Re-examining Nigeria

No Comments » January 21st, 2009 posted by // Categories: General Articles

A letter titled “Nigerians and Botswana” published in The Guardian of Sunday 18th January 2009, and sent in by Ifeoma Ogbodo from Lagos caught my eye. The letter basically drew our attention to the treatment being meted out to Nigerians by the Government of the Southern African country of Botswana. The letter recounted that the Government of Botswana in January 2008 banned the employment of Nigerian health and other professionals in their public sector including doctors, pharmacists, lecturers etc on the grounds that Nigerians are crooks. Other people banned are Indians, Pakistanis and people from Bangladesh for various reasons.



What made me want to comment on this phenomenon is that such xenophobic attitude towards Nigeria from our supposed African brothers and sisters has been going on for a long time, and our leaders and Government still play “Big Brother” to many of these often belligerent African countries, who never have anything positive to say about us.



  • As far back as the mid-60s, just after the independence of most African colonies, Nigerians were the Chief Justices of countries like Uganda and Gambia, where they were very much instrumental in setting up the judiciary of those countries.


  • We know what Nigerians soldiers did to help end the upheavals in countries like Congo, now Zaire, in the 60s; Angola in the 70s; Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 80s and 90s, and we have our soldiers in Sudan currently.




  • And we all know about the commitment of Nigeria in supplying electricity to neighbouring West African states despite our own perennial, epileptic and almost non-existent power supply. Add to that is the fact that we virtually give our neighbours free petroleum every time.


  • Presently, Nigerian students make up about 60% of the earnings in Ghanaian Universities – no thanks to ASUU’s incessant strike actions in Nigeria and our epileptic and irrational education policies.



  • Following his release from Robben Island in 1990, Nigeria was one of the first countries that, that greatest of Africans, Nelson Mandela visited to express his thanks.


  • Furthermore, after democratic institutions took root in the Republic of South Africa, they were supported by the academia drawn from Nigerian universities, who to-date, are still making homes and shaping the academic structure of their different institutions. Among the earliest are Professor Adamu Baiki – Vice Chancellor, University of Lesotho, Professor Ambrose Adebayo, Head of Architecture, University of Natal, Durban, just to name a few.



Re-read the essay again: The writer simply said there are all sorts of people everywhere. Since it is human nature to want to eat without working, to enjoy where they have not sown, it is therefore a unilateral law that there are bound to be crooks all over the world. Now, about Nigeria and her neighbours; again, there are many reasons why Nigerian government officials press for certain things – look at the Technical Aid Corps Programme Scheme. The idea was very laudable and commendable, but most of it was whenever Nigerian government officials see how they would benefit from a programme is it ever recommended to the policy-makers. Millions of Dollars would be siphoned to individual pockets, so the programme must continue…




“our leaders are selling us cheap all over the world. If they developed and made it interesting and rewarding to practice ones’ skills at home, foreigners will come to buy our services at great prices. That is why people come to England, France, Germany and America. These so-called developed world developed their peoples and environment and make it worthwhile for their people – and indeed, useful foreigners – to thrive in their countries”.  Gbadamosi advised that we should promote ourselves first before looking outward.


a soon as possible. I think it is long overdue”.



Certainly, and there is no doubt about this, Nigeria is not an island, and we do have a lot to learn from our neighbours, not only in Africa, but the whole world. A recent example is the seamless and trouble free, perfect elections in Ghana. Other countries in Africa, previously thought to be ”inferior” to Nigeria, are unifying their peoples, maximizing and managing their meager resources to develop, progress and  better the lives of their peoples  at such pace that Nigeria has been totally left behind and struggling to catch up.  Incidentally, and ironically, Nigeria and Nigerians have contributed, and are still contributing, immensely to several of these other countries’ developments and progress. Nigerian banks and other entrepreneurs are springing up all over Africa. In the Gambia, and elsewhere in West Africa, Nigerian-owned hotels are supporting their thriving tourism industries, albeit with money stolen by Nigerian leaders. Even, there are rumours that a Nigerian ex-Governor owns an oil refinery in South Africa, and in his own country, the refineries do not work. Our armed forces are training the Liberian and Sierra Leonean armed forces, after helping to end the civil wars and upheavals in those countries, with the accompanying loss of Nigerian lives.  Nowadays, South Africans are running our communications industry and TV industries, and in the process remitting billions of dollars to their own country from what they make in a country of 140 million mobile phone- and football-obsessed country. And even illegally are the thousands of barrels of our petroleum that find their way to the Republic of Benin and Togo and Ghana, and even Cameroon.


Why, there was even talk of Cameroon preparing to go to war with Nigeria, backed by France, if we had not agreed to cede the Bakassi Peninsula to them, all because of the oil from that region. As a matter of fact Cameroonian gendarmes and soldiers were routinely and boldly raiding Bakassi villages and killing our soldiers and civilians. Yet, Nigeria, under Obasanjo, maintained the “Big Brother” stance and hardly retaliated.  For ages, Malian and Chadian forces had been raiding inside northern Nigeria with impunity, and some northern villages even pay taxes to these countries.


Yes, our corrupt leaders are selling us cheap. Ironically, again, whenever there is any sign of trouble in our African brother’s countries, their top officials and even Presidents are in Abuja, smiling and sucking up to our leaders, and they go away, with something. But what do we know? The next thing they are making policies and laws that ban Nigerians from coming and working in their countries, citing Nigeria’s corruption, fraudulent practices, drug-smuggling, as if themselves are not corrupt and as sinful as any other people. Even recently, Nigerians were set upon in South Africa and killed and maimed.


So what do we do? The answers have been given above by Adewolu, Gbadamosi, Egboka, Oladele and Ogbodo. President Yar ‘Adua and Ojo Maduekwe, our Foreign Minister need to work on this, but can they?


“Pick the splinter in your eye first before you attempt to pick the log out of somebody else’s eyes”. Our own people in Nigeria are even faring much worse than the citizens of the countries we are always helping.


Some Big Brother!


MEANWHILE,  congratulations and the best of luck and success to the 44th President of the United States of America, President Barack Hussein Obama, sworn in today – 20th January 2009 – and making history. Suffice it to say I thank God for letting me witness this historic occasion in my lifetime.


lives and works in London, UK. A graduate of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1979) and University of Manitoba, Canada (1985), he also writes on topical issues for newspapers and internet media including, Nigeria Today Online, Nigerians In America, Nigeria Village Square, Champions Newspaper,, African News Switzerland, New Nigerian Politics,,,  Nigerian Muse, etc. an organisation devoted to celebrating genuine progress, excellence, commitment, selfless and unalloyed service to Nigeria and Nigerians

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