Understanding Nigeria’s National Interest


Chris Okobah (PhD)

By Chris Okobah

As a people, Nigerians have experienced series of woes in this country over the years. The politicians have impoverished the country while the citizens are suffering from moral cancer, impaired from reasons and immune to pains. Therefore, they do not know their rights and consequently, failed to identify what constitutes our national interest.

What constitutes Nigeria’s national interest. 
National interest supposed to be our internal cohesion, national unity, national security, the creation of a happy and egalitarian society, the creation of a state where career is open to talents and where there is employment for those who want to work. It has to with a situation where there are the traditional freedoms of speech, political association, religion and equality before the Law. Coupled with this, is the defense of the humanity and rights of all through deliberate action and policies. These to me constitute our national interest.

Once we agree about our national interest, then it follows that these national concerns are worth defending , earned through dint of hard work and excellence. What are the acceptable prices we must pay to keep this Federal Republic going? Must we be like two runners who have the legs of one chained while the other is free to run in the same race? Are we suffering from the sins of our fathers? Have our past come to visit us because of where our fathers presumed to have come from?

Or in other to get on, must we change our religion and adopt certain name or culture so that we can assume anonymity or be a walking deceit and fraud? Must we abandon our own language and try and cultivate the language of the majority so that we can enter the Nigerian political kingdom? The question of who is a Nigerian and what can he expect from his state and what are his minimum rights and maximum expectation and how do these compare with those who may regard themselves as the chosen group must be seriously addressed.

This is expectedly so, if the Nigerian is not sure of his/her life or rights he/she can hardly be expected to champion the demand for the rights of other peoples. When the Germans fought for Kaiser Wilham II during the First World War and for Adolph Hitler during the Second word war ,they were fighting for a state which provided them and their children Health Insurance, Old age pension, Education, physical and economic security. The same can be said for the English and the Arnericans not to say of the Russians.

A nation must have more meaning than mere geographical expression, a common flag, anthem and pledge. It must mean that one can be whatever God’s endowment permits one to be. One is not advocating here an enforced unity or uniformity but within the true Federal structure of Nigeria, the rights of each Federating unit must be guaranteed and the rights of the citizens of the Federal Republic must also be guaranteed collectively and severally.

A situation where a minority or even a majority tries to obliterate the rights of others and to concentrate powers into a few hands for crude capital accumulation without due consideration being paid to the legitimate concerns and needs of all, is a negation of the purpose of civil society.

Once the national question is settled, then we move to the economic question. What kind of economy would be suitable for Nigeria ? Certainly the present lopsided development and faulty industrial policy of importation of raw materials would have to be abandoned for a policy of indigenously fabricated machineries and equipment. We may need to close our borders to the outside world in other to forge an home bred industrial technology.

We were exposed to the poison pills we prepared during the lockdown, we faced the honest truth about our failed health sector. Certainty the self-inflicted monopolistic rights granted to foreign assembling plants must give way either to open competition or home fabrication. Nigeria must of course be self-reliant in food production, preservation and processing, but what happens is that a farmer will labor and toil for a season only for the Fulani headsmen to destroy all he worked for, rape their wives and daughters.

In our trading relations, we must get away from the present colonial hang over which manifests itself in our lopsided national, economic, social and political relation in the country. It is a known fact that Britain does not have the most up to date technology or know how and yet virtually all our foreign exchange earnings are foolishly spent in Britain instead of countries where we get the money from through sale of our primary products. In this way we suffer losses during the process of currency conversion and we reward a country which thinks very little of our well being.

This paradox is accounted for, by the fact that by and large our foreign policy is still determined by the interests of our educated elite. These  elites  holidaying and shopping in England and those who were educated there sometimes subordinate national interest to old school ties.

Once we have resolved the problems of economic relations then the question of our internal economic structure would have to be tackled. Do we continue the present system of capitalist rat race and a system that creates overnight millionaires through inflated contracts which in many cases amount to granting blank cheques to fat cats.

It was Julius Nyerere who first pointed out that because resources are finite and demand for resources are finite and since America the greatest capitalist country in the world is already consuming about thirty-five percent of the world’s resources while constituting less than
10% of the World’s population any country wishing to develop along the capitalist line would have to be satisfied not with full blown capitalism because the resources are just not there.

In essence the socialist system is inevitable for developing countries if not the rest of the World. Nigeria’s economy is supposed to be determined by the interest of the working class and not the interest of the present parasitic elite of civil servants, compradore bourgeoisie army and police officers.
We can can draw the obvious consequence from this logic that the corrupt elites are the same class of importers and exporters, the class of beer brewers, Contractors, Commission agents, smugglers, drug peddlars, embezzlers whether civilians or politicians.

This is the class that paradoxically owes no allegiance to Nigeria where their money is made. “Property is theft” says Proudhon but the propertied and moneyed class has done more to justify this by carting billions of this country’s money to the vault of foreign banks in Switzerland, the United States ,United Arab Emirates and their favourite hunting ground Perfidious Albion. We must by necessity dispossess this class of what it has wrongfully aggrandized. How then do we face our realities ? How do we correct this anomalies? How do we get the right people with good conscience to serve us? How do we get rid of this mental maladies that have incarcerated our conscience for long?

We must change our orientation for us to experience domestic development.
Once we have resolved the opprobrius economic relations then the question of our internal economic structure would have to be tackled.

Dr. Chris Okobah is a consultant on private property law.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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