Book punctures Achebe’s 37 years old leadership failure thesis
* Scores Nigerian scholars low, blames them for country’s underdevelopment
A new book, The University-Media Complex As Nigeria’s Foremost Amusement Chain (The Stone Press, Lagos; 2018), written by Dr. Jimanze Ego-Alowes, has punctured Prof. Chinua Achebe’s 37 years old thesis that lack of good leadership is essentially the cause of Nigeria’s under-development. The book, therefore, offers a rereading of history and situates scholarship as the bedrock of modern development in countries that have achieved and continue to achieve greatness that Nigeria aspires to.
In the 1981 socio-political treatise entitled The Trouble with Nigeria, Achebe, Africa’s foremost writer, argues that the country’s development problems are largely a failure of leadership and that until a cadre of good leaders is found Nigeria would remain undeveloped. Achebe’s thesis has since sunk into the national subconscious and no scholar has investigated it for its accuracy or otherwise until now. Meanwhile, the country’s problems continue to compound.
But in his bold and ground-breaking study, Ego-Alowes counters Achebe’s claim and says it has no basis in philosophic logic and should be discarded as mere fable. Ego-Alowes asserts that it is the failure of Nigerian scholars rather than her leaders that should be held responsible for Nigeria’s unending socio-political malaise.
Ego-Alowes argues that Nigerian scholars are in extremely poor health and it explains their inability to develop original and innovative ideas except regurgitate received ones from Europe and America. He accuses them of inability to contribute new knowledge or innovate on existing ones to produce wealth for the country. He says it is scholars that create original ideas that determine leaders’ choices of a country’s develop model and not the other way round, as has become the case with Nigeria.
He gives the startling instance of Italy, which until recently, experienced change of her political leadership every now and then. But Italy, Ego-Alowes, argues, has been one of the leading industrial nations in the world in spite of its leadership instability.
Ego-Alowes laments that Nigerian scholars lack genuine first class brains to create original ideas, particularly in the primary sciences of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Philosophy, where original developmental blueprints that leaders follow are fabricated. He says Nigeria’s so-called scholars are mere consumers of other people’s original knowledge, as they have not risen to the higher levels of knowledge production from which development flows. So long as Nigerian scholars remain consumers of other people’s knowledge, he states categorically, the country will not develop in the foreseeable future.
“In the disciplines, there are two subgroups of scholarships,” he writes. “There is the genius for learning or consumption (of knowledge), and there is the genius for contribution or innovation. In addition, there is a pecking order. The genius to consume belongs to pupils, but to master the subject or make claims for the genius to contribute, the pupils must move further to make fundamental contributions and or discoveries in a stated discipline.
“You can only redeem your claim of genius by contribution or by innovation, not by possession of Harvard sheepskin (degrees)… Education is not a banquet. Education is production; it is harvesting new yams of knowledge and not in eating barn-held ones. Therefore, having a million PhDs or Harvard first class diplomas come to and will come to nothing save our orientation moves from banqueting to the producing of knowledge.”
The University-Media Complex As Nigeria’s Foremost Amusement Chain, Ego-Alowes lays bare the historical and philosophical groundwork on which America, Singapore, China and Europe’s developmental foundations were laid and why Nigeria and Africa continue to miss the scholarly, not leadership road to development.
For instance, Ego-Alowes seems to be asking, how, in spite of thousands of PhDs that abound in Nigerian universities in the physical sciences and engineering, no scholar found a means to harness the sun’s abundance in Nigeria and Africa to solve the country and continent’s energy crisis. Rather, he says, they had to wait for the west that has little amount of sunshine to create solar power, a sorry situation he blames on the dire poverty of Nigerian and African scholarship.