While declaring the Seventh Joint Annual Meetings of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Economy and Finance open in Abuja recently, President Jonathan was reported to have blamed the rich and powerful nations for the development challenges in developing nations including Nigeria. According to him, these countries are behind the crises holding Africa in a vice grip and preventing it from progressing like its developed counterparts.
This plausible view is even reminiscent of the dependency theorists’ on the same subject but it is sadly not sufficient to explain Africa’s woebegone essence. As a matter of fact, it has proved to be the usual comfortable lair for emerging leaders in Africa who are scared to confront the whole truth about Africa’s traumatic developmental dilemma which definitely indicts them. Many scholars are agreed that the African continent is indubitably endowed with natures’ resources such that it remains befuddling why its backwardness should make it to continue receiving aids of all sorts from the so called rich nations of the world.
Historically, human societies in the world have followed an irregular pattern of economic and political evolution. Poor countries like Malaysia used to be at the same level with Nigeria in the 60’s. Malaysia has since moved ahead. Today the hype about the Asian tigers is deafening, but where are the African lions? Even India with which Nigeria shares the experience of colonialism, has since gone ahead and started profiting from medical tourism from its colonial counterpart, Nigeria.
In Europe, before England became the empire on which “the sun never sets,” it used to be under Rome and Rome itself had once been under Greece before Greece eventually became one of its appendages. England used to lord it over the United States but since gaining independence, the U.S has held its own without deferring to her former colonialist and indeed growing to be the world’s headquarters. In this generation, Singapore literally evolved into the first world on sheer grit and determination of its leader without anything more than deep water as its natural resource. It should bother the emerging leaders in post colonial Africa why it should still blame its arrested development on the developed world after most of them have become independent for over five decades.
The truth is that development has never been a function of the preponderance or otherwise of natural endowments. It has more to do with the prevalent attitudes and values of the people and their leaders and as the world becomes more knowledge driven, Africa might as well drown in its natural endowments if it continues to display its ignorance in the proper management thereof. African leaders must learn to eschew corruption and fight it desperately to get the continent started instead of depending on the “rich and powerful nations” to allow her to develop because ultimately, development is at the instance of those who desire it.
The hype about Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) in developing Nigeria’s economy for instance is unnecessary considering the volume of the loot in the in the vaults of these “rich and powerful nations” at the instance of the rogue leaders in the misbegotten continent. Even President Jonathan’s reiteration of the dependency theorists’ view on the blame game does not sit well with his recent centennial awards to the principal characters behind the colonisation of the country and their representatives including the Queen of England, Lord Lugard and his mistress.
If truly these “rich and powerful nations” are behind Africa’s backwardness, why reward them with the centennial awards? It is true that relationships between unequal partners are by definition exploitative but it also takes the acquiescing of the weak to define the inferiority. What have African leaders been doing in terms of policy and action to repudiate this odium? To what extent has their roguish and self-seeking attitude and behaviour helped to reinforce the exploitation of the continent?
If these “rich and powerful nations” also really desire to absolve themselves of the blame of bellyaching and whining African leaders, they should stop providing safe vaults for their loot or havens for these roguish leaders and public officials when they eventually turn fugitive. This is how they have been complicit in Africa’s tragedy of backwardness and their wealth or development will remain unconscionable if it is tainted with the loot from Africa.
It is incumbent on African leaders to devise ways for the continent to rise from the debris of corruption into relevance in the world just as other countries and continents have done. This is the challenge before them.