(Swans - September 12, 2011) It is difficult to understand the logic that informed Nigeria's decision to announce their recognition of the NATO-backed rebels in Libya. Although the leaders in Abuja said that it was taken in the interests of the country, it is very difficult to see how this ill-timed, ill-advised, wrong-headed and shortsighted decision could enhance the interests of a country that likes to see itself as Africa's Numero Uno. Nigeria's hasty decision looks all the more foolish when the country's main rival, South Africa, is wisely towing the position taken by the continent's main body, the African Union.
It is sad to see the country whose past leaders have toiled to build solid Pan-African credentials reduced to a mere errand-boy of Western imperialism. A country that has worked tirelessly over the years to build solid Non-Aligned, Africa-centric foreign policy credentials, is today the tool the imperialists use to advance their interests in Africa. Nigeria spearheaded the French designs on La Côte d'Ivoire and today, the country has firmly burnished her credential as an imperialist puppet state by extending recognition to the rebels in Libya.
The decision becomes more incongruous because it was taken when the airwaves are saturated with reports of the killings of Nigerians and other black Africans by the rebels who believe that every black face is a Ghadaffi mercenary in a country where a third of the population is black! Are we to believe that the leaders in Abuja were sleeping when CNN and other Western media showed the rebels killing and maltreating Nigerians and other black Africans?
Many Africans have trooped to Ghadaffi-led Libya because it is the ONLY well-run country in the whole continent. Whilst most of them are in Libya to do menial jobs, many of these Africans are professionals who contributed to the smooth running of the Libyan economy.
To these Africans it is absolute baloney to say that Ghadaffi was anything but a saint who managed the affairs of his country rather well. Many of them are from countries whose democratically-elected governments are backed by the Western nations. They are living witnesses to the total mess that these so-called democratic leaders have wrought on their countries. They have seen how their so-called democratic politicians colluded with Western corporations to rape the resources of their countries.
Those from Nigeria have seen how the so-called elected officials have taken corruption to mind-boggling levels with all layers of governments actively involved. Nigerians are witnesses to their 400-member National Assembly collaring twenty-five percent of their national budget for themselves. They are fully aware that seventy-five percent of their national earnings goes into recurrent expenditure (paying salaries and running the machinery of a moribund government). They are aware of the feud by their top judges over corruption charges.
Nigerians know that theirs is a country where virtually nothing works. They know that they live in a country where citizens are not expected to have access to steady electricity, water, and telecommunication. They know that they live in a country where the educational infrastructure has collapsed and where reports of one hundred percent failure at examinations are commonplace. They know that they live in a country that cannot provide security for its citizens. They live in a country bedeviled by kidnapping, and now, the menace of Boko Haram.
Many Africans know all these things and they know that all the mess is taking place under a Western-styled democratic dispensation that enjoys the backing of the West. They know these things and they also know that they live in semi-colonial countries that are still firmly tied to the apron string of the West. They knew that their countries are independent in name only. They knew that the only thing that has changed is just the faces at the corridor of power -- with black replacing white in the colonial scheme of things.
Africans see all these things and they see how many of their compatriots (the lucky ones) are voting with their feet to seek the proverbial greener pasture in far-away lands including in (if the Western-media account is to be believed) mad-Ghadaffi's Libya. Many Ugandans are braving all to serve in war-ravaged Iraq.
Many Africans from the so-called democratic countries are strewn across Europe doing jobs that do not even begin to challenge their education or intelligence. The cleaning crews of most major airports in Western Europe are staffed by African immigrants as though it is Africans' lot in life to keep cleaning Europeans' mess. Many of them are drowning in Spanish and Italian waters as they desperately struggle to escape the poverty and insecurity in their democratic countries.
Those that landed in Libya had their first taste of paradise on earth. For the first time, they could live in clean and well-kept houses. They could travel on well-constructed and well-maintained roads. For the first time in their lives, they live in houses with running water and enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply. For the first time in their lives they could walk the streets without fear of armed robbers or kidnappers. For many of these Africans, Ghadaffi's Libya offered them the chance to earn a decent pay for honest toil for the first time in their lives. For the first time in their lives, these Africans could live decent lives as human beings and are supposed to live in this modern era.
These Africans saw in Libya what should be possible given a leader with a vision and a passionate love for his country. They saw Libyans living decent lives with enough money for leisure. They saw Libyans who are guaranteed free and quality education to whatever level. They saw Libyans being paid to do post-graduate studies at the best universities abroad. They saw Libyans who are guaranteed jobs and tax-free paychecks at the end of every month. They saw newly-wedded Libyans moving into furnished apartments at state expense. For the first time in their lives, these Africans saw a state-run social security system at work. They saw how every Libyan is guaranteed a house and a decent income. They saw Libyans enjoying quality and free medical services. They saw in Libya where citizens enjoy free electricity and water and where citizens do not pay taxes!
