The Imo formula, by Jimanze Ego-Alowes

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map-of-imo-stateThe epithet ‘Imo formula’ does not sound or smell like roses. In fact, for those who are old enough to recall, it represented the fiend­ish end of free market capitalism or its worst manifestation.

It so happened that in the days of the old Imo State, the state has now been cut into Abia and Imo, one Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu was appoint­ed to be a commissioner of finance. Dr. Kalu was relatively unknown then, since nobody who is not somebody ever heard of him. But the same Dr. Kalu it turned out was and still is frightfully brilliant. Whether the argument was by words or with figures, Dr. Kalu played and mesmerized his audience like a Messi on the leather game. Perhaps it was then revealed that it has been his lot to be brilliant. Whether it was at King’s College, Lagos, where he car­ried the eagle feather, or while in America where made gold, academically speaking, Kalu was your forever shining star. In fact, the his­tory tells that he was so star-bright that the principalities who own and run the world, headhunted him to help turnaround a back­water nation. In other words, under the ban­ner of IMF, the World Bank and such manner of shops, Dr. Kalu was one of the hands that retooled South Korea into the economic pow­erhouse that it is today. So in some sense the South Korea miracle is a testimonial to folks like Dr. Kalu. Ahiazuwa.

That is to say that Dr. Kalu had all the aces on his side. He was bright, and came with a re­cord that he has done it before. So it looked great to have him back home, to do with Imo, his own people, what good he helped to do with South Korea, who are strangers as it were. And the great man, a boy wonder of sorts, was handed over Imo as a financial shop.

And suddenly he woke up one morning – we think it was a rainy Monday morning – and was arguing that the salary contracts Imo State workers had with their state was no longer fixed in stone. It was now to be flex­ible – a kind of eti okwe erie okwe game – or if you liked a model kalo-kalo gamble. That is what you put in as a worker and what you get as salaries became built and dependant on chance. In other words, sometimes the state pays you 100%, or sometimes the same state pays you 0 (zero)% of your salaries so long as it is a mathematical determinate figure. Zero, incidentally is.

Nigerians, and not just IPOB, are indig­enous peoples, and have never heard, seen or ever dreamt of that kind of government magic. In justice and alarm the Imo people became duly scandalized. But the point was that Dr. Kalu who was ferociously brilliant we repeat, won the argument as logic, as conjecture. But the idea of a father earning his salaries like it was a stock exchange yield, with monthly vari­ances, was incomprehensible enough to sug­gest that genius may have gone mad or naked again.

Anyway, General Ibrahim Babanigida, who liked playing games with history and peoples’ lives took reverential notice of Dr. Kalu’s hell-bright brilliance. And before Imo people could raise a placard to drive the bright black won­der boy from Korea back to whence he came, Babangida headhunted and squirrelled him away to Lagos.

But that was not before the entire nation was so dazed it tagged the Dr. Kalu legacy, the Imo Formula. In other words, workers’ month­ly pay was now a gamble – eti okwe erie okwe. Well, all that is long gone and past. Now a new Imo Formula, greater and better, has come on board. And since the Dr. Kalu variant does not hold an exclusive franchise on the epithet, we might as well sack it and associate Imo with something more inspirational. That is there is now a replacement and more nation serving Imo Formula in town. Even at the risk of exag­geration, it is singly the greatest legacy Nigeria and Nigerians can latch on. The story goes like this.

Imo state is about to do a jubilee, celebrat­ing its founding. And like the peacock it is spreading and flashing its best and bright­est plumages about and around. In one such journey the governor, Rochas Okorocha, and members of his executive showcased the best they have done for the state and the people. Quietly frankly there was much on the ground. And that is to speak in terms of building and infrastructure. But as yours truly we have al­ways been wary of governments as builders, especially of the visible, save it be roads.

The reasons are as follows. Out there in North America and Europe, the peoples have been so empowered that individuals, compa­nies, build whole cities construct and own whole industries. The logic of it is simple. It is that they have found a way to let the people do it, so that their governors can have vacations playing golf or riding horses. In truth the tasks to develop and be developed are the peoples’, just as are the votes.

What the governments do in Europe and North America is to play Adam Smith. Well, Adam Smith is the chap who invented the concept of invisible hand, or government as a minimal presence and player. That is for Eu­rope and North America, the governments are best that play at invisible and or near invisible levels. That is governance’s greatest and cen­tral job is to the build social technology – non­physical – that allows the people to come to their fullest potentials and then a little more. Europe and North America have been able to achieve this because they have come to a cer­tain revelation. That revelation is, to put it succinctly, that a great economy cannot pre­cede a great polity. To repeat a great prosper­ity, cannot predate a great imperium or state.

In other words, the very construction and perfection of the state is an economic act. In fact, that is the first great and the single great­est economic act. Without that act – the per­fection of a polity – every other strives of the state, its agents and or citizens are to be bound up in shallows and miseries. This is an iron lore and no known history has upended it.

This is where we found the speech of the Imo State political adviser, Professor Nnamdi Obiarieri not just profound, seminal, but wor­thy of emulation all over Nigeria. In a talk to describe the role the governor has assigned him, he told that it is to be a political adju­dicator, of the moral equity and fairness for the state. In other words, the governor has so fashioned things that whatever is to be done and or built in the state has to first of all and formally pass a test of: is it equitable to all Imo zones and peoples.

The implication of this for instance, is that in building health centres it was decided that a prototype was to be built and scattered in all the political zones of the state in equal mea­sure. That is Imo State is a geography of ‘equal joiners and equal founders’.

Perhaps it is akin to a metaphor popular­ized by Professor Pat Utomi. The bright boy has often canvassed that it is better to have everybody in pissing out, than have some out pissing in. That we suspect is one of the great polity building lessons he learnt off the North Americas, where like the great Zik, he went for the golden fleece.

If equity is the one thing the Okorocha ad­ministration has achieved, then it is a lesson that is worth exporting to the rest of Nigeria, which since Gowon has been hungry for eco­nomic prosperity that never comes. Why the Nigerian prosperity never comes is trapped in the lessons of the Imo Formula. And it is as ancient as Nwangele river. It is that a great economy, no matter how brilliantly hard a people toil, can never precede a great polity. Ahiazuwa.

(Source: Daily Sun)

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