THE IMPARTIAL OBSERVER
Despite its ills, Nigeria is not
Sunday 28 November 2010
is too anarchic despite its size and supply of peacekeepers.
would be better.
~~ The Economist
enough mud and soon, some will stick.
That seems to be Nigeria’s fate these days. Not only
is the nation buffeted from all sides with all forms of criticisms, it is now
confronts self-righteous characterizations and labeling, not in any way meant to
address its prevailing problems but to further diminish her international
standing, credibility or what is left of it.
As far as adjectival qualifications go, Nigeria is habitually a magnet for
the negatives, thanks to its own doings. Indeed, many defining attributes of bad
governance exist in different spheres of Nigeria’s officialdom. Though
consistently vexed, Nigerians have learned to take in stride, negative comments
about their country. Nigerians are
after all, recognized as the most trenchant of critics of their national
Nevertheless, even when all the negative qualifiers are
stacked up, there some notable clichés that would customarily be missing as
identifiers. Nigeria has never been deemed a
terrorist or terrorism-sanctioning state. Nigeria is not a rogue state and Nigeria is not a
failed state, even if it may exhibit some traits. Unsafe, crime-riddled,
corrupt, scam-haven and underdeveloped, yes; but certainly not “anarchic” – that
was until recently.
When earlier this month, UK-based
Economist magazine, in its editorial
of 11/11/2010 titled Thinking the Unthinkable,
characterized Nigeria as “anarchic”
and painfully in a context, where such consideration should not have applied, it
clearly went too far. Despite
is not anarchic. For all its ills, Nigeria has
remained largely, a nation-in-good-standing.
It has been a regional unifier and problem solver rather than a usurper
and it has never engaged in irredentism. Thus, the editorial, seemingly as
truthful as it was, amounts to nothing but a malicious denigration.
has its domestic and other challenges.
These are well known and hardly any secret. In the realm of foreign
policy and multilateralism, its standing and niche has dwindled discernibly,
largely of its own making and lack of focus, but such reality should never have
led to the conclusion that the nation is
“anarchic”, except of course, by someone with malicious intent.
In this context, this pundit finds the
Economist’s characterization of
Nigeria as “anarchic” most abhorrent
and skewed, particularly since it served as a basis for justifying the
magazine’s obvious preference and endorsement of South Africa over Nigeria as a
prospective permanent member of U.N. Security Council.
The Economist should have
declared South Africa
its sole choice and rested its case. To justify such candidacy by prefacing its
endorsement with this negative observation:
“In Africa, Nigeria is too anarchic despites its
size and supply of peace keepers. South Africa would be better,” is absolute
balderdash, tendentious and prejudiced, to say the least.
Those Nigerians, who have traveled to or resided in other
nations, understand and appreciate
fully, as a nation used to things going wrong. However, Nigeria hardly
shirks her international obligations. Indeed, Nigerians complain unceasingly
about the greater emphasis its successive governments give to foreign policy
concerns over domestic needs. It is
therefore, entirely unclear which of the synonyms the
Economist had in mind, when it tagged
lawless, chaotic, disordered, radical,
revolutionary, rebellious or all these combined?
For avoidance of doubt, anarchy connotes
“lack of government in a state”; and
an anarchist, is “one who opposes all
as far as I recall, has never challenged the prevailing global order. So, from
whence did the Economist draw its
It is quite ironical, that a British magazine would
conveniently tag a nation “anarchic”,
forgetting all too soon, how its own government falsely branded Iraq to be in possession of WMD, and
with that fabrication, orchestrated the invasion and destruction of that country
with the attending loss of countless innocent lives.
What could be more lawless or radical than such action?
