Of leaders in Asia and Nigeria


Soon every state in Nigeria will have state police and probably militia men to guard our lives. This is not the first time that Nigerians have tried security experiments in the laboratory. There was once an infamous group called ‘Bakassi boys’ in the South-east and Nigerians witnessed the legitimisation of murder in horrendous fashion carried out by them and supported by the state, ‘Yan Banga’ have also been responsible for too many deaths in the north.

The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC started as a cultural group but soon after began to carry guns and charms to intimidate Nigerians. I often times wonder where we got it wrong.

Are we a strategic people? Why the fits and starts policies everywhere. Why do we revel in short-termism? On independence Malaysia rejected the proposed union with Singapore because Malay made up 60 percent of the population in Malaysia and saw Singaporeans as kin people of China and avoided situation where the 30 percent Chinese population in Malaysia will be bolstered if Singapore joined the union. The Indians make up on 10 percent and they did not see them as a threat.

We need not state where Malaysia and Singapore sit in the comity of nations. Singapore imports water to drink; she imported sand (still does) to build her wonderful skyscrapers. Their countries are peaceful and there is security. What is wrong with Nigeria? We have everything but cannot protect citizens.

I look at Asia, its history and how military officers in long-gone days shaped their countries, for better. I look at Latin America where half of the heroes of the common herd were former military men and I cannot help but wonder why the case is different in Nigeria.

I believe strongly that military men provide strategic leadership better than civilians, from history. But it appears that good officers never had the chance to rule Nigeria. It is unfortunate because like their Asian, Latin and South American counterparts, these officers got their training from world class military institutions abroad, and while military colleagues in Asia, Latin and South America returned and worked to develop their countries, these officers destroyed Nigeria.

The political class should have helped in shaping the course of the country properly but they fare worse. In Singapore, a man was charged USD220 for throwing two rubber bands on the floor. The CCTV camera captured the incident. How come there is a culture that works elsewhere but not in Nigeria.

The Chinese revolution many years after, despite its recorded failings saw more than 500 million people elevated to the middle class out of poverty. The emphasis on education by the Chinese: local and foreign and on STEM subjects and on openness helped the Chinese economy. Old men with history and culture in China helped the country to develop but old men here in Nigeria destroyed the country.

For all of our actions in Nigeria, we forget the effect and consequences. Is culture necessary for the development of a country? Nigeria’s poverty level increases by the seconds, and aside from the physical poverty, there is now the poverty of the mind.

Simon Abah,


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