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Alternative Paths To Ghana’s Success



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon


Alternative Paths To Ghana's Success

By Toyin Falola 

There is always a community of Afro-pessimistic scholars, occasionally joined by their in-house accomplices, who assert that the unity and togetherness that Africans try to muster in their contemporary history is a recent development whose timeline emerged with colonialism. Under this assertion lies an impression that there was nothing like a common or unified African race before the coming of the Europeans. More benightedly, they add that Africans lacked the sense of common identity to forge widespread unity across the continent. All these are said to consolidate the assumption that the continued proliferation of internal contradictions, strives, and the greed of unimaginable proportion that characterize the African continent and people in the postcolonial time indicate that Africans are intellectually weak, a bunch of primitive people who do not understand the art of survival. While some of the “African conditions,” especially with the unfolding events of the postcolonial are true, the foundations are entirely contrived. They were created out of the Europeans’ self-serving arrogance and grandstanding attitude to gaslight and manipulate the people they already had negative thoughts toward.

It must be reiterated that the lack of African unity or their scattered identity in pre-colonial history was not because of their weak intellectual condition, as wrongly asserted, but rather due to the lack of political or economic expediency that compelled such development. However, coming to realize that a common fate befell them because of the color of their skin, it became a matter of survival tactics to develop an identity through which they could channel their collective revolutionary actions against forces of colonialism and perpetrators of slavery. When the Black man or woman gruesomely taken from the shores of Ghana met someone of similar skin color in New York, not as an economic star to socially reckon with, but as an enslaved individual taken from Nigeria or Ghana, something intuitive told them that their enslavement was perhaps necessitated because of their skin color. They would be compelled to understand that they either construct a force to combat those who have imposed themselves on them or face unbearable humanitarian atrocities due to their fate.

Alternative Paths To Ghana's Success

Even when they considered themselves one, it did not stop the gruesome experience of slavery, colonization, economic deprivation, and socio-political inequity they would eventually face during colonization and beyond. This continued unabated for many years, stretching from at least four hundred years ago until the contemporary. The problems that come from this are multi-layered. For example, generational loss of integrity caused by the political leaders’ abrasive demonstration of greed, the benumbing decline in their interest in indigenous philosophy, the widespread framing of their institutions along the lines of their erstwhile imperialists, and other devastating issues, are things Africans have inherited from their relationship with the Europeans. Meanwhile, all the inheritance items are combined to determine the future of Africans in contemporary times, which is explainable.

Having been confronted by forces of changes that led to profound changes, the Europeans searched for and eventually found collaborators eager to continue the art and act of control without their active or physical involvement. Interestingly they found willing collaborators in droves. These collaborators rose to the occasion not because they naturally wanted to betray the common course of their history and the freedom of their people but because the weak structures created by the Europeans have benefited them immensely. Only a few did not succumb to the pressure of the West, and those who refused to dance to these European tunes met an uncelebrated fate.

We call postcolonial connivers agents of African dehumanization because they are tirelessly working to declinate African integrity through their policy interventions that satisfy the interest of the West and because they operate the conquer-them-by-force method imposed by their erstwhile imperialists. This is why opposing voices are not recognized in many African countries today, and the same reason allows otherwise morally rotten characters to find themselves in the political class, dishing principles and policies that would further weaken economic infrastructures. As people did against the colonial powers, so also are they resistant in the contemporary time to forces of oppression, necessarily because the forfeiture of African philosophy enshrined in the political system that they practiced has always been the reason behind the perpetual strives, economic depravity, social anomaly, and even sociocultural deracination that are prevalent in the continent today. This is why one would find a handful of revolutionaries across different countries in Africa, and the awareness that most of the people who take that root have been killed in history does not weaken their resolve. Africa has continued to produce revolutionaries from Nigeria to Ethiopia, Senegal to the Gambia, Liberia to Ghana.

READ ALSO: Thabo Mbeki And The Quest For An Independent And Prosperous Africa

Ernesto Yeboah is one of the leading African revolutionary voices in contemporary times. A Ghanaian, his philosophical ideas are weaved to counter the horrendous experiences of financial and economic privileges reserved only for the select few in the country. On many occasions, he has given a comprehensive perspective as to why and how the country has continued to experience decline of moral values, prevarication of collective dreams, and displacement of common philosophy. Just as it is a conventional tactic, Yeboah first implanted the seed of revolution into the minds of a handful of willing Ghanaians who would eventually become the movement’s mouthpiece. Doing this is practically necessary because the action of leading people who are kept under bad governance is the most fearful engagement that anyone would be involved in or venture into solitarily. This is so for many reasons. We have learned through knowledge that Stockholm syndrome―a term used to designate the admiration that people have for their violators―is mostly responsible for the emotional and mental distance that people give to anyone who attempts to be free from the shackles of economic and political problems that they were reluctantly drawn into. And also, like many other individuals of revolutionary orientation, Yeboah has faced different pressures and frustrating treatments that sometimes threatened but could not break his resolve.

