NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: NIGERIAN QUEST FOR WORLD LEADERSHIP BY PROFESSOR A. BOLAJI AKINYEMI - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Friday, 25 November 2016

NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: NIGERIAN QUEST FOR WORLD LEADERSHIP BY PROFESSOR A. BOLAJI AKINYEMI



From-left-Prof.-Bolaji-Akinyemi-Prof.-Oladipo-Akinkugbe
PROFESSOR A. BOLAJI AKINYEMI, B.A., M.A., M.A.L.D. D.PHIL (OXON.), CFR, Fniia, Fssan 
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, FORMER DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, FORMER MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE.
BEING THE TEXT OF THE 2016 CONVOCATION LECTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN, 16 November 2016.


It was not easy finding the right words to frame the topic. I went through several variants ranging from NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: WHAT EXCEPTIONALISM? through NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: MYTH OR REALITY?; NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: CHASING A SHADOW, NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: CHASING THE RAINBOW; NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM: VICTORY OF HOPE OVER EXPERIENCE. The variants are endless. These varieties tell their own stories as they reflect the swing in my mood from pessimism to optimism and then back again to pessimism. 

It is either courage or sheer lunacy
, the kind of lunacy that scholars exhibit from time to time that propels me to stand before you and proclaim Nigerian exceptionalism, at a time when the Minister of Finance, MrsKemiAdeosun proclaims that Nigeria is in the worst economic recession ever[1], newspapers are carrying screaming headlines about millions being out of jobs and Senator Shehu Sani saying “We may die before President completes reforms”[2]Let me lay this issue to rest right away. In the latest United Nations Human Development Index 2015notice that both Pakistan ranked at 147 and Nigeria ranked 152 out of 188 are both grouped among Low Human Development countries, with Nigeria having N5314 Gross NATIONAL Income per capita and Pakistan having N4866 GNI per capita and yet, Pakistan is a not only a nuclear power, it is ranked no.13, while Nigeria is ranked 44 out of 126 countries in the Global Firepower Military Rankings. Of course, Pakistan did not spend about $7.4 billion on the importation of toothpicks, fish, milk, textiles, rice and furniture between 2014 and May 2015 as Nigeria did.

Resources per se do not determine exceptionalism, it is the utilization of the resources or more accurately, the prioritization of the utilization of resources. For example, in terms of Defence Spending, Pakistan spent $7b, and is ranked at 27 and Nigeria spent $2.3billion ranked at 62 out of 128 countries. 

The debate between the social welfare school and the power school in the evolution of a Nigerian strategic doctrine dated back to the post civil war period. There were two schools of thought in the 1970s/1980s. One school which I championed was located at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs where I was the Director General. We espoused the power school. We fought for a large army arguing that given the large land mass of Nigeria, we needed a large army that could occupy and secure territory rather than a small mobile army that cannot garrison captured territory. The other school, located at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and identified with Dr. BalaUsman argued for a small highly mobile and highly mechanized army. BalaUsman’s school won the argument then. But when the Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants came calling, the Nigerian army increased its strength from 3 Divisions to 6 Divisions thus proving me right.

 This kind of debate is not unique to Nigeria. Debate between those who want more allocation of resources to hospitals, schools, and bridges and those who want more allocation to the military and security sector bedevils public policy debate in all countries. One of the factors that determines the allocation is the expectation of the role of the country on the world scene.

A major factor responsible for our present state is not a lackof resources but a scandalous application of resources, not by government alone but by we the Nigerians. How can you describe as poor a country which spent a total of N1.18 trillion (about $7.4 billion) on the importation of toothpicks, fish, milk, textiles, rice and furniture between 2014 and May 2015?

According to figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), fish imports gulped $1.39 billion while milk and rice imports accounted for $1.33 billion and $51 million respectively.

According to the Governor of the Central Bank:

“most of you are aware of the often-quoted number of N1.3 trillion, which is what we spend on average importing rice, fish, sugar, and wheat every year. I am saying it is shameful that we have to import toothpick.  I am saying that it is shameful for us to import fish in sauce canned, fish in sauce and sardine. I am saying it is shameful. Before I was born palm kernel was taken out of Nigeria and taken to another country and today we go to that country and import palm oil. It is shameful. It is shameful that items that we used to produce in this country we now begin to import them. It is shameful and we need to stop them. That is what we are saying… Only last week, I met the Governor of Kebbi State and he lamented the unfortunate situation in that state. Where people, our own farmers, have committed themselves to producing rice and have produced paddy and we have paddy glut in Kebbi State today. As I speak, the government has spent its money buying paddy  rice from the farmers, almost close to 200,000 of paddy rice…aside from that, Kebbi State farmers have unpurchased paddy rice close to 800,000 tons. And yet we patronise imported rice.

The misapplication in resources is not limited to those identified above. There are no figures for marriages in Dubai, in South Africa and in Brazil; or birthdays in Rome or Spain. 

The madness is not in our stars, it is in us.

Another illustration of the quasi-criminal misapplication of resources is the pension package for ex-governors.According to a Lagos Pension Law a former governor will enjoy the following benefits for life: Two houses, one in Lagos and another in Abuja. (Property experts estimates such a house in Lagos to cost N500 million and Abuja N700 million.)

Others are six brand new cars replaceable every three years; furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual salary to be paid every two years, and a close to N2.5 million as pension (about N30 million pension annually).
He will also enjoy security detail, free medicals including for his immediate families.

Other benefits are 10 percent house maintenance, 30 percent car maintenance, 10 percent entertainment, 20 percent utility, and several domestic staff.

