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Ashraf Ghani

By Isaac Asabor

There is no denying the fact that from one political dispensation to the other that the hush question that has been on the lips of not a few political observers is,  “To what extent can the chain of university degrees a political leader possesses determines the quality of governance he will deliver to his constituents?  In as much as a consensus is yet to be reached regarding the interrogation, not few leaders in political history have been lampooned for lacking intellectual exposure. The reason for the stalemate on whether a leader that markedly come across as an egghead makes a better leader or not cannot be farfetched as history is replete of smart and clever politicians that lacked higher education but did not appeared to have hindered their performances as leaders, though their leadership qualities could only be judged from their policy interventions which many people have no idea of. Be that as it may, it is expedient to say that certain smart and clever political leader had come on political stage, and enthralled the people with performance records that portrayed him to be a luminary. However, not few politicians, particularly in this part of the world, have landed into trouble because they had made some spurious claims about their education which were misleading if not completely false.

At this juncture, it is germane to confess that I was inspired to express this views on the fleeing former President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, from the perspective of his intellectual background which qualifies him to be described as an egghead in this context and his cowardice which on the other hand qualifies him to be described as weak-headed, and which invariably informed the coinage of the headline of this piece, thus: “Ghani’s Eggheadedness And Weak-headedness As Two Takeaways From Afghanistan Crisis”.

Graphically throwing insight to his intellectual background, George Packer, in an opinion article titled, “Afghanistan’s Theorist-in-Chief”, and published by the New Yorker Newspaper of June 27, 2016 asked, “President Ashraf Ghani is an expert on failed states. Can he save his country from collapse?”

Having gone through Packer’s opinion article, one of the salient takeaways was that Ghani who is a former professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins and Berkeley universities, and who in 2009 co-authored a book titled “Fixing Failed States, has what it takes to fix Afghanistan but paradoxically could not fix it despite his robust intellectual background. The book, “Fixing Failed States, no doubt, is an eye-opener on how economic and socio-political challenges in any given nation can be addressed. Aptly put, the book is a panacea needed for fixing a failed state as its literary contents unarguably proffer ideas and framework in rebuilding a fractured world.

Ostensibly buttressing the fact that having a string of university degrees does not make a political leader perform excellently in any leadership position, some have argued that despite the chain of degrees that the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, earned or awarded, from universities around the world, that he cannot be rated to be the best leader Africa ever had.

Mugabe, during his earthly journey, was considered to be “The most educated president in the world” as he had string of academic degrees that cut across Bachelor of Arts (History and English), (BA) degree from the University of Fort Hare (1951), Bachelor of Administration (B.Admin) from University of South Africa (Unisa), Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) from the University of South Africa (Unisa), Bachelor of Science (BSc.) in Economics from University of London (External Programme), Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from University of London (External Programme), Master of Laws (LL.M) from University of London (External Programme) and Master of Science (MSc.) in Economics from University of London (External Programme).  The two law degrees were earned while he was in prison (between 1964 and 1975) and the MSc while leading the Zimbabwe government after independence.

In the same vein, Mugabe was severally bestowed with Honorary LLD degrees from various universities such as Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria), Honorary LLD degree from Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia), Honorary LLD degree from University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe), Honorary LLD degree from St. Augustine’s University (Tanzania), Honorary LLD degree from Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia) and Honorary LLD degree from Solusi University (Zimbabwe). Other degrees he was honoured with are Honorary D.Litt. degree from Africa University (Zimbabwe), Honorary D.Civil Laws degree from University of Mauritius (Mauritius), Honorary D.Com. Degree from For Hare University (South Africa), Honorary D.Tech. Degree from National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe) and Honorary D.Phil (African Heritage and Philosophy) degree from Great Zimbabwe University (Zimbabwe). In fact, they were numerous that the following were revoked: Honorary LLD degree from University of Edinburgh (1994), which was revoked in June 2007, Honorary LLD degree from University of Massachusetts (1986), which was also revoked in June 2008 and Honorary LLD degree from Michigan State University (1990), and was revoked on 12 September 2008.

On the other hand, the way and manner the embattled former Afghan president abandoned his people without resisting the Talibans have been trailed with barbed criticisms so much that some nationals have labelled him as being “Unpatriotic.” For disappointing the people, this writer is equally in this context labelling the now exiled president to be weak-headed leader. The lesson learnt from his elopement is that it is bad for any leader to abandon his people at the time he is needed most. Abigail Igudia, a professional colleague, in her reaction to Ghani’s behaviour said “God forbid Nigeria is not faced with the same situation. I bet you, many of our politicians will behave the same way as they have “open-visas” and the means to leave the country at any time; either through the airport, seaport or through our porous borders.” She added that it is for the foregoing reason that she often feel sorry for most of our youths who usually rally round those that are at the moment beating the drum of war in the country, saying when the chips are down they would be left behind to face the consequences of the war they have been calling for.

At this juncture, permit me to say that there are two lessons to learn from the embattled Afghanistan president, particularly when making decision on leaders to vote for amidst electioneering. We should always not be carried away by their academic backgrounds or the patriotic fervour they usually exhibit once they mount the soap box as they could be fake.

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