Chains and Brains (A Nation in Ruins)

This is one of the most thought-provoking declarations I have ever come across. I do not know who first uttered this consequential statement. It’s originprobablylieswithin the roots reggae community, the only place where I have encountered it.

It was popularized by the hard-hitting roots reggae artist, the late great Barry Brown who put out a track on this theme titled “Release the Chains.” This same phrase or a variant thereof was also used by the late great roots toaster, the poetical master of rhymes, I-Roy.

Its original racist meaning, I presume was intended as a plaint reflection on the post-slavery world order. Its meaning has since been stretched to reflect the global world order particularly the socio-economic conflict between the haves and the have-nots. The dichotomy between the under-privileged, frequently over-exploited working class and the privileged upper class who control the so-called Babylon system.

But I have a big problem with this statement. My concern is that it is irredeemably self-defeatist. If your exploiters are using their brains to exploit you, what stops you from using your own brains to counter them?Or at the very leastto resist theirbrain-powered exploitation? Or are you out-rightly conceding that you have inferior brains or worse still, no brains of your own? Why blame others for using their brains when you refuse or neglect to us yours?

Let us boil it down. The Chinese used their brains (as well as their hands) and are on the cusp (some say within 25 years) of emerging as the greatest economy on earth. The Indians used their brains (as well as their hands) and have lifted hundreds of millions of their people out of poverty.

Nigerians lulled into stupor by the curse of crude oil have failed to use either their brains or their hands, and now host the poverty capital of the entire world. What is worse, despite numerous ominous signs, improbable propaganda-wonders, and not so subtle warnings (from the driver himself as well as his wife no less), not a few Nigerians, educated and uneducated alike, rather than planning to disembark at the nearest scheduled stop, are willing to remain seated on the suicidal ‘next-level’a.k.a.‘titanic’ train or bus to perdition.

What do you do as a passenger rapidly approaching the next bus station, when the driver of the‘titanic’bus you are seated inside is driving recklessly and incompetently;constantly abuses certain passengers;cannot interpret traffic signs;chats incessantly with a cabal of mis-advisers seated beside him; sleeps on the steering wheel;does not check his mirrors; has no valid driver’s license; does not obey traffic laws;claims he is the best in the world; boasts that he is taking you to the next level, while advising you to fasten your seatbelts because the road ahead is very rough?

When you miraculously reach the next bus station in one piece, do you sit tight and claim that you have confidence in the driver, and faith in God?Or do you use your brains, tell yourself that enough is enough; thank God for leading you so far;praise God for givingyou sufficientsigns and warnings; promptly disembarkyourself from the titanic bus,and proceed to look for a better alternative to continue your journey?

This is the million-dollar question facing Nigerians as they approach the next bus station which the next General Elections of February 2019 represent. To all intents and purposes, it will be a gripping contest between the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

So far it has been a ding-dong affair, with the Atiku camp repeatedly pointing out the failings of the Buhari Administration and pleading with the populace to chase them out and the Buhari camp accusing Atiku’s PDP of being the architect of Nigeria’s woes which by their own admission the Buhari Administration has been unable to solve. It is clear to all that the Buhari camp is not campaigning because their principal lacks the stamina to conduct a vigorous field campaign or anything else besides. The Buhari camp is apparently banking on the Nigerian Police, Army and the anti-corruption agencies to rig themselves back into power.

Both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar are Fulani. But there are fundamental ideological differences between the two. Contrary to the progressive appellation of his APC, there is nothing progressive about President Buhari. He is parochial, archaic, nepotistic, feudalistic, divisive, unforgiving, ruthless, manipulate-able (by cronies), and incompetent.

He claims to be Mr. Integrity, but he does not see, hear or speak evil about cronies and relatives engaged in grand corruption. He is also the main arrowhead of the Fulani expansionism that has brought Nigeria to its knees. He is as guilty as hell for pseudo-patriotism and for conflating ethnic Fulani sub-nationalism of which he is a foremost champion with genuine Nigerian nationalism.

Under Buhari, Nigeria does not stand a chance in hell of escaping poverty but 100% chance of being mired in the quagmire of ‘next-level’ poverty. The reason is simple and is very clear for all who are willing to use their brains rather than their emotions. Buhari’s divisive sub-nationalism, parochialism and nepotism can never engender ‘collaborative-competition’ in the Nigerian economy. Without ‘collaborative’ competition as opposed to ‘cut-throat’ competition or worse still no competition at all, an impoverished nation can never escape from poverty.

His main challenger, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is not a saint and he has never projected himself to be one. A man who has wives from all the four corners of Nigeria and caters for all his wives apparently equitably can hardly be said to be unwise in the ways of the world. Unquestionably Atiku Abubakar comes across as an ambitious, or (as some including his former boss President Olusegun Obasanjo would say) over-ambitious person.