Other states have copied this scandolous Lagos Pension scheme.
Such is the state of public cynicism, that even expenditure which is justified under security considerations has aroused pubic condemnation. The Saturday Punch of September 24, 2016 drew the following to public attention under a screaming headline which read:

Recession: Governors lavish billions of naira on bulletproof cars for selves, wives

Let me make one thing absolutely clear. I accept that there is a lot of suffering in the land.I am not denying that there is a lot of poverty now and that we are in a recession. But I am also claiming that we (not just the government) bear our share of responsibility for this financial peculiar mess. It is not government alone that is responsible for N62.8b of imported French fries rather than the potatoes produced in the Middle Belt, for the $6m daily of imported rice while 800,000 tons of rice go unbought in Kebbi, for the N7.2b spent on imported tooth pick and billions of naira spent on Brazillian, Japanese, Indian etc hair pieces. Was it government that was travelling and bringing in goods from China, Dubai, Italy etc?

Another issue to put to bed is the proposition that corruption has had a negative effect on Nigerian exceptionalism, what with the fantastically corrupt jibe. The latest figures on corruption are quite illuminating.We are not even the most corrupt country in the world. China leads the world over the 10-year period from 2004 to 2013 with US$139 trillion in illicit outflows, followed by Russia, Mexico, India, and Malaysia with Nigeria at no. 10 with $18trillion. China also had the largest illicit outflows of any country in 2013, amounting to a staggering US$258.64 billion in just that one year.

Here is a message on social media that aptly summaries the culpability of all of us and is titled:

STATE OF THE NATION..

I have been following closely the activities of this gov't and whenever I have the opportunity, I try to find out the opinions of people as regards the performance of this government.
I just realized that the hardship faced by many Nigerians is simply as a result of the fact that almost everyone of us benefited from the cycle of corruption.
The bricklayer, plumber, laborers, tiler are all complaining because building construction has slowed down massively because the thieves no longer have money to spend on real estate.
The car dealers are grumbling because their cars are begging for buyers. Thieves can no longer spend wastefully.
The private school owners are shouting because parents can no longer pay outrageous sums and are withdrawing their wards.
The fact is, We mostly have been living above our REAL MEANS.
We have been staying in houses that ordinarily our incomes can't afford.
Our children going to schools we can't afford. Driving cars we ordinarily can't maintain.
We have been living a FAKE LIFE all along. Now the reality is before us and we don't want to accept it.
This shows how morally bankrupt we are.
You can't eat your Cake and have it. Take Note..."GOD HELP AND BLESS NIGERIA"
You got billions from bank without collateral using your political influence. You put half into your business and spent the other half on exotic cars, jewelleries' etc.
Your business employs 100 people normally. You get illegal waivers and concessions to import raw materials at rock bottom prices, you get over-inflated contract to supply gov't some goods your company produce....in short your company is kept afloat by corruption.

Now the new SHERIFF in town says:
no more ridiculous waivers,
no more inflated contracts, no more bank loans without collateral, in fact its time you or your company pay off the billions of debt owed.....
AMCON takes over your company, staff are laid off......And you go on air and say the new sheriff is killing business and causing unemployment..
The truth is....you and your company were never in business, you were only feeding off the system.
Too many companies and banks are funded by corruption. Remove corruption from the system and they collapse.......and we end up blaming the person that removes corruption for the collapse of the corruptly run fake company.
Its like our system and corruption are so interwoven and inseparable that removing one will kill the other.”
The commentary ended on a sarcastic note:
“Maybe we should tolerate and learn to live with corruption so that Nigeria can survive?”[3]

Corruption is relevant in the misapplication of resources which undermines the corpus of resources available for development. If we do not understand all these issues, as soon as we start to come out of the recession, we will make the same mistakes all over again as wee did with the recession of the 1980s.

THE CONCEPT OF EXCEPTIONALISM:
What exactly is the concept of exceptionalism? Collins English Dictionary describes it as “an attitude to other countries, cultures, etc based on the idea of being quite distinct from, and often superior to, them in vital ways”[4] It has been suggested that the first reference to the concept by name, and possibly its origin, was by French writer Alexis de Tocqueville in his 1835/1840 work[5] where he wrote “The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one.”

Even though the concept of exceptionalism is now wrapped around the global image of the United States, the consciousness of a concept predates the naming of the concept. The consciousness of exceptionalism is much older than the United States. When Ruyald Kipling wrote “The White Man’s Burden” in 1899 to celebrate the United States occupation of the Philippines,[6] it seemed to have confirmed the United States exclusive claim to Exceptionalism. But in fact, Kipling had originally written the piece to celebrate the British Empire and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. While the piece was not used, it confirms my thesis that colonialism and before then slavery had embedded in them the consciousness of exceptionalism. Let me stretch this further: To the extent that each religion lays claim to being the repository of the whole truth, each religion lays claim to exceptionalism.

In ancient times, the phrase “CivisRomanus sum” was a recognition of the exceptionalism of the Roman empire. I am sure that when I delve into Chinese and Greek histories, I will find evidence of exceptionalism to explain their empire-building exercises.

Thus it is obvious that at different times, different countries have laid claim to exceptionalism and one factor common to all of these countriesis the possession of power which lent credence to the claim. 

