When President Goodluck Jonathan suddenly fell ill last weekend in London, rumours of likely cause went viral.
SAHARA REPORTERS had suggested the illness was due to revelry at President Jonathan’s birthday. Even when presidential handlers promptly reported Jonathan’s indisposition, many chose to believe otherwise.
That President Jonathan re-appeared again, within 24 hours, merely deepened suspicions about happenings behind presidential closed doors in London. Nigerians’ skepticism about presidential information betrayed the near-total lack of faith in their rulers.
They have been caught pants down too many times telling unconscionable lies, that even an issue of human fallibility as an indisposition, that should draw sympathy, makes Nigerians suspicious that they might be victims of spin and outright lies. There is very little trust between rulers and the ruled.
But the more fundamental issue that should worry us was not presidential indisposition, no matter how serious, but the reason Jonathan was in London in the first place. We will return to that point. It is important to note the deep-seated inferiority complex at the heart of the Nigerian ruling class political and social intercourse.
It seems of very recent origins and can be situated with the civilian administration in 1999. Hitherto, there was a sense of dignified comportment by Nigerian rulers, with independence in 1960.
The Balewa administration was often described by sections of the Southern Nigerian elite and media as “conservative”; yet videos on Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa’s visits to the US/UN, reveal a man of dignity, poise and incredible mastery of the English language, who stood toe-to-toe with leading imperialist politicians of his time.
When France tested atomic weapons in the Sahara Desert, he promptly broke diplomatic relations. And the ANC in South Africa and Nelson Mandela, remember that Tafawa Balewa was Africa’s first leader that gave the ANC substantial money for the liberation war against apartheid. Even Kwame Nkrumah, ever-strong on pan-African rhetoric, did not give the financial support that “conservative” Balewa offered!.
Under military administrations, Nigeria consistently had a radical foreign policy posture, standing firmly for African liberation. Murtala Muhammed’s speech to OAU’s Extraordinary Conference on Angolan independence was Nigeria’s finest diplomatic hour.
Nigeria opposed imperialist machinations; it rallied to support for MPLA against UNITA and FNLA puppets of apartheid and imperialism. Nigeria’s decisiveness was in tandem with Cuban military support that defeated apartheid South Africa, and decisively broke the backbone of apartheid’s army eventually in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.
That hastened Namibia’s independence and strategically brought apartheid’s demise. Even Abacha was fiercely nationalistic and never brooked imperialist nonsense!
Things changed when Obasanjo returned to power in 1999. Obasanjo, who in a previous incarnation, had nationalized British Petroleum, BP, to force British hands in the Zimbabwean independence struggle; the veteran soldier who railed against the depredations of Babangida’s Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, demanding that the vicious, nation-wrecking programme be invested with a human face, suddenly made a reactionary volte-face, by 1999.
Obasanjo returned from incarceration a very embittered man. More fundamentally, he had abandoned nationalistic pretensions and became indescribably condescending to leading imperialist politicians and had swallowed, line, hook and sinker, their neo-liberal economic policies.
As Editor of DAILY TRUST during the Obasanjo’s years, I was invited severally to briefings, while I participated in many interview sessions with him. It always surprised me, watching Obasanjo drop names of leading imperialist politicians as his friends; and he wore a groveling House Nigger smile in photo-ops with imperialist politicians.
This inferiority complex triggered a very bad row with former Army Chief of Staff, General Victor Malu. Obasanjo surrendered to US demands for access to Nigerian military and national security doctrines. Under the guise of teaching peacekeeping tactics, Americans got access to Defence HQ. Malu disagreed, pointing out that Nigeria had a distinguished peace keeping tradition and should teach Americans, not the other way round.
As in defense, so in the Nigerian economy, where our surrender to neo-liberal doctrine was total: privatization of assets into the hands of cronies; dismantling of social spending on health, education and services for Nigerians; wholesale importation of “experts” trained to do imperialism’s bidding; and the institution of an ethos of plunder, theft and a doctrine of dog-eat-dog, as the ruling orthodoxy in our country.
The arrival of Americans/Europeans on sundry visitations, leads to displays of groveling servitude by Nigerian rulers, almost as if they’ve undergone a severe form of lobotomy, and have completely unlearned how to do anything positive.
Their so-called experts are more interested in ratings by imperialist institutions than the endorsement of the Nigerian people. The more devastation they visit upon socio-economic conditions of Nigerians, the greater they crave imperialist institutions’ ratings.
This explains the continued to-ing and fro-ing of discredited imperialist politicians like Tony B-liar into Nigeria. He regularly leads delegations to cut deals here, even when he cannot walk freely in London. The same is true of the so-called Honorary International Investors’ Council led by Baroness Lynda Chalker. It is one of the expressions of inferiority complex by Obasanjo, which somehow, survived into the Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations.
Yet it is absolute rubbish! The Nigerian government statement released on the council’s most recent meeting announced that: “The meeting of…(NHIIC) is coordinated by Baroness Lynda Chalker and will feature a review of Nigeria’s existing investment policies by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based international organisation dedicated topolicies that…improve…economic and social well-being of people around the world (This is a LIE! OECD promotes imperialist interests and the continued exploitation of neo-colonial countries/peoples around the world!)”.
The statement added that: “Members of the council (NHIIC) include the Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, Muhammed al Shaibani; a former South African Minister of public enterprises, Mr. Alec Erwin; Vice President Hewlett-Packard’s Enterprise Group in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mr. Oliver Suinat, and a former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shaukat Aziz and the Director of Shell’s International Upstream Business, Mr. Andrew Brown”.
These supposedly are the international jet-set Baroness Chalker co-ordinates that took a Nigerian presidential entourage to London. It is a very expensive fraud that we can do without! THE NATION newspaper’s HARDBALL column of Monday and Tuesday, this week, also weighed in on the absurdity and on Tuesday, November 26 stated inter alia: “Without any disrespect to her, Baroness Lynda Chalker of Wallasey was a FORMER MINISTER OF STATE at the United Kingdom Foreign Office. She was also a member of the British Parliament representing Wallasey.
Ms Chalker, who is now an international consultant, is chairman of Africa Matters Limited, a consulting firm which specialises in African business. NHIIC is a sweet-heart organ floated by Ms Chalker during the reign of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo”. It had stated on Monday that: “NHIIC is Mrs Chalker’s colonial contraption to coral contracts from Nigeria”.
The column asked whether South African President, Jacob Zuma would arrive in London to discuss with some fictitious foreign investors: “Which of the names being bandied…measures up to a Nigeria serving minister if we had our heads well screwed on…
What then is the President of Nigeria, the biggest Black nation in the world, doing presiding over a meeting in far away London with retired and inconsequential people from inconsequential places? I will like to remind Reuben Abati to hold a CD of Fela’s song, ‘COLO MENTALITY”, the next time they meet. I also volunteer to loan him my copy!