Nigeria 71


I was going to entitle this blog post “The Trouble With Nigeria”, but that would require a book not a blog. Probably several volumes.

I spent four years of my life in Nigeria, and one reason I seldom blog about it is that I do not wish to upset my many Nigerian friends, who tend to find my views unpalatable (and it is their country, not mine).

It is only in recent years that I have come to the view that so many of the problems of the world come from colonial boundaries. If the 20th century was The Age of the Nation State – and I think that characterisation has merit – then so many of those nation states, arguably the majority, are defined by frontiers imposed by colonial outsiders. Often the ethnic and social ties of the inhabitants were among the least important factors in the minds of the colonialists carving up maps.

But the extraordinary thing is the way that entirely artificial national boudaries work, in the sense of creating national loyalties. Ethnic Ewes view themselves as first or foremost Ghanaian or Togolese, and indeed speak different official languages from their cousins in the next village. The creation of independent nations in Central Asia from deliberately unworkable borders (a power ploy by Stalin) is sufficiently recent for the genuine taking hold of strong national loyalties, cutting across ethnicity and geography, to be able to have been closely studied – the work of Olivier Roy is fascinating.

The title of The Catholic Orangemen of Togo takes an amusing example of the distortion on peoples of colonial legacy in Africa, but the book considers much more serious ones.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and the hostage killings today result directly from tensions arising from Nigeria’s entirely artificial colonial borders. This is going to upset my Nigerian friends, but unfortunately the forcing together by the British of the Sultanate of Sokoto, Emirate of Kano, half of the territories of the Lamido of Adamawa etc with the Kingdom of Benin, and the Yoruba confederation, with the Ibo and other chieftaincies and at least sixty other ethnicities, was always an extraordinary and perilous construct.

I described the government of Nigeria in The Catholic Orangemen as a simple pump, by which military controlled governments dominated by Northern generals moved cash relentlessly and only northwards, from the populous and productive South to the comparatively empty and barren North. The demands of “Democracy” required a whole history of ludicrously false censuses and electoral registers to negate the obvious truth, that the South is vastly, vastly more populous than the North.

Two southern Presidents in a row – Obasanjo and Jonathan – have reduced the permanent flow of money northwards. Not stopped, but reduced. Most of that wealth anyway ended up in London or Geneva, but it did have some social spread in the Northern populations. That has also reduced, and that is why the violence by Northern based terrorist groups has increased. It has nothing to do with Al Qaida, despite the nonsense on our television screens.

I have not here discussed the terrible effect of oil in promoting the World’s worst corruption, or the currency overvaluation that destroyed a once great agricultural economy. I have not discussed the resulting urban flight, despair and poverty, or the corrosive effect of a totally corrupt elite in encouraging a whole urban society to view fraud as the normal means of transaction. I have not covered the dignity of the remaining rural population, the despoilation of the oil areas, or the greater social cohesion of Northern society. You can learn a little on each in The Catholic Orangemen (the purchase button on the right is working again). Chinua Achebe remains indispensable to understanding.

I am dreadfully sorry for the dead construction workers, British and Italian. But the heart of the matter is a false colonial national construct.

My Nigerian friends are proud of their country, but I am afraid to say Nigeria’s existence a a single entity is a great British error.


71 thoughts on “Nigeria

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  • Mary

    Some propaganda for the Empire.
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    Queen hails ‘cultural tapestry’ on Commonwealth Day
    The Queen’s message celebrates the “wealth of diversity” in the Commonwealth
    .

    The Diamond Jubilee
    Harry ‘choked up’ by Jubilee tour
    Harry praises UK and Brazil bonds
    Crowds mark start of Queen’s tour
    Harry pays tribute to the Queen
    .
    The Queen is calling for people who live in the Commonwealth to celebrate the “extraordinary cultural tapestry” of the “unique gathering of nations”.
    .
    In her annual Commonwealth Day message she describes the “wealth of diversity” of the 54 member nations.
    .
    Two billion people live in the Commonwealth and the Queen said it provided a great “understanding” for cultural differences.
    .
    Several Commonwealth countries will help celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
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    The Commonwealth, which was founded in 1949, includes 52 former colonies of the British Empire, along with Mozambique and Rwanda, which joined in 1995 and 2009 respectively.
    .
    /..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17335710
    .
    Q. Are the Military Wives recording the new ‘song’ Stronger as One’ which we are told has been specially written?

  • Mary

    I see that military propaganda can be found in the doggy world at Crufts.
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    Buster, a spaniel, who undertook tours of Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia, won the title of “man’s best friend”.
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    He saved lives by sniffing out suicide bombers wearing explosive vests.
    [..]
    Earlier, Buster the spaniel was rewarded with the Friends for Life first place prize for his bravery during his five tours of duty.
    .
    As well as sniffing out suicide bombers, he assisted on foot patrols in Afghanistan’s poppy fields, helped hunt Taliban insurgents and sought out booby trap bombs.
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    Buster, who is now set to retire at the home of RAF police sergeant Michael Barrow, was awarded the prize following a public vote.
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    He beat competition from service dogs, police dogs, assistance dogs, companion dogs and 2012 Games dogs.

