The selfish ambition of African leaders, insatiable thirst for power, and their love for materialism has made it almost impossible for Africa to develop. Right after many African countries gained independence from their various colonial masters, they had to go through the horrible experience of avoidable civil war as a result of the selfish interests of the few. Nigeria too had to go through the same bitter experience of the Biafra civil war, and the blame cannot be put on the doorstep of the colonial masters.
The colonial masters have also been unfairly accused of tethering us economically thereby making us perpetually dependent on their aids for survival. We forgot that the colonial masters didn’t force us to abandon agriculture that used to be the mainstay of our economy for white collar jobs. According to World Food Programme, Sub-Sahara Africa region accounts for the highest prevalence of hunger, with one in four person undernourished and poor nutrition causing nearly half (45%) of death in children under five estimated at 3.1 million children each year. It is unfortunate that Nigeria is one of the African countries that cannot feed her population despite abundant land resources. We put the blame on the colonial masters instead of our leaders who lacked the initiative to plan and manage our agriculture because of cheap oil money. For instance, with abundant arable land in Borno and Yobe States suitable for farming groundnut and beans among other agricultural products, there is no doubt that the states can generate enough revenue to meet their developmental needs.
What about those corrupt leaders who embezzle resources meant for public infrastructures? Should the colonial masters be blamed for that as well? It has been argued that money stolen by African leaders are kept or invested in the colonial masters’ land, so we blame them for not alerting their countries. In all sincerity, could we have done the same? As parts of efforts to create wealth and employment for our youths, our leaders travel abroad to woo foreign investors to invest in our country, but careless about the source of fund of investors who agreed to come. Even if it were confirmed that an investor had accumulated wealth through questionable means, I doubt if the government would be willing to investigate, as long as his investment is legitimate in the country.
At a time Nigeria was experiencing serious economic recession in 2015 with most state governments owing their workers backlog of salaries, most Nigerians were astonished that our senators had ordered for 109 SUVs for themselves at a cost of
N36m each. Although, the chairman senate committee on senate
service, Senator Ibrahim Gobir later debunked it and said that only thirty-six
SUVs were ordered at a cost of N36.5m each,
and this still cost the nation a whooping sum of N1,314 billion. If their coming into politics was to serve the
people as they claimed during their campaigns, would it have been too much to
let go of certain benefits for the time being until the economy is buoyant to
accommodate their luxurious lifestyle? After all, they all claimed to be doing
well in their various fields of endeavour before coming into partisan politics.
The most annoying part of it was that the cars were imported while we have
local car-assembling plants in Nigeria begging for patronage. If the leaders do
not lead by example by patronizing indigenous companies, what moral
justification do they have to tell Nigerians to patronize them. The public
criticism that followed the senate’s choice compelled the leadership of the
House of Representative to contract Peugeot Automobile Nigeria to supply own
Once again, the bulk of the blame of Africa’s underdevelopment goes to the leaders for their shortsightedness in always putting their personal interest ahead of their nations’ interest. A new tenure of government will soon run affairs of Nigeria, some may retain their seats and some may lose it, but responsibility lies on we citizens to be on their neck to do the right thing and stop them from blaming who they shouldn’t for the woes of Nigeria.
Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.