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Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda: Nigerian  Professionals As Strategic Partners



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

It is significant that the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) decided to connect the theme of its 2023 annual conference to a critical issue that is so very relevant to national discourse at this time. And, at that, through a clarion call on Nigerian professionals to join Nigeria’s march towards renewal of hope in her potential and possibility as a rekindled national policy commitment. Indeed, there is no better time to sound the alarm to all Nigerian core stakeholders  that all hands must be on deck to push Nigeria away from the precipice and unto  renewed progress towards a more reassuring national emancipation. And which coalition of champions in Nigeria is more qualified than the association of professional bodies, to stand  at  the forefront of the collective attempt to take Nigeria seriously and rescue her failing efforts?

Did Tom McCall, the former Governor of Oregon in the US, not once posit that “Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community (my country), and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” And to John Updike, the American novelist “To be professional is to be dependable, to be dependable is to be predictable …” Even though he considers dependability and predictability to be boring virtues in art, they are virtues that are sorely needed, more than ever before, in the urgent and pressing need to transform the Nigerian state. That said, I then like to say that the trajectory of this keynote will be historical and critical, with deep implications for the reform of the Nigerian development agenda and policy architecture, through the critical inputs that I consider should be the responsibility of professionals and professional bodies as one of the core of national elites that the transformation of Nigeria sorely needs to regain a more reassuring future and her place with destiny

Background: Hope and Cynicism in Contention: Diagnosing the Nigerian Predicament

This annual conference is coming at a most auspicious period when Nigeria seems to be hanging in the balance. Indeed, it is a time when hope and hopelessness, cynicism and patriotism are jostling for space in the minds of Nigerians. It is a moment when the experiences of Nigeria as a nation-state – our sixty-three-year experience of statehood and underdevelopment – demand that Nigerians remain pessimistic as wisdom. I say wisdom, so, they are not fooled by overhyped expectations again, and like musical chair, witness another round of agony of defeating frustration as a people. Yet, a part of our hearts, as Nigerians, is nonetheless open (as hope) to enter into the dreamworld again, dreaming about the possibility of a transformed governance system (reminiscent of the imaginary Utopia that American Marvel Comics graphically depicted in Black Panther: The Kingdom of Wakanda), a possible prospective view of a new Nigeria that will make lives worth living, and by that, make Nigeria a great nation within the grand vision and agenda of president Tinubu’s Renewed Hope.

And as it is, in the theatrics of the jostling of hope and hopelessness, cynicism and patriotism, Nigeria is caught in a state of collective agitation. And to parody the Shakespearean Hamlet, Nigerians are agitated by a hanging question: ‘is Nigeria to be or not to be?’ That of course is a rhetorical question that only time will answer. But the Nigeria’s predicaments that the question encapsulate are numerous and complex. And we need some sense of what they are, however tentative, in order to be able to get a grip of what their resolution will look like

As a governance and institutional reformer, what ails Nigeria seems pretty obvious to me. There are interconnected diagnostic points where I have located the Nigeria’s complex predicament. The first concerns the pervasive and endemic rentier and predatory political culture that has encroached into the entire fabric of our social life. Political offices are instrumentalized for private uses with an alacrity that has perpetually spelt the death of patriotism and nationalism – the yearning desire to do something for one’s country. Arising from this is the second fundamental source of Nigeria’s predicament, inherent in a national elite and a political class that have lost their nationalist mandate of guiding the Nigerian state through its transformational path towards progress. We lack that core of national elite with the guiding force of ideological vision of what the Nigerian nation should be. It is this measure of ideological emptiness that is evident in Nigeria’s party politics, where it is pretty easier for a politician to move from one party to another than to renew international passport. The same sense in which none of the political parties has an ideological framework with sufficient philosophical construct regarding the Nigeria of the future that they can commit to build

This for me is the diagnostic understanding of why Nigeria is where she is at the moment: there is no philosophical construct or ideological framework that provides the blueprint of interconnected variables and constants around which Nigeria’s past, present and future reckoning would have been outlined and calibrated. As it were, therefore, successive governments; from 1966 to date have only been meandering within a nebulous space; trying to make sense of local agitations, national complexities and global conditionalities. At home, no government has been able to make sense of the national project of integrating Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities into a civic nationalism that privileges the collective over the primordial. And within the political economy of global relations, Nigeria is caught flat within the ideological squeeze of the neoliberal hegemony and its economic conditionalities that ensure that the country dances to the tunes called by the Bretton Wood orthodoxy and its gatekeepers – the World Bank and the IMF

