The historical factors that informed the imbalances and inequalities in the international relations among nations can be rested on the yet to be forgotten undignified status of Africans as a people of the conquered, pillaged, enslaved and raped race. The psychological impact of these grievous injustices is not yet fully cleared on both sides of the Atlantic. This is the genesis that can explain the heavy dose of inferiority complex found in the make up of 99 per cent of Africans. Bowed and cowed by this complex it is not a surprise to find that all African nations at the end of the twentieth century have no control whatsoever over their national resources, over their lives and over their posterity. One can therefore safely say, that, on the eve of a new millennium Africans have again been cleverly played into another legally sanctioned and internationally endorsed reformed slave trade. Who are the winners in this shameful saga of international reformed slavery? Who are the real winners of the mismanagement and corruption in Nigeria?
Capitalising on Mismanagement
According to Frynas, “mismanagement and corruption in Nigeria were a big advantage for Shell because they increased the absorptive capacity.”12 Absorptive capacity is defined as the Nigeria’s ability to absorb oil revenues in good time. In a layman’s language, this means the propensity of Nigeria to behave as a spendthrift nation – a prodigal and extravagant nation. It means the irredeemable knack and profligate tendency to spend money as it comes; the pathological weakness and inability of its managers to keep and save for the rainy day; and the cultivated national love for ostentatious display of wealth from the top to the bottom of the classes. It means the obsession of Nigeria’s political and economic managers to be the first in the global race to partake of any new conspicuous consumption doing the rounds in the capital cities of rich nations; and the ability to clog the ports with all foreign junks on the special delivery order of the few rich fools. These are the kind of socio-economic indicators Shell found favourable for a good business climate in Nigeria.
Of course, Nigeria is a prodigal nation, thanks to its erstwhile redeemers in shining khaki armour. The only policy these vandals have instituted since they came on the political scene is ‘Spend. Spend. Spend.’ At the time they took their first short-term loan in the late 1970s, Nigeria was buoyant with gold and liquid cash reserves. The foreign reserve in 1980 was $10,640million. They were persuaded to take loans for their capital investments by the international banks and financiers whose vaults were flushed with deposits of petrol-dollars arising from the oil shocks of 1973. The international commercial banks aggressively pursued the less developed countries particularly oil producing ones and convinced them to borrow money for white elephant projects and other ridiculous consumption programmes on the basis of their oil reserves13.
As a fool, which is how their white colleagues see them, they succumbed to the temptations designed for “raising their esteem for things of no value” and accordingly the international banks in New York and London have since being “receiving a very high price in return”. The Nigerian Press asked General James Oluleye who was then the Commissioner for Finance under Obasanjo’s administration (1975-1979), why he was taken a foreign loan when Nigeria has money sitting idle in bank vaults. The Commissioner repeated the same mantra fed to him by the international bankers, “Why spend your capital when you can borrow cheaply for investments?” Poor innocent Nigerians are now paying the price of that important financial investment wisdom.
The Nigerian ‘leaders’ were cajoled to borrow more of medium-term loans and worse still at floating interest rates. Unfortunately or by the design of their advisers, there “was a heavy concentration of maturity dates at a time when real interest rates were high and when Nigeria’s earning of foreign currency was declining.” In 1983, the external debt was N12,000million but by October 1985, it has risen to N21,000million. According to McCaskie in Recent History of Nigeria, as a result of default “on the first repayments of debt principal totalling US $1,500million” in 1984, Nigeria was forced to reach a compromise with IMF, as part of the structural adjustment programme and therefore “agreed to accept ‘enhanced surveillance’ by the IMF.”14
With that agreeable concession, there went the much fought for political independence of Nigeria. Nigerians should not be fooled by economic hotchpotch. What does enhanced surveillance mean in the lexicon of World Bank and IMF? It is similar to what happens when a company goes into receivership after bankruptcy has been declared. It entails external auditors scrutinising and combing the books to ensure that all creditors have a fair deal in the distribution of whatever assets remain in the company.
Counting the Cost of Mismanagement
Nigeria has been in receivership since 1984, thanks to the prodigal sons. Nigeria, as an independent nation has lost the freedom to undertake any meaningful project unless those approved by the IMF. The annual budget expenditure, the public sector borrowing requirements, the salaries and bonuses, the capital projects and investments and other public spending etc. etc. etc. since 1984 have been placed under the supervision of IMF. By 1997 nobody was even sure what the amount of the debt was, IMF put it at $31,407million, Federal Government said it was $28,060million while external creditors said it was $48,000million.15 Since IMF is the only organisation, which legally has the National Accounts of Nigeria in its possession, it will be safer to accept the debt figure submitted by it as $31,407million. Then, if the official exchange rate is N80 = US$1 as at 1997, therefore, the debt burden which was N21,000million (21Billion Naira) in 1985 had risen to N2,512,560million (or 2.5Trillion Naira) in 1997.
Let us do some simple arithmetical computation here. Again we have a little problem, since the census figures of Nigeria are all suspect it will be difficult to share this debt per head accurately. Nevertheless, let us assume that the population of Nigeria is 100million. If the figure of N2,512,560million is shared among the 100million Nigerians regardless of age or sex, then each Nigerian is owing N25,125.60. In other words each household of four people has a debt burden of about N100,502.40 hanging on their neck as at January 1998. To stretch the analysis further, each community or village with a population of 5,000 is facing a whopping debt of One hundred and twenty-five million, six hundred and twenty-eight thousand Naira (N125,628,000.00). This is the reality of the national economic situation that Nigerians are being shielded from knowing by their kleptomaniac leaders. Nigeria as a country is under the bondage of the super-powers of the world. Your life, my life, the lives of our children and the lives of our posterity yet to be born have since been bonded to the sharks and wolves in the financial and banking industry of London, New York, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome and Tokyo.
