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Some cool Alukoisms

Of the numerous anecdotes the recently-departed renowned economist shared with us during his outstanding presentation, two stuck to my mind as typical cases of vintage…

Of the numerous anecdotes the recently-departed renowned economist shared with us during his outstanding presentation, two stuck to my mind as typical cases of vintage Alukoisms. The first was when he told us of a meeting he had with General Sani Abacha when he (Aluko) was heading the National Economic Intelligence Committee of the Abacha Administration. He said Abacha asked him when it will be right to meet with Nigeria’s creditors, the London and Paris Clubs for debt rescheduling. ‘I said to him Sir, in my village you don’t go to your creditor for any reason, in fact if he comes calling to your house you simply run away and hide.’ And with that he chased the idea of going to meet Nigeria’s foreign creditors clear out of Abacha’s mind, having of course followed all that up with facts and figures questioning the genuineness of the debts owed the country.

The second was when he told us about his first visit to the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Then in the peak of communism, all hotel doors were left unlocked. Anywhere he went he rushed back to his hotel out of fear that his keyless room will attract thieves and cause him loss. But till he left the country Professor Aluko experienced no theft of any kind. Then freedom came to Russia and it became a capitalist federation in the early 90s. Professor Aluko went back to the same hotel. Now the rooms were allowed to be locked and one can relax that he had everything securely under lock and key. But it was this time around that some actually broke into Aluko’s room and stole his suitcase. Morale of the story: it is capitalism that breeds economic and societal ills, not people’s chosen alternatives.

These, of course, are only a few of Professor Sam Aluko’s endless list of unconventional but time-tested philosophies. We have certainly lost a rare intellectual and a detribalised Nigerian statesman. He described Sani Abacha as the best economic manager the country ever had, who would have expected to hear this from a Yoruba man, and after Abacha’s death too? Most of his economic theories have of course come to pass, for instance rather than running away from our debtors we embraced them and paid them off a few years ago, yet today we are back in their debt and they are up there telling us what to do. Adieu, Professor!


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