Most analysts beyond and within the shores of Africa will agree that the greatest woes betiding the countries of that continent are traceable to its lack of basic infrastructural amenities and proficient leadership. The lack of such amenities are argued to be the cause of high infant mortality rates, poverty, low level of literacy, unemployment and general underdevelopment. Most people will agree, but will then go to identify the woes in more specific terms and make a list of their fears such as the fear for the loss of lives to accidents caused by bad drivers on bad roads, bomb made to explode by terrorists, killing and looting caused by armed robbers and kidnapers, unnecessary loss of lives to normally curable illnesses, preposterous misuse of funds and assets to inefficient and corrupt leaders.
The firsthand experience based list of the people tend to identify vicious acts and omissions that can be termed as criminal or at least selfish and therefore deemed to be hostile acts perpetuated by hostile enemies. It is of course easy and appealing to declare war on real or perceived hostile enemies. A closer look however will quickly reveal that the greatest of havocs to the development of Africa and hence to its people are rarely from hostile and vicious enemies but rather from very friendly quarters of friends who don’t carry guns, don’t use thugs, nor use foul language in public. It tends to come more from people who should know better and demand for more but who too many times fail to live up to expectations by being nicely weak to the strong and harshly strong to the weak. They make ridiculous concessions to those in power and make inhumane demands from those without.
Yes we must be careful never to generalize but some examples cannot but be categorized.
Take Nigeria and its Western interlocutors for example, the latter were gathering all those nauseating information that wikileaks is now divulging to the rest of the citizenry. Those westerners did not feel it necessary to take any step to warn the people of Nigeria about what seems to be a group of muddled, uncouth, vociferous, corrupt, and petty ruling class, rather they continued to treat them with regard and consideration. Yet if asked for a visa or chance to trade in their countries, those same people will not hesitate to ask for a pound of flesh from hardworking average citizens striving to make a living in a difficult set up. The history of western development is full of stories and reasons for subsidies to its small and middle size enterprise because they understand that SMEs are the real engine of development but they seem to forget to mention that to their friends in power in Africa. Western companies and corporations continue to trade in Africa building and enjoying privileged positions based on market oligopoly and friendly relationships with unproductive African leaders, yet western countries continue to make it difficult for African countries to truly venture into the global market. Yet they continue to lament on the state on poverty and underdevelopment. Without bombs or guns they are killing more than those vicious coarse murderers operating under the banner of Boko haram can even imagine.
My friends and colleagues in the media cannot be left out of the list of the friendly enemies of our people. Their biggest but not gravest sin is to forget to truly believe that the pen is mightier than the sword for they seem to underestimate how much good they can do for their people by writing the rights things and exposing all the sides and all the facts of any issue. It is incredible; I actually cringe, to watch the media allow so many public figures get away with so many ridiculous and annoying statements. It is time revive the spirit of investigative journalism in Nigeria. The continent as a whole seriously needs a new breed of media professional who can take pride in their profession, real hunt dogs who take joy in sniffing and exposing incompetence, corruption and other kinds of rots killing the people. Yes we know their challenges but it is time for heroes to dance.
Our civil servants are probably the friendliest enemies of progress in Nigeria. Rather than help the Government of the day to develop and deliver its policies as effectively as possible, many spend their time sitting on files, creating unnecessary and unproductive red tapes, misguiding politicians and awarding contracts to themselves through proxies. I know of newly nominated minister who almost cried whilst telling me the evil civil servants are doing to the good policies his government is trying to implement. We agreed to call them evil servants. Many civil servants have turned themselves to the masters of turning the simple to the complicated with the aim of obtaining the worse.
This list will be incomplete if we do not include those that operate in one of my most immediate constituency: teachers. How can this people continue to call themselves educationist whilst helping to certify a whole generation of certified illiterates incapable of thinking and devoid of civil ethics?