For a while now, I have largely advocated the need for ‘corrective design’, in building the Nigeria we desire. Last year, I wrote an article on the subject of correcting the default mindset within the Nigerian consciousness, but more recently nothing proves this need than the perception of some about candidates in the 2019 election, especially in my active experience campaigning for Federal House of Representatives within Ibadan North, as well as discussing with Nigerians from all sides of the rectangle.
Quickly, default mindset is assuming a position in a particular way (mostly following a herd-mentality) without questioning its soundness or validity; and mostly without research – in pigdin English, it is called “mumu”.
Default mindset is a product of programming, usually from history or popular culture or consciousness. A social experiment by Frederick Harlow proved the power of default programming: 5 monkeys were put in a cage. The researchers then tossed bananas at them, and as the monkeys came to take the bananas, cold water was poured on them inflicting pain. At that instance, the monkeys retreated, and gave up on the bananas. After a few hours, another set of bananas were tossed at them, but with no cold water. The monkeys never came to grab the bananas, thinking cold water will be poured again. Minutes later, the researchers took out a monkey and replaced with a new monkey. Again, the researchers tossed bananas from the top of the cage, and the new monkey reached for it. Immediately, the four other monkeys beat the new monkey ‘blue black red’ for trying. Default programming is a bastard and ‘a mastard’ too – it tells your subconscious mind, ‘how dare you think this is possible’, and also tells your mind, ‘beat down (either with words or actions) any person trying to do what is termed ‘un-doable’.
This is one reason a man such as Kingsley Moghalu, with over two decades experience as a senior official at the United Nations (UN), a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a Professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, on board national and global organizations, and written internationally recognized books (recognized by President Bill Clinton) can be described by some persons as ‘young’ (despite being born in the 60s), or inexperienced to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria having not ran for any public office.
If all we can ask Kingsley Moghalu are ‘these’ or what platform he is running, rather than what policies and programmes he has, and how realistic they can turn out? Then there is problem ‘run’, ‘run’, ‘run’! How about using Google to check candidates’ credentials or evaluating their vision for Nigeria,
irrespective of tribe or religion? Wasn’t it recently that some people were shocked to know that Omoyele Sowore had not only built Sahara Reporters from ground-up, but also served for over 10 years as contract lecturer in one of US finest University, Columbia University. Yet, a self acclaimed ‘consequential Minister’ said Sowore is inconsequential to run for President – he should try his hands on councilor ‘in Ife’ perhaps. Maybe, such Minister should ask ‘Donald Trump’ or ‘Jimmy Carter’?
Wait! Are we quick to forget that it was an allegiance to platform and person, without asking about the 3 Cs (credentials, charisma, and clarity of vision), that brought this current inflation-friendly leadership to us? And now we are walking right into it with our own words. Can we ask these candidates new questions for building a new Nigeria we all desire, besides the regular old questions that have brought us here in the first place?
‘The quality of questions Nigerians ask in 2019, will produce the quality of solution Nigeria gets’. Rather than tweet default questions, tweet to ask these candidates the new breeds of questions that will evoke new breed solutions you can run with.
Imagine, if the same people who intelligently ask for candidates platform, could intelligently ask the internet to get the message and vision first for each and every candidate that show-up, we will be better informed to provide leadership to mass of Nigerians who look up to we ‘enlightened’ lots. This same default mindset is what will make someone condemn a person and say, ‘s/he is not experienced’, ‘s/he is too young’, s/he is speaking too much English. Imagine some saying Fela Durotoye and Adamu Garba are speaking too much English. Don’t we want a knowledgeable leader? This is exactly what default programming does, it makes people say things that have no logical or sound foundation. Just like the experimental monkeys, these lots would prefer to beat up another verbally for trying, albeit ignorantly. They eventually don’t show up during elections after causing verbal harm.
No wonder, the acclaimed ‘consequential’ in Nigerian politics, win every election cycle. I like to use this analogy from the Bible to describe how this goes down: Imagine if all the 5, 000 men (besides women and children), as well as families and friends of those who had been fed and healed by Jesus, had showed up during the election between ‘Jesus and Barrabas’, would Jesus have lost that election before ‘INEC’ Pilate? Take a second and imagine how you fit in here!
Another reference would be that of Professor Pius Adesanmi, which I find instructive: “If you hear that one of you, children of ordinary peeps, has an appointment somewhere in Nigeria's technocracy or bureaucracy, you are up in arms screaming he is too young or inexperienced. Then the elite will do the kind of corrupt hiring they have been doing recently in places like the Central Bank, etc. They will parachute in their 20 something year-old children who have only just graduated from Britain or America. In fact, you saw your Governor or Senator or Minister beaming at the graduation ceremony in London or Washington only yesterday because their aides posted the photos on Facebook and Twitter. You even congratulated your "amiable Governor" or "amiable Senator" and abused those asking if he traveled to his child's graduation ceremony at public expense. Then that same boy or girl who graduated yesterday is parachuted in and offered a senior position at CBN or any of the Federal parastatals like they have been doing with breathtaking intensity under Buhari.
You scream about nepotism.
You scream about favoritism.
I have never heard you scream that those appointed children are too young or inexperienced.”
You have been conditioned to apply that cliche only to yourselves and fellow children of the poor”.
Let’s do away with the default programming – through research, through new questions – #OurMumuDonDo! abi e no do?.
But first get your PVC, no matter what it takes.
Timi Olagunju is a technology lawyer and design thinking consultant. He is recipient of President Barack Obama’s award for distinguished young African leaders. He can be reached on
firstname.lastname@example.org or www.voteTimi.com. Twitter/Instagram: @timithelaw