University Professors Undoing The Nigerian Mind

Excerpt from The University-Media Complex

As Nigeria’s Foremost Amusement Chain

Chapter Three

Tanzania

For ships are national emissaries and outlying territory, and they behave as such – so long as their nations are not at war. But Denmark and the Netherlands will not be. They are small, reasonable countries, dispensed of heroic historicity, whilst others have at bottom nothing else in their heads but war.

—Thomas Mann.

Habitat is destiny.

—Mother A’Endu.

Let us consider the inertial and dynamic demographics of our sample populations, Tanzania and Nigeria.

At the eye-level investigations, Tanzania and Nigeria have been “rightly classified” as enduring similar population samples and percentiles by the two representative professors. Apparently, these two population samples of Tanzania and Nigeria have a multitude of ethnic population variations and numbers. As is often said, the devil is in the details. What then is the exact population distribution of Tanzania and Nigeria? What are the lessons if any?

They are as follows.

Tanzania

According to the African Studies Centre,

More than 120 ethnic groups are represented in Tanzania. Each of these groups differs, to varying degrees, from other groups in culture, social organization, and language. Only the smallest groups are homogeneous, however. Most groups are characterised by some internal variation in language and culture. The largest ethnic group, the Sukuma, represents nearly 13% of the total population; the remaining large groups represent under 5% each. Ethnicity continues to reflect geographic area. During colonial rule, administrative subdivisions had often been drawn along ethnic lines; this situation has continued after independence despite the government’s genuine efforts to downplay ethnic considerations. Less than 1% of Tanzania’s population is made up of non-Africans, including Europeans, Asians, and Arabs.

The arithmetic goes like this: the potential or default hegemon is the Sukuma, but they are far from being there. Weighing in at only 13%, they need a shopping alliance of a minimum of ten other ethnic nationalities to hit at a 50% ruling coalition.

Now it is known that the number of relationships and thus complexities in numbers and dynamic assets like persons or group of persons multiply geometrically even as the numbers add on arithmetically. That is, it is not ten times more complex to have an alliance of parties A and B than an alliance of Party A and ten other satellite parties. The ensuing complexities may run on a power series: that is, the alliance and management thereof of Party A and ten other parties might jump to become fifty times more complex. Building and running alliance with a plethora of forces can be unprofitably messy. And things get worse because the excluded or enemy formations would act to sabotage the said alliance.

Such an alliance of innumerable players would demand of the lead agent or party that it possess the skills of a political Messi or an Okocha if it is to top the league.

Since such Messi-like skills are rare in football and even rarer in politics, it may be practically impossible to play smart or even to start. One is thus consigned or forced to play wise. In other words, the arithmetic of alliance is implausible, and the more takers you need for the alliance numbers, the more unbearable the marginal deficit-costs per each new alliance partner.

This huge cost deficit is often exhibited in hung parliaments. The cost of shopping for minor parties into the alliance as to form a government is often at a premium. This may be called the last-mile majority vote premium.

The issue is often nakedly illustrated in business. For example, the experience of a French billionaire tells the story more clearly. Here the first controlling threshold share is the costliest. Shares from 1-50% are sold at a given rate, but to buy 50 + 1% [controlling] shares may cost you 51% times more. It is an open demand. The interesting point, which is not stated in the narrative below, is that after the possession of the controlling equity, that is 50 + 1% shares, the rate of buying and selling shares stabilises or perhaps even declines. We shall cull up a real life example from Connor O’Cleary.

Arnault flew from Paris to New York, and on June 13 presented Millstein with a formal proposal – to buy a majority holding in DFS based on a capital value of at least $4 billion, or a minority holding based on a valuation of $3.5 billion.

That is to say, it costs $500 million more to own majority holding, because it is the last share that tips you to being a majority shareholder with controlling votes. Cost of cementing political alliances run along similar logics.

If we returned to a case study like Tanzania, the following may be said. With her biggest ethnic population percentile weighing in at 13, Tanzania can be said to be hub-free. If we are benevolent, we may say that amounts to a stub-hub. This is because it has issues of accumulating percentiles and alliances of percentiles to form a ruling or controlling coalition. The fact of this forces her – the Sukuma – to be other percentile or ethnic neutral. It is nothing idiopathic in Tanzanians and or Tanzanian political leaders: it is a matter of function driven by better default designs or “a priori” designs. It is a classic illustration of ulo wu chi, habitat is destiny.

The great point is that given a typical population, say of Americans, Europeans, or Africans, the trends of their competitive behaviours and/or the natures of their societies will vary according to their spatial and other assets distributions. Little is the matter what these assets are, or what are taken to be assets. They could be height, colour, ethnics, or incomes. That is, while the numbers of the distributions and percentiles are important, they are inertial. What is important is the dynamics or the nature of those distributions.

