Monday, 16 January 2023 05:34

Political, cultural or economic restructuring: Which comes first? - Justice Faloye

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Roger Amos in his book, The Blueprint of Black Power made the statement that Culture, the way we do things, is tied to Politics, the way we organize to do things, and Economics, the means used to achieve things. So can we really have political restructuring that will empower Nigerians without tangible economic and cultural restructuring? Some political restructuring advocates will say let's get the political restructuring that we have been on for decades first, then we would restructure the rest. Like Kwame Nkrumah landmark statement, "Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else will be added upon you". Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with Ghana, Nigeria and 50 other political kingdoms since independence over 60 years ago. Studies have shown that decolonization was the easier part, a political restructuring process, but coloniality of knowledge, power and ecology were much difficult to tackle as we remain unfulfilled.

The question arises whether or not Black Africans, especially Nigeria the leading African nation, really understand the chains used to arrest their political and economic development. The White colonists first went for cultural restructuring, committing epistemicide by misinterpreting and denigrating our traditional knowledge banks with 1861 Yoruba Bibles, the missionary schools and institutions. Mental and spiritual enslavement. Then, they undertook economic restructuring by changing the credit system with opening their first bank in 1894 and, most important, in 1896 set out to change the trade routes by building two North to South railways to empty our land of cash crops and dump their manufactured goods across the land. Economic enslavement. Only then did they take over Northern and Southern Protectorates from the Royal Niger Company in 1900, and amalgamated and created their political kingdom that they named Nigeria in 1914. So we appear to be taking the wrong structuralist route.

Political restructuring/constitutional amendments have been the hottest political discourse since 1999 and eventually culminated in the 2014 Confab, which proposed about 600 resolutions/constitutional amendments, among which are state police, fiscal federalism, reduction of the items on the exclusive list that has resulted in a unitary overcentralized government.

Following the Confab, the Late indefatigable Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere spokesman even increased the tempo of agitations further. To the casual observer, it should be a case of legislators discussing the issues, and for the president to push with executive powers. However, there are different regional agendas jostling for beneficial terms specific to their region and most important there are two civilizational blocs in Nigeria - the Original African civilization of the South and Middlebelt whose groups share common genetic and cultural origins and linkages, as well as common aspirations cultural freedom, and the Northern Afroasiatic civilization that are products of different waves of Asiatic imperialism but unified by Islam. To get political restructuring through and meaningfully, especially to the South and Middlebelt aspirations, attention needs to be paid to power/political influence and economics.

To meet the democratic requirements of two-thirds quorum for constitutional change, the South and Middlebelt groups that account for 70% of the population of Nigeria must unite into a strong civilization bloc, but are currently disunited due to colonial inspired Pan Tribalistic perspectives that balkanized their Original African civilization. There must be cultural restructuring from Pan Tribalistic perspectives back to Original African civilizationism. Thankfully, this cultural restructuring is ongoing as the political restructuring and rotational presidency advocacy based on equity and justice has resulted in South and Middlebelt Leadership Forum, ‘Ohanifere’ and various forms of sociopolitical cooperation. This civilizational unity would wax stronger into a civilization powerbase, once Yoruba and Igbo, the two largest Original African groups unite the rest of the Original African groups of South and Middlebelt, not only to achieve restructuring and rotational presidency to the Middlebelt, but act as the counterbalance to the Northern Afroasiatic civilizational hegemony.

However, without economic restructuring from the neocolonial economic structure, we would neither be able to achieve political restructuring, nor raise the majority out of poverty into being an industrialized economically advanced nation. As it is, the only economically viable states, Lagos and Rivers are viable largely due to their being the terminal ends of the colonial economic system structured with the North-South railway to link ports to trade routes. Regardless of the civilizational and political ties, some poor states won't take what would be a suicidal vote for true federalism or affordable state police, while they in an economic colonial straitjacket that would further alienate them from the colonial economics. There can be no meaningful restructuring and economic empowerment without the immediate building of three West to East railway lines: Lagos to Calabar, Ilorin to Yola, Sokoto to Maiduguri. This will fundamentally change the colonial economic system to one where every state and city is linked to create our own economic linkages as an advancing nation.

While the North-South railways made us a successful colony, we have been blinded to the fact that railways between our productive centers is the means to industrialization. USA became industrialized by building 14,000 km in 23 years from 1827 to 1850, so did UK, Japan and every other industrialized nation. Unfortunately, we Black Africans have been kept in the slave plantation economics model, believing that agriculture is our path to industrialization. We have spent billions on peasant farming, marketing boards, fertilizer distribution, etc, as each successive regime came with an agriculture revolution catchphrase - Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution etc. But nowhere in economic history has peasant agriculture ever uplifted the agricultural sector. The truth is agriculture is a big man business and it was robber barons that pumped billions to make USA, Brazil, Europe nations to become the world's largest agricultural producers. The only exceptions are command economies, like Russia and China where the government took over land and production. It is the likes of Aliko Dangote that have the financial and logistics resources to manage huge mechanized farms. What is required is the encouragement of the super rich to invest in agriculture with tax incentives.

It should be obvious that if you invest in agriculture, what you get is low level processing industries. The vertical integration of a citrus industry is juice and beverages. This is why our largest manufacturing subsector by far is Food, Beverages and Tobacco with lower value added and low income and employment multiplier effects. The iron and chemical subsectors of the manufacturing sector contribute less than 5% each to the GDP. Only the development of a complete railway system, with iron embedded into every neighborhood, can spur growth in iron works and chemicals used for the train engines, body and interior, which would get us industrialized as subcontractors to the system grow laterally or vertically. For every job created in railways, 20 new jobs are created in related industries across the economy.

Unfortunately, our colonial masters and their Western partners want to keep us in colonial economics stage, producing raw materials, with only low level processing industries of food, beverages and tobacco, and not processing iron or our petrochemicals. Due to the Western model of industrialization that depends on a military industrial complex whereby arms production offsets industrial overheads and spurs growth during recession, they are scared of a repeat of the aftermath of industrializing Japan, only for Japan to challenge the Western Powers in Southeast Asia region. The fear is if Nigeria industrializes, it would make weapons to protect itself and other Black nations from Western military imperialism.

The Goodluck Jonathan government signed the $12b Lagos-Calabar railway to be financed and built by China, but international geopolitics through Buhari sabotaged what was to be China's single largest foreign investment. However, just like we damned all consequences to demand for political restructuring, knowing that economic restructuring is the key to our empowerment, industrialization and actualization of a fair political restructuring, requires that all groups must demand the immediate commencement of the west to east railways outlined above, either being built by our private sector, army or foreign partners. This is not only to be fought for by political agitators, but cultural and economic leadership. Afenifere led by our Babas and the rest of the SMBLF, Ooni of Ife and Obi of Onitsha since without the Lagos-Calabar railways, their towns will never become linked and industrialized. Every state and region will benefit from railways to its nooks and corners to transport its produce, and offer an opportunity for industrialization.

So instead of following Nkrumah's “Seek ye first the political kingdom”, I will go for Roger Amos’ “Blueprint of Black Power” to empower through cultural restructuring from tribalism to civilizationism, economic restructuring through emergency East West rail network complex to spur industrialization, as well as politically restructure towards equity, justice economic and cultural self determination.