WHEN NIGERIA NO LONGER PLAYS THE ROLE OF BIG BROTHER
For long, Nigeria has been playing the role of a Big Brother. As the “Giant of Africa”, Nigeria has continued to shoulder the political and economic burdens of most African countries. But it appears that the country now wants to shelve that responsibility, to begin to look after its own interest.
Soon after independence, Nigeria took up the defence of some African states then in troubled waters and to fight for the freedom of others still under colonial bondage. She fought in the Congo under the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. She also helped to quell an army mutiny in Tanzania under the umbrella of the Commonwealth.
During the Angolan war of independence from Portugal, Nigeria sided with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) led by Augustino Neto, as against the Total Unity for the Liberation of Angola (UNITA) led by Jonas Savimbi, because she considered the former, more credible. She put in her material resources to ensure that the MPLA had an upper hand. At the end, it did, and Angolan became independent.
Nigeria also went to South West Africa, now known as Namibia, and gave both financial material support to the South West African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) led by Sam Nujoma, and Namibia equally became free from Portugal.
In Mozambique, and in Southern Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, as well as in the Apartheid South Africa, Nigeria, though geographically far removed from these countries, assumed the status of a Frontline State, and threw her weight behind them to ensure the emergence of black majority rule there.
When Liberians could no longer put their acts together, Nigeria under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), organized a fighting force known as ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), to physically intervene in that country. In the process, Nigeria lost many lives, in addition to enormous financial and material resources. The same scenario equally played out in Sierra Leone.
In spite of all these contributions and sacrifices, Nigeria hardly got anything in return. Rather, many of her citizens became objects of all sorts of recriminations and physical attacks in the hands of these their beneficiaries and other fellow Africans.
On the economic front, Nigeria along with several West African countries, came together and formed the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS), with the aim of promoting economic cooperation and trade among member states.
For Nigeria, in particular, it was an opportunity to practically throw her borders open to let in both men and goods from different West African countries. Unfortunately, this had resulted to Nigeria abandoning her agricultural potentials to let in food, particularly rice, into the country.
In the process, Nigeria not only became the dumping ground for substandard manufactured goods from different parts of the world, through ECOWAS member states, and the infiltration of all sorts of people.
In other words, since the ECOWAS protocol allows for free movement of people and goods across member states, and Nigeria being the largest market in this economic community, she easily became a haven for infiltration of people and the dumping ground of manufactured goods from different parts of the world.
The consequence was the various border crimes like smuggling, which had made the Nigerian government to lose much needed revenues, and the infiltration of criminal elements into the country, like Boko Haram.
Now that Nigeria has decided to close her borders this will help to bring sanity into the system. The country should no longer continue to play the role Big Brother, to its own detriment.
As is well known, and as has been pointed out, it is at these neighbouring countries that goods from Europe and other parts of the world are repackaged, whether good or bad. and then brought into Nigeria for us to buy. Also, smuggling of illicit goods and petroleum products, result from these open borders.
While the smuggling of petroleum products across the borders had resulted to frequent petrol scarcities in Nigeria, the smuggling of rice into the country had made Nigerians to abandon local cultivation of rice. Also, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa, in the name of Fulani herdsmen, that cause mayhem in Nigeria, are all products of open borders.
Therefore, if Nigeria could be faithful in implementing this policy of restricted movement of goods and people into and out of the country, so many things would have been achieved by the present administration