In a world of images, what a better way of narrating the world with different images, each of which is performative of the world in its own way!
Beginning with some of the faces at the August 26th, 2017 Memorial Lecture for Prof Raufu Mustapha in Abuja, Nigeria, here is, (L-R) a face that could not be immediately figured out; Mrs Justice Patricia Mahmoud, spouse of NBA President and a judge in Kano; AB Mahmoud, (SAN) and NBA President, Dr Kole Shettima of MacArthur Foundation; Amina Salihu in glasses from behind; Prof Kate Meagher, the wife of Raufu Mustapha who was herself generally described as “such a wonderful woman”; Asmau Raufu Mustapha, daughter of the deceased; Seyi Raufu Mustapha, son, Prof Ibrahim Gambari who delivered the Keynote Address at the memorial; Prof Attahiru Jega, immediate past Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and Bayero University, Kano Political Scientist.
May the good Lord listen to our prayers and end the death of quality academics in Nigeria. Four have gone since May 2017: Prof Abubakar Momoh who was DG of The Electoral Institute, Abuja; Dr Toure Kazah, an Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Historian; Dr Funmi Adewumi, foremost labour intellectual and Prof Abdul Raufu Mustapha, Oxford University Political Scientist!
Straddling between Nigeria and Rwanda is this puzzle. Professor Ibrahim Gambari, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria has just waded through the age-old debate regarding the tension perceived to exist between democracy and development. It speaks to how far he has mastered walking the tight rope that he came out unscathed by saying that it is not a case of one or the other but both. That is, democracy and development MUST go together. Earlier interventions on the issue didn’t follow that analysis. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore would say that democracy is unsuitable during the period when a developing country is making the difficult transition from an agrarian to an industrial society because, according to him, it becomes a game of chairs – who sits where, why and how, a position he never renounced till death. Given the phenomenal manner he went about transforming Singapore, we cannot stop quoting him even as he was speaking to the mid 1960s rather than the post Cold War.
Now, Africa is confronted with that question in Rwanda. Everyone agrees that Rwanda has been transformed and has become an African statement in not just modernisation but in real, social transformation. The catch, however, is that Kagame who has supervised this process as Rwandan leader is not highly rated in terms of liberal democratic credentials. In other words, he is a failure in combining democracy and development. He has delivered development but he did so without taking democratic preferences seriously, thereby rupturing the Gambari thesis. In that circumstance, what should be our attitude to Paul Kagame, seen in the above picture in 2014 in Washington with his daughter and the Obamas?
Academics in Nigeria are in the second week of a strike action nobody knows when it would end. Does anybody know what Angela Merkel of Germany might have handled the strike action if she were the one confronted with it? Although the ASUU strike is beyond the bread and butter dimension, Angela Merkel suggests she would just oblige the academics and she has a reason for that as in the graphic below although, being an internet raw material, there is no knowing if she said so or otherwise.
Now, another summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is at hand. It is taking place in China first week of September 2017. Cutting across races and encompassing all the contemporary global demographic powers with the exception of Indonesia and Nigeria, BRICS is a force in international governance. The question though is whether it seeks to de-center or recenter international governance. Opinion is still divided. Some people say BRICS is a status quo set of powers and that everything seen so far from it are about re-centering themselves and leaving the status quo undisturbed after all. Others say it is a matter of time for some of the institutions they are setting up to get going. For now, it is the axis of attraction in international political analysis.
For the impending summit, it has invited two African countries for what Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister calls broadening of the discussion. The two countries are Egypt and Kenya. But the most interesting thing is extension of the same invitation to Mexico, although, like South Africa, it was not on the list of the original four countries that Jim O’Neil, the then Chief Economist of Goldmann Sach put his status on the bet to proclaim in 2001. In all cases, BRICS promises to be an interesting theatre of global politics in the years to come. It cannot but be if only with the population factor.
While BRICS is about mega co-operative possibilities in international relation, a different pattern of international relation is playing out in the North Korean desire to consolidate power. At the level of scholarship, there are those who would find it all very interesting There is if there are still realists – those who argue that power measured in military terms is the only guarantee of security/survival for every nation in the international system because he who says international relations says anarchy. (Neo)realists have taken a lot of theoretical beating since the end of the Cold War but the few unrepentant ones that still exist would be taking note of the mind boggling manner that Kim Jung Un, the North Korean leader has left everyone breathless, keeping even the two great powers on the edge.
As there is, however, no such divide between the world of theory and practice, it is hoped those who have the leverage will quickly exercise it and stop the unsettling rhetoric of nuclear warfare. Nuclear weaponry are already frightening. It is even more frightening to be hearing a Trump and a Kim Jung Un engaging each other in a game of threats of unleashing nuclear attacks.