Elite Nationalism and the Prosperity of Nations

In the political science literature and elite theory, development visioning and progress assumes that the elite or the political class in any society possesses the best in terms of the political wisdom and competence to be at the vanguard of navigating the ship of the affairs of the political community. And when we reference the distinguishing figures in world history: the likes of Thomas Paine and the incidence of the American Revolution; the philosophers or public intellectuals that made the French Revolution a reality – the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Claude Helvetius, etc.; Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of the apartheid system in S. Africa; Lee Kwan Yew and the great transformation of the Singaporean dream, and so on, then we come to terms with the basis of the arguments pushed by Acemoglu and Robinson in Why Nations Fail (2013). That the difference between the prosperity and the poverty of nations depends essentially on the decision-making quotient of the political class and the question of whether the public institutions undergirding the dynamics are extractive or inclusive institutions. The issue is critically about “how decisions actually get made, who gets to make them, and why those people decide to do what they do.” In other words, do the decisions made by the political class lead to the emergence of extractive or inclusive institutions? When power is directed towards the personal benefits of the elites, what is created are extractive institutions. When the end of power is the collective benefit of the society, we have inclusive institutions.

So, what Potential and Options are there to Build a Better Nigeria?

The theoretical framework in the foregoing enables us to properly situate the role of the political class in the ongoing democratic struggles to transform Nigeria. And the starting point is to ask the question: is there a path taken by the political elites in Singapore and the Asian Tigers, or in Brazil, or in Botswana, or better still, in the UAE, etc. that Nigeria failed to take? Is this not the same path that the Nigerian political elites took in the years after independence? No one can deny the enormous nation-building efforts of the founding nationalists of the Nigerian state – Bello, Azikiwe and Awolowo, and many others. After the initial hiccup of post-independence Nigeria, regionalism became the arrowhead for an unparalleled developmental impulse that saw the three regions on a spree of economic competition that demonstrated their comparative advantage

But what have we witnessed ever since? The narrative of development has thereafter become one of perpetual transitioning in quantum paces that never added up to any critical boiling point that could crystallize into genuine national transformation. And today, the evidences are right there before our eyes – globally acclaimed multidimensional poverty status of the poverty capital of the world, human development failure, brutal insecurity, endemic unemployment, and all, that reveals the blatant complicity of the political elites in the impoverishment of Nigerians

If a Better Nigerian Society must Emerge!!!

First, the Nigerian elite will go very close to committing class suicide in a manner of speaking. What do I mean? This will be in the service of their commitment to a new type of politics and institutionalism that rates the citizens higher than selfish interest. I can bet that the audience is already murmuring why I am pushing for such idealistic and outlier idea? The idea merely restates in some other words the imperative need for committed leadership provided by a new breed of political elites (a secular version of being ‘born again’ in a manner of speaking). One who instinctively understands what is required to make Nigeria great; not as saints but as patriots that are committed in truth and in spirit. Such leadership will work with an ideologically framed blueprint of progress

And at the very heart of such blueprint is a vision and strategy for building an active citizenship in all Nigerians; a kind of citizenship that encourages individuals to work beyond their personal interests in deliberation and action; one that mandates them to take their civic responsibility seriously – as common national aspiration that the political leadership is trusted in all its actions to achieve

The Elites Have Few Options Left!

And this would be a compulsive commitment for the elites to make because they have few options left. First, the Nigerian state has almost gone bankrupt in resource terms if accrual from oil revenue is assumed as financial buffer to perpetually squander like the prodigal nation that we are. Two, if the elites refuse to let go the hubris of greed and unbridled accumulation and be solution-focused and ingenious at that, political experience also reveals that there is always a breaking point where the people will be more than willing to reject their shackles and suffering

The convulsive rebellion that characterized the Arab Spring, the widespread revolt by the #EndSARS protesters and the unraveling coup d’état in the Sahel, are  indications  that good governance is always better than the horrors of revolts and revolutions that are not always determinate.

Government of National Competence and the Imperative need for Professional Bodies Institutional Rediscovery

And this brings back the idea of president Tinubu on government of national competence. The idea behind the construct, as I see it, is the imperative need to institutionalize a change space in the government arena. One that allows the conversion of elite competences, professionalism and privileges into a formidable change management framework. And one at that, that pushes the boundaries of policy transformation in the service of a developmental agenda. And in so far as such change space requires new breed of leaders and change agents, it brings me to a convenient point on how Nigeria’s professionals and professional bodies can make their entry into the redemptive attempt to transform the Nigerian state. And I ask who is a Professional?

