By Dr Jimanze Ego- Alowes
Late Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Buhari
The tragicomedy of a long life is that there is nothing you won’t see, save you are blind. And there is little you won’t hear, save you are deaf: The good, the bad, and the damned ugly.
For instance, if one had died, mercifully, a long while ago, one would have been spared a deluge of hellish sights. Definitely, one would have not witnessed the final surrender and serial self-humiliation of the black man in the theatre called Nigeria. For instance, if one’s biographers were up to the task, they did tally the following against one’s modest name.
One Jimanze, just through the incident of being Nigerian, witnessed and fought against a genocidal war. And survived. The same Jimanze, saw a country, Nigeria, being raped by more coups than any ten countries can bear. Of course, the same Jimanze, has been trapped in a Nigeria with more corruption than is good even for the devil. Certainly, this same Jimanze, was part of the population that was ravaged by the incompetence of national and state administrations. And of course the dreaded Coronavirus. Perhaps, it will be recorded that Jimanze, with the luck of the Oru, survived it all. And those are a partial listing. Just extrapolate, and you did marvel.
Having witnessed these and more, the least one ever expected to hear is that one Mallam Abba Kyari was fighting corruption, via his vocation as Chief of Staff.
Simply put, has the world gone gaga? Let’s put things bluntly. It’s either Kyari is so skilled at playing roles he was able to deceive ”the very elect,” or he is ignorant, of ”the minutes of the last and other meetings.”
Why do we say so. First, we were shocked to read a report from an online portal, The Cable, that Kyari ”tried to clean up Nigeria.” What was even more shocking is that of all venerable sources the wondrous claim was attributed to The Economist. The Economist, a British ”broadsheet” is as authoritative as they come. It is studiedly read in nearly all the major capitals of the world, and this, by those who run the universe – perhaps on behalf of the gods, or better, themselves. The question is, how did The Economist arrive at this occult conclusion?
Now, there is a logic to things. As new insights, new information, are revealed or extended, our conclusions on cognate matters must of necessity be refashioned. That is, tomorrow’s conclusions cannot be built on yesterday’s knowhow.
Before we go further, the following caveats. For more than 35 odd years, we have been students of corruption, its natures and evolutions. Importantly, we have a critically well received book on it. In fact, the economist, Henry Boyo, now late, said it is the best work he has ever read on corruption. He didn’t just whisper to us, he said so openly in a national television show.
In other words, we are not commenting to be heard. We are speaking to help the world, including Nigerians, come to new and greater knowledge. In this instance, it is the latest thinking on what corruption is, how it happens and how it evolves. So far, we have restrained ourselves from canvassing the book for two reasons. First Nigeria is an anti-new knowledge jurisdiction. Segun Ayobolu, ace writer, at least implies so. For full disclosures, he was speaking it also happens, via his several commentaries on my latest title – The University Media Complex. The second reason is that nobody, no Nigerian is really interested in curbing corruption. All these anti-corruption agencies belong to comedy, to comic ignorance.
Having come this far, the following. Two historical figures have the final word on corruption. They are the Greek historian and power theoretician, Thucydides. The other is the English historian, Lord Acton. The only issue was that nobody saw or suspected the link between these men’s insights till The Brace Institute pioneered the nexus, bridged the chasm. We are humbled to state we run the Brace Institute.
The other details are as follows. From Thucydides comes the irrevocable insight that justice is only in the relationship between two equals. That is justice does not exist outside equality of parties in issue. From Acton comes this gold standard on power: power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely.
What our book did was to unite the two strands and arrive at the definitive nature and thus cure of corruption. The details of our postulations, innovations etc. are too expansive to recall here. However, the gist of our thesis is this. That any form of concentrated power, either by personalities, religions, regions etc. and or a combination of these, leads ineluctably to corruption. The fact of this is not just an iron lore. It is one of the fundamental forces of the universe, just like gravity. That is it happens no matter your thoughts or sentiments.
Now, Buhari’s regime which Kyari serves has been characterized as ”Nepotism on steroids.” https://www.farooqkperogi.com/2019/10/buharis-nepotism-on-steroids.html. The author, it is well to report, is Professor Farooq Kperogi, a former Buhari insider.
To summarize, Buhari’s government for which Kyari is a lynchpin is famed for its maximalist concentration of power in the hands of Northern Muslims, that is of religious regionalism. And this, in a plural Nigeria.
The point is, as rightly implied by Thucydides, the concentration of power does not go with justice. And injustice cannot partner with transparency. And lack of transparency is the hottest oven in hell for the baking of corruption on earth. In other words, any system where power is concentrated, is by logic corrupt. So, to fight corruption, the first iron lore is to loosen powers, is to de-concentrate power.
Kyari, a courtier, may be a clean man but that is up to him and his chi. Traditionally, we do not comment on minions or courtiers. So, Kyari rarely makes it on our radar. The guys we hold in issue here are the authors and publishers of The Economist. Simply put, The Economist must upgrade their knowledge.
The facts are as follows. The strength and hygiene of the Western society is built on separation of powers. In other words, no one man or group of men can concentrate in their hands, the powers scattered into the three arms. That is the judiciary, the legislature and the executive.
The implication of this is that Western societies are thus liberal societies. That is they are liberalized by structure, not by individual whims. Western societies are thus relatively corruption free, in part, because of this separation, this de-concentration of powers, that leaves the three arms in [near and independent] equality.
However, here is a broader appreciation of the Western reality. The nuance is not in the categories – the judiciary, executive and legislature. A more discerning grasp is to appreciate that these are mere categories. Immediately this is taken, then the following. In any system where the categories have been quashed, and their powers and privileges accumulated into one elect category, then such a system is illiberal, is dictatorial. In other words, it does not matter if the categories are ethnic, regional, religious, judiciary, legislative etc. What is important is that immediately a system alienates all its composites, but a select one, then that system is poised to go rogue, to be as corrupt as the corpse of a covid-19 patient.
In other words, what The Economist is arguing is similar to this. That a Boris Johnson can sack the British judiciary and parliament, take over their powers and remain a liberal democrat, a reformist liberal? But the British society runs on the assumption that immediately you removed liberal democracy, you have introduced dictatorship and corruption. So the very structure of illiberality – in governance and in non-inclusiveness of others – is in corruption. In other words, a corrupt system and structure cannot be used as a surgical tool to sanitize corruption. The very system of religious regionalism etc. that Kyari operates, is designed to engender, not extirpate or expire corruption. This, it must be understood is in spite of what the authors, finishers and operators of the said system think. Or what The Economist writes.
That is to say, even if Kyari was clean, it is not conceptually feasible, or practically possible, for him to be fighting corrupting in a system such as he was operating. This is just as it is not for Johnson to be a reformist liberal by totalizing all categories into Johsonism.
Thus when the economist writes: Yet there is also a broader parable of Mr Kyari. It is one of a largely honourable man who went to the heart of a thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional system, aiming to reform it…. https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2020/04/23/abba-kyari-who-tried-to-clean-up-nigeria-dies-of-covid-19 – one begins to wonder, is it still The Economist of London, or Daura, writing? What has become of the world? Ahiazuwa.
It is telling to remark that the in a tribute by the William Wallis of Financial Times declared Kyari ”an inveterate Anglophile.” That says it all. That is a diplomatese that he was our a metropolitan mole in his provincial government. Boy things happen. All else is in humor.