Do they come with a hub? Are they hubless? Are they cursed or blessed with competitor hubs? These questions are more important than mere inertial numbers of ethnics or other assets.

University Professors Undoing The Nigerian Mind

Man, we are told, is Homo Sapiens or the wise human; and wisdom comes from knowledge of self and environment. Gasset the Spanish thinker puts it brilliantly.

I am I and my circumstance: and, if I do not save it, I do not save myself.

Therefore, a key task in our being wise and our being Sapiens is in our measuring out and gathering intelligence about our environments, including our own beings. That is the only way to save ourselves and our environment. The intelligence gathered will set the limits of what we can do or not do.

Often times, these intelligences are not formally gathered, and because of this we tend to neglect its potency or roles in our decisions. However, they are there and are the bedrock of what we often chose to do or not do. Thus, most Tanzanian peoples not excluding their leaders would consciously or reflexively scan through their composited environments. Instinctively or studiedly, the results of their intelligences would set limits to what is possible or doable. For them, the signals are clear and sharp, and there are no margins for self-deception or false hopes. Their percentiles are too “boxed in” for any one of the tribes to entertain any imperial projections or be deluded by any low hanging temptations.

Therefore, to save themselves, the Tanzanian leaders have to save their environment or habitat, because habitat is genius, survival, and growth. Thus, it is naïve to think that the Tanzanians are a special genus.

Nigeria

(The relevant data from World Atlas are as follows)

Largest Ethnic Groups In Nigeria

Rank           Ethnic Group   Share of Nigerian Population

1     Hausa   25.1%

2     Yoruba 21.0%

3     Igbo     18.0%

4     Ijaw      10.0%

5     Kanuri  4.0%

6     Fulani   3.9%

7     Ibibio   3.5%

8     Tiv      2.5%

*     Other Groups   12%

Let us assume that just as Tanzania, Nigeria has hundreds of ethnic groups. Is that all the data mining we can extract? Is that all the refinement, the cutting, and polishing of the data grains we can beneficiate? The answer is no.

Just the distribution of the ethnic populations will tell that the two situations are dynamically unrelated and thus cannot be contra-distinguished, besides their being inertial equals.

Perhaps a graphic illustration would help give a visual impact that we can no longer deny, but before we get to the graphs let us state the following for the records.

What we can thus say is that the Nigerian scholar is far less, far deficient than he should have been; what we can say is that the Nigerian scholar has shown incapacity with dynamic deconstructions or appreciations of living forces. Theirs is a diagnostic incapacity or deficiency that leads a Lumumba, [an honorary Nigerian], and an Odinkalu, [to give two examples], into errors of taxonomy and/or unfounded conspiracy theories: so, they rank the Tanzanian potentates better human beings than their Nigerian political counterparts. The point is that countries come with natural resources, some self-evident, some not, yet the fact of this is often not properly taken into consideration by Nigerian and African scholars. [Perhaps it is due to their failure to be worthy pupils of Confucius.]

Following are graphical representations of the Nigerian, Tanzanian and South African ethnics percentiles and the representations of the population distributions of Nigeria if she was like Tanzania, and Tanzania if her population distribution was like Nigeria’s.

***

The dynamical fact of the Nigerian situation is essentially this. The Hausa-Fulani are practically one ethnic bloc, at least in socio-historical and political terms. Before colonial government, the two had extensive interactions sharing one dominant religion, Islam. The low hanging temptation is as follows. If the Hausa-Fulani shopped for only one other of the two big ethnics, the Igbo or the Yoruba, that coalition will procure a 50% plus, that is a ruling, electoral possession, and they have any of the two other “sub-hub” groups to pick and choose from. That is to say that the mathematics of collusion and alliances for the Hausa-Fulani is simply arithmetical, not geometric, complex, or Tanzanian, if you wished.

To repeat, our leaders are not in a similar situation or league with their counterparts in Tanzania. If the Tanzanian situation or its equivalent happened in Nigeria, similar leadership responses would have been forced on the Nigerian counter-factual leaders. The point is that while the two schools of potentates may possess similar inertial assets, their dynamic equities are violently variant. Just like the apple fruit, a low hanging temptation, ruined Adam and Eve in the biblical myth, the Nigerian big three, being human all too human, being Adamic, are not spared the same tragic fate. To save them from themselves it is vital the extant Nigerian political architecture and habitat be re/constructed into something entirely new. The newness will come in the form of making all temptations, from apple fruits to gunboat coalitions, to recede. They are to recede from being low hanging temptations, to the highest removes, to out of horizons temptations. It is this constructional genius – of removing the low hanging to beyond the horizons temptations, not our concerned or bleeding hearts – that will give Nigerians and Nigeria the leaderships they need even if they do not deserve it. You cannot deserve what you do not have a genius for.

