It is said: “It is better to give than to receive.” But I think, some giving(s) do not come from the quarters of charity, sacrifice, wisdom or chivalry, but from a place of deep insecurity and delusion of grandeur.
When the purpose of giving is to “maintain an appearance”, then that is a self-esteem problem. Over the years, Nigeria has had Africa as the “centrepiece” of its foreign policy. The country has played supportive and stabilising role in the affairs of most countries on the continent. It took the throttle in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa; it funded the ANC, and provided academic and corporeal sanctuary to the blacks of the country. Today, Nigerians are, perhaps, the most hated people in that country, routinely harassed, abused and intimidated.
Also, in the past, Nigeria provided substantial financial and material support to Chad and Niger; in fact, it has maintained this tradition. But as a matter of fact, these countries have not been very committed in helping Nigeria extirpate Boko Haram. There have been reports of both countries withdrawing their troops from the border areas, where the insurgents are secreted, over issues of “command superiority”.
It is not out of place to play the “big-brother”, but it is unwise to keep playing the role when effort is unrequited and when there is a blistering image problem. Nigeria, today, contributes 15.7 percent to the global poverty rate. It suffers from serious infrastructure denudation and its debt profile is perilously high. And the truth is our depressing situation is known to the world. So, who are we trying to impress? Why must we keep up appearances? Our charity will be counted as foolishness as long as the ranks of the poorest of the poor keep swelling.
Where is the logic in a man throwing steak in the marketplace at a time his family is in dire need of protein and suffering from kwashiorkor?
President Buhari’s $500,000 gift to Guinea Bissau for its elections may be well-intentioned, but good intentions do not make great countries. There is no morality in international relations. What does Nigeria hope to get out of this gesture? Countries like, the US and UK, are notorious for putting strings to every act of charity; this is because they understand the law of sowing and reaping. There is no free money anywhere.
However, the $500,000, which is about N180,000,000, could have been much useful in providing about 500 water pumps for the people of Ogugu in Olamboro, Kogi state, who drink from a stream or in building about 50 classrooms in Rimin Kebe, Ungogo local government area, Kano state, where 499 pupils share a single classroom.
Our priorities have always been conflicted. I recall when our athletes had to resort to begging on social media to represent the country at an international event; yet they had a government.
It is bravery to decline a request when the weather is not favourable. And in exigent times, priority must be given to that which is most important. Charity begins at home.
Fredrick is a media personality.