Have you forgotten what happened to a debtor, even in the local history of our ancestors? A debtor is a slave. A debtor has nothing except what the creditor allows him. His home, wife, children, farmland etc. are no longer his. Everything a debtor owned before falling in to debt belongs to the creditor unless he pays what he owes as at the date due. This is how a good proportion of the ancestors of Africans in Diaspora became slaves. Nigeria has lost everything. It is high time Nigerians woke up to this reality. The message of this book is aimed at helping Nigerians to face reality in order for them to stop living in fools’ paradise. It is time Nigerians saw the so-called leaders for what they really are. They are incorrigible robbers and charlatans – nothing more nothing less.
It is unfortunate that history has been allowed to repeat itself again. It is common for revisionist and reparation crusaders to cast aspersions at the white slave traders while cleverly forgetting that the black man was the counterpart trader. If there is no seller there will never be a buyer. In those days, all the Africans taken away as slaves were led into the net of the foreign traders by the ‘enlightened and forward-looking’ men of their societies. These were the men who had earlier travelled away from their villages to the shores of their country where they met and were befriended by white slave traders. The white traders showed them a quicker method of striking it rich. They were the ones who went back to their villages to lure their old friends, relations and other acquaintances into slavery. These men became wealthy businessmen of their generation and the mover and shaker of their societies.
Now at the end of the twentieth century, it is obvious that for the international commercial banks, the investment banks, the financial markets of derivatives – futures, swaps and options – in New York and London to make their annual profits from the Third World, they would need local counterparts who understand the social, economic and political terrain. In Nigeria, these local counterparts are found among lawyers, bankers and accountants who are supported by the civil servants under the grand patron of the prodigal sons and political gangsters. These are the ‘professionals’ who sold the Nigeria-state to the dogs. These are the professionals led astray by their white counterparts who used old boys’ ties and college fraternities to pave the way for unprecedented lucrative business partnerships. They lured the local counterparts by capitalising on the weakness in human nature and by ‘raising their esteem for things of no value.’ Looking at the outcome of these business partnerships after 38 years, it is obvious that the Nigerian professionals were bereft of true wisdom. Although, they possessed academic laurels but since they lacked true knowledge, they fell like pack of cards to the clever machinations of their white partners.
To illustrate the above assertion, it was rumoured that during the Yakubu Gowon Administration a German construction firm was introduced to Nigeria and that the Nigerian lawyer who handled the legal papers became an instant millionaire. This example is not unique. This is the pattern of all international businesses in Africa. The operational philosophy was and still is, set one of the fools up for life and he will deliver his country on a platter of gold. This ideology is foolproof. It has never failed since the white man ventured into the ‘dark continent’.
In other words, these leaders, either political or professional, have never had the interest of Nigeria at heart. All their inglorious services to the fatherland have been devoted to satisfying their white masters for the price of pottage – Mercedes Benz cars, foreign accounts in Europe, holidays and shopping in Europe and a host of other mundane privileges. For this selfish interest the so-called leaders of the people have sold the whole lot of their countries. Nigeria is now under enhanced surveillance of IMF. This means that IMF must approve our going out and our coming in. IMF must covertly or overtly approve the prices of our commodities, the exchange rate of our currencies, the markets for our trades, and all international financial transactions.
Politics of Fuel Price
As I was writing this chapter, the news broke that the Federal ‘Government’ of Nigeria had raised the pump price of petroleum products again. I read the commentaries put together by The Guardian on Sunday and there was nothing but pity and sadness for Nigerians. The commentators were ranting and raging about the impracticality of the pricing exercise. From the comments it was obvious, they too still had the opinion that the ‘Nigerian Government’ could do something about the fuel price increases.
Chukwuma Nwokor in Politics of Price Increase quoted the objections of Dele Cole and Professor Sam Aluko in 1985 to the irrationality of subsidy theory and the illogicality of currency devaluation in Nigeria respectively16. Did the Government of Babangida take their wise counsels into consideration in the final analysis? This is the reality Nigerians don’t know or those who know don’t want to face it. Nigeria does not have a government.
What is in place at the moment is a supervisory administration or agency under the aegis and guidance of IMF on behalf of the International Creditors. The Paris and London Clubs through IMF dictate the policy objectives for the so-called Federal Government of Nigeria. It is the creditors who decide when to raise prices and when to devalue currency regardless of local opinion or of the ensuing local suffering and hardship.
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, we are all debtors. As debtors, we have nothing. Everything that was ours before we got into debt can be carted off if our creditors so wish. But since we are the goose laying the golden eggs in London and New York, it is necessary to keep us barely alive as long as possible in order that we can keep on the egg laying business. All our old assets can only be touched or used at the discretion or approval of our creditors. This is the tradition in primitive societies and this is the law in ‘civilised’ societies as well.
The increase of pump price of oil in Nigeria in 1993 from 70kobo to N5.00 revealed the insanity of Nigerian experts who act as the megaphones of the international creditors. I am not an economist but I always try to stay on the side of common sense. I have since discovered that common sense can never fail regardless of the new theories in vogue. I was in the Nigerian Civil Service with responsibility for research and planning of a government department in 1993. When the oil price was increased in November, two months to the end of a fiscal year, my department that had a budget of N100,000 for the fuelling of vehicles and had already spent almost 80 percent of the budget discovered that it needed another N100,000 to see us through the year. The question any sane person must ask was, what kind of expert would decide to destabilise the whole government plans and budget with a single fling of a ‘Davidian’ economic stone?
