The word “independence” is defined in ordinary terms as not needing other things or people; freedom from external influence or not allowing oneself to be controlled. It has come to be associated with political governance and administration as a whole. The word has an age long history dating back to several centuries ago when very ancient cities had to engage in fierce battles to achieve self-governance. From this time on wards countries and territories that were under any sort of colonial rule sought to achieve this freedom and although in many cases such freedom came without violence but with continuous and persistent diplomatic quest for it. In very recent times however the word “independence” has now come to be associated with religious, social, economic, educational and civil organizations as a way of seeing that activities which concern them are managed by people who the outcome of such management will have direct effect on them also. In other words it is a concept which says “we want to do it ourselves” or “we don’t need your help in doing this”. While we understand how independence as a practice is now so widely effectuated, some other concepts such as democracy, legitimacy and sovereignty are after-effects of the practice of independence. Of importance to be examined here for the purpose of this piece is the word “sovereignty”.
Sovereignty is the quality of assuming self-significance; it has to do with the complete freedom and power to govern. In other words independence bestows upon leader the authority to exercise sovereignty in the interest of the governed. Let’s quickly understand that while independence in political administration is a direct consequence of freedom given by external forces, sovereignty is freedom and authority derived from within, the governed. Therefore in 1960 when Nigeria gained its independence, it was free from external rule and thereafter given the mandate of sovereignty by the people. This sovereignty is what is usually renewed during elections. By this act people choose their representatives who will assume administrative positions and bestow upon them the legal mandate to put in machinery and policies primarily designed to suit their interest. From the foregoing it is evident that democracy and sovereignty go hand-in-hand. One therefore wonders what happens in a situation of democracy without sovereignty. Indeed the two concepts connote freedom, for this reason democracy will not be complete without sovereignty. It is indeed laughable when properly considered.
The essence of properly examining the foregoing concepts is to understand a salient modus-operandi of the current Nigerian President, Gen. Mohammed Buhari (rtd.) which involves having to disclose vital issues, decisions and actions concerning the Nigerian state to foreign bodies before being known by Nigerians. In other words Nigerians in many cases have had to know of key goings-on at the federal level of administration only after such had been made known to other countries or international organizations. Of worthy to note here are three instances which are firstly Buhari’s disclosure shortly after he was sworn in as President that he was discussing with Boko Haram as a way of ending the menace of the dreaded terrorist group; secondly, while on a foreign visit he disclosed that he would appoint his ministers and other key cabinet members in September 2015 and finally an article in the Washington Post quoted how Buhari disclosed that a staggering $150 billion had been stolen from Nigeria. As meaningful as these pieces of information may be the audience or recipient may be considered misplaced. The three scenarios above are those that have gained significant clout in the Nigerian social, political and economic scene. By effect the primary bearer(s) of the outcome of any of these events are the Nigerian people. They therefore should be the first to be communicated with progress level or latest developments in managing and dealing with such events.
While we clearly understand that colonialism may have ended decades ago, a deep consideration of the above actions by the President may suggest an indirect neo-colonialist or imperialist solicitation. In this case and looking beyond Walter Rodney’s argument in How Europe underdeveloped Africawe clearly see what is seeming to be our call-out to the foreign bodies to continue their rule over us.If however anyone tries to dismiss this as being mere display of diplomacy by our dear President with the foreign bodies, can we ask ourselves how many of their policies and issues they get to discuss with us before they get to execute them. Infact Africa and most part of the world are kept in utmost secrecy when it comes to policies that concern their existence and continuous development. Al that may be know are the actions that have only become carefully orchestrated executions of policies that have been thoroughly deliberated upon within the coffers of their various countries. So much as Rodney claims that Europe under-developed Africa and while his argument may hold some water, it is high time we kept events that happened decades and centuries ago and move on. If we dwell so much on the past in terms of colonial rule and its effect on Africa till the present day, then the likes of the US should still be nursing old wounds.
The three above issues which the President first disclosed to foreigners is of paramount interest to the Nigerian state in the sense that they touch very sensitive areas of the country’s existence which are the security, political, social and economic areas. These areas account for virtually the sum-total of where the people desire intervention from the government and shortcomings in managing events that emanate from these areas may not be tolerated. So it appears a little of a neglect to the people with whom the mandate of governance truly lie- the citizens. Can’t we also understand the magnitude of significance the Nigerian people will attach to issues concerning them and the strategic steps being taken to manage such issues? In essence the people should be made to feel that they are a part of government, issues revolving around it and measures put in place for their purposeful management. We cannot keep making conscious efforts at avoiding a phenomenon and making unconscious efforts at still making that same phenomenon come towards us. The first and probably the most important step of a country’s measure of true independence and sovereignty is its ability to handle all magnitude of issues that concern it, where this is absent one cannot help but sense that such a country is incapable of handling its affairs and therefore requires foreign assistance.
It is important to understand that every country of the world will seek to advance robust and beneficial foreign policies, hence the drive for global supremacy. It will be a misnomer to believe that all a country wants to do is simply helping another without incentives or benefits to be received. Can we quickly understand that when nation-states execute policies and carry out actions such involve time, huge financial and human resources, planning and strategy, and the will-power to make such policy execution successful? Can we also understand the fact that the deployment of the above-mentioned resources will affect the economy of such a country and have a final effect on its citizens? Of course an extraction of the above resources from a country’s economy which hitherto were needed in the country will most certainly not have a positive effect on the economy. So why will a country in the first place want to engage in such “charitable” activities. Of course a country will take “solace” in the fact that it has many other things to benefit from such venture. In otherwords as with every meaningful activity the benefit should outweigh the cost. So for a nation-state to decide “helping” another after meticulous considerations, it must have seen the benefits it stands to gain. While we may consider resource mobilization and policy execution to be at the height of it, disclosure and discussion of issues as well as policy formulation may be the base of it and indeed when looked at deeply the catalyst needed for the effectuation of seemingly neoclassic and imperialist actions towards Nigeria and Africa.
Kingsley Ohajunwa is a Nigerian writer. He can be reached via email on email@example.com
Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates