Vol. XIII, Issue 4 (Fall2006): Nation Building in Nigeria and Ghana
Peter K. LeMaire
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this issue we reflect on issues related to nation building and
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Nigerian Leadership: Murtala Muhammad
After almost half century of independence Nigeria, the potential superpower of Africa, has travelled in reverse. The period of the first regimes, once regarded with ridicule for their lack of imagination and ‘progressive’ spirit, now seem like a golden age. Awolowo, Azikiwe, the Sardauna of Sokoto, and Tafawa Balewa managed the state with the limited revenues derived from taxes, cocoa, groundnuts and other agricultural products. Gowon prosecuted a bloody, expensive civil war, with Awolowo in charge of finances, and Nigeria came out without a kobo of debt. Murtala Mohammed gave the nation and continent a new sense of purpose with his vision and decisiveness, after sacrificing his own material possessions.
These men had several things in common - love for their country and continent, a willingness to sacrifice, and a refusal to use the resources of the state for their personal benefit. Except for Awolowo, a businessman and lawyer, all died near penniless and, in the case of the Sardauna of Sokoto, in debt. One could blame them for not using their positions to guarantee a comfortable future for their families but their ethics prevented them from treating the state as their private property. I’ve met many of the children of these men. Not one was rich.
The Northern Government of Nigeria gave Nelson Mandela £10,000 when he travelled north from his apartheid hellhole. No matter how ‘reactionary,’ a Nigerian leader might be, he was always aware of his responsibility to his continent. Since 1979, with hundreds of billions in oil revenue, Nigeria has retrogressed. Reversing John Kennedy’s cynical rhetorical flourish, leaders asked what their country could do for themselves, not what they could do for their country. Ethics, patriotism, self-respect, responsibility, and vision escaped with the billions secreted into foreign accounts, investments, and real estate.
To understand the scale of the problem one needs compare the wretched family homes of the early leaders with the mansions of even minor officials in later regimes. Agriculture, which sustained the nation in the past, and was exported to earn foreign exchange, was destroyed together with institutions and the nation’s sense of honour. Imported rice, petrol, and other ‘essential commodities’ became not just necessities but the means of amassing colossal wealth by cronies of the Leader.
Corruption became institutionalized.
The Americans and Chinese once lacked systems of transport capable of spanning their vast countries. In the early 20th century the U.S. took over two decades to build their network. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the Chinese took four years to build an even more sophisticated one. While the Chinese each day build more and more modern infrastructure, the American one progressively deteriorates.
China buys hundreds of planes each year for its airlines. The mainland has $820 billions in foreign reserves, Hong Kong and Taiwan over $200 billion each. The Chinese have the capability to build an aircraft industry but with competition between Boeing and Airbus they can buy planes below cost, because of subsidies from the U.S. and EU governments. With the U.S. economy collapsing under the weight of trade and budget deficits, the Americans may be forced to sell their industry to China to avoid bankruptcy. Chinese superiority is a function of their discipline, social organization and culture, not their genes. As a people, the Chinese never forgot their past achievements in state formation, social organization, science and technology. Even while they were a weak, communist state they refused to take dictates from communist Russia. In the past 25 years China’s growth averaged 9.5%, meaning that they doubled national production every seven and a half years. The difference in character between the Chinese, Russians and Nigerians may provide a clue to their capacity to achieve political objectives.
The advocates of ‘Power Shift’, ‘Third Term’, North, South, East and west as loci for the Nigerian presidency in 2007, have not explained what they plan to do for the Nigerian people if elected. They have been deafening on the need for power to be handed to them but silent on what it is to be used for. There have been no programs, no analysis of problems, and no suggestion of solutions. In his great speech at the OAU Summit in January 1976, General Murtala Muhammed spoke of Africa’s coming of age.
Trade unions, teachers, students, intellectuals, voluntary organizations, and patriots in every institution in the country must provide forums for the discussion of the country’s future, of how its massive human and natural resources can be used. It is the right of every citizen to be given equal opportunity to share in his or her nation’s production, and be protected from harassment or exploitation by the state or other citizens. It is also his or her duty to hold leaders to account, to prevent rulers from turning into monsters. The new men and women who will revive the country and continent must be dedicated to the central task of uplifting the people as Murtala Muhammed did when he made his immortal speeches. The people must learn to respect, not fear their government, to show that patriotism is free and genuine, not sycophancy threatened at the point of a gun.