By that reckless policy decision, the last two months of 1993 turned into a national chaos. Every activity of government came to a stand still. Staff could not afford transport cost and so lateness and absenteeism was the order of the day. The clerical and secretariat staff unilaterally and ingeniously designed a shift duty roster among themselves whereby they swap alternate days when to appear in the office. The senior staffs were not left out. The few that still had personal cars were forced to abandon them. As the story was in the public sector it was repeated in the private sector also. Every owner of tradable commodities embarked on price reviews – transport, food items, house rents, clothing, drugs, school fees, medical fees, accountant and auditor’s fees, and even bride prices. I have never seen any government in the world that could be as irresponsible to the extent of instituting such a policy of chaos except the government is under coercion.
It is quite clear that since 1984, the Nigerian so-called Federal Government has had guns pointed at its head. It is obvious there is a measure of force and ‘whitemail’ being applied by the creditors. The government was definitely being forced to adopt policies, which everyone with common sense knows will be injurious to the social health of a nation. Quite frankly, the prodigal sons with soiled hands and fat foreign accounts had no option but to comply or else their ‘kleptocracy’ would be exposed. This is the reality of the fundamentals on which the Nigeria’s economic woes were crafted. This is the truth Nigerians as individuals must learn about and grapple with. This is the truth that should command the greatest attention from every living Nigeria and every black man in the world.
Politics of Global Economics
But, alas! Nigerians are still of the belief that the present civilisation as constructed by the Caucasian race has a room for them. This writer is telling you that the best you can have of this godless civilisation is a token. A fraction of the poor are generally by design helped up and admitted in to the circle of the rich. These lucky minorities are then held up as show pieces of what can happen to anybody who worked very hard. This is fiction. The best the black race can receive from this cruel western civilisation is tokenism. It is time the black race faces this reality and creatively decides if that is what they want and not what their ‘friends’ say they are worth.
But on a serious note, Nigerians are too good for this intellectual chicanery and economic gerrymandering. This booklet is intended to wake up your spirit to the global lies under which you have again been enslaved. But unless you open your eyes to see the nature of crisis staring at you as we turn the millennium, this writer or anybody in this world cannot help you. The marauding groups going by the appellation of leaders have sold your birth right for the price of peanuts to the western powers. The western powers now determine and select who can lead you. They will put their local counterparts on the alert anytime there is an election or change of government to ensure that only those who can do business with them are elected or appointed into public offices.
Hear what Ibrahim Babangida said in an interview he gave to The Guardian of UK and reported on 17 July 1998. He told his interviewer that the ideal president of Nigeria would “have an excellent understanding of our political history and be able to speak for all Nigerians…. He would be commander-in-chief of the army, so would have to have an understanding of the military – so we could do business with him.”17 You better believe it, this is the voice of the western powers in Nigeria. The accursed members of the military institution have become so conceited in their stolen power and privileges that they now believe they are special Nigerians who must be treated with kid gloves or else…. What kind of business must the President of Nigeria be doing with the renegade military that could not be done with other Nigerians? What is so special about the military that they now require and even demand as a matter of right special privileges or ‘businesses’ in all state affairs?
The winner of this deadly game are the western powers who are determined not to give an inch of economic freedom to Africans because by their ruthless calculation, their kind of world needs the services of the poor to be a meaningful world. This is the word of Bernard de Mandeville in The Fable of the Bees, “From what has been said, it is manifest, that, in a free nation, where slaves are not allowed of, the surest wealth consisted in multitude of laborious poor … without them there could be no enjoyment, and no product of any country could be valuable.”18 It is true that after the Second World War the Europeans either willingly or under duress were required to abandon their attempt to dominate the rest of the world politically. But as it is so far, they have no plan to forgo the economic domination.
From the list of creditors quoted above, Britain that took the lion share of the Nigerian cake, as the official banker and financier of the Federal Government of Nigeria through Shell, also top the list of Nigeria’s creditors. Germany, the official and undisputed Works Manager of Nigeria because of its total control of all the major road construction and of course the whole root, stem and branches of the Abuja Federal Capital Territory’s civil and construction works came second. Japan, the supplier of telecommunication equipment and luxury motorcars came third. While France, which was commissioned personally and privately by Babangida as Chief of Army Staff in 1985, to manage and to do with as it pleases, the budget of the Ministry of Defence, came fourth. USA the biggest purchaser of Nigerian oil that should owe Nigeria is also on the list of creditors. Italy and The Netherlands are not left out of the Nigeria’s gravy train.
Can anyone blame them? Even the Christian Bible said something about, out of the hands of those that have none shall be taken to give to those who have. This is simply saying that if you have a gift or a talent and you refused to make use of it, those that know what to do with it cannot be blamed if they take it out of your hands. Nigeria has a rich abundant gift of natural wealth bestowed on her for a divine purpose. Due to ignorance and the fact that a few foolish so-called leaders have dominated and fouled the civic and political space of Nigeria, the majority God-loving people of Nigeria have been frightened off the political stage. The true leaders have therefore refused to come out of their shells to perform the task of genuine national development. It is obvious that Nigerians are not the winners of this international game. It is a game, a real casino outfit. Nigeria is just one of the chips on the betting table of London and New York Stock Markets, the celebrated Global Cathedrals of the god of Mammon.
