My last blog post was on skin-in-the-game, here is a sequel, with a very, very significant applicability: The Chibok Girls.
After watching the ‘proof-of-life’ video about a week ago on CNN, I have been pondering on the same question posed in the CNN article: “How was it that two years after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school dormitory, the Nigerian government […] had failed to rescue the 219 still missing?”
In any case of injustice or some sort of lackadaisical attitude, alas, if you look closely enough; you will see just one thing hovering all over: lack of skin-in-the-game
If only we had 2 or 3 daughters of our political leaders, among the Chibok girls. If and only if […] then the ‘party’ would have being over (a long time ago).
An argument that a task is hard (assuming it is) will not suffice because it is not the ‘hardness’ of a task that determines a problem’s solvability, but the effort inputted; which is exactly where the skin-in-the game argument solves the puzzle.
Knowing fully well that my argument is the closest you could get, if you are interested in getting yourself familiar with classic toddler fantasies.
However, the argument still gives enough room for some practicability – a very aggressive decentralization of the entire Nigerian government.
Mr Taleb stated in his best-seller Antifragile: “The way people handle local affairs is vastly different from the way they handle large, abstract public [ones]: we have traditionally lived in small units and tribes and managed rather well in small units”
I am no political scientist, in fact, it doesn’t take an Einstein to realize that decentralization (again, to repeat, a very aggressive one) will make a lot of sense, especially in the context of Nigeria.
In turns out, that most of the problems in the world are solvable without any novel intervention or idea, we don’t need to re-invent any wheel, the answer is right there staring at us.
Nassim Taleb helps tie up the knot of my argument in his best-seller Antifragile:
“…biology plays a role in a municipal environment, not in a larger system. An administration is shielded from having to feel the sting of shame (with flushing in his face), a biological reaction to […] failures […] Eye contact with one’s peers changes one’s behavior. But for a deskgrounded office leech, a number is a just a number. Someone you see in church Sunday morning would feel uncomfortable for his mistakes—and more responsible for them.
On the small, local scale, his body and biological response would direct him to avoid causing harm to others. On a large scale, others are abstract items; given the lack of social contact with the people concerned.”
There is even another reason, a more psychological one: Your kidnapped daughter is a tragedy (a big one), while 218 missing Chibok girls are just mere statistic (this is the same reason you will care so much about your daughter’s tooth ache than any magnitude of earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador combined).
You have to be, (I would think) Mother Theresa, or maybe, The Dalai Lama to successfully scale off this emotional energy flaw.
However, the small-is-beautiful model can help bridge this especially in the African context where almost ‘everybody’ in your town are your brothers and sisters.
As we say, colloquially:
“Somebody must know somebody, which knows another person; the other person will then have to know somebody that finally knows the boss”
(In reality the sequence could get very much longer, that is why smaller systems will be more efficient)
Hence, a subtle transfer of downsides.
In a system like this, the leaders get to work quickly, with little or no hashtags.
In short, let’s ignore the distance completely, and look at it deeply: Abuja is too far from Lagos (or in this case, Chibok). “Small is beautiful in so many ways”
But in the mean time, to repeat: Φέρτε πίσω τα κορίτσια μας, BRING BACK OUR GIRLS!