“Yes, Nigeria stood by us more than any nation, by you let yourselves down and Africa and the Black Race very Badly” Nelson Mandela.
Malcolm X was elated when he visited African for the first time. His visit to Nigeria would forever be consequential in his life as he was christened Omowale, meaning, “the child has returned home” when he came to the University of Ibadan to give a speech.
According to him, “it is a honour for me to be referred to as a child who had sense enough to return to the land of his forefathers-to his fatherland and his motherland.” Malcolm admitted that Africa was the only place of comfort for African Americans and all black people outside Africa; knowing fully well that they are faced with all manner of segregation, discrimination and racial oppression.
Malcolm when ahead to extol the beauty and riches of Africa in his speech in Ghana, he acknowledge that Africa had all it takes to be the leading light for the world and Nigeria was for him the starting point for the attainment of this reality.
African Americans, like Malcolm X shared the sentiment and most of them intended to come back to Africa. However, with the present unpalatable state of things in Nigeria and in Africa, will Malcom and others like him still hold on to this opinion? Nigeria is a giant; big in every respect. The country is undisputedly the most populous black nation in the world, with 180 million and counting people. It is discovered that 1 out of every 5 African is a Nigerian, the resources that the country hold is unquantifiable, the resources that flow onshore and inshore cannot be exhausted.
Nigeria has the human resources; people known for diversity, hard work and perseverance. People whose ideas and charisma have ironically brought breakthrough to other people’s country, no theirs. Unfortunately for Nigeria, despite this massive endowment, the country is still struggling to get out of the abyss she has found herself for decade now.
Presently, Nigeria is known all over the world for three things; Corruption, Insurgency and poverty. Every Nigerian who has been privilege to travel abroad would readily testify to this popular conception of the country. African and the Black race are angry with Nigeria. They might not express this anger apparently, by any discerning person would sense this raw anger, especially when you consider the contemptuous ways with which Nigerians are being treated. Nigeria Businessmen are treated badly in Ghana and other counties, Xenophobia in South Africa (obviously targeted at Nigerian) is a valid example of the anger Africans have for Nigeria.
Even Blacks outside of Africa, who once saw Nigeria as the country to be proud of as a black person due to the roles she placed during the struggle for African liberation from imperialist governments, now sees Nigerians as nuisances, who are fluxing down to the country build on the backs of their enslaved forefathers, to take their jobs after wracking their own country.
Late Nelson Mandela during his interview with Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed in 2007, alluded to the disgust South Africans, like most Africans have for Nigerians. In his words: “Nigeria was a dirty word… in South Africa. I mentioned that Nigerian people had a very strong and positive disposition towards South Africa and the Southern African Region, and many were puzzled that people who marched all the way with South Africans can be despised by the government and the people of South Africa” Mandela didn’t stop there, he went further to lambast Nigeria and her leaders for failing the African people and the entire Black Race.
One would be forced to wonder that the same man (Nelson Mandela) who came down to Nigeria in February 1963 to beg for money and support to help in the struggle for the fight against apartheid in his country, would have said such scorching words to the benefactor of his country cause to be free from the clutches of the South African Apartheid Government.
Nigeria has failed her fellow African countries and all black people all over the world, not because she didn’t take up the responsibility of supporting African country and their causes, but because she did for a while and then ditched the role of the big brother of Africa afterwards. History would always acknowledge the efforts of the Nigeria and Nigerians in the promotion of the African Interests.
Nigeria would always be praised for fighting imperialism and colonization in some African countries that had stubborn colonial governments in place. Nigeria’s foreign policy prior to its review by the former President Goodluck Jonathan led government, was centered on African interest. Nigeria made a lot of sacrifices for her sisters. In 1977, the General Olusegun Obasanjo military regime donated $20 million and military equipment to the Zimbabwean Movement to support their fight against apartheid. Countries like Mozambique, Namibia, to state but a few also benefited from Nigeria’s massive support and solidarity.
South Africa was not left out of Nigeria show of solidarity. South Africa would not forget in a hurry the sacrifices and the amount of friend Nigeria had to lose to channel the attention of the world to the suffering of black citizens in South Africa. Nigeria under General Olusegun Obasanjo military regime nationalized companies like Barclays Bank and British Petroleum, for doing business with South Africa despite the economic sanctions placed against the country by Nigeria.
We will not forget that Nigeria shunned 1978 Commonwealth Game to protest New Zealand’s sporting contact with South Africa. Nigeria helped in promoting peace in the continent. Nigeria was instrumental to the ending of the civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria involvement is African politics was massive.
Nigeria played an important role in the formation of continental and regional organizations (Organization of African Unity and ECOWAS). Nigeria was at that time indeed the giant of Africa, not by words or by her passive and massive population, but by deed and charisma. How then did Nigeria become this irrelevant? How did her influence and support for the Black Race wane? Nigeria was not as active as she would have been four decades ago when the Ebola crisis rock some countries in West Africa couple of years ago.
