America Will Not Save Nigeria

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Two days ago, US State department announced that the United States government has placed travel restrictions on Nigerians who undermine “democratic process or organize election-related violence” during elections. These unnamed politicians were targeted for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections, and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections.

I saw jubilation from Nigerians. They celebrated and thought that the inability of these individuals to travel to ‘God’s Own Country’ (whatever that means) would rein in these thuggish politicians.

It made for some entertainment as I scrolled from thread to thread.

How long do we have to persist in this myth that the West is coming to save us? This notion that there is a world police looking out for us.

No, they are not.

This much was said by Henry Kissinger, a former National Security Advisor, also venerated as a highly effective U.S. Secretary of State by many prominent international relations scholars. He said,

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”

I mean, look across Africa. Africa is the least democratic continent in the world if democracy means listening to the will of the people. While more and more elections are being held in Africa, they’re increasingly being dismissed as “lawful but illegitimate”, according to BBC’s Dickens Olewe.

On Tuesday, Côte d’Ivoire’s top court cleared the way for President Alassane Ouattara to seek a controversial third term.

Last month, Guinea’s governing party nominated President Alpha Conde to stand for a third term, taking advantage of a new constitution to circumvent a two-term limit on presidential mandates.

According to VoA, the average number of years sitting African presidents have held office is 10.29.

Isaias Afwerki has being leading Eritrea for 27 years.

Right beside us here, we have Idriss Déby who has led Chad for 30 years.

Uganda has had Yoweri Museveni leading for 34 years.

Denis Nguesso has been president of Republic of Congo for 36 years.

Africa has some of the world’s longest-serving heads of state. Leaders such as Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Paul Biya have been in power for over 40 years.

Unlike many of my contemporaries with whom we mostly think alike, I’m not rigidly averse to long-term leaders. Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore has been there for 16 years. Angela Merkel has been Federal Chancellor of Germany for 14 years. What I am miffed at is the evidence that all of Africa’s longest serving rulers have their countries in the category of the poorest countries on earth.

But I digress. America has not come to the aid of these poor African countries whose leaders circumvent constitutions and rig elections to hold on to power. So if anyone relies on the US State Department to rein in Nigerian leaders then they are grossly mistaken.

We have watched this movie before. Despite the killing by a letter bomb of Dele Giwa in 1986 by Ibrahim Babangida, what did Ronald Reagan do? Babangida pillaged the country yet an Assistant Secretary of State was considered a personal friend of the family.

Even though Sani Abacha was visibly unhappy about Bill Clinton’s outburst about him — he once told Rep. Bill Richardson, “Bill Clinton has done nothing but lead a campaign against me” — Abacha would likely be president today save for what I humorously consider ‘the greatest achievement of the Council of Nigerian Prayer Warriors (CNPW)’. Don’t bet that anything would have happened to him otherwise.

In April 2018, Donald Trump point-blank accused Muhammadu Buhari, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’ In the world that Nigerians have in their minds, Buhari would have been chary of allowing these killings which give the appearance of religious cleansing to go on abated, but here we are two years on and Nigeria has just been ranked last week by the Global Terrorism Index the third most terrorised country in the world, making it the most dangerous country to reside in in Africa.

In case my message is not obviously clear at this point, what I’m trying to say is that, America is not coming to save Nigeria.

No one is coming.

Only Nigerians can save Nigeria.

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