BY FRANCIS ANEKWE OBORJI
The pilgrimage of some key Western European leaders to Abuja, Nigeria in the last few days alone arouses once more, what has troubled my mind all this while: ‘Why do the foreign powers prefer African dictators to patriotic African leaders?’ Sometimes I ask myself, is Africa condemned to tyrannical and dictatorial regimes forever?
Why is it that patriotic Africans are never allowed or encouraged to emerge as the leaders of their people? Why is it that elsewhere merit is the yardstick for choosing people’s leader, but in Africa, the world encourages only leadership of mediocracy?
I am beginning to think that it is high time any informed patriotic African leader should be very careful with the way he or she enters into any bilateral Agreements or Protocols with government officials of many countries of the West nowadays. This is also why any relatively conscious and knowledgeable Nigerian should be worried with the recent “pilgrimage to Abuja” of the leaders of governments of some powerful Western countries, our ex-colonial masters.
Again, sometimes, I ask myself, ‘Why does the West prefer African dictators to patriotic leaders?’ The pilgrimage of some key Western European leaders to Abuja, Nigeria in the last few days is indeed troublesome. This because it is obvious that their neocolonial agreements and arrangements which the previous administration could not concede them, they might have gotten through with the present dispensation, which they helped to come to power in 2015, and are beginning to do everything possible for their reelection in 2019.
With elections at corner and politicians doing all sort of things to get reelected, nobody should rule out that Nigeria might have lost most of its anticolonial gains of past years under the present dispensation, its romance with these neocolonial powers on pilgrimage to Aso Rock, Abuja in recent times. The same could be said also of the Nigerian President’s visit to Donald Trump in the White House, Washington D.C. some months ago.
Therefore, looking at the ongoing pilgrimage of neocolonial and modern imperial powers to Abuja in the last few days, there is no doubt that Nigeria might have signed off most of its anti-colonial gains of the yester years. The question is, ‘Will the country ever recover from this loss of anti-colonial gains of yester years?’
Again, when I reflect on the ongoing pilgrimage of heads of governments of Western countries to Abuja, I begin to wonder, why are all of them coming at this particular time and almost one after another?’ France, Britain, Germany, almost followed each other simultaneously in their respective ‘pilgrimages’ to Abuja. Of course, Italy visited not longer ago, and so are other Western countries.
With reference to Nigeria’s choice of continued romance of our ex-colonial overlords, Jerry Rawlings, former President of Ghana recently made the following statement in that regard:
“I can’t believe that despite the setback of Nigeria as a result of British failed experiment on that country, Nigeria is still very much in love with them. Nigeria has everything it needs to be the greatest country not just in Africa but in the world, the British knew about it. There are two things that can salvage Nigeria: the first is Nigeria must peacefully retire these old colonial leaders who are still servants to Western imperialism; the second is Nigeria must restructure their country back to the days when it was regional system of government, let every region develop at its own peace, build its resources and people. With this that country called Nigeria will be the greatest hub for the people of color in the world.” – J.J. Rawlings, former President of Ghana.
There is no doubt that President Rawlings hit the nail on the head. Nigeria’s continued clinging to colonial mentality and the 1960s civil war military arrangement of unitary system of government, are the things holding the country backward. The colonial mentality played out very well during the recent visit of Western leaders to Nigeria.
In fact, very interesting is the fact that the visits and attention of the foreign leaders concentrated only in Abuja and by extension, Lagos as the commercial capital. The Eastern states and Niger Delta, where the Petroleum, which is the main interest of these foreign powers in Nigeria, is domiciled, are never visited by any of these world leaders. Nigeria is being ruled, – controlled by these foreign powers through proxy, their Nigerian spinoffs and local agents. The famous British colonial ‘indirect rule’ has come back to us in Nigeria in disguise!
Perhaps, because of the British role in the Nigeria-Biafra War as well as Biafran pogroms, the last British visible presence in the South East, was the “British Library” at Enugu. Since they transferred the British Library to Port Harcourt in mid 1980s, Britain appeared to have closed any form of direct presence of British establishment or institution in the region. Now, Britain deals with the old Eastern region (former Biafra enclave), with proxy, through the local agents, spinoffs at Abuja.