Under Yeboah’s leadership, the Economic Fighters League has connected the issue of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism as the forces acting against the rise of the African people, especially in Ghana. Having succeeded in replacing the African values in the minds of potential African political representatives in the postcolonial setting, the West has also made a resounding success in short-changing that value with European systems, which, upon adoption and practice, appeared to have less economic and political values that can transform the lives of the common people. Consider, for example, that the imposition of democracy as the appropriate political philosophy has resulted in more manipulation than desirable results. It seems obvious that the continued denigration of the existing African socio-political system was geared towards imposing democracy as an alternative on the African people, but this would later show that democracy offered no prospect for their true freedom because it allowed leaders to perpetrate more heartrending activities on the innocent people. Democracy allows leaders to have unassailable access to wealth control, using the power to siphon humongous amounts with great impunity. It is the same democracy that allows political opponents to be hunted at will by the ones heading the system. In essence, Yeboah considers alternative paths to Ghana’s success.

Alternative Paths To Ghana's Success

However, given all the varying circumstances that characterize occasions and issues of national concerns, having an alternative path to actionable plans that can facilitate desired changes does not on its own translate to immediate success. Many people see that there are problems with a system in every human civilization, but not all of them dare to raise their voices to challenge the obvious anomalies. Revolutionaries are always many, a number of them manifesting in different dimensions. For example, in the case of Ghana, many groups of virile minds are interested in pursuing collective courses that would bring freedom and enhance national growth. But the problem that such groups face is that, in most cases, their pioneer leaders, who have committed substantial finances and emotional resources to the struggles, do not always want their association toppled by another revolutionary group essentially because of the potential problems of deciding who leads. This seeming crack has always been exploited by the unrepentant government officials who have committed themselves to looting and to mismanaging the people’s resources to no end. They bask in the euphoria that the masses’ uncoordinated actions of rebellion can always be unilaterally controlled where and when needed.

In light of this, people have asked Yeboah about the possibility of infractions if he and his group of disciples find themselves in a situation where he would have to give up his leadership position. This question is necessary for many reasons. Emerging revolutionaries have always been confronted by the challenge of containing their ego for common development, despite how good and lofty their ambitions are. If not that some revolutionary groups and their leaders being resistant to an alliance, those who perpetually benefit from the rotten system in history or the modern time would not have maintained that position today. But because it has been ideologically difficult for revolutionaries to combine their energies to combat a common enemy, the totality of revolutionary ambitions associated with many groups has always gone unachieved. Yeboah, however, shows a difference from his standpoint. He considers himself a very relational leader who shows people the way when it is most needed and not a positional leader who distances himself from the people he leads. Based on this arrangement, he submits that his leadership in the EFL (Economic Fighters League) is flexible, and he is ready to combine their revolutionary energies with groups that share similar ideological convictions with them, even if it means sacrificing his leadership.

 READ ALSO: Sowore And RevolutionNow: Seventy Thousand Years Of Inheritance

Meanwhile, constituting a strong force to challenge the superstructure of their disproportionate hold on the reins of power costs humongous money that the promising youth population desirous of change cannot afford. This is another cringing factor that impedes the advancement of Africans’ political and economic lifestyles in the postcolonial time. It has been discovered that commodifying the political system is a deliberate engagement to break the categories of people in society. This implies that the economic gap between the haves and haves-not of the society is intentionally widened so that the latter would find it eternally difficult to contest power even if they have the numerical strength required to become victorious in elections. This has been the reason for the continued economic depravity we have mentioned. Here, the #EndSARS protest in Nigeria is a shining example. The bubbling youths are choked by irresponsible leadership and took a remarkable stand against it by floating a nationwide protest that triggered unrest in the camp of the oligarchs and sent shivers to the spines of totalitarians. They recorded massive patronage and drew the empathy of the global audience, which placed them on the right pedestal to actively participate in politics. Of course, this is part of their ambitions. However, the energies died out for many reasons, one of which is the inability to fund or launch a political umbrella that would challenge power from its abductors.