The place to start our inquiry into how professionals can be mobilized to salvage the governance space and the policy arena is with a fundamental question: who is a professional? In my public service institutional reform model, there is the idea of the need to emerge, a generation of “new professionals” imbued with a mix of patriotism, professionalism and honour. With my reform inquiries into the nature, status and capacity of the new professional managers therefore, automatically ties in with APBN’s objective of making Nigeria’s professionals a relevant fulcrum in transforming Nigeria’s policy architecture through policy intelligence and action research

If we excavate the conceptual issues of what makes anyone a professional, we come to the defining essence of the professional as being involved in a vocation – a calling that stands the professional out from any other possible occupation. In other words, being a professional demands more from the person so-called. It demands service as a spiritual endeavor. I have used “spirituality” in professional service to represent a search for meaning and value that connect the professional deeply to others and to humanity. Such spirituality would encompass other notions as i) a call to integrity; ii) a search for meaning within a bigger picture that drives one to seek for solutions to problems, and iii) connection with the goal of the higher calling as touching a professional’s responsibility as patriot

Professionals as Change Agent in the Dynamics of Nation-Building

And now we arrive at the critical issue of facilitating more organized, systematic and institutionalized inputs as professional collectives in policy articulation and proactive activism. This cannot be a task that can be taken for granted as if it is a foregone conclusion. And the expansion of the space of governance to enable such other non-state actors as think tanks, scholars, intellectuals, consultants, and other professionals, to inject the policy space with fresh technocratic and expert presence and with ideas, is still an evolving model.

And this is where the issue becomes rather complicated: the cohabitation of bureaucrats and professionals from other sectors of the economy has historically been a charged relationship. There are two reasons that contribute to this tension. First, bureaucrats, in an attempt to monitor their space, want to subject all perceived outsiders and interlopers—technocrats, subject specialists, policy experts, advisers, and other professionals—to their understanding of technical rationalism—the administrative governing framework made up of public service rules, procedures and guidelines that circumscribe the policy management processes. But then, second, the bureaucrats themselves must be brought under the accountability imperatives demanded by democratic governance. 

Thus, no matter how unique the bureaucrats see their policy space and want to protect its sanctity, they can no longer be left alone to police such a space. The input of non-bureaucrats and professionals are now critically required. There is a managerial and democratic imperative to enlarge the policy space for a better grasp on good governance and the policy intelligence that will lead to it. And most gratefully, this is where the task of the APBN is already cut out for it as the institutional and organizational framework around which is built not only the navigation of the policy space but also the coordination of the governance space in ways that will yield the ultimate policy objectives and experiences. 

I see this as the redemptive task for national rehabilitation of the APBN beyond its usual organizational remits and objectives. Building a strong, capable and efficient institution that will backstop the governance of a developmental state in Nigeria is necessarily a joint venture where Nigerian professionals through the APBN play a pivotal role. I will now outline a few critical issues for consideration.

Action Points, Going Forward

The first urgent issue I see is the need to concretize, programmatize and make more robust and institutional the public-private partnership initiative which has not yet taken firm roots in Nigeria’s governance space. This is a key issue in administrative and institutional reform that is already a solid global best practice. The point here is that going forward, the public sector must fundamentally improve its systems for managing commercially-centered partnerships while building significant national capacity and capability upgrades in the management of complex projects

In terms of harnessing PPPs for national infrastructural development, it would entail getting Nigeria to move up to the 2nd and 3rd levels of PPPs maturity curve as documented in the literature. Indeed, Nigeria is evidently trapped at the 1st level suggesting that the country has not built PPPs governance capability sufficiently for a) regulatory effectiveness, b) manage PPP projects end-to-end to achieve win-win commercial success, and c) with respect to the program management capacities of procuring entities that manage the contractual structure that govern PPPs

And these global good practices need to reference and take inspiration from in terms of public private sectors partnership in public sector capability upgrades. The experiences of Britain and the Asian Tigers come in handy in this regard. Under the focused leadership of Margret Thatcher, Sir Derek Rayner, the CEO of Mark and Spencer, was brought in from the private sector to investigate government inefficiencies and over-bloated services. The result was mind-blowing. After ninety multi-departmental reviews and 266 scrutinies, over 600 million pounds were saved, and more than 16000 posts were removed. 

