Friday, 4 May 2007

Is Nigeria a model for Africa?

The prevailing international opinion

The Economist is an international affairs magazine published weekly with a circulation of over a million of which 53% are American.

We have seen justifiable outrage in the blog world about ways in which Nigeria is portrayed negatively and sometimes unfairly.

However, we can agree on the point that the elections conducted last month left much to be desired for the democratic progress of Nigeria and set a poor example of the exercise of universal suffrage in Africa.

Nigeria is losing respect

The Economist published a good few articles about Nigeria and the elections making some incontrovertible assertions that could only heap shame on the process.

In a leader, last week, Will Africa Ever Get It Right? (Subscription might be required to read articles in The Economist) I excerpt a number of statements verbatim.

"And yet their rotten leaders presume they have some kind of right, by virtue of their country's size and natural wealth, to strut the global stage as leaders of the continent. How wrong they are."

This simply indicates that Nigeria is losing respect globally by virtue of its inability to safeguard the sanctity of a democratic process with free and fair elections.

"Any notion that Nigeria should be taken seriously as a continental spokesman, let alone a model, should be laughed out of court."

I think this speaks for itself, this is difficult to read but we can only improve international commentary by improving things at home.

Nigeria is not Africa

It goes on to say that the events that happened in Nigeria should not be viewed as an African malaise, Nigeria is NOT Africa, it states categorically.

A lesson in contemporary history shows that the excuse we have given about not being able to conduct elections to the standard of the West still leaves the obvious progress of a once poorer and less organised Asia overtaking Africa like a horse to a tortoise, in a flat race.

"The killer comparison is with Asia, where many countries suffered from the same colonial humiliations and rapacity that independent Africa customarily blamed for its early failings.

According to the World Bank, real income per head in the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa between 1960 and 2005 rose on average by 25%, while it leapt 34 times faster in East Asia; countries like South Korea and Malaysia were once as poor as Ghana and Kenya.

The excuse of colonialism wore out at least a generation ago-and Africans know it."

The throwback to colonialism can not more hold water, the Asians also had the same problems, how did they get out of those problems?

The integrity of the poor

That concludes with "In the end, Africa must help itself, just as Asia has."

Then in this week's edition under the title - Swathes of desert but oases of progress - they highlight how dirt-poor Mali and Mauritania, have for the 5th and 1st time respectively conducted democratic elections which observers have called fair.

The world order is changing, as might without honour is losing value and poor with integrity is turning into the right currency for aid and investment.

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