Monday, April 4, 2016


The only good news I see coming out of the African continent this week is that there is enough reason to grant political independence to two African citizens and welcome them as the newest member states of the African Union.
Come with me and do the math as you come along.
In Ghana, we hear that somebody or some people stole $89 million of that country's oil revenue. Peanuts but not a bad beginning for a country taking her oil industry doggedly down the familiar path of her giant cousin's oil industry in the sub-region. For now, only New York-based Sahara Reporters has reported this case. With dedication and application, corruption figures in Ghana's oil sector should increase next year and approach levels that are worth reporting in traditional media in Nigeria.
In Liberia, we hear that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has upped her game. By appointing her sons to what we, in Nigeria, call "juicy positions", President Sirleaf had debunked the myth that only the continent's patriarch-presidents were capable of personalizing the state and turning it into an extension of your father's farm.
Reading the sexist scholarship of Africa's political scientists, you'd think that only the Dos Santoses, the Sassou Nguessos, the Yoweri Musevenis and the Teodoro Obiangs of this world were capable of personalizing the state for your children in Africa. Mama Johnson Sirleaf debunked that myth by appointing her son Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia.
Then she got bored on the state personalization front and has now outsourced Liberia's entire pre-primary and primary education system to an American company. What used to be a funny joke in cities across Africa that the continent should be returned voluntarily to the former colonizers for more competent management has suddenly become reality in Liberia. Well, Liberia was never really colonized. Maybe that is why President Sirleaf has decided to redress that historical anomaly by handing over the education of every Liberian child to an American capitalist company making a killing in Africa.
When France was designing the curriculum for children across Francophone Africa, the generation of Leopold Sedar Senghor went to school and were taught that they had no ancestors. They were taught that their ancestors were the proud Gauls who defied the savage Romans to pave the way for the emergence of France - the only European civilization worth talking about.
It took a lot of work and Negritude for kids across Africa's Francophonia to understand that they had ancestors like Lat Dior and Samory Toure and those ancestors were not the unworthy savages and heathens that they read about in the curriculum designed by France.
Now that Mama Sirleaf has decided to roll back the hand of the clock in Liberia, here is looking forward to future generations of Liberian kids raised in awe of their illustrious ancestors such as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Because the outsourcing of Liberia's pre-primary and primary education system has been announced as a public-private partnership, Liberia will pay $65 million to the company over the next five years.
God bless that American company for being so generous. If somebody was willing to pay me money to enslave them, I'd charge them more than $65 million to make them slaves of their own volition.
Then in South Africa, our brother, President Jacob Zuma, spent a cool $15 million of public funds to upgrade his private home. Remember, President Zuma had wanted to buy a pimped up presidential jet while raising school fees. Popular protests by ignorant South Africans who do not know that the Nigerian President keeps a harem of 11 palatial presidential jets prevented brother Zuma from acquiring his second jet. While South Africans protested the jet idea, Brother Zuma scurried behind their backs to upgrade his country home at public expense. He has now been publicly humiliated and asked to refund the money.
When I look at this continental round up of corruption figures (or waste in Liberia), I see $89 million in Ghana, $65 million in Liberia, and $15 million in South Africa.
The total in these three cases still falls way below the monthly haul of any serious individual player in Nigeria's corruption sector. The totality of the figures from Ghana, Liberia, and South Africa in the cited instances hasn't even come close to Dasuki or Badeh.
This is why I believe that where we have players in our corruption sector whose individual haul exceeds corruption figures from three African countries combined, we should grant political independence to such individuals instead of prosecuting them with our scarce resources.
Dasuki and Badeh - each of these guys has stolen enough to become an independent African state.
Once we start granting political independence to meritorious players in the Nigerian corruption sector, professional demonizers of Nigeria in the continent, such as Ghana and South Africa, will leave us alone and face their own gigantic corruption industries - which they ignore while badmouthing Nigeria.
God bless Africa.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


I gave up on the possibility of witnessing regular electricity in Nigeria in my lifetime four years ago. I had gone to spend some time with a friend of mine who is a very very big Oga at the top in the Federal government. A Nigerian big man with a NAFDAC number.

