Rethinking the emerging football mentality politics in Nigeria

April 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Kenneth Amaeshi

The beautiful game of football, as most other sports, is entrenched in a win-lose mentality. And the more the loser feels the pain of loss, the sweeter the victory. The pain of loss and the sweetness of victory are so powerful, and make the game what it is. The English Premier League is a typical example of the all-consuming power of football. The chants, the binge drinking, the comradery, and the adrenalin rush, all present the necessary ingredients upon which this passion is built. The passion is entangled in and expressed as an emotive force, which readily transforms football (or footie – as it is called by some fans) into a cult of some sort. Football cultism, in most parts of Europe, is becoming a new religion. In the UK for instance, football cultism draws more people on a typical Sunday than all the churches combined.

Despite its win-lose mentality, football is not necessarily evil. It is a good game, which provides some sense of community, nurtures identity and talents, and offers huge exportable commercial opportunities to many actors – from club managers, players, fans, to investors. In that regard, football acquires a rare trinitarian essence of being a game, a religion, and a business. One of the quintessential characteristics of this game-religion-business triad is that it has become a global phenomenon and a poster child of globalisation consumed in season and out of season by many in the world today. Nigeria is a football loving nation. It is no surprise that the footie mentality can sometimes be glimpsed from other spheres of our lives as Nigerians, especially in politics.

For instance, I saw this footie mentality expressed through the recently concluded presidential elections. There were passionate fans on both sides of the divide. There were campaign managers and spin doctors. There were also commercial pundits, who make a living out of gambling. The pre-election campaigns were littered with promises, threats, and in some instance, raw and obnoxious lies. In truth, they looked more like boxing campaigns than footie. The shouting bouts of boxers making outrageous and intimidating claims weeks before their matches are both entertaining and exhilarating. They exude physical and animalistic power couched and framed in the benign language of sports.

Nonetheless, when the elections arrived, they were more like footie: there were players, fans, referees and others. The context was fierce and each group bit their nails as the results started rolling in and were counted. There were also dramas – some of them rude and extreme.  It was a battle between two titans – i.e. the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), as the ruling party, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the opposition. The other parties did not count much. Even if they had superior arguments, here and there, to the titan parties, they merely attracted “wasted votes” at best. The social media was enthused – it has gradually become a cyber-world of fantasies, where grand wishes easily become realities. It created its own estimated results based on the intuition of its nouveau pundits who created a whole new science and art of numbers.

At the end, the real results were in and out, and there were winners and losers.  In other words, some Nigerians won and some Nigerians lost. Unsurprisingly, the victories and losses came in different shades and shapes. Some claim victory because their preferred candidate won, while others claim victory because they thought they had better intuition and insights as to how the elections would go. The latter group almost now assume to be the new sage who can see the unseen in the distant future – something close to being magical soothsayers. While these come across as signs of active citizenship engagement in politics, there are some pressing questions begging for deeper answers and careful scrutiny: what is a victory and what is a loss, in this case? Can a loss be a victory, and can a victory be a curse?

Upon reflection, this footie politics mentality reflects some deeper fault lines in our polity, which are often wished away by many. These are bold fault lines characterised by insiders and outsiders; winner and losers. These fault lines can be ethnic, religious, or “economic” (in every sense of it). Beneath the footie politics mentality are some (un)conscious selfish interests masquerading as patriotism, which are reinforced by such trending comments as: “We won, you lost, deal with it!”. For the undiscerning minds who are truly patriotic, this can become a dangerous trap. In their naivety, they inadvertently become victims of organised ploys and footie politics. For those who are aware of these fault lines and speak out, they run the danger of being labelled. Either way, the fault lines win and become deeper. What is missed, unfortunately, is that the more these fault lines are entrenched, the farther away we are from our dreams of a prosperous, equitable, and sustainable society. Any win that does not prioritise the interests of Nigerians, as a whole, is not healthy for our democracy.

