Recently at a forum on the challenges of underdevelopment in Nigeria, I have canvassed that a key constraint to the development of Nigeria, is a crisis in the capacity for defining things, and crisis in the capacity for logic. Check these: The common understanding of traffic lights is that when it shows Green, you move, and as it moves to Amber, preparatory to move to Red, you slow down. But in Nigeria it is the opposite. As the Amber shows, you move faster, not slow down.
Another one: several times I have seen people argue about seats in a Plane, even with Boarding Pass clearly showing seat number, and not the “Free seating” we see sometimes. A different one. A man and his wife forget or did not ask to seat together when checking-in but insist on that when in the Plane. On one occasion it was a Caucasian at the Lagos Airport travelling outside the country who insisted on taking his seat. The husband of the lady who was already seated by her side, loudly asked the man whose seat he had taken, “Why are you interested in my wife?” The man so asked, quickly ran away. On an Ethiopian Airline Flight from Abuja on Monday July 4, this year, there were at least two such drama, involving persons on pilgrimage to Israel. I had to offer my seat to someone whose seat had been taken.
Another example. Argument over switching-off phones by the Airplanes. This one is particularly worse on flights to Owerri. Calabar and Enugu Passengers tend to behave well. If in doubt, ask the Airlines. On at least two occasions I have seen hostesses grumble about Owerri passengers. On another occasion, a lady switched on her phone 10 minutes to landing to take pictures (selfie). I am not knowledgeable about airplanes, and if those who are, say we should switch off phones as part of safety measures, why should we not obey on a short flight of 50 minutes? On one occasion I said to one, if you want to commit suicide, do that alone.
Nigerians at every level from the high elite levels to the small family and even rural levels, reveal that we are challenged by our inability to define things, and our inability to deal logically with matters. Governments signs agreements and then start arguing about implementation. Elderly persons occupying high public offices freely tell lies. Part of the responsibility of governance is moral conduct, especially as such occupants of high offices should set examples for the youth and children. Not many persons know that this is an imperative of governance and occupation of high public offices.
I am not sure we still have debates and debating societies in our secondary schools as we had in the 1970s. The art of debating. The civility in language even when we disagree. The methodology of presenting a case from the first level of what is (definition), introduction, clarity in meanings of words used, the issue at stake/problematique, the context, the objective/goal, and the evidence, the inferences, the thesis, antithesis, and the synthesis, then the conclusions in relations to the issue, problem, and objectives/goals earlier defined, and possible prognosis of the future consequences of actions or inactions. The discipline in thoughts and conduct of such discussion and debate. Where in the education pursuit did, we lose these and we begin to see persons carrying papers supposedly certificates, issued by institutions so empowered, with their names on those papers, suggesting an implied level of knowledge and skills, but which manifest in the deficit. Persons supposedly earning first degrees but unable to write formal letters.
It is still about ASUU strike.
There are divergent views I have heard expressed on the appropriateness of an ASUU strike this year. Some views are for the strike in the light of evidenced Government inaction with respect to previous agreements. Some views are against the current strike irrespective of its merit or otherwise considering the frequencies of the strikes.
There is however one issue I have not heard much about. It is the IPPIS versus the UTAS. Many persons familiar with reality of the use of the IPPIS have voiced evidence of its weaknesses, but people seem not to be taking note. There is also the view expressed that employee should not dictate payment mode for an employer. There is merit in that as a matter of principle. There is however the matter of Government ab initio not emphasizing that point but agreed that ASUU should develop a payment platform. That is a glaring inconsistency, to lead someone on, while forgetting to say that what will be developed will not be used. This is something which I have elsewhere described as Policy Absentmindedness in Nigeria. In this case, the encouragement to ASUU to develop a payment platform, and then the later argument that an employee should not dictate a payment platform, seem not to come from the same mind, or indeed a form of Policy Absentmindedness. This is aside the Report of the Auditor-General of the Federation, which we have heard indicts IPPIS as well as the adverse testimonies of the users of the IPPIS. That again shows an intra-government divergence of mind or thought. And because there seems to be a deficit of citizens believability of government, the report that UTAS is inadequate seems not to be accepted by many persons.
Meanwhile the days and months roll, and Nigerians are talking. You know Nigerians like to talk, and in fact we are a country of all-citizens-as-experts on every matter. Nearly everyone is expert on football, security matters, economy, politics, international affairs, and just about any subject. We discuss things we have never studied, researched nor investigated. We discuss persons we have never met. We know how much Messi and Ronaldo are paid, the most expensive cars in the world, what is happening in the kitchen of the Queen of England, and on and on. We discuss in our homes, on the road, in Busses and Planes, standing by free-newspaper corners, hair dressing salons, Beer parlours, and just about anywhere. We know it all, and we know better than everyone else.
To be continued tomorrow
Prof. Nwajiuba, was Vice-Chancellor of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike between February 2016-February 2021 email@example.com