Hence, the ready functionality of Hausa-Fulani and any other major ethnic alliance almost self-suggests itself. In other words, the prompt to seek hegemony is like the proverbial low hanging fruits, or better temptations. It is on the reach, all you need do is to stretch your arms and grab your fill, your greed.

Theoretically, the other two groups – Igbo and Yoruba – can also achieve a similar alliance. The fact of this complicates the war and makes it internecine. That is, no good leadership assets can be thrown up by the framework of the dynamical relationships that afflict Nigeria. Leaders are products of the forces at work not the men at play.

The implication is that the Nigerian nation is thus always in the throes of near misses, never-achieving stability. That is no one faction is or will in the projectable future be able to coalesce a ruling hegemony for developmental solutions. All you will be having is the current disruptive suspensions, of the big three and the satellite ethnics.

The important point is that so long as man remains human, even if not Sapiens that is wise, he would be driven by the logic of being led by his stomach or his immediate hungers, his low hanging temptations. That is, he would be more disposed to gorge on low hanging fruits than make out time for sustainable farming; and the Nigerian is a man whether he be the leader or the led.

Famously, he would be driven by his short-term or stomach infrastructure obsessions. The only way he can come out of this is via being Sapiens [via being wise], and wisdom is the forte of Buddha not Caesar. This fact is supremely important: man as a Homo Sapiens – that is as a history-making beast – happened because of Cognitive Revolution according to Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens. The task and fact of this Cognitive Revolution and its advancement unto today is that of Buddha not Caesar.

The implication of this is that in the event of a default inhospitable habitat or landscape a la Nigeria, not Tanzania, it is Buddha [the scholar], not Caesar, or the potentate, that can save himself and his nation. This fact is important, and especially so for Nigeria, because simply put, no Nigerian leader, Caesar, Caligula, or Midas can save himself or the nation. The problems must be returned to whence it may be discerned [by Buddha]. It is only after the problems are deconstructed and approaches defined that a Caesar may find a role. Buddha must precede Caesar or you have a monster or Caligula, whatever his good intentions; and the fact of the leader as Caligula is a Nigerian all too Nigerian fare. Our dynamical relationships decree that our leaders come in the guise of monsters, as Caligula.

This order of Buddha predating Caesar for civilisation to ensue is self-evident in all History. For instance, Alan Cromer takes a historical look in Uncommon Sense and says:

Just as the founding spirit of Greek civilisation was the poet Homer, that of China was the scholar Confucius…. Born in 551 BC, ninety years before Socrates…

To summarise on this order-dependency law, Professor Cromer’s record are historically correct and evidentially. However, the greater point is that if these historical evidences are taken interpretatively, we will come to the knowledge that that historical order he has established is a necessary and organic order. [The reverse of that order cannot hold.] That is to use the example of the Greeks, Pericles could not have preceded Homer; if he did, he would have been a monster. This in a sense is the Nigerian tragedy of Achebe and gang’s will to upend the order of logic and nature with men with leaderships. To give a caveat, the use of China and Greek are demonstrative. The two are index civilisations and no other civilisations may have shown greater fecundity. Anyway, the same style order is repeated by all other enduring civilisations.

In another example, the necessity of this order-dependency theory is observed universally as history or as gathered facts. In Sapiens for instance, the same observations are made but without affirming it as a necessary order. Harari is not an organic chronologist in the matter, so he takes it as it comes. However, an interpretative and chronological order investigation of his data and assertions makes the stated Buddha to Caesar, and not the reverse order, an iron lore of history and existence.

Harari writes:

The first to overcome the problem were the ancient Sumerians…. As the number of inhabitants grew, so did the amount of information required to coordinate their affairs. Between the years 13500 BC and 3000 BC, some unknown Sumerian geniuses [read Buddhas] invented a system of storing and processing information outside their brains, one that was custom-built to handle large amounts of mathematical data. The Sumerians thereby released their social order from the limitations of the human brain, opening the way for the appearance of cities, kingdoms and empires. The data-processing system invented by the Sumerians is called ‘writing’.

The active ingredient is that unknown Sumerian geniuses [read Buddha] had to invent scriptures [here writings] that allowed the invention of cities, kingdoms, and empires, and thus Caesars. Buddha must be the father and or senior brother of Caesar for civilisation to endure or even to be founded. This is an iron lore. You break it to your own imperilment.

To put it in a more fundamental form, the organic historical law is this. Anytime we, as persons or communities, need to ascend higher or migrate up, heavenwards, we need Buddha and never a Caesar, first. A Caesar as thug or politician may come next but never before Buddha his lord, guide, and saviour.