V. The Losers
If Nigerians are still of the belief that whatever have happened so far were mere coincidences, then they are yet to understand the degree of ruthlessness under which the world as defined by the western civilisation is run. The economic order bestowed on the world by New York and London and under which all peoples and nations are forced to compete is such that winners and losers must always emerge. It is not a reality that accepts a live-and-let-live or a love-thy-neighbour philosophy. It is a reality premised on the principle of beggar-thy-neighbour or on the ruthless strategy that strives to annihilate thy neighbour if he stands in the way of profit. It permits the use of sophisticated commercial espionage on one’s competitors or the outright declaration of military warfare on the nations of one’s competitors.
This hideous racially motivated system needs servants if not slaves. It needs feudal or monarchical kings and barons and therefore labourers or serfs to service them. It is a rich-poor divide. The rich jealously guide the gulf between themselves and the poor to the extent that the ladders used for climbing to the top are quickly removed and destroyed by all those who escape to the rich quarters. The rich quarters have limited provisions; it is therefore impossible or share suicidal folly to allow all the poor to cross the line.
The Empire is not Dead
In the case of Nigeria, the British Crown armed with intelligence surveys and reports copiously collected on Nigeria and Nigerians were aware of the abundant wealth in the country. Therefore, Nigeria attracted the greatest attention of the men in Whitehall and Westminster. Nigeria was the second most important jewel after India that the Crown could not afford to lose at any cost. The British put the best brains to task as they asked them to design short, medium and long-term strategies of political, economic and social policies for the perpetual control and domination of this country. We have mentioned the broad strategies in The End of the End but for each country there were special considerations and emphasis. Nigerians must understand that the philosophy of political and economic domination cannot be applied without much thought and reflection on the means and strategies. It needed scientific analysis and management of the people, more so, when the world seems to have agreed in principle that naked force shall no longer be permitted as a tool for achieving political and economic control of other nations.
Everything was moving fine in Nigeria according to the British grand designs and strategies until the coup de tat of January 1966 that completely escaped the attention of British intelligence secret agents. However, the counter-coup of July 1966 was very much to their knowledge and was tactfully supported as a control measure for the temporary derailment of their grand plans. The brilliant intervention of the then British High Commissioner in Nigeria stopped the stupid idea of Arewa secession by the July 1966 coup plotters. Buka Suka Dimka, the leader of the 1976 coup d’état was aware of the 1966 British intervention and that was why he rushed to the office of the British High Commissioner in Lagos after the assassination of Murtala Mohammed to solicit for British support and guidance. Of course he was turned down, not because Britain did not support the coup but because the intelligence report on Dimka was not favourable. Dimka was a drunk with an unstable immature personality. He was merely used and discarded like a sanitary towel.
Talking about intelligence reports, Nigerians should understand that the business of owning an empire by subjugating other peoples and of being materially and politically great is not a casual business. It is a serious business and anything goes in order to achieve the aim and objective of this business of greatness. For instance, the secret service agents belonging to the western powers infiltrated all the important institutions in Nigeria that were established by the colonial powers for the grooming of Nigerian so-called leaders. For example, the Nigerian Defence Academy is heavily manned by the British intelligence services. This enables Britain to develop and manage assiduously dossier on every promising Nigerian soldier as a matter of grave importance. There is no soldier that passes through the Nigerian Defence Academy who escapes a psychological overview and study. Are we talking fables here? Think again fellow Nigerians. If almost all the members of the present Labour cabinet were on the surveillance file of MI5 because the officers of the Crown suspected they have leftist tendencies, what about the slaves in the Crown’s vineyard. Can they be left alone to run riot?
However, we have cause to be hopeful and should not be unnecessarily despondent. If Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs in Britain along with his comrades can escape the net of the Crown’s secret police and hard-men, then Nigeria and indeed Africa shall also escape sooner than later. It is not that the Crown’s secret service hirelings are becoming less efficient in the performances of their patriotic duties it is just the simple matter of a divine reality that this is the end of an era of another god-forsaken human empire.
It is not uncommon for godless men to dream big dreams of vanity, one of which is, to establish an empire bigger than any that had ever been created on earth through a ruthless bloodletting expedition on their fellow human beings. From the empires of the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Greek of Macedonia, the Romans, the Ottomans, and the Mongols and down to the British, the methods adopted by these godless empire builders have always been the same. It is couched under a deliberate physical and psychological torture, murder and intimidation of their neighbours both near and far.
The idea of an empire often develops maliciously through the evil seed of envy and avarice of the wealth and industry of one’s neighbours. The dreamer comes for help from his kind and hardworking neighbour, which is often given. Since the dreamer is full of the seeds of greed, he would not be contented with little but would desire to take everything his neighbour owns. In no time his neighbour is killed and his possessions are taken over. The aroma and the taste of this first acquisition would spur the empire builder on and would reason thus: why work if one can compel others to work or if one can seize the product of other people’s labour forcefully during the harvest seasons.
The games of empire building from time memorial have entailed the robbing of others of both the physical material property and the spiritual property – freedom. In every case headhunting (the killing and maiming of the innocents), pillaging, looting, robbing, raping, highhanded cruelty and vicious wickedness preceded the empire-building project. This procedure even continues after the empire has been built as it is the only rational means for holding the empire together by the succeeding generations of heinous murderers and dishonourable mercenaries who now go by the honourable title of His/Her Royal Majesty or Highnesses surrounded by a courtier of ‘Honourable Nobles’.
Nigerians should not think for a moment that the end of the British Empire means the end of all empires. As a matter of fact, there are new empires under formation as we write. These new empires are no longer the type that lay emphasis on the physical ownership of land territories but rather on the economic domination of peoples regardless of where they are based on planet earth. The new name of the modern empire is Trading Multinationals or Globalisation. These new empires are more ruthless but they are very discreet and almost invisible as they go about their lucrative businesses offering bribes, inducements and kickbacks, or laundering illegal money, or murdering officials of government or their own staffs that tried to blow the whistle, and using ‘whitemail’ and industrial espionages as applicable.
