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Richard Joseph On Governance In Africa

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Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III: The Legacies Of A Great King

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

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Conversation With Professor Richard Joseph (3)

 Richard Joseph On Governance In Africa

Richard Joseph

By

Toyin Falola

Africa is not moving forward fast enough, at least in terms of the progress we can associate with other continents. Technological breakthrough is becoming very difficult to achieve as the continent continues some entrenched practices. Meanwhile, the revolution in technology is pivotal for economic transformation, where wealth distribution plays an important role in people’s lives. Africa’s failure to advance in these new technologies or aspects of global development has undermined the continent’s transformative capabilities and attracted more woes to the people than can logically be imagined. Technological limitations have made Africa a primary victim of all manner of dangers that are either naturally enhanced or artificially orchestrated. From economy to health, education to politics, the suffocating miasma of technological weakness contributes to the deterioration.

To understand the gravity of the importance of technology to human advancement in recent history, we need to identify areas of human engagement and consider how the lack of technological transformation is perennially causing the agony of underdevelopment for the African people. In politics, where decisions that influence people’s quality of life are made, Africa’s refusal to embrace contemporary technological revolution or provoke a suitable one has continued to cause the system to hibernate, with a scary potential to crash when preventive measures are not immediately taken. For example, the decision to choose a leader who will truly represent the people’s interests is usually marred by the fact that some people do not even understand how the Internet works.

READ ALSO: Richard A. Joseph: One Of A Kind And The Rarest Breed Of Political Scientists

Richard Joseph speaks to the need for leadership. Elections are conducted with absolute disregard for the opinions of the majority. Good governance, which visionary individuals would have spearheaded, is sabotaged by the inability or reluctance to decide on the best candidate. Development at the level of governance is impeded, apparently because some groups are eternally committed to their selfish ambitions and want to use the state to pursue their egotistical agenda.

But we need a development-oriented mindset. We cannot ignore agriculture and the rural areas. Farming is an old business with relevance because it remains a common thing on which people depend. However, farming, as conceived in the past centuries, is quite different from how it is today. During the years of yore, biological capability determined human productivity in farming. In other words, the number of individuals concentrated on farming determined the quantity of production and the economic outcome of the engagement. But such a system is not suited to contemporary times. Technology is needed to be a successful and impactful farmer. Technological instruments are used to embark on massive land cultivation, eventually determining the size of outcomes. This means that the investment in technology is limited, caused by bad leadership and governance system that do not care much about the progress of their nations.

It is disheartening that a country like Nigeria cannot build good public hospitals for its citizens. Medical tourism to foreign countries depletes the foreign reserves of many African countries. Sadly, there is hardly any country in Africa whose most-exalted political figures do not take their rounds in patronizing medical institutions in other continents. The conscious investment in healthcare that these foreign nations make by embracing technology is not something African countries are doing. Governance in Africa has become a conduit for personal aggrandizement; thus, many African countries do not invest heavily in health care.

The above exposition is necessary to understand that the stagnation of governance in Africa is deepened by the refusal to produce ideas or make use of the better ones. Still, Richard Joseph sees greatness in Africa. Why or how did the past Africans achieve what they did? If there is any contention about their achievements, let us immediately measure the human development strategy. Many African leaders of the past understood what it meant to be virtuous, and the moral obligation to extend that virtue to others was collectively embraced. Leadership was seen as an opportunity to serve, and in situations where the results were not forthcoming, the society believed that something was not right with the governance system. History documents some African kings who committed suicide because their leadership did not bring the desired outcomes to their people.

Governance in Africa is corrosive because the continent seems to lack value-adding people in government who can envision an idea and then resolve to achieve it. There is the looting of the public resources without any iota of shame, and massive disruptions of political systems for personal reasons without any modicum of decency. Even when the resources for technological discoveries were almost found on the continent, the recent generation of Africans has not been able to do many tangibles with it, reinforcing that, in the current trajectory of events, something is wrong with those who govern us.

Meanwhile, with the right set of people in governance, Africa will leap forward. Humanitarian philosophy, which allows people to build strong moral characters, has been in existence for thousands of years, and we cannot in good conscience ascribe that to recent African leaders. Leadership is needed, argued Richard Joseph: leaders who can translate visions to results.

READ ALSO: Nigeria And The Multiplication Of Chaos

Misgovernance has continued, and the bad results are everywhere to see. Where systems exist, they are heavily manipulated by the same people, thus promoting mediocrity above vision. Misgovernance causes those elected to protect the people to spend the monies allocated for that purpose on material things and for their own families and cronies. Therefore, they cover their leadership or democratic emptiness with cosmetic programs and projects to mislead their unassuming followers. The present African leaders are mortgaging the continent’s future, and they do not even attract the people’s wrath for it. According to Professor Richard Joseph, while governance is fundamental to enhancing generational success for the people, they also have instructive roles to play. Over the years, African leaders have repeatedly demonstrated that they are staunch enemies of due process and purposeful leadership, and challenging them would involve catching them in the act and imposing the maximum punishment.

