Why is it that everywhere you go in the diaspora, you have Nigerians seated at the highest tables of office – whether in the private or the public sector?
You name it – industrialism, finance, commerce, sports, entertainment, politics, service industries, education – and there you will find people from my country of origin working hard and contributing to the GDP.
Yet when I visit the country of Nigeria, I see self-serving, sycophantic nepotism and all elements of skullduggery in operation.
President Mubarak’s tenure is over after 30 years of unopposed rule in Egypt, and before him the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fell in Tunisia after twenty plus years of being in control. As I type it seems we are witnessing the same pre-emptive signs of regime change in Libya as Colonel Gaddafi tries to quell the hoards of people protesting on the streets of Tripoli.
Mass unemployment, poor living standards, and government corruption are common throughout the continent of Africa. But could we imagine similar scenes in Nigeria?
OK, Nigeria does not have a long-term dictator in the helm, but it might as well have. After years of military rule, the third republic was inaugurated in 1999 with the PDP party coming to power. Since then the PDP has won the last three elections and will do so again, ensuring that its person of choice will be the president of this vast country once again come the end of the May 2011 – and nothing will change on the ground.
Nigeria is a country waiting to happen, but its innate wealth and the paucity of leadership keeps it in the dark ages.
For a long time I have been seeing how the western world’s media is happy to turn a blind eye to the many examples of human rights abuse across the globe, as long as the west’s own interests are unaffected.
Peter Cunliffe Jones, in his superb book, “My Nigeria: Five Decades Of Independence,” points out that oil (the country’s “black gold”) is not quite the bonanza for Nigeria that it seems:.
“…the region now produces around 2 million barrels a day, around half of which goes to the United States… Nigeria accounts for 10 percent of America’s oil imports and gets 95percent of its own foreign earnings.” (page 35)
Still, the majority of people in Nigeria live on less than $2 a day. Life expectancy is less than 50 years.
And the pursuit of liberty, prosperity and property is a distant dream for all, save for the ruling elite.
I’ve still not worked out which dark forces are orchestrating the fall of these long term oligarchies of North Africa, or who benefits from these vacuums in power. I am sure that these uprisings and the media attention are not a coincidence. And I do believe that until those same forces see the need for Nigeria to come into line, the façade of government will continue unabated; the rich will continue to get richer, and the people will perish.