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US-based Nigerian blames current economic woes on past-binding, future-binding

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United States-based Nigerian economist, Dr. Samuel Enajite Enajero has said that past-binding and future-binding are factors retarding economic development in Nigeria.

Enajero stated this in a paper titled, ‘Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria, particularly Okpe Kingdom’, delivered at the 94th Anniversary of Okpe Union in Lagos.

Explaining how the types of cermonianl encapsulation retard econimic development in Nigeria, he said: “Two Types of Ceremonial Encapsulation that retard economic development in Nigeria are Past-Binding and Future Binding. In past-binding ceremonial encapsulation, the existing value systems are a source of pride that binds a community. There is every attempt to preserve the existing ceremonial values because they support a distinct symbol of the community. Traditional values, ethnic competition in the use of resources, suppression of women in communities, and religious beliefs exemplify past-binding ceremonial encapsulation in a society’’.

‘’In Europe, the separations of ceremonial and instrumental values date back to 500 A.D through 1700 AD. The period could be divided into the Dark and Middle-Ages. The Dark Ages witnessed feudalism, sorcery, witchcraft, rituals, mystical powers, and superstitions. These practices were a common way of life across Europe.

While European leaders recognized the barriers these habits placed on scientific enquiries, Enajero said concerted efforts were made to exterminate these behaviours and replace them with instrumental values.

‘’It took three stages: First, Christianity initially eliminated ceremonial practices through ex-communication and persecution, and later by Parliamentary Acts. The Acts made witchcraft, and other pagan practices punishable by death through execution and burning. Second, however, the church that assisted in ending paganism, as those practices were referred to, suffered its fate in the Middle Ages during the movements to separate secularity from spirituality. Third, this was followed by a series of social revolutions aimed at aligning the desires (ceremonial behaviours) of the peasants and wage earners with the national objectives (instrumental behaviours) of the upper class’’.

The leading expert on public choice/public finance noted that the monarchies were relegated and restricted to their palaces to play ceremonial roles

‘’The Church in Europe was a symbol of spirituality, and the monarchy was a vestige of traditional European values. Both should not interfere with scientific thinking and the secular schemes of things. History indicates that it was a tough battle in England and Rome. The church was ultimately separated from science and secular issues; the monarchies were relegated and restricted to their palaces to play ceremonial roles’’.

He attributed strong European influence in the world today to the displacement of ceremonial rationality in their culture.

‘’Many of these ceremonial values “displaced” by Europeans and elsewhere in the Dark and Middle-Ages are still prevalent and visible in Africa in the 21st century. For example, during the colonial days, the British governed Nigeria by “indirect rule”. That is, governing through the local Emirs, Kings, and Chiefs. The colonial authorities meant no “double standards” (displacing traditional values at home but using them in the colonial territories). The method was intended to make the British authorities look authentic at the grassroots in Nigeria.

The author of the book ‘’Collective Institutions and Industrialized Nation’’ said indirect rule resulted in a complete ceremonial encapsulation of every instrumental institution Nigeria inherited from Britain.

‘’However, the main responsibility of local Kings and Chiefs is to promote and sustain traditional values in their domains. The Kings and Chiefs are the roots of ceremonialism (traditional values, several local religions, and two competing imported religions) heavily entrenched in the long-term memories of the educated and uneducated indigenes. Therefore, behaviours of politicians, government officials, military, scientists, educators, and managers in the country are heavily adulterated, such that instrumental institutions in Nigeria do not thrive’’.

Enajero advised the federal government not to strip off the titles of the countless Nigerian monarchies but their role in secular society, if any, should be made clear.

‘’I must say that the modern British Monarch is not completely ceremonial. The British Royal Family symbolizes virtues, glamor, acceptable protocols, mores, and spectacles. If emulated by the public, these behaviours become public goods. Moreover, the Royal Family attracts visitors to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, among others, and these have become tourist attractions that generate, on average, $715 million per year for the U.K. economy. The Royal Family is resourceful and instrumental in the U.K., yet there are cries among the Brits for it to be abolished. How much do myriads of monarchies in Nigeria generate? I am not saying the countless Nigerian monarchies should be stripped of their titles. However, their role in secular society, if any, should be made clear.

The world class economist who spoke on changes in habits and values said Nigerians need not bother themselves on past behaviours.

