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Home Opinion Opinion: Marketplace of Ideas and Our Political Leadership -By Baba-Bala Katsina
Opinion: Marketplace of Ideas and Our Political Leadership -By Baba-Bala Katsina

Opinion: Marketplace of Ideas and Our Political Leadership -By Baba-Bala Katsina


That a people can’t develop (or grow) above its intellectual capacity, is a known fact. That’s why there has to, and should, always be, a strong relationship between leadership and scholarship. Because it’s through mutual interaction of ideas, development and issues, that people create a unique civilisation. Ideas developed by scholars and intellectuals are converted by the political leadership into development. Development however usually generate issues (waste) and it were the issues that scholars collect as materials, interpret them and thereupon fashioned them into ideas – the circle goes on. There is need therefore for interplay between ideas, development and issues — for meaningful development of a society and economy. It’s a division of labour, kind of.


If this formula is to go by, then, standard for every development drive, has to be developed/designed from within. Because, that’s what always determines the extent to which a development idea will fare. But when the standard is copied from others’, the implication is, the impact will be negligible and or, in the long run, may generate underdevelopment farther from the level the society was before. We have been living witnesses to this in this country.


When political leadership is in constant conflict with intellectuals and scholars, then one will wonder how the leadership will be able to interpret the issues and subsequently convert them into ideas without inserting much political expedience – to the detriment of societal progress of course. Going by this division of labour — if we accept it as such — it’s then a risk to let the political leadership to think, hands-off, on issues. It will be too much a work. Issues are misunderstood as ideas,  while they are not. Until they undergo serious interpretation by scholars, issues remain a waste, disposed by society through its dialogue with social realities. As waste is never a wealth until so converted, so issues are never ideas until interpreted.


Because this mix up happens in our case, one would see ideas, development and issues, each standing on its own – trying to achieve an end instead of being a means to an end. Neither division of labour nor synchronisation does happen at all: Issues are always in conflict with the kind of development being brought; ideas are being eaten up frustratingly by scholars who produced them. Ability to invent, innovate and add value to an existing product (idea), a major determinant factor in sustaining a development, will suffer serious set backs. This explains partly our underdevelopment paradox. One can imagine how would the system work this way!  Any attempt to critique what the leadership is doing with our fate will be met with insults and name calling. You become a recalcitrant — a one off aberration type of a person in the society – for just seeking clarifications.


Every student of development studies will look at this formula to ascertain whether a people’s quest for development is going in the right direction. But ours doesn’t encourage scholarly and intellectual discourse. It’s a taboo. Intellectuals are mad people, and scholars are libelled as ingrates. People are not in government to bring the kind of development intellectuals naively think of. Being in government is technically about making money and fame. Development can wait. They (intellectuals) should chew it as it’s being cooked. Their attempts to detect the DECEPTION POINT (apologies to Dan Brown) is considered an act of treason.


When we asked question regarding our state (Katsina) budget for example, we didn’t do it in order to bully the political leadership nor to present it to the public that the leadership is a failure, but to try to understand what it (the budget) means; whether issues and ideas are reconciled; how the standard is being developed; and, what it aims at achieving in the end. We asked about 2016 budget performance evaluation on the other hand because it’s from there that we will know how this year’s was conceptualized; whether it’s real, (too) ambitious or even illusory.


We do this looking at the fact that, APC preaches transparency and a change of order upon which things were being done in the past (never mind they are the same characters, with no different agenda), but at state level we are seeing less transparency. We are seeing an old way of doing things, branded as a new concept. But we can unravel it, alas.


Discourse about development doesn’t mean war or enmity, but portraying a characteristic of a broad minded people in quest of genuine development. Scholars and intellectuals are a treasure and the most sacred of assets a society can have, and be proud of. No matter the amount/number of potentials, natural and human, a society has, they remain issues (a curse, in some school of thought) until scholars and intellectuals interpret them, thus convert them into ideas. But when scholars are scorned, victimized and roughly handled by same society that produced them, it says a lot about the state of the mind of that society because of the seemingly serious disconnection between talent production and management, one would say.

NB: I am neither a scholar  (not even near that) nor intellectual, but just a student trying to learn.

Baba-Bala Katsina

Twitter Handle: @BabaBala5


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