Monday, 6th December 2021
Breaking News:

Reflection on the quest for industrial harmony – Part 3

By Sylvester Odion Akhaine
24 November 2021   |   1:32 am
The Nigerian state is neocolonial. According Kwame Nkrumah, “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty.
Kwame Nkrumah

Dr Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), first Prime Minister of Ghana. Original Publication: People Disc – HH0068 (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The Nigerian state is neocolonial. According Kwame Nkrumah, “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside… A State in the grip of neo-colonialism is not master of its own destiny.” But despite the contradictions of its neocolonial status, it still aspires to achieve development at par with those of the industrialised nations of the world. It is the duty of all in society to transform the strictures of neocolonial dynamics and free the national productive forces for the reproduction of the public good.

The goal of education is to create the consciousness for freedom and unleash the productive potentials of our people. It should not be turned into a place for “demons and monsters”. So we need to know the economic conditions of the state and locate our demands in that context. In the instance of MOCPED, both the unions and the management ought to play the role of lobbyists to get the attention of the state to the needs of the institution. For an institution battling a monthly subvention of about N70 million but with a wage bill of about N105 million, there will always be a crisis of meeting the needs of its workers and creating a conducive condition for the achievement of its core mandate aforementioned in the preceding sections of this address.

This leads to the question of ownership. There is the infantile attitude of seeing the management and the state as “the other” by the unions in a public institutional context. It is wrong; the unions must take ownership of the institution. The institution was not conceived to make a profit but to promote manpower development for the good of society. I now consider the concept of loyal opposition, ownership, and responsibility.

First and foremost, it is a democratic concept and key to the functioning of democratic institutions. And as I have argued in my 2013 paper, “Government, opposition, and Politics in the Fourth Republic”, it is loyalty to the institutions of state and a basis for interface with incumbent minders of the state. As Ian Shapiro argues in his 2011 work, “The Real World of Democratic Theory”, citizens should be free to contest the government’s interpretation of what is fundamental to the operation of the democratic institutions.

In the case of MOCPED, stakeholders should be free to contest the state’s and management’s interpretations of the domain or the institution’s grundnorm. This can only produce the “logic of congruence”, that is, the democratisation of the whole gamut of the institution’s governance complex. For this to happen, ownership of the institution by all the stakeholders is important. Ownership here means accepting the limitations of the neocolonial state and the task to liberate the national productive forces from this imperial trap and advance the development of our society. This consciousness translates inexorably into responsibility.

In this case to the stakeholders based on loyalty to the grundnorm. This can best be achieved on the axiom provided by Amilcar Cabral who warned concerning the leadership of a revolutionary movement that “We must practice revolutionary democracy in every aspect of our Party life. Every responsible member must have the courage of his responsibilities, exacting from others a proper respect for his work and properly respecting the work of others. Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories”.

In the foregoing, I have recognised that there is a crisis in MOCPED. And I have argued that the crisis arose from the lack of knowledge of the domain, its socio-political ecology, and its operationalisation in antagonist terms. Stakeholders need to understand the domain and as the ground of cooperation and dissent. The idea of “the other’ or “we and then”, should be jettisoned by the warring factions who must recognise themselves as stakeholders in a state-building enterprise. The Lagos State Government must take education as a public good and fund it. To paraphrase Patrick Wilmot, what I have done is to hold up the mirror for you to see yourselves, destroying the mirror will not alter the reality on the ground, but a humble acceptance of the reality and the responsibility for its transformation will be more edifying. 
Professor Akhaine, delivered this keynote address at the Michael Otedola College of Primary Education Stakeholders’ retreat, organised by HRBP Limited, Saturday November 13 2021, at Jubilee Chalet, Epe, Lagos.

In this article