The key to accessing transformative development in every sphere of human endeavor is now in the hands of the generation whose quality of life has been infested with problems. They face the ugly situations caused by the carelessness, visionlessness, and laziness of the preceding generations who failed to plant seeds when the ecological conditions were fertile. They, however, do not need to succumb to fate; otherwise, the problem would be more compounded for the coming generations, and that would be imaginatively disastrous. They wield power, and they have the energy. They are expected to ask questions because without good governance in place, they cannot have the opportunity to challenge their contemporaries in other parts of the world. After all, they have seen the wide difference between having visionary individuals in governance and coping with the bad ones. They can see this because they have a wide network of friends across different parts of the world from whom they gather information about the places where they are, and this means that they must begin to ask important questions and hold many of their politicians accountable. They need to ask them what the plan is so that they can rescue a future for their children and children’s children.

This is important because all concerned individuals require participation that does not discriminate against race, gender, ethnicity, or religious views, as well as geographical and philosophical boundaries. People should make a deliberate demand so that all these would be sequentially done. The youths must fight, not by destructing monuments or resorting to physical violence, but by democratically engaging those in positions of power so that they can be recruited to the wagon and therefore make significant contributions that will salvage their future from their precarious situation. Also, women must rise up because their involvement in governance is crucial to stability and development. When they are not included, a critical aspect of the social resources is not engaged, which might be potentially dangerous for the country. There is a need to invest in education for those who will eventually be tasked to translate their knowledge into concrete results.

Additionally, more women need to be involved in politics and positions of authority. The exclusion is glaring, with negative outcomes. There is an increasing conversation on women’s roles, provided they are allowed to be represented in politics. Women constitute a larger proportion of the population. According to Professor Joseph, power is something you wrestle for and win, even when the odds are stacked against you. It would be inappropriate to believe that the people who have benefited from a dysfunctional system would suddenly let go of their influence.

While we have emphasized the purpose of inclusion and reiterated why youths must rise and demand fundamental changes, it would be unfair to say they have not made efforts. In reality, they attempt various measures to seek changes since they understand the strong connections between their future and the governance system. Youths in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, and other countries have organized and protested, advocating for fundamental changes and agitating for inclusion. Cases of suppression are equally many.

Now it gets cockier, especially with the resulting development from this ugly condition. The youths are made of different resolves, and only a few of them have the thick skin to withstand all manner of maltreatment and misgovernance. Although at the same time, not all of them have the resources to make the moves that would transform their lives. However, it cannot be denied that they are dissatisfied, and their annoyance and anger are being forced into a jar that can potentially explode at any time. When the government clamps down on them, many of them seek opportunities in other countries, resulting in out-migration to other continents, especially to Europe and the United States. While cross-border movements and migration are as old as humanity, there is no contention that sporadic movements of people over a particular period away from their homes to areas where they potentially would face backlogs of racial and political extradition is an ominous signal. More than it can be explained, it signals that people are perhaps escaping from a particular condition.

This questions the political philosophy in use in Africa, and this is where it is closely linked to governance, as earlier identified. There are also arguments and opinions that Africa’s democratic inheritance does not work well, and this has made different stakeholders, including academics, begin to call for a new system of thinking that can immediately produce the results Africa needs. While many of the discussions have always resulted in the outright rejection of military alternatives, owing to their totalitarian and high-handed possibilities, there is also the campaign for something more suitable that would help the continent in the enforcement of laws and order so that normalcy would return to the continent. This is important in order to attract developers and development to the continent. Investors run away when there is no security or safety for them.

Drastic measures are urgently needed in Africa, no matter how one looks at things. The ones brimming with ideas and energies are frustrated by the strategy of migration, and those who cannot leave are bludgeoned to silence. According to Professor Richard Joseph, one of the solutions to the problems is to provide education of the sort that promotes passion, vision and critical thinking. It appears that, while those at the helm of affairs are educated, it is not enough to reflect on the future that would not include them. They are educated only to the level that they regurgitate ideas, regardless of how irreconcilable they are when they are in the position of leadership. This would not be an accurate definition of education that our guest had in mind. Military personnel also need a form of education. Leaders should receive impactful education and provide security to the state, including the protection of all human lives within the boundaries of their countries. They must understand the complexities of human relationships and the expectations of the people they govern.

