THE SENSE IN GADDAFI'S NON-SENSE
Non Nigerians who say that Nigeria is not a united country truly miss the point and if you doubt us, try and say or do things that tell the leaders that they are not doing well enough and you will see the venom unleashed at such people. The case of Mrs Hilary Clinton and the Abuja town hall meeting with civil society groups wherein she berated Nigeria's leaders is still fresh. Earlier during a visit to Ghana she saw Nigeria as a country with great potentials for rapid growth and development but regretted that Nigeria has chosen to remain backward, a tragedy of choice. In particular, she criticized Nigeria for importing petroleum products in the midst of abundant crude oil and gas deposits and called for a change of heart. Her comment was viewed as treason and matters got worse to a point that the then minister of Foreign affairs Chief Ojo Maduekwe in a very crude manner denied her basic airport protocol and traditional reception. That is how mere criticisms, which in normal cases should serve as a panacea for self re-evaluation, provoke and annoy us as a nation aspiring to be among the best twenty developed nations in 2020. Many of us of course know that this Vision 202020 is wishful thinking.
What is this recurring comment about Nigeria and breaking-up? This column has severally reviewed the two key predictions by the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) as they affect Nigeria. We have recalled the 2005 prediction that was direct and down-to-earth in warning that Nigeria may disintegrate in the next 15 years due to growing insecurity, poor governance structures, ethno-religious pulls, and extreme corruption. We have condemned the manner in which the then Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration lampooned the US instead of initiating a sober reflection on that warning.
In 2007, the same agency of the US released another prediction, albeit subtly, but with the same grave implications, even if they did not mention Nigeria directly as one of the countries that would disintegrate or become failed states. Since then, Nigeria has often been mentioned in the categories of failed or failing states such as Somalia and Sudan. While most Nigerians agree with the predictions and expressed fears that this nation is heading for disaster, interested parties and entrenched interests have rather chosen to berate the US and any other person who dared mention the word, disintegration.
The problem is that while they disagree with and insult the US, those Nigerians in a position to do anything about the prediction have consistently acted in support of disintegration. They have acted to support the US prediction, even as they condemn the warning.
Today, Nigeria is either being listed in terror lists or in travel warning lists even as her citizens are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatments around the world. The bizarre angle however is that five years after the US prediction, nothing has been righted on any of the indices (growing insecurity, poor governance structures, ethno-religious pulls, and extreme corruption, etc) that were mentioned. Now, insecurity in the land has grown from armed robbery and assassination to kidnapping and trading in humans. Poor governance has continued to stare us in the face to a point where a citizen (Samuelson Onuoha of Imo State) would openly accuse his governor who swore to protect him of rather physically assaulting him; ethno-religious pulls have become more bokoharamic; and extreme corruption has become, indeed, terrible to the point that nobody cares to fight it anymore.
Predictions by the US NIC are usually carried out in consultation with non-governmental experts around the world. When the head, a US professor, Robert Hutchings, led his team to Lagos for West Africa in 2007, they held consultations with top journalists, human development experts, security buffs, and top experts from the National Institute for International Affairs. This was to enable them gather materials for the 2010 predictions to be known as Mapping the Global Future 2010, Sequel 1977's Global Trends 2010, and Global Trends 2015 produced in 2000.
The latest prediction insists that certain countries would disintegrate, but went ahead to announce that Islamic fundamentalists would dominate global security concerns in a concept termed the Rise of the Caliphate, and that China would drag global trade with everyone to the point of becoming second only to the US in a concept called the Rise of the Dragon. The West relies on research for their actions, good or bad, and most of this comes from private efforts supported and consumed by the public sector. After the end of the Cold War following the end of Communism, the US commissioned a foreign affairs expert to preview the global future. The expert submitted that the US would lose by insisting to play the sole policeman of the world by incurring spending deficits while others would grow rich. The study advised the US to allow the rise of regional powers to take the heat off US/UK axis and thereby usher in a multi-poplar world, instead of the bi-polar and uni-polar versions. This is the philosophy that today guides the foreign policy of the US; a policy that many fail to understand due to the other post- 9/11 policy of taking the war to terrorists outside the US instead of allowing it shift to the American soil.
Obasanjo and his regime did not conduct any study on this or any other topic but chose to condemn the one done by the US. Admitted, the predictions are not binding but those who ignore them do so at their own peril. The listing of Nigeria in the US terror watch list is not binding but it affects us. Instead of Obasanjo to work for electoral sanctity that would enthrone credible leadership and viable followership, he rather desired to stay for a third term, just when the world had just been celebrating Nelson Mandela's one-term stint. This debacle has been worsened by the refusal of Obasanjo's hand-picked successor, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, to transmit a mere letter to empower his vice, Goodluck Jonathan, to take over, just as his Egyptian counterpart has done. Had Yar'Adua simply transmitted the letter and asked Nigerians for prayer in a sickness that is not his fault, he would by now become a hero and still be influencing government from the 'hospital bed' without antagonising Dr Goodluck Jonathan whose loyalty to him was beyond question. Even though he and those who were managing him in ill health chose the ignoble path of deceiving Nigerians. God has shown that we cannot have our way unless He wills it. There would have been no political tension that has disrupted Nigeria's pace of development since November 23, 2009 if the constitution was obeyed.