The modern empire owners, who have no particular fixed address and possess multiple nationalities, adopt a remote control or the modernised Indirect Rule strategy as the operational tools for the despoliation of nations and for illicit wealth acquisitions. We have mentioned this bit about empires in order to warn Nigerians that just because the British empire and its American-dream offshoot are on the rubbish heap of history, it does not mean that they should be complacent with the task of freeing themselves in truth, in spirit and in deeds for ever from even the new pretenders that are juggling for the artefacts of the dead empire.
For those who are still taking the issues of empire and the atrocities of secret agents slightly, how can they explain the complete fencing around of a country for intelligence report gathering on innocent people living on their ancestral lands and who meant no harm to no one except the natural desire to live their lives in peace? Can we ask, what are the intentions of those who engaged in such shady business of the night? Are they the types of people who meant peace or war? For over two hundred years these “friends’ of Nigeria have trained firearms and other dangerous weapons on Nigeria in the name of international peace and trade, free market, economic development, democratisation, empowerment etc. Is that really true? Haven’t they stretched this racial superiority and the domination of other ‘lesser races’ too far?
This writer thinks they have gone rather too far and hereby calls on like-minded Nigerians to rise up in one accord to tell the British Crown and her allies to please ‘get their tanks off our lawn’. We must be prepared to declare in no small terms that Nigeria is no longer available for rape and pillage. Enough is enough.
But in the spirit of sportsmanship we must concede past defeat and acknowledge that so far Britain has won the battles. Again we must warn Nigerians not to get emotional about what you are reading on these pages. Instead, we shall advice you to please first seek and get true knowledge. You must remember a local adage that says, an orphan does not ask the question about who killed his father until he is grown up enough and strong enough to handle the machete – the tool of primitive warfare. This is not an emotional battle of merely throwing tantrums. It is more than that. But regardless of the immense obstacles carefully and deliberately placed on our path, this battle of true freedom for all and not for the few shall be fought and won at the time appointed by the divine will of the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Why Nigeria was bankrupted
Before the short digression on the depth of western intelligence secret service in Nigeria, Murtala Mohammed was murdered at the prompting and connivance of the western powers. He was seen as a dangerous man who was bent on shattering the cunningly crafted economic and political plans and designs Britain and other western powers have put in Africa. It was the time when Nigeria was blowing her top at the international arena without first learning the rules of the game. This was at the height of apartheid in South Africa and of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia. These two countries between them possessed substantive British and USA’s investments and businesses. The western powers realised from intelligence reports filed in by their agents in Nigeria that the Murtala military junta, which was swimming in liquid petrol-dollar, were becoming too big for their shoes.
Murtala Mohammed’s aggressive international policy to liberate the whole of Africa at the shortest possible time was the last straw that broke the patience of the super powers. He could not be allowed to continue. Covert sentence was passed on him. He must die. The killing of rabble-rouser is not new or unique in the annals of the western civilisation. To a native African, it might seem excessive but the kind of civilisation you are being pushed to embrace, it is the sauce and juice of the political game rather than the exception. The tradition is to kill the adjudged troublemaker by any means possible and they believe there will be peace afterwards. Please read your history books if in doubt.
Therefore in the case of Murtala Mohammed, the solution was simple. The culprit was identified, that is, the force or personality behind this new crusade of freedom for the oppressed. As a short-term measure it was decided to kill the burger off. Pronto and the fever of this stupid liberation campaign would have been extinguished immediately, they reasoned. On the long-term measure, it was agreed that the country should be bankrupted. They reasoned and correctly too that the basis of the muscle Nigeria was flexing had its root in the economic wealth and disposable cash at the behest of Nigeria.
Hence, the intelligence expert must have advised, run the country bankrupt. They would have argued that, since the Nigeria’s economy has no foundation except the oil revenue then bankrupting the country would prune her wings and shoot her down not for dead but wingless. And with careful monitoring or ‘enhanced surveillance’ the wing pruning exercise can then be undertaking anytime it grows back again. These simple economic espionage and covert political actions conducted on Nigeria in the late 1970s would go a long way to explaining the present regular review of the pump price of oil and the incessant currency devaluation in Nigeria.
That is the story so far on why and how Nigeria lost everything. The Nigerian leaders, at least Murtala, meant well but his group only had brawn but lacked wisdom to go with it. And for their stupidity and foolishness, Nigerians have been dragged back into the reformed slavery of the twentieth century. This is the remote control slavery where the operators need not get their hands dirty. Every engagement of this profitable business of modern slave trade is accomplished on the computer interface in a cool tastefully furnished office situated on the 50th floor of a New York or London building. The ‘wiz-kid’ securities and investment traders now called ‘rocket scientists’ do not need to see or touch the cargo of slaves anymore. This can be handled remotely. It is indeed the age of remote control.
However, we thank God for the intrusive camera-lenses and the heart-rending reports of a few conscience-driven journalists and social workers. If not for this kind of single-minded and selfless services to humanity, the world would never know that there is a link between the western life styles in New York and London and the death and suffering of the people of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Angola and a good proportion of countries in Asia and South America. A good number of armchair investors in America and Europe have no clue where the annual profits declared by their Investment Fund Manager are coming from. All that the morally upright investor knows is, at the end of the trading year, his/her investment portfolios in ABC Fund would have yielded a return of almost 50 percentage gains. How did this magical profit happen?
