Monday, 11 August 2008

Apes Obey! Seldom rises above pantheistic animism

Seeking development for the Niger Delta

As if there was not enough turmoil in the Nigerian Niger Delta region [1] where every little skirmish and outrageous militant operation including the damaging of pipelines [2] and kidnapping of people seems to be the accelerator pedal for global oil prices.

Somehow, it is not clear how those issues can resolved because the more the Federal Government tries to ameliorate the situation there, the more the so-called leaders seem to have an agenda inimical to improving the lives of the people they lead and represent.

In 2000, the Federal Government under General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd.) set up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) [3] with the sole mandate of developing the Niger Delta region.

Squabbling as usual

The chairmanship of the organisation which usually engages a lot of Nigerian hot-air about fairness and opportunity for any position, settled down on a rotation covering the 9 oil-producing states in alphabetical order.

The second term of 5-years is now with Akwa Ibom State where a paramount leader took the opportunity 2 months ago to ask for an additional state [4] created in the South-East region for no other reason than looking for some ill-conceived parity with other Nigerian regions.

Big budget for more pickings

One has to conduct more research to determine what the NDDC has done in its about 8 years of existence, one thing we know is whatever they are doing has not lead to the abatement of criminal activity in that area.

In June, the President sent a budget of N79.4 billion to the National Assembly for the NDDC, the National Assembly consequently hiked that budget to N89.2 billion [5] – these are large sums of money.

Unfortunately, it appears the Chairman of the NDDC, Mr. Sam Edem has been pre-occupied with other activities than those for which he was employed.

He has since been suspended from his office [6] and arrested by the police for engaging black magic services.

Engaging the supernatural

Now, the Nigerian society is a very superstitious society that is held under the sway of all sorts of religious teaching and dreads best explained in Lord Lugard’s words that said, “the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural.”

Mr. Edem evidently felt that he could harness the powers of animalism and the dread of the supernatural to deal with a subordinate that he assumed had ill-will towards him and also earn favoured status for contracts from the state governor.

Logically, one would think if a manager has a problem with his subordinate basic management training would instruct the manager to either engage the person in some conversation or institute a process to eliminate the conflict situation.

Surely, it should not in anyway involve seeking to kill the person by whatever means or for whatever reasons – any law-abiding person should also ensure such intentions are reported to the police immediately.

As for obtaining contracts from the state governor, one would think with his brief as chairman of the NDDC his hands were full, there was just too much to be done politically, socially and economically to have a business by the side.

Neopatrimonialism

In fact, I would introduce two new words I learnt today that derive from the root word – prebend [7] – defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia as “the right of a member of a chapter to his share in the revenues of the cathedral”.

In the case, of the NDDC, it is called Prebendalism [8] or more closely Neopatrimonialism [9] where “patrons using state resources in order to secure the loyalty of clients in the general population” or rather for self-enrichment.

Studies show that this undermines political institutions and the rule of law, it is almost always corrupt and probably is the reason why “African economies have failed to effect neoliberal market reforms”.

There are already too many cases of people in government organisations who have sapped its resources or used their positions for corrupt enrichment, damaging its organizational effectiveness and fuelling more corruption.

Whose folly?

As it transpired, the news has it that Mr. Sam Edem engaged the services of the witch doctor to the tune of $4 million, which raised suspicions about Mr. Edem’s means.

It all turned sour when the services the witch doctor was engaged for did not materialise as the death of the subordinate and the juicy government contracts and Mr. Edem demanded a refund.

Any fool would know that witch doctor services are not covered by any trade description act and what was to say that the people who were to come under the spell of the witch doctor had not sought other forms of protection from undue influences.

So far, Mr. Edem has not denied any of the allegations the ill will the subordinate might have had towards his manager might well have been discovering that his boss was siphoning off moneys towards illegitimate activities.

This story probably still has legs, but it cannot be so unique in Nigerian society, it is just one that has suddenly received the international spotlight.

Sources

[1] Niger Delta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] China Daily - Nigeria's militants claim two pipelines damaged

[3] Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] The Tide Online - Traditional ruler wants additional state for S’East

[5] allAfrica.com: Sourced from Daily Trust - Nigeria: Senate Hikes NDDC Budget By N10 Billion

[6] Nigerian official accused of hiring witch doctor - CNN.com

[7] Catholic Encyclopedia: Prebend

[8] Prebendalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[9] Neopatrimonialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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