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Nigeria and the illusion of independence (2)

By Douglas Anele
ONE would have thought that the “eminent” men and women who cloned the American system for Nigeria should have foreseen its booby traps and either revived the old parliamentary system or, at least, articulated provisions that could curtail the financial burdens associated with the presidential system of government, particularly its expensive nature.

For example, there is no good reason for a bi-cameral legislature whose members operate on a full time basis, with the power to fix their emolument. This fundamental flaw in the constitution has enabled members of the National Assembly in various dispensations to swindle the country. Unless we can bring angels who are perfectly altruistic and honest to run our government on the basis of our present constitution which evolved from the 1979 document, there is simply no way the country can make sustainable progress.

Economically, we are sinking deeper into dependence. Nigeria imports over 90 percent of manufactured products, including refined petroleum products. The country also imports various types of food crops and fruits.

Nigeria’s economy is shrinking, partly because of grossly mixed-up inconsistent policies by various administrations. The country is still an appendage of Western economies, to the extent that multi-national companies still play a leading role in the oil industry and other service-oriented enterprises. Socio-culturally, Western lifestyles and orientation have virtually displaced traditional ways of life. Of course, in a globalizing world, no culture can truly insulate itself from others.

But the major problem in our own case is that we are abandoning both the good and the bad aspects of our ways of life for the Western, including those aspects of Western culture that debase the dignity of man. In religion, we are heavily dependent on the Middle-East. The contents of our educational institutions are dominated by Islamic and Euro-Christian values.

As a result of Nigeria colonial experience, English is our lingua franca. However, other countries that were colonized by the British, such as India and Egypt, have not allowed English language to displace indigenous languages in their educational institutions. Unlike Nigeria, these countries have over the years ensured that indigenous civilizations are maintained side by side with external influences.

India’s case is particularly instructive. Due to good leadership, the country has made tremendous progress in science, technology and industrialization India is still far away from El-dorado, no doubt. However, her leaders have managed to propel the country in the direction of self-reliance and genuine independence. It is a pity that at this time, Nigerian leaders find it convenient to routinely travel abroad for medical treatment, even for diseases that can be treated within.

If our leaders truly understand the idea of independence, they would have been embarrassed because of the deplorable state of our health care services which they use as an excuse to travel overseas for world class medical treatment.

In a highly interconnected world, it is impossible for countries not to rely on one another, as dictated by the principles of comparative advantage in the production of goods and services. In other words, since no country can produce all she requires even if all her human and material resources are optimally exploited, it is clear that there must be exchange of goods between countries. That is the essence of international trade.

However, there is a fundamental difference between engaging in international trade as a truly independent and self-reliant country and being a dependent independent country in the comity of nations. In this regard, let us not compare Nigeria with any of the developed countries in Europe and North America, because these countries, speaking hyperbolically, are light years away from Nigeria.

Let us come nearer home to Africa and select a country comparable to Nigeria – Libya. Libya was colonized by the Italy and got her independence in 1951. Although Muammar Gaddafi Libya has ruled the country for forty years, Libya under him has, to some extent, succeeded in asserting her independence at the international scene.

Gaddafi has continued to resist the manipulations of Western powers that overtly and covertly employ the machinery of international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to control the economies of developing countries. Libya has her own share of developmental problems, especially at the political level.

Yet, Gaddafi has done a lot to ensure that Libya follows her own paradigm of development in spite of the strong-arm tactics of the United States, especially under late Ronald Reagan. When America or Britain sneezes, Libya does not necessarily catch cold.

Gaddafi demonstrated this in his first appearance at the United Nations when he berated the United Nations for serious injustices against Africa, and repeated the call for reparations to compensate Africa.

The surest evidence of a country’s independence is her ability to formulate and implement foreign and domestic policies without being remotely controlled by external forces.
To be continued


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