ONE of Africa’s greatest figures, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, coined the term ‘neo-colonialism’ to encompass the yoke of expectational burdens imposed on developing countries by elements from advanced countries or former colonialists.
Neo-colonialism is the idea that, even though the actual occupation and overt control of a country may have ended, some economic and political fingers of imperialism still seek to influence life in what is derogatively tagged the Third World.
Elements of this continue to manifest in Nigeria’s engagement with the international community despite the lip service being paid the supremacy of the sovereign status of Africa’s largest economy and the biggest gathering of Black people in the world.
Those who have followed this trend of events since most nations in the continent regained their freedom from colonialists and started a process of self-rediscovery readily argue that the journey to full economic, political and cultural independence would not, by any means, be without challenges. Of course, the greatest threat to this vision is the negative effect of neo-colonialism.
It is, therefore, not surprising that while much of America and people in other parts of the world continue to stand in solidarity with Nigeria, especially in the battle against a devious sect of terrorists called Boko Haram, Senator John McCain, “some guy” from Arizona who made a failed bid during the 2008 United States presidential election, tends towards being one of such odious fingers. In an interview with the Daily Beast newspaper, McCain rightfully spoke of supporting Nigeria’s fight against terrorists but he went overboard by advocating arbitrary raids on Boko Haram without regard for Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty. Truly, McCain inexplicably discountenanced our nation’s pains to reveal his utter contempt for Nigeria, America’s largest trading partner in Africa and Nigeria’s President whom he described as “some guy called Goodluck Jonathan”.
Former United States Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton is another such finger.
Without doubt, the gaffes from McCain and Clinton do not represent the prevalent opinion in America about Nigeria and its anti-terrorism efforts. Nigeria has cause to really appreciate Americans’ solidarity and empathy with the abducted school girls and their families. President Barrack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, US Congressmen, celebrities and countless other American citizens have been actively supporting us by tweeting, making telephone calls, supporting the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign. Conclusively, most Americans have demonstrated the oneness of true humanity in the face of unusual adversity.
But could anyone in America have given McCain’s statement any regard if it was the other way round, coming from a failed Nigerian presidential aspirant who seeks to deprecate the American people and their president? Back home in Nigeria, the past few years have witnessed heinous terrorism acts which some have described as a coded message being conveyed to President Jonathan – “Quit while you still have life”. Any leader who quits in the face of such unjustifiable blackmail risks being judged harshly by posterity.
Just few years ago, several doomsday predictions asserted with pseudo-divine finality that Nigeria’s house will fall by 2015. Although Nigeria has passed through several unnerving turbulent times, including a Civil War, it has remained a resilient nation, forging ahead in spite of many odds stirred mostly by mischievous political forces.
It becomes even more disappointing when political elites who constitute opposition forces carry their quarrels with President Jonathan too far. Of course, like any other country on the face of the earth, Nigeria has its own problems. Challenges notwithstanding, Nigeria is still a country of destiny.
A May 21, 2014 headline in PUNCH newspaper’s online publication reads: “Africa investors looking beyond negative headlines, saysWorld Bank”. The news story under it opened with: “Investors in Africa are increasingly able to see beyond negative headlines of violence in nations like South Sudan, Nigeria and Kenya…”.
According to the Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Michel Wormser, most investors in Africa now had enough sophistication to discern long-term opportunities despite a flurry of negative news, ranging from civil war in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, to bombs by suspected Islamist militants in Kenya and the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Islamist group Boko Haram.
“There is more understanding of the riskiness and more ability from investors to distinguish between what is media hype and what is the reality on the ground, and the likeliness of their investment to yield what they expect,” he added while describing Nigeria and some other parts of Africa as “a land of great opportunities.”
Now, could it be the same Nigeria that McCain and Hillary had chosen to take to the cleaners as some jungle without any working system or any potential for the future? Clearly, that is far from the truth.
It will be utterly mischievous for Nigeria’s opposition to continue exploiting every little piece of potential disinformation to misinform citizens and stimulate further anxiety across the land. A McCain’s rant or a Hillary diatribe on corruption and flagrant abuse of privileges by those who know little or nothing about our terrain shouldn’t be flashed as adverts to denigrate a government that was duly elected into office through majority vote. There are laid down processes of removing such government without helping those who predicted a 2015 break-up to realise their wicked agenda.
In our haste to embrace the utter gibberish from these fellows, we appear to ignore the bigger picture. Anarchy or a failed Nigeria will have serious negative implications for all. For all conscious citizens, we should help in rallying others to wake up and not fall prey to some mischief-making characters, keen on ruining us and our collective potentials.
It is a sacred duty for all of us, as true citizens of Nigeria, to make sure that the doomsday predictions never come to pass for our dear country, Nigeria.
It is in moments of great challenges that true patriots distinguish themselves in their community or nation. Every patriotic Nigerian has a duty to rise up to ensure that prophecies of doom against Nigeria come to nought. Asked if Nigeria could survive the 2015 breakup prediction, Ambassador Walter Carrington’s inspirational response should reignite the spirit of nationalism in every Nigerian who truly means well for this country. He said: “I see Nigeria not only surviving but prevailing.
I see Nigeria getting stronger. One of the stories that needs to be told about Nigeria is that in spite of the fact that this is a country, whose borders with many African neighbours were imposed by colonial powers, Nigeria has survived. In spite of a civil war; in spite of the fact that you have 250 to 300 different ethnic groups speaking different languages, different religions, Nigeria still remains one.
I think that is very important and I think that Nigeria is a strong nation and is going to be important for the future of Africa. Let me say from a very personal point of view, I think that Nigeria is going to be important for the future of the black race. This is a country that has the potential to become one of the great countries of the world; A country in which every son and daughter of Africa, no matter how long they have been separated from this continent will take great pride in.”
Sure McCain and Hillary never ponder over these words in spite the many years they have spent in the corridors of power. Why should they anyway? Is it not obvious that these folks are bent on working to an already predetermined answer?
Yet while anarchists at home and ill-wishers from abroad are doing their mischief, Nigeria quietly continues to move forward under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan. For instance, the nation successfully recorded some measure of positive advancement. It hosted the World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA) between May 7 – 9, 2014. Some one thousand, one hundred people from seventy countries participated in making the most successful WEFA held in Africa. It brought in $68billion new investments along with multiplier economic effects for the continent.
No doubt the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State has attracted the attention of the international community not just to governance but also to the extent to which these evil minds can go to destroy the bond that has existed among a divergent set of peace-loving Nigerians for years. However, this temporary lapse in the journey to nationhood should not distract from the fact that Nigeria is country of inherent destiny. Our character— who we are as a people— is being tested right now by the international world. How we go about resolving this knotty issue would be a defining moment in our history. It should be clear to all stakeholders in this Project Nigeria that this is the time to put aside dirty politics and show solidarity and compassion for our young girls, their families, their community and our country as a whole.
At least, for the sake of posterity, this is the time for every well-meaning Nigerian, including the perpetual critics in the opposition, to rally behind President Jonathan in the fight against those with terrorist inclinations. It is not just enough to criticise or hate naysayers at home and the vessels of mischief like McCain. It is a sacred duty for all of us, as true citizens of Nigeria, to make sure that the doomsday predictions never come to pass for our dear country, Nigeria.
COLINS EAKYN a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.