Finally, despite our unconditional love of the beautiful game, we must eschew the dangers of football politics and its lope-sided sweetness and pains. We shall be better off with a win-win mentality, no matter how unsavoury this may sound. At the end, we win and lose together, as the struggle continues in many ways.

Amaeshi is a member of Thought Leadership Forum, Nigeria, and a visiting professor at the Lagos Business School.

 

What is in a name? The case of Goodluck and Patience

December 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kenneth Amaeshi

NOTE: ***A version of this article was first published as an Op-Ed in The Guardian (May 9, 2010) ***

President Yar’adua is dead; may God rest his soul. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been sworn in; may God guide his conscience. However, whether he likes it or not, the political history of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has grown to embody a double-edged public discourse which may not be entirely accurate, but yet resonates powerfully across the country. An aspect of the discourse presents an image of a humble and peace-loving man who patiently goes through his ordeals until success is achieved. This heroic imagery is further intensified when you bring in Patience, his wife, into the frame. In this case, the Goodluck and Patience phenomenon becomes the embodiment of the heroic traits of the virtuous person. These are powerful and essential traits for rebuilding Nigeria – a country currently riddled by unpatriotic traits and characters. I applaud this discourse and imagery, especially if it eventually translates to a potent force in redirecting the footsteps and conscience of our political elites to serve the interests of the populace, and not their selfish indulgence.

The other side of the Goodluck discourse evokes a very discomforting dark imagery. Here Goodluck becomes synonymous with brazen corruption (chop-I-chop mentality), laziness (sit-down-look attitude), apathy, and reckless subservience to power and authority, as long as one is not caught out unexpectedly and prematurely, too. It fine-tunes the selfish inclination of the person who patiently awaits the downfall of the other for him or her to shine with good-luck. It diminishes the worth of hard work and showcases inaptitude as a viable alternative. In general, it portrays the emptiness characteristic of the shallow mind who ignobly says: let’s feast and merry today, for tomorrow we shall all die! This version of the Goodluck and Patience discourse is very uncomfortable to imagine, especially as one thinks of it as an apt description of the continuing unchallenged public psychology of the Nigerian populace, essentially orchestrated by the public debauchery of the political elites.

Lagos and Abuja appear to eloquently represent these sharply contrasting imageries of the Goodluck and Patience discourse. Despite the criticisms voiced against the recent BBC documentary captioned Welcome to Lagos, which, in my opinion, mainly (and lopsidedly) portrayed Lagos to the outside world as a filthy environment of people living in abject poverty and sub-human conditions, it also highlighted the resilience and hard work that accompany such existence. It showcased people who were not prepared to abandon themselves to the fatality of fate, but were rather prepared to shape and formulate their destinies, despite the odds against them. It showcased Lagos as the hub of positive private entrepreneurship and creativity. This imagery of Lagos is further enhanced if one steps out of the squalor portrayed in the BBC documentary into some of the civilised parts of the city, which the documentary, in the popular characteristic of the western media, refused to explore. I am by no means suggesting that Lagos is a perfect city. It still has its significant drawbacks and yet thrives in private entrepreneurship and audacious stories of the human ability to survive extreme conditions. As most people who live in Lagos would say: “anyone who survives in Lagos can survive in any corner of the globe”. And most of the time, this turns out to be a truism.

Then contrast this private entrepreneurial spirit of Lagos with that of Abuja. In Lagos, money changes hands and economic productivity is enhanced. Despite the serenity and luxury of Abuja in comparison to Lagos, it is a city where most idle minds talk about money, money changes hands, and we are plunged back a couple of years back. In all its glory, Abuja has come to symbolise the face of the seeming massive and horrendous looting of public funds in Nigeria on a daily basis as a result of bad governance. It is very difficult not to sense this bad governance since our infrastructure has continued to remain poor despite our national wealth; and the poverty level in the country has continued to grow hand in hand with the incredible bank accounts held outside the country. However, one might quip that it is not easy to embezzle public funds creatively and go unpunished, even when it is public knowledge that one is a thief – no, it is nowadays called political entrepreneurship. The political entrepreneurs in turn serve themselves and their political god-fathers. Yes, this is a form of a diabolical entrepreneurship, and certainly the inspiration for such must definitely come from no other source than from below – i.e. the brute and primitive elements of the human person. Abuja appears to epitomise this gory side of the Goodluck and Patience discourse.