Japan transformed her post-war economy through the significant introduction of the keiretsu principle that brought the organized private sector—manufacturers, suppliers, bankers, industries and so on—around a unique dynamic of economic cooperation, further strengthened by the introduction of experts with deep understanding of the relationship between economic growth, development, productivity and performance. This is where Edward Deming and the total quality management framework led to: (a) better design of products to improve service; (b) higher level of uniform product quality; (c) improvement of product testing in the workplace and in research centres; and (d) greater sales through global markets. This will involve a spirited effort on the part of APBN to converge other professional associations and establish shared learning platforms that will have two objectives. The first is to explore ways of enhancing more institutional partnership that will strengthen the PPP. 

The second is a gradual move to achieve a coherent framework that allows the relationship between corporate governance principles that the professional bodies will be bringing to the table and the public service rules of the public service. The final task I see as crucially imperative is the joint effort that will constitute a concerted contribution to the objective of a national productivity movement. The APBN cannot afford to be oblivious of the current and abysmally low productivity profile of the Nigerian state and how that has compromised Nigeria’s governance and development planning. This is a crucial point where the APBN joins the leadership matrix and makes an entry point into the change space as part of the coalition of the political, bureaucratic and professional class needed to articulate the visionary, creative and strategic intelligence required to achieve the paradigm shift in productivity thinking and transformation. 


In this lecture, I have made some simple but fundamental arguments. One, elite theory is a critical platform for engineering Nigeria’s good governance and national integration objectives. Two, the elite condition of the Nigerian state is dismal and to become strategic, the political class needed to commit class suicide. Three, this rethinking of elite imperatives includes, on the one hand, the formation of a strategic change space that possesses multi-level leadership dynamics; and on the other facilitates the incursion of professionals and other non-state actors and players. Four, the APBN needs to take up the challenge of jumpstarting a critical conversation and engagement with the public service and the government over the enhancement of the governance space and other critical policy imperatives like the public-private partnership and the national productivity movement Nigeria needs to become a global development player.  

.Lecture by Prof. Olaopa, retired Federal permanent secretary and EVC, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy – ISGPP – as Keynote Speaker at the 2023 Annual Workshop of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) which held at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja on 12-13 September, 2023.


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Reading Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies Of Inclement Climes



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

    “Happiness is a crime in Nigeria.” This is a line – a line of distinction – I am lifting from a message sent to me as a response to my last Friday’s column on ‘“Professor Mabel Evwierhoma on Rubiales and “Wetin women want.”’ The owner of the lifted line is a positively dangerous poet, radical scholar and critic Professor Owojecho Omoha of the University of Abuja. I will at a later date revisit the full message of this literary scholar who is one of the distinguished boosters of this column.

    Why is his quoted line meaningful or relevant to me today? For good reason, I have been trying to reinvigorate the idea or thought of happiness in Nigeria – your country my country our country – despite our common concerns concerning our dissatisfaction with our ungrateful leaders who significantly are our demonic consumers consuming this land, our land centuries and more than centuries ago. On my way to Warri last Friday I was thinking deeply about this when I was caught in the Benin-Ologbo obstacle on that cruel stretch of the Benin-Sapele-Warri Road of urbanized or almost urbanized jungle. I was clutching Professor Olu Obafemi’s very new book of poems, his fresh new volume of poetry which he quite properly entitles Melodies of Inclement Climes. I was looking at the moving poems in my desire to erase temporarily from my mind the vicious, tedious, muddy, degraded watery road which is evidently and steadily now the road of the unhappy people of the Niger Delta, and it was at this moment that Owojecho Omoha’s line found me. But I was already engrossed in the first offering, the first poem, in which the Niger Delta malaise stares at me – even though Professor Olu Obafemi is not from the Niger Delta, your Niger Delta my Niger Delta our Niger Delta. Ologbo where conservatively above three thousand trucks (trailers) and other uncountable vehicles – commercial and private – were practically at a stand-still, moving without moving because of the motorable-less motor-way, is one of the unfortunate or tragic by-products of urbanization that is no urbanization in the Niger Delta. Ologbo is a border town, a border community that links Edo State and Delta State. It is the most significant place that links Itsekiri, Urhobo and Edo (Benin) communities. It is the place where the work of cooperation and mutual help among the communities and travellers through the communities can find significantly honest expression that should capture our cultural and patriotic ethos that should give us good health and happiness. This is what Olu Obafemi seems to tell us, among other things, in “Those who gaze beyond today:”

    While others like us 

    Bleed our land to death 

    Greedily erecting mansions 

    In other people’s lands, 

    Laundering filthy coins 

    Stolen from the sweaty brows 

    Of the poor and the deprived 

    In our own un-honed beaches and sandy shores!