This is the second report on the interview with Professor Richard Joseph on March 27, 2022. His views have traveled wide, reported in several newspapers. For the transcript, see YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anOv_AJBHMs; Facebook https://fb.watch/c0p49QbUOK/)

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

Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

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Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III: The Legacies Of A Great King

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

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 CONVERSATION WITH ERNESTO YEBOAH, PART 1

Youth Movement For Change

By

Toyin Falola

 Despite being famous for the abundance of its natural resources, Africa has not lived up to its potential in the eyes of many. The continent has come to be synonymous with strife in contemporary times. The current situation of the continent is often blamed on the sensationalism and selectiveness of western media coverage of the region, which is underscored by a seemingly unending string of unflattering experiences—bloody coups, ethnic conflicts, electoral violence, political repression, poverty, famine, and pandemics. Other arguments seeking to explain Africa’s undesirable socio-economic condition have pointed to the great atrocities of the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, which indubitably had—and continue to have—significant consequences for the region’s development but fail to exonerate Africa’s post-colonial leadership from its abysmal treatment of the continent’s most promising asset, its youth.

Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

Photo: Ernesto Yeboah

Around the world and throughout history, the youth have been the backbone of social changes. From ancient times, even when our ancestors scarcely lived beyond their forties, the continuance of human civilization rested on the vigour of youth; on the farm, on the battlefield, and even on the floor of industry, youth have proven an indispensable asset. During and after the colonial rule in Africa, the youth have played a crucial role in political development. The youth movements of the 1920s and 30s gave rise to the political parties that bolstered Africa’s readiness for self-government, and a bulk of Africa’s independence leaders were youths themselves, under thirty-five years old.

READ ALSO: Nigeria And The Multiplication Of Chaos

In addition, the perpetrators of Africa’s first coups were young members of the army, some of whom held on to power for considerable periods. During the dark days of military rule, the African youth maintained activism for civil rights and democracy and fought against economic and social injustice through their various student union bodies. More recently, the Arab Spring movement in northern Africa, the RhodesMustFall movement in South Africa, and the EndSARS movement in Nigeria have represented the continuation of an agelong youth struggle against social and economic injustice.

Whatever the scientific or historical reason for the systemic association of the youth with ignorance, incompetence, and irresponsibility characteristic of contemporary society, it is more a reflection of the “life history theory” than it is of any biological limitation. The “life-history theory,” built on the conclusion that teens behave differently depending on how hostile and unforgiving their environment feels to them, is a testament to youth’s malleability and not their incapacity. This theory, which is primarily based on the perception that the period up to the 1950s was much tougher and its youth was “allowed” to assume responsibilities that would socially be considered outside its purview today, applies conversely to the emasculation of today’s African youth in a period of unprecedented difficulty. Today, against the backdrop of rising unemployment and other socio-economic difficulties induced by climate change and bad leadership, the African youth is, in addition to several socio-economic deprivations, burdened with concocted and atavistic ageist perceptions.

With a little apprehension, one may argue that nowhere has the youth suffered more deprivation in the twenty-first century than in Africa. Home to the world’s second-largest youth—people under 25 years old—population after China, Africa’s leadership has done very little to harness the creative energy of this vast human resource in providing the ideal socio-political and economic conditions required for this great continent to prosper. The widespread instances of debilitating poverty, disease, famine, and near-constant political instability on the continent weigh heavily on this youthful demographic that numbers about a billion people (around sixty per cent of the entire population).

If not faced with intimidation, marginalization, or abuse, African youth have had to contend with unemployment and other challenges that come with being denied access to the kind of education and vocational training that would allow them to become productive members of society. As a result, except for the marginal percentage who have successfully risen above monumental odds to establish themselves through hard work and ingenuity, even on the global stage, many others remain trapped in a disabling environment, succumbing to social pressures and becoming tools in the hands of mischief makers and, in effect, a menace to their society.

READ ALSO: Speaking Truth To Power: Attahiru Jega, Toye Olorode, And Nigeria’s Future

As all requests from the youth quarter for political inclusion and an address of the factors impeding youth development—human rights, women’s rights, quality education, proper healthcare facilities, gainful employment opportunities, and climate change—have either fallen on deaf ears or been attended to by lip-service, the African youth have concluded that the only way they can turn their plight around for good is to take matters into their own hands. Thus, the continent has seen an increase in the number of youth activists who have formed associations and organized awareness campaigns—sometimes through protest marches—to mobilize their contemporaries to the youth cause of equity, liberty, and inclusion. Certain names/faces have emerged as symbols of the youth struggle in Africa due to this endeavour, which the technological revolution of social media has greatly facilitated.

Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

 

Alaa Salah

In 2018, twenty-five-year-old Alaa Salah (the “Nubian Queen”), an engineering student of the Sudan International University, gained global recognition for her role in the 2018/2019 Sudanese revolution that eventually led to Omar-al Bashar’s removal. As a Sudanese human rights activist and a member of MANSAM (Women of Sudanese Civic and Political Groups), Alaa and her fellow women activists decried the continued exclusion of women from leadership positions despite the significant role they have played in the struggle against social and economic injustices in the country. Alaa took the message of gender inequality in Sudan to the United Nations (UN) assembly in 2019. In her address to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Alaa called for an all-inclusive government encompassing ethnic and religious minorities, civil society, resistance groups, and a fifty-per cent parity for women in governance. In the same year, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to bringing peace to her country.

Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

Elizabeth Wathuti

Elizabeth Wathuti is a twenty-six-year-old Kenyan environment and climate activist. She is the founder of Kenya’s Green Generation Initiative, which encourages young people to care more about nature and be environmentally conscious. Her initiative has led to the planting of 30,000 tree seedlings in Kenya, a portion of which are food trees aimed at combating hunger in Kenya. At the 2021 COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Elizabeth delivered an impassioned speech, calling on delegates to consider the cost of their inaction on the African continent and its peoples. In her own words: “Please open your hearts…If you allow yourself to feel it the heartbreak and the injustice is hard to bear. Sub-Saharan Africans are responsible for just half a per cent of historical emissions, the children are responsible for none, but they are bearing the brunt.”

Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

Kilifeu, Thiat, and Malal Tala

The trio of Malal Talla, Cheik Oumar Cyrille Toure, and Bessane Seck are a group of Senegalese musicians and journalists who started the protest group Y’en a Marre (Fed Up) in 2011 to protest against rampant power cuts in Dakar. From power cuts, the group came to identify a range of problems they were fed up with in Senegalese society. Beginning with their music, some of which evolved into rallying cries, the group and its members progressed to door-to-door campaigns to encourage youths to register to vote. Enduring arrests in 2012 for their role in organizing a sit-in protest at Dakar’s Obelisk Square, the group pressed on with their campaign for political reform and were alleged to have raised over 300,000 votes, which led to the ousting of then Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade. Since then, the group has remained active, organizing meetings and shows and calling on the government to implement reform agreements, including land ownership reforms, which remain a critical issue for Senegal’s rural poor.

Faces Of The African Youth Movement For Change

Stacy Owino

Stacy Owino, a twenty-one-year-old Kenyan women’s rights campaigner, is passionate about ending the widespread female genital mutilation (FGM) practice in East Africa. At the age of eighteen, Stacy, a Computer Science and Mathematics student, co-created an app that works to save girls from FGM by linking them with authorities and life-saving services close to them. Stacy Owino also represents Africa on the Youth Sounding Board for the European Commission. Her efforts towards eradicating FGM earned her honour at the 2020 Youth Activist Summit held at the UN in Geneva.

The activists mentioned above by no means cover the breadth of youth engaged in activism in Africa. Several other young African activists scattered around the regions are actively engaged with one social, political, or economic injustice or the other. In many instances, such movements are faceless. They do not have an identified leader/leadership as a way of avoiding targeted government arrests and crackdowns that can easily break the spirit of the movement. Pitiably, this has been the common government response to such youth demands for change. Despite the brutal crackdowns that have met youth actions against social injustice—as witnessed with the EndSARS movement in Nigeria in 2020, youth action against anti-people government policies/practices is expected to persist as long as the proper measures are not taken to address these grievances.

Please join us for a conversation with Ernesto Yeboah, the renowned Radical Activist and Commander-in-Chief, Economic Fighters League.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

4:00 PM Ghana

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

11:00 AM Austin CST

Register and Watch:

https://www.tfinterviews.com/post/ernesto-yeboah

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2lvX7A2iVndiCq0NfFcb0w/live

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

Intellectualism, Social Philosophy, And Governance: A Nexus

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Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III: The Legacies Of A Great King

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

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Conversation With Professor Richard Joseph (2)

Intellectualism, Social Philosophy, and Governance: A Nexus

President Obama with Professor Joseph

By
Toyin Falola

Talking about the functionality of the human biological parts, either of animals or humans on this planet, is easily construed as primarily attached to natural programming or sentient behavior. To conceive the world through the examination of the functionality of these parts in the way highlighted above is to have a very superficial, yet conventionally popular, position about how things work in the world because when society plays an important role, it is too ordinary to ascribe the capacity to function to nature. Of course, a surface examination of the above would, predictably, push people to question the logicality of the assumption, and that in itself would not be a problem because such a contrariant position is not unforeseen.