A more apt illustration of the nexus between power and the concept of exceptionalism, nearer home, from contemporary times can be drawn from the example of Ghana. Ghana became independent in 1957 and immediately sent out signals to lay claim to leadership of African and Black Diasporic affairs. A country formerly called Gold Coast, named itself Ghana after one of the most famous and powerful pre-colonial indigenous African empires, adopted the Black Star as a national symbol, and named its national football team, the Black Stars. It pursued brilliant and activist policies designed to mobilise Africans and Africans in the Diaspora. But without a power base, economic and military, to project herself, the concept of exceptionalism could simply not be creditably applied to Ghana.[7]

It is absolutely critical and crucial to bear in mind that of significance is the fact that critical to the concept of exceptionalism is the issue of the purpose of the policies designed to actualize the exceptionalism. The purpose is usually designed to promote dominance internationally. Rome bred a Roman Empire, Britain, Spain, Portugal and France, each bred an empire, Russia bred an empire under the cloak of a worker’s revolution and was clever enough to mask it by calling it a Soviet Union.

NIGERIA AND THE HISTORICISM OF EXCEPTIONALISM 

Let us now situate Nigeria within the narrative. The past is always with us and influences us more than we realize. The influence may be on our subconscious but it is there. The concept of exceptionalism manifesting itself in a world leadership role is one that may resonate with an elite from an environment that has a tradition of empire-building. Among the Kanuri political elite in Borno with a heritage of a Kanem-Borno empire in the not too distant past, and an eschatological expectation of a reconstituted empire, exceptionalism of a world leadership role is not likely to evoke a blank stare of incomprehension. The Hausa/Fulani original empire extended way beyond the northern shores of Nigeria while the Oyo empire in the South-West extended to the territory of modern Ghana. This makes that political elite to be responsive to this kind of exceptionalism message. But this is not a trip down the deterministic path. The effect is not automatic. But it is of high probative value. 

How deep is this concept of exceptionalism in Nigeria?

On Thursday 30th September 2010, an independence anniversary colloquium was held in Abuja and the title of the Colloquium was “NIGERIA’S LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE WORLD”. Of even more significance is the caliber of the participants at the colloquium which included President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Former President of Namibia, Dr. SamNujoma, Former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, Former Executive Secretary, ECOWAS, Dr. Mohammed IbnChambas and myself. The significance of these factsspeaks for themselves. How many countries in the world would host a national symposium and have a sitting President, two former Presidents and two eminent personalities as discussants. Equally significant is that two of the countries represented are Namibia and South Africa, two of the powerhouses in Africa. Furthermore, how many countries not just in Africa but in the world would put on a symposium where the topic would be couched in what some may regard as grandiose terms or a delusional exercise? The riposte has to be: what is the gain to someone like Thabo Mbeki or Sam Nujoma to take part in a delusional exercise? Surely their participation should be regarded as empirical evidence that there is some reality behind the discourse.

In 2014, a News Agency of Nigeria carried a story under the title “Centenary: African leaders commend Nigeria's leadership role in Africa” (01 March 2014). The participants included President of Namibia, HifikepunyePohamba, who said: "We salute the tenacity, the solidarity and commitment to peace that Nigeria has demonstrated in the peacekeeping operations…”, President YahyaJammeh of Gambia, who said that Nigeria had invested human, financial and material resources to bind the continent together.Jammeh, who earned a standing ovation for his eulogy of Nigeria's qualities, opportunities and continued leadership role, said Nigeria held the key to the continued relevance of the continent on the global map.”President Joyce Banda of Malawi was also full of praises for Nigeria for its commitment to peace, security and the development of the continent.Banda, who joined her Liberian counterpart to condemn the recent Boko Haram attack on students, expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to realise its greatness in spite of the security challenges.In his goodwill message, the President of Arab Sahawari Democratic Republc, Mohammed Abdelaziz, congratulated Nigeria for surviving 100 years of nationhood.Abdelaziz, whose country's independence day celebration was the same day as Nigeria, had marked the day,a day earlier, to enable him to attend Nigeria's centenary celebration.

In September 2015, The New Diplomat carried a story under the headline “EX-BRITISH ENVOY: NIGERIA CAN BE AFRICA’S ECONOMIC HUB”
Even though I will backtrack later to what I believe are the historical factors underlying the leadership syndrome as an element of Nigeria’s manifest destiny, the three episodes referred to earlier encapsulate the core theme of this paper. Firstly, Nigerian government officially picked a topic laying claim to Nigerian leadership role in the world. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not believe that Nigeria was laying claim to being the leader of the world in the way the United States would use the same phraseology to signify that. Even Nigerian officialdom does not suffer from such delusion of grandeur. The deconstruction of Nigerian world role would be dealt with later. The second issue is the open embrace of the exceptionalism by non-Nigerian officialdom. The third issue is the open embrace of this exceptionalism by the Nigerian public as evidenced by the title of the NAN story on the 2014 centenary event.

THE PRE-INDEPENDENCE PERIOD:

The physical attributes of Nigeria in terms of geographical size, population, size of the economy, and size of the army have had a profound impact on the development of the Nigerian exceptionalism syndrome.

Nigeria has a population estimated at about 185million (2015 est), It is about about six times the size of Georgia; slightly more than twice the size of California. It has Land boundariestotalling: 4,477 km, out of which the followingborder countries are: Benin 809 km, Cameroon 1,975 km, Chad 85 km, Niger 1,608 km and coastline is 853 km.

Even before the independence of Nigeria, there had grown up within the domestic political intellectual class and the international foreign policy elite a belief in the manifest destiny of Nigeria to play an exceptional role in world affairs. At a time when the Nigerian political class should still be focusing almost exclusively on seeing the struggle for independence to a successful conclusion, foreign affairs had already started to carve a niche for itself in the consciousness of the Nigerian elite. There was a consciousness among the Nigerian elite of an acceptance that Nigeria had a crucial role to play in world affairs in the post-independence period. What motivated or spurred this consciousness in the first place? There were four operational factors that under-laid this consciousness. The first factor was the early independence of Ghana which became what was perceived as a genuine African voice on the global stage. This was in spite of the fact that Liberia and Ethiopia had been independent African states much, much, earlier than Ghana. But neither the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Sellasie, nor the President of Liberia, William Tubman, had the flair or vision of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Nigeria felt that this was an affront to the role which should have been reserved for Nigeria because of her mega size.

