were thus driven to innovate it. It is not in vain that America was called the New World. What we should aim to be is the Next New World, as it were. In fact, you may inherit a civilization only by advancing it.

In the light of the above, how can you explain the claim in your book that Jonathan is the cleanest or corrupt-free president?
  First of all, let us state the following. The book is a piece of serious research. By the time we invented the ‘brace and constitutive taxonomy or categories’, there was no President Jonathan. President Jonathan is a collateral, not consequential, beneficiary of our research. The point is that we had invented a model of Nigerian development and Jonathan came up to meet us, to tailor-fit it.
  Summarily and for the interest of readers, ‘brace’ is the category and peculiarities of minorities at play in composite-sizes players’ environment. First of all, who President Jonathan is has to be understood. Jonathan is a product of the ‘brace’ not ‘constitutive’ category. Thus Jonathan is the only minority man outside Gen. Yakubu Gowon who ruled this country. Perhaps, readers need to see our full explanation of this in the book.
  So, technically, Jonathan as a brace player can only exist by being the least corrupt, the most transparent and the most inclusive. Jonathan, in real terms, is a Gowon at his glory, but with the mandate of votes, not guns. Yet the similarities ring bells. Why? It is because it is forces and not men that are at play. A minority brace man in guns and a minority man with votes are in a composite power environment tackling the same power distribution and architecture problems.
  Now, our tragedy as a people is that we refuse to move on or be moved by scholarship. If we took inspiration from science, especially medicine, we will come to the following revelation. It is certainly clear that as diagnostic instruments and methodologies improve, the causes and natures of our illnesses are most precisely tracked and napped.
  Immediately one sharpens his diagnostic tools upon corruption, he comes to the conclusion like we have demonstrated with the research, that corruption is a power not persons function. So power, its gathering and dispersal and distribution architectures, is the basic unit of society. And man is a political animal. And politics is the pursuit and husbanding of power. And corruption happens in the texture and nature of that power, how it is distributed and architected.
  That is what explains why Gowon, despite being a dictator and Jonathan a democrat suffer, the same siege. And as we established in our book, the corruption ranking and index of the nations follows its net power architectures and power dispersal densities, net densities.
  Immediately this is understood, now of all Nigerian presidents, it is only President Jonathan that has, in fact, has to grant the delegates their powers. He was bound to. He is a brace player. That is Jonathan as a brace power player has returned the powers to the peoples to so architect as they deem fit.
  Of all the constitutional conferences, it is on record it is President Jonathan’s that is the most free, without any hidden agenda.
  Now, if a people out of their own free will created their own constitution, they will defend it because it is their creation and have a power stake in it
  Corruption ensues because Nigerians have been humiliated to live by constitutions manufactured by colonial powers, either as alien colonial invaders or as internal colonizers and coup makers. The last end up authoring constitutions, how we will live our lives.
  So, citizens live as aliens in their state and have no sense of stake-holding or belonging in it. To correct this error of construction, all manners of laws, agencies are created. Of course, they all fail. To have a Nigeria corruption-free is not the job of EFCC, ICPC. Those are structures and processes that come in after the act. The genius is to erect a power structure that pre-eliminates or prevents the act. At that point, corruption becomes superfluous and cannot even happen, or will only happen minimally.
  Jonathan is the only man that has taken that step in all earnestness to help found a modern Nigeria. A Nigeria made in Nigeria and by Nigerians. Every other Nigeria, no matter how well intentioned that is otherwise made, by guns or by armed political robbers will remain and necessarily, a den of corruption.

What is Nigeria’s two Security Council status and Jonathan’s purported regency postulation
  In a recent interview Sun, 10-01-15, Ekwueme said the Igbo have been studiedly minoritized, gerrymandered out of being a majority power bloc. The point is that after the civil war, elements of the victorious allies of the north and the southwest re-architected Nigeria in such a manner that the whole became a tributary of the part, the exclusive Security Council G2 club, of themselves.
  The implication of this is that a non-Security Council Nigeria G2 member-citizen is designed out of the power structure. Later, elements in the north interpreted this to mean that federal power was their exclusive preserve and dismissed the southwest from greatness. That was what led to June 12. With the resolution, the southwest was, it appeared, grudgingly re/admitted into the line of imperial/presidency power and succession.
  But history or fate blindsided us. And Jonathan happened. And Jonathan, a non-G2 member-citizen, was considered at best a regent, but generally as a usurper. And they just wanted him out. So, all kinds of false and fictional allegations and machinations, including insurgency wars, were fabricated to wrong-foot him. Let cull an example we used in the book. Obasanjo woke up and accused Jonathan of running the most partisan government ever. Of course, the accusation was false. In fact, Jonathan has more than any other leader run Nigeria’s most inclusive government. His only competitor is Gowon, bringing us to the brace realty again.
  However, the matter is this. Yar A’dua ascertainably ran the most partisan administration. And Major Abubakar Umar said so with illustrations. Meanwhile, Obasanjo never had the ‘liver’ to accuse YarA’dua.
  The question is why? And the answer is that it was a concession he made to YarA’dua, who happens to be a G2 Security Council member-citizen. So when you see some elements in the north say, ‘we want to take our power back’, it is a G2 translation of the Obansajo siege upon Jonathan. And we have warned this nation, justice is more important than nationhood. We are better off with justice and no nation, than otherwise.

And why is Jonathan the most demonised president?
  It is a power war. His guilt is he is a minority and not an heir to power as configured by the G2 elements. They want him out like they once wanted Gowon out. It is important to note that Obasanjo was involved as instigator and or beneficiary in both the anti-Gowon and anti-Jonathan sagas.

Between Jonathan and Buhari, who can best apply your power architecture theory to reposition Nigeria for the great nation it aspires to be?
  Buhari has a perception problem. May be it has to do with his eyesight or something else. But the point has to be made that if Buhari sees corruption he won’t even know. Buhari’s understanding of corruption is completely antiquated. The very act of concentrating power in one hand at the centre is of itself corruption and or an engenderer of corruption. Corruption issues from a power concentration, not persons at play function. Corruption has nothing or minimally nothing to do with persons; corruption has to do with how power is gathered, distributed and dispersed and architected in a society.
  There is no man who, in gathering and congregating power, that cannot be overwhelmed by that power and thus corruption. All Buhari, as all dictators do, is to ‘innocently’ aggregate the powers of a god, which is what dictatorship is, in a human hand. In not being gods, they necessarily turn up monsters. That is, the very act of being a military leader is corruption and or an engenderer of corruption. Libya, North Korea are classic examples of total corruption driven by ‘near divine’ powers.
  Jonathan, as a brace power player, is the man to architect Nigeria. Brace players suffer deficits that make them best arbiters in power and value architectures, in composite competitive environments.

In what ways would Fela have campaigned for and voted Jonathan as president as you postulate?
  Fela is, if understood, Nigeria’s greatest philosopher. Fela is an originary or axial philosopher. Fela’s ideas, to quote Jasper, a German philosopher, are ideas in statu nascendi, complete in themselves but offering or full of possibilities of development.
  Fela’s central thesis is that he was and is a Gutenberg of Nigerian, and nay African, development. Gutenberg was the German inventor (of printing machine) who literally invented modernity. He made mass learning feasible. That is, in a word, the empowerment of all. That is all Fela did. We give examples. Fela was an aristocrat. But to reach the millions, he chose pidgin English. Fela ferociously and at personal risks fought all forms of exclusion, even where he was to gain otherwise. When he sang of ‘army arrangement, paddy paddy government we dey’ he was fighting political and existential exclusion. He bought Mercedes and used it to carry firewood, just to belittle snobbishness and give hope to the millions.
  Now, if Fela sensed that Jonathan is being persecuted for being born a minority, he will walk the barricades, play his sax, fighting for the minority man, the brace player. Fela saw Africa, the black man, not Yoruba, not minority. So to Fela, Jonathan is not really Ijaw, but a black man. And that is, he needed to be Nigerian, so why discriminate him, why conflict him?
  The G2 want Jonathan dead, politically, for one reason - he is not like them. It is important to note that the G2 is a virulent tendency within a certain but powerful minority of the north and southwest. Their agenda is to keep Nigeria in perpetual state of war and be calling for a unifier; that is themselves!


The G2 want Jonathan dead, politically, for one reason - he is not like them. It is important to note that the G2 is a virulent tendency within a certain but powerful minority of the north and southwest. Their agenda is to keep Nigeria in perpetual state of war and be calling for a unifier; that is themselves!