Nevertheless, having numerical power does not automatically imply that they would constitute a structure that can unseat the current power system in the country. As one of the interviewers suggested, the coming together of different agitation groups would lend credence to their voices and give them a better chance of achieving their political potential. But it seems the possibility is countered by the fact that groups guide their interests regardless of their alliance. As the EFL leader responded, merging with other groups is not a problem, but it is a way to sometimes downplay the contributions and efforts to which they have committed human resources, financial materials, and even their lives. It downplays it because the groups that are to be merged could nurse ambitions that may not be known by the mergers, making them vulnerable to potential manipulations. This suggests that some groups are usually created with the wrong ambitions that only gratify the desires of the selfish pioneers. These groups always appear to represent the masses’ interest while simultaneously looking for opportunities from political figures with whom they would negotiate and do business. Yeboah relies on history as his guide and always has been wary of such alliances that do not factor in the principles of the group.

One of the interviewers asked if, in the event of a fate twist in which the government begins to commit itself to the principles of the inclusive economic framework and democratic culture, which are the cornerstones of the agitations of EFL and other groups, what the group’s reactions would be to keeping the movement. The response is that the government has made it clear that it is uninterested in incorporating distributive democracy into its engagement through its responses to the agitations for change that have arisen throughout history. They appear to have perfected the art of deceit to the point that they find new ways to trick the people and make them perform franchise that does not translate to good living. By deceiving them that they would teach the actions of purposeful leadership, they have defeated several revolutionary groups who bought the government’s deceit to convince their group to accept political merchants in their country. Therefore, history is the best teacher in educating the people about the government’s insincerity to them. If the government commits itself to a certain action, it does so not because it would potentially have a great impact on the masses but because it promises to benefit them in all ramifications. It then becomes a matter of ideological convictions not to put much trust in government representatives.

READ ALSO: Sowore: Society, Sanity, Safety, and Stability

Faced with the temptation of globalization, some contemporary African revolutionaries have complicated their struggles and course for freedom by subsuming their agitations under the status of the group leader. Instead of focusing on the course of action, the leaders have received undue recognition and cheers. Meanwhile, the underlying disadvantages of this condition to the freedom project are numerous, one of which is the discouragement of willing people who intend to join the movement because of their desire for freedom. Thus, the fame and attention given to these leaders can pull them away from the foundation of the struggles because not only do they become carried away in the process, but they also abandon their objectives for unnecessary reasons. But it seems Yeboah’s approach to this problem is different because he has shown through his actions that his ambition is not to become a superstar leader whom people recognize as uncharismatic but zealous. He believes that until the agitation group leaders consider building an active citizenry, it would be difficult for them to achieve a political condition that prioritizes the well-being of the masses. He believes that putting people at the center of governance will help accelerate policies that respond positively to immediate economic or political problems.

READ ALSO: Ghana Workers Get 15 Per Cent Pay Rise To Cushion Inflation

Given the various layers of socio-political experiences to which they have been subjected, Yeboah is convinced that the best way to revitalize African dreams and achieve a fair political atmosphere that will hold enough promises to the average citizens in the African continent is to continuously impress on the minds of the people the orientation that would sanitize and expose them to the demand of justice and fairness in the structuration of the economic system of the country so that people would have the necessary access to wealth which they can use to transform their lives. According to him, any movement that does not factor in the education of the masses on the need to first transform the people’s minds would not achieve the needed changes because uneducated minds about the basic tenets of democracy will misuse given opportunities. People who get power by accident will not understand why it is important to place a premium on the masses and would potentially run their governance in the ways the society has taught them. In essence, the best way to bring about change is to sell distributive and equitable governance to all so that everyone can fulfill their responsibilities when given the opportunity.

This is the first report on the interview with CiC Ernesto Yeboah on April 24, 2022. His views have travelied wide, reported in several newspapers. For the transcript, see YouTube:


Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.


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Interview With Beautiful Nubia



Beautiful Nubia

Please join us for a conversation with the renowned Nigerian Songwriter, Music Composer, and Band Leader, Olusegun Akinlolu (Beautiful Nubia).