    Lay to ruin and waste and wreck 

    The black Gold!

As I read Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies at the shores of Ologbo two things emerged to me and rose to my dense imagination in a more than realistic way and manner. The first is that Olu Obafemi is a patriot and a national poet. His imagination extends beyond his Kiri-land (North Eastern Yoruba-land in Northern Nigeria) streams to dwell on national problems that depict our respective inclement climes – or, to put it differently, in his “Streams of Kiriland” (I am not alluding specifically to his poem that bears this title) we have a glimpse of our respective communal malaise that shows us our respective inclement land in our untamed beaches in Ologbo of the Niger Delta and elsewhere outside Ologbo or Kiriland. As beautiful and as nostalgic Kiriland is or may be it is strange that urbanization and civilization have not befriended it. It is this perspective that throws up to me the second vital aspect of Melodies of Inclement Climes. Olu Obafemi conservers what is best from his (and our) past in order for the merciless problems and inclementness of today can be properly addressed. So I am not reading Professor Olu Obafemi as an entire nostalgic poet after all! Our lives’ test is not and cannot be the past or the future. It is now. It is today. It is the present. It is the here and now. Are we happy today in our country – economically, commercially, politically, educationally, medically, technologically, hygiene-wise and otherwise? Without endorsing the present that is before us we cannot honestly face tomorrow. We live in an economy and in a political clime ruled and propelled by ingratitude, disaffection and dissatisfaction and exploitation and oppression. Let me quote our poet of melodies dwelling on our inglorious climes: “Let our earth be replenished again/As scavengers and scoundrels are rid of our land.” (39).This must be so if we must eliminate “Death [that] clings to our throats/As mortal Anopheles, King of Death –/Husband of malaria, swarm/And corpses hold parades on our shores” (44). What our country needs now is a renewed vision, a full insight into our shortcomings, limits and possibilities informed by our awareness and knowledge of our place in the comity of nations. This is an absolute necessity if we must live an adequately and properly human life. 

    Professor Olu Obafemi is a super ambidextrous writer and scholar of more than numerous parts. He is best known as a play-wright, dramatist and theatre personage, theorist and critic of a profoundly profound mind. But he is without question a poet of distinction as well – which the present volume superbly makes evident. Melodies of Inclement Climes appeals to me exceedingly from the perspectives of the rhetoric of poetic drama, phenomenology, biography, memory, wrap of childhood, autobiography, history, activism, politics, geography, social exploration, revolutionary revolution, psychology, public health, progressive variation in language and feeling. I am on purpose not dwelling on all these perspectives in this briefly appealing enterprise to engender every reader’s interest in Melodies. (I am thinking of something adventurous and enchantingly enchanting outside here). With respect to the last named subject, let me titillate my readers thus: I wish you to join me to think of Professor Olu Obafemi as a magnificent poet who concentrates everything feelingly into a sentence –“Melodies of Inclement Climes;” “And hardened villains of misrule;” “And love shall visit these shores again;” “This is the story of our nation now; Debtor-elephant.”

    The beauty of Professor Olu Obafemi’s new volume of poetry is the trick of its language. The emotions or feelings the poet generates are significant enough to ensure full daylight in our inclement climes. It is thus not for nothing that Professor Olu Obafemi has been a recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) and wearer of other laurels. His rhetoric is not any adornment or inflation of words done for the reader’s unquestionable insight or for a particular effect but for a general creative power that has an intensity and concision of indubitably great poetry. 

    Melodies of Inclement Climes will leap in my arms, hands, and mind for a pretty long time of creative reading and critical happiness.  This is not an ostentatious praise, but the true judgment of a reader and critic – this reader and critic – of esthetic and moral sensibility. I duly bow and salute the poet for this fresh volume. Join me in my bow and salutation.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.


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The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Western deception has been with Africa forever:

1493: Pope Alexander VI issued a papal bull, “Inter Caetera,” proclaiming the right of Spain and Portugal to enslave Africans and own the land. They were subjects. They stole your people and your land.

1885: Africa was a Dark Continent. It required colonization to become civilized. Europe would bring change and civilize them. They stole your raw materials and truncated your self-development.