The God-fearing investor is not keen to find out. However, common sense and a sense of fairness would show that in all fair-trading exchanges, there is no way a trader can make such a profit short of robbing his customers and workers blind. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher was even more categorical about such kind of unfairness in exchange. In Nichomechean Ethics while Aristotle was talking about justice in exchange, he says, “…to have more than one’s own is called gaining, and to have less than one’s original share is called losing, for example in buying and selling and in all other matter in which the law has left people free to make their own terms…therefore the just is intermediate between a sort of gain and a sort of loss…it consists in having an equal amount between and after the transaction.”19 It simply means there is nothing like profit in a fair trading exchange among equals. Profit connotes exploitation and rip-off in the exchange of goods and services. The only justifiable concept in a moral trading exchange is the saving of surpluses garnered or traded from excess production.
All Nigerians must be made aware of the truth of this wicked political and economic game if we desire to stop it. Our half-broiled academics and unconcerned professionals must be told to hold their heads in shame for allowing them selves (this writer is inclusive) to be swindled intellectually. As of the days of old, we have allowed ourselves to be used again as the unthinking blockheads and middlemen who sold our brothers and sisters to the slave merchants. Without the connivance and love of self only by this group of well-heeled Nigerians, Nigeria should have been home safe and dry. Some of us fell into the trap, out of share mental laziness but a good number of us really went all out to co-operate with the enemies in the name of personal success or in order to ‘make it’.
According to William Patterson in The Problems of Destiny, “Poverty is the prop of civilisation, and that if it disappeared society as at present established would come to an end…we may, however, consider the entire working class of all grades and professions as perpetually threatened by poverty unless they continue to work. It is their poverty or potential poverty which keeps the wheels of civilisation rolling.”20 Every child born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth is brought up to accept inequality as given and so grows up to perpetuate it as well. Morality is a learnt virtue it is not inborn. Therefore, if a child is not taught to see other persons as equal from the on set of his life there is no way the concept of equality can have the same meaning for him as others who were so taught from the cradle.
For Africans to believe that their degrading state of abject poverty is of serious concerns to their erstwhile western friends to the extent that all the proposals coming from them for the economic emancipation of Africa could be taken as gospel truth smirks of serious naivety and a lack of understanding of the nature of the global trade relations. Bernard de Mandeville also offered a word of advice to the chicken-hearted and morally concerned rich who may be getting too soft with the poor. He says, “To make the society happy and people easier under the meanest circumstances, it is requisite that great numbers of them should be ignorant as well as poor; knowledge both enlarges and multiplies our desires, and the fewer things a man wishes for, the easily his necessities may be supplied.”21
Ignorance as Tool of Governance
The philosophy of Mandeville has been copiously followed and effectively utilised as a policy objective in education in the western countries, particularly in Britain. The use of ignorance as a policy objective to keep the poor down is best observed in Britain where the government has no apology or any qualm about the dual educational arrangements of one system of education for leaders and another system of education for serfs. While the first arrangement devotes a great attention to liberal education that equips the select children with the mental and social tools to live independently, creatively and productively the second merely emphasises the three Rs- reading, writing and arithmetic without any supportive reasoning and logical thinking skills.
The second type of education has the advantage of conditioning the larger segment of the population to accept their underdog positions in the nation as natural and it will be unthinkable of them to attempt to question it not to mention changing it. Going above your social status is seriously frowned at under such entrenched conservative social values. The products of the second tier of education become predictably well mannered and domestically peaceful until they are let loose on football excursion to mainland Europe. The system ensures that there is no civic education in the curriculum and so the knowledge or the ability to reason and to challenge the dogma and the ungodly political structure of the society of their birth are carefully expunged from school curriculum.
The children from the second tier of schools are ever so happy to step into the shoes of their coal miner father or butler father or other servant professions as a natural order of life. Their neighbourhoods are well stocked with beer parlours or Pubs where they can chill out and chill down every evening after a backbreaking day’s job. It was therefore not too difficult for the colonial civil servants to see the appropriateness of this kind of educational philosophy and policy, which was safely, transferred wholesale to Nigeria and other colonies. So in Nigeria you have King’s College, Queen’s College, Barewa College and other regional colleges specially equipped to train leaders of Nigeria. But still the contents of the education delivered even in this pampered schools, were below the level of their second category of schools in Britain.
However, after a century of western education, Nigeria has a good number of ‘certificated’ graduates who cannot use their thinking faculty. As a result this educated illiterates become totally blind to the atrocities going-on all around them. They cannot see through the veil of the reformed slavery under which they are being bred. We have educated men who are yet to see the economic and political concrete ceiling of opportunities erected over their heads by their foreign friends or partners. They could not understand why they expended so much energy and yet could not jump beyond the covertly prescribed level. Nigeria has professors of business and political economy who are yet to understand the barriers and obstacles carefully constructed and placed on their path by their foreign friends. It is therefore not surprising to still find them championing the policies of the western powers in trade, business, and investments. There were cases of some Nigerians who took employment with these foreign firms and yet with their fanciful degrees could not see the international scam going on under their noses and under their signatures.
This writer is yet to understand how a Nigerian educated to the level of a doctorate degree could fail to see Volkswagen of Nigeria for what it was and yet served under this company meritoriously and at the same time pontificating on national economic policy until that company went down and out of production of ‘completely knocked down’ cars. What does that mean? Ask the experts. All over the country we have similar arrangement of ‘manufacturing’ of motor vehicles and other industrial products. How did the so-called leaders failed to see the international financial scams, the industrial espionage and outright robbing, pillaging and the massive foreign exchange fraud going on in the name of purchase of ‘raw materials’.