The second factor was the activist foreign policy pursued by Ghana. She practically hit the ground running on cold war issues and on Pan-Africanism. If Ghana had achieved independence and kept out of the international limelight, Nigeria would not have felt the urge to stake out foreign policy positions long before independence. But Nkrumah was not the quiet one. He was the stuff that revolutionaries were made off. As if responding to Dylan Thomas burgle command "do not go gentle into that good night,...rage, rage against the dying of the light", Nkrumah came out raging against the international system. He teamed up with Pandit Nehru of India, Abdel Gammal Nasser of Egypt, and Sukarno of Indonesia in forming the Non-aligned Movement. On the African continent, he launched a blitzrick of ideas and institutions, summoning a Conference of Independent African States (1958) and an All African Peoples' Conference (1958).

The first open manifestation of the exceptionalism syndrome, however, in an indirect way arose out of a conflict with Ghana, a portent of what was to come. But the conflict was germane to the theme of exceptionalism to the extent it involved a dispute over who could legitimately claim to speak for Africa. The date was December 1953, when Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana (then Gold Coast) convened a West African Nationalist Conference in Kumasi, Gold Coast to which all Nigerian political parties were invited. Only one, the NCNC led by NnamdiAzikiwe consented to attend. In 1958, after the independence of Ghana, she convened a Conference of Independent African States to which Nigeria was not invited as she was not yet independent. But Nkrumah announced that he would come to Nigeria to consult so that he could present Nigerian views at the Conference, a plan dismissed as “an egregious insult for thePrime Minister of a small country like Ghana to essay to be Nigeria’s spokesman at a conference of all African countries”[8]

Even though Nigerian leaders were focused on achieving independence for their country, an event which took place in October 1960,something must have prodded the Nigerian government not to wait for that independence before launching Nigeria into the Pan-African conundrum. The occasion was the second Conference of Independent African States which was held in Addis Ababa in June 1960. Nigeria was not entitled to attend the conference as she was not yet independent. And so, why was Nigeria invited? And why did Nigeria accept the invitation.?

Perhaps the answer to both questions lay in one of the issues Nigeria raised at the Conference, and that was the issue of leadership in Africa.MaitamaSule, the Nigerian Minister of Mines and Power, who led the Nigerian delegation in addressing the Conference said that Nigeria would not tolerate someone “who thinks he is a messiah with a mission to lead Africa”[9]

Under normal circumstances, the colonial authorities would have sought to dampen such delusion of grandeur on the part of Nigeria. But there is sufficient evidence that on the contrary, they either fueled it or inspired it. For example, on the eve of Nigerian independence, Senator John F. Kennedy, then a Presidential candidate, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa extolling Nigerian independence as “an event important not only to the nation of Nigeria, or the continent of Africa, but to the world…”[10]This act was unique. And this was due to the Nkrumah factor. Ghana became independent in 1957and the President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah launched an activist foreign policy in Africa and in the world which the Western powers perceived as a challenge to their interests. Thus began a frantic search for an appropriate response to counter Nkrumah’s influence.[11]Part of the strategy that was adopted was to encourage Nigeria to be assertive in its foreign policy, not by adopting the ideological overtones of Nkrumah’s foreign policy but by posing alternative visions.

In 1961, Prime Minister Balewa paid an official visit to the United States, a few months after independence where the proverbial red carpet was rolled out. He was received in the Oval office and addressed the United States Congress, a priviledge extended to only 112 personalities since 1874. John F. Kennedy even attended a return dinner hosted by Balewa for him. During the visit, Kennedy told Balewa that “Nigeria’s development and leadership were of the greatest interest to the United States”[12]

The first issue to address is to deconstruct the concept of Nigerian exceptionalism. Various terminologies are used by analysts when illustrating this issue. Such phrases include “African Leader”, “Black Power”, “Leadership Role in the World”[13]. At times, the terminology could even be misleading as a mischievous interpretation could lead to some talk of pretentious claim to world leadership. My own deconstruction of Nigerian exceptionalism is this. A rational analysis of Nigerian elements of power in comparative terms, in comparison to the power status of other African states, justify an assertion that Nigeria was entitled to lay claim to leadership in West Africa, and to share leadership roles with Egypt and South Africa in the rest of Africa. The second  issue is that the objective of Nigerian exceptionalism which was to use the leadership of Nigeria to leverage the status of Africans in the Diaspora was not clearly articulated at the beginning, and is still not articulated with clarity.

At independence, Nigerian GDP was US$4.2billion while Ghana was US$1.22biliion. Nigerian population was 45.2m while Ghana was 6.65m and Ethiopia was 22.2m. For Nigeria, Life expectancy in 1960 was 37.2 years, while Ghana was 45.8 years and Ethiopia was 38.4 years. The GNI/per capita for Nigeria was US$100, while Ghana was US$190. By 1981, Nigerian GDP was US$61.7billion while Ethiopia was US$7.325billion. By 1984, Nigerian GNI/per capita was more than double that of Ethiopia.[14]From this data, it is not irrational to conclude that the expectation that Nigeria was capable of a leadership role in Africa was a reasonable one.

