My article on the above (May 23 2013) elicited tons of responses, almost all favouring bringing them back (sense of shame will not even allow me to mention who ‘them’ here refers to). One surprising thing is that even responses from intellectuals also favour our asking ‘them’ to come back in one way or the other.
Below are some of the responses that I believe extended discussion in my article. They have been edited for space and grammar. I sincerely apologize that space does not permit me to publish more than these selections.
Nigeria be re-colonised? No! Outsource the public sector governance of the Nation!
I am an avid reader of your newspaper the “Daily Trust” and consider it one of the few newspapers that elevate issues of national discourse with the depth of seriousness and informed research relevant to educate your readers on issues of national interest. It is with this attitude that I read Jideofor Adibe’s column of Thursday May 23rd captioned “Should Nigeria be re-colonised?”.
The issue of Nigeria’s underperformances and disheartening and clumsy development outcome since the past 50years is traceable in part to our inability to transform from independence to nation building processes. The ethos and ethical values required for the independence and nation building is not the same. While we need lots of emotive values to promote and secure independence, nation building process requires a different set of values and orientation in leadership.
Successive Nigerian governments and leaders, particularly post-independence lacked the essential values needed to promote nation building and our leaders at independence failed to make that transition. Consequently Nigeria has been unable to build sound institutional framework to support the building of a nation.
When we compare countries like Zimbabwe, which was largely built by the Rhodesian whites and South Africa by the Anglo-Dutch-Boers, we note that these countries have solid institutions, sound governance value and ethos that support nation-building. This is in addition to solid infrastructure and broad-based industrial and agricultural capability that compare well to what you have in any western country.
Zimbabwe’s current predicament comes as a result of a leadership that has failed to make transition from independence to nation building. President Mugabe remains stuck to the accomplishments of independence and wants his people to continue to support him for his accomplishment during the pre-independence era. He forgets that there has been a huge demographic shift in the country. Most of the youth in Zimbabwe don’t know what it was to live under the oppressive regime of Ian Smith. They are interested in values that underpin sound economy, employment, industrial development, human rights and free speech etc. This is where Mandela towers above most African leaders. Having secured independence for his people, he handed over to a set of leaders who will be judged not on the basis what they did during the struggle for independence but how much they grow the economy and the nation and the issues of social justice for all.
Nigeria did not make this transition and we need to explore how to evolve new set of leaders whose performance would be judged on capacity for nation build. This is going to be very difficult and my proposal is rather than ask to re-colonise Nigeria, we should demand the outsourcing of governance of our public and social sector in Nigeria. We can leave the politics for Nigerian political elite but outsource the management of the economy to a group of international development institutions and agencies with clear terms of reference regarding what we want them to accomplish within a 10-15years period and with clear undertaking that the rights of Nigerian should be protected.
Outsourcing Nigeria is the best solution if we are to catch up. UAE virtually works on this strategy so also other nations. They may not call it outsourcing but they have always sourced international companies to deliver on critical national infrastructure and services.
Charles Achodo, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Should Nigeria be re-colonized?
When I read your article, the memory that flashed in my mind’s eyes were the volleys of polemical pyrotechnics that a similar issue had provoked between the late South African anthropologist, Professor Archie Mafeje and Professor Ali Mazrui which was published in volume two of the 1995 CODERSRIA Bulletin. The cause of this verbal crossfire derived from an article Ali Mazrui had published in the International Herald Tribune on the fourth of August 1994 entitled: Decaying Parts of Africa Need Benign Colonization. So pissed-off was Archie Mafeje that, in an unputdownably elegant and racy prose—and, I strongly recommend Archie’s critique and Mazrui’s response to students of African Studies—he had called for the head of this ‘servant of imperialism.’ Wondering whether Mazrui’s essay was a case of ‘intellectual bankruptcy or self-prostitution’, he posited that: ‘Ali Mazrui’s discourse on ‘benign colonization’ is intellectually bankrupt, analytically superficial, sensational and downright dishonest’.
Notwithstanding Ali Mazrui’s defence that he only called for Africa’s ‘self-pacification or self-colonisation’, I took side with Mafeje, as am sure, many African scholars would have taken. It was easier to thread this path giving the intellectual ambience of the period that thrived on the sentiments of anti-Westernization and imperialism. I had personally fed fat on the diet of pan-Africanism, and drank to my fill from the ideological waters that flowed from the calabash of Marxist revolutionary radicalism. Mazrui was therefore rightly hoisted in his petard, so it was, for daring to conjecture an imperial vocabulary with all its attendant unforgettable images of self-humiliation and dehumanization of Africans as a framework of governance in independent Africa.
Many years of graduation and exposure to a potpourri of experiences as a result of the suspension of the theoretical contract, like you, I also experienced these exasperating moments. It can be very difficult keeping the flag flying what with the malaises of underdevelopment, poverty, large-scale killings and devaluation of human life, etc. The story of development in post-colonial Africa seems to be cast in the mode of self-fulfilling the prophecy of the Hamitic Hypothesis. Could it be this kind of moment that led one of Africa’s revolutionary radicals the late Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem to say that, ‘…if an American ship came to Lagos with a signboard calling for slaves to climb on board, a line of candidates would be five kilometres long’ (see Okello Oculi article, ‘Celebrating or Mocking Education’ Daily Trust May 10, 2013, p: 62).
These are indeed really trying times to be an African, nay Nigerian. But we need not despair. However, one thing we must eschew is whipping the dead colonial horse to wake up and answer for our failings as a people, fifty years plus after independence— a lot of commentators are wont to bask in this point with analytical flourish. Colonial scapegoatism is a major obstruction to clear thinking in postcolonial Africa because it serenades us in fanciful flights of self-denial. We must of necessity eschew primordial rationalizations of the development discourse and in its stead place premium on the values and ethics of modern civilization and development, on meritocracy, on the exercise of our scientific imagination and on the promotion of good governance and accountability, etc. Thank you.
Dr. Atah Pine, High Level, Makurdi, Benue State by email: email@example.com
Dear Mr Adibe,
Mr Adibe, I share your sentiments and reasons for thinking in that direction. I was in South Africa last year for the Cup of Nations. While conversing with our black taxi driver on their problems coming out of apatheid and the level of development, the man said that “yes we suffered during apatheid but do you think this country can be such developed without the whiteman”. So rather than re-colonisation I suggest we hire whitemen to manage our key sectors; oil, power, railways, roads, anti- corruption etc. When you visit IITA Ibadan being led by a whiteman you will see what I mean. Cheers.
Abubakar Ladan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
This question that you asked has been bothering me since I myself visited South Africa in 2008. I was indeed amazed at the level of development. Good roads, potable cold & water from the tap and the infrastructure are same with the developed world. I then regretted the hurried independence that has left us in the malaise and in this season of our anomie that we have found ourselves.
I am a strong advocate of recolonization. I am tired of leaving in the 18th century. I am not an illiterate. I possess a Ph.D. but life has not dealt us a fair deal in Nigeria. I was in Zimbabwe immediately they got their independence. They were well developed.
As highly placed as I am I cannot get a brand new car because the terms of engagement are killing and you have to pay through your nose to do that. That happens only in Nigeria because government does not regulate anything. All the regulating agencies are on the side of big business rather than the other way round. You can only buy a new car if you steal government money.
If it is not for El-Rufai some of us would not have been able to buy a house in our own country. You have to be in a schedule that enables you to have interface with sources of money to make it in Nigeria. I could go on and on. I could write a thesis on the need for re-colonization.