What happened to my heroes?
This critique of Paul Collier is from my old blog of January 2011:
“It is hard to keep one’s heroes for ever: one grows up and sees them in new light. But the re-assessment is not a pleasant experience. I was recently shocked out of one particular hero relationship when I heard Paul Collier diagnose and then prescribe a simplistic solution for Nigeria’s chronic social and economic ailment. I’m still recovering from the shock. After all, he’s my hero: the teacher who assertively put data and politics together showing what could be. In those days he inspired me!
At a recent event, Paul Collier outlined a 5 step investment chain that would put Nigeria back on the course of riches:
1. Discover natural assets
2. Capture related public revenue for public and private legal use
3. Avoid Niger Delta situation of grievance in the asset areas
4. Save and invest the revenue
5. Invest in investing……for the future.
That was the presription; and his idea for getting the chain to hold together was to create a ‘critical mass of informed citizens’.
Oh dear !!! Is that it?
No mention of: power in the social change process; of the fact that plenty of Nigerians have for long been well-informed but remain powerless to bring about change; of men’s exclusion of women from decion-making; of equitable allocation, access and use of assets. Instead, just a sort of accountant’s guide to making value from natural riches. No nod to the fact that resources are limited needing conservation and regeneration rather than continued consumption.
What of the how to, and the role of markets in organising competing powers for optimal efficient maximum good. Or was that just assumed.
My hero is an ‘lay-away’ accountant. :-(“