Buhari’s report-card and the Esama hypothesis
Everybody, or almost everybody, reading this piece ought to know His Excellency, Sir, Chief, Dr, Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, CON, CFR, LLD, D.Litt, GCKB; The Hon Chancellor, Chairman Board of Regents and proprietor of Igbinedion University, and The Esama of Benin. I hope I succeeded in assembling all his titles and I apologise if his appellation has taken 10% of this article. He is a colourful and flamboyant entrepreneur, known in those days for Okada Air (commercial motorcycles got their alias-okada-from his airline), Canada-Dry soft drinks, Igbinedion hospital etc etc. However, beyond all this, very few people still remember the Esama Hypothesis, which is where my interest is today.
Lucky Igbinedion, a member of the class of ’99 had the singular dishonor of being the first member of his class to be convicted for corruption. Never mind that the sentence was laughable as he was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for money laundering (N25bn was involved) and through plea-bargaining, ended up paying a fine of N3.5m!. Back to the main issue, he sought a second term but his chances were bleak because of his woeful performance. When Chief Igbinedion was campaigning for his re-election in 2003 and Edo people told him that his son didn’t do well in office, he declared that ‘Pickin wey no do well for one class must repeat that class’ (if a child fails a class, he must repeat the class). In effect, he admitted that his son did not do well but used the fail-repeat analogy to plead that his son be re-elected despite his woeful performance in office. The people agreed with him or their votes were manipulated and the lucky Lucky spent two terms and as one writer put, he ‘left the state in ruins’. That is the Esama hypothesis, which states that a failure should be given a second chance. Of course, The Esama said so because that was what he knew then or what was convenient to him. I don’t think he will support that hypothesis today because as the proprietor of Igbinedion University, he knows that when a student fails so badly, he is ‘advised’ to withdraw or as one man in neighbouring village once said, to ‘park and went’! That is why his declaration could not be elevated to a theory because it is not true in all circumstances.
On12/12/18, President met with the 36 governors and the key take away from that meeting, according to Governor Yari, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, was that the president told them that the economy was still in a bad shape and that he also urged Nigerians to still tighten their belts and prepare for tougher times ahead! This is PMBs self-assessment. We all know that PMB and APC made 1001 promises, which Lai Mohammed eventually reduced to three, with the economy as NUMBER 1. It is obvious that the Nigerian economy is still in a bad shape but what is more interesting is that the President admitted so. In any case, I don’t think he has much option. An economy that was growing at 7% in 2015 is now struggling at 1.8% and that is against APC promise making it one of the fastest growing emerging economies with growth rate of 10-12%; has become the poverty capital of the world, (91m in extreme poverty as at 31/12/18 as against 87m 6 months earlier, and that was while global poverty level is declining), has the 5th highest level of unemployment across the globe (22.7% as against 8.5% in 2015, and 43% when underemployment is included) and a misery index of 35%( from 17 in 2015). So, PMB has scored himself F in the management of Nigerian economy. And according to Channels TV analysts on 1/1/19, there is not much hope because 2019 promises a cocktail of fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
The matter would have rested there had the President not gone ahead a few days later to reawaken the Esama Hypothesis. As he marked his 76th birthday on 17/2/18, his request from Nigerians was to ‘pray for me, understand my intentions and give me more time’! The President who agreed without any prodding that he had failed on the economic front turned around a few days later to ask for more time and thus holding on to the Esama hypothesis. And we are to give him more time based on his intentions! He has forgotten that the hypothesis could not be elevated to a theory because it is not universally applicable and one instance of this is the university environment in which serial failure is rewarded by expulsion. In any case, Tony Momoh had asked us to stone PMB and the APC if they failed to perform within two years and we are almost 4 years gone. So, what do we do to somebody who promises heaven on earth, admits that he has failed and asks us to give him more time? Time will tell.
I wish to thank all those who felicitated with me on my birthday on 1/1/19. As usual, the Federal Government declared a public holidays to ensure that nobody had any excuse for not attending the party, which took place in the cloud! I am tracking all those who neither attended nor sent in their apologies. The EFCC will soon start work on that. I wish all men of goodwill the best of 2019 and I pray that the FG will drop its keep-them-talking approach to the ASUU crises and approach it with all the seriousness it deserves
Muo wrote from Department of Business Administration, OOU. Ago-Iwoye
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