These Africans saw in Ghadaffi-run Libya a proud and principled people whose lives were not being run by Western imperialism and its local agents. They saw in Libya a country that had zero economic refugees. They saw in Libya a country whose economic policies were not dictated by the IMF and the World Bank. They saw in Libya a country whose resources were used to build ultra-modern infrastructures including a massive aquifer project. They saw in Libya a country that refused to allow its currency to be controlled by external forces. In Libya, these Africans saw an African country with absolutely no foreign debt of any description.
To these Africans, it was their first experience of a modern, well-run country. They have the right to feel affronted when Western propagandists spew nonsense about the man that brought about the transformation, the miracle they witnessed in Libya.
It is almost sacrilegious. They are being told that it makes better sense to continue to elect kleptomaniac politicians who have no desire to improve the material conditions of their people. They are being affronted with the nonsense that partaking in ritualistic voting every four years to elect self-seeking politicians who are deep in cahoots with corporations to loot the common wealth is far better than living under a Ghadaffi who guaranteed decent lives for most of his people.
In a twinkle of an eye, the Africans watched all these vamoosed before their very eyes. They saw the West re-enact their Iraq adventure in Libya. With the connivance of the UN (again!), a band of rebels was transformed into freedom-fighters and supplied with weapons, trainers, and special forces to overthrow a government that has managed to stay out of Western tutelage and guaranteed the majority of its people decent lives that even Westerners can only dream about.
These Africans watched helplessly as the 1884-5 Berlin Conference was re-enacted before their very eyes. They watched powerlessly as Western nations started calling conferences after conferences for the dismemberment of an African nation. These Africans watched in total humiliation as the feeble protests of their African Union (?) were scornfully brushed aside by the makers and shapers of global events.
The Africans watched as the rebels, under the air cover provided by NATO, marched into Tripoli and were hailed by Western media as freedom fighters and liberators.
And these Africans now see the imperialists scrambling to pulverize Libya like they did the rest of Africa. They see Western nations, one after the other, unfreezing illegally-frozen Libyan money to pay themselves for their colonial adventure in Libya. They see shameless Western politicians salivating over the juicy contracts they will award themselves in Libya.
These Africans watched weepingly as a modern African nation is flushed down the drain to appease insatiable greedy imperialists.
They then watched in horror as the rebels turned their guns on them and other blacks, even bona-fide Libyans who happened to be black! A third of the population of Libya is black, yet the Arab-Libyans in the rebel army considered themselves the only true-blooded citizens and others as foreigners.
The Africans watched in horror and humiliation as they were stripped of their hard-earned properties, frog-marched like criminals, shot and bayoneted. They watched as their houses and properties were torched and looted. They watched feebly as their wives and children were violated with bestial impunity.
Their horrors turned nightmare when their home governments, whom they have counted on for support and whom they have supported with their unceasing and unfailing remittances over the years, abandoned them and sacrificed them to appease their Western godfathers.
What manner of insanity informed the Nigerian government to extend recognition to the Libyan rebels at a time the AU (of which the country is supposed to be a leading member) was still debating the issue. What moved (still) Goodluck Jonathan to recognize a rebel government when the president of the African Union was condemning the atrocious killing and maltreatment of black Africans in Libya?
It is said that a nation's foreign policy is a reflection of its domestic policy. How apt!
Mr. Jonathan, in his almost three years as president, has not demonstrated that he has the interests of Nigerians at heart. It is the same mindset that made him incapable of empathizing with the people he rules that informed his major foreign policy faux pas in recognizing a rebel band that was massacring his compatriots.
The great tragedy here is that Nigeria has always had a robust Africacentric foreign policy anchored firmly in the promotion of African interests. The size of their country has always given Nigerians the illusion of grandeur as they consider their country a continent power.
To be fair, this has been well earned when the country threw all her weight and resources behind the liberation struggles in Southern Africa. So much was the country respected in those days that it was made a member of the frontline countries, even when it was geographically far away from the theatre. Nigeria was also instrumental in thwarting the imperialists and apartheid South Africa designs on Angola. It was with joy that Nigerians greeted their then leader, General Murtala Mohammed, telling American President Ford to mind his own business over the Angolan issue. It was also with great pride that they watched their country play a pivotal role in thwarting British ambitions over Zimbabwe -- including the nationalization of British Petroleum in Nigeria.
The lame excuse by Mr. Jonathan that he took the decision to extend recognition to the Libyan rebels in the interests of the nation cannot hold water and will make sense only to those that are totally bereft of thinking capacity.
Aside from the brutal murdering of Nigerians and other black Africans, Mr. Jonathan erred majorly in his shortsighted diplomatic mistake.
Nigeria has ambition to cling to the proposed African seat on an expanded United Nation Security Council. Although it might enjoy the backing of its Western sponsors, Nigeria's dream can only be realized with the support of the majority countries of the African Union. Mr. Jonathan should tell his compatriots how he intends to carry the African votes when he broke so royally and so publicly with the AU over a major issue.
Whatever their shortcomings at home, most Nigerians believe firmly in Pan-Africanism, and they believe that their country should play a leading role in the emancipation of the black race.
It must be galling to these Nigerians as they watch their president extend his inept domestic rule to the sphere of foreign affairs.
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About the Author
Femi Akomolafe (see his profile on Swans) is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/. (back)