Coincidentally, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his wife, Patience, will live and work in Abuja. Some political regimes in Nigeria have been alleged to notoriously promote public corruption on a massive scale in the country. So, it is also for the President and his wife to choose whether to promote the Lagos or the Abuja culture. One thing that is certain is that the choices they make, as leaders, will definitely rub off on the public psyche. For instance, and on a lighter note, it will not be surprising if the number of the population bearing the names Goodluck and Patience increases as a result of the Goodluck and Patience discourse. Unsurprisingly, some people on Facebook are even beginning to use Goodluck as their middle names! However, on a more serious note, the Nigerian public psychology does not need more of a laissezfaire attitude to bad governance. We need a change of orientation that rewards the discipline of hard work and recognises fairness and justice. We need a change of orientation that deters public recklessness and punishes corrupt political entrepreneurship that has continued to set us all back as a country. Unfortunately, we all know this, but yet fail to act.

Whilst I agree to the view that each and every Nigerian needs to take responsibility for propelling the country forward, I equally recognise that some people are better positioned to champion change in the country than others. And what position can be better and more powerful than the Office of the President? Although there may be more than meets the eyes in both the President and his wife, unfortunately they do not easily and collectively radiate an identity far from being products of luck. The general opinion is that luck has continued to trail their footsteps, probably because of their names. I am inclined to dismiss this as fetishism. Notwithstanding, the ball is now in their court to lean on the side of the discourse they subscribe to and, thus, diffuse the inadvertent public myths and fetishism around the Goodluck and Patience phenomenon. They have a dream opportunity to, at least begin to, right the ills of the Abuja culture in Nigeria. Although they will live and work in Abuja, they do not necessarily need to live out the Abuja culture. As leaders, we want to know what they believe in – i.e. their political ideology. Let us know our president and his wife and who they truly are – and here, actions need to speak louder than voice.

President Yar’adua’s regime has gone with its uniqueness. This is a new beginning for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his wife, and a golden opportunity for them to either write their names feebly on sand or firmly in history. What would be immensely disappointing is just to see their regime gone as an ill-fated product of luck, which will be an unfortunate sharp contrast to the wise saying that: luck meets the prepared! I pray they are adequately prepared; and time shall tell this.

Adieu, President Yar’adua; and welcome, “President Goodluck”!

Dr. Amaeshi teaches Strategy and Policy Innovation at the Cranfield School of Management, United Kingdom, and is a Visiting Professor of Corporate Governance at the Lagos Business School, Nigeria

Africapitalism: Unleashing the power of emotions for Africa’s Development?

October 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kenneth Amaeshi

 

Africapitalism – “an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth” – is an emerging business philosophy from Africa spearheaded by one of the continent’s leading entrepreneurs, Mr Tony Elumelu. From my experience of interacting with business leaders, especially those interested in the sustainable economic development of Africa, I get the impression that Africapitalism has the power to unleash positive emotional energy and the ability to suck-in interests for Africa’s development. It has an awesome way of captivating the imagination of African entrepreneurs and citizens, in particular, in a manner that has not been done by any other socio-economic construct. It jolts consciousness and repositions the development of Africa in the world firmly as an indigenous project in which Africans will play significant active roles. I see this glimmer of audacious hope whether engaging with business leaders in Lagos, Nairobi, Accra, or Johannesburg. The message is unique, as well as the sentiments it evokes. (to continue, please click here)

 

First published by African Arguments of the Royal African Society (UK), October 2, 2013

Sustainable banking in Nigeria: a strategy or a mindset?

