Buhari and other African leaders in India
Between today and tomorrow, President Muhammadu Buhari and his fellow African leaders would be returning from India one by one like the remnants of a decimated and utterly defeated troop to some of their cheerless, joyless and depressed countries some of whose economies are threatening to go into recession. The senior prefects of Africa (you will soon understand why I call African leaders so)have been in New Delhi, India since Tuesday attending a talkshop called India-Africa Summit. With Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, presiding, they were ‘summoned’ there to discuss poverty, diseases, terrorism and other peculiarly poverty and underdevelopmentrelated issues.
Luckily enough for the ego of some of us self-respecting Africans, human rights, democracy and rape are not a part of the menu for this summit because it is held in India and India does not seem to have the image pedigree to lecture Africans on those issues; that seems to be the exclusive preserves of Western leaders. Those items would have been the main course meals on the menu if it is a Western leader that had summoned our senior prefects to go and listen to him and report back to us.
Very soon, African leaders in their numbers will again be in Beijing, China to attend another forum called China-African Summit. The discussions, or more appropriately the lecture sessions, that took place in India will be replicated there, with only a slight emphasis placed on the need for African countries to return to agriculture and with of course a rider that there should be a boost in the export of their primary produce to, where else: China!
Perhaps next year, it will be the turn of Great Britain under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Nations to again summon our men to one corner of the far flung former British Empire. There, a woman called the Queen of England will take pre-eminence, reminding the mostly assembled men how they have been castrated and made effeminate in times past and how they are still in the masculine loins of Britain fifty to sixty odd years after the sun set on the former British Empire that once boasted that the sun will never set on its dominion.
Perhaps not long after the Commonwealth meeting, there will be another meeting called the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries where Africans will join other poor nations in Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands to discuss what else, poverty, climate change, diseases and terrorism. At this forum, the Europeans who are called developing partners, will send one man and he will preside and proceed to lecture the 101 odd members in series of meetings and sub-meetings on why they are poor and destitute. In the end, he will just tell the assembled poor representatives of poor countries how much Europe is willing to assist them.
After hosting the world last year to a football fiesta and after she is done hosting the world again next year to the Olympics to announce her emergence as a world power, I am certain that Brazil will set her next sight on convening the Brazilo-Africa Summit to be held in Brasilia where a periodic lecture sessions will take place to tell African leaders why they are failing and what they need to do to make it.
If I had heard in time that PMB and others will be herded to India, I would have reproduced a piece I did some nearly eight years ago entitled The Head Master and the Senior Prefects wherein I lamented these series of demeaning meetings where African leaders are summoned like senior prefects to listen to the headmaster or mistress at the assembly ground and told to pass the instructions on to the student body.
Several years back, Buhari was a prominent part of a government that proclaimed itself an off-shot of the much acclaimed MurtalaObasanjo Administration that was noted for its dynamic Afrocentric self-belief and patriotism. On the Angolan issue, Murtala had famously declared that Africa had come of age and will not like to take dictation from the USA or anybody else as to which of the parties contending to lead Angola to independence Africa should back. He led Africa to back the late Augustino Neto.
Forty years after Murtala displayed courage, sagacity, selfconfidence, independence and optimism to show that Africa is indeed capable of self-leadership, African leaders-successors seem to have regressed terribly into timidity, lack of self-respect, pessimism and the development of a kind of herd instinct. If they are summoned anywhere where there seems to be hope of raw cash or mere promises of other forms of aid, in a jiffy, they pack some of their finest clothes, assemble a large delegation, enter some of their expensive presidential jets and head there to be lectured to and hectored by a Caucasian or Asiatic-looking man. The one man or woman will act as the head master and they as the senior prefects listening with raft attention to capture the highlights of the lecture.
Once again, destiny has favoured Buhari to lead Nigeria at a time there is so much hope that Nigeria will spearhead the rise of Africa. What is more, he came profusely professing change so there is much hope of Nigerian and African renaissance. My humble advice to PMB therefore is that nations are not developed by the number or frequency of summits their leaders attend. China, India, Singapore, South Korea and others before them became developed by the intelligence, self-discipline, self-confidence, prudence, commitment and dedication of their core leaders.
With the divine dispensation I have secured in answer to my prayer for longevity, I still have about 45 more years to live here on earth. I do not wish to spend any more of these years reading about African leaders attending summits on poverty and underdevelopment. I have heard enough of that. A positive work ethic, dogged determination to succeed and self-belief are some of the key ingredients for success of any people anywhere in the world. Talks and more talks will not get anyone anywhere.
PMB has done one nice thing by insisting that all federal revenues and incomes should go to one Treasury Single Account (TSA). When he comes back from India, he should really sit down with a small team and take stock of how much Nigeria is worth. With that knowledge, he should fast and pray to God for guidance and form a small team comprising highly knowledgeable, disciplined and patriotic Nigerians cutting across tribes, religions, parties or regions to think, plan and execute a master plan for the growth and development of Nigeria.
If PMB wants me to remain his friend, he should stop attending all meetings such as the ones listed above that tend to demean Africa and achieve no real purpose. Instead, let him choose to roll his sleeves and bury his head in real hard and smart work with a bi-partisan, bitribal, bi-regional and bi-national backstage team to orchestrate the development of Nigeria. I here suggest a few names that should make that team: Nasir elRufai, Chiweinzu, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Uche Ugorji, Babatunde Fashola, Pat Utomi, Bolaji Ogunsewe, Nkemdilim Nnolim, Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, Kabir Yusuf, Audu Ogbe, Adamu Adamu and Fola Adeola. They represent some of the ablest, most knowledgeable, most thoughtful and most concerned and involved Nigerians around. Space would not allow me to elaborate on them and why they should be among a team of planners and executors of a new Nigeria.