The President of our republic, which has now been reduced by our leaders to a small ‘r’, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, just returned a few days ago from the Saudi-Africa Summit. If you ask my sincere opinion, that was one gathering the likes of which any self-respecting African leader ought not to have attended.
Apart from the already established master-servant relationship between us and our former colonial masters, these days, any country that gets its acts together will create a forum for it and pliant, client African states to parley. That country is usually the initiator, sponsor and ‘’lead lecturer’’ of the forum.
In this modern world, we have bilateral and multilateral relations. Why is it that when it comes to Africa, we then have bi-continental meetings? Why are we never treated like self-respecting individual countries? We, of course, do not deserve to be so treated because all our problems are the same namely, poverty, grinding poverty and lack of self respect and so one common blow does the work And why is it that among the 54 leaders of the African continent there is none among them who has said to himself, ‘’this is not right. I will do the right thing to exempt my country from this type of humiliating grouping’’? Are we cursed with a curse not to even see shame where it presents itself?
I single Tinubu out to tell him some truth because I see him essentially as an activist president and hope that he will conduct his leadership by rejecting self-deprecating actions that will confirm Nigeria also as a hopeless African case. I also expect that his presidency should mark a major departure from believing that the solution to Nigerian’s problems lies essentially in foreign junketing, looking for foreign investors or ‘’partners’’.
In this dispensation, former President Olusegun Obasanjo spent nearly two years of his presidency flying abroad looking for the elusive foreign investors. When he realized his mistakes he sat down firmly on his seat and tried to govern. And I think that is when purposeful leadership of Nigeria in this era began and ended. Others who came after him merely came and served out their tenures. They did not leave much imprints.
As I said earlier, I expect that Tinubu will be a major departure from the idea of ‘’governance by perennially traveling abroad’’ and hoping that there are some good men out there with a cargo ship loaded with Dollars, Pound Sterling and Rubles to give to poor Africans to solve our problems.
No, sir. There are no such good people out there; which means that the solution to Nigeria’s problems lies squarely at home here. We need a leader that will sit down here by rejecting the counsel of ‘’economic experts’’ to go abroad to beg benevolent potentates and consult with all-knowing shamans for solutions to the things that ail us.
Our servile and disrespectful relationship with others started with our former colonial overlords Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. After our flag Independence we have humiliating relationship such as Europe Partnership with Africa– EPA Agreement. We have the America-Africa Summit or what diplomats call Americo- African forum.
We have others such as France-Africa or Franco-Afro forum for France and her former colonial servants. I have not bothered to check but I suspect that Portugal has a forum whereby it still presides over the destiny of Angola and Mozambique.
China, which was not strong enough to have colonized some African countries, terribly regrets its inability to have joined the Scramble, but has managed to create a neo-colonial forum called the China-Africa Summit. I do not know whether we have the India-Africa Summit. If there is none yet, I do not think that it will take long before it comes. African leaders will be traveling down to attend the Indo-Africo summit as diplomats like to term that kind of meeting. Very soon we may have the Mexico-African Summit. In these summits, you will see one white or Asiatic red man lecturing 54 Black ‘’students’’ on good governance, good fiscal discipline and good behaviour in international affairs I call such fora an encounter between the headmaster and the senior prefects. The headmaster tells the senior prefects what they should come and tell the pupils or students what they should do. It is humiliating, degrading and it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of some simple guys like this writer.
Such fora are increasingly being created and sustained. The latest is the one Tinubu has just returned from. And they are coming up everyday because some serious minded persons in the world have noticed that we have no atom of self-respect. They group us together because we collectively suffer from some serious afflictions which are curable by ourselves if we dare to sit down and plan and execute: poverty, grinding poverty and lack of self-respect.
Why has it not occurred to one Nigerian leader, such as Tinubu, that ‘’enough of this kind of nonsense’’? We and China were almost at par in terms of development or the lack of it some years down the line. How come this people, in less than a hundred years, have sat down to free themselves from poverty and underdevelopment and can now group us together like boys and invite us to their home for a meeting to share aid among us?
I have been in my village through out the duration of the Saudi-Africa Summit and so was not privileged to watch TV and see the footage of the event but I guess that in this particular conference, the teenage looking dude of a Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, must have stood confidently on the platform as lead lecturer lecturing 54 or so grand old men about governance and good behavious. If Cameroonian President, the 84-year old Paul Biya, was strong enough to have attended, he must have tried very hard to listen to this teenage looking Crown Prince who is young enough to be the age-mate of his grandson.
For good effect, Crown Prince MBS enticingly kept 50 billion dollars by the corner as an incentive for these 54 or so hungry and starving African leaders to share as assistance for them to overcome the adverse effect of climate change. When I think about this humiliating reality, I feel like becoming a lone protester carrying a giant poster at a public square with the words ‘’this is not right for Africa’’.
This is terribly humiliating to Africa. When will our leaders learn to give us some respect? For some one like Tinubu, is it not the same oil Saudi Arabia has that Nigeria has? Is one own palm oil? For African leaders such conferences are an opportunity to escape the mess they usually live in Africa and to earn some precious foreign currency for themselves but for us, it is humiliation. When will this change?