Nigeria for as long as Africa became conscious of her sovereignty after colonialism has been described as the giant of Africa. In the past this made Nigerians beam with contagious smiles, today it seems rather embarrassing. The term African’s giant as applied to Nigeria connotes magnificence in terms of population and economy, since both have an obvious effect on the continent.
This reference is not far from logic since Nigeria has a population of over 180 million, the largest in Africa and 7th in the world. One of the largest population of youths. The nation is blessed with over 500 ethnic groups and 500 languages. It ranks 6th worldwide and first in Africa when it comes to farm output, with over 19 million cattle heads (the largest in Africa). An oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day (now, slightly below that, owing to the activities of the “Niger Delta Avengers”). An economy with over 70 million labour force. Nigeria is considered an emerging market by the World Bank, has been identified as a regional power in the continent, a middle power in international affairs and an emerging global power. Named one of the highest in economic potential (M.I.N.T); comprising Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.
With such a profile being referred to as the giant of Africa only fits naturally like giant shirts on sumo wrestlers and just like sumo wrestlers an earned title has to be defended. These sumo wrestlers just don’t earn titles and fold their big hands and bath in the glory and fame. They put on their funny looking pants and go out there and prove their mettle, time after time.
Has Nigeria been worthy of that title? The description, giant of Africa should have a father Abraham ring to it; a protector, a provider, a trail blazer. But, does the present image of Nigeria fit that profile?
Every nation has its peculiarities. Nonetheless Nigeria has been on the news for the wrong reasons. It’s almost predictable what the news- anchor will say. It ranges from explosions by the Niger Delta Avengers to kidnapping of expatriates and locals (including clergymen ) and sometimes their executions, even though the ransom money has been paid, to child rights abuses and auto-crashes resulting in deaths, sometimes of highly placed individuals, due to the poor conditions our roads. And Boko Haram! We can’t forget Boko Haram.
It might sound rather pessimistic, but the truth is usually not sugar coated like a doughnut. We are not living up to expectations. Wait! That wasn’t said right; we are living below expectations, below our potential, below the pride, passion and vision of our founding fathers. They might probably cringe in their coffins at the rate we are going because the unresolved clash between farmers and herdsmen still exist. Universities are still pouring out graduates in droves to meet the unemployed army; in addition to this workers are being retrenched. Electoral violence and malpractice is still the tale at the end of the day. Uninterrupted blackout is the rule rather than the exception. This image, a giant of Africa, is slowly becoming a mirage rather than the reality perceived through light rays reflected upon our retinas. In other words, if the prowess of giant of Africa is disseminated flowery though the media and what average Nigerians are seeing (suffering?) is not in tandem with such. Then propaganda is dancing to the called-tune of he who paid the piper.
Giant of Africa and the president of Nigeria has to leave the country for an ear check up? Our medical facilities are barely the top rated in Africa? Giant of Africa they say and the nation’s universities are not reflecting on the Africa’s top universities? The more you look the less you see, it’s like staring into a telescope covered by a black cloth. Giant of Africa and our light bulbs are more like figurines because there’s hardly electricity lightening them up. Giant of Africa?
Nigeria has no doubt been a positive impact to the African continent; a crystalline example is its effective peacekeeping missions. Adesoji Adeniyi in his PEACEKEEPING CONTRIBUTION PROFILE: NIGERIA stated that “Nigeria provided for UN peacekeepers to Congo (ONUC) from 1960-1664. As the preponderant power in West Africa, Nigeria has been the main provider of military and other resources for ECOWAS peace operations to the tune of US$8 billion in its various missions in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone.” As a founding member of ECOWAS and AU, Nigeria has tried to tackle African challenges through an all-embracing front, compromising collaborative efforts from other African countries.
But charity begins at home, and in spite of this impressive profile, before Africa can really benefit from Nigeria’s true potential, the latter has to internally modify its modus operandi and tackle its socio-economic and domestic security issues.
If indeed Nigeria is the Giant of Africa; the proud nation of the continent then nothing but poor leadership has stooped its shoulders and now it walks with a false hunch back. This, however, can be remedied and corrected. The re-posturing needed here is a style of governance that is all-embracing, with the welfare of the people at the core of its agenda. Experts on economy opined that the economy of Nigeria improved and became the best in Africa; the irony is as the economy improved and the GDP increased, so did the margin between the rich and the poor. So the equation is more millionaires and more hungry stomachs. An increased GDP should also increase the flesh around the rib cages of the masses. This just illustrates that the welfare of the people has not been the priority of the past administrations.
Health enhances growth, and health sustains growth in an organism. The smallest of cells have to be taken care of for the body to enjoy longevity. More so cancers start as a single bad cell. So the same thing applies to the Nigerian situation. To enhance and sustain our growth as the giant of Africa, then the masses, the constituting cells need not be neglected.
It seems our leaders are ignorant of the advantages of human capital. With such a population, there are vast potentials and talents lying about untapped; locked because of the degrading and disincentive environment and condition. Coupled with the corruption that strangles the vitals of this nation (Nigeria). Whatever profits, improvements, development, or achievements made by the country, it all goes to the elite, the top-notch (this reminds one of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm-all animals are equal but some are more equal than others) and the scraps are insufficiently distributed among the masses. And we expect growth? The Giant of Africa will soon turn to the dwarf of the continent if all theses persist.
In the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-sense, it seems there’s a new sheriff in town with change for a badge. Then we hope the light at the end of the tunnel is actually a reflection of a new dawn, an exit from this labyrinth of darkness and not an oncoming train.
Let’s reassert our position as the giant of Africa. The nation (Nigeria) has too much potential and natural resources to wallow in mediocrity.
And in the words of James Allen:
“They who would accomplish little must sacrifice little;
they who would achieve much must sacrifice much;
They who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
Barka da Sallah!
Articles by guest writers are the opinions of the authors and not those of Eureka Magazine.