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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

THE GOOD SOCIETY 2 (pretty long, cranial incontinence, you might want to download then read)

In my mind, the in sustainability of personal good model without a foundation in collective good is self evident, back to the equal fingers theory as against the clear progress that can be derived from setting a common yardstick i.e. the lowest common denominator below which non is allowed to sink as a nation, a community of humans. Once done, all able bodied will compete so that the extraordinary can thus emerge.

In examining the issue of collective good, a wise mentor of mine defined the five great malaise that must be eliminated and how. The man and a few others like that, men and women should be president of Nigeria.

Why the collective good? Because it is the foundation upon which you can build the platform that allows competition on the human (not necessarily humane) level, which promotes prosperity. Is it bleeding heart charity, hell no! It is the foundation of democracy, freeish (no complete free speech anywhere expect at the speakers corner in Hyde park with distracted pigeons in the audience) speech and the various form of capitalism. It varies in degrees of grey from the purer more socialist leaning light grey of some of Europe's democracies to the dark grey of American capitalism. There are even interesting grey blacks of the emerging 3rd way of China.

At the heart of it all is a sense of value as a people, the recognition of value of all individuals in the collective, the willingness to get beyond frustration knowing that true solutions come not from without of self but within which will presuppose that one knows what one's self is. This is tough for the African because much of whom we are is either not fully understood or accepted by us or has been misinterpreted and misrepresented to us and consequently demonised and abused by us. To unravel that l leave you to the likes of Wale Ajadi.

If we cannot learn and unlearn the finer points of the admittedly convoluted issues l raised in the preceding paragraph, l suggest that like the Singaporean experience we might need to be dragged willy nilly to that point of enlightenment by those who get it although l am loathe to trust in the concept of who should lead seeing as we have a system that throws up our worst. I am more sympathetic to the idea of how they should lead. However, the chicken and egg situation is, if we do not get the exception by accident who will begin the process of ensuring the collective good platform that will eliminate the 5 great malaise which will then foster prosperity, how is progress to be made?

The other point about true humility is recognising that you must do your part but you are not the answer, only a part of it. Taking that rather convenient cop out, l shall therefore continue my thesis.

This mentor of mine who revolutionized a sector of the Nigerian economy at a time discussed the 5 great malaises with me. My question to him was, have you always known this or is this a latter day realization because either way, l wish you can perfect that system by teaching your apostles, many of whom have added Constantine like connotations to your model the principle of collective good and the industry's very central role in the elimination of the five great malaise such that they can be even bigger and richer. Quick slogan, "don't do it for them do it for you, because when they matter, you matter even more". I like it. Okay l am travelling in my head again. So the mentor identifies the five malaise which l then define thus

1. Want: That which separates man from beast and which at the base level must be given space for achievable pursuit.
2. Ignorance: Often confused with lack of formal education. Ignorance
is lack of enlightenment about the right and wrong of structure and processes in a quest to prosper the society. Education should ensure this if it was holistic, universal, accessible and equitable at the basic level.
3. Disease: is the evil that can afflict the physical and mental casing which brings prosperity
4. Idleness: An aberration for man was made to work in harmony with the inbuilt nature of man to want.
5. Squalor: Man is the only being made or evolved (whatever you choose to believe) without a physical protection from the elements. He must have an abode that protects him from the elements and ensure enough comfort for him to function above base animal level.

To eliminate these we must recognised and engage the three levels of the society. The young, the able bodied and the aged. The young, below 16, male and female must compulsorily be educated in a way that is enlightening, enlightenment seeking, easy to access and maintain, engaging all senses and abilities and giving allowance to play and self expression. They must be fed, protected from and treated for disease. They should also be protected by enforceable law from harm and abuse. It is important to educate their mothers for no educated mother in our culture denies her child education. To get all to embrace such an education it must respect the rules of engagement i.e. respectful but not be limited by the culture of others and proximal to those to be educated as well as transparently tied to the fulfillment of human want and pursuit of happiness. The aged must be fed, accommodated appropriately, enabled to engage in social and recreational activities that gives a sense of worth as well as provided with health care for a token or free.

The able bodied must provide these needs of the 2 above. To do this they must be healthy and given opportunities to pursue wealth and wellbeing. They must also be taxed effectively for their privileges as well as their excesses. The rich in particular must be strategically and effectively taxed. For the able bodied to do these therefore he and she must not be allowed to be idle, even if it means that they will dig up holes in the morning and cover them at night. Going from manual labour, it means creating work (not jobs) such that you can pay them and then tax them. They are given a way to satisfy the human pursuit of happiness i.e. meeting your wants and the society is enriched by their enterprise.