He has explained rather unconvincingly to many (including this writer) about how he made his humongous fortune. Atiku has probably maximized the benefits and exposure accruing from his past official positions to his future personal benefit. And that by itself is not a crime. You can make friends and potentially beneficial contacts for yourself while occupying an official position without breaking the law or defrauding the nation.

There are three different mentalities that people in government or public offices possess. The first Type A mentality regards public or government position as an opportunity to oppress, revenge or brutalize the public while blatantly (and illegally) helping their kinsmen and friends. Pure sadists, they use their positions not to enrich themselves it must be conceded, but to suppress others while pulling their ranks and connections.

People who possess such Type A mentalities invariably make many enemies for themselves while simultaneously not growing their pre-existing pool of friends. Out of office, they are confronted by shut doors from numerous enemies and are often of no further use to their pre-existing friends and family who typically shun them. President Buhari clearly has this Type A mentality.

The second Type B mentality regards public or government position as an opportunity to render service, patriotically, honestly, professionally and diligently. Type B public or civil servants, advice people how to conduct their affairs profitably within the confines of the law. By presenting a humane face while at the same time professionally discharging their duties and responsibilities, without demanding or receiving gratification, they win the respect of the public, make numerous friends for themselves and are good ambassadors of government.

After all the purpose of government is not to punish or impoverish the public but to foster their welfare. Out of office, people with this Type B mentality are met with open doors, warm smiles, helping hands as well as many opportunities.Give them a few years and if they are smart (which invariably they must be to have adopted this Type B mentality in the first place) they grow their seed capital into a humongous fortune.

The third Type C mentality, considers government or public office as an opportunity to make money for themselves pure and simple. They do their jobs well enough to avoid the sack, but fraudulently enough to enrich themselves. They receive illegal cuts, bribes and commissions. They defraud the government through kick-backs and unremitted earnings, the public through lack of oversight ofcontract violations, and users of government services by adopting a ‘pay-for-play’ attitude.

Fraudulent people with Type C mentality run the risk of being caught, prosecuted and disgraced. If they are lucky enough to retire from public positions uncaught, they leave office very rich, with many so-called friends and associates-in-fraud who are neverthelessnot obliged to further help them – after all they already got paid with considerable kickbacks while in office. Except they are very smart to multiply their fraudulent capital, give them a few years of living a lavish lifestyle, and most likely their fortune would have dwindled down to near zero and they would return to politics.

Contrary to Muhammadu Buhari who spent his active years in the military and subsequently in a military government as Head of State, and has a Type A mentality, Atiku Abubakar who spent his active years in the Nigerian Customs Service and subsequently in a civilian government as Vice-President, either has a Type B or a Type C mentality. It is also crystal clear that Atiku is a much smarter man than Buhari.

Ipso facto, you must be smart to have a Type B mentality in public service. You must also be smart to grow your capital without prosecution or criminal indictment if you retired with a Type C mentality in public service. Without criminal indictment and sustained judicial verdict which would confirm him as having a Type C mentality, I am ready to give Atiku Abubakar the benefit of the doubt and label him as someone who has a Type B mentality.

In every respect imaginableAtiku Abubakar is a more progressive man than Muhammadu Buhari can ever aspire to be. A man who reportedly organizes annual self-improvement seminars and symposia for his numerous family members is truly a foresighted man, who deserves respect and should be capable to lead Nigeria out of poverty.

If we consider Atiku Abubakar to be a fresh water lake whose ecosystem is constantly replenished by several fresh streams of ideas, Muhammadu Buhari sadly has proven to be a salt-lake, a completely landlocked body of water, which is never replenished and is therefore too saline to be potable.

When a soccer team is not performing well, it is the prerogative of the manager to rejig his team for success. If his contract expires without improvement in his team, it is the prerogative of his employers to sack him. President Buhari overwhelmingly merits the sack come February 2019.We may be marginalized by others, but we must never at any time marginalize our brainsviasacrifice at the altar of our emotions or sympathies.

That said, moving forwardsthe Nigerian Presidency is too powerful to be left intact. We ought to strip the Presidency of the powers to appoint the Inspector General of Police, the Chief Justice and other Judges of the Supreme Court as well as the Head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

If we fail to use our brains and appreciate the overriding necessity of limiting the powers of the Presidency as part of subsequent national restructuring, we run the risk of perennially remaining in chains imposed by successive occupants of the position of President and their respective cabals, for generations to come.

– THE END –

By
Anthony Chuka Konwea, PE
‘Dem remove the chains, but dem use us with their brains.’

