Are there intellectuals in Nigeria or they’re all gone?

A reoccurring adage, while I was growing up, was “The more you look, the less you see”. But just like every other thing that time would reveal it as false, the time has also the above adage as false.

In short, most scientific discoveries were made by looking deeper and deeper into phenomenons in order to arrive at a decision. The more I looked, the more I saw that as a so-called Nigerian, I am someone’s business, a badly run business that is not based on growth and stability but based on retrogression and empty rhetorics.

The more I look, I see that the president of the biggest black nation on earth who just before the elections, ordered ballot box snatchers to be shot at sight, resigned to God to punish suicide bombers.

The more I look, I see all my role models become fraudsters.

But Buhari and his malevolent government is not the reason why I am writing to you. The reason why I am writing to you is that there is a deeper crisis that Nigerians choose, either systematically or otherwise to ignore.

In all nations of the world, when the political class fails to be effective, the intellectual class rise to the occasion through the radicalization of mindset and political education on how to change the political class and bring fresh minds with new ideas into the system but in Nigeria, the reverse is the case.

We all were witnesses to the just concluded presidential election that was massively rigged in Buhari’s favour when professors could not reconcile figures they spent days computing on national television. It was a shame.

Now, the disparity between figures produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission and its chairman, one professor Yakubu Mahmood, makes one wonder what is being taught in our universities.

But are Nigerian intellectuals Feeding Nigerians with beautiful nonsense since time immemorial?

The bastardization of leadership led to the bastardization of values held sacred, intellectualism inclusive.

If only Nigerians could stop listening to the “Some” intellectual hustlers masquerading as patriots, we will start to really appreciate the gutter that we are in. Nigeria is at war, psychological warfare.

Military regimes were bad but Nigerians forget that the military regimes were aided by Nigerian academic and intellectual elites. Our military regimes used the intellectual class as their think tanks who helped to doctor decrees upon decrees. In a so-called Democratic Nigeria, half-educated politicians are also doing the same thing.

Can the Nigerian masses do away with the celebration of the political oppressors and their accomplices?

Well, I’d like to disagree with Okite Odiete who was of the notion that there’s no such thing as the intellectual class in Nigeria but I can’t.
According to him: “Intellectualism in Nigeria is not even a smokescreen and a fraud; it doesn’t just exist at all. We have not the rigour and grit to create that class”

When Nigeria started to exploit oil, and business became good, the then Head of state, said money was no longer Nigeria’s problem but how to spend the money. About the same time, Economists in Norway said: if we start spending the money we will create the Dutch disease, we will ruin our economy. Where was our intellectual class then?

In 1975, Murtala Mohammed made up the constitution drafting committee and insisted they must come up with a presidential system of government, and gave other boundaries. This was following a trend of continuing centralisation after the Biafra conflict. The product was the 1979 constitution, a forerunner of the 1999 constitution which itself was a problem than a solution. In 1974, about the same time as Nigeria, following conflicts in Belgium, the intellectual class advised that Belgium be made a federal constitutional monarchy restructured along ethnic lines. Things have looked up for Belgium ever since. Where was the intellectual class in Nigeria?

In the early 80s, the Thatcher government started the reforms to the economy. She received support from the intellectual class who supported the policy but very little support from the general population. In 1982, a PhD lecturer earned more in Nigeria than in the UK. Russian and Polish lecturers were applying to Nigerian universities. Britain continued apace with the liberalization of the economy, reduced the powers of labour unions to manageable levels, decentralized salaries and their negotiations from wholly government determined, sold off corruption ridden underperforming government corporations, about the same time, Babangida set up a National debate on the economy. Rather, ASUU in 1988 was talking of unified increase of salaries across Nigeria. The British people who didn’t support Thatcher at that time, are now grateful for the era. Nigeria was in the same situation about the same time, where was Nigeria’s intellectual class.

Does Nigeria have an intellectual class?

A country where military juntas are given ‘ex-President’ status. Where they sit on a so-called ‘council of state’ with the job designation of advising democratically elected Presidents on governance, yet there is absolute silence lacks an intellectual class.

Activist intellectualism in Nigeria is another word for touting. I have never seen a more corrupt tribe than those hordes. I generalise of course because the bad eggs are preponderance. But I must Warn you, You are safer reading analysis from a barely literate Nigerian than reading a beautiful essay bought and paid for by Tinubu and signed by another ubiquitous PhD.

Yesterday, a professor called me “anti-intellectual” – whatever that means. Today, he said I was a fool. Well, I don’t worship humans or degrees. I worship character and good conscience.

While I don’t like insulting those who are older than I am, I still stand by my earlier statement that intellectualism in Nigeria is a template for hustling. It has nothing to do with the consistency of character and principles. It revolves around the “anything for the boys” mentality.

It is much easier to sway the Nigerian intellectual than it is to sway a trader in Ogbete market.

We have seen it before as they defied reasons and common sense and threw caution to the wind.

When it became obvious that the politicians couldn’t provide answers to the questions that we seek; questions like how to enshrine best democratic practices for a new Nigeria to emerge, we turned to the intellectuals for guidance, and solace from the sorrows that arose as a result of consistent battering from the politicians.

However, we discovered that we turned to a different side of the same coin for guidance. While the politicians made sure that we had nothing to eat and no place to work, the intellectuals terrorized our mindsets with bogus, carefully worded sentences; intelligent essays that appealed to the soul. Take away the beauty of their presentation and you will find nothing really left beneath.

Having thought about the mess that we found ourselves; having been found between the ocean and the deep blue sea, we chose the third option, which is to leave the country in droves through the deserts, sailing against the tides of the mighty Mediterranean.

400 years after our ancestors walked the deserts and sailed the Atlantic in chains, with their backs battered from the whips of the Arab and their European slavers, we are doing same as economic refugees, chased away by the greed of our own people.

Intellectualism in Nigeria is a smokescreen and a fraud.