Africa and the echoes of a sad comment

Africa. Photo credit: Google

Sir: Recently, a comment from the President of United States, Mr. Donald Trump, sparked off a heated controversy. Trump had referred to some nations as ‘shithole’ countries and there was an instant outcry.

Yet, if the truth must be told, some nations of the world are no more than shithole countries judging by their inability to harness their nation’s resources for general development and well-being of their people.

Good examples of such countries are found in Africa with Nigeria, the so-called giant of Africa taking the lead of countries yet to find their feet.

Endowed with so much natural and human resources, Nigeria is still groping in the dark more than 50 years after independence! Successive leaders have continued to display highly visible ineptitude and general lack of developmental ideas leading to the impoverishment of a larger percentage of the citizens and forcing many to look for greener pastures elsewhere.

Only a few weeks ago, the Nigerian government was preoccupied with trying to evacuate her citizens stranded and thoroughly exploited in Libya.

There are various stories of people who perish on a daily basis while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, but rather than serve as a form of discouragement to others, there is even a growing number of citizens who are ever ready to continue to take a leap in the dark. Those taking what others may consider a big risk or a rash decision, had, in most cases, done some calculations, and came to the conclusion that death is preferable to shame.

As a matter of fact, what really is the essence of living without hope, or how would anyone think things would ever get better when all indices point at a very bleak future?

In the 21st century when nations around the world are making real progress in all areas of human endeavour, Nigeria is still battling with the problem of epileptic power supply 50 years after independence! While inept leaders continue to pretend to woo foreign investors, they never work at making local entrepreneurs survive the very harsh climate under which they operate.

Almost all local industries are moribund and being run on diesel. And unable to meet their targets, laying off of workers is a constant practice while casualisation has now become the order of the day.

Sadly, education which should provide some hope for the future is in the hands of charlatans. Tertiary institutions exist as if they don’t as they never make any convincing impact in the nation’s economy and development. Corruption-engendered arrogance is a major toga. All the locally-made professors bask in the euphoria of admission racketeering, now their main essence of existence on the campuses.

Only highest bidding candidates are meant to access university education while the truly brilliant one are constantly denied and frustrated.

How can there be many institutions and without any resolution to the nation’s myriad of problems? Why are we so unproductive that all our markets are saturated with fake products from foreign countries? What can one explain as the problem of a nation endowed with huge deposits of crude oil but held down by dysfunctional refineries and the nation depends and thrives on importation of fuel and being constantly held by the jugular by petroleum marketers?

And as if all these are not enough, the problem of insecurity still rears its ugly head and killings by suspected herdsmen is now a daily occurrence and innocent people are no longer safe on their farms.

The import then is that wherever Nigerians face, they meet a brick-wall. Who would then dissuade them from going elsewhere to try their luck? Where else but Africa do the citizens derive so much pleasure in abandoning their own continent to swell the population of places where concerted efforts are being made by visionary leaders to make life meaningful for the entire citizenry? So all these factors duly considered, who would blame Trump for his outburst?

•Jide Oyewusi, an educationist, lives in Lagos.

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