This is one of the most thought-provoking declarations I have ever come across. I do not know who first uttered this consequential statement. It’s originprobablylieswithin the roots reggae community, the only place where I have encountered it.

It was popularized by the hard-hitting roots reggae artist, the late great Barry Brown who put out a track on this theme titled “Release the Chains.” This same phrase or a variant thereof was also used by the late great roots toaster, the poetical master of rhymes, I-Roy.

Its original racist meaning, I presume was intended as a plaint reflection on the post-slavery world order. Its meaning has since been stretched to reflect the global world order particularly the socio-economic conflict between the haves and the have-nots. The dichotomy between the under-privileged, frequently over-exploited working class and the privileged upper class who control the so-called Babylon system.

But I have a big problem with this statement. My concern is that it is irredeemably self-defeatist. If your exploiters are using their brains to exploit you, what stops you from using your own brains to counter them?Or at the very leastto resist theirbrain-powered exploitation? Or are you out-rightly conceding that you have inferior brains or worse still, no brains of your own? Why blame others for using their brains when you refuse or neglect to us yours?

Let us boil it down. The Chinese used their brains (as well as their hands) and are on the cusp (some say within 25 years) of emerging as the greatest economy on earth. The Indians used their brains (as well as their hands) and have lifted hundreds of millions of their people out of poverty.

Nigerians lulled into stupor by the curse of crude oil have failed to use either their brains or their hands, and now host the poverty capital of the entire world. What is worse, despite numerous ominous signs, improbable propaganda-wonders, and not so subtle warnings (from the driver himself as well as his wife no less), not a few Nigerians, educated and uneducated alike, rather than planning to disembark at the nearest scheduled stop, are willing to remain seated on the suicidal ‘next-level’a.k.a.‘titanic’ train or bus to perdition.

What do you do as a passenger rapidly approaching the next bus station, when the driver of the‘titanic’bus you are seated inside is driving recklessly and incompetently;constantly abuses certain passengers;cannot interpret traffic signs;chats incessantly with a cabal of mis-advisers seated beside him; sleeps on the steering wheel;does not check his mirrors; has no valid driver’s license; does not obey traffic laws;claims he is the best in the world; boasts that he is taking you to the next level, while advising you to fasten your seatbelts because the road ahead is very rough?

When you miraculously reach the next bus station in one piece, do you sit tight and claim that you have confidence in the driver, and faith in God?Or do you use your brains, tell yourself that enough is enough; thank God for leading you so far;praise God for givingyou sufficientsigns and warnings; promptly disembarkyourself from the titanic bus,and proceed to look for a better alternative to continue your journey?

This is the million-dollar question facing Nigerians as they approach the next bus station which the next General Elections of February 2019 represent. To all intents and purposes, it will be a gripping contest between the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

So far it has been a ding-dong affair, with the Atiku camp repeatedly pointing out the failings of the Buhari Administration and pleading with the populace to chase them out and the Buhari camp accusing Atiku’s PDP of being the architect of Nigeria’s woes which by their own admission the Buhari Administration has been unable to solve. It is clear to all that the Buhari camp is not campaigning because their principal lacks the stamina to conduct a vigorous field campaign or anything else besides. The Buhari camp is apparently banking on the Nigerian Police, Army and the anti-corruption agencies to rig themselves back into power.

Both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar are Fulani. But there are fundamental ideological differences between the two. Contrary to the progressive appellation of his APC, there is nothing progressive about President Buhari. He is parochial, archaic, nepotistic, feudalistic, divisive, unforgiving, ruthless, manipulate-able (by cronies), and incompetent.

He claims to be Mr. Integrity, but he does not see, hear or speak evil about cronies and relatives engaged in grand corruption. He is also the main arrowhead of the Fulani expansionism that has brought Nigeria to its knees. He is as guilty as hell for pseudo-patriotism and for conflating ethnic Fulani sub-nationalism of which he is a foremost champion with genuine Nigerian nationalism.

Under Buhari, Nigeria does not stand a chance in hell of escaping poverty but 100% chance of being mired in the quagmire of ‘next-level’ poverty. The reason is simple and is very clear for all who are willing to use their brains rather than their emotions. Buhari’s divisive sub-nationalism, parochialism and nepotism can never engender ‘collaborative-competition’ in the Nigerian economy. Without ‘collaborative’ competition as opposed to ‘cut-throat’ competition or worse still no competition at all, an impoverished nation can never escape from poverty.

His main challenger, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is not a saint and he has never projected himself to be one. A man who has wives from all the four corners of Nigeria and caters for all his wives apparently equitably can hardly be said to be unwise in the ways of the world. Unquestionably Atiku Abubakar comes across as an ambitious, or (as some including his former boss President Olusegun Obasanjo would say) over-ambitious person.