A logical aversion to it will immediately generate a mental eruption that could potentially pose a question such as: if biological parts could function outside of nature’s configuration, how would there be people with eyes who yet cannot see, people with ears who yet cannot hear, all of them having their problems traceable to a congenital anomaly? Whereas they will not be wrong when carefully thought over, they would have committed a crime of overlooking the place of secondary performative values, which is exclusive to social programming, and we shall connect this to Richard Joseph’s place in knowledge production.

If the eyes were naturally meant to see, one would be able to perceive dangers before they became obvious. But since dangers exist in different dimensions in civilizations, different societies worldwide have undertaken the need for a conscious programing of these biological parts. We would notice that even when they can fulfill their natural assignment of seeing, the eyes are valueless in situations where knowledge that can grant them the ability to see things before they are obvious is not transferred to them. In essence, it would be able to look but not see in the sense of its social importance.

What does the eye need to activate its seeing ability, one may ask? The eyes need knowledge, which is the most straightforward response to such a question. However, the people who give the knowledge need to be examined. Knowledge is central to development, but by human nature, not many people want others to grow, especially beyond them, as that would inferiorize their achievements. For these people, transferring knowledge to others would be done selectively, though this does not happen with teachers. Teachers light the candles of others, and surprisingly, theirs do not diminish as a result, which sums up the reason for the strong intellectual legacy that is usually associated with teachers. Without the thorough contributions of our teachers, we would not have been able to see, except to stare blandly, nor be able to understand when society is heading towards doom. The predominant responsibility of the eyes would have been short-circuited (although this is what happens to many people without knowledge in every human society) when there are no teachers to hint to us about the proximal future that we face, using only the activities of the present as their guide to peep into the future.

READ ALSO: Richard A. Joseph: One Of A Kind And The Rarest Breed Of Political Scientists

Teachers such as Richard Joseph have educated us that when the wrong societal philosophy is demonstrated or perhaps ornamented by the available political system, leadership reality, among other things, is corrupted, with dangers inevitably lurking around such a people, and they are unaware. With our eyes’ configuration, as done by teachers, we have a hint about our collective future that might have evaded us, as it is with many people who have eyes only for looking and not seeing. Human society has been made to function in this capacity that places so much importance on what teachers have to offer, and during the just concluded Toyin Falola Interviews, we had a good intellectual ride with our guest, Richard Joseph.

Richard Joseph opened our eyes to see that states are a political unit saddled with the duty to ensure the safety of those who fall within its boundaries. This perspective is suggestive of something very interesting. First, it reveals to us that the state is an instrument itself and not something that is naturally given. If we believe that the state is to be conceived as an instrument, then it would be used with some specific tactics to have maximum impact. This again means that it is susceptible to being misused, especially when it is in the wrong hands. Secondly, the state politically stands the possibility of losing its integrity as a political unit if some members do not believe their well-being is important to the state. An instrument is fundamental to achieving results, and it is managed by some groups of people whose selection process is determined by the collective decision of the people, except in cases of imposition.

READ ALSO: Speaking Truth To Power: Attahiru Jega, Toye Olorode, And Nigeria’s Future

Therefore, we can aver to challenge the reason for the dysfunctionality of a system when it is conventionally understood that the ones under whose control the state is, are selected and bound by the principles of representation in that geographical environment. We would not be taking a wrong step by doing this because it is obvious that although a number of these selected individuals use the state as an instrument to improve the lifestyle, lifespan and life quality of the people, they have, however, colonized the state so that it can only function for them. We would have no idea of the danger they are doing to the people and their future unless we have seen from the intellectual empowerment of our teachers that people kidnap the political system of countries for their provincial intention, which is what experts in political science call “state capture.”

Intellectualism, Social Philosophy, and Governance: A Nexus

In Africa, many states are victims of this horrible condition. Instead of being the instrument of development that would promise protection and prosperity to the people, the state is shortchanged to have absolutely no value for them under the reality that they use them for their selfish interests. Because they have mastered the art of deceit and duplicity, they make themselves nearly unquestionable and unaccountable. Many African countries are captured by the ones (s)elected because the category of people values self-aggrandizement than collective progress. It gets clearer that these are connected because the terminology that teachers feed us with to describe situations where the state is captured is called “prebendalism,” which is a concept used to designate the process of activating political patronage so that cronies would have access to public wealth.

To capture a state requires the collective effort of people in different political offices. When there is increased greed for personal aggrandizement, the people looking for effective opportunities to enhance their plan would find allies of similar ambitions or create them. They would find allies that would jointly assist in the despoliation of the state resources. This would continue because they have a unified ambition that does not serve the majority’s interests. Meanwhile, capturing a state gives such relief to the individuals at the front line of the exercise. However, they are always unaware that staging bad governance would not particularly help the culprits, for they would harvest from the problem either directly or indirectly. This would happen because society operates on the general law of physics: “behind every action, there is an equal opposite reaction.” The opposite reaction would come from people whose safety, welfare, and interests are not protected by those chosen to use the state as an instrument.