1940: When over a million Africans fought in Europe, North Africa and the Far East during the Second World War, the West convinced them they were dying for freedom and democracy. But where in Africa do they receive freedom and democracy? Indeed, Apartheid was inaugurated in 1948 in South Africa.

When will this deception come to an end? So, Gabon and Niger were democracies before the 2023 coups? You must be using the wrong dictionary to define democracy. Cameroon under the invalid Paul Biya is a democracy? You must be confusing the Mali Empire with the modern country of Cameroon. And the presidents who rule for as long as they want practising democracy?

You need a little education.

Recent developments in Africa’s political space, particularly the growing number of military takeovers, have informed fresh queries around the expressions of neo-colonialism in Africa and the commitment to liberal democracy as the ideal political model for the region. The point of reference for these queries is the ceremonial reactions from the acclaimed “champions of democracy” in the West, who waste no time issuing condemnations at every instance of “democratic failure” on the continent without any actual commitment to ensuring that power indeed lies with the people. Not only have these champions of African interests—the United States (US), Britain and France—touted democracy as the best system of political organization to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in Africa, but they have also prosecuted wars, allegedly in its defence, which cost millions of lives and destabilized entire regions. However, it is not enough to accuse our benevolent friends in the West of hypocrisy without providing compelling proof of double-dealing in delivering their duties as democratic crusaders. After all, in a democratic setting, all are innocent until proven guilty. 

As a philosophy of government, democracy has existed since the Greco-Roman times. However, its foray into Africa can be traced to the eve of independence when Britain and France introduced forms of local representation as concessions to indigenous demands for independence. Thus, from 1959, parliamentary elections and other democratic institutions started to become commonplace on the continent. But, as it would turn out, this democratic experiment, which formed part of the third (global) wave of democracy, was to be short-lived—derailed as it was by fluctuating Western interests on the continent. 

Guiding Western interest in Africa from the 1950s was the ideological war between the West (mainly the USA) and the Soviet Union. The “Cold War,” as it came to be known, was the first incident to unmask the real intentions of the West for post-colonial Africa. In their quest to emerge as the world’s sole superpower, the US and the Soviet Union, who actively strove to undermine each other’s influence by, among other things, advancing their political ideologies around the world, turned to Africa as another important frontier of conquest. While the Soviet Union armed African revolutionary movements against their Western colonial overlords and provided support to openly communist governments, Washington concluded that, to effectively check the spread of Soviet influence on the continent, it was more expedient to enthrone biddable leaders in African states than it was to woo them with any ideological arguments or economic incentives.

Anxious to ensure power was handed over to reliable politicians, Britain and France became eager participants in the US policy in Africa. Together, the US and its allies targeted venal local strongmen, preferably with military backgrounds and authoritarian tendencies, who, in collaboration with its intelligence agencies, ousted legitimate/democratic governments. Notable victims and beneficiaries of this plot included (in the former category) Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo DRC, Sylvio Olympio of Togo and (in the latter category) Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo DRC and Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, to mention a few. Consequently, thirty-three African countries that achieved independence between 1956-1970 became authoritarian immediately or not long after. 

Another demonstration of the complete disregard that the West has for democracy, peace/stability and human rights in Africa is its willingness to engulf the entire region in conflict so that it can achieve its “strategic interests.”  Once again, we begin from the Cold War era where, having recently come out of a highly destructive war in Europe (in 1945) and being cautious of engaging in another, the West and the Eastern Bloc turned Africa into the site of their proxy wars. In southern Africa, where the US considered both Angola and Mozambique as areas of “strategic interests,” Washington armed the 200,000 Portuguese conscripts, who went on to fight a protracted war against local nationalist revolutionaries, with imported weapons, which included defoliants and napalm. In Angola, the US, in cooperation with Apartheid South Africa, backed the National Union for Total Independence (UNITA) against the country’s (Soviet-backed) leading national liberation front, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). There were also similar cases in northern Africa where Sudan was funded and armed by the US against Egypt and Ethiopia, who had also pitched their tents with Moscow. These conflicts and the resultant proliferation of arms saw the loss of millions of African lives from war and famine and a general destabilization of the region. 