Similarly, in spite of all the cry of the people of the Niger Delta against the pollution of their area by the exploitative activities of Oil Companies and Multi-Nationals of these foreign countries, none of these leaders cared at all to visit the area during their recent visit to Nigeria. The visiting Western leaders ended everything in Abuja where they sign the agreements with the government in power. They travel to Lagos to greet their co-nationals who are engaged in commercial exploitation of Nigeria and shipment of our Crude Oil to their homeland.
During the last week visit of the Western leaders, the country experienced another gruesome attack by the Fulani herdsmen in Plateau State, where two clergymen of Pentecostal Church and a handful of villagers were massacred. This is the same Plateau State that Fulani herdsmen just last month sacked inhabitants of three local government areas, killing hundreds of them. One would have expected a kind of condolence note if not visit of these leaders of powerful European nations to the scene of those massacres of innocent Nigerian civilians at Plateau State.
The 2018 January New Year killings of over 70 people in Benue State, the killing of two Catholic priests and their 17 parishioners in the same State, few months ago, could have elicited some sympathy or mentioning during the joint press conference of these world leaders when they met with President Buhari at Abuja. But none of the foreign leaders had the audacity to remember those victims of state-sponsored violence in Nigeria.
The interest of the world leaders is only on bilateral agreements for the exploitation of Nigerian Black Stone (Petroleum), and making sure that Nigeria remains a free market zone for European goods while closing their doors to Nigerians and our agricultural cum commercial products in Europe. The West favors one-way traffic in their business dealings with Africa. These dishonest trade agreements are at the root cause of the crisis in African countries. They are responsible for the mass exodus of African youths to the West.
Therefore, the Western solution of giving aids, which often come with strings attached, is not a reliable strategy. Because the West itself knows that those aids or loans for development it gives to corrupt African leaders they maintain in power, would eventually end up in European Banks as stolen money. That means that it is deceptive to be talking of development aids to Africa from the Western countries. These are dead aids, which help to perpetuate the neocolonial structures and agenda in Africa.
The only viable strategy is to revisit the dishonest bilateral agreements the West had entered with African countries in the past, encourage patriotic Africans to emerge as leaders during elections, so that they can take over the leadership of the continent. These are the measures that will benefit not only Africans, but the West and rest of the world in their dealings with Africa. It will help to put a stop to the endemic conflicts, wars, poverty and “illegal” migrations of young Africans to the West and elsewhere.
Until these dishonest trade agreements are addressed and corrected, the end of the modern African migrations to the West is not in sight. The most worrisome aspect of it all is that the dishonest trade agreements between African countries and the West are often entered into whenever there is a tyrannical and dictatorial government in the African country. Western leaders fear patriotic African leaders. Patriotic African leaders, who would work and seek a pro-African agenda in entering into the bilateral agreements with the West, are never allowed to win elections or last in power in any African countries.
Furthermore, when I reflect on the pilgrimage of these European leaders to Abuja, I ask myself, ‘Why is it that Nigerian President did not seize that opportunity to respond to some of the insulting statements of those foreign leaders about Nigeria and its citizens?’ For example, the British Prime Minster, Theresa May, while in South Africa from where she travelled to Nigeria, described Nigeria with some derogatory words. She referred to the country as the place where world highest number of poor people are domiciled. The British Prime Minister never received a rebuttal from her Nigerian counterpart over this unsavory characterization of the country.
Of course, British Prime Ministers have long history of insulting the country and its people with high-class abusive words. Former Prime Minster David Cameroun had described Nigeria as the most ‘dangerously corrupt country in the world.’ He was also reported to have said that, “If the amount of money stolen from Nigeria in the last 30 years was stolen from the UK, the UK would cease to exist.” In all these, however, Cameroun never received any rebuttal response from his Nigerian counterpart.