Nigeria military was once reverence for their active role in peacekeeping in most crisis ravage part of African and even the world. It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria is still trying to get out of the Boko Haran crisis that shock her military to the core. The Question is how did Nigeria lost her mojo and her highly acknowledged Big Brother of Africa Position? Nigeria stated losing her strong hold in African and world politics, after she started failing her own citizen. The invasion of the military in the governance space of the country was the starting point. Nigeria lost her essence when military leaders undermine the fragile democracy the country was trying to nurture; when Military leaders caused the government to revolve around them not around the people. Although, the military played a very crucial role in the country’s campaign for African Unity, this campaign was not sustainable on that system of government. Nigeria continued to slip further into oblivion when good leadership became a scapegoat on the altar of sentimental politics and mediocrity.
A vivid observer knows that bad leadership was the undoing of the Nigerian nation. Not that there was dearth in good leaders, but the leadership space of the country had been hijacked by self-seeking leaders. Also, corruption is a huge problem; it started crippling the Nigerian nation right from the inception of this country. Corruption is synonymous to Nigeria; she has never seized to occupy the list of the first five most corrupt nations in the world. This vices has brought calamity and poverty to the country. Nigeria is one of the poorest nations in the world.
So, how does a poor nation assist other poor nations? In addition to this, tribalism, ethnical sentiment, religious fundamentalism has brought us to our knees. We make political, physical, economic decision based on these sentiments.
A valid example is an executive governor of a state who came out to say that the outbreak of meningitis was a punishment from God for Nigeria’s iniquities. While, I am not trying to disputing this claim,
I wonder if his comment on the religious undertone of this epidemic would help solve the problem. It is obvious that these sentiments has gotten Nigerian nowhere other than the crossroad of communal and tribal clashes, religious crisis, conflicts like Boko Haram Insurgency, Militancy etc. Since Nigeria has to contend with all these, she was no longer fit to help curb similar crises in other African country.
The world would always see black people as nuisance to the world until African Nations like Nigeria beg to differ and stand to prove them wrong by creating in herself a country in which every black person is proud of. African are being disrespected and treated like trash in every part of the world and even in their own country. We hear news of how black people are attacked in Asia especially India with impunity, while the citizen of this abusing nations live comfortably in Africa, while they exploit and make money off the backs of Africans in Africa.
On daily bases. Africans flee (some through the haunted Sahara desert) to Europe and America to do jobs that deplete their self-esteem. The reason for this is obvious; no nation in Africa has been able to lead Africans from their present state of low-self-worth to a state of self-consciousness and development, through the creation of value and the development for Africans to strive.
Africans leave Africa because Africa has no future to guarantee them. The recurrence of injustice and police ill-treatment of African America, which gave rise to the Campaign Black Lives Matter, is still fresh in our memory. This ill-treatment remains uncurbed and persistent because no black nation has mustered the courage to speak against it. Nigeria once spoke on behalf of Africans, but has long relinquished the position of the spoke-person of Black Race. Nigeria had all it takes to be the New Jerusalem of the African Race. Nigeria has the brains, who, unfortunately, are now mostly drained.
She has the resources to build the country that would be the pride of black people, a country that would give Africans the platforms they flee abroad to get. We have the charisma to push the interest of Africa, but our national short-comings have caused our country to be inactive, thereby, leaving the Black Race stranded in a world where they are despised and unwanted.
Nelson Mandela did not hide his disappointment about Nigeria’s failure, he stated it without mincing words. He spoke about defective leadership, violence elections, poverty, and conflicts in Nigeria. He pointed out that the fate of Africa rest on the shoulder of Nigeria. According to him, “The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earn that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.” This would remain one of the greatest legacies left behind for Nigerians by African greatest Nationalist.
I will like to make reverence to the special philosophy behind the structure of the African map, several important Africans has pointed our attention to it in times past. The African map is illustrated as a literary pistol when held horizontally. The trigger of this pistol is located on the Nigeria’s map, while the Muzzle of the pistol being South Africa. In this light, Africa is a Gun with a jammed trigger. Without the trigger working, this literary Gun would not fulfill its purpose: without Nigeria stepping out of the shadows and fixing herself, Africa would remain the Dark Continent it has been known to be, for centuries now.
The African race is waiting on Nigeria to spearhead their quest for dignity and respect. Without Nigeria acting, Africa would remain stock and secluded on the island of poverty, conflict, backwardness and worthlessness. Nigeria needs to resume the big brother role she was playing for Africa until she became indisposed as a result of the cankerworm that devoid her from within. She needs to kill corruption, eradicate bad and visionless leaders, and subjugate sentiment that would cripple her. Africa is waiting for Nigeria’s rising.