Sunday, March 19, 2023

5:00 PM Nigeria // 4:00 PM GMT // 11:00 AM Austin CST

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Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Conversation With Kunle Afolayan



A  renowned Nigerian Actor, Producer, and Director, Kunle Afolayan will on Sunday, March 5, 2023 have an interview with the Toyin Falola Interviews at 5:00 PM Nigeria // 4:00 PM GMT // 10:00 AM Austin CST.


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Touching Base With Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi’s Perspectives On Nigeria’s 2023 Elections



Professor Ademola Dasylva At 70: A Labourer In The Vineyard
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi is a well-versed law professor, international relations activist, and commentator. It was delightful to have her join us, alongside Miriam Oke, Chido Onumah, and Jibrin Hussaini, at the last edition of the Toyin Falola Interviews, where we discussed Nigeria’s 2023 elections.

If anything, the primaries being organised in the nation’s two most influential parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress, are pointers to what should be expected of the 2023 Nigerian elections. As is customary, the primaries have been rife with electoral malpractices, vote-buying, and unscrupulous voting figures, and there is a shocking video posted on Twitter by Bashir Ahmad, former Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, who lost his bid to secure the ticket of the APC to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives primaries in his home state of Kano. The video shows how supposed delegates are handed pre-ticked ballot boxes and are asked to put them in the ballot box without even batting an eyelid at the malpractice.

The ball is being set in motion. Atiku Abubakar is the People’s Democratic Party flag bearer for the presidential seat. The All Progressives Congress has recently screened its presidential hopefuls and will soon appoint its flagbearer. Peter Obi, who defected from the People’s Democratic Party to the Labour Party and has since been elected as the party’s flagbearer for the presidential seat, is a seeming third wheel in the routine two-dominant-party multi-party system practised in the country. The stage is set. Or is it?

This piece is not much of a sequel to the one on Chido Onumah’s perspectives on the 2023 elections because Dr Akiyode-Afolabi had her unique views on the questions asked. Nonetheless, it will follow a similar pattern, where we will examine points touched on by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi during the interview.

Electoral Violence and Nigeria’s 2023 Elections

Sad as it may seem, electoral violence is an immemorial issue rocking the Nigerian state. Throughout all its republics, Nigeria has witnessed killings and maiming during election periods — whether at the polling booths on election day or among political rivals setting targets on each other’s backs. Nigeria’s electoral process is peculiar, involving the recruitment of violent electoral mercenaries, often branded as party thugs. These thugs sign off their loyalty to a political party and wreak havoc on the party’s behalf — from ballot snatching to intimidating voters to bow to their party’s will.

In the Nigerian political scene, these party thugs sit with political kings. They are deemed crucial to the electoral process and candidates’ success. The recruitment and payment of these party thugs consume huge financial resources. However, political leaders and public officeholders fail to consider the expected uselessness of the party thugs within the governance period of three to four years that separate pre-election and election years. Having tasted ill-gotten wealth that far surpasses what they could have earned honestly, and without any honest and paying job, these party thugs resort to all sorts of vice to pay their bills and keep themselves in shape. Thus, it is not uncommon to find that party thugs become robbers, kidnappers, bandits, and street-terrorising thugs who incessantly cut holes through the state’s peace, security, and quiet.

In most cases, we would rather relate the incessant kidnappings and unrest to unknown gunmen or herdsmen-bandits rather than the true perpetrators of the evil — anarchical party thugs with weapons they were equipped with during the election period. Thus, the rivalry for power and politicians’ insatiable desire for control, regardless of the extent they go to get it, could be strongly linked to the violent crises that have rocked the country for a while now.

READ ALSO: Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon

For Dr Akiyode-Afolabi, violent political mercenaries in Nigeria and the political aspirants and parties who are their enablers act out of an abundant enjoyment of sheer impunity — the knowledge that they can do and undo, wreak whatever havoc they want to, without bearing the consequences. Although several of the perpetrators of this electoral violence are known, nothing is done to bring them to justice, further reinforcing the need to carry out their vice during the next election. Over the years, electoral violence has become a norm in Nigeria, and nothing is being done to curb the menace, especially in punishing the perpetrators. Thus, the electorate have joined the camp of political aspirants and political thugs who see electoral violence as part of the electioneering process in Nigeria. For members of the electorate who have difficulty processing electoral violence as a part of the electioneering process, the option of apathy kicks to the surface — especially among women and the youth who earnestly believe politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, and electoral violence is inevitable. Thus, it is not surprising that Nigeria has had a low voter turnout over the years.

