Thursday, January 21, 2016 5:24 pm
Former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega has advocated a radical transformation that will reposition the nation’s resources for the benefit of everybody, especially the common people. Jega further stated that for things to change for better, everyone should be involved, stressing that leaving the struggle in the hands of the few will not bring the much needed results.
Jega stated this today at the Conference Centre, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, while delivering a lecture titled, “The Complexity of Freedom: Biodun Jeyifo at 70”, to mark Jeyifo at 70.
Putting his speech in perspective, the comrade scholar noted, “Freedom, as a universal right, as in freedom of thought, of expression (i.e. academic freedom) and religion is not only desirable but it is also worthy of struggles to protect, defend and expand. For intellectuals and academics, academic freedom is much cherished and strenuously struggled for. Second, the pursuit of, or struggles for, freedom need to be predicated on the recognition of the complexity of the contemporary world, as well as the complexity of freedom. As Taylor has observed, ‘we are living in a moment of unprecedented complexity, when things are changing faster than our ability to comprehend them’. As such, ‘the task we now face is not to reject or turn away from complexity, but to learn to live with it’ (2001). I might add: to strive to understand it, and to design methodologies and strategies to effectively operate within it.”
The scholar stated, “With regards to freedom, as Hickerson has observed, social complexities and interdependencies in the contemporary world have made the conventional, ‘individualistic’ or so-called ‘liberal’ view of freedom unhelpful “as a guide to intellectual action” (1984b: 435). He criticizes the classical liberal view as “unduly restrictive… atomistic, negativistic, and historically perverse” in the context of “the complex and interdependent characteristics of contemporary society” (1984a: 91). Hence, an alternative conceptualization is certainly needed. He quoted Polanyi’s correct assertion that: ‘we cannot achieve the freedom we seek, unless we comprehend the true significance of freedom in a complex society’ (1944).
Hickerson’s alternative is what he calls the instrumentalist view of freedom, which sees freedom as ‘positive power of participation in the framing of the rules of right conduct’, in contrast to the liberal view, which only sees ‘freedom as the absence of coercion”. Says he: ‘freedom obtains with meaningful and informed participation in the rule-making process’ (1984b: 438).
According to him, “in contrast to the instrumentalist view, there are structuralist as well as post-structuralist perspectives (Arland 2016; Dillon; Rose 1999; Taylor 2001; Cilliers 1998). The key point noteworthy is that, the complexity of freedom has spewed different perspectives struggling to understand and explain it and quite often, this is done in very complex and obscure manner.”
Also, “I wish to draw an important point from the works of Biodun Jeyifo, Reading a synopsis of BJ’s Perspectives on Wole Soyinka: Freedom and Complexity (2001), on Waterstone’s website, it was stated that the essays in the book “revealed the irony that the downtrodden peoples whom Wole Soyinka champions are those who cannot read his stirring books or see his compelling dramas”. Then in Conversations with Wole Soyinka, (2001), the synopsis noted as follows:
“The Volume throws welcome light on many difficulties and obscurities of form and “message” that both academic and non-academic readers find in the most ambitious works of Soyinka”. Apparently addressing these concerns, Soyinka says: “ I never set out to be obscure. But complex subjects sometimes elicit from the writer, complex treatments”.
Jega however suggested rather than being complex in the course struggling, protecting and defending freedom, “We should constantly strive to meet the challenge of understanding matters in their complex dimensions and then present them in simple terms for others not as professionally trained, or intellectually endowed as ourselves, to comprehend.” Stressing, “Simple folks need to understand even complex matters in simplified terms amenable to easy comprehension. It must be one of the required roles of radical intellectuals to endeavor to make this happen.”
He concluded, “For me, the significant point is that: while, the masses would not necessarily understand or appreciate the struggles waged on their behalf, the basis of that misunderstanding or lack of comprehension need to be constantly evaluated and understood, and methods and strategies vigorously deployed, at the individual and collective levels, to engage, inform, sensitize and mobilize them. In short, the lesson is: engage, strategize and, as late Tajudeen Abdulraheem used to say: “Organize, don’t Agonize”!
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Femi Falana, SAN, lamented the state of the nation calling for all hands to be on deck to bring sanity in the Nigerian system.
He felt that without people being critical about the activities of government and ensure that nobody is above the law, it would be difficult to take Nigeria out of her doldrums.
Responding, the celebrant who expressed how humble he was with the celebration, said that Nigerians need to fight to reclaim the glory of the country.
He attested to the fact that the state of nation is in mess, hence, there is a need for rededication.