President Trump’s alleged invective, mislabeling African nations and Haiti as sh*thole countries, merely voices the attitude of most westerners toward the zip code of Africans. Most Americans broadminded enough to travel to Africa often do so within the context of vacationing on a safari, to see or touch the animals, if they’re not shooting them. Most of Africa’s past leaders have been complicit in that misrepresentation of Africa, as they have often been amenable puppets of neo-colonialism or exhibited subtle imperialist tendencies. African leaders, with any mix of gumption and show of spine, are often summarily sabotaged, undermined, if not executed—often with the aid of fellow Black Africans, who are fifth columnists.
Nigeria’s leaders are no exception to the rule. Arguably, Nigeria’s most admired leader was General Murtala Ramat Mohamed. He may have been an exception to the litany of kowtowing village idiots often propped up by external powers to serve non-Nigerian interests. After the counter-coup of July 1966, in which Murtala (as he is fondly called by Nigerians) had led an aggrieved contingent of military officers of northern Nigerian extraction, some western powers persuaded Murtala to cede leadership of the government to a man they picked, and whom it was believed, was more amenable to Western interests than the “brash” young Murtala Mohammed. Mohammed’s counter-coup was originally intended to lead the north of Nigeria into secession as an independent nation.
However, the British had just discovered that the southern part of Nigeria and in particular, the region of Biafra, which would be the bone of contention in the ensuing Nigerian Civil War, was sitting on oil. If the north seceded, it would become impoverished, while their Igbo ‘enemies’ would become fabulously wealthy, because of black gold. The northern officers were persuaded to keep Nigeria united as one country.
Although the British compromise and amenable gentleman, Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon, became Head of State of Nigeria and Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, in 1975 the intransigent General Murtala Mohammed would overthrow him in a bloodless coup, becoming Head of State of Nigeria. General Murtala Mohammed advocated a “Nigeria first” policy, seeking to eliminate corruption and champion wealth creation and Nigeria’s industrialization. In addition, he aimed at leveraging Nigeria’s membership in the oil cartel, OPEC, in powering the nation’s economic development.
In foreign policy, Murtala made Nigeria a “neutral” nation in advancing the “Nigeria first” policy, and emphasizing the independence of African states to reinforce the dignity of Africans. His independent thinking and assertiveness would cause him to butt heads with the United States. In fighting Apartheid South Africa, Murtala used Nigeria’s oil money in support of the ANC, and in warring Angola, he supported the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. The Apartheid government of South Africa had staged an armed intervention supporting the rival UNITA forces, which the U.S. government also backed in Angola. Murtala’s support strained relations with the United States, which argued for the withdrawal of Cuban troops and Soviet advisers from Angola.
On February 13, 1976, General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated by Lt. Colonel Buka Suka Dimka, in an abortive coup, said to have been sponsored by some foreign powers that resented the lack of lackey in the young Nigerian General. He was only 37 years old. Murtala had strongly advocated for the dignity of Africans in the world and before all in their dealings, irrespective of power. It was not often what many in the West wanted to hear. Today there are still many in the West who wish to stand on the grandiosity of white supremacy. And there will always be enough African puppets too willing to toe the line,at the expense of African development and Black lives.
Perhaps, had he lived, Murtala could have been Nigeria’s benevolent military dictator that modernized and industrialized Nigeria, just as the South Korean military dictator, Park Chung-hee did for his country, before his assassination in 1979. Park presided over a period of rapid economic growth in South Korea, described as the “Miracle on the Han River.”
The “oil deals” in contemporary Nigeria still reflect a master-servant relationship, the exploiter and his lackey black allies-the exploited/disenfranchised indigenes, which most white supremacist counterparts are more comfortable supporting. (Clearly, not all westerners advocate white supremacy in foreign policy). They manifest how past dictators and questionable “democratically elected” Nigerian presidents have mishandled oil fields, often parsing off trillions in value to western entities, some of whose presidents may turn around and denigrate the African continent as a “sh*thole” despite the fact that they shamelessly get rich off generous Africa’s bounty of resources. (It is ironic that President Trump had once bragged that his friends make money from Africa, only to allegedly turn around and call Africa, responsible for enriching many of his friends—including leaders and owners of Exxon-Mobil—in various industries, a sh*thole. Do teach us how to raise diamonds and bounty from dung, so we too, can all be rich and coarse in Africa.)
If Nigeria did not have an ignoble history of incompetent leaders eager to kowtow to foreign abusers and exploiters, perhaps there’d be deeper wealth creation in Nigeria and on the African continent. It is remarkable that China is now the largest economy in the world (a feat they achieved earlier than the 2025 target I had studied in business school); and my friends from China, including professors, often tell me of how they developed their industries indigenously without having to outsource the brain portion to the west which was more advanced. One of my friends said, “what is the big deal in building and managing industries? You learn by experience, and by trial and error, and then it becomes experience and intellectual asset for your own people, at a fraction of the cost.”
Questionable Nigerian leaders are still outsourcing everything to tell the whole world that “Nigerians” don’t have a brain to think and solve their problems by themselves. Still needing the validation from external elements and “oyinbo oga” to say go on, like they once said, “Go on Gowon.” And John Bull jumps to attention: Yes, sir!!!
Talented and sensible youth of Nigeria: it is time to break away from the generation that failed us.
Nigeria copied the Presidential system and written constitution of America when it was forming its second republic, and the Presidential system of government has been a feature of our democracy and republic for almost 20 years. However, I find it bizarre that while we copied the American system, given its history of diversity similar to Nigeria’s, Nigeria’s legal system continues to ape the British system. Did Nigeria’s past leaders act haphazardly? What do you expect gun-toting rebels to do? Act like rocket scientists?
Talking of gun-toting rebels, or coup plotters, having committed treason (and the American constitution, which we copied in Nigeria, Section 3, of the Fourteenth Amendment, of the United States Constitution) explicitly disqualifies from holding public office anyone having engaged in insurrection, rebellion, acts of treason (coup plotter). Explicitly, they cannot be seated in Congress, be a Senator, elector of President, nor can any be President, judge, or hold any civil or public office.
Going forward, Nigeria must operate a noble, judicious, and transparent constitution that breaks from the treachery of its previous military leaders and stop rewarding them for their history and affinity with treason against our beloved state. General Buhari must be the last of his kind to hold office in Nigeria.
The old guard made abominable pacts with racists and people of dubious character who held racist views about people of African descent. Recently, I saw a video of Pat Robertson, the evangelical pastor and presenter of “700 Club,” a Christian television show which my family and I had watched avidly while growing up in Nigeria. He claimed that Haiti had gained its independence after entering a pact with the devil. In the 21st century, you actually have a widely known televangelist saying on American television that Haitian slaves freeing themselves from the abominable institution of slavery had to enter a pact with the devil in order to secure their freedom? The implication is clear: there was nothing wrong with Blacks being enslaved, and perhaps in fact, he meant God ordained it to be so. Fortunately for me, I already studied the history of the Haitian Revolution under their remarkable, strategic and clever Black leader, General Toussaint L’Ouverture. I cannot be easily deceived—a history degree comes in handy after all.
Many are not supportive of Nigeria’s industrialization or economic development, which will benefit all Nigerians. Many would rather enrich one or two Nigerian billionaires in a scandalous fashion, so long as they can keep their boots on Nigeria’s neck and continue to rape and abuse the average Nigerian’s dignity. They exert conditions that perpetuate that vicious cycle of darkness in Africa, a benighted “African Darkness” they had been purveying all along. Let this sink into every Nigerian’s head.