Like other peoples of the world, Nigerians have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But they also need jobs, food, housing, healthcare, education, stability, a secure future for their children. No longer should the country’s best citizens be forced to seek exile in hostile foreign countries
The current political class could do their country a world of good by ensuring that those who looted are never elected again, and that those elected never have the opportunity to loot again. A legislative framework must be created to make transparency and good governance a necessity. Candidates for office must submit asset declaration forms which will be checked by national and international forensic accountants, with expertise in tracing assets. Assets not declared should be seized and the fraudulent politician jailed. Punishments should escalate with the importance of the office so local government candidates receive five years and presidential contenders get life without possibility of parole. The same sanctions should apply to successful candidates. In addition no holder of public office should hold foreign accounts or investments, seek healthcare outside the country, or send his or her children to foreign schools. As long as Nigerian leaders are allowed to have houses and bank accounts overseas, send their children to school and seek medical care there, they will continue to neglect the welfare of their own citizens and become benefactors of foreign ones. And their children in foreign schools will learn to despise Africa and poor Africans even more.
The judiciary, police and other institutions must be ruthlessly purged of corrupt officials, and then be given independence from the political class to perform the technical functions for which they were employed. In addition they must be properly remunerated so they have no temptation to profit from their office. But if, despite the autonomy and material resources granted them, they transgress, they too must suffer the consequences. Given the principle that punishment should vary with the level of responsibility, corrupt Supreme Court judges, Police Commissioners, and other high officials must face the sanction of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Let me now reflect on one of Nigeria’s model leaders, Murtala Muhammed.
Murtala Muhammad and South Africa
Luckily for Africa, General Murtala Muhammed recognized the political dimension of the South African liberation war, as shown in his masterful speech, Africa Has Come of Age, delivered at the OAU Summit in Addis Ababa, on 11th January 1976. South Africa viewed itself as the protector of Western Civilization on the continent, embarrassing its Western sponsors with the crudity of its racist ideology. In its own version of the American Monroe Doctrine, it stated its right to dominate all of Africa south of the Equator. Subscribing to Bismark’s geopolitical ideas, it regarded this area of millions of square kilometres as its ‘legitimate sphere of influence’, which endeared it to the then American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger; another student of Bismarck’s outmoded 19th century doctrine. Given the international distaste for its racist policy, which made it a pariah, it insisted on having buffer states between its borders and the Equator, which would not challenge its apartheid policies. It therefore supported Portuguese colonialism in Angola and Mozambique, Ian Smith’s racism in Rhodesia, and the neo-colonialism of the USA, France, Belgium and the UK in the other countries. Nations such as Tanzania, Mozambique, and to a lesser extent Zambia were subject to orchestrated terror, and Angola became the arena where the racists hoped to crush the challenge to its hegemony.
Murtala Muhammed accepted this challenge, and harnessed the resources of his country to establish the freedom of Angola under the leadership of the MPLA. Murtala established very forcefully that the fight was between African Nationalism, the right of the black man to freedom, and Western Imperialism which condemned the African to slavery for the past five centuries. There was no question of Apartheid South Africa fighting the political red herring of International Communism. Proof was the economic, military, and diplomatic support given to Apartheid by the US, which kept its huge African-American minority as second class citizens.
Although Nigeria contributed money and some ammunition to the MPLA, its vital contribution was political. The OAU was a hodgepodge of nations from right, left and centre, which tended to adopt vacuous policies, the least common denominator in political terms, bland, uncontroversial, and unthreatening. One of these was the policy of giving equal support to all liberation movements, regardless of effectiveness or coloration. Since all the occupied territories which the OAU was committed to liberate had multiple ‘liberation movements’, it was possible for ‘freedom fighters’ to collect money from the organization’s headquarters in Addis Ababa and spend it right there, in the expensive hotels of that great city.
In the case of Angola, which the Summit was convened to discuss, Murtala showed not just the futility but also the danger of this policy. While the OAU was obliged to support the movements equally, the policy put no constraints on outside forces. Thus the USA, Mobutu’s Congo, and South Africa allied with the FLNA and UNITA to destroy the MPLA, the movement which controlled most of the country, and had the resources to lead the country in the anti-imperialist struggle.
In this situation Murtala demonstrated that this policy was a formula for inaction while imperialism did its worst. The open support given by racist South Africa to the FLNA and UNITA showed that these movements were beyond the pale, their alliance a threat to all Africans. His analysis also put the pro-Western majority in the OAU on the spot, because of the West’s support for Apartheid’s objectives in Angola and the rest of Southern Africa. His speech which capped a period of vigorous Nigerian diplomacy forced a basically conservative group to recognize the MPLA as the sole legitimate government in Angola.