October 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kenneth Amaeshi and Chris Ogbechie

On 24 September 24 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria launched the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles. The adoption and implementation of these principles are compulsory and require Nigerian “banks, discount houses and development finance institutions to develop a management approach that balances the environmental and social risks identified with the opportunities to be exploited through their business activities”.

This move by the Central Bank of Nigeria, spearheaded by the current governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi – which has been internationally applauded – appears to be the first of its kind globally. In its approach to promoting commitment to sustainability, it is an unusual mix of soft and hard governance….. (to continue, please see the link below)

Published in The Guardian (UK) Sustainable Business Blog October 2, 2013

The burden of the Nigeria Brand in African Markets: Can Africapitalism help?

July 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Kenneth Amaeshi, PhD

I recently had a knowledge sharing session with a group of Nigerian business leaders in Lagos to explore the subject of Nigerian firms doing business abroad. These business leaders have first-hand experience of internationalisation given that each of them has business operations in one or two African countries. The session was particularly interesting. Two things stood out for me at the end of the encounter. The first impression I got was that “brand Nigeria” is a hard sell, if not a burden, in Africa. One of the business leaders expressed his frustration much more bluntly, thus: “they (referring to other African countries) will watch your Nollywood movies, but will not patronise your business”. The second impression was the level of antagonism and poor economic relations amongst peer nations in the continent. Whilst the former could be interpreted as a firm level challenge, and the latter as an intergovernmental issue in Africa, the two can dangerously combine to work against Nigerian firms in other African countries. No wonder some Nigerian banks are still counting their losses and licking their wounds in this regard.

Nigerians are not easily loved, and neither do they make themselves so. This could be an average Nigerian business’ perception. However, the typical stereotypes out there include that Nigerians are: extremely aggressive, obnoxiously materialistic, loud, domineering, and criminally minded in their entrepreneurial quests. Despite the fact that these stereotypes are often manifestations of cultural biases, they may constitute what is technically known as the liability of foreignness, which is typical of non-indigenous firms. One of the CEOs gave an account of how his company did not break-even in a neighbouring West African country for the first five years of being there mainly because a Nigerian was the face of the company. The change in fortune only occurred after they hired an indigene, with a Nigerian as a deputy. This was a big lesson for this CEO. In their subsequent internationalisation endeavours within Africa, they have consciously and tactically chosen to mask the Nigerian origin of the firm and its identity. This makes me wonder if other foreign firms – especially those from outside Africa – suffer the same fate. Will a German, British, Chinese, Japanese, or American firm in Africa face similar challenges? One may also wonder if the home country of a firm truly matters.

Research suggests that the home country of a firm is a reasonable part of its corporate brand and identity; and where a brand originates matters for many reasons. It might signal high or low quality, for instance. Arguably, Chinese products are to a large extent regarded as inferior to either European or American products. With the passage of time, China as the country of cheap labour and production is no longer a sustainable brand proposition. Chinese firms and government understand this and are doing their best to enhance their brand value. The gradual emergence of global brands with Chinese origin – such as Huawei and Lenovo – is a classic expression of the brand building efforts of the Chinese government and firms. These brands usually signal quality, value and benign-ness. In that regard, the Nigerian government and firms may need to look to the East for some useful lessons in brand positioning, market penetration, and country reputation management.

Whilst one might see reason with regards to the liability of foreignness, the antagonism amongst African countries and the poor economic relations inherent in the continent is rather strange, disappointing, and unhelpful. Despite the advantages of the globalised world economy, regionalisation and regional economic blocs are veritable mechanisms of withstanding and minimising the negative onslaughts of globalisation and its discontents. The European Common Market and Monetary Union are all attempts to take advantage of, and cope with, the excesses of globalisation. The European investment in Airbus is a clear strategy to push back on the dominance of Boeing – an American firm – in the global aerospace industry.

