Would an Honorary Doctorate Degree Transfigure Sule Lamido? By Adagbo Onoja

Having spent the better part of his life making trouble and fighting ideological battles before becoming a governor in 2007, Sule Lamido of Jigawa State was to stay off from engaging in the vanity of self-celebration or the consumerism that marks out the new Reich in Nigeria. This was not to be on account of any ideological puritanism but a mere inclination not to violate the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

Nowhere in the capitalist mainland do the bourgeoisie proper live as unproductively, speculatively and consumerist as the Nigerian specie. The bourgeoisie proper value hard thinking, risk taking and hard work, both for his or her own survival and the survival of the social order. The aggregate bourgeoisie rate the survival of the social cum national order over and above individual survival because without national stability, the individual cannot make progress. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case and we don’t need any proofs of this beyond the stories of corruption in the country.

So, to demonstrate an elevated sense of power and authority distinct from the maddening crowd, Gov Sule Lamido was to refrain from frivolities of extravagant birthdays, accumulation of (chieftaincy) titles, reckless acquisition of awards and titles and similar proclivities of self-devaluation in most of us in Nigeria.

To a great extent, this unproclaimed manifesto has been implemented since 2007. This is in the sense that the governor has done none of those things in the last five or so years that he has been governor. It is true that it has not been possible to stop the locals from inventing a hero in him, using his birthdays to splash all sorts of advertorials here and there by contractors, old friends, local government chairmen and compulsive congratulators. But even this has been on a minimal scale. In Radio Jigawa where the governor has authority, all such advertorials were stopped by him. In all these years, there have never been any celebrations involving even a bottle of Coca-Cola bought from public money for that purpose. So, the tradition or the unproclaimed manifesto has basically been kept. In a country under an unspeakable grip of mental confusion and moral depravity at all levels of society, this is an achievement.

However, there seems to be a turning point. Mister Governor is slightly bending the rule to accommodate an Honorary Doctorate Degree. And this could not be stopped unlike three previous ones. One of those offers was as genuine as it could be in the sense that the particular university has consistently been identifying and giving its Honorary degrees to some really deserving symbols of African History. Somehow, that passed the governor bye, partly because of a clash of agenda at that time and partly because of the governor’s aradite infection. And there were two others that didn’t happen also for different reasons.

It is as well that Federal University of Agriculture in the ancient city of Abeokuta has gotten Sule Lamido for an Honourary Doctorate Degree. How that happened is a story for another text. And now, it will be impossible to checkmate well wishers turning the whole thing into a typical Nigerian thing, come next Saturday.

Whatever happens, this is truly an occasion for reflection. It is probably not a coincidence that the Honourary Doctorate degree to Lamido is in Agriculture. The degree might, therefore, be a reminder to His Excellency to do that reflection on Agriculture which nobody in the North and in Nigeria as a whole has done in the last two decades or more. That is to go beyond improved seeds, work bull and such similar technicism that have, individually and collectively, retarded Agriculture in Nigeria.

Recently, a piece on how Malawi fed its own people made the rounds on the internet. An earlier version of that piece formed part of the inputs into the 2008 Jigawa Talakawa Summit. The question raised by the piece is how come we have not had that kind of story or stories from any part of Nigeria since the last two decades even when Agriculture and the agro-industrial transformation of Nigeria is so obvious. Who will break the jinx?

Jigawa State started fundamentally well with its Talakawa Summit and the subsequent capital injection into rural livelihood. That appears dead now. It would be great if this Honourary Doctorate degree could revive it.

The tragedy of oil in Nigeria is not so much that the oil money have been stolen by people who cannot be punished but that it has also made the power elite totally ignorant about the concept of development. Instead of robust debates on development strategies, the elites have scampered into ethnic and regional shells to bicker over opportunistic oil money sharing formula instead of working out how to rise to the challenge of social transformation as their counterparts in Europe did on the eve of colonialism.

As an enclave economy, oil should not have been the heartbeat of politics in Nigeria. That oil rather than agriculture is at the heartbeat of politics is the evidence that this ruling class in Nigeria is too diseased to be called a national ruling class. Nothing better can be said about any ruling class that cannot save a hegemon like Nigeria from virtually collapsing. After all, apart from Indonesia, (I am discounting China and India because they are super hegemons), how many other hegemons do we still have in the world? But as The Nation’s Tatalo Alamu pointed out recently, any national ruling class that cannot exercise effective authority in its national sphere faces re-colonisation and if care is not taken and our power elite keep pursuing unworkable localisms, formal re-colonisation would be our fate, sooner than later. Already, we are practically a colony.

Would an Honorary Doctorate degree propel one of us called Sule Lamido on the path of transformative exceptionalism?

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