Nearly a week into my stay, NEPA had still not 'taken light'. Not once did it blink. His neighbourhood had constant electricity supply. At first, I thought, well, this is where the Ogas live in Abuja. This is their neighbourhood. Maybe the electricity people are saving their necks and jobs by keeping the light on here?

After a while, I decided that even if this were the case, one week of uninterrupted public electricity supply anywhere in Nigeria, even in Aso Rock, deserved commentary.

I told my host:

"Oga, you people are trying now o. The light has not blinked in this neighbourhood since I arrived o"

He smiled - the expansive smile of a member of the Nigerian ruling class whenever they think that they have caught one of their virulent critics in an aha moment! They love such moments with a critic who, in their estimation, never appreciates their efforts to fix Nigeria, who never gives them sufficient credit for what they are doing to "move Nigeria forward".

I can't recall his exact words - it is four years ago - but his delighted response went something like this:

"Prof, this is why we say that you people should be coming home regularly. You sit out there, always condemning Nigeria, believing that there is no improvement. So, you think that things are so bad that we still use noisy generators in this country? People now use soundproof generators."

He said it before he realized the folly and the bitter irony of his statement. It turned out that what I had thought was constant power supply was the work of soundproof Mikano generators working noiselessly 24/7 in every compound in the entire posh neighbourhood the whole time I had been there!

And here was one of the people who should be fixing Nigeria defining progress as the move by members of his class from noisy generators to noiseless soundproof generators. The next step in their definition of progress will be for Mikano to design generators that they can turn on and off with an app on their phone when the whole family is on vacation in Dubai.

When the power crisis started in Ghana and their power cuts rapidly approached Nigerian proportions, the people took massively to the streets, protesting "dumsor" (power cuts). I reassured my Ghanaian friends that they had two options to fix their problems:
  1. The Nigerian option - generators.
  2. The South African option - no generators, keep applying critical intelligence till you find a solution.

Yes, I told my Ghanaian friends that if they adopt Nigeria's option, they will never fix their electricity woes because there are no rehab clinics to fix a country's generator addiction. And the Nigerian elite are already defining progress not as improvement in public electricity supply but as improvement in the standard of generators! If you go the Nigerian route, I warned my Ghanaian friends, a generator cartel will emerge, a diesel cartel will emerge - and Ghana is finished!

The South Africans could not risk the folly of the Nigerians in their own approach to their electricity woes. You may blame them for having irresponsibly allowed the constant electricity supply that the Apartheid state handed over to them to become a post-Apartheid nightmare that has placed an uncomfortable question mark on the black man's ability to manage the infrastructure of modernity, but, at least, they have resisted the lure of generators and are applying critical intelligence to solving the problem.

The mental laziness of the Nigerian elite, which defines progress in the power sector as the provision of improved soundproof generators to the rich and mighty, creates a superstructure which suppresses the intelligence of anybody operating from Aso Rock and its environs.

The cliche says that if all you've got is a hammer, every problem will look like a nail. In the Nigerian power circles, solving the electricity problem means creating ease of access to soundproof generators; facilitating importation deals and mechanisms with Japan and China; etc. This is the world of political and economic symbolism in which Fashola and Femi Adesina now function.

Aso Rock runs on soundproof generators. For the first time in his life as an adult Nigerian, Femi Adesina is about to enjoy one year of uninterrupted electricity. And he does not hear the sound of the generators. You expect a man like that to still be capable of reason and common sense? That environment does things to the mind. That is why he can tell you to go and catch the vandals - forgetting that it is the responsibility of his boss to provide infrastructure for Nigeria and also secure the infrastructure. He forgets that Buhari and Arase should be the ones catching the vandals, not Nigerians. Exposure to one year of Mikano epistemology is what was talking to you, Nigerians, on Channels TV.

One year after I warned my Ghanaian friends against the Nigerian option, I returned to Accra. I noticed that practically every faculty on the campus of the University of Ghana had acquired gigantic soundproof Mikano generators. Even Departments were in a scramble for Mikanos. I couldn't believe how many Mikanos had been acquired on that campus in just one year.

I decided to tour the very posh neighbourhoods in Accra. Mikanos everywhere!

I shook my head in sadness. Apparently, the Ghanaians had shunned the South African approach to salvation and decided to stand in solidarity with their Nigerian cousins on the road to perdition...