Furthermore, the fact of this organicity is important. The hidden point is that we are in economic doldrums not because we lack leaders or because we lack Caesars. We are in economic doldrums because we lack Buddha. Or put this way: we have not had the incidence of a Caesar who comes after the footfalls of Buddha. And the Buddha to Caesar path [not the reverse] is the only order to development.

The point of this is further important, because the rap that the problem with Nigeria is leadership has it provenance from London, New York and Tokyo, not Lagos. We claim no historical evidence for this conjecture, but logic suggests that it is the others who the story that what we lack are leaders and these others are our imperialist and colonialist masters, etc.

One can conjecture that imperialist masters in encountering folks as smart as Achebe will quickly come to the surface levels conclusions that all we lack were leaders. That is these imperial masters will be running on the logic that it is their higher duty to found the gods we will worship, the frameworks over which we shall live out our lives its. Moreover, ours is to dub and copy, not to contribute, or innovate in the founding of TOEs and gods and religions.

This point of view is reinforced by this fact. An Achebe or any honest Nigerian scholar would have known that for one thousand years and more, some of these peoples they point at as their peers – Indians and the Chinese for instance – have been authoring books as great as Things Fall Apart. For instance, Confucius’ Analects was published hundreds of years before Christ, and is still in many publishers lists [and Analects is just one of several].

Now being successful in life as in business is a key instruction of great books, including Things Fall Apart. For instance, Business Insider ran a feature titled “10 Novels That Will Make You Smarter About Business,” and Things Fall Apart made the list.

That is to say, that one becomes better at business by studying Things Fall Apart, which is one of our earliest generation books. It was published only in 1958. Contrast this position of our bookish credit and grace with those of Indians and Chinese who have been authoring books in the class of Things Fall Apart for thousands of years, and books are a vital sign of our being Sapiens. That means that we have never been in the same league with them, whatever else appearances suggest.

So why would an Achebe, himself an author of some of the world’s greatest books, not admit to the extraordinary powers and resources inherent and extractable from the bookshelves of the wise? Could it be that Achebe was asserting that great books are of no moments to the development of nations and humanity? [It is a very unlikely conjecture to attribute to a master creative mind.] If Achebe ever thought that way, one would doubt Achebe would have spent his life scribbling away much that amounts to naught. Jean-Paul Sartre, an Achebe class writer, for instance puts it personally:

If Literature [by which we understand he means thinking and art] is not everything, it is not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble [emphasis ours].

If in searching for truth, a people produced enough or a variety of Buddha the fact of it will of its own generate the Caesar. A Caesar or an Ashoka is at best, the material form given to Buddha or the ideas of Buddha.

That is to say, that political and power conspiracy comes easy to us not because we are us. It comes easy to us because of our numbers and their distributions, because we as a group or as Nigeria were so created by the British. [Perhaps, they did it absentmindedly.]

The tragic link is that we are not yet discerning enough to see our given population distributions as a specific endowment one way or the other. We do not mean discernment in the ways of the parrot, but in the ways of Buddha. If we were, these ostensible problems and deficits of ethnicity etc. would have been designed away or converted into concrete credits. That is, we would as brilliant architects have turned our impossible political and population power landscapes into power building and constructional cornerstones. This discernment cannot come from Caesar. If it is to come, it must from Buddha or it never does.

Let us investigate this matter of endowments a little more. The value dynamism of our population distribution can be taken as being similar to the fact of Japan being an earthquake prone zone. It is an endowment, perhaps a not too positive endowment but endowment all the same. Whichever it is, positive, not too positive, etc., any and all endowments may change due to several issues, and there is nothing specific in this as regards earthquakes. Nations also get desertified and lose their land or their watery natural resources. It is about living forces – that is, as is and perhaps likely to be given a measurable future.

Endowments are shifting or changing assets or values. It does not suggest any specific guilt of the Japanese peoples. It is just a mere happenstance or an act of nature. [Nature endowed it so.] The point is that we have to forsake conspiracy theories and brace up to the task of understanding our environments and ourselves.

In History, there have been many examples of so-called negative endowments that turned out pretty positive and even empire saving. There is the famous Russian winter. Twice what makes Russia seem godforsaken became the endowment that helped save Russia from being enslaved by the Napoleonic French and the Nazi Germans.

A military historian has put it this way:

[Napoleon] loses points, of course, for invading Russia. He fell victim to one of the classic blunders: never get involved in a land war in Asia. The Russians had lost enough battles to him, and simply retreated deeper and deeper into Russia, praying for Generals January and February, which arrived as timely as ever, and froze Napoleon in his tracks. The Russians burned absolutely everything in his path, including Moscow, and an army of some 600,000 men [maybe 690,000] needs a lot of food, especially for its horses. Only 180,000 made it back to France. Hitler deserves lowest mention on a list of the worst military strategists for attempting the very same invasion 200 years later.

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