Of course the General was not a one man show, but was ably supported by allies such as Generals Obasanjo and Danjuma, and M.D. Yusufu, the Inspector General of Police. Murtala was a listener and had clearly read a series of articles I wrote on Angola for the New Nigerian between November 1975 and January 1976. For this I was invited to join the Federal Delegation to Luanda, led by General Obasanjo in February, 1976. What was the political effect of Murtala’s success at the OAU summit? When South Africa intervened with two armoured columns, hoping to capture Luanda and remove the MPLA, few African leaders appeared to have heard the boast of Apartheid’s minister of ‘defence’, that ‘if South Africa captures Luanda there will be little to stop us advancing to Lagos and even to Cairo.’ South Africa indeed had the modern mechanized armies, plus Western technical assistance, to do the job, and therefore posed a clear and present danger to all of Africa. This boast was based on the ancient ambition of Western imperialism, expressed by Cecil Rhodes, to build a Cape to Cairo railroad as a spine for its domination of Africa.
When the MPLA and its Cuban allies stopped the racists at Nova Redondo, they put an end to this ambition, creating the possibility for genuine liberation of the entire continent. If Murtala had not been murdered, it is my personal opinion, that the continent would have been freed by now. The effect of OAU recognition meant that the MPLA could not be portrayed by the Americans as a puppet of International Communism and the Soviet Union. As an independent African state it had the right to invite the Cubans as allies against racist South Africans, and deter the Americans from openly supporting Apartheid. Without that recognition of the MPLA as leader of a recognized state, the Americans would have taken the opportunity to bomb their enemy under the cover of protecting Africa from Communism.
Having been stopped in their tracks at Nova Redondo the South African forces were pushed back by the MPLA and Cubans, in a bloody struggle lasting years, until they were defeated at the climactic battle at Cuito Cuanavale. It was this demonstration of the limits of its own power that convinced the racists to seek accommodation with the ANC and SWAPO in South Africa and Namibia. Without the process initiated by Murtala’s bold actions, South Africa would be now ruled by black puppet like Buthelezi, as titular head of the racist National Party, and a series of ‘Bantustans’. Angola would be ruled by Savimbi and Congo by a son of Mobutu.
At the 10th anniversary Conference I was invited to speak on the Diaspora but took the opportunity to explain to South African comrades what their liberation owed to the man, Murtala Muhammed, who enabled the defeat of Apartheid in Angola. I distributed hundreds of copies of his great speech in Addis, reading the dramatic final paragraph
Here’s the conclusion of his brilliant oration at the OAU Summit three decades ago:
‘Africa has come of age. It is no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power. It should no longer take orders from any country, however powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or to mar. For too long have we been kicked around: for too long have we been treated like adolescents who cannot discern their interests and act accordingly. For too long has it been presumed that the African needs outside ‘experts’ to tell him who are his friends and who are his enemies. The time has come when we should make it clear that we can decide for ourselves; that we know our own interests and how to protect those interests; that we are capable of resolving African problems without presumptuous lessons in ideological dangers which, more often than not, have no relevance for us, nor for the problem at hand.’
This speech was a manifesto of African liberation, a guide to its future. If Nigeria had had leaders like Murtala after 1979, Nigerians would not still be taking presumptuous lessons from enemies of the continent. Even at my age I still look up to this great hero of Kano, Nigeria and Africa, together with Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel, Agostinho Neto, Aminu Kano and Moshood Abiola.
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Human Resource Development (HRD) and Ghana
Table 2 Statistics of HR manning levels of senior members(lecturers), University of Ghana, Legon.
Statistics: Staffing profile analysis
For Senior Members
To solve this we must merge “below 30” and “31-40” columns because some values are too low. This will prevent us from using the Yates correction as data will fit for a simple Chi-square test
Males represent 77.78% of the senior members and women
Yates,F (1934). Contingency table involving small numbers and the χ2
test. Journal of the Royal statistical Society (Supplement) 1 : 217-235
Distribution of senior members according to age ranges
Degree of freedom is 3 and the sum of observed
Chi-square is 20.958
Summary Analysis of Data
In conclusion, this paper proposes in brief the “10 commandments” necessary to realize MCA C2 and HRD in Ghana:
The above issues if not properly conceptualized and addressed, can create talent wastage and poor talent management. This can affect the realization of the country’s human resources development agenda due to the perpetuation either covertly or overtly of the culture and politics of exclusion and marginalisation.(both at level of corporate governance and at the national level).
