Nigerians are being killed at will in South Africa. This is a sad reality. They are being killed by the very people for whom Nigerians stuck out their necks yesteryears. Nigeria, like Libya and other African Countries was in the fore at calling for the abolition of Apartheid. I remember vividly how Nigerians, especially those within the entertainment industry took the message to another level by integrating the anti-apartheid struggle into their lyrics. Late Sunny, Okosun, Late Raskimono, Mandators, and countless others raised their voices for the black race in South Africa.
But all that seems to have fizzled into the thin air. Rather than harmony and appreciative receptivity, the blacks of South Africans are now butchering their fellow black Africans, especially Nigerians. At first, it was claim of “snatching their girlfriends”. Now, it has taken a new and dangerous dimension where properties belonging to other Africans resident in South Africa are looted and destroyed without any form of restraints. But that is not the thematic objective of this write-up. This write-up tends to peep into the perennial wicked acts, negligence and corrupt practices of Nigeria leaders since independence.
Although the South Africans are the ones killing Nigerians, Nigerian leaders are to be held responsible. The reasons are not far-fetched. Perennially, the politicians and political elites have continued to bleed the common treasury. It is possible that over 65 percent of monies budgeted for developmental projects and human development are stolen by these individuals who found themselves within the corridors of power. These folks constitute less than 2 percent of the entire population of Nigeria.
That aside, no present or past leader has holistically cared about the youths, beyond using them as political base and canon-fodders for political gain. In the North, the youths have been so degraded, and exploited for political gains that they now believe that they are Nigerians only to vote for the political elites. Millions of them are seen without any verifiable means of livelihood. In the Southern Axis, there still abound millions of youths who have resorted to all forms of crime in this “survival” quest.
Furthermore, there has not been any reasonable attempt by Nigerian leaders at positioning the youths for leadership positions. There are no platforms for self-exploitation and self-advancement. Bluntly said, Nigeria, under the current circumstance may not survive into the future it desires. This is because there are less and less reformers, scientists, creative artists, and trail-blazing innovators who can usher in Nigeria into the realities of the current century.
So, if you ask me, I’d said Nigerians leaders are the ones killing their citizens through their lack-luster policies, wicked looting of the treasury, favouritism over merit, tribalism, religiosity, one-sidedness, and selfishness. When these youths cannot bear it any longer, they take every risk possible to exit the shores. And when they found themselves in those “harsh climes”, they resort to all forms of crimes to survive.
What faces them there is a story for another day. They pass through hell. They are relegated and in most cases, these Nigerians become the target of their host countries. Whenever crime is mentioned, what readily comes to the mind of the law enforcement agents in their host countries is “The criminal must be a Nigerian”.
I witnessed it in Istanbul where every form of crimes committed by other Africans was believed to have been committed by a Nigerian. That is how helpless the situation is. When a Ghanaian is caught in crime, he readily claims Nigerian when arrested. When a Cameroonian commits crime, even before the full glare of the media, you’d see him claim to be a Nigerian.
Coupled with the kind of leaders Nigerians has, who despite pillaging the resources of the country, cast aspersions on Nigerians in diaspora by branding them criminals.
Few years ago, the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron was caught on camera describing Nigerians as “fantastically corrupt”. Not long after that reckless claim by David Cameron, President Buhari travelled out of Nigeria and was accosted by members of the media. The question whether Nigerians are “fantastically corrupt” was thrown at President Buhari. Guess his response. “Yes, Nigerians are fantastically corrupt”. What a shame!
But compare that with an incident some years back when an American was allegedly involved in a crime in Russia. Russia court has sentenced him. Guess what happened? The American Congress sat over the issue and raised a motion and adopted a resolution, coercing the Russian Government to grant the American clemency or return him back to the USA to serve the jail term, if he must serve it. They did not say he did not a criminal. They did not say Russia was wrong to have prosecuted their fellow citizen. They only said “No matter what he did, he deserves to live”.
Each time President Muhammadu Buhari and his reckless media handlers describe Nigerians in Diaspora as criminals, what immediately comes to my mind is a case of “Kettle calling pot black”.
For heaven’s sake, there are no bigger, unrepentant, wicked and destructive criminals, in its truest meaning than the Nigeria political elites. And let me add that there are no exceptions. Don’t be fooled by the self-righteous claim in some quarters that some politicians are more righteous than the others. Believe me; if we truly understand the meaning of corruption, we would never exempt any Nigeria leader, present or past. Unfortunately, the youths who have perennially been at the receiving end of this corrupt acts are the same people urging these old rugged rogues on.
Iheoma Light Shedrack is an idea strategist and a public issue commentator. He lives in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory and could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org