Drs [Jonathan + Abati + Okonjo-Iweala] + Profs [Jega – Nnaji] = Intellectual Dullness
By Churchill Okonkwo
Intellectual laziness tends to be harder to spot and much easier to disguise with randomness eclipsed by high degree of entropy in Nigerian system. There is currently a pervasive intellectual laziness in policy formulation and implementation from supposed experts in President Jonathan’s administration. The culture of affirmation as opposed to challenge being displayed by the likes of Profs Jega, (Nnaji) and Drs Abati and Iweala is pretty disturbing and by some measures, offensive. Be it laziness or narcissism, there is little excuse for obviously well paid and well educated professionals to relax into tired inertia. They deceive themselves and those around them that Nigeria is being moved in the right direction by this administration. As a result, the future of Nigeria is being threatened by sloppy thinking as superstitious nonsense spread its tentacles.
Let’s start with Jega; since he took over as INEC chairman, no tangible change has been introduced to track and verify rigging of elections at all levels. While the increased competition at the state and national assembly elections ensured high turnout with party agents that refused to compromise, the low voter turnout at the presidential elections and the subsequent massive rigging exposed the total lack of any mechanism for preventing rigging. What this shows is that Jega is displaying a willful ignorance with regards to the evidence in the flawed 2011 presidential election. Jega’s unwillingness to challenge cherished acts of systematic rigging and come up with a simple measure that will ensure random verification of votes (using finger prints) during election tribunals is a display of intellectual dullness.
Other than ‘personal integrity’, what has Jega done differently from Iwu? Nothing! With all that money we spent on capturing fingerprints during registration you begin to wonder whether Jega and his team could not smartly come up with a mechanism to randomly match fingerprints from ballot papers with fingerprints from voters register and thus guard against rigging. What Prof. ABC Nwosu did with option A4 as imperfect as it was, was the smartest formula to free and fair election in Nigeria. Prof Jega is a scholar and should have known through research that the act of improving is by expanding or refining. As a professor of political science, all Jega needed to have done is to call for research proposal from the academia and policy analysts on how to improve on Option A4 or what he inherited from Iwu. Rather, he has chosen the path of intellectual laziness that has failed to move our electoral process beyond where it was in 2003. In a free and fair electoral system, you do not need have even a single agent in a state to be assured that only credible votes are counted. Until Prof Jega comes up with that formula, he will remain intellectually lazy.
Abati’s case is not just that of intellectual dullness but one that included physical laziness and intellectual dishonesty. To paraphrase Cyril Connolly, Abati with all his talents he started out with, has now condemned himself to second-rate thought and second-rate friends including Dr. Doyin Okupe. The very idea of Abati joining this present administration was frighteningly ambitious, but the writer had since showed himself to be intellectually lazy and shallow: peddling ignorance as an actual governing alternative. It is very interesting watching Dr. Abati descend to the lowest level of a sycophant shining his oga’s shoes in other to save his job from the “attack dog” Doyin Okupe. Maybe Abati is taking a rest before he gets tired.
I had earlier written extensively about Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s second coming as an example of “how smart people can be stupid.” It will certainly be more beneficial for Dr. Iweala not to believe in something that allows her to be intellectually lazy. The Nigerian economic dynamics is riddled with corruption and as such, our policy directives require some element of intellectual craziness rather than laziness and confusion Dr. Iweala is championing.
Talking about confusion, I was working on a piece titled “ Prof Barth Nnaji must either be incompetent or confused or both” as he threw in the towel. Suffices to say that he has been consistently inconsistent in handling matters at the energy sector. Prof Nnaji’s very thought of attempting to blame the epileptic supply of power in Nigeria to unwillingness of consumers to pay is contrary to the basic economic principle of demand and supply shown by the high demand for generators and diesel as alternative to PHCN. Nigerians should not be deceived with the “apparent” short term improvement in power generation. These power stations will be privatized shortly and it is very important that Prof Nnaji should tell Nigerians how much he spent in the power generation drive with or without his resignation.
Now that Prof Nnaji is gone, let me restate here that the significant remaining obstacle to successful privatization of the power sector in Nigeria is the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and government’s lack of political will to expedite reform. But to effectively jump-start the reform in the power sector, the next minister must be a professional that can approach equity with clean hands. He should be an individual that can effectively challenge NUEE with clean conscience and no personal interest while pushing for a successful conclusion of power sector reforms. The next minister must be a champion that can dictate to Goodluck Jonathan what needs to be done. In fact, he should be someone that will give conditions before accepting the position for minister for power.
This brings me to President Jonathan who is an epitome of a school master that cannot read nor write. The bad news for Nigerians is that GEJ is a diet of underdone roasted yam. What happens when the yam comes out of the fire half-done? “Unexplainable” stomach aches, political infertility and repeated miscarriages to diagnosed inherent illness in the system. Over the past two years, it is becoming clear that he has not fully identified his priorities, does not fully understand the problem facing the nation and where he does, is coming up with the same tried and tired solution. An underdone roasted yam needs to be re-roasted before served.
How can we escape intellectual dullness? Getting rid of intellectual laziness is important first step. All people are guilty of being intellectually lazy at one time or another, but a consistent pattern of intellectual laziness is a death knell to clear and substantive thought. The Profs and Drs in this administration need 101 basics on Escaping Intellectual Laziness. What Abati and co needs is intellectual energy which can be psychologically uncomfortable. They have to challenge cherished assumptions in approaching Nigerian problems. They should start thinking for themselves rater than allowing the sycophants in this administration do that for them. They have to develop sound criteria and standards in approaching their respective responsibilities with this administration.
Robert Half says that laziness is a secret ingredient that goes into failure. But it’s only kept a secret from the person who fails. President Goodluck Jonathan is a ‘confirmed failure’ with Prof Nnaji jut joining him. Our duty as Nigerians now is to let the likes of Abati, Iweala and Jega know that they are intellectually lazy and drifting towards failure.
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