Weighing in with a population of 221 million, Nigeria’s by far the most populous state in Africa – and one of the major sources of our population, with persons having been dragged across the Atlantic as slaves for the European plantations. That alone should be reason enough for us to keep an eye on how the Nigerians are doing. Another would be to check out their fortunes as an oil-producing nation; since 1972, producing almost 2 mbd! And a third would be to see how democracy’s faring, since the Americans predicted that Africa would’ve been a better guide to Guyana’s trajectory than the rest of the British Caribbean! And how right they’ve been!!
Well, right now, the Nigerians are in the throes of an election for a president and vice president. So, at least they’re still going to the polls to choose their leaders, instead of staging coups and civil wars. Following Ghana’s independence in 1957, Nigeria got theirs in 1960, and became a republic in 1963. While everyone was of the same race, Nigeria had hundreds of tribes and cultures. Ethnic strife soon led to military coups, and military groups ruled the country from 1966 to 1979, and from 1983 to 1999. The civil war between the federal Government and the former eastern region of Biafra (1967–70) ended in Biafra’s surrender after the death by starvation of perhaps a million Biafrans. Religious differences between the north (Muslim) and the south (Christian and native religions) produced another source of deep-seated conflict that’s not too far from the surface. Very importantly for our edification, the production of oil didn’t help resolve the various conflicts, but instead led to more conflicts over rampant corruption in the oil industry.
But while your Eyewitness has highlighted some of the challenges facing Nigeria, he must also point out that those are not only political, but economic. The growth rate is an anaemic 3% – which is wiped out for the average citizen by 22% inflation and massive power supply problems!
But…to return from where we started, since 1999, they’ve stuck with democratic elections in spite of the bleak circumstances. There have been two major parties competing for office since then, but this time a third force has been cobbled together, and its leader has just won the largest city – Lagos!! It’s doubtful he’ll be able to win it all, but his message of changing the moribund system of the old politics is resonating with the younger voters. He’ll certainly introduce a measure of fluidity into the system, and possibly lead to a new runoff if one of the two “old guards” don’t get the majority.
Good luck to them – since they’re supposed to be a harbinger of our future!!
Haiti’s another country to which we’re tied in one way or another – but mainly “another”, by being the two poorest countries in the hemisphere ever since the dictators Duvalier and Burnham got through with us!! After all your Eyewitness’s updates, you know how dire their situation is! Imagine they qualified as a “failed state” to receive American ministrations, but nothing’s been done, cause the lawmakers believe they’re too far gone. To attempt to assist would be to guarantee they’d fail and look bad!!
But we can’t give up on our own, can we?? So, your Eyewitness is very proud that Jamaican PM Holness is taking the bull by the horns and pushing Caricom to assist the local Haitian Police Force to bring some kind of order.
From where we stand, it’s clear that the situation is very complex, so only fools would rush in where even the Americans are afraid to thread.
As Joyce said, “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!”
…and the PNC
The PNC’s in worse shape than your Eyewitness thought, after he saw the drivel written by one of the PNC’s “young brigade”. If they’re still holding the biggest failure in the Caribbean as their model, they’re doomed!!