He said: ‘’Under institutional economics, development does not rely on past behaviours; it requires changes in habits and values. One could argue that habits and values change because of economic development. The counter argument is that habits and values cannot change if they are stuck in the past. Technological innovation is a problem-solving process that exposes further problems. For example, The United States’ Central Business Districts (CBDs) were heavily congested at the turn of the 19th century. The suburban communities emerged, which exposed another problem––the time it took to commute to the CBDs using horse-pulled carts. An entrepreneur developed a gasoline powered internal combustion engine that resulted in a new era of vehicle transportation industry. Freeways and highways were constructed so that cars could reach their destinations faster. Other vehicle-related technologies surfaced including safety issues’’.

To solve the problems of Nigeria, Enajero said the people must be instrumental. ‘’Yet another problem emerged––the destruction of the ozone layers by vehicle emissions. To solve the problem of emissions, electric vehicle (EV) technology was developed. Why can’t Nigeria acquire technology and development by solving visible food shortage problems, housing construction, security and education? To solve social problems, people must be instrumental. Of course, after spending sixteen centuries destroying ceremonial beliefs and practices, and mopping up the remnants with a stringent rule of law, such societies could comfortably embrace development models centered on single-mode rationality’’.

Enajero, however, complained about the end-products of institutions in Third World Countries.

‘’What differentiate institutions are the rules governing the institutions. What is their way of thinking, the mode of valuation, rationality, and acceptable norms? Institutions emanate from values based on beliefs. Beliefs and values are essential structures of institutions. Thus, different countries may practice the same economics, government, education, healthcare, and military, but these institutions’ end-products may differ from country to country’’.

Enajero also said the problem in the country was more of an institutional one.

‘’Why? In institutional economics, institutions are arranged in order: zero-order, first order, and second-order institutions. Zero-order institutions produce ceremonial outcomes, leading to regressive societies, and second-order institutions are the backbone of socioeconomic development. The first order is the economic order, social structure, and stabilization of rules. Mainstream economics, where 95-98% of economists, including World Bank and IMF economists are trained, believe in a single institution (one rule). That is a single-mode valuation. Meaning, all economic agents are rational, and mainstream economic development models are constructed around the tenet of single-mode rationality. Institutional economists, however, vehemently disagree with a one-sweeping rationality in a society’’.

He listed institutions instrumental to social changes, adding that, “traditional rulers are carriers of culture entrenched in spirituality (rituals), and along with religion (churches and mosques), they have identical ways of thinking. These are classified as traditional/habitual institutions (zero order). Whereas institutions such as universities, research, technology, unions, governments, etcetera are established for a purpose and empowered to improve the capacity and general social welfare of a group, community, or nation. These latter institutions are instrumental to social changes and are classified as second-order institutions”.

He criticised some Nigerians for doing things their forefathers’ way.

‘’Thus, institutions are dichotomized into two values: ceremonial and instrumental values or rule-following and purpose-seeking. Rule-following in the sense their logic relies on unmodified past rules. The logic behind the reasoning for the two institutions is different. The justification or logic behind ceremonialism allows one social class to exercise power over another. Our forefathers lived in a time when there were no lamps, electricity, calculators, vehicles, airplanes, computers, internet, or Google, and you want to do things their way? The herdsmen in Northern Nigeria, for example, are running around the bushes killing farmers and raping the women. The logic behind this behaviour is, ‘We do this because our religious leaders did it in the 17th century’. Ridiculous! Or we do things this way because ‘God says so’. The mode of valuation for zero-order institutions is fixed; it does not change. If economic development arises from institutional changes, (habits, norms, values), zero-order institutions will not be the answer. Zero order institutions are accepted based on their “ceremonial adequacy”, he said.

Enajero echoed the instrumental values: “The second mode of valuation in the institutional space is instrumental values. This mode of valuation requires deliberative, methodological, and calculative actions in which relevant knowledge, tools, and skills are applied in the problem-solving process of a community or nation. This mode of valuation, unlike the ceremonial mode, is not fixed; it is subject to changes through scientific enquiry and technological development. New sets of behaviours and habits must change to adapt to new technologies. The dynamic problem-solving processes inherent in instrumental value change the habits and behaviours of the community or nation. Therefore, economic development is a consequence of changes in the habits of thought’’.

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