Increasingly, or at least from the 1970s onwards, the international community and the United Nations, had constructed a universal security construct based on regional systems which turned regional powers into support pillars of the international security system. It is in this sense that regional powers came to be regarded as world players. It is in this sense that Nigeria being a regional power in the ECOWAS sub-region and by extension in Africa, could be regarded as a world power.

Another contributory factor to this exceptionalism syndrome can be located in what I will call the aspirational messianic Pan-Africanist school. Earlier in this lecture, I have made reference to the impact of history on man’s psyche. The “never again” ruthless response of the Israelis to the Palestinians lies buried in the Jewish psychological response to the Holocaust. No exhaustive study has been done on the effect on the Black race of the slave trade. But this much we know. The hurt is deep, and unlike the effect of the holocaust on the Jewish race where it has not resulted in bottom-of-the-pile status for Jews, slavery for Blacks has resulted in permanent underdog status for Blacks all over the world. Hence there has been a deep felt need for a cataclymistic development that will impact in a volcanic eruptive effervescence on the status of the Black race in the world. They have not only bought into this vision of Nigerian exceptionalism but it has become a Black vision embraced by Blacks all over the world.

This is exemplified by the FESTAC syndrome. FESTAC in English translates in full into WORLD BLACK AND AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CULTURE. Even though Senegal was the first to host the first Festival, there must have been more than a symbolism in the fact that Nigeria was declared the "star country" at the Dakar Festival and was asked to host the Second World Festival, after which none has been held. That FESTAC was not just a cultural event simplicter was propagated by the Arts people themselves. Writing in 1981 in the SURVEY OF NIGERIAN AFFAIRS, 1976-77, Femi Osofisan, a major participant at the Festival, wrote an article, titled "FESTAC AND THE HERITAGE OF AMBIGUITY" in which he commented as follows "secondly, there was also in the choice of Nigeria as host a tacit recognition of the country's symbolic role as the ancestral home of the blacks in diaspora... thus, for the blacks outside, coming to Nigeria was like a pilgrimage back through history and suffering to the replenishing fountains of their and our ancestry". Ola Balogun, another participant at the FESTIVAL, delivered a lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in 1986 titled "CULTURAL POLICIES AS AN INSTRUMENT OF EXTERNAL IMAGE-BUILDING: A BLUEPRINT FOR NIGERIA." In it, Balogun commented "in other words, given our country's large population, our internal dynamism, and our considerable economic and military potential, Nigeria will inevitably have to assume the role of Black Africa's leading nation. It is also quite obvious that Nigeria's potential leadership role in Africa is not only a duty that we owe to the rest of Africa and to the black race in general, but also a natural prolongation of our own quest for a coherent national outlook."

Edem Kodjo, a former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, who later became the Prime Minister of Togo, put it eloquently thus[15], "This strong Africa...must be powerful Africa. I mean militarily powerful. We should not fall into the angelism in a world where power mongers are equally military. Africa cannot make the economy of a modern army at the service of a brighter diplomacy. This does not mean warmongering. On the contrary, it is in Africa's interest that peace reigns in the world. But she must learn to walk on her two legs, and the more she progresses economically, the more she develops militarily...though I am not a Nigerian, I believe in the fundamental role of Nigeria in building a united Africa. I have been saying it over the years and I am getting furious that Nigeria is not totally assuming the role which should be hers ever since...There should be 'federating factors': countries with a dense geopolitical mass and an acceptable economic power who will take upon themselves to achieve, by federating gestures, the unity of our continent... Nigeria is indisputably one of these countries, if not the only one."

The latest exposition is to be found in “NIGERIA AND THE FUTURE OF THE BLACK WORLD”by Ambassador Walter Carrington[16] The words of the title say it all.Embedded in his lecturewas an unstated disappointment with the state of Nigerian exceptionalism, given that his conclusions were based on the hope driven by GDP projections which showed Nigeria growing from no. 20 in 2014 to no. 9 in the world in 2050. Such projections prepared by PriceWaterCooper House showed an incredible faith in Nigerian future.
I delivered a lecture in February 2005, under the auspices of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, titled “NIGERIA: THE BLACK MAN’S BURDEN”, where I dealt with this phenomenon in an inverted manner. I will return to this issue later.

Maybe it is not really very important but to lay the issue of whether the Nigerian exceptionalist syndrome is authoctonous or not,I would like to draw attentionto the fact that there were Nigerians who felt the syndrome should be used to enhance the status of the black race as shown by the views which a former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo ascribed to Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, that enigmatic figure of January 15, 1966. in his seminal book simply titled "NZEOGWU", Obasanjo wrote:[17]

" Chukwuma had a dream of a great Nigeria that is a force to reckon with in the world, not through ineffective political rhetoric but through purposeful and effective action...He dreamt of a nation where social justice and the economic interest of its citizens will not be subjugated to foreign control and manipulation. He believed in the ability of the Blackman.... Chukwuma, as had been pointed out, was a well read individual. He was familiar with Marx, Giap and Mustafa Kemal - the Attaturk. He probably saw himself in the mould of the latter, a kind of Nigerian military hero on horseback, a moderniser, a nationalist, and a Nigerian bent on carving a niche for the Blackman in world history, an idealist who wanted to put the Blackman on the same pedestal as all other races. He saw Nigeria as pivotal to his dreams. In order for Nigeria to realise what seemed to him a divine if not self-evident mission, he had to clear the augean stable..."
Naturally, this is a loaded passage that one can fill a whole book deconstructing. The only two issues I wish to draw attention to are firstly, no one can accuse Nzeogwu of being a character that is subject to manipulation. Secondly, there is manifested here a recurrence of that theme of "manifest destiny" characterised here as "divine destiny". Obviously, there is sufficient evidence here of a domestic fertile ground for a home grown philosophy of an exceptional Nigeria and its relationship to the emancipation of the Black race. This is not to imply that aspects of this philosophy did not only surface abroad but that attempts were made to transplant its overseas variant back into Nigeria.