While the West cannot be said to have been directly involved in all the occasions of transition from democratic to authoritarian rule, in more than a few instances, the leaders of newly independent democratic/multi-party African states seized the opportunity of Western patronage to quickly switch to one-party/despotic rule. In other cases, it was the corruption, resource mismanagement, “tribalism,” patrimonialism, clientelism and imperialism perpetrated by a Western-backed ruling political class which formed the basis of military takeovers (coups). Nevertheless, in this atmosphere of quasi-democratic rule, full-fledged despotism, military rule and Apartheid—where national resources were siphoned by kleptocratic regimes and millions of Africans either became refugees or died as a result of civil wars, hunger, and human rights abuses—our western “friends” were content to look the other way if the government in place proved itself an ally of Washington.      

Perhaps the most glaring example of the West’s democratic hypocrisy in Africa was its age-long support for the highly racist and politically repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. Like the French, who were able to cajole Washington into believing that they were fighting communist-backed insurgents in Algeria, the South African Apartheid regime, for forty years, posed as the last bastion against communists in Africa—an attitude that was able to secure a steady flow of western arms. This, alongside the West’s tacit approval, allowed for one of Africa’s most despicable shows of human debasement, carried out in the name of imperialism and racial superiority. After all, as President Ronald Regan remarked in 1981, South Africa was “essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have.”  

The end of the Cold War changed Western attitudes towards Africa. Without the Soviet threat, the West leaned more towards development diplomacy and foreign aid regimes as the main thrust of its foreign policy in Africa. Foreign aid to Africa, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. Already saddled with the task of building vibrant economies whilst also harmonizing the aspirations of the different ethnic nationalities which characterized them, African countries, especially in Francophone Africa, also had to grapple with the undermining economic and political agreements they had been coerced into signing with their erstwhile colonial overlord as a condition for independence and continued patronage. To make matters worse, some African countries were, at the end of the Cold War, either fighting or had just come out of civil war. This, combined with the widespread corruption and mismanagement of national resources which characterized Africa’s tyrannical governments, put many Af5rican countries at the mercy of international monetary agencies (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and their financiers whose aid they were now heavily dependent on. 

At first, these Bretton Woods institutions were content to grant loans/aid, at debilitating interest rates no less, to authoritarian leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power and, in return, provided the former with mineral and other economic concessions. However, without the Cold War pressures, more emphasis was placed on the liberalization and capitalist/free-market aspects of US foreign policy to guarantee return on investments. Soon enough, Structural Adjustments Programmes (SAPs) were introduced as a precondition for further loans/aid. Said adjustments, which demanded limited government intervention in the public sector, i.e., removing government subsidies in energy (fuel/gas), education and health care, brought untold hardships to already suffering populations. And as research has shown, poverty and non-tax revenue make for the ideal democratic environment. In other words, “when the government is not beholden to citizens for its funding, there is less accountability and less reason to democratize” (Tilly 1990). Instead, leaders simply use the “free” funding from natural resources (oil) and foreign loans/aid to buy enough support to remain in power. 

Judging from the various expressions of Western interests in Africa over decades, it goes without saying that the West simply pays lip service to ideologies when convenient. Although many Africans might not object to the cynical pragmatism that has always guided Western foreign policy in Africa, I dare say they will not stand for the continued lies and hypocrisy that have characterized Western reactions to African developments. Even if the above-described instances of Western hypocrisy in Africa were to be argued to be in the past, it is a living past for Africa.  

Africa, today, still has authoritarian governments in place whose political repression and human rights abuses go on unchecked by our democracy and rule of law-loving friends in the West. After being siphoned by kleptocratic governments, our commonwealth still finds its way to Western banks, where it sits and improves the local economy. Western interests continue to impoverish Africans and destabilize their regions. So, Africans are today saying to the West, its diplomats, presidents, and the other agents of its propaganda: “Your gambit in Africa is up. Our people are awakened!”   

The West has sold you a fake product called democracy. Africans, your vote is not a sign of democracy. It is no more than a deception. There is no democracy without accountability. You are just voting thieves to power. There is no democracy without transparency. You are just using your votes in support of crooks and thugs. There is no democracy without good governance. Your vote is facilitating theft. Maybe you are waiting for your turn to steal. There is no democracy without development. Your vote is moving you back to the Stone Age. Even early humans knew when to replace stones with iron during the Stone Age. Africa, you don’t have a democracy. Anyone you have not appointed cannot disappoint you! Citizens are being deceived, and they are deceiving themselves. Organize yourselves at various levels and think of alternatives to democracy or, at the minimum, how accountability and transparency will form the core of your democratic practices. Your lifetime president is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian kleptocrat far worse than the combination of Doris Payne, Stephane Breitwieser, Simon Leviev, Veerappan, Derek Smalls, Vincenzo Peruggia, Bonnie and Clyde, Natwarlal, Carl Gugasian, Frank Abagnale, Anna Sorokin, Albert Spaggiari, Jesse James, Anthony Strangis, and Bill Mason. Do you know these names?



