A top Ghanaian economist, Professor George Ayittey, has stated that decades of misrule and total government dysfunction have combined to transform Nigerians from resilient and dynamic people into vulnerable people.
In the past, according to Prof Ayittey, Nigerians were “bustling with energy, dynamism and entrepreneurship”, but a perpetual leadership crisis had transformed them into “broken spirits and battered souls” trapped in cocoons of fear, mistrust and despair.
“Decades of reckless misrule and total government dysfunction have corroded the fabric of Nigerian character and society.
“When trapped in such a mess or maze, it is difficult to see the way out”, he said.
Prof Ayittey made this known on twitter last night in response to some criticism directed at him by some aggrieved Nigerians.
The US based economist had criticised the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), describing him as a joke and a mediocre President, following his (GEJ’s) interaction with the Nigerian media last Sunday.
Prof Ayittey had described GEJ’s performance during the interaction as abysmal, and chastised him for not showing remorse despite his inability to resolve the Boko Haram crisis.
Mr Ayittey had also lambasted GEJ for “impatiently” indicating that he would not declare his assets.
He had ended his criticism with a call on Nigerians to rid themselves of GEJ as soon as possible.
But these criticisms did not go down well with some Nigerians, who took to twitter to criticise the Prof and urged him to focus on Ghana’s own problems.
However, In a calm and measured response, Prof Ayittey called on Nigerians to look beyond tribe and religion in analysing socio-policio-economic issues.
He said his criticism of GEJ aimed at helping the Nigeria identify its flaws, and exposing the Nigerian people to new or alternative perspectives.
The Economist underscored the need for Nigerians to be amenable to criticisms and new ideas, adding that outsiders were sometimes in a better position to offer criticism or advice.
Prof Ayittey went on to debunk assertions that he was seeking political office in the country.
“I have no political axe to grind in Nigeria. I cannot even be president of Nigeria. In fact, I am not interested in the presidency of any African country”, he emphasised.
He also conceded that it was inappropriate on his part to criticise GEJ without offering solutions to the problems he identified.
He therefore promised to do an article to be titled Making Nigeria Work Again, which he said would be available soon.
Professor Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist, author, president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC, professor at American University, and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Read the entire tweet posted on June 26, 2012 below:
“To my Nigerian followers. I appreciate all your wonderful comments, including the negative ones, regarding my write-up on GEJ. It will be impossible to respond to all individually; hence, this generic response.
I always distinguish between African leaders/governments and the PEOPLE. Chinua Achebe said it best in his book, The Trouble With Nigeria. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian character, culture or water. The problem lies purely and squarely with the leadership.
I have always admired Nigerians in the past — resilient people, bustling with energy, dynamism and entrepreneurship. You will still find these admirable traits in some spots such as Onitsha Market. But the Nigerians of today are of a different stock – broken spirits, battered souls and trapped in cocoons of fear, mistrust and despair. Decades of reckless misrule and total government dysfunction have corroded the fabric of Nigerian character and society. When trapped in such a mess or maze, it is difficult to see the way out. When you engage a Nigerian in a conversation, the first thing s/he wants to know is which tribe or religion do you belong to? It never used to be like this.
The Ashanti have a proverb which says, “The one cutting a path through the bush does not see if it is crooked or not. Only those who stand afar can determine this.” What I write about Nigeria comes from this perspective. I am not Yoruba, Ndigbo or Hausa. I have no political axe to grind in Nigeria. I cannot even be president of Nigeria. In fact, I am not interested in the presidency of any African country. I call it the way I see it without fear or favor. The advantage and the service that I provide to the people of Nigeria is that I can say a lot of things which they are afraid to say. That doesn’t mean everything I say about Nigeria is true but at least it exposes the people to new or alternative perspectives.
However, it is not enough to say that President Goodluck Jonathan is a joke without pointing out the way forward, which is what I drilled into my students. Accordingly, I am writing another piece, Making Nigeria Work Again, which I will tweet in a couple of days.”
Professor Ayittey holds a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon, an M.A. from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba. He has taught at Wayne State College and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He held a National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution in 1988-89, and then joined The Heritage Foundation as a Bradley Resident Scholar. He founded The Free Africa Foundation in 1993, to serve as a catalyst for reform in Africa.
In 2008 Dr. Ayittey was listed by Foreign Policy as one of the “Top 100 Public
Intellectuals” who “are shaping the tenor of our time”. He lives in Lorton, Virginia.
You can follow me on twitter @SamuelObour
Follow Prof Ayittey @Ayittey