Suppose the social philosophy that necessitates the creation of a state shows the residues of collective interests in the development of interrelated and interrelating offices. In that case, one can understand that the basic reason is to promote a unanimous agenda that strengthens bonds and solidify connections. This means that, in addition to helping create a system responsible for managing people’s safety and welfare, the establishment of a state has another importance, which is humans’ inevitable need for mutual dependence. It should be emphasized that individuals in isolation cannot ensure their safety, no matter how powerful they are.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Professor In Eastern Europe On Russia-Ukraine War

In essence, the understanding that humans are vulnerable to external pressures, threats, and potential attacks necessitates the development of a system, such as a state. As a result, creating a state and its systems or institutions helps uphold humanitarian services for people within that geographical setting. Meanwhile, because each state has many institutions, then if some powerful individuals in charge of the affairs of the state want to capture the state, they first weaken the system for their plans to succeed. The sense of collective purpose that underpins the creation of the state is thus defeated because it is unavoidable in a state-captured situation for the person who wields state power to suck, milk, and render the available institutions useful only to themselves until they are removed from that position.

State capture harms our general moral principles as a people because individuals who have experienced the brutality of state capture will inculcate ideas and philosophies of how to conduct such atrocious undertakings when they are in positions of leadership. And because they would have mastered the art, they would have a more disturbing tenure when they have the opportunity. This is why the problems of prebendal states always appear humongous after a series of overwhelming political experiences. There is the individual who seized the country’s political system, ruling with every manner of brutality. Some people may succeed in learning or teaching these monstrous philosophies. When the masses complain or show defeat, it would lead to the ascension of other leaders, democratically elected or militarily selected, and they would come to do more damage to the system because the state is conquered.

Once the state is captured, education, security, health, economy, and other available institutions fail to deliver the expected public good. They will be ineffective since what is required of them is not met. Imagine the situation when the state plunges into this abyss. The education system would not produce vibrant individuals that can effectively make any difference in society, which would affect the philosophical constructs they would have. For example, they might downplay the significance of education because they do not have a firm foundation in it either. Security would become subdued, ineffective, and unproductive, giving room for every manner of atrocity that the morally decapitated individuals would wreak. This will happen in essence because the ammunition that would have been procured would be abandoned. Those who benefit from the systemic rots or state collapse would either procure ammunition of inferior quality or not buy them, making the individuals within such political boundaries unsafe. In addition, health difficulties would arise due to the lack of scientific laboratory equipment, and because of doctors whose understanding of diseases is based on Google search, following a patient’s complaint. In essence, state capture can induce state collapse.

Furthermore, there seem to be the grandparents of state capture; the notorious child called gerontocracy. The term is used to designate a political system run by older adults is gaining popularity among those who want to make the state work for them and in their favor forever. Many countries are considered victims of this political condition, but it concerns us more in Africa as many leaders in the postcolonial African environment have philosophically declared enmity with the democratic ethos about alternative perspectives and successors. They consider themselves above every other individual in society and have serious suspicion about others’ ability to manage the state to benefit the majority. The hate against others has shielded them from the cries and crises society faces because of their actions. Many African leaders have captured the states only in different capacities and dimensions. Except Cameroonians aged forty and under-read about having rotational leadership or a democratic system that allows the emergence of popular candidates, their experience of and with Papa Paul Biya alone cannot make them appreciate democratic ethos because they have not witnessed another leader but the only Papa in their whole existence.

READ ALSO: Nigeria And The Multiplication Of Chaos

The consequences of having government representatives who are old and devoid of ideas are distressing. Apart from Cameroon, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, is another African gerontocrat. These leaders have no particular touch with the events of the contemporary time, yet they are intricately tied to the government of their countries, giving no opportunity to budding individuals to positively impact their countries. All forms of political-crazy with negative connotations, such as plutocracy and gerontocracy, are different realizations of state capture because those involved in it have the dream and desire to use the institutions of the state for their personal gain. Therefore, the problem is that by holding the state to ransom in this way, voices of reason which would have injected normalcy, orderliness, and due process into the system find ways to escape from the country to another place where their intellectual ideas are valued and celebrated. The urge to remain in power, greed and an insatiable quest for personal glory seems to be common denominators among the leaders of the countries facing this political problem. When all these are found in anyone and they have successfully found a way of cornering the system, they would rule with utmost impunity.

