Giant of Africa. Or Sitting Duck?
Okay, I always think up all sorts of what my mum would call “iranu” on the ride to work. Thought I should share today’s own.
Since I’ve been a kid, until now that I’m in my thirties, two recurring things have been sold as Nigeria’s potential. First up is out “vast population”. Never mind that we don’t really know how many we are. Second is that we are resource rich. So we’re definitely inevitably on our way to greatness.
See, if you read world history well, you’ll see a pattern where a small group (country, city, state) leveraged two things and dominated their larger, more resource rich neighbors. Those smaller guys would start with visionary leaders who would sell their vision and weld their own people together. Then they would begin to fight their neighbors to do two things — take resources either by unequal trade or outright plunder and also set up a system where the vast population of their larger less visionary neighbors becomes their own cheap workforce, through slavery or simply migration due to better economics.
And this is not so farfetched. We’ve seen it in Asia, seen it well in Europe and so on. A recent African example is Rwanda. This is exactly what Rwanda has done to its neighbors like Burundi and the agbaya called Democratic Republic of Congo.
So it hasn’t happened to us yet because our neighbors are just as obtuse as us. But think about it. If Benin Republic or Cameroon woke up tomorrow and a leader arose there that was as visionary as say, Kagame, and decided that Nigeria would be their own DRC, where they would extract resources through unequal trade or directly, dominate militarily and so on, do we think it is impossible? Are our leaders thinking of such a possibility?
This is just me thinking iranu on the ride to work.