Regional economic integration holds significant positive benefits. It is almost impossible to see a French company rejected in the UK simply because it is French, and vice versa. Unfortunately, African countries are yet to wake up to this reality. The many boundaries and structural obstacles in the continent – represented and sometimes orchestrated by the multiple regional blocs – will continue to frustrate economic relations in the continent and dampen entrepreneurial pursuits. Ultimately, the quest for a better and developed Africa through private sector engagement will be pushed back and made much more difficult to realise.

Upon reflection, my recent encounter with the business leaders suggests that Africa needs a common voice to harmonise economic relations within and between African countries and economic regional blocs. It is the primary responsibility of policy makers to do this, and bodies like the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment, for example, and probably their counterparts in other African countries, might be in this space already. Notwithstanding, it behoves on African entrepreneurs to creatively work with the different governments to achieve this goal. This is where responsible business-government relations becomes a critical strategic option for businesses in Africa. Thought leadership is also necessary. In this regard, Tony Elumelu’s Africapitalism agenda – “an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth”– needs to be encouraged, supported, and developed as a robust economic philosophy for the continent.

Africapitalism is a creative push back on the disadvantages of globalisation. It is an entrepreneurial quest and mindset, which challenges the conventional win-lose mentality of entrepreneurs and businesses in Africa to create shared value (i.e. win-win outcomes) in and for Africa, instead. If adopted and mainstreamed, Africapitalism has a strong potential to offer an antidote to the negative Nigeria brand and the antagonistic trade relations in Africa, which have continued to set Africa backwards.

Nigeria is the second largest market in Africa and has a relatively open economic culture. The government of Nigeria and business leaders should be at the forefront of this economic agenda. The idea of capturing national governments for personal gains, which seems rather prevalent in the continent, is anachronistic, unfair to the African society, and ultimately unsustainable. Economic patriotism, which is at the heart of Africapitalism, is unashamedly good for Africa, and should be promoted within and for the continent.

Amaeshi is an Associate Professor (Reader) in Strategy and International Business at the University of Edinburgh, UK, a Visiting Fellow at the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management, and a Visiting Professor at the Lagos Business School, Nigeria. He is also a member of Thought Leadership Forum, Nigeria

Africapitalism in search of Africonsciousness: the emergence of an economic philosophy for Africa?

June 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

Kenneth Amaeshi, PhD

There is no gainsaying the fact that Africa is riddled by a plethora of challenges – poverty, diseases, conflicts, bad governance, poor infrastructure, et cetera. A special report on Business in Africa by The Economist (Sept 9, 2006, p. 79) succinctly states thus: “the prospect of investing in sub-Saharan Africa can cause businessmen to break out in a cold sweat. The region is often seen as a corporate graveyard of small, impossibly difficult markets, where war, famine, AIDS and disaster are always lurking… For many African entrepreneurs, operating legally brings too many headaches and too few benefits”. Conceding that this perspective is gradually changing 7 years down the line, The Economist is not alone in such perceptions of dire conditions of entrepreneurship in Africa. Notwithstanding, in the midst of these harsh challenges, there are equally sparks of untapped opportunities including – natural resources, population, endogenous energy, et cetera. Hence, while Africa might well be a challenging business environment, the continent also offers significant opportunities and latitude for business involvement in addressing some of its inherent challenges. The potential opportunities in Africa are undoubtedly driving the new rush towards Africa as the last frontier of capitalism and the focus of Africapitalism.

Tony Elumelu’s injection of Africapitalism into the business lingua is a welcome development. According to him, “Africapitalism is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth”. Mr Elumelu argues that “Africa’s renaissance lies in the confluence of the right business and political action” – The Africapitalist, Q4, 1(1), 2012. This is a desirable call for many reasons.

