Japheth Omojuwa: The seamy side of Nigeria (Y! FrontPage)


Nigeria is critical to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria does not get it right, Africa will really not make more progress. – President Barack Obama

Nigeria is not just the most populous black nation, it is indeed the heart of Africa. This is not just by its geographical positioning and expression but also by its sheer influence on the continent. The history of African Independence cannot be complete without the role of Nigeria in securing freedom for the rest of Africa as it did itself in 1960. Apart from its big brother role in Africa’s fight for independence, Nigeria headlined the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

“Nigeria attended meetings of the Frontline States of Southern Africa, chaired the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, and hosted a UN antiapartheid conference. After Nelson Mandela’s release from jail in 1990, he visited Nigeria to express his gratitude, and received a $10 million campaign contribution for the African National Congress.” [1]

With almost 20 per cent of Africa’s total population, a huge pool of resources mainly from petroleum exports and a foreign policy that is essentially afro-centric, Nigeria is indeed destined to be a force on the continent. Whether secretly supporting African struggles for independence, or remotely taking on the forces of racism and apartheid decades ago, the presence of Nigeria has either been directly or indirectly felt by the bulk of African countries. This remains so even today. Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Malians to mention just a few are some of the nationals that have Nigeria to thank for whatever hues of stability they have in their country. Liberia indeed owes its democracy a lot more to Nigeria than it does America. The blood of Nigerian soldiers was the sacrifice many of these countries offered on the altar of freedom to have the democracy they have today. You will hear a lot about the French and American soldiers doing heroic things on the African continent and I do not deny these reports but it has to be said that Nigeria as done as much if not more than these countries. It is indeed saddening to see that the seamy side of our nationhood finds a lot more ink in the foreign press, than there are enough inks to write about what makes Nigeria indeed a critical nation on the continent.

Having said this, Nigeria’s primary enemy is the image right in front of it in the mirror. We are our worst enemy. The rest of the world has not been fair to us because they are quick to amplify our evils and I admit we do have a lot of them, just like your own country and indeed every country around the world. But we have not been fair to ourselves in telling the part of the story that completes the whole. I am the first to admit that we currently have one of the most incompetent governments in the world. Corruption in Nigeria today remains at an all time high. Unlike the Olusegun Obasanjo years of 1999-2007 where there was some kind of deterrent to impunity, today impunity is the norm, the law and the order. While 70 percent of our national budget is used in paying the salaries of an over bloated civil service, manage an almost good-for-nothing National Assembly and maintain a Presidency that is at best better than a dead clock by six and half a dozen, 30 per cent goes to building infrastructure. Even more depressing is the fact that, less than 50 per cent of that 30 per cent eventually gets spent for the purpose for which it is meant. Under our budget performance review, 100 percent of our recurrent gets spent while less than 50 percent of our capital budget gets spent. This simply means that 70 percent of our national wealth is being spent – mostly wasted – to make 15 percent of our national wealth useful for us every year. This essentially means that just about 15 per cent of Nigeria’s wealth is available for development and out of this number, you’d have to factor in the cost of corruption. At the end of the day an inconsequential amount is left for genuine development efforts. That is why Nigeria remains an underdeveloped country despite recouping hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue. Any country that can boast an $800 million discrepancy in the accounts of one of its economic sectors cannot be said to be poor.[2]

You all know the seamy side of the Nigerian story but I should highlight the beauty of this country so that you can appreciate its hardly, if not never, celebrated beauty.


– First part of the speech titled; #OccupyNigeria: Fueling the Nigerian Awakening for Active Citizenship, presented by Japheth Omojuwa at the Free University, Henry Ford Bau ,Hörsaal C, Gary Str. 35, 14195 Berlin, Germany on February 12, 2013.

[1] Dr Adekeye Adebajo, The World Today, Volume 68, Number 7

[2] Prime Minister David Cameron’s Speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/prime-minister-david-camerons-speech-to-the-world-economic-forum-in-davos/



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

One comment

  1. Omojuwa will go to Germany and be talking nonsense about Nigeria… and you will say the world has not been fair to you… have your words been fair to the Nigerian Government? Everybody has suddenly forgotten that Goodluck Jonathan made sure elections were mostly free and fair…. millions of times better than Obasanjo’s regime. Free and fair elections are the first step towards true democracy and ensuring democracy and government works for the people.

    Japheth, you need to revisit your mentality

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