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Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe 

A theory of change explains how activities, measures, and steps undertaken to address a problem could facilitate or help realize certain changes or outcomes. It articulates how an impact would be achieved and some progress made. In this case, the expected outcome is an end to witch-hunting in Africa. Unlike in Western countries, the persecution of supposed witches persists in the region. Witch bloodletting takes place in many parts of Africa. The persecution of people accused of witchcraft leads to horrific abuses and death. Alleged witches are attacked, tortured, lynched, imprisoned, or banished. They are subjected to jungle justice, trial by ordeal, forced disappearance, and internal displacement. Simply put, those who are accused of perpetrating occult harm are treated without mercy or compassion. Incidentally, the impression is that nothing could be done to combat or neutralize this dark and destructive phenomenon, that witch hunting is cultural to Africans. The impression is that seeking to eradicate witch-hunting in African societies is a futile effort. This notion is gravely mistaken and needs to be corrected. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches was launched in 2020 to correct these misconceptions and facilitate effective actions. It works to fill the missing link in the activism against witch persecution in the region. The AfAW is a protest initiative, and exists to challenge and dispel allegations of witchcraft.

The main goal is to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. This objective sounds like an ambitious goal or some pipe dream, but it can be achieved. And AfAW aims to end witch hunting based on an informactional theory of change. This theory rests on two pillars: information and action because witch hunting persists in the region due to lack of information, or misinformation, and due to lack of action, inaction, or infraction. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches uses this two-pronged approach to combat witch-hunting in Africa.

At the global level, there is a lack of information about witch-hunting in Africa. Although a lot has been written and published on witchcraft in African societies, many people in Europe and America claim do not know about raging witch hunts in the region. Part of the problem is that these publications are filled with misinformation and misinterpretation of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in the region. Scholars have presented witchcraft accusations as benign and useful to African societies. Meanwhile these accusations are not in any way gentle or pleasant. Studies have portrayed witchcraft allegations as stabilizing and harmonizing mechanisms. They have overlooked the critical and skeptical perspective of witchcraft beliefs. Scholars have largely ignored the accused side of the story, the harmful and destructive consequences of witchcraft imputations. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we work to correct the misrepresentation of witchcraft accusations in Africa. We campaign to draw attention to this imbalance in the perception of the phenomenon. But correct information is not enough. Balanced interpretation does not suffice. To combat witch persecution, information needs to be turned into action, into effective policies and interventions.

On the action side, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches takes measures to address the problem because lack of adequate information has occasioned inaction or infractions. Wrong information has resulted in apathy and indifference towards witch hunting in Africa. Many international agencies are reluctant to act; they have refused to take action or to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. With adequate and balanced information, international organizations would take appropriate actions.

At the local level, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to fill the information and action gaps. Many people accuse and engage in witch hunts due to a lack of information or misinformation. Accusers act based on a lack of information about the cause of illnesses, deaths, and other misfortune. Many people persecute witches because they have incorrect information about who or what is responsible for their problems, because they are not informed about what to do and where to go, who or what to blame for their misfortunes. Many people do not know what constitutes sufficient reason and causal explanations for their problems. As part of the efforts to end witch-hunting, the AfAW highlights misinformation and disinformation about causes of misfortune, illness, death, accidents, poverty, and infertility, including the misinformation that charlatans and con artists, god men and women such as traditional priests, pastors, mallam and marabouts use to exploit poor ignorant folks. The AfAW provides evidence-based knowledge, explanation, and interpretation of misfortunes. It informs the public about the law and other existing mechanisms to address allegations of witchcraft. The AfAW sensitizes the public and public institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. It sponsors media programs, issues press releases, makes social media posts, and publishes articles and blogs on witch-hunting in the region.

In addition, the AfAW facilitates actions and interventions by state and nonstate agencies. The post colonial African state is weak so state agencies have limited powers and presence. So the AfAW encourages institutional synergy to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. The AfAW petitions the police, the courts, and state human rights institutions. It  pressures them to act, to collaborate and take appropriate measures to penalize witch-hunting activities in the region. With an informactional approach, witch hunting in Africa would slowly decrease and diminish. Witch persecution would be a thing of the past within a decade.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which aims to end witch hunting in Africa by 2030.

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