Do we have the capacity to produce more than we need? Do we need oyibo to show us how to, or get their endorsement? Why do we have to accept the narrative of a people who want to control our minds so they can have the right over our own rich resources? Are we blind to the fact that we are actually rich people clothed in rags? ~ Ifeoma Wenegieme
I am certain that my friend who asked the above questions while we discussed Africa’s neo-colonization will be distraught about the Adesina imbroglio where some ‘unidentified whistleblowers’ accused the AfDB boss of fraud and nepotism, claiming that he handed contracts to acquaintances and appointed relatives to strategic positions.
An issue that thrust five years of complex internal bickering among Africa’s Francophone and Anglophone countries to the fore. Adesina himself had totally rejected the allegations when he stated that he was “100% confident that due process and transparency, based on facts and evidence, will indicate that these are all nothing more than spurious and unfounded allegations.”
He was subsequently cleared of by the ethics committee of the AfBD.
But the west would have none of it. And as soon as Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary demanded an external investigation, the rich nordic nations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland among others quickly backed his request. So when Bloomberg reported that the AfDB board had agreed to an independent probe based on the US demands. I came up with my own questions.
Why is the west bothered with an African Development Bank?
What is behind Mnuchin’s insistence on a further probe of Akinwumi Adesina despite his exoneration by the board of directors of AfDB? Why is this coming a few months to the bank’s annual meeting, at which Adesina as the sole candidate will likely extend his five-year term? And at the risk of drawing parallels, I dare ask on what moral ground does a man who takes orders from Donald Trump’s son-inlaw stand to preach about nepotism?
The likely answers to these posers are embedded in the fact that the global financial system ably anchored at Bretton Woods is a veritable instrument of western domination. This attempt to rubbish and diminish the governance system of a bank that has been running for almost six decades is yet another sign that the imperialist interests of the neocolonialists are threatened by none other than China which has invested so much in Africa since the turn of the new millennium.
Yet we read arguments in support of the US pressure on Africa’s biggest lender. After all, western creditor nations own almost half of the bank’s equity with America having as much as 40% in the 70s even as debtor nations supply most of the bank staff and shareholders. My response to this line of argument is usually one question; Despite having a similar or larger percentage of ownership, can the west try this with any Asian Multilateral Development Bank affiliated to the World Bank? Your guess is as good as mine. It goes to show that beyond the inculpation of Adesina is the underlying disrespect for Africans. That nauseous ideology that Africans cannot develop Africa without transatlantic supervision.
But I have stopped blaming the west for Africa’s problems and seeming perpetual underdevelopment. You don’t need to advise a wise kid to keep out of the sun. Many African nations have been ‘independent’ for over half a century. Yet progress has remained elusive after all these years despite abundant human and natural resources. If nations were humans then by universal assumption, some should be wrapping up their earthly sojourn.
However, it is worth stating that Africa is not rich. Potential and kinetic energy are not the same because Ireland and Nigeria have similar GDP figures. But with a population of fewer than 5 million the former is doling out €3 billion in COVID-19 relief package while our government is seeking a loan of €2billion to fund the 2020 budget. Isn’t it evident that resources aren’t worth much if one lacks the cognitive fecundity to harness them? Mind you, we do not possess a monopoly of resources and if the brain is the best resource then it is fair to say that we are nowhere near Asia, let alone the western world in that department.
Let’s take another instance from the cold war era when Asia and Africa shared a common deficiency in dictators propped up by the West and Russia. While Asian leaders looted and invested at home their African counterparts ferried trillions of dollars across the Atlantic to be stashed away in Swiss banks. These contrasting actions can only mean one thing: African leaders in their greed suffer a terrible inferiority complex while their Asian counterparts believe in the capacity of their people to develop. And they did build. Today Malaysia which imported palm oil plants from Nigeria in the 19th century is the second-largest producer of the commodity. Even the UAE Sheikhs succeeded in turning a tiny nation into a tourist heaven and free trade hub while Nigeria still requires an American syllabus on how to spend repatriated Abacha loot.
Nevertheless, we have to admit that our leaders are not aliens. They didn’t drop from Mars. They emerged from the populace. They were voted in and enabled by the masses. So it would seem that we are faced with a collective problem that requires a long term ideological and multidimensional approach.
But that is too much trouble. We can trash the semantics. It makes it more difficult because having lived in the western world for some time I find the oyibo economic model rather simple. Their economies are consumer-driven. That is why I find some embellishment of Africa’s consumption laughable. That the white man sends tons of used items down here doesn’t mean we consume more. America owns more Boeing aircraft than any other country. Germans drive the most BMWs and Italians adorn more Gucci wears than any other. But the difference is that they produce these things, so it isn’t rocket science, it is simply a production and consumption cycle that keeps the economy going.
African needs mental, political and economic liberation and whichever way we choose to do this does not matter much. What is more important is that we start somewhere and somehow. It is good that Obasanjo is rallying African leaders to defend the integrity of the AfDB. It is also cheery that the bank’s board reportedly denied asking Adesina to step aside. But the black man must start producing. And we should start with Agriculture to attain food sufficiency.
There is a natural law that resists the subjugation of a well-fed man. So also it is with nations.
It is only when Africa is well-fed that it can be fed up with oyibo superiority complex. Only then can we initiate the process of building megacities in deserts like Dubai and manufacturing zones like Guangzhou.
Africa needs to realise as Adesina said in one interview that “Agriculture is not a way of life but a business for wealth creation”. Investing in it will fortify our immunity against imperialism and neo-colonization.