The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
Can Buhari Rescue Nigeria from Itself?
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Africa’s most populous nation has just achieved something very important. This week Nigeria’s voters handed a landslide victory to former president, Muhammadu Buhari.

Equally impressive, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, became the first Nigerian leader in 55 years to democratically cede power to his rival.

President-elect Buhari, a dour, ascetic, unsmiling former general, proclaimed his primary goal is to attack all-pervasive corruption and crush the Boko Haram uprising in the north. Interestingly, Buhari, a Muslim, received substantial support in the Christian south in this normally religiously-divided nation of 177 million.

Nigeria is one of the world’s most corrupt nations. The rating site Transparency International puts it 144 out of 177 most corrupt nations, just ahead of DR Congo and Haiti. But I disagree. I think Nigeria may be the most corrupt nation in Africa and likely on earth.

Since independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria has received over $400 billion in aid from Europe and the US, six times the post-WWII Marshall Plan that helped rebuild western Europe.

Nearly all of it was stolen.

An estimated $380 billion of government funds was stolen since independence, according to a recent finance minister. Most of this money ended up in Swiss Banks and London real estate. A former military dictator, Sani Abacha, is estimated to have stolen $4 billion during the 1990’s before dying in bed of a heart attack after romping with two Indian prostitutes.

In Nigeria, corruption infuses every aspect of daily life in a nation where the average per capita income is under $2. Everything runs on “dash,” as payoffs are known.

Nigeria had become infamous around the globe as the source of torrents of fraudulent emails offering millions in riches to the unwary. Amazingly, Nigerian fraudsters seem to have raked in over $130 million this way, showing that greed, like sex, numbs common sense.

Attacking Nigeria’s toxic corruption will be a labor of Hercules. Even more urgent, however, will be dealing with the run-amok Boko Haram. This bunch of wildmen has been attacking civilians since 2002, but no one in the West paid the slightest attention until 200 girls were kidnapped last year.

Boko, like ISIS, is not really Islamic. But the movement fit perfectly with the West’s current obsession and hysteria over the so-called Muslim threat.

Boko Haram is an inevitable reaction to Nigeria’s outrageous corruption where 1% own everything and the previous government’s favored the Christian south over the poorer Muslim north.

Many in the Muslim world support radical Islamist movements because they are seen, rightly or wrongly, as morally righteous, and incorruptible. Where justice is always bought, these Muslim reformers bring harsh but often honest justice.

Western-backed regimes in the Muslim world are often steeped in corruption. The West is seen as a primary source and purveyor of corruption in Muslim society – not that the Islamic world was not already plagued by widespread corruption. But the US, with its planeloads of newly-printed $100 bills, put corruption onto steroids.

ORDER IT NOW

Buhari left office unenriched during his first presidential term. As a result, like Egypt’s incorruptible Gamal Abdel Nasser, he won widespread popular support as the man who could not be bought. Another was the late, great French leader Charles De Gaulle who insisted on reimbursing the state for personal phone calls made from his official residence. Compare this to Africa’s other leaders or, say, the Clintons.

Nigeria’s feeble, 68,000-men army has been unable to confront Boko Haram’s lightly-armed rabble because their arms and supplies have been stolen by officers or never arrived. As a result, Nigeria has been hiring white South African mercenaries to fight Boko Haram – reminding me of the zany days of 1961-62 in the former Belgian Congo when “Mad” Mike Hoare and “Col” Bob Denard and a few hundred white mercenaries routed the entire Congolese Army and drug-crazed Simba rebels.

A bigger threat to Nigeria comes from corruption and the fall in the price of oil enflaming ethnic and tribal tensions between the north and south, an unstable, unhappy amalgam thanks to British imperialism. Happily, election of Buhari, a Muslim may lessen anger by the northerners that the south was getting the lion’s share of dash from the central government.

There is hope for Nigeria – but a lot of work before it can shed its unfortunate reputation and start helping its people. Oil, known to some as “the Devil’s excrement,” has done nothing for 99%of Nigeria’s people, proving once again that abundant natural resources can be more of a curse than a bounty.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Nigeria 
Hide One CommentLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Vendetta says:

    Curious how Nigeria’s governments came to favor the Christian South after they killed a million southern Christian Igbos for trying to secede. Or the extent to which that is actually true.

    Alternatively, Boko Haram is the expression of the Muslim interior’s xenophobia and isolationism. A reaction to increasing Christian trade and settlement and modernizing influences into their backwards, inwordly focused, sharia-ruled world.

    Some of their supporters would like them to be seen as Robin Hoods in turbans, but I suspect that the clash of cultures is really the main basis of their movement’s strength.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.