This discourse is very important to me because it will afford me the chance to highlight some of the hidden undercurrents that underline relations between nations, especially between so-called Third World countries and the developed ones. Before I go into the main body of this essay, let me take the liberty to mention Chief Lai Ashadele, an avid reader of this column and a regular respondent to issues discussed here. His reactions inspire just as they intrigue. I give it to him that he provoked today’s discourse through questions he raised: two of such responses were particularly instructive. The first was when he said everyone that has served in public office is corrupt. I found the remark bogus yet very interesting. From the social science courses I had at the University of Nigeria, I already knew it is a common phenomenon and an easy resort by oppressed masses in a depressed economy to see everybody that has had one thing or the other to do with power as either corrupt or an enemy responsible for their woes. If the nation is pillaged, this stereotyping is extended to include top salary earners and businessmen. This kind of thinking is often the root for popular revolt.
Yet this line of thought is not suitable for a backward society; it kills the spirit of patriotism and has the capacity to make public service unattractive. Criminalizing holding of public office also invariably rubbishes the dignity of a people, their nation and makes them of low esteem in the eyes of the outside world.
When the entire leadership class is being rubbished what it means is that such a society is deficient in human capital and if it is so the deduction would be that the society lacks sound organization, hence not a good place to do business, because the people can’t be trusted to keep set standards. The developed world teaches us to disgrace and shame our leaders for all manner of reasons, but those with critical eyes would have observed one thing that those that teach us to act in a particular way don’t themselves follow such paths. Check the level of publicity they give to their leaders who make mistakes and the treatment and compare what we do here.
We scream to high heaven and say it doesn’t matter even though it ought to matter especially for those who know the struggles that go on in the development of nations. In this competition, how you project yourself determines what comes to you. When developed nations treat us condescendingly and make us of little consequence, it is not only because we are yet to develop our productive sectors, it is mainly because of what we say about ourselves and what we accept publicly to be. If you call yourself a dog, that is what people would believe and that is how they will relate to you.
The life of a nation is like that of a family, a family can do all the quarrels inside and still come outside to look like saints so long nobody from the inside comes to the market place to wash what should be their dirty linens in public. The western world that urges us to speak or write and even make headlines of our bad behaviour doesn’t do so themselves. A critical observation of their media even in current times would confirm my position. I’ve said before that we demean ourselves when we go to the market place to parrot our bad sides. We all may agree on this, but I am sure what is not very clear to us is the level of damage we cause to the developmental process and ourselves by our recourse to such a process. I know because of the hunger in the land that such an approach provokes bickering, and unnecessary tension; it blurs vision and tends to keep a people perpetually off-track. It gives foreigners opportunity to intrude into our affairs not for altruistic objectives. Hajia Aisha Wakil who is commonly known as Mama Boko Haram was reported by the media on August 29, 2016, to have said that the rescue of a good number of the abducted Chibok girls was in process when suddenly our national media carried on the front page and on primetime television pictures of Mrs. Michelle Obama holding a placard with the inscription Bring Back Our Girls. This, she said, gave the barbarians fulfillment that their actions had received international attention. That is one example of the harm we do when we say everything must be published on the front page.
When we celebrate Boko Haram, Niger-Delta Militants, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), kidnappers, Fulani herdsmen, religious and ethnic bigotry, what we are saying perhaps without knowing, is that we are not one people with one destiny and more than that, we are confirming that we have no nation, not to talk of a safe one. It is ironic to build our hope on foreign investors (I don’t believe in them) and at the same time confirming by our own words that our society is hostile and inhabitable. By now we should know that the developed world don’t want the undeveloped ones to develop and they would do anything including wiping out a good portion of the population of the undeveloped ones so long they can have their way and maintain the monopoly in the world affairs.
Any development from the Third World to the First World is a loss of business to the developed world and for them, such a progress is considered a path to possible annihilation to their citizens and as such they are ready to throw in anything including introduction of new diseases to have their way, and such efforts usually begin from bad or compromised press. Those who want evidence can take a look at Iraq, where they began with Saddam as a dictator and ended up destroying both the nation and the people. What about Gadaffi and the Libya of today?
In Syria we began hearing of dictatorship and the need for democracy but today, the people have neither their lives nor their country. The nation is not only ruined, the citizens have become unwilling slaves in various western capitals. The other example would be from Brazil where the Olympics ended just a few days ago. Brazil is pushing seriously to enter into the class of the industrialized world and that is what the developed world would not want others to see especially people like us from the Third World because what we see could inspire us. What do they do? They began the propaganda war using the media. First it was that Brazil was politically unstable; when that didn’t work, they came up with unpreparedness and when this failed, they came with the bombshell of Zika virus conveyed by mosquitoes which means nobody could be safe at all. The tool of this devilish propaganda was of course the media, both formal and informal. Guess what, underdeveloped nations where in the forefront of reporting it.
I like the reports of two of our journalists, Ade Ojeikere of The Nation newspaper and George Aluo of The Sun, both said they looked for Zika and could not find it while in Brazil. Does that offer any lessons? Last week the American Ambassador came again with the odd story that Boko Haram is set to bomb Kano and Lagos, yet again we gave it headline treatment as if he’s the intelligence head of Nigeria, even if he were. Truth and profitability cannot be expedient all the time, sometimes we can publish or broadcast in minute forms, sometimes we can leave out. Fela was correct when he said learn but use your head.