ByIs’haq Modibbo Kawu
WHEN Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, we were guaranteed an outpouring of emotions as diverse and divided as she was in her political career.
For those that shared her ideological perspective, the “Iron Lady” was a truly formidable leader; an uncommon politician who stayed the course with her convictions and in her determination changed the course of British politics and the political economy as well as providing a template of capitalism without a human face that has become writ large in the world ever since she appeared on the scene.
Reactionary people always hanker for the “strong man”, but in Margaret Thatcher they found a “strong woman”; the Iron Lady who rolled through society without pity and helped the entrenchment of one of the most vicious phases of capitalist development that the world has ever known.
This daughter of a grocer hankered for the inequalities and cruelty of the 1920s and 1930s and she delivered it to the delight of the propertied classes. She launched a determined offensive against the Welfare State which had been the greatest gain of post-War Britain, a society which gave a social net to the working people; granted the exemplary National Health service; social housing and had generally protected the working people and the poor.
This utterly reactionary woman unleashed the full power of the British state against the National Union of Miners and in a one year battle broke the back of the trade union movement. It was her vicious approach that became the template for a reactionary offensive against the working people around the world.
Thatcher privatised the railways and telecommunication; she launched the neo-colonial war against Argentina in the Malvinas and the lady was against African interest through her defence of the apartheid regime in South Africa. We must not forget that she saw Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and the national liberation movement as a whole bunch of terror organisations.
It was instructive that while those who endorsed her style as well as her ideological position have genuinely mourned her passing; many people in communities she ruined and in places as Northern Ireland and Scotland jubilated at her passing.
On Monday night, SKY NEWS interviewed one of the wives of the miners whom she ruined, and she described Margaret Thatcher as “scum”. It is that “scum” that those who shared her perspectives have continued to mourn and describe with all kinds of superlatives.
I think that she did a lot to save and breathe new life into the worldwide domination of capitalism at its imperialist, neo-liberal phase and together with Ronald Reagan, she won the ideological battle against the socialist world and in their triumph, instituted the unipolar world of neoliberal capitalism which Fukuyama enthusiastically described as the end of history.
From Thatcher through to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and now David Cameron, the tradition of inequality has continued to deepen in Britain while the Welfare State continues to be attacked in a desperate effort to return society to that of absolute wealth for the rich and God for the rest! Margaret Thatcher was a heroine of money; of the use of power to consolidate the privileges of the rich. She was an enemy of the poor people and the ability of the working people to organise to defend their rights.
I don’t share the grief of those who have described the “Iron Lady” in golden colours. I have never agreed that we should not speak ill of the dead. In my view, what we owe the dead is the truth, especially when they have impacted upon the social space as Margaret Thatcher did.
I think she was a vicious woman; a reactionary defender of capitalism whose leadership has deepened the unhappiness of the masses of the world. Her reactionary doctrines continue to haunt our world and would do so for a long time yet!
Kayode Fayemi’s delightful Ekiti State
A CONFESSION is in order at the beginning of this piece. Kayode Fayemi, the Ekiti State governor is my friend. I rooted for him in the lead to his election openly, in a couple of columns I wrote for DAILY TRUST. I followed keenly the effort to claim his mandate and was very delighted with the eventual outcome.
As I stated in one of my pieces, I won an invitation to visit Ekiti state as well as the right to eat Ekiti’s famous pounded yam, in Kayode’s company. We never got the opportunity until the last Easter break.
I had travelled to Ilorin for the holiday, as I wrote here last week. And because of the terrible state of the roads leading to Ilorin (the Kaduna end is a nightmare; going through Niger state via Bida is a horrific experience and the route through Egbe and Kabba in Kogi will take a toll on car and man!), most people now travel through Ekiti state. On Easter Monday night, I received Fayemi’s text to visit and so I was off to Ado Ekiti on Wednesday.
The impression I got was of a state undergoing rapid transformation. New roads are springing up all over the state, including well-lit dual carriageways within metropolitan Ado Ekiti. A new civic centre is under construction; there is the 10, 000 capacity pavilion; new government house complex and a new governor’s office.
The Fayemi administration instituted a welfare programme for 20, 000 elderly people who receive N5,000 every month just as IGR has been taken from N109M to N700M per month. Given the fact that Ekiti receives one of the lowest along monthly allocations, it was refreshing to see so much effort at development. Every school child is being provided a computer.
It was refreshing to see what the administration has done to uplift the touristic potential of the Ikogosi Hot Spring, which I visited, with the well-appointed chalets; the swimming pool and the conference centre. No wonder, many people now organise retreats there, while the second phase is envisaged to include a golf course; a reserve area and hotel.
I was worried about the maintenance of facilities as well as the institution of a customer service culture. Kayode Fayemi told me that the administration will partner with firms with a tradition of success in the tourism sector.
After my trip around Ekiti, we sat together for about two hours to discuss what I saw and his perspectives about leadership and development. Fayemi, who has an activist background, told me that the most exciting part of what he has done in the past few years, has been the value re-orientation process attendant upon the leadership he provides.
There is a change of tone and content of the attitude of people; sustaining that is a major challenge. The administration is refurbishing schools and hospitals in almost every community and people wonder that such a feat could happen, almost 50 years after Awolowo.
The three universities were merged despite initial skepticism while the bureaucracy is gradually re-invigorating the meritocratic culture of integrity. He does not romanticise these developments, because there is still a lot wrong in the working of things. Bureaucracy, he argued has two sides; it can be a cog in the wheel and in the observe, can assist in transformation for good.
Considering the level of achievements opening up in Ekiti, the central issue has been the proper utilisation of resources. And as for the ideological underpinning of things, Fayemi reminded me that as a social democrat, he believes that the state has a role to play in societal development and central to that is the effort to institute social justice and egalitarianism. We also discussed the All Progressive Congress (APC), and its imperatives. In all, it was an eye-opening visit for me.
We later settled down for dinner and in fulfillment of my three-year hope, I tucked into the dish of pounded yam and vegetables! A few days after my trip, the tragic death of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Funmilayo Olayinka, was announced. May the Almighty God give the family and the friendly people of Ekiti state, the fortitude to bear her tragic loss.
The Boko Haram amnesty committe: I’m with President Jonathan on that
THERE have not been much to valorise in the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, as far as I am concerned; and I think the administration has disappointed many of those who voted for it in 2011. The Boko Haram crisis has gradually morphed into the greatest security tests facing the administration. I have consistently argued, since 2011, that there was no shooting through the crisis.
The Nigerian state will have to understand the anti-state essence of the insurgency; then find peaceful means to end it.
President Jonathan dithered for long while throwing billions of naira into the fight as elements within the security apparatus became stupendously rich.
They therefore needed the insurgency and effort to curtail it to continue, so they can become even richer! Jonathan who once said there were Boko haram members inside his administration, engaged in multi-talk for so long; he would not offer amnesty to “ghosts’ even when the security forces tell us of dozens that are regularly killed or captured and arrested.
In the meantime, the party of war, from CAN president to ‘enlightened’ commentators, especially in the Southern media, continued to advocate a gung-ho approach of more violence.
They excused Niger Delta “militancy” as justified but refuse to see the underlining current of anti-state protest at the heart of Boko Haram. Something just had to give.
The president has alienated the majority of Northern Nigeria with his hardline stance; but the politician has an eye towards 2015; thus the decision to explore the Amnesty option.
Nothing is guaranteed; none is ruled in or out. But at least, President Jonathan has decided to explore an alternative route to end the crisis. Let us give critical support and hope he stays the course, because there is no defeating the insurgency with guns.