This article submits that inadequate investment in people is also one of the structural causes of poverty. The MCA offers a good opportunity to promote a vigorous human resources development program. The MCA principles and especially citeria 2, requires a holistic conceptual and pragmatic appreciation of the issues involved in realizing the concept of investing in people.
We have discussed the issues, context, prospects and challenges that must be considered in order to achieve MCA C2, investing in people, within the framework of a well defined country HRD program. A rights-based HRD oriented diversity perspective was applied as the conceptual framework and it helped to discuss the issues of gender and diversity at all levels of society to better understand the prospects and challenges involved in HRD. It has facilitated the definition and discussion on the dynamics of the various diverse variables inherent in promoting HRD and national development. It has also proposed mechanisms to recognize, respect and integrate diversity in HRD. This perspective has helped to reflect upon the gamut of factors that must be recognized in order to realize criteria 2 of the MCA to support the government’s HRD program.
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A memorial conference in honor of Professor Don Ohadike took place at the Africana Center, Cornell University on September 21-22, 2006. Among the distinguished scholars attending the conference were the Keynote Speaker, Professor Ali Mazrui; and Professor Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, of Penn State University, who gave the Plenary Address. The Distinguished Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History at the University of Texas, Professor Toyin Falola was co-convener of the conference and so, too, Professor Salah Hassan, Director of the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University.
The first session on colonial order and resistance was chaired by Professor Robert Harris. Professor N’Dri Assie- Lumumba highlighted the traditions of resistance to French occupation in areas such as Treichville and Port Buet, Abidjan. She reflected also on Ohadike’s research in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and his overall contribution to ‘resistance studies’ during her illuminating discussion. For Professor Felix Ekechi of Kent State University, the Igbo culture of resistance to western imperialism was perhaps the longest in the African continent, a view that generated a great deal of controversy. Professor Fouad Makki of Cornell’s Sociology Department argued that Eritrea’s struggle for independence from Ethiopia was another example of an emancipatory struggle against domination. He proceeded to discuss the religious tension between the Ethiopian highlands and lowlands and the extent to which this phenomenon affected Eritrean and Ethiopian identities. Toyin Falola served as the discussant in this panel. Falola saw five main issues emanating from this panel, namely, resistance as ideology; the roots of resistance; the interconnections between resistance and nationalism; and resistance as agency in shaping lives. Moreover he wondered at the difficulty confronting African nation states in transforming such vigorous episodes of organized nationalism and resistance into enduring civic institutions and successful nation states.
Diasporic Africans and Nationalism preoccupied the second panel, which included a focus on Haiti and Global Africa by Professor Locksley Edmondson of Cornell University. Not only was Haiti successful in breaking the chains of enslavement and French colonialism but it also inspired generations of scholars. Was the high debt burden, inflicted by the French, a reason for Haiti’s sluggish economic growth in the decades after its path-breaking and spectacular emergence as a free country? Was the period of U.S. occupation of Haiti between 1914 and 1934 and the U.S- Duvalier alliance a factor in its economic stagnation ? And what of Aristide’s formula for reparations? Was that a cause of his demise? Which of the Caribbean states was the most African of all, and what does this ultimately mean? Why was Haiti successful in breaking the chains of bondage whilst Palmares failed, asked Professor Chuku of Millersville University, Pennsylvania. These were some of the issues generated by this exciting panel. Impressive was the brilliance of the discussant, Professor Salah Hassan, Director of the Africana Center, as he commented on the coded and decoded symbolism of nationalists movements such as Rastafarianism and dissected the individual presentations.
The on-going atrocities taking place in Darfur, Sudan, undoubtedly crossed the minds of participants, as Ahmad Sikanga reflected on better days of unity and co-operation among Sudanese railway workers from various traditions. Then there were signs of progress and modernity and the distinctions between manual and intellectual labor subsumed.
Given Aderonke Adesanya’s brilliant analysis of the various emerging schools of Nigerian Art to date, I am particularly anxious to read the book emanating from this conference under the editorship of the indefatigable Toyin Falola. I can hardly wait to read also Chika Okeke-Agulu’s chapter on Obiora Udechukwu; Carolyn Brown’s piece on ‘respectable clerks and unruly cowboys in Enugu 1914-1955’; Andrew Barnes on Islam and Northern Administrators 1900 to 1960; Okome’s discussion on nationalism and development in the age of globalization; and of equal interest, Gloria Chuku’s evaluation of the Abeokuta and Aba women protest movements of the early 20th century.
The book will be published by Africa World Press.
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