It was not until 1984, that Nigerians realised that Ovaltine of Nigeria, a company which hitherto claimed the status of an industrial establishment was exposed as a mere assembly plant for the finished products transferred in large cargo from Britain. These companies and their likes claimed massive tax and custom and excise exceptions for the purchase of raw materials; and licences for engineering and production technical staff at over the top salary range along with massive incentives to make their stay in Nigeria comfortable. These ‘industrial’ companies have Nigerians at the management positions and as Directors yet these patriotic Nigerians could not put in a word for Nigeria because they valued personal comfort and personal liberation over abstract national interests.
This writer, having considered the pattern of economic history of the world, the philosophy of the present world economic relations, the protectionist tendency of even the newly liberated poor nations to jealously guard the status quo, and the universal attitude of self-interest by those who have scaled the ladder out of poverty to prevent all unwelcome infiltration from the other underdogs left behind, believes that except there is a fundamental reorientation of the value on which the world is operating its economic affairs, Nigeria and indeed Africa have no hope whatsoever both now or in the foreseeable future for true economic, social and political emancipation.
The Nationalists’ Oversights
Now in spite of all we’ve said about the prodigal sons, the uncivil servants, the unconcerned professionals and the political gangsters, I don’t want anyone to think for a moment that all these people who fell into the traps of international trade and politics really have much option if we understand the kind of forces and obstacles railed against them by the departing colonisers.
Now with the advantage of hindsight, we can ask, what were Nigeria and other independent countries thinking about when they asked the Crown’s Housekeepers to depart from their glorious colonial estates without the wherewithal to take over completely the affairs of the independent countries?
It should be remembered that the colonies were the countries that made industrial manufacturing meaningful and profitable in Britain since the departure of United States of America from the British Empire in 1776. As a matter of fact, it is the colonies that put the pompous word ‘great’ on Britain. The colonies were the markets where every budding merchant from the mother colonial country was sure to make a 500 percentage profit from a single trade mission by merely ‘raising their (the barbarians of Africa) esteem for things of no value’.
Of course, the colonisers put on their thinking cap and in no time they saw the greatest joker that would floor the nationalist fighter. They reasoned, give them their political freedom but never the economic freedom. With economic control out of the reach of these independent countries, the political freedom obviously became useless. It did not take too long before the erstwhile nationalist fighter, now as Minister of Finance or Education or Health or Agriculture etc. picked up the begging bowl to seek technical aid and other financial assistance from the power he had helped to drive out of his miserable shore. There is a popular adage that says beggars do not make choices. We are yet to see a beggar who really has any choice to dictate what he wants from his benefactor.
Within five years a good number of the fire brand nationalist fighters have been carefully pocketed by their kind benefactors through juicy business offers, tempting attractive contract kickbacks or just being kind and nice to the young politicians with good advice that would help their new nations to grow on the path of economic development. The other day, this writer asked a friend from Tanzania what he thinks about the idea of de-linking Africa from the western culture and philosophy of ruthless competition. Does he think it is a good idea that Africa should attempt to find or to create its own natural identities and on which it can design it’s own pattern of development at it’s own pace and time? He was amazed at such thinking and he asked me, How do you ask those who have come to help you develop to go? How then are you going to develop?
This is the common perception among Africans who still believe the western powers are indeed interested in seeing them as equal partners or as fair-play competitors in the global economy. They failed to recognise that in order for this present global economic order to persist Africa cannot be allowed to really get out of the woods. If Africa does get out of the wood, then that is the end of civilisation as we know it. Isn’t that what Patterson was saying above? It is a case of saying if there is no poverty there can be no civilisation.
This writer is again sounding the clarion call to all Nigerians that you are the chief loser in this macabre international game of superiority of one race over the other. As a loser who is now aware why he has lost so much, what will be your reaction to this knowledge and enlightenment? Are you one of those who still believe that, that is how things have always been and that is how it should continue to be? Are you prepared to stand up and be counted as one that ‘seizes’ (don’t wait to be given) his/her right as a free man or woman and that accepts as given his equal status to all men regardless of the colour of skin or position of artificially created eminence or political and economic power that was derived from stolen wealth? You have lost so much so far but must your posterity also suffer this indignity and insult?
The international relations of commerce, of diplomacy, of human rights, of peace and of everything are all skewed in favour of the old powers. The kinds of democracy and free market slogans the western powers are pushing on the poor countries are farce and have hidden selfish motives. All the self-interest philosophy quoted out of context from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and since adopted as a self-evident truth by the Far Right intellectuals is borne of ignorance of the systemic nature of the universe. The 1997 economic problems in Asia and that of Russia in 1998 are good examples to illustrate the nature of interdependency among the peoples of planet earth. But those problems are not over. They are like the rumbling of a ‘dormant’ volcanic site that became so common to the extent that the communities in its vicinity got used to the noise and occasional fireworks. Eventually, when the volcano finally erupted they were cut unaware. That is the world’s economy for you. It is a fundamentally non-sustainable economic system.
The Great Depression of 1929 will be a child’s play when this godless and wicked system finally bursts at the seams. Nigerians must learn to read between the lines, and to recognise that we have no friends of any kind in the international community. It is time for us to wake up and defend our human dignity by first stopping the rape and pillage of our country and then constructing our own reality based on the values of common brotherhood nurtured in the spirit of love and guided by the law built on the philosophy of ‘Love Thy Neighbour’. We must totally reject the moral philosophy of the Global Economic Order that is based on the principle of ‘Beggar thy neighbour for profit’. This is a philosophy that rewards handsomely the ruthless and the wicked. It is a satanic philosophy and all those who have seen the light of the truth of existence must spew it out.
