Nations In Denial | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Comment, Opinion

Nations In Denial

Posted: Jun 13, 2015 at 3:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Samuel Okocha  


Sigmund Freud described denial as a state of “knowing-but-not-knowing”. He saw denial in the words of his leading biographer, Peter Gay, as “a state of rational apprehension that does not result in appropriate action”.

However, History has lessons to teach about the role of denial in the decline of nations.

AFRISCOPE’S editorial comment June 1976 entitled “África Listen”! is very instructive. It says that if Nairobi’s United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) achieved nothing else, it produced a necessary forum for History to talk to us through Peking! The Chinese delegate, Chou Hua Min went to the root of Africa’s problem, when he declared that no super-power east or west, wished us well. Wild ambition, umbridled aggression, exploitation, plunder and expansion were mentioned as ferocious features of imperialism. The editorial did not, however, exonerate China but the warning is apt. An imperishable truth spoken 39 years ago, the monthly magazine reiterated is clear and consistent: “if you as a nation want a healthy and rounded growth, pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. In other words, self-preservation and not self- destruction.

Imperialism refers to the fact of a powerful country increasing its influence over other countries through business, culture e.t.c. Unfortunately, this idea has been corrupted to have far reaching adverse consequences. The imperialists seek to protect their national interest, which is simply huge potential market exploitable in all ways. Put in another way; imperialism represents monopoly capitalist global national interest. Even the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin admitted that: “Imperialism has no law beyond its own interest” And, whilst the Bretton Woods and similar systems are being accused for self-serving, dominating and institutional means of imperialist pursuit, former colonial masters, network of allies and all other powerful nations may not be exempt from this odious practice.

It is imperative that we go down the memory lane firstly, because Nigerians suffer from historical amnesia.  And, secondly due to our generally uninformed state in the world geo-politics. In making matters worse, it is a notorious fact that among our great minds are also flamboyant impostors who revel in self-arrogation of knowledge, yet empty in understanding the intrigues and dynamics of imperialism. There is a perception that multilateral bodies characteristically create a hidden catastrophe while pretending to be solving a problem; then blame the catastrophe on mismanagement, corruption and so on. This is then used to make another ‘reform’ recommendation, which continues ad infinitum, as part of grand design to perpetuate economic degradation of nations in question.

Having been deluded and seduced by the simplicity and glibness of the International Monetary Fund’s one-size-fits-all remedy for all economic ills on one hand, and mindlessness or blind loyalty and gullibility on the other, the Nigerian government was cunningly cajoled in1986 to accept Structural Adjustment Programme. (SAP). Sadly enough, it was not the Holy Grail presented to save Nigerians. As proof of high level conspiracy and deceitfulness, the exercise was a devastating failure that led Nigeria’s economy into doom by completely plunging it into a catastrophe of devastating consequences.

Today’s parlous economy, unending belt tightening calls and ever declining value of the Naira, took their roots from the SAP’s economic blueprint, which many feared was an eventual infiltration of imperialists’ hirelings and agents on Nigeria’s economic firmament doing a yeoman’s job. In the least, it exposes the theoretical shortcomings of the neo-liberal economists in lacking the grasp of the basic nature of problems confronting the nation and at most proved a queer contraption of a bogus intelligentsia.

Quite unlike a typical Nigerian leader given to self-praise, government of the day publicly admitted our worsening economic travails. Hence, the glowing tributes and flowering speeches waned by the day in sharp contrast to the overzealous demonstrativeness and confidence, earlier exhibited by the peddlers and connoisseurs of the neo-colonial instrument. They merely serve as precepts of doom contrived to entrench the impoverishment of Third World nations. In other words, we continue as the footstool of imperialist nations who are only interested selfishly in their economic prosperity and social prestige. The extant truth remains that ignoring the lessons of history is bound to lead inexorably to the ruinous path that had been taken by doomed rulers. Of course, history never repeats itself; only men repeat the mistakes of history. Or, as Albert Einstein puts it: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity”.

With the economy terribly emasculated and frozen in inevitable ruination, such apocalyptic collapse of Nigeria’s economy never serves a valuable lesson for filibusters at the crest of power. Regrettably, economic thrusts of all governments since the SAP era still contain self-destructive elements of the IMF-imposed macro-economic blunder in spite of its hollowness as shown by the neo-liberal credo of market fetishism.

The so called ‘Asian Tigers’ distanced themselves from anyone with ties to those institutions and were able to transform their economies. Whereas characteristic of nations in denial, our finance and economy have been under the supervision of a former World Bank chieftain since 1999 or so. Hence, not so surprisingly in one of its President’s outings in Nigeria in a ‘fit of excessive exuberance’, heralded the minister as the ‘greatest’ thing ever. Meanwhile, the nation is being pathetically reduced to paralytic retardation in the bottom of the progress chain ironically and unperturbed among the poorest of the poor countries of the world.

Joseph Nye in his book: Soft Power, talks of the existence of invisible imperial strategy on one hand, and imperialists’ smuggled stooges disguised as technocrats on the other. The Harvard professor has also highlighted the danger of handing over one’s economy to these institutions through their agents whether or not they have our pigment. Indeed, every empirical fact of African nations’ historical record of SAP has shown that it is only a sugar-coated killer pill with long term destructive effect on their economies. As a word of caution therefore, if we must dine with officials or even ex-staffs of these bodies, it must be with a long spoon.

A sound test of transformation is its practical effect on the lives of ordinary citizens and not glib rhetorics and propaganda. With deepening economic pain, it would be foolhardy illusion to expect the much needed transformation with our economic agenda consistently loyal to the, primordial order, or as long as the ruling class panders to imperialists’ exploitative and destructive myths while remaining unrepentantly corrupt and lacking in vision and character. Unfortunately, there would be no respite for the nation, as long as we are tied to the apron-strings of the IMF and the rest of them or just remain a canvas for a super-imposition of ideas.

Interestingly, it was Frantz Fanon who saw the handwriting on the wall and warned: ”The future will have no pity on those who, having the power and opportunity to take action against oppression chose instead to hide under complacency or complicity. No thanks to wicked, greedy and self-centred leaders in most African countries. Fanon passed this moral verdict on bourgeois African nationalists of the 1960s who, for selfish reasons, allied with the forces of imperialism during the anti-colonial struggle. However, Fanon’s rage of indignation at that time did not anticipate that about 54 years after, some nations would be enmeshed in the marshland of compradorism-the enemy within.

Altogether the disquieting socio-political and economic picture that emerges is a nation completely in disarray, adrift and declining while the political elite in what appears like delusions of grandeur, wallow in diplomatic flattery. The country is in desperate need of a paradigm shift that calls for transformative leadership, if we are to halt the decline. Transformative leaders are leaders who are dissatisfied with the status quo. They are imbued with the right vision and mission for nation building and are thus able not only to articulate strategic road map and gateway to development but through actions, policies and practices capable of igniting waves of transformation across all sectors of society.