Eleventh Hour Patriots and Emergency Nationalists By Chris Ngwodo
In response to the arrival of American (and international) assistance to recover the missing girls of Chibok, there is suddenly a lot of pseudo-nationalistic chatter about Western imperialism and protecting our national sovereignty. Some clarification is necessary. Unfortunately, the ship of sovereignty sailed and sank a while ago. We should have worried about sovereignty when groups like Boko Haram and MEND first emerged to violently prosecute their agenda.
Sovereignty is often in the eyes of the beholder. But a nation that cannot secure its borders; where a psychotic extremist cult is terrorizing vast swathes of the population; where half a million people have been displaced with many taking refuge in neighbouring countries; where pirates are running riot in its coastal waters – is a sovereignty-deficient entity.
Sovereignty is also psychological. It is derived from the quantum of faith and confidence that citizens have in the constituted authority’s ability to address their security and welfare.
Sovereignty is also what the political leadership makes of it. Some years ago, President Jonathan returned from the US and wondered aloud why Nigerians had the temerity to criticize his administration when President Obama had been praising his leadership. The fact that he was elected by the Nigerian people and not appointed by Obama did not come up. In his last media parley, the president shrugged off the disappearance of $20 billion because, in his words, “America will know” if such a sum were to go to missing.
No proud Nigerian would fail to cringe at these remarks. But to be fair, Americophilia is a Nigerian disease. It is the compulsive self-loathing that compels us to idealize America, to prefix every argument with a reference to it, and to unfavourably compare ourselves to a 200 year plus old democracy at every turn.
Let us dispense with the false nationalism and eleventh-hour patriotism; and enough of these delusional pretensions about being the giant of Africa. To be sure, we should be a regional power but we are evidently not ready to bear such a mantle. No serious sovereign country, much less a regional power, would countenance the wanton slaughter and abduction of its citizens by terrorist groups. No serious leadership would wait over a fortnight before issuing a reaction to the theft of its children.
Our national symbol is the eagle but really sometimes I think it should be the peacock. We are often needlessly proud. We strut around with a hubristic arrogance that prevents us from learning and evolving beyond our mediocrity. But as Cornel West once said, “Peacocks strut because they can’t fly.”
You cannot, as a class, plunder your own country and invest your loot in the West and then turn around and cry “Western imperialism” when your country has to be saved from your larcenies. You cannot wink at terrorism, raise a generation in a climate of sectarian violence, shrug at the slaughter of those of other faiths and ethnicities, and then feign patriotic rage when other nations demonstrate more value for human life than you do. You don’t pillage your resources and let crumbling vital services like healthcare and education become direly dependent on foreign aid and international NGOs and then turn round to bray about sovereignty. You don’t wait for CNN and the BBC to take you to task about the fate of your own missing citizens before deigning to address the matter, and then turn round to bleat about imperialism.
Humility demands that we seek help from those who can give it. Humanity demands that we do so, if this is what it will take to save the missing girls of Chibok. Perhaps, in the process we may learn badly needed lessons about how we should treat each other and how sovereign states should value the lives of their citizens. This situation calls for shame, humility and a resolve to be better, not pride and bluster.
So let the Americans come, and the Brits, the French and the Chinese. Let them help us find our girls. If we need them to decisively crush this insurgency, so be it. One way or the other, perhaps their presence will prevent us from mismanaging ourselves into extinction.
So it is alright to be angry. But do not be angry at a world that wants to help us or those who will not let us become accustomed to excusing savagery and incompetence. Instead, be angry at those who are insistent on making us an international basket case and a global punch line; be angry at those who worship power and will flood its altars with innocent blood to achieve their ends; be enraged at those who politicize the suffering of the terrorized; be angry at our own self-subverting capacity for anointing the most mediocre and venal among us to lead. Let us be angry at all these plagues and then get down to the urgent work of building a better nation.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org