On the 3rd of September, 2015, it was reported by AfrAsia Bank and the New World Wealth that there are about 163,000 millionaires in Africa. Mind you, the currency of reference is the United States Dollar. This got me wondering about the number of African billionaires there are, so I visited my friend- Google who referred me to Wikipedia and Forbes to mention but a few. My enquiry revealed that Africa has twenty nine (29) billionaires, Asia boasts of five hundred and seventy eight (578) out of which two hundred and thirteen (213) are Chinese, Europe scores five hundred and eighty five (585). Central and Southern America have eighty five (85), while the Oceania countries of Australia and New Zealand both churned out twenty seven (27) respectively. North America leads the pack with five hundred and ninety one (591) out of which five hundred and thirty six (536) are from the United States of America.
How many billionaires did all these countries have prior to 1900? One! John Davison Rockefeller who had about 90% monopoly of the American oil and gas business in the late 1800s. Today the Rockefeller name is engraved in the annals of history not because of the billions of dollars owned and controlled by the family but the lives that have been transformed because of the Rockefeller Foundation and most especially the Sherman’s Anti-Trust Act of 1890.
The law is arguably the reason behind the high number of wealthy people in the west. I think I am not the only one who believes that nations who fail are those that do not recognize the law as the common wealth of the people. Commonwealth in its true spirit and character is not the roads and infrastructures but the laws/policies that guarantee it. The law has always been a tool for social engineering, the challenge however is the fact that the product of this engineering has in many African nations not enhanced or improved the quality of life of her people. Generally, the law is supposed to collate the interest of the people and guarantee it because if everyone is to pursue their individual interest, we will be worse off. Therefore, the true function of the law is to serve as a vehicle for the even distribution of wealth as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 1890 and other people oriented policies did in America. Thanks to the objectivity of the American Congress, today there are five hundred and thirty five more billionaires and hundreds of thousands of millionaires creating more opportunities and ensuring that there is an equal/level playing field for her citizens.
The most essential commonwealth of modern civilization is the law. The reason is that an item can only become commonwealth by definition of law. As humans, we all have dreams and aspirations and there is doubtless anyone who doesn’t crave for the finer things of life. To attain them, we must protect the law. Now a number of you might say the laws in place do not reflect your thought or protect your interest. That is quite true. Whose fault is it? Yours! I will like to ask a few questions to drive home my point so please be patient with me. How many bills under consideration by the House of Assembly do you know? The few you do, can you relate with the rationale behind them? Okay, since judicial precedent is also a source of law, how many ratio decidendi of the judgements delivered by the judiciary are you conversant with and concur? Well, I am not just asking.
It is without doubt very important to focus on the quality of the law as well as its administration as our commonwealth than vain things. I say this because reading the news and recent occurrences in my immediate environment shows that people think our commonwealth is oil. Through the years, it has been resounded that one of our major challenges as a people is sustainability and several antidotes have been prescribed to put an end to the embarrassment without success despite the quality of human resource at our disposal. At any point in time you have the power to make law and go on to do so because of your projected short term gains, note however that disaster looms because on the long run, the law you manipulated will wait for you somewhere in the future to hurt you in the most devastating way. It is imperative for us to adopt the fourth habit as outlined by Stephen Covey in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by “Thinking Win-Win” whenever we have to enact laws.
From all indications ranging from weak institutions to corrupt officials to several other ills bedeviling us as a people, the way forward to attaining a sustainable system is and has always been on the map. The disappointing truth is that we were traveling without a compass. Now we do, and that compass is simply making the law the essence of our commonwealth. The essence of this discourse is to draw our attention to the fact that nothing stays the same forever. There are only three constants in life as identified by Covey and they are: change, choices and principles. If we are going to climb the ladder of progress as a people, then we must take seriously our choices and principles; we must truly seek change and be ready to allow the law function in its true character. Remember that “the society is the product of the quality of people and the effectiveness of the legal system.