Africa is painfully lacking in leadership at a time when it is sorely needed. Ever since folks like Mbeki, Ghadaffi, and OBJ left the scene, we’ve been left with a directionless continent. Kagames’ Rwanda would’ve been a suitable placeholder but it simply lacks the population, economic prowess, and capability to project beyond central Africa; plus it’s a landlocked country.
Nigeria used to be the hegemon; the densest black nation with access to the deep blue sea and the capacity to partner with Brazil to police the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic. No foreign power used to move into Africa without first consulting Nigeria. Without foreign interference, Nigeria played a big role in dismantling apartheid far south and stemming civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Nigeria also has 50% of West Africa’s manufacturing capacity and about 1/4th of Africa’s GDP, making it an economic powerhouse. However, recently, we have turned our military from keeping the peace in West Africa and onward to fighting terrorism, our navy hasn’t been the tooled man the regional waterways but reduced to police coastal waters and oil thieves, and our leaders since 2007 haven’t brought Nigerias’ weight to bear in the sub-Saharan region.
This is evidenced by South Africa’s recent repertoire with Russia in the thick of the Ukrainian war, Central Africa’s myriad of troubles, and the several coups across the western region of the continent. This is exacerbated by the consequences of the American adventure in Libya on the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, including the proliferation of arms and extremist elements.
China’s foray into the continent with its predatory loans cannot be ignored or underestimated. Some insist the third scramble for Africa is underway, at the behest of an increasingly polarizing world occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine debacle, and Chinese-American scuffles. These people know the immense wealth that lies below the African soil; they can almost taste the tantalum, gold, oil, and cobalt as they court our greedy African leaders in a dalliance that has the potential to mortgage the future of our continent. We are vulnerable in the face of this covert assault as the Maghrebs are unbothered, central Africa is tearing itself apart, South Africa is dancing with the devil and the Nigerians are too busy deciding if their problem is a power failure or fuel scarcity.
This is why Nigeria must take the next 2023 general elections seriously. We have abdicated our role for too long and the consequences will be disastrous if we don’t seize the initiative and set Africa on the right footing to stem foreign incursions in the continent.
If we miss the next opportunity, we might not have 8 years to fix it. Africa could be in much worse shape by then.
We could further deepen the gaping grave of our dear continent with our own thumbs.
We Nigerians must get it right for the sake of the rest of Africa.