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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Lessons from Libya

Early on Sunday morning August 21, I was glued to my tv set watching with mixed feelings the unfolding war in Tripoli, which brought a climax to the 5-months conflict to oust Col. Gaddafi after 42 years in power. I have followed the Libyan conflict that started as a protest as part of what we now know as the Arab spring which started in Tunisia. On one hand part of me was happy for the Libyan people achieving their quest for freedom and on the other hand sad to see killings of people and destruction of their country.

I drew some contrasts between what was happening in Libya and what Nigeria needs. Nigeria is similar to Libya in some respects. Libya has been ruled by a dictator for over 4 decades, while Nigeria has been ruled by different dictators for the best part of 30 years since independence. Libya and Nigeria are multi-tribal like there are in many African countries. Both countries have oil in abundance but both have only succeeded in using it to enrich a few. Both countries have fought a civil war; whilst Nigeria's civil war was based on perceived injustice by one section of the country, Libya's ideology was based on removing one man and his family from the power of political and economic oppression.

Freedom comes at a cost and sadly human cost is a huge price they are paying to 'liberate' their people from the shackles of dictatorship. However, most of the country, judging by the events of the last few weeks seem to have kept their tribal differences aside to fight what they see as a common cause. Interestingly, this is where the similarities between both countries end. Whilst I accept we have our fair share of tribal differences but our biggest enemy is corruption perpetrated by the ruling class over the years. The perpetrators cuts across all tribes in Nigeria and you wonder why we have yet to galvanise into a potent force to fight this common enemy. I'm not advocating for people taking up arms and killing innocent people like we have witnessed with the wicked bombing of the UN building in Abuja by the Boko Haram group and similar atrocities committed recently.

What I advocate is a popular peoples' uprising similar to the Arab spring, demanding an end to corruption, respect for the rule of law, job creation and massive infrastructural development that our country lacks. Hanna Azare, the Indian anti-corruption campaigner recently drew lots of nationwide support and in the process drew the world's attention to the endemic corruption in that country. Where is Nigeria's Hanna Azare? When will our Arab spring moment arrive? Maybe I'm being naive or just living in my little bubble but I believe the road to Nigeria's future is littered with great danger as long these questions remain unanswered.

I worry for Nigeria, I really do, with the senseless killings and the lack of leadership response that is expected in times of crisis. Yes, people will say talk is cheap especially when I'm writing this in the comfort of my living room in the west. But let us not forget the power of social media that is increasingly becoming a driving force for change. Let us not forget people power that is driving changes we see around the world. That drive needs to start in earnest in Nigeria unless future generations are doomed to a life of poverty and hopelessness in the midst of plenty.

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  1. True words.
    Of course you will be accused of 'speaking from the comfort of your UK home' I get same all the time

    I dont really know whether it is apathy or just greed that makes us so accepting of inept leaders.

    Like you, I will continue to say my piece.

    Mediocrity should not be synonymous with Nigeria. We deserve so much better.

  2. You're right about the power of social media. We've seen what good (and unfortunately bad) it can do so please don't stop writing.

    It's imperative that sooner or later we all come together and voice out against the injustice. Will our people really do it? What's holding us back? So many people have been calling for division since this (Boko Haram nonsense)started. Is it why we can't unite to do anything? Or maybe they're waiting for it to come to their doorstep? As for economic transformation, it's definitely greed. If power is stabilized, people will definitely loose business, etc. No one wants to see beyond their noses to make things collectively better for everyone.

    But all these aside, the majority are in need and are wallowing in poverty in a country that has almost 80% natural resources, oil inclusive. It's time the majority come out en mass to protest these things. I guess like you said, we need a Hanna Azare else it will all just be mere wishful thinking and talk

  3. @NIL, I agree with you that greed is part of the problem, I also think apathy is part of it as well. But it's got to come to an end one day, I hope that day comes in our life time.

    @Stelzz, I will definitely not stop writing especially with people like you who share the same sentiments of change that our country badly needs.

  4. Hmmm, I guess there will come a time when Nigerians will still get to the point when they can take no more and fight back, but we hope that things we turn around before it ever gets to that point.
    Some few set of people have decided that they will sit on the masses head, but they don't realize that it will soon backfire on them, as they are only sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Time will tell and it will tell very soon. Asides that, I still believe that Nigeria has a great future

    first time here and following. please, check out my blog at

  5. @ilola, I also believe that Nigeria will be great but the signs of the time suggest otherwise but we will never give up on our country. Thanks for stopping by, on my way to check your blog

  6. I particularly like the part that says: "doomed to a life of poverty and hopelessness in the midst of plenty". If a considerable number of our people continue to fight and cause havoc over petty trivial issues (like the boko haram group is doing today) while the really important, nation-destroying issues are left unattended to... we may really be DOOMED.

  7. @Uzoma, I completely agree with you. We keep chasing shadows while ignoring the issues that really matters

  8. hmmm so true, but i like to be positive and like my pastor says we should stop complaining and do something to change nigeria, no matter how little. He says we should at least start from our community, our neighbors. help that little girl that can't go to school. Help that little boy that washes your car everyday. Pay your driver more than most drivers earn. .
    Anyways God will help us.

  9. Have you heard the sermon from Pastor Bakare that was causing some furore? For once I took off my cap at the guy. He said some home truths. My Ghanian friend will always laugh at me when i gripe about Nigeria. He will tell me that people deserve the kind of leader they let lead them.

  10. @Ginger, Yes, I listened to it and he was bang on the money with the truth. Sadly some people are bashing him and saying it was sour grapes because he lost an election. What I say to them is focus on the message nor the messenger



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