by Farouk Martins Aresa,
Nigeria is not yet a failed state. We have a government in control of its borders that has put Boko Haram on the run and put looters on notice that their days of impunity are numbered. However, the same cassava basket and major agricultural zone that fed West African countries is lately included among UNICEF 20 million people of Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria facing starvation and famine. How low can Nigeria go?
When the British, the French and the Portuguese were forced to leave African countries after independence, they were asked who would replace their teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers since they were not ready or had enough. They proudly answered that Nigerians would take their places. The same Nigerians that other Africans were proud of, have become the butt of their jokes, figure of hatred, desperadoes and hustlers that have overstayed their welcome.
Most Africans old enough in the sixties and early seventies have a special memories of Nigeria, as a big brother. Nigeria’s failure is the story of that big brother that is looking for favors based on its past glories; hoping to reap rewards from struggling children of other African countries that benefited from its goodwill, the same African countries Nigeria failed to lead. We cannot preach past goodwill to those children as a privilege to camp our tents and live there forever.
In terms of proportional wealth and champion of African causes, Kwame Nkrumah is second to none. It does not give Ghanaians an open invitation or credit to other African countries. Indeed, the children of Nkrumah were kicked out of Nigeria in the early eighties. Not even the fact that Prime Minister Kofi Busia had done the same to Nigeria could have justified what Nigeria did. This was why Nnamdi Azikiwe cried out loud.
If Nigerians cannot not rescue Nigeria; Africans around the world cannot feel sorry for Nigeria, and will continue to humiliate Nigerians. Nobody owes Nigeria or Nigerians anything. We have an obsession for forex beyond need. Eager to sell dear local goods, expensive at home, at dictated price, half or nothing just to get foreign cash: cement, garri, beans, tomato. There are more brains in our Government than in the richest countries on earth, not only our natural resources but in skills and technical know-how that are being wasted by greed and selfishness.
A lecture by Vice Admiral Michael Franken, Deputy Commander of Operations for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) at Fletcher Maritime Studies Program in the School of Government at Harvard wondered why a country with more brainpower in cabinet than any country including United States could not put its acts together. We can, if our administrators are accountable.
This history is important in order to realize how Nigeria called the Giant of Africa, lost its status. Unfortunately not only in other African countries but more pertinent here, at home. It was a country flowing with milk and honey. General Gowon actually claimed, wrongly or rightly, that Nigeria’s problem was not money but how to spend it. Despite the devastating effect of the war to unity of the country, the economic was so well managed we did not borrow a penny for war!
However, it all came with a warning when Chief Obafemi Awolowo resigned as the Finance Commissioner and Vice to Gowon. He warned that if Nigeria continued to waste its resources outrageously through unprecedented corruption, Nigeria would fall.
Today, not even Awolowo could have predicted how far Nigeria has fallen at home and among its African brothers. Our children have become economic migrants running from the poorest to richest Africa countries!
Awo, the man who built industrial, agricultural and housing estate in the West, was called the prophet of doom by Richard Akinjide, Umaru Dikko & Co. But the Economic sustainability and continuity that failed us then, are still problems for successive governments. Neglect of projects became our cross of arrested development because new foreign contracts benefit politicians.
Nigeria was the great black hope in the sixties, even in early seventies the world hoped would be a regional power to save the rest of Africa. It has been called the curse of oil. Unfortunately, we have become burden from one of the smallest country like Cape Verde to one of the biggest like South Africa. If it is not oil, Africans have killed one another over gold, diamond and every stimulus and blessing that other countries have used as a lift-off for economic development.
Nigerians are crying that they are being humiliated and turned back to their country when at exorbitant cost try to give birth in rich countries or killed on the streets without provocation for trying to make a living. After relegating our own country, they can’t allow us to destroy theirs. If the problem is xenophobia, jealousy and discrimination in every country; inside and outside of Africa: which part do we assign a country that has betrayed its responsibility and trust at home?
Would Nigerians be crying about being denied access to smuggle the birth of their children into another country or the effect of xenophobia, if their country is capable enough? Nobody wants to be disrespected, maimed and killed because they are out of their comfort zone. Humiliating, disgusting, brutal pictures rob us of dignity. This is what we get when the best and the richest among us, no matter how they come about their glories exchange them for vanities in shadows.
The same Nigeria we cannot wait to get back to after educational pursuits and sojourns abroad has become the place we run away from just to get into any country, no matter how small, no matter how many deserts and seas to cross. It used to be that if you do not go back home on time, that would kill your mother. Now your mother says there is nothing to come back to. Yet, this is the same country that exports U.S dollars, British pounds and Euro as if it prints them!
Africans that used to look up to you would disrespect you and call you vagabond like a husband without respect at home that failed to shoulder the responsibilities of the family. Yes, Africans are members of the same family and Nigerians are the husbands that shed its responsibility. How dare you demand respect from the same family you left uncared for and failed to lead?
There is nothing wrong with Nigerians and there is nothing wrong with Africans, we just refused to carry our mantle. What many Nigerians do is pray to God, who to dispossess or swindle while celebrating selfishness of looters. We welcome them from prison if they are ever caught, with prayers in Mosque and Church glowing in palm trees like the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.