People are afraid of common sense. Soon as you utter a simple truth, watch them jump into their intellectual helicopters, rolling and rolling until they crash down into a forest of illogic.
I hate economists. What’s with the frown? Some of my good friends are economists. An economist friend always causes me migraine whenever I whisper “Rochas”. He hates “political showoffs”. Suraj Oyewale hates it when leaders act as though they spend from their personal purse. But the killjoys will always kill your joy. Another economist observes that Rochas’ humility is a strange case of conceit. He says that Rochas sees himself as a mini version of Jesus!
When you pass through the department of economics, you come out with a new approach to common sense. You’ve studied so many theories that you begin to think like a reincarnate of Thomas Malthus. You don’t know Malthus? Ah, you must have scored a justified F9 in your SSCE. I pity your parents (if they are economists); double registration spoils their scale of preference. Economics breeds a certain species of illusionary and self-confident thinkers whose proposition for third world countries is a leeway to destructive capitalism. That an idea works for America or Asia doesn’t make it a perfect model for Africa. To every people a context, to every context a specific social or economic framework.
You see, I don’t know what Thomas Malthus smoked when he declared that overpopulation can mainly be checked by disasters: Deaths and wars and famines and whatnots. Poor man, he didn’t know that a developed man is a machine. He didn’t know about the sciences of food production. He didn’t know that the most populous country today is more fed than the least populous. Economists are just as undependable as weathermen.
Calm down, I said to my friends. Easy, easy on Rochas. You want to build Nigeria? Build the people. Infrastructures don’t make a nation, people do. And it’s on this count that Rochas completed his seduction of my support. As a northerner, I love the challenge he has thrown on the desktop of governorship: Free education and allowances for students of Imo descent. As a northern Governor, I should despise this. You don’t know what this policy means, do you? Soon there will be an explosion of educated Igbo’s in and outside our civil service who the federal character principles cannot forestall. While Imo breeds educated and intellectual indigenes, the north breeds street beggars (and the states that propose to end the Almajiri child-begging have no feasible alternative in place!).
I wouldn’t have paid mind to this impending danger but for the realisation that I’m now an unschooled scholar of Nigeria’s psychology. Watch it, in about twenty years from now there would be sinister murmurings over Igbo domination of this and that sector. Trust me, I know my country.
Rochas’ populist policies earn my nod no matter the criticisms that his relationship with the masses is brewing hostility towards the elite class. And the critic that says his Father Christmas-administration is bringing the economy of the state to its knees fails to highlight the fallen socio-economic structures inherited from past years of misgovernance.
Don’t underestimate the wisdom of our economists, the breed that endorsed the proposed removal of fuel subsidy last year. Grand infrastructures are considered cornerstones of development where “third-worldly” derelictions aren’t threats. Build a billion dollar tower in Abuja, I will shrug. But build this in Minna, the devil that inspired that project may have to advise you to get me locked behind bars. Administrative wisdom is missing in this sub-Saharan hell.
My friends did not buy any of my postulations on Rochas’ welfarist agenda. Rochas must learn the ABC of governance and policymaking from Lagos state’s Governor Babatunde Fashola, they said. I laughed. The Internally Generated Revenues figures of Lagos state is the first dissimilarity. And, secondly, Fashola’s elitism is better bred in Lagos, FCT and, maybe Port Harcourt, Calabar, Uyo, name it. My economist friends blabbered about “welfarism” (as championed by Fashola) without a pause to know the flipsides of those decisions. Welfare is granted with certain consequences, and while my pro-elitism friends praise Fashola, none bothers to know what happens to the Okada riders and the difficulties interposed by their ban. Is it criminal for a pauper to dwell in the city?
Rochas knows that Nigeria lacks structures, and while he invests in primary infrastructures and social amenities, his eye on the people remains unblinking. You don’t build a castle with leprous masons and blind bricklayers. You don’t build a functional society with an army of dependent and uneducated citizens. The ideal way to cure the leprosy of this country is simply by granting the people that which will be used to build. Education. Emancipation. Rochas knows this. Human capital is ingloriously absent in northern Nigeria, and our clueless leaders still move around in their bomb-detecting SUV’s while Rochas joins queues at the airport and passes through security checks to board a commercial flight in this seasons of jet-crazed leaders. May God save us from us.
@gimbakakanda (on Twitter)