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The Causes Of Our National Maladies Are Essentially Economic.

THESE and more are the problems with which we are now confronted; and we will do well to realise that they are far worse and more deadly, far more subtle and much more insidious and therefore much more dangerous enemies and evils than the rebellion which we have just crushed. In this regard, we don't, I think, need to be told that unemployment breeds frustration, resentment, and anti-social tendencies; that poverty breeds envy and hatred of the affluent, antagonism to society at large, and rebellion; that disease breeds inertia, complete lack of enthusiasm and dynamism, and fatalism; that ignorance breeds misunderstanding, promotes oppression and exploitation (because, as it has been wisely said, there would be no oppressors and exploiters if there were no oppressables and exploitables), and eventually provokes violent social clashes and collisions; and that the aftermath of civil war, with aIl its bitter poignant memories, and lingering sufferings, tends to poison motives, distort and warp thinking processes, and pollute emotions.

A careful examination of all our post-war problems, varied as they look, will reveal that they are all basically economic in nature and character. Even education and health services for the eradication of ignorance and disease are indispensable parts of the infrastructure which an underdeveloped country, and particularly Nigeria after the civil war, needs to transform itself rapidly into a modern economy.

In a broad sense, the world now offers two kinds of solution for all economic problems. They are the capitalist and the socialist solution.

In the three companion books which have written since 1966, namely, Thoughts on Nigerian Constitution. The People s' Republic and The Strategy and Tactics of the People s Republic of Nigeria, I have had a good deal of hard things to say about capitalism. The settled view to which my study of the subject leads me is that the quintessence, the soul, and the main driving force of capitalism is a compound of greed, naked self-interest, utter disregard for the interests and rights of others, destructive competition, opposition to any form of innovation, control, or planning, etc. It goes without saying that a system, which possesses these ugly characteristics, can only further complicate our already complex post-war problems.

At pages 161 and 162 of Thoughts on Nigerian Constitution, I have written on this subject as follows:

'For Nigeria, there is even one other danger in capitalism It breeds tribalism. It is generally agreed, even by its most faithful advocates and devotees, that the one and only motive force of capitalism is naked self-interest; and that one of its essential characteristics is impersonal group loyalty. Wherever there is capitalism then, naked self-interest and unabashed group loyalty reign supreme; greed dominates the hearts of men; whilst mutual and destructive antagonisms put on the cloak of orthodox business competition. Portrayed in this way- and it is by no means an inaccurate or exaggerated portrayal- it should be easy for anyone to perceive the nexus between capitalism and tribalism in the Nigerian context. In its evil connotation, tribalism also represents unabashed group loyalty, or, to put it in another way, tribalism, in the derogatory sense, is the combined manifestation of the naked self-interests of a number of individuals who are bound together by some cultural ties such as language, ethnic affinity, and religion.

'If we are really sincere in our desire to stamp out tribalism, we must put an end to, at least, most of the manifold evils which abound and proliferate, with general approval, in a capitalist economy. Try as we may, we will not succeed otherwise.

I still stand firmly by the views expressed in this quotation. I only wish to add that the capitalist system also encourages and extols the law of the jungle. We have all learnt that in the jungle only the most cunning, the most brutal, and the most ruthless can exercise unfettered freedom, and flourish. Also in the jungle, every beast is a law unto itself; and the only orderly association there consists of an accord among the predatory carnivores to hunt together in packs, and of agreement among the herbivores to go about in herds as a means of protecting themselves against wanton and easy destruction by the predatory carnivores. It only remains for me to liken the capitalists to the carnivores and the workers and peasant farmers to the herbivores, in order to draw an analogy which is not easy to dispute.

Furthermore, in all its history, the capitalist system has never consistently redounded to the benefit of the common man. And in countries where it is still practised, faithfully and almost in its pure orthodox form, it continues to generate political instability, economic crisis, and social upheaval, and to promote the coexistence of extremes of affluence and poverty with all their attendant ugly repercussions. A system, which has all these built-in and incurable evils, is too bad and too dangerous for Nigeria at any time, and certainly does not deserve to be accommodated after the civil war.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Jul 14, 2019
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