Okey Ikechukwu: Bankruptcy of Nigerian intellectuals

Prof Ikechukwu

There is much that can be said about the Nigerian intellectual elite and its bankruptcy. First of all, there is the abiding sin of considering the country’s problems to be simple. ‘All we need are honest people’. Yet managing a company is less challenging than managing a  country  yet no one assumes that managing a large company simply requires only honesty!

We need to evaluate the social conditions behind the ideology that dominates Nigerian intellectuals. The dominant ideology is that a) the problems are simple, b) the problems are unique to Nigeria, and c) the problems are mostly to do with a lack of technical and educational training. The net effect of this ideology is that, following the list of key points of the ideology : a) the intellectuals do not need to do anything further or to research matters deeply, b) the intellectuals do not need to understand how other countries dealt with similar problems, c) their educational qualifications entitle them to leadership.

There is an extra-ordinary level of contempt for the average Nigerian. These intellectuals never stop mentioning the lack of eduction of the people and their gullibility. Yet it is the people who started the French Revolution, who stood behind the Chinese Revolution. In 1980 Singapore was poorer with less education than Nigeria. They were able to adopt the appropriate policies.

Let us reveal the bankruptcy of Okey Ikechukwu’s ideas. Firstly let us consider the corporate world. A consultant may come up with a brilliant strategy but it is the Managing Director and his team that will implement it. To suggest that the consultant should know all the internal obstacles is absurd. The managing director is praised and rewarded for the successful implementation. Yet Ichekwuku claims to be a strategic management consultant and he does not know this? Perhaps he does and this is a form of calumny against diasporan Nigerians. Presumably, Nelson Mandela should not have led the ANC as he had spent most of his life out of touch in prison. Samora Machel, Amilcar Cabral should have stopped all their fancy talk, writing books, giving talks/lectures, because they were out of touch with the local people being stuck out of the country in military camps. All these people thought they had some ideas of how to change their countries. Ikechukwu would tell them to learn humility and speak with the man in the street and not get ahead of themselves.

Secondly, let us look at other countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.  In 1980 they were not richer than Nigeria then. What did they do that made such a difference?  Would the advice Ichekukwu gives now have made any difference in Thailand?  Malaysia is fast growing but we know all about the massive corruption at the top in Malaysia, yet it has grown fast. Then again, the focus on ‘leaders’ becomes a cover for avoiding discussion of the financial oligarchies and  corporate environment. Everything is personal to the leadership. Intellectuals like Ikechukwu pontificate in this way yet cannot identify another country where everything depended on one man and not the environment as well. They do not want to discuss the financial oligarchies because they might suffer if they do. Instead, they talk endlessly about governance protocols. If a company is threatened with bankruptcy for being in the wrong market with the wrong products no amount of tinkering with governance will save it. Any new managing director would have to take swift action at a strategic and policy level and not wait for the next generation of leaders.

In an interview1 Ikechukwu gives the example of a proposal to drill boreholes for the people of a village but the proposal gets blocked by entrenched interests. He gives this as an example of the pointlessness of diasporan intellectuals who do not understand the ‘terrain’. This is so absurd! The particular entrenched interest exists everywhere and differs from town to town and sector to sector. It is not the policy designer’s skill or obligation to know how to deal with local interest groups. So to use that to debunk diasporans scholars is pathetic. It is not the role of the policy analyst to know how to navigate bureaucracy but the role of politicians.

Let me give an example:  a brilliant Singapore graduate returned to Singapore with a plan to rejuvenate Singapore and make it a developed country within 20 years. He was taken to the PM, Lee Kuan Yew. The PM called in one of his top Permanent Secretaries and told him ‘This person knows2 how to get us to the future, you know how Singapore works – make it happen.’

Alan Chan himself (the graduate)  would say that it is one thing to have the brilliant idea but the most important factor was the skill to implement it which the PM had. If Yew had been a Nigerian after Ikechukwu’s mould he would have said to the graduate ’you know nothing about how Singapore works go back to grade school and learn’ and Singapore would still be poorer than Nigeria as it was then. This Singapore example shows the utter worthlessness of Ikechukwu’s ideas.

Ikechukwu has a penchant for focussing on petty corruption which is a complete sideshow. Inspiration, long term policy, strategy are all ignored.

Ikechukwu makes a great play about disporans giving the example of other countries. This is subtle deceit. He gives an example of someone saying this is how they did it in The Netherlands. His infantile response that Nigeria is not The Netherlands deliberately distorts the situation. The diasporans is mentioning that it worked in The Netherlands not to suggest because it worked in The Netherlands it should be adopted in Nigeria. Rather, the diasporans is addressing a different question: can this proposal work? Has it worked anywhere before? These are standard questions that can be asked of any new proposal but Ichekwuku has deliberately misrepresented it to make the diaspora sound like a fool.

Ikechukwu as a locally educated person is defensive about those with foreign credentials as if the foreign credentials mattered. Nevertheless, he is over impressed by educational qualifications as a whole. It is essential that leaders be well educated but it is not essential that they moan about the state of education of the people as if that were the problem. Look around the world, look at history – the people are the engine not the brake.

This analysis reveals the self-interestedness and narrow-mindedness of leading Nigerian intellectuals.  No wonder the country has problems.


1.   (Channels Television, 2024, p. 13.38) 

2.   (ikechukwu, 2024a)

3.   (ikechukwu, 2024b)


Channels Television (Director). (2024, March 7). ‘Understand Paradigm Of Leadership’, Analyst Reviews Pitfalls Of Bad Governance. Channels Television. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehbhp4fTeKA

ikechukwu,  okey. (2024a, March). (23) Dr Okey Ikechukwu, mni | LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-okey-ikechukwu-mni-89602647/

ikechukwu,  okey. (2024b, March). Personal Profile. https://okeyikechukwu.com/