However, what should not escape the mind of any right-thinking person is the fact that if Nigeria is where it is today, a failed state, Britain has a greater percentage of the blame. It is obvious that Nigeria was never set-up by the ex-colonial master, Britain, to survive. Added to this is the fact that most of the stolen money by corrupt Nigerian leaders and politicians are stored in Britain. The stolen Nigerian money are being managed by British Banks. Therefore, corruption in Nigeria is British based and maintained. These are some of the things Nigerians expected their President to tell his British counterparts when they met in Abuja last week.
One would have also expected some level of protest by Nigerian masses against the British Prime Minister for not saying a word about Nnamdi Kanu, a Nigerian British citizen whose whereabouts are still not known since the Nigerian military invaded his country home at Umuahia on September 14, 2017.
That British government has been keeping silence over the Nnamdi Kanu disappearance speaks volumes of how they are part of most of the unpopular decisions and activities of the present federal government of Nigeria. The human rights abuses of the present Nigerian government were never condemned or even mentioned by any of the visiting Western leaders.
Who knows, perhaps, the European leaders were in Abuja to boast the reelection of the President. That is why all of them spoke only of the coming elections and nothing else. This is where their interest is. Whether Nigerians are being massacred on daily basis and those at the corridors of power are seen as protecting the killers, is none of the business of these world powers, our ex-colonial overlords. They all might have vowed to continue to support and protect the henchmen ruling Nigeria, since with him, it would appear foreign interests in the country, are firmly secured.
All said and done, during that pilgrimage of foreign leaders to Abuja some days ago, one would have expected the Nigerian President, as the current Chairman of ECOWAS to register his displeasure, before his august visitors, over the maltreatment of young African migrants in the West. One would have expected our President to condemn with strong terms, the current severe anti-immigration laws sweeping over the whole countries of Europe and North America.
This because, Africa is the primary target of the Western countries’ new severe anti-immigration laws. Modern day racism or rather racial discrimination has metamorphosed and resurrected in those anti-immigration laws that are sweeping over Western countries today. Moreover, as Pope Francis rightly said, the treatment of African migrants in the West today is a new form of slavery. It is a plague, which should awaken in the conscience of humanity a new approach of how we ought to relate and view one another, irrespective of differences in skin-color, religion, culture and ethnicity.
The fact that Africans are the most targeted and victims of the anti-immigration laws should have elicited strong words of condemnation from the President before his Western guests at Aso Rock few days ago. Unfortunately, this is all we could hear him say as Chairman of ECOWAS during that joint press conference he had with the visiting German Chancellor:
“I believe you know the ECOWAS protocol encourages free movement of persons, goods and services. But for those going to Europe, we are not, as an administration, agreeing with those who continue to defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean because they feel there are greener pastures there, whether they are prepared for it or not.” – President Muhammed Buhari.
What all this implies is that there is need to revisit those dishonest agreements the West had entered in the past and are entering even today with Africa. These include also the so-called Protocol agreements between them and African countries. Most of the present-day problems of most African nation states could be traced back to those dishonest international trade agreements and Protocols the West often does enter with corrupt African leaders at the expense of African countries and people.
The fact is that through the dishonest Protocols and international trade agreements, which only benefit the West, Africa is being held under bondage. The international trade agreements and Protocols with Africa are the ways neocolonial structures and agenda are being sustained and maintained in the continent.
The dishonest international Protocols and trade agreements discriminate against Africans. They are at the root causes of poverty, underdevelopment and conflicts in many African countries today. They, together with foreign aids, which the West often loan out to corrupt African leaders and politicians, with strings attached, are the bane of the suffering in the continent today.
Therefore, any foreign leader coming to Africa today to renew or sign new Protocols or trade agreements, must be viewed with suspicion. Not until the dishonest trade agreements and foreign powers’ Protocols with corrupt African leaders are revisited and corrected, all the talks of world leaders about developmental assistance and aids to Africa will come to nothing.
Again, not until new international trade agreements or Protocols with Africa, put in place, patriotic leaders with pro-African agenda allowed to emerge, the continent will continue to suffer at the hands of present corrupt and tyrannical dictatorial regimes.