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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17335353
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    Unbelievable headline in the Daily Mail – ‘The Crufts winner this year is… a petite blonde: Seven-year-old Llasa apso beats 21,000 other dogs to be named Best in Show’
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    The poor dog looks as if she is a model for a hairdresser manqué.
    {http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/03/12/article-0-122018FC000005DC-556_468x585.jpg}
    .

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    “As well as sniffing out suicide bombers”
    .
    What utter bullshit. Everyone knows it’s the bees that sniff out suicide bombers, dogs are simply too dumb.
    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/sniffer-bees-set-to-snare-suicide-bombers-7184535.html
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    Dogs are not ‘brave’ either. They operate only for rewards.
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    During WW2 the Russians trained dogs to find treats underneath tanks. The idea being that in battle the dogs could be fitted with a back-pack full of explosives primed with a magnetic detonator and set loose against the advancing Panzers.
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    At their first deployment the dogs totally ignored the Panzers and started heading straight for the Russian T-34s, i.e. the tanks they were originally trained with.

  • Mary

    This means nothing to me but Leigh Day’s site is down.
    .
    Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
    ——————————————————————————–

    Configuration Error
    Description: An error occurred during the processing of a configuration file required to service this request. Please review the specific error details below and modify your configuration file appropriately.

    Parser Error Message: Could not load file or assembly ‘CMS.DirectoryUtilities, Version=5.5.3996.30243, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=834b12a258f213f9’ or one of its dependencies. Failed to grant permission to execute. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80131418)

    Source Error:

    Line 62:
    Line 63:
    Line 64:
    Line 65:
    Line 66:

    Source File: C:\inetpub\wwwroot\leighday.kentico.mmtdigital.co.uk\web.config Line: 64

  • Mary

    12 March 2012 Last updated at 08:24
    .
    Israel kills two militants in air strikes on Gaza
    The international community is calling on both sides to end the violence
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    Israeli air strikes have killed two Palestinian militants and wounded at least 25 people in Gaza as cross-border violence entered a fourth day.
    .
    The latest deaths brings to 20 the number of Palestinians killed since the fighting began on Friday.

    /..
    How about the call to BOTH sides to end the violence. I do not read of any Israeli deaths nor of any Palestinian aircraft – F16s, helicopters or drones.

  • Komodo

    Re. Gaza: Don’t forget, it’s all Hamas’s fault and poor little Israel killed some non-Hamas people because they were Hamas really and it’s all their fault. For security. The inevitable response with rockets enhances Israel’s security, natch.

  • Mary

    From Medialens a good point. Note that children are called civilians.
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    How does Quentin Sommerville know this? Has he interviewed people “across Afghanistan?”
    Posted by scrabble on March 12, 2012, 1:44 pm
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    Quentin Sommerville on BBC news website about the killing of 9 children and 7 adults. (Notice how the BBC in its headlines reports these as 16 civilians killed. Sometimes it mentions these were mostly children later in its report, sometimes not.)
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    BBC website:
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    “Across Afghanistan, people are asking why a soldier sent to protect them would commit such a bloody crime.”
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    How does Sommerville know that people across Afghanistan are asking such a question? How does he know that Afghans believe these forces are there “to protect them”? This isn’t fact-based reporting, it’s government spin aided by blatant BBC propaganda. Sommerville doesn’t know this as a fact. He can’t possibly know unless he’s personally interviewed scores of people across the country the same day this atrocity happened (his report was filed on Sunday, the same day it happened).
    .
    Emily Maitlis on BBC News, head to one side and the blonde hair falling over her face in that affected manner, has just used the same phrase about civilians.

  • Mary

    Analysis

    Quentin Sommerville

    BBC News, Kabul

    ——————————————————————————–
    Even as the shock at the killings sinks in, there has been no repeat of earlier protests. Village elders say the streets will remain quiet as long as the gunman is brought to justice. But still there is anger among locals.
    .
    US President Barack Obama was shocked and saddened at the killings, which he said were not representative of US military forces. In a call to President Karzai he promised a full investigation. This will not affect the mission in Afghanistan, the US insists.
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    But in Kabul others are more sceptical. Many are already talking about the long-term damage to US-Afghan relations. Across Afghanistan, people are asking why a soldier sent to protect them would commit such a bloody crime.
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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17339468
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    The comment above about Emily Maitlis was mine!

  • Komodo

    To be fair, R4 was reporting the nine children last night, and today.
    So the guy just snuck out of his very heavily guarded base with a rifle, shot himself some locals, came back home and turned himself in? Is that kipper I am smelling, or rock salmon?

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    Mary 12 Mar, 2012 – 2:40 pm The comment above about Emily Maitlis was mine!
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    ‘she says her key weapons on screen are “flirtation, seduction and betrayal”‘.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/emily-maitlis-a-lot-of-front-470513.html
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    Flirting with facts, seduced by money and betraying the truth.
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    The living embodiment of a media whore. Totally without shame or embarrassment. She’s also as thick as shit. How these people get to call themselves ‘journalists’ tells you all you need to know about the quality of BBC News.

    .

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    Don’t forget also that this woman deliberately ‘flashed her tit by accident’ at some well attended media event just to get a bit of publicity in the gutter press. A truly pathetic creation.

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