The real question and the core of this lecture is to interrogate this concept of Nigerian exceptionalism as to whether it is an illusion or not. If it is an illusion, then Nigeria has been led up the garden path or has allowed itself to be led up the garden path into believing it could bat above its weight. But if it is not an illusion, has it achieved it, and if she has not, then where did it as a nation derail?
I have already presented the comparative statistics showing the relative positions of Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia at Nigerian independence. I have already drawn attention to the red carpet welcome Nigeria received from the international community at independence. The ink has hardly dried on the independence document before Nigeria was invited to send troops under United Nations command to the Congo. Not only did she do so, but General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, the Nigerian contingent Commander, was later appointed the United Nations Commander for the Congo operations, the first African to be so honoured.

Following that precedent, Nigeria has taken part in peace-keeping and peace-enforcement operations in former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, India/Pakistan border, Darfour, etc
As far as national embrace of the exceptionalism syndrome is concerned, Nigeria sent troops to Tangayika to suppress an attempted coup detat. When President SylvanusOlympio was overthrown in Togo, the Nigerian Foreign Minister, JajaWachukwu, declared that Nigerian border extended through the Republics of Benin and Togo right to the Ghanaian border.
In terms of enforcement action, Nigerian experience with the ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the former under the camouflage of ECOWAS, marked the unilateral projection of Nigerian military power into West Africa.
Nigerian programme of the Technical Aid Corps is the only scheme of its type in Africa, providing technical assistance to African, Caribbean and Pacific countries since 1987. Right from its inception in 1987, the scheme covered twelve countries which included Fiji and Jamaica, two distinct non-African countries. The following batch in 1990 expanded to fifteen countries with Dominica joining the list of non-African countries. The following batch in 1992, saw Belize joining the list of non-African countries. The following batch in 1994 saw St. Kitts and Nevis joining the list of the non-African countries. As an average, non-African countries have been responsible for about a quarter of the yearly beneficiaries. Of course, General Yakubu Gowon was in fact the first Nigerian Head of State to go for a global reach  when he offered to pay the salaries of civil servants in the West Indies. As the original designer of the Technical Aid Corps, let me state categorically here that Europe was also part of the target areas conceived in the original plan. There are large black communities in European inner cities where the African history that is taught is a travesty of the real thing. In a slightly modified form, the Technical Aid Corps would have included a corps of African historians who would have been offered to educational authorities in the inner cities to teach African history - a reversal of the missionary flow of early years sent to evangelise Africa. Such countries as Brazil, Venezuala and Vietnam have expressed interest in participating in the scheme. At present, there are 1500 Nigerian volunteers serving in 32 countries.[18]

Reviewing these actions in a speech delivered on October 19th 2004, to mark the celebration of the 70th birthday of General Yakubu Gowon, Professor Ali Mazrui reused the words "PaxNigeriana" to describe leadership aspects of Nigerian Foreign Policy.[19] He, in fact, titled that section of his speech "Towards a PaxNigeriana." In fact, as far back as 1969, in the conclusion to my Doctor of Philosophy thesis at Oxford, I had used the very same words “PaxNigeriana” to describe the adoption of Nigerian vision on Pan-Africanism in the charter of the Organisation of African Unity. Ali Mazrui argued his justification of the adoption of the concept thus "almost from independence, Nigeria's exceptionalism included a potential leadership role to keep the peace in West Africa - a kind of PaxNigeriana".

POWER STATUS AND NIGERIAN EXCEPTIONALISM
The first issue to interrogate is whether Nigeria has the power status to underwrite an exceptional vision and mission. The power/realist school will still hold that Nigeria is still a regional power. I used the word “still” because as far back as 1982, I had titled my lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in Brussels, “The Emergence of Nigeria as a Regional Power”. Her military prowess is still second to none in West Africa and presumably the fourth in Africa. 
As of 4/1/2016, out of a total of (126) countries surveyed in the CIA World Fact Book and included in the Global Fire Power (GFP) database. Nigeria is ranked 44 out of 126 countries.

If we localise Nigerian military status within the context of Africa , Nigeria is ranked no 4 out of the 30 countries, out ranked by only Egypt, Algeria, and Ethiopia in that order. South Africa comes in no. 5 which is surprising. Nigeria falls into sixth position in terms of expenditure on the military and of  the highest 25 countries in terms of military expenditure as percentage of the GDP Nigeria is conspicuously missing. The fact is Nigeria woefully underfunds its military.
Military expenditure size from 2006-2010 [in millions of US Dollars]







Rank
Country
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
1st.
Algeria
3,557
4,173
4,862
5,281
5,586
2nd.
Egypt
4,413
4,444
4,139
4,017
3,914
3rd.
Angola
2,728
2,393
2,479
3,165
3,774
4th.
South Africa
3,782
3,713
3,647
3,813
3,735
5th.
Morocco
2,490
2,565
2,861
3,055
3,256
6th.
Nigeria
879
1,021
1,435
1,504
1,724
7th.
Kenya
530
594
567
580
594
8th.
Tunisia
551
507
550
532
548
9th.
Cameroon
312
327
339
343
368
10th.
Botswana
301
331
346
363
352
11th.
Ethiopia
469
429
343
340
338
12th.
Namibia
204
228
282
300
329
13th.
Uganda
263
296
346
315
276
14th.
Zambia
209
151
252
212
243
15th.
Chad
. .
479
638
436
242
16th.
Senegal
182
205
204
208
207