He has explained rather unconvincingly to many (including this writer) about how he made his humongous fortune. Atiku has probably maximized the benefits and exposure accruing from his past official positions to his future personal benefit. And that by itself is not a crime. You can make friends and potentially beneficial contacts for yourself while occupying an official position without breaking the law or defrauding the nation.

There are three different mentalities that people in government or public offices possess. The first Type A mentality regards public or government position as an opportunity to oppress, revenge or brutalize the public while blatantly (and illegally) helping their kinsmen and friends. Pure sadists, they use their positions not to enrich themselves it must be conceded, but to suppress others while pulling their ranks and connections.

People who possess such Type A mentalities invariably make many enemies for themselves while simultaneously not growing their pre-existing pool of friends. Out of office, they are confronted by shut doors from numerous enemies and are often of no further use to their pre-existing friends and family who typically shun them. President Buhari clearly has this Type A mentality.

The second Type B mentality regards public or government position as an opportunity to render service, patriotically, honestly, professionally and diligently. Type B public or civil servants, advice people how to conduct their affairs profitably within the confines of the law. By presenting a humane face while at the same time professionally discharging their duties and responsibilities, without demanding or receiving gratification, they win the respect of the public, make numerous friends for themselves and are good ambassadors of government.

After all the purpose of government is not to punish or impoverish the public but to foster their welfare. Out of office, people with this Type B mentality are met with open doors, warm smiles, helping hands as well as many opportunities.Give them a few years and if they are smart (which invariably they must be to have adopted this Type B mentality in the first place) they grow their seed capital into a humongous fortune.

The third Type C mentality, considers government or public office as an opportunity to make money for themselves pure and simple. They do their jobs well enough to avoid the sack, but fraudulently enough to enrich themselves. They receive illegal cuts, bribes and commissions. They defraud the government through kick-backs and unremitted earnings, the public through lack of oversight ofcontract violations, and users of government services by adopting a ‘pay-for-play’ attitude.

Fraudulent people with Type C mentality run the risk of being caught, prosecuted and disgraced. If they are lucky enough to retire from public positions uncaught, they leave office very rich, with many so-called friends and associates-in-fraud who are neverthelessnot obliged to further help them – after all they already got paid with considerable kickbacks while in office. Except they are very smart to multiply their fraudulent capital, give them a few years of living a lavish lifestyle, and most likely their fortune would have dwindled down to near zero and they would return to politics.

Contrary to Muhammadu Buhari who spent his active years in the military and subsequently in a military government as Head of State, and has a Type A mentality, Atiku Abubakar who spent his active years in the Nigerian Customs Service and subsequently in a civilian government as Vice-President, either has a Type B or a Type C mentality. It is also crystal clear that Atiku is a much smarter man than Buhari.

Ipso facto, you must be smart to have a Type B mentality in public service. You must also be smart to grow your capital without prosecution or criminal indictment if you retired with a Type C mentality in public service. Without criminal indictment and sustained judicial verdict which would confirm him as having a Type C mentality, I am ready to give Atiku Abubakar the benefit of the doubt and label him as someone who has a Type B mentality.

In every respect imaginableAtiku Abubakar is a more progressive man than Muhammadu Buhari can ever aspire to be. A man who reportedly organizes annual self-improvement seminars and symposia for his numerous family members is truly a foresighted man, who deserves respect and should be capable to lead Nigeria out of poverty.

If we consider Atiku Abubakar to be a fresh water lake whose ecosystem is constantly replenished by several fresh streams of ideas, Muhammadu Buhari sadly has proven to be a salt-lake, a completely landlocked body of water, which is never replenished and is therefore too saline to be potable.

When a soccer team is not performing well, it is the prerogative of the manager to rejig his team for success. If his contract expires without improvement in his team, it is the prerogative of his employers to sack him. President Buhari overwhelmingly merits the sack come February 2019.We may be marginalized by others, but we must never at any time marginalize our brainsviasacrifice at the altar of our emotions or sympathies.

That said, moving forwardsthe Nigerian Presidency is too powerful to be left intact. We ought to strip the Presidency of the powers to appoint the Inspector General of Police, the Chief Justice and other Judges of the Supreme Court as well as the Head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

If we fail to use our brains and appreciate the overriding necessity of limiting the powers of the Presidency as part of subsequent national restructuring, we run the risk of perennially remaining in chains imposed by successive occupants of the position of President and their respective cabals, for generations to come.

Anthony Chuka Konwea, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, MNSE, FNIStructE, MNICE.

Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Dr Anthony Chuka Konwea, PE and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”

en

SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)

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