However, there is a meeting point. In an intellectual society, humans provide ideas that are eventually clothed in theoretical knowledge and used or applied to enhance sanity and stability through careful observation and long-term examination of events. But the misapplication or non-application of theories could bring numerous disasters so much that one would believe the theories are ineffective in the first place. Therefore, knowledge production would not be disregarded because leaders fail to understand its application or are generally mischievous in its usage. In Africa, what is needed goes beyond theory since results are imminently required. What do Africans need to do to make them a better people and continent that is well poised for greatness, from which other countries or civilizations would benefit substantially?

Responding to the question posed by Professor Yacob-Haliso, Professor Richard Joseph intones that theories are not what have failed the African people or the states, but praxis. Theoretical frameworks are human conceptions connected to the evaluative observations and judgments they make of a situation after thorough engagement. Indeed, the beauty of theory lies in the fact that nearly all aspect of human endeavor is constructed by theoretical reasoning because conceptions usually precede productions. While the centrality of statehood is important for achieving basic things needed to lead a quality life, it requires certain ingredients to be properly put in place.

First, according to Professor Richard Joseph, is leadership. The right leadership is needed to get the state to work in the appropriate direction. Leadership does not mean an individual occupying a political office. It means the resolution of individuals who find themselves in public offices (and by the public, I mean any position where one’s services are required) to demonstrate uncommon readiness and commitment, with uncompromising principles to drive societal changes. Leadership is that important because critical decisions that should be made would have to be made by leaders with foresight. Their ability to see far beyond is not all the time theirs. On many occasions, a good leader is defined by the ability to coordinate people and ferment ideas from them through constant engagement. Therefore, they take the bold step to make these ideas count in their policy formulation and intervention. This indicates that there is a need for a leader who is not vainglorious, as vainglory is at the core of prebendalism. When leaders are all out for their selfish ambitions, the state is also the primary victim.

Secondly, the people who are trusted with the responsibility to produce ideas would have to stay loyal to the cause because they would always be needed when idea reformation, knowledge creation, and frameworks of moral principles are needed. Meanwhile, every group of people needs these things to progress. Intellectuals are not appropriately celebrated, and this is why it appears like their efforts are not recognized or worthy of any attention. They do not produce ideas from nothingness, after all. Their theories are based on their continual observations of the world around them, and the fact that they have debated and discussed their ideas indicates that they have the potential to transform people and society into something great.

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When intellectualism, social philosophy, and governance are understood this way, a level of unity will combine to produce the necessary spark for the restoration of progress among the people. There is no development without knowledge, and since knowledge produces the form of social philosophy that people use, they may produce the wrong results if these things do not work well. The African continent has placed limited value on its educational system, resulting in the underplay of the role of knowledge.

(This is the first report on the interview with Professor Richard Joseph on March 27, 2022. His views have traveled wide, reported in several newspapers. For the transcript, see YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anOv_AJBHMs; Facebook https://fb.watch/c0p49QbUOK/)

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

Richard A. Joseph: One Of A Kind And The Rarest Breed Of Political Scientists

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Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III: The Legacies Of A Great King
Prof. Toyin Falola

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

A CONVERSATION WITH RICHARD JOSEPH, PART 1

 

Richard A. Joseph: One Of A Kind And The Rarest Breed Of Political Scientists

Richard A. Joseph

By

Toyin Falola

 In classifying animals, tigers are in a league of their own. They are quick, strategic, and go-getters. It has come to light that this species of intelligent animals is fast becoming extinct; however, the Sumatran tigers are an even rarer breed, accounting for an infinitesimal fraction of the uncommon species. This analogy is apt in describing the life and work of Professor Richard Joseph, vis-à-vis the life and works of several scholars within and beyond his academic discipline. Prof. Joseph is a septuagenarian academic who has enjoyed one of the most productive, impactful, and successful careers in this century. Your knowledge of and acquaintance with this revered professor of political science will leave you in awe. A quick perusal of his citation or curriculum vitae will reveal that this emeritus professor of political science had some of the best education anyone could crave, which sets him apart as a rare breed of a rare species.

Those who do not forget their roots are fruitful and successful, and Richard Joseph is one of them. He has been firm in his message to the world as an Africanist to the core, which is evident in his commitment to and passion for the growth and development of African countries, as well as in how he has worked in and conducted research on several of these African countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Liberia, and Cameroon. His passion for Africa and desire to see the continent progress has been the driving force in his academic and consultative engagements. However, his influence and work are not restricted to the African continent alone. His academic tentacles have expanded to the study of the Scandinavians, the Americas, and Europe, including working in the United States of America, Norway, and France.

It takes a special breed to excel in several hardly related fields, which is another feather to the emeritus professor’s cap. He is also a well-traveled academic. Traveling gives you depth and exposure, and this is immediately obvious when you engage Professor Joseph in a discussion. He has a vast repertoire and can hold his own on different topics of world interest, making him a delightful conversationalist and discussant. If you do not already know this, you will find out as you listen to him speak at the forthcoming interview session my team and I will be having with him.

