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Politics of nationalism and 21st century economies


Economic hardship has weakened the spirit of strong and dedicated Nigerians, and those whose psyche and character suggests sound judgment are struggling to fathom the current state of affairs.

Tribal politics has taken an alarming tone in Nigeria political discourse. Toxic rhetoric among self-declared regional leaders, often laden with conventional but unconvincing provocative theories of structural disruptions have assumed popularity status. Band-aid prescriptions are being offered for healing today’s unique socio economic challenges in Nigeria. A key developmental tool in 21st century market systems has made agitation for state or regional secession, in certain circumstances a more redundant and obsolete ritual to driving progress and prosperity, in a society of Nigeria geopolitical structure.

Today’s chronic economic challenges in many parts of the world – developed and underdeveloped countries alike, have triggered cravings of nationalistic identities. In 2016, against all odds, political pundits were put to shame in Britain and USA by the army of aggrieved locals whose current economic and financial misfortunes were framed as the handiwork of other people around them, people who do not look like them. They ignore the fact that their actions or inactions to remain relevant in today’s strongly dynamic and aggressive competitive environment may be responsible for their situation.

Similarly, economic hardship has weakened the spirit of strong and dedicated Nigerians, and those whose psyche and character suggests sound judgment are struggling to fathom the current state of affairs.

Looking at the different prototype maps of new Nigeria in circulation – Arewa, Oduduwa, Biafra and Niger Delta states to name a few, I wonder when the so-called agitators are going to provide a detail vision that translates these efforts into a better life for the local people. It is important to mention that, many of the so-called leaders are disgruntled corrupt politicians who have had opportunities to influence the trajectory of the country policies and direction, but did nothing. These leaders’ current attempt to cajole innocent citizens into an undefined territory, in the guise of nationalism, and to funnel the unproven secession agenda, needs careful assessment. Nigerians need to reflect on the after-effects of nationalism propaganda in countries where the slogan was once used.

India is a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic society, which, just like Nigeria, is facing challenges relating to poverty, corruption, health care, transportation, security and income inequalities. Despite India’s huge diversities, the country’s leaders have collectively focused on a growth and developmental vision, particularly in the private sector area. India Institute of Technology, the world’s best ranked engineering school (according to CBS 60 minutes – Indians exporting people to America) has seven campuses all over India, creating equal opportunities for all Indians and producing highly qualified engineers, with better job prospects in American corporations. MIT, Harvard and Princeton engineers are considered second in line to IIT graduates. Private hospitals including Apollo, Fortis Healthcare Limited and Sankara Nethralaya are few of India’s private hospitals that are not only attracting Indian American trained health care providers to return home in the development process, but also opening gate-way of foreign earnings through medical services to Western patients.

Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines and Indonesia are few other countries which have responsibly managed their multilingual states, religious differences and ethnic diversities to pursue more valuable and productive socio-economic agenda. Singapore is ranked the 3rd highest GDP per capita country in the world by United Nations Human Development Index, and Malaysia is claimed to have produced one of the best economic records in Asia in the past 5 years. Entrepreneurship, education, life quality, healthcare, security, housing development and more importantly, tourism are key areas of investment where these countries have made tremendous progress.

Leading to the 2016 presidential election in America, Republicans centered their core message on nationalism, campaigning against every fabric of globalization, and even legal immigration. What they denied their constituencies was information about real benefits of 21st century advancement in science and technology that may have eroded opportunities in some of the country’s long standing industries like coal and steel manufacturing. Republicans did a good job portraying globalisation as bad business for American culture, ignoring consumer’s easy access to affordable goods and services. It was easy for Republicans to campaign against high taxes without explaining how they will balance the budget.

Unfortunately, some of Nigeria’s known so-called agitators have likened the fate of Nigeria to Haiti, Sudan or Rwanda in case they are unable to achieve their desired goals. In 1994, the Hutu of Rwanda pursued a politics of division leading to the killing of over 1 million number of Tutsi ethnic group. Today, Rwanda has remained one and its economy has begun to garner strength. Rwanda’s economy is strengthening because the country has gone back to the basics, exportation of agricultural products and promoting tourism. South Sudan fought a deadly war for years until it gained independence in 2011. Since independence, South Sudan has not known peace. After Chechnya’s Independence in 1991, they have fought two wars thereafter. Restructuring in Chechnya has been hampered by infighting and incessant conflicts. Ukraine underestimated the importance of Crimea’s identity and Russia heritage in the course of their independence agitation. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Ukraine since independence because of greed and corruption among the elite.

Nigeria will be when all, including the so-called secession agitators learn the right lessons of history.

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