Then the nay sayers will say, but we cannot afford jobs, then l say, but l have not asked you to give them jobs sebi you see how they sleep in the civil service offices. I have asked that you pay for work. If we asked that Lagos be physically swept clean do you know how many people will be required to do that and how long they will have to keep at it given the generation of dirt? If the banks know that these people WILL be paid at the end of the month they will make appropriate credit available to them which they can use to pursue the human want of coke and suya to impress on a date with a sisi which will ensure that the café owner re-evaluates his model to serve what the majority wants and distribute to the largest numbers. The banks will then be willing to extend credit to such an enterprise which will lead to higher demand for nama (meat) which some others will then preserve better and produce more of and the transporters realizing that demand is higher will need bigger trucks and alternative modes of transportation, the construction companies will see the need and the way to raise higher equity for infrastructure and so on and so on. It sounds simplistic but then ask Steve Jobs or Bill gate if their first desire was not a simple one to build certain types of computer. Lee Kwan Yu 50 years ago also just wanted to give paying work to his people so they can feed themselves whilst they began to educate a whole new generation to support emerging realities and industries.

Our problems are not intractable; in fact, they are remarkable in their simplicity.

Our greatest asset is our people if we effectively engage them. If you fix the people, you have fixed the nation. Enough of the plenty confused and confusing grammar, our challenge is not agriculture; it is farmers, not education but teachers, not security but policemen. How do we create an environment to produce the most enlightened, progressive, respected and rewarded farmer/teachers/policemen etc? Our elitist posturing and cosmetic solutions would be sad if it were not so laughable as here all fingers are equal, we are in a collective mess which is evident in our quality of life no matter how many gadgets we have or how far we try to run away from the old cities and villages. To clean it up has to be a collective mission that requires seeing our poor majority (otherwise known as our close relatives) as viable and equal humans. Whether in governance or private business and life, we can't keep serving the needs, real or imagined of a small bloated minority, such a model is medieval and went out with horse drawn transportation. It is also not sustainable, does not protect us at our weakest and breeds big egos with little pricks (male and female) that mess us all up. It is also an embarrassment in the comity of nations. We must adapt and evolve applying these base principles. Now simple as that may sound it requires bravery, as it demands a lowering of the ego, temporary discomfiture and the death of the big man.

Most likely you know all of these already, l just thought to mention them again as l quickly return to my day job of talking on television.


I will be visiting the juvenile centre on Friday at noon, who will like to go with me? Also for those who are out side Nigeria, the following are the account details for the bloggers for Juvenile centre funds.
First City Monument Bank (F.C.M.B)
Acct name: Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND)
Acct no: 001208013394001 (US Dollars)
Acct no: 001208013394002 (Euros)
For those of us in Nigeria there are two accounts

FCMB Acct no: 001206013394001 (Naira).
BANK PHB 014610200631
receipt and send a mail to me for every donation you make to the
account. You may do so anonymously if you desire.
C'mon lets do this and thanks for caring.


Anonymous said...

this one is very long ooo!!!:-) Ok, Ok, I'll print...

soul said...

When I first read this through, it came across as seeking utopia, but then I thought, one must have an aim.. and why not aim for the best of a possible solution.

Collective good is something I work towards everyday, and like a virus people reject it. Then I realised, I must package my collective good in psuedo exploitative wrappers.
i.e my clients know ta is good for them, but they are used to b.
I know a will save them money, make them healthy, and prolong their life, but they are crunk straight drunk on b.
So I give them a, packaged as b.. and wean them off the packaging. I'm sorry if what I'm trying is not clear.

I've re-read this twice. I think I need another read. I don't disagree with it, but then I'm still trying to understand certain parts of it.
I did want to say that I don't actually wish for the death of the big man...as in an entire elimination. A vast reduction... yes. But in some convoluted way.. I think even the 'big man' has a place in a restructured naija... just like Bill Gates is a 'big man' in the US.. (or am I getting the big man analogy wrong?)

But what happens to the 'each one, reach one, teach one' philosophy with this.

I'm still ingesting.. but whilst I'm doing that..
may I suggest that you create a blog for the juvenile centre, where updates can be made, photographs of not only the present situation, but of the utilities or equipment that the donors money pays for?.
If you do not have the time I can set it up for you and hand it over.

I mean this really is what is about... no?

Anonymous said...

What is the procedure of putting into these accounts. I live in the US.


hmn, sis mi, ive read this twice and im still tongue tied, i have so much to say but dont even know where to begin. let me go and read it again to be sure, then come back and put my thoughts down...

Anonymous said...

I dont get! I am interested but I reside abroad and I have just been to FCMB's site but there is nothing on there that shows how diasporeans can pay into its account.

I dont know of any FCMB branch in London. Please help o because I am really interested. I am tempted to even take the money to Otunba Balogun's house in that fashionable part of London but I dont know if they have a banking hall there.

Anonymous said...

I have not finished reading this, but I agree already.

If we as a society agree to educate all our young below 16, make sure that our young able bodied have work and when they do work (Regardless of type of work, there should be dignity in labor) we tax them to take care of our aged and repeat the cycle each time.

My mother has a friend who happens to be the only one that is comfortable in her large family. Every month, she would take money out to give to her siblings and extended family who claim they can’t find work that befits them. She also sends their children to school so as to break this cycle of poverty. She later found out that at the end of the month, she was worse off than the people she happened to be helping out. ((olowo kan laarin awon otosi, otosi ni ohun na).Funmi’s blog)

After thinking deep about what she had put herself in, she came up with this plan; everyone that wanted to work but could not find a job, she created one for them. She laid off her maids, security guard, washman, drivers and all domestic staff that worked for her and offered these people their jobs. At first, all of them were hesitant to do this jobs that they thought were beneath them, but she explained that, that was the only way she could continue to give them money. And to everyone’s surprise, they took the jobs and did it even better than the previous employees.