READ ALSO: Speaking Truth To Power: Attahiru Jega, Toye Olorode, And Nigeria’s Future

Professor Richard Joseph is a pride of his time and one of the most sought-after scholars in the world today. He has had hundreds of speaking engagements at international seminars and conferences. Anyone who has followed his story would have noticed that he is a political scientist who fully supports and advocates for democracy. He has especially devoted research efforts and speaking engagements to the study of democracy in Africa. One of his most resounding summations that I have encountered is his questioning of the revisionist argument. An outspoken democracy advocate, Richard established a compelling argument on how true development in Africa must be rooted in the practice of democracy. I especially love how he pointed out that democracy is not the problem, but rather how it is practiced in several African states. Thus, even if these African states were to practice another form of governance, they would most likely end up in the same condition as they presently are in their search for development. This reinforces the point I have always made on how Africa’s need for development goes beyond the system of government currently being practiced by many states on the continent. It is more of the prevalent mentality among the people and what they would be willing to do or not do.

Richard A. Joseph: One Of A Kind And The Rarest Breed Of Political Scientists

Photo: Richard Joseph with Wole Soyinka

I love to call Richard a Nigerian. His essay “Affluence and Underdevelopment: the Nigerian Experience,” is one of the most robust and detailed documentation on the intersections between politics, economy, societal influence, and corruption in Nigeria. Even as a Nigerian national, reading the work will give you a deeper perspective that will impact how you view, consider, and discuss some Nigerian issues. As a non-Nigerian, the article is one of the best anyone could read on the condition of the Nigerian state. Richard aptly and extensively captures what many now term Africa’s curse of abundance. It is about how Nigeria remains a struggling country even as a richly blessed country in terms of human resources, natural resources, cultures and diversity, and arable land owing to ineptitude, bad leadership, and the misapplication of the country’s numerous resources.

Richard highlights how, although every government promises to invest in industrialization by building industries and manufacturing plants across all sectors, the country’s export rate for agricultural and pharmaceutical products, for example, remains abysmally poor. It is lamentable how ridiculous importation rates of consumer goods such as matches, toothpicks, and plastic spoons — the somewhat littlest of things any country should be able to produce sustainably — make headlines in Nigerian dailies. There is also the seeming confusion as to the economic blueprint the nation should follow, as successive governments introduce new strategies to overhaul previous ones.

READ ALSO: What Is Our Understanding Of Modern Nigeria? – Reflections On A Book Presentation

By approaching his essay from an academic and researcher point-of-view and as someone who has had first-hand experience with the issues he was confronting, it is hard to tell that Richard Joseph is not a Nigerian. Aside from the years he spent in Nigeria as an academic and researcher, he has always demonstrated a love for the Nigerian people. And even though he had to leave the country during General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military rule in 1979, Richard has always proven to Nigeria that he is not far away, as evidenced by his continued commentaries and essays on the Nigerian state and the happenings in the country.

If I were to qualify Richard Joseph by three adjectives, I would choose “Africanist,” “development-focused,” “democracy-advocate.” These three words touch on his passions and lifelong work. Richard Joseph is a multi-award and multi-grant-winning researcher whose grant money has primarily gone into development-focused projects across the African continent and other countries. He is a visionary who believes that one person cannot do it all and that research is a continuous process. Thus, as the researchers of this century put in the work, they should also commit to preparing the path for researchers to come. As a result, he has also made considerable contributions to ensuring that centers are founded to advance the cause of research into democracy and development.

Richard A. Joseph: One Of A Kind And The Rarest Breed Of Political Scientists

Photo: Richard Joseph with Chinua Achebe

Professor Richard Joseph is one of those academics who makes you want to listen to every word they say. It goes beyond knowledge; it is also about the weight of every word and its contribution to the overall depth of every message passed across. Such people — classical orators! On March 27, 2022, I will be hosting Richard at the next edition of The Toyin Falola Interviews. Professors Osaghae,Yacob-Haliso, and Monga— seasoned political scientists and academics — will join me on the interviewers’ side of the discourse. I will not go into details on the topics the discourse will touch on; however, I can tell you that we will be touching on issues relating to the Nigerian state and Africa at large. I am assured that the forthcoming session with him will be an enjoyable one. Beyond this, it will also provide useful insights into the way forward, which the leaders are probably quite aware of but feign ignorance.

Join us for an interview with Professor Richard Joseph on:

Sunday, March 27, 2022

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

11:00 AM Austin CST

Register and Watch:

https://www.tfinterviews.com/post/richard-joseph

Join via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89716425021

Watch on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tfinterviews/live

Watch on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2lvX7A2iVndiCq0NfFcb0w/live

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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