Military Expenditure as Percentage of GDP, 2006-2009[20]
Rank
Country
2006
2007
2008
2009
1st.
Chad
. .
5.5
7.1
6.2
2nd.
Angola
4.4
3.4
2.9
4.2
3rd.
Algeria
2.6
2.9
3
3.8
4th.
Mauritania
3
. .
3.4
3.8
5th.
Namibia
2.9
3
3.4
3.7
6th.
Morocco
3.3
3.2
3.3
3.4
7th.
Swaziland
2
1.9
2.2
3.1
8th.
Botswana
2.8
2.7
2.7
3
9th.
Lesotho
2.5
2.5
1.6
2.8
10th
Egypt
2.7
2.5
2.3
2.1
11th.
Kenya
1.6
1.8
1.9
2
12th.
Mali
2.2
2.2
2
1.9
13th
Central Afr Rep
. .
0.1
1.6
1.8
14th.
Uganda
2
2
2.2
1.8
15th.
Zambia
1.9
1.3
2
1.7
16th.
Cameroon
1.4
1.5
1.5
1.6
17th.
Senegal
1.6
1.7
1.6
1.6
18th.
Rwanda
1.8
1.5
1.4
1.4
19th.
Tunisia
1.6
1.4
1.4
1.3
20th.
South Africa
1.4
1.3
1.3
1.3
21st.
Burkina Faso
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.2
22nd.
Seychelles
1.9
1.9
1.2
1.2
23rd.
Tanzania
1.2
1.1
1.1
1.1
24th.
Congo, Dem. Rep.
2.4
2
1.4
1
25th.
Ethiopia
1.7
1.3
1.1
1
“. .” = data unavailable.

One would have expected that given the insurgencies in the North-East and the Delta, the data would have changed considerably but World Bank 2015 figures show that Nigeria in 2015 still spent only 0.42% of its GDP.
There is no doubt in my mind that the data adduced so far confirm a credible military status for Nigeria as a medium power. But there is a school of thought that has raised the bar for Nigerian exceptionalism militarily. In 1979, Mazrui delivered the Reith BBC lectures and argued for Nigeria to develop a military nuclear capability as a means of restoring the balance of power between the West and the Third World. He returned to this theme in a lecture which he delivered at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, titled, "NIGER-SAKI: DOES NIGERIA HAVE A NUCLEAR OPTION?"
As the Foreign Minister of Nigeria in 1987, I called for Nigeria to develop a Black Bomb as I was and am still firmly convinced that you do not clap with an open hand in foreign affairs.
Has Nigeria achieved its manifest exceptionalism? I believe that the majority view which I disagree with is in the negative. Perhaps the most cutting view was that by the then Senator (now out-going President) Barack Obama:[21]
I hear Nigeria makes the metaphorical claim as the Giant of Africa. That claim I make bold to say, is not only unfounded but absurd. Forgive my observation. That country’s claim of gianthood is only proved by the relative size of its population. Forty eight years after bidding farewell to colonial rule, that nation is still struggling to get on its feet, like a toddler. Nigeria has clearly failed to be the beacon of hope for other African nations. Will the Nigerian people ever speak of their country as that where leaders make unselfish calculations that prepare them for the challenges of the global economy? Will they ever speak of a nation where every child male and female has the right to achieve his or her dream? So long as people are trapped in poverty, so long as there are evidences of gross marginalization of certain regions, so long as opportunities are open, but not for all, the dream of a true nation will remain out of reach

Perhaps, one should remind Barack Obama that at the time the United States embraced the concept of American exceptionalism, slavery was still legal, Blacks, Women and non-land owners who were adult and white were not allowed to vote. Blacks secured the right to vote only in the mid1960s, long after the United States had laid claim to being a superpower.
As of 2014, the poverty figures for the United States show that even under him as President, the wealth of the United states was skewed against African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. The United States is a deeply divided country even after eight years of Obama administration.
Poverty Rates 1[22]
Overall Poverty Rate: 14.8% :Percentage of people who fell below the poverty line—$23,834 for a family of four—in 2014
Twice the Poverty Level: 33.4%Percent of people who fell below twice the poverty line—$47,668 for a family of four—in 2014
Half the Poverty Level: 6.6%: Percent of people who fell below half the poverty line—$11,917 for a family of four—in 2014
Child Poverty Rate: 21.1%: Percentage of children under age 18 who fell below the poverty line in 2014
African American Poverty Rate: 26.2%: Percentage of African Americans who fell below the poverty line in 2014
Hispanic Poverty Rate: 23.6%: Percentage of Hispanics who fell below the poverty line in 2014
White Poverty Rate: 10.1%: Percentage of non-Hispanic Whites who fell below the poverty line in 2014
Native American Poverty Rate: 28.3%: Percentage of Native Americans who fell below the poverty line in 2014

The other high profile American with negative viewswas retired General Colin Powellwho many years ago, had reportedly publicly referred to all Nigerians as “crooks”. “Nigeria, for example, leads the world in criminal enterprises. Every level of Nigerian society is criminal, with the smart ones running Internet scams, the mid-range ones running car theft rings, and the stupid ones engaging in piracy and kidnapping. At the University of Lagos, you can major in credit card fraud.”[23]
I have often wondered if these are not symptomatic of cases of unrequited love. Disappointed at Nigeria not fulfilling its manifest destinyvis a vis the Black World.
The issue of failed expectation was delicately put this way in a recent publication[24]
On many international occasions, Nigerian diplomats and senior officials in different parts of the world have been confronted with similar questions as I have had to endure from known true friends as well as detractors of Nigeria, During a cocktail soiree in Seoul, South Korea, in 2011, a self-confessed admirer of our country informed nicely: ‘every year, we receive several delegations from your country asking us to come invest in your economy. Invariably, they make the same boast of how your country is blessed with abundant human resources, oil, gas, solid minerals and vast estates of arable and pastoral land. Why, he asked ever so politely “is Nigeria, so generously endowed, unable to develop and take its rightful place among the major contending nations of the world?”