The case of electoral violence and the state’s reaction to it is like several other policies in Nigeria. While the Electoral Act was proactively drafted to cover electoral violence and how to punish offenders and culprits, there has not been any action to make that part of the Act functional. It is akin to the numerous nation-improving policies whose existence has never gone beyond the paper. If we were to dig to the roots of why the aspect of the Nigerian Electoral Act that punishes electoral violence has not been enforced, we would be quick to find out that the average Nigerian politician is either directly or indirectly complicit. Thus, those at the helm and those willing to take over from them are all involved, making them reluctant to enforce the punishment for electoral violence, that is, if they consider punishing the crime at all.

Nigeria’s Three-faced Need and the Importance of a Long-term Agenda

The need for a long-term agenda should not be misconstrued as supporting the cabalistic unending Northern presidency agenda or any other agenda that does not mean well for Nigeria as a nation. Rather, it represents Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s thoughts on what is truly needed to get Nigeria out of its current quagmire. The international relations activist considers the 2023 elections in Nigeria a big issue for the country, particularly because there are more people interested in the presidential position than we have had in quite a while. Nonetheless, most of these aspirants are people who have either held a political position or currently hold one. They are people we know so well. Given their deeds while in office, it will be difficult to convince any right-thinking Nigerian that there is hope for the country if any of the candidates being paraded were elected as president.

The double tragedy that is Buhari’s eight years in office has seen the country go from bad to worse. The country’s debts keep piling up, with no way of repaying them year after year. The people are impoverished, and the currency continually suffers a blow of worthlessness and devaluation, inflation, and the unemployment rate keeps rising. To make matters worse are the rife killings, banditry, and the near state of anarchy that the country has been thrown into. Has any of the numerous candidates aspiring for the presidential seat shown they are the visionary yet pragmatic leaders that can help Nigeria realise a remarkable positive change?

Careful consideration of the likeliest players at the 2023 polls, vis-à-vis the criterion above, would show that Nigeria is not prepared for an election. Dr Akiyode-Afolabi proposed a three-aspect strategy to help us discover a new Nigeria. These are aspects that cannot be fully realised within a four-year term. Thus, there is the need for Nigerian politicians, regardless of their differences—although there are no marked differences in Nigerian politics—to consider government as a continuum and treat it as such. This will help ensure that even if power falls to the opposition camp, the remarkable and change-focused plans that have been kicked into action by the previous government will continue to be nurtured by the new government. This is the only way we can fully realise the three-dimensional solution proposed by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi.

Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s first proposed dimension is the need for an empowered political class. The Nigerian political field is riddled with whimsical people who are of the anything-goes breed as long as they get elected to office. That is why serial defection is nothing to them, and they can shamelessly befriend a foe today and betray a friend tomorrow. They are overly selfish lot who constantly put personal needs and gains before national needs and expected gains. The Nigerian political class needs to be empowered enough to engage the electorate in an ideological and issue-based manner. A look at the pre-campaign clamouring in the camps of the presidential aspirants will show that they think so little of Nigerians that they believe not much is needed in the way of plans and strategies to convince the people. It is also why Nyensom Wike, who lost his party’s presidential ticket, deemed it fit to incessantly chant, “give me power… power!” To him, that was enough to get him the ticket to become Nigeria’s next president.

The coming months will show us lamentable political campaigns with no depth, so shallow that every reasonable Nigerian would be too ashamed to identify with a country where such gimmicks pass as enough campaign to convince the people to vote for someone. There is a need to empower citizens and help kick structures in place to organise Nigerians and help them truly understand what they want. Nigeria has so much suffered from poor governance that asking the average electorate what they expect from the aspirants — what they look forward to hearing that could convince them to vote for an aspirant — would most likely render them stammering.

In Nigeria, constitutional reformation is of great necessity. The Nigerian Constitution has outlived its essence. What use is a constitution if it does not amply meet the state’s needs nor adequately answer its citizens’ burning questions? The systems of the constitution no longer effectively serve us as a nation, which is why there have been agitations and clamouring for secession, restructuring, regionalisation, and central policing, among other issues raised. In the end, until Nigeria intentionally kicks these three dimensions into action, and until there are successive tenures that consider the government as a continuum and reach a knowing agreement to nurture and not impede the realisation of the three-dimensional issue, a new and positive Nigeria will be anything but reality.

  1. *** This is the third and final report on the interview held on May 22, 2022, on the 2023 elections in Nigeria. The views of our distinguished panelists have traveled wide and have been reported in several newspapers.

For the transcript, see:




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