As nation that was singularly instrumental to the destruction of modern
day Zimbabwe via international sanctions, all under the pretext of promoting
human rights and promoting democracy, it seems to me to that such a ruse by
Britain, simply to settle scores over disagreements with Zimbabwe on land reform
issues, ought to qualify as “anarchic”
or “revolutionary” more than anything
Labeling and stereotyping are touchy issues, which may be
tolerated on mundane matters, but should have no place in serious international
relations. The same applies to
collectivized criminalization of any nation, which in this instance, is clearly
insinuated. Undoubtedly, an editorial such as this rests on the operational
principles of giving a dog a bad name and that a nation or person with a sullied
reputation stands eternally impugned. In present instance, the editorial utterly
overlooked the possibility of national exculpation, rehabilitation or
redemption. History teaches of
various national turnarounds:
Libya’s present rapprochement and relationship
with the Western nations, Britain
included, is a classical example.
Economist’s editorial under reference goes well beyond rhetoric; it is a
preferential policy enunciation couched in clear and unambiguous terms. However,
who is to say that policies germane to African interest, and in this case, which
is the right country to represent Africa anywhere should be decided in the
peripheries of Whitehall or in the editorial boardrooms of its adjoining Fourth
I am ready to concede the relevance and viability of the
universal admission principles once articulated by
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles:
“The United Nations was not set up to be a reformatory. It was assumed that you
would be good before you got in and not that being in would make you good.”
Still, this doctrine does not apply either in spirit or in the normative
sense, to redressing the present imbalance and representational disequilibrium
of the U.N. Security Council.
That “African states
cannot choose between South Africa
Do you need a Muslim state? And if so which?” is a fair observation.
Even so, the fact is that Africans will eventually decide who will
represent them. Here is another pertinent and hard fact hardly acknowledged.
Today, every African nation is a member of the African Union; the same is not
true of European nations and the European Union. Interestingly, statistics exist
that indicate that the A.U. despite being larger in number, readily rally to a
consensus faster than the E.U. on accession, rotational and representational
matters. The representatives
Africa needs are those who have the gumption to stand and speak up
and do the heavy lifting when needed. African states must resist the lure of
cosmetic considerations as if they were in a beauty contest.
Africa, three nations often mentioned as
potential permanent seat candidates for the U.N. Security Council are Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.
Interestingly, while the Economist’s
editorial did make a pitch for the permanent seat membership of either Turkey or
Indonesia, on the account of both being Muslim countries, it conveniently
overlooked Egypt’s candidacy, as well as the fact that the balance often sought,
is on how the bridge the clash of civilizations and clashes between religions.
Was not mentioning Egypt
coincidental or was it overlooked because it also met the qualifier of being
for all its shortcomings, can boast of being a dominant democracy and a country
with a large but balanced Muslim and Christian population, and as such, capable
of representing those two seemingly disparate worldviews in every circumstance.
That said, Nigeria for its
part, has an obligation to clean up its overall act and confusing message it
sends out to the outside world. Whilst I do not subscribe to the
“anarchic” branding, one cannot wish
away such distractive labeling. The onus, therefore, is on the nation and those
who claim to be the captains of
Nigeria’s rebranding policies to do something
about the nation’s eroded and tarnished image. Certainly, no nation should be
taken seriously that does not take itself seriously, and this goes beyond
Yet those who fancy themselves as arbiters over
Africa’s fate and wellbeing and indeed, determiners of its place
under the sun, may do well understand that alliances of convenience are no
longer fashionable. This is more so for African nations that have been taken to
the cleaners perennially, but still come out not smelling like roses, because
the erstwhile colonial masters so decreed.
Here is my take: Pockets of nations that
qualify to be characterized as “anarchic” litter the globe.
One only needs to look at their
stability, environment, and insurrectional dispositions. We know them and I am
sure the Economist does, too.
Incidentally, some of them parade as reliable Western allies in newfound
All said, the world is ill served, when
subjective and idiosyncratic chauvinism is by legerdemain presented as reality
and gospel truth, in order to advance strategic national interest goals. The
recent editorial by the Economist is
one such case. On paper, the editorial may seem glib and harmless, but the
intent is evidently insidious.
neither anger nor partiality, until next time, keep the law, stay impartial, and
is a columnist for
His observations on Nigerian, African and global politics and related issues,
has appeared in various print media, journals and internet-based sites.
© Hank Eso,
28 November 2010.