A Reply to Sabella Abidde’s response to Paul Adujie on Development Problems in Africa

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

I would like to step into the arena and contribute to the discourse. When you conduct any meaningful research into the history of Africa and its interaction with its European masters, you would come to the conclusion that every step of the way was deliberately planned and meticulously executed; and it was not to the benefit of Africa or the Africans. To say that Africa is playing victim is to add insult upon injury. Did you ever hear of the “Hausa Force” in Lagos? Who recruited them and what was their mission in Lagos? The police force got its mission from the history of domination and not for the protection of society. Apply that philosophy to every institution of government in Nigeria and you begin to see the foundation that was laid.

Slave Trade, Slavery and Disrespect

There was slave trade among Europeans. But European slavery did not fit the bill of the new human industry because the Europeans died like rats when brutally treated like the masters were wont to do. Then they tried the Indians with the same result. The Africans had their own version of slavery; the slave in Africa became a member of the family and could inherit property, buy his freedom and even marry into the master’s family. The Europeans after the “discovery” of America, were looking for an industrial machine. They found that the Africans were ingenious with the soil, could mine and could survive the harsh conditions of the frontier land. So a whole economy became built around the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. These traders in men now sought all kinds of tricks and devices to get more slaves as their greed waxed worse. Mirrors, guns, gun-powder and all kinds of useless trinkets were used to lure the Africans who though skeptical at first, became willing participants. Where this failed, slave raiding missions were organized and Africans snatched and taken off to the waiting boats. The African as a human being became debased and less esteemed by the Europeans who just a few years previously had been trading with them on an equal footing.

African Systems of Society and Law Changed

Before the advent of the Europeans, we had a system of laws and adjudication of disputes in our little disparate communities in Africa. These systems in every part of the area now known as Nigeria had to be replaced because they were “inadequate” to meet the needs of the European visitors. They had to change our laws to a system they could manipulate. Common law was introduced and appeals allowed to the Privy Council far removed from our shores. You can test the veracity of laws by its application. When it suited them, it was justice, when you sue them, they manipulate the system.


It is not playing victim if we identify the causes of our problems and remedy same. If the parties are not equal in all respects (in this case, western ways), you cannot equalize the responsibilities. For instance, if a twelve year damsel walks bare-chested in innocence, a predator pedophile cannot follow her around, rape her and then claim that she led him on. He would be sent to jail and rightly so! Africa had gold, diamonds and still has several other mineral resources that the predator nations are following to snatch away like they did the slaves when the African chiefs would not play ball. In Nigeria, who corrupted the systems? Who selected the gullible for leadership? Who taught the rogues how to re-route off-shore monies to hide the trace? Who are the current agents of corruption? Does public outrage have nationality? Would it be okay to steal $100 million from the City of London and hide it in Abuja? Did the Western States not know when these loud stolen monies hit their shores? Why were they silent? Why have they not stood on the side of “Equity and Good Conscience” which phrase they introduced into our legal lexicon? Of course, we want OBJ to prosecute the scoundrels, but he is afraid, he does not know what the genie let out of the bottle would do. The whole system is built on corruption. We need to tear it all down and build afresh.

The Leadership Problem

It is true that Africa has had a problem with leadership. Reading some of my articles, you will know that I have not spared the bad leaders; but the foundational problem is something to be tackled. Nigeria was contrived by the British to foster their exploitative needs. They manipulated the systems to further this objective every step of the way. The way to keep the truly nationalistic and patriotic Nigerians from the helm of government was to label them “communist” and hang them. I am not a communist. I prefer capitalism but I also believe that government was created by God to order society, distribute justice and protect the poor and needy. Excessive greed is the worst enemy of capitalism. Excessive Greed has always sought to bring the half-educated and sometimes completely ignorant to positions so they may be manipulated. The strong are assassinated or replaced through coup d’etats.

A New Direction

At great risk the internet has thrown out a new crop of Nigerians who can independently research and bring out the contrary view. We are still hounded and labeled but at least the hypocrisy of the west is exposed to those who themselves preach to us while they set up perpetrate and run the corrupt systems. While I practiced in Nigeria, I had a client from the west who did business with a connected ‘Permanent Secretary’ who had always been in government from the time of Sardauna. Although I represented him as lawyer, this westerner would not pay me my Statute-regulated fees for services. He rather threatened that although I was effective as a lawyer, he could ruin me in Nigeria, because they controlled the system. He dictated how much he wanted to pay me for my services although I am a lawyer and he was a foreigner. I had been around the corridors of power long enough to know that it was not an empty boast. We are not playing victim, Mr. Abidde, when we complain of the effect of slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism. That is our current reality.

You may also like


Anonymous August 11, 2005 - 5:18 pm

You could not have put your arguments any better. I posted a brief response indicating my disagreements with Mr. Abidde's generalizations the other day. Thanks for a balanced article!

– A concerned Afican brother

Anonymous July 28, 2005 - 8:17 am

Hear hear! This is a clear concise and valid argument. Very illuminating indeed. This ought to be published in the media back home in Nigeria.


Leave a Comment