By now I hope all Nigerians are aware that the international trading markets are full of wicked foes who pretend to be friends and who want to make you believe that they are doing you a favour by ‘investing’ in your country. Foreign Investor indeed! Do you still believe that? Even kleptomaniac governments will claim to be hunting for foreign investors when all they needed to do is to convert the stolen resources hidden in foreign accounts for the national development of their stunted countries. Of course they will often get foreign investors of their kind who are sharper and brighter than them in the art of ‘kleptomanism’.
Your next actions after closing this book will tell whether or not you still believe the lies of your sworn enemies. But do not forget you are starting from a negative base. Your country is in the red and totally bankrupt. How to get the Shylock, blood-sucking vampires of the international commercial banks and of the western countries off your back should be your major project as we march into the new millennium. Please for goodness sake, don’t join the sad pathetic men of Africa and other Third World countries who are on their knees begging for debt forgiveness. It is not a good solution. The ‘conditionalities’ of the politics of debt forgiveness in international relations will be worse than you could ever imagine. For one thing, it will never give you enough freedom to pursue your own goals. This declaration for peace (not war!), for love, for equality, for justice and for freedom is an intellectual and spiritual affair. Please don’t get emotional get educated.
The Need for Attitude Change
In closing this essay, let me again share with you a memorable thought expressed by one of the few sincere British social reformers with a social conscience in the 1940s. William Beveridge was one of the principal figures behind the creation of the welfare state in Britain immediately after the Second World War. The suffering in Africa is not a new thing. The first experimental slavery at the dawn of this passing millennium and by the British Empire was started in Britain. The slaves in question are yet to be truly free. But they are perpetually sedated with liquor and so have no time to think and reflect on their miserable conditions. It was the recommendations made by Beveridge in the report on Full Employment in a Free Society that ushered in the welfare programme, which eventually made life bearable and tolerable for these lots in Britain in 1944.
The fundamental premise for the landmark recommendations made by Beveridge was based on the philosophy of a social conscience in a civilised society. This was the cardinal principle on which he believed a social policy for the alleviation of the inhuman condition of the people of ‘Great’ Britain just barely over fifty years ago should be based. This is how Beveridge defined the meaning of social conscience in his report, “We should regard Want, Disease, Ignorance, and Squalor as common enemies of all of us, not as enemies with whom each individual may seek a separate peace, escaping himself to personal prosperity while leaving his fellows in their clutches…one should refuse to make a separate peace with social evil.”22
This is a good thought on which this writer will like every like-minded and Spirit of Truth-led Nigerians to reflect deeply. The Nigerian love for designing self-centred strategies aimed at the emancipation of only oneself and the members of one’s family at the expense of the larger society must have to stop if we intend to defeat the real enemies. The enemies over the years are aware of your weakness and your desire to escape into personal comfort. They capitalised on this human weakness by given you inducement which sometimes set a negligible number of you up for life but in the process they take your country for a ride. The belief is very strong among the Caucasian Homo sapiens that you and your entire race are dumb, stupid and foolish. By the result of the last thirty-eight years of Nigeria’s self-governance one is almost tempted to say they were right. But this is falsehood.
There is a divine plan in all the affairs of men on earth. Let us open our eyes to see and our minds to understand the signs of the moment and to acknowledge the will of the Almighty Creator for this age. For all those who are sincerely applying their intellects in the analysis of the nature and trends of the global economic, social and political problems, the truth is clear, this economic system called the New Global Order cannot correct the injustices, inequalities and imbalances in the world. Nigerians must wake up to this truth now. That is all the help you will get – to wake you up from your careless slumber. You must, on your own without any further prodding, use your natural God-given gifts and talents to solve, first the national calamities that have befallen all of us and secondly to rise to the salvation of our neighbours in Africa.
This writer has so far avoided making any wishful suggestions on a quick fix panacea for these serious problems. As a member of the human family on earth, created in the image of God and equal to all other men on earth, you must wake up and take your rightful position on this planet earth. This is a spiritual as well as an intellectual battle. But remember the power of the creator of heaven and earth is with Nigeria at this moment. So dear fellow Nigerians wake up today and search for answers. Together we shall find a way out of the calamities around us. However, remember it is not going to be an easy journey but with knowledge, conviction, determination, effort and the single-mindedness of the collective spirit of all Nigerians we shall make it to our own promised land of true freedom and peace without the assistance of any godless earthly power that has so far behaved and acted as if it owns this planet.
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
17 August 1999
(Continue to III)
12. Jedrizei George Frynas, ‘Political Instability and Business: Focus on Shell in Nigeria’ in Third World Quarterly, Vol. 19, No 3, pp 457-478, 1998.
13. George Soros, Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve. New York: John Wiley, 1995.
14. T. C. McCaskie, ‘Nigeria: Recent History’ in Africa South of the Sahara 1999. 28th Edition. London: Europa Publications Ltd. p. 817
16. Chukwuma Nwokor, ‘Fuel: Politics of Price Increase’ in The Guardian on Sunday Magazine. Vol.15, No. 7,343. December 20, 1998. p.13.
17. Interview with Ibrahim Babangida by The Guardian of UK reported in The Guardian of 17 July, 1998. p.16
18. Bernard de Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees. London: Clarendon Press, (reprint), 1728. p.213.
19. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
20.William Patterson, The Problems of Destiny. London: Watts and Company, 1935. pp.29-30.
21. Bernard de Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees. London: Clarendon Press, (reprint). 1728 p.328.
22. W.H. Beveridge, Full Employment in a Free Society: A Report. London: Allen and Unwin. 1944. pp.254-255.
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