How wrong power architecture engenders corruption in Nigeria, Africa

By Anote Ajeluorou

It’s an understatement to say Nigeria, Africa and third world countries are thrashing under the throes of corruption. And several scholars and laymen and women alike have proposed several reasons and remedies for fighting corruption. Even draconian laws have often been enacted and outright executions carried out yet the malaise remains to plague society. Every successive government campaign focuses on eradicating society of the menace, but all to no avail.
  But a scholar, not the university type always on the look out for political appointment, has come up with an ingenuous diagnosis of corruption and how to tame it. But Jimanze EgoAlowes isn’t your regular university scholar, but in his diagnosis he challenges conventional wisdom about corruption in his new book Corruption in Africa: Resolution through New Diagnosis (The Stone Press, Lagos; 2014).
  EgoAlowes goes as far as challenging Chinua Achebe in his proposition that the problem with Nigeria is leadership. EgoAlowes not only faults Achebe’s submission, he gives reasons for such faulty analysis as rooted in poor understanding of society’s foundational make up.
  “So why are people corrupt? What is it that centrally defines and fuels corruption?... Or are Nigerians innately more corrupt than other nationals, say Americans or Japanese?” he asks. He then submits, “Our contention is that corruption is wholly and entirely power, not a function of persons or countries. A people are corrupt or corruption-free to the extent, depth, spread in which power is architected and allocated in a society”.
  Startlingly, EgoAlowes further argues that the problem of corruption is not in persons but a subversion of system and the way power is configured in any given society to alienate the majority who now try to undermine it by willful acts of sabotage. According to the author, “It is not persons that corrupt; it is the system that co-opt (sic) or precipitously pushes persons, largely innocent otherwise, into corruption. And this co-option is based on the nature, texture and distribution of power in a given society and little else, if any other thing at all.
  “So, if you want a corruption free society, worry less about persons, about saints, ogres or monsters, and worry more about the way of architecting the system and allocating power. Corruption is the system; it is the power system. Get that correct and you have cleansed and purified the system… And how do we distribute and allocate power?”
  EgoAlowes further argues that it is power and not man or morality that fuels corruption. He gives several instances of such power grab that denies other citizens a fare share or participation in the process of development. As he notes, “So, concentrated power, by its own logic, engenders corruption. And this is not just corruption by kings… but also by the alienated who naturally seek to reverse their impotence and alienation… Plainly put, no man steals, takes, gives or eats bribes against his own estate or interests… It is a power architecture that excludes you from the ownership of any part of the national estate or realms”.
  EgoAlowes gives instance of Nigeria’s poor power configuration where the governor of a state is decided from Abuja and the will of the people of that state undermined.
  But more centrally is his proposition that scholars, who ought to know, have abdicated their stellar positions and allowed leaders to take the shine. He blames scholars for not being far-sighted enough to think through the corruption conundrum so as to come up with solutions for it. Merely blaming leadership for it, he opines, is fruitless. The central thesis of EgoAlowes is that there should be new thinking to develop new paradigms for reconfiguring a desired Nigerian society.
  For the author, Nigeria’s democracy modelled after the one America practices is wrong-footed, as Nigeria’s power architecture or configuration is no way close to that of America. He argues, “Nigeria is built and architected as a unitary power centre; so it cannot be made democratic as its administrative levels except you call in angels to run shop. To upturn this entrenched power architecture must be the central goal of any progressive president if we’re are to develop as a community…
  “…Unlike United States of America, nobody may say that Obama has to approve of the party primaries in Texas or just about any state before a ticket is won. America is built from ground up. We have in copying America chosen to erect an America from roof down. And in vain we expect it to stand. America is a federation of states, but a confederation of powers, of individuals. This is important. You can’t just copy the form without the internal logic…
  “So, if Nigeria is to be corruption-free… the thing to do is to envision a new architecture of power and achieve it…”
  EgoAlowes concedes that perhaps the only person who has successfully devolved power to achieve success is the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. Immense strides have been recorded in that sector.
  According to the author, while power is concentrated in a few strong men in Nigeria, it is the reverse in America, saying, “How that power is gathered and architected to have the greatest powers granted the greatest numbers, not just the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers, is what makes a country, is what makes an America, the greatest powers on earth”.
  EgoAlowes states that merely copying America’s system the way Nigeria did by mere aping without taking into account the internal logic of how America works is fruitless. He states that America, which ought to copy Europe did not at inception; rather, it shunned its kingly courts with their inherent corruption and made every man equal, with equal amount of power unto himself. Nigeria, he contends, must therefore transcend copying America and re-envision a new Nigeria for development to occur.
  It is in this project of re-envisioning a new Nigeria that EgoAlowes holds Nigerians scholars responsible for a poorly configure country. He can’t understand why thinkers believe the man in Aso Rock is superior to them and why they servilely pay homage to him when it should be the other way round, noting, “the president’s task is to brace things. The people are the constitutive ends of making America a great nation.
  “And the tragedy is that the Nigerian scholar still imagines that drama and pomp of public office is in any way superior to the solitariness and earth-moving insights scholars can mine from solitude. Little wonder they are all abandoning the faculty and emptying themselves into government houses… And if this lesson of the scholar as the superior of Caesar is lost, then the whole purpose of education is gone”.
  He further argues that the market place rather than government house or houses are centres of power competition for the best to shine. Among the arguments EgoAlowes deflates are the need for strong institutions, which he says result in cartelization like Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), which he says are centres of monopoly and corruption. America does not have such contraption for lawyers as cartels copied from Britain’s Queen’s Counsel (QC).
  EgoAlowes submits, “Corruption is the corrosion of the strength of systems. It is the creeping in of instabilities. That is the genius behind American second amendment. It is power scattered stupid. And the giving and scattering of powers breed and grow yet more innate and inherent powers in constituent citizenry”.
  Corruption in Africa: Resolution through New Diagnosis is scholarship at its best. EgoAlowes has delivered a book every Nigerian desiring a reimagined society should read and implement. Clearly, Nigeria has copied the wrong America; this book is a starting point in re-envisioning a new Nigeria. This book should be have been solid reading texts for members of the National Conference. Indeed, every lawmaker and those in Aso Rock and government houses across the country would do well to read it for the punchy insight it delivers.