Till date, she continues to pay for the younger one’s school fees and has told them that if they don’t go to college, they would need to learn a trade or better still find work for them (Menial or not). (I need to stop, this is getting too long)

Please find out the swift code for this bank. (it’s needed to wire money into this account).

LADYBRILLE.com said...

Thks 4 the U.S. acct. info. been waiting 4 that. Gracias senorita!

Anonymous said...

Your article/post is a bit verbose and long winding...... what exactly do you mean by ' in sustainability" is that unsustainability ?
The content of the article has value wever, please try to write alittle more clearly...... it's always more effective.

Just a little constructive criticism.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ soul, but you have got it already my broda, there is no one strategy to deliver collective good as l find humans are resistant to change and attracted to deception. It is not utopia if it has been achieved already, most modern civilizations have achieved the comon benchmark below which the citizens are not allowed to sink except they are mentally deranged, drug adled or pathologically lazy, even those have programs that keep attempting to rehabilitate and reintergrate those into larger society. There will always be the big man in any society, but if the big man delivers value, has industry and is answerable to the law no matter how good his lawyers are, ba chikena! the worse we can do is envy him and hound him for potential world domination monopoly a la bill gates.
As per the juvenile centre blog, so fe pa ketekete ni (you wan kill the donkey?;-). you know setting the blog up is the easiest part of the shebang, its the content and keeping it going. it is a good idea and it would be great if someone did volunteer to do that bit but as my comedian sis always says in the absence of chicken, let us manage pigeon. l will give a weekly update (workaholic bleeding heart fool that l am) and trust that it will find its own energy.

@all, it should be easy to transfer money from your accounts to the appropriate KIND domiciliary account. will get the procedure from the bank later today and have it posted tommorrow, in the studio all day today.

@ola ayokunle, l'd love to meet and interview this lady, your mum's friend. can you set it up?

Sherri said...

sounds like mix of communism and socialism with a dash of capitalism, shall we call it iyandaism?
not sure of it's feasibility in naija but optimistic all the same as long as we're thinking and looking for solutions there is hope.

as for the juvy ctr,
i would love to come along with my mop,scrubber and gallons of izal if not for the pesky little problem of miles and oceans...


Anonymous said...

"Whether in governance or private business and life, we can't keep serving the needs, real or imagined of a small bloated minority, such a model is medieval and went out with horse drawn transportation. It is also not sustainable, does not protect us at our weakest and breeds big egos with little pricks (male and female) that mess us all up".

Funmi, that is the core of our problems in Nigeria. If we could but grasp that if one suffers, all suffer. Having your own gas-guzzling jeep to negotiate bad roads, your own massively polluting gen to combat no light, your private army to guard your mansion, your escape route abroad for education or medical treatment - will not guarantee your safety and comfort in a country where the majority are poverty-stricken and desperate.

Anonymous said...

Can't make the visit to the Centre this Friday but I hope there will be another opportunity soon. Please take and post photos if you can.

Comrade said...

The idea of the "common good" seems to have been drawn along with the "dreaded concept of communism". Capitalism has taught us that as long as every member of society keeps seizing the oppotunities (s)he is presented with, everything will become all right at the end of the day. Reality has shown that individual and singleminded drive towards wealth acquisition has not driven our society in the right directions. Thus we have those (big boys) who were able to seize the opportunities presented by the Nigerian condition through "Man know Man", bribery, favoritism e.t.c A society with a large disparity in its social classes has formed. Econonomic activities are tailored around craving to the needs of the bourgeois. After all, the proletariat were fast asleep when the bourgeois were "seizing" opportunities.

The religious setup (especially Churches) have contributed largely to the perpetuation of this oppressive social stratification. They tell their members -"God has made available all that you need. God is blessing some people. How come you are not being blessed. Something is wrong with you."

Leave them alone, they (the rich) would not listen. They are hard of hearing. They think they will not pass through Oshodi on their way to the International Airport. Leave them alone, they refuse to understand that we must all get there together. Occasionally they hear from the down-trodden. The Okoko boys pay occasional visits to VI and Ikoyi demanding their share of the cake. They harass them, beat them up and disturb their peace. Suddenly we begin to hear that VI and Ikoyi are no longer safe. I laugh. Let them realise that the Okoko boys are redefining Corporate Social Responsibility. They will make them "give back" by all means

Funmi Iyanda said...

@Soul, got your message. I'm going to the juvenile centre today, will get back to you tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

The population figures following the 1991 and 2006 national censuses were 89 million and 140 million people, respectively. If these numbers are (even roughly) accurate and if I have done my math correctly, then then there are an enormous 51 million people more in Nigeria today than 15 years ago. That means that there are 51 million 'new' people, all of them under the age of fifteen!

I agree with your general assessment, particularly the point on the need to enable the young. The time must be now for them, or there will be a massive 'lost generation' of youth to contend with.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@soul, got my msg GIRL:-)?