“Dis Naija na banana republic”, is what the cab driver said to me during our trip. While the banana industry may not be the main benefactor of widespread and deepening corruption in Nigeria (it’s the oil), there is a general lack of class analysis and revolutionary consciousness owing mostly to decades-long imperialist propaganda and baked-in capitalist ideals across much of Nigerian society. The driver, a worker like myself, can point out these stark problems through generalizations e.g., ‘dis politicians dey benefit from how tings don spoil’, or can bring up specifics related to long fuel queues or poor power supply. The challenge lies in making the larger connections between these issues and informing the masses that Nigeria, regardless of its profile on the world stage is still very much a banana republic trapped in servitude to imperialist machinations and trickery.
It is important to bridge these cracks in the psyche of contemporary Nigerians with the aim of raising revolutionary optimism and spreading class analysis. Nigeria as an entity separate from its origins as a colonial protectorate became one of the many beacons on the African continent representing Pan-African consciousness and regional cooperation among other qualities that benefit Africans everywhere.
You can see the 1929 Women’s War in Aba (an eastern state in Nigeria) where thousands of Igbo women led a great revolt against British colonial administrators, a event that since became a prime example of anti-colonial protest and grassroots feminist direct action. It is crucial to note that the event is only popularly know as the ‘Aba Women’s Riots’ because the colonial administrators sought to reduce the import of the event in their reports and records. Another example of Nigeria as a Pan African beacon was in 1964, when Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was hosted in the University of Ibadan and he gave a speech to the Muslim students, it was in this context that he was given the name ‘Omowale’.
Steal the history, Steal the mind
In 2007, history was pulled from the basic education curriculum, meaning, primary and secondary school students did not take classes on the subject. In 2019, the same Federal government that pulled the subject then moved to instruct schools to implement history as a standalone subject from the 2020/2021 session. We know the cumulative effect of a lack in historic knowledge. We know this is akin to wiping a people’s memory. We know this is no different from denying a people their right to remember their collective past. For more than a decade, practically a generation, millions of young Nigerians were denied structured education on their history, frankly, this is no different from young people in the imperial core being denied access to the historic facts about colonial atrocities around the world.
In Nigeria, the lack of historical context shows up again when we consider the #ENDSARS protest, as hardly any media outlets mainstream or alternative, drew the historic line that connects police brutality to colonial police training intended to control indigenous populations, or the police training programs that the imperialists hosts with countries around the world. Fortunately, principled African revolutionaries put out vital information and counterpropaganda like this, and this, to shake the scales from the eyes of observers and to raise political consciousness so desperately needed in Nigeria.
I’d like to order one AFRICOM base, thank you
April 2021, President Buhari in a virtual meeting with warhawk US secretary of state Anthony Blinken asked for the us government to reconsider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Germany to Africa, closer to the so-called ‘theatre of operations’ i.e., the Sahel region, West and Central Africa. It is also strange how ‘they’ call it a theatre of operations – sounding very medical, but close research proves these bases are tied to heavy waste production, pollution, death, and the rending of the surrounding social fabric as recorded widely, but I digress. For the Nigerian head of state to outright request that kind of support, showed a dire lack of confidence in the institutions he leads and a willingness to deepen neocolonial ties. On the other hand, recent history shows that the same government had allowed France to intervene in Cote d’Ivoire and voted in support of the NATO ‘no fly’ zone over Libya, all in 2011. To say the polity is compromised is an understatement.
It is important to note that the masses, to the extent that they were aware of the incident, they were strongly against such an action. This is a unifying node in the collective Nigerian geopolitical consciousness no different from other African nations that resist the presence of a us military command headquarters. Echoing research from Tri-Continental – the research platform, the mood to prevent the basing of AFRICOM headquarters in Africa still rests among the African people. While the government shifted from its initial stand on the matter, remember that awareness campaigns like Shut Down AFRICOM serve to keep this crucial matter on the minds of the masses.
What sort of bully squad is this?
Amidst the spate of coups that took place across Africa through 2019 into 2021, we must remember that Mali in particular was struck with heavy sanctions by ECOWAS and AU because of the coups that overthrew President Keita and President Bah N’daw in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Critical information is usually left out of most coverage about the matter. Firstly, the provisional government in Bamako has popular support, thousands took to the streets in demonstration against the sanctions. Secondly, the fact that ECOWAS gave tighter sanctions to Mali while Guinea witnessed a coup around the same period, this led many to conclude that ECOWAS was acting in favor of foreign interests, France in particular. Thirdly, Mali is the third highest producer of gold in Africa, making it critical to the French-controlled currency scheme, the CFA, and being a popular led government, imperialists cannot risk the threat of a good example, just like Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Iran. Lastly, the people in Mali roundly reject these conditions, reject the presence of the French military, and maintain support for the provisional government, amidst the sanctions and cynical isolation tactics.
Nigeria again misses the opportunity to express any unifying foreign policy, and instead carries on with the ECOWAS and AU sanctions against a neighbor. This is another situation where the average Nigerian as much as they follow the situation, at the very least, will ask why institutions that are meant to foster unity are essentially conducting economic warfare against a regional partner. This question stands doubly valid for Nigeria which holds observer status in the Organization of American States – the group acting as a cat’s paw for enforcing US foreign policy in South America. The country is not sovereign and its actions on the world stage as well as regionally are not in the interests of African people.
Accessible political education in Nigeria, is crucial to raising revolutionary awareness. The people know the specific issues hindering equitable development and better standards of living. The people also know that leadership and good governance are what African countries need. The disconnect lies in connecting these facts to the wider systems of imperialism, capitalism, and neocolonialism. Prof Patrick Lumumba is quoted as saying,
Sometimes, I think Nigerians and many Africans are not fed up. Because the day we are fed up, things will begin to change. But as long as we celebrate thieves, as long as we celebrate money no matter how it is got, everybody will want to have the money and they don’t care about how it’s got. The day we begin to get angry, the country will change in one month.Professor Patrick Lumumba
By understanding and sharing knowledge about information warfare especially with the societal dominance of social media, we can start the process of educating each other. Understanding the past is invaluable, the impact of joining a Pan-African organization cannot be overstated, and while the driver I mentioned may be right, the Nigerian consciousness should not be continuously lulled to sleep, this will not be the first nation that wrestles itself away from the fangs of imperialism nor will it be the last. More people are aware, more people are waking up.