In the first instance, it is a subtle push back on global capitalism, which does not pay appropriate attention to the unique factor of “place” in economic production and consumption. Globalisation prides itself on its ability to extract value wherever value is found irrespective of place and space. This view tends to see the opportunities of a globalised world and cares less about the global distribution of wealth. Despite the positive attributes of globalisation, it, more often than not, ends up creating a lopsided world of immense inequality and injustice. Then again, globalization leaves the world open to raw competition and the demise of the relevance of place (location) in cross border trade. It also leads to the so-called “north-south” dichotomy in trade relations, a distinction that ensures that the south (i.e. the developing economies) remains worse off. Africapitalism consequently becomes a pragmatic way to rein in run-away globalisation and its discontents, and a platform for refocusing attention on the significance of place in capitalism. The reintroduction of place in capitalism is not necessarily new as economic patriotism remains an essential part of western democratic institutions. What is rather novel, on this score, is the focus on Africa – the dark continent of diseases and poverty – as the last frontier of capitalism.

Another positive element of Africapitalism is its anchor on the Creating Shared Value (CSV) concept of Porter and Kramer, and the repurposing of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a phenomenon beyond mere philanthropy. Africapitalism embodies the desire for the private sector to contribute to the development of Africa. Indeed, CSV emphasises the need for businesses not to divorce societal benefits in their pursuits of economic goals. CSV sees the intersection of business and societal needs as a superior expression of entrepreneurship and manifestation of capitalism. Unfortunately, CSV is global in outlook and geography-less. Its articulation of society is as broad and meaningless as the society of the globalised world. The focus of Africapitalism on Africa is a significant mark of distinction, and is a courageous aspiration to save geography (location and place) from the onslaught of globalisation. Nonetheless, it comes with its consequences, implications, and challenges. One of the challenges and implications is that Africa will be prioritised in economic/business decisions, even when that prioritisation does not necessarily meet the strict tenets of the global economic world order. For instance, the choice and decision to prioritise Africa should not necessarily be made on the basis of cost and profitability alone. In some cases, especially where the trade-offs are marginal and inconsequential, Africa could be prioritised against other economic geographies as a result of the pursuit of Africapitalism. While this appears as a laudable agenda on the surface, it will require a complementary mindset – i.e. Africonsciousness – to be realised and sustainable.

Capitalism has historically been regarded as a form of economic coordination with strong cultural influences and undertones. The European form of capitalism is different from the Anglo-Saxon variant. While the former is socially oriented, the latter is very economic in outlook and orientation. These varieties of capitalism are informed by distinct socio-cultural philosophies. The emergence of capitalism in China, for instance, has its peculiarities and uniqueness given the role of the State in furthering economic advancement. All these forms of capitalism are reflections of how the different societies have chosen to be organised. They are products of much deeper intellectual project. In other words, what are seen today as mere expressions of markets, are historical products of well-articulated socio-political philosophies. As such, Africapitalism needs to be founded on a robust philosophy and worldview. This philosophy and worldview will in-turn embody an Africa-consciousness. This consciousness will be a form of re-imagined Afrocentricism, which places the interests of Africa and her people at the epicentre of business decisions, and will guide Africa’s renaissance.

Africonsciousness is a socio-mental awareness of Africa and her people first as a continent and human beings with genuine needs, before being a market with viable consumers. The former is empowering and humane, and the latter is exploitative and dehumanising. The sudden characterisation of Africa as the last frontier of capitalism bears the hallmarks of the exploitative form of capitalism, which will not be good for the continent. Africonsciousness helps to neutralise the onslaught of globalisation and redirects the positive energy of capitalism in Africa to meeting genuine development needs of Africa and her people. Otherwise, Africapitalism without a strong philosophy behind it runs the risk of being hollow and ungrounded.

As much as Africapitalism is still work in progress, Mr Elumelu deserves the credit to pioneer its articulation. However, it now needs to be engaged as an intellectual project to enhance its robustness and application. The suggestion of Africonsciousness as a complementary business philosophy to Africapitalism is an attempt in that direction.

Amaeshi is an Associate Professor (Reader) in Strategy and International Business at the University of Edinburgh, UK, a Visiting Fellow at the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management, and a Visiting Professor at the Lagos Business School, Nigeria. He is also a member of Thought Leadership Forum, Nigeria

Poly-tricks, Belly Politics, and New Politics in Nigeria: Challenging the Status Quo?

June 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

Kenneth Amaeshi

Apparently, the battle in Nigeria today is between those who want to keep the status quo (the political dominance of a region and religion) at all cost, and those who want a new Nigeria where merit, hard work and opportunity for all will be the order of the day (irrespective of region and religion). The former is mere primordial sentiment, and the latter has a positive potential to be ideological. At the end, it comes across as a battle between what could be an ideology for a good Nigerian society and the emotional predisposition for self-destruction which have held us back since independence. Despite the visible tensions, both views are likely to form the battleground for the emergence of new politics in Nigeria. It will be definitely a battle between poly-tricks and sensible politics.

Many of those who parade themselves today in Nigeria as politicians do one thing extremely well: they whip up regional, ethnic, and religious sentiments for personal gains and ride on that wave. They do this because they have mastered the gullibility of the average Nigerian, which has become a collective problem. True to their nature as politicians of ‘poly tricks’, they will always be good at what they do best: gross deceit and unfathomable manipulation. They set us against each other. They achieve their personal selfish goals of power acquisition. The status quo of stagnation remains. Nigeria continues to suffer from ineptitude. We moan and die. They dance on our graves.

As 2015 approaches, the politrickians have started their games. Posturing and pretending to be super heroes – grand defendants of the masses and their regional interests. They have started fanning the embers of regional hatred across the ethnic groups – North, South, East and West. This could be seen from many current happenings in the polity – from the Nigerian Governance Forum (NGF) debacle to the clamour for the return of power to the proverbial and imaginary “Northern Nigeria”. Selfishness is present in all these political intrigues and manoeuvring. What is obviously absent is a genuine sense of national patriotism and common good. Despite their attempts to hide their selfish interests through packaging them as regional or religious interests, they manifest as primordial and unenlightened quest for naked power. This is in no way surprising given that enlightenment is a rare commodity in a country ravaged by poverty of the mind, brute craze for all things material, and obnoxious level of ignorance. The politrickians understand this too, and work effortlessly to use it to their benefits at our collective expense.

The period before 2015 and its madness presents an opportunity for us to sit back and think carefully before the politrickians run us over in their usual style. The power is with us and not with them. They know this too. That’s why they do all they can to sway us to vote for them even when they know very well that they do not have our interests at heart. Sieve through their messages with more care and rigour. Do not be in a haste to form an opinion. Remember the difference between a politrickian and a chameleon is very negligible. When they come with their sweet tongues and deep pockets, it will be sensible to always explore what their vision for Nigeria and the Nigerian society in Africa and in the World is, and how they think we can achieve it. This is new politics! Avoid engaging with them on the basis of where they are from and the God they believe in, for they are usually rootless and godless. The very few among them who are sensible and civilised may not have very deep pockets; it is our duty to discern these people and support them. They may not be as loud as the majority; they will need our collective voice to trump the mighty in our land who have held us hostage in similar patterns and styles characterised by deep seated corruption and underdevelopment. Again, this is new politics!

All things being equal, 2015 is a year of battle between the politrickians and the Nigerian people. They have started their games of deceit and divide and rule in earnest – playing one group against the other. Let’s not fall for their antics or allow ourselves to be sucked into their unpatriotic and destructive powers. Let’s unite, stand up to, fight, and defeat the politrickians in 2015. If you are still at sea about who the politrickians are, they only fly flags of two shades: ethnic and religious sentiments. With a close eye on these, you will not miss them despite their adeptness in portraying their selfish goals as common goods. They will never present a clear and practical ideology of Nigeria as a good society, which is quintessentially new politics.

The battle line is drawn. Spread the message. By their fruits we shall know them, and victory shall be ours if we put Nigeria first in all things.

Amaeshi is a member of Thought Leadership Forum, Nigeria, and an Associate Professor (Reader) in Strategy and International Business at the University of Edinburgh, and a visiting professor at the Lagos Business School.

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