The biggest international snub in recent years was the formation of BRICS IN 2010. BRICS stood for a group of economically emerging countries made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. With the exclusion of South Korea, Malaysia and Turkey, the group lacked credibility ab initio. But the exclusion of Nigeria was an unjustifiable snub. Even in this season of sorrow and woe, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. AkinwumiAdesina, has insisted “that Nigeria remained the strongest economy in Africa” [25] The IMF has just announced that by the end of the year, Nigerian economy would have regained its position as the largest economy in Africa.
CONFRONTING FAILED EXPECTATION
Obviously from the data and comments above, the problem has nothing to do with the power-status level of Nigeria. The comment by Obama focused mainly on the problems posed by a divided nation.
Nigerian troops have performed creditably overseas in Liberia and Sierra Leone under the ECOMOG umbrella. There, the Army demonstrated its capability to mobilize, deploy, and sustain brigade-sized forces in support of peacekeeping and enforcement operations.
Under the United Nations flag, Nigerian armed forces had deployed in former Yugoslavia, Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, Lebanon, Congo (several times, latest being 2004), Darfur, India/Pakistan border, Mali and the UN observer mission, UNIIMOG supervising the Iran-Iraq ceasefire in 1988, East Timor 1999. Nigerian officers have served as Chiefs of Staff of Sierra Leonian and Liberian Armed Forces respectively.
Unilaterally, Nigeria has deployed troops in Tangayika, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. When a coup d’etat took place in Sao Thome and Principe, the threat by Nigeria to deploy troops there persuaded the coupists to return power to the constitutional authorities there; When there was a constitutional crisis in Togo, again, the refusal of the Nigerian government to rule out military intervention contributed to the solution.
I am aware of the debacle during the Boko Haram operations, 2009-2015, but the unanimous judgement is that this was due to inadequate equipment rather than the competence of the troops.

NIGERIAN SPACE PROGRAMME
If there is one manifestation of Nigerian exceptionalism that is undisputed, under reported and under credited, it is the Nigerian Space programme. Nigeria has launched five satellites into space namely NigeriaSat-1 which was launched in September 2003, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X which were launched in August 2011, NigerComSat-1 in May 2007 and NigComSat-1R launched in December 2011. The CNN which is not usually positive about Nigeria carried the following commentary: “But Nigeria's space program is no joke, and it is making steady progress. The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has launched five satellites since 2003, with three still in orbit delivering vital services. The most recent - NigeriaSat-X -- was the first to be designed and constructed by NASRDA engineers, and more advanced models are in development.The space agency has made extensive and creative use of the satellites, from analyzing climate data to improve farming practices, to retrieving hostages from Boko Haram, and officials argue this proves space exploration is essential for Nigeria.”
NASRDA has close to 500 skilled and trained staff, some up to PhD level.
The programme has ambitious goals. By 2018, it hopes to build indigenous satellites, by 2025-2028, it hopes to build a national spaceport and develop indigenous space launcher, by 2030 it intends to put a Nigerian astronaut into space. These are lofty goals that have received international acclaim. The CNN commentary continued :” Launching an astronaut into orbit represents a greater challenge than Nigeria's previous missions, but leading figures from the space industry are optimistic. ‘"To train an astronaut from selection to flight takes about eight years," says Dr. Spenser Onuh, head of the Centre for Satellite Technology Development. "2030 is realistic in my opinion...Responses from the international collaborators are very supportive and encouraging."’ Professor CalestousJuma, a specialist on space programs in developing countries at the Harvard Kennedy School, suggests the mission represents "lofty ambition" that "may or may not happen as planned."But he believes that the vision is more important than the outcome."Scientific, technological and engineering capabilities would have direct economic benefits to Nigeria long before the decision of putting a person in space is made," says Juma. "Space walks are probably the least important. It is the scientific and technological infrastructure and its linkages to the rest of the economy that matters." “The Nigerian space program has ambitions beyond its borders, and it is hoped that bold statements -- such as a manned mission -- will inspire stargazers across the continent."This would be a landmark achievement for Nigeria and Africa, which will encourage the rest of Africa to get involved," says Ale.Nigeria already shares resources from its space assets, such as providing satellite imagery to Mali, and has supported the idea of an African Space Agency.”[26]
Such is the strategic importance of this programme to the concept of Nigerian exceptionalism that I have attached as an Appendix, the official documentation on the Space Programme. Nigeria is the only African country with satellites in space and yet there is no single advert on the international airwaves proclaiming this feat.
The tardiness and reticence in giving publicity to this programme is not the only shortcoming worth correcting. This is such a high profile programme that its location within the system should reflect its priority value in the actualization of the Nigerian exceptionalism. At present, the programme is located in the Ministry of Science and Technology. It should be located in the Presidency with access to generous resources to achieve its goals.
Nevertheless, until Nigeria becomes a nuclear military power, the perception will be that it has not yet fulfilled its mission.Earlier in the course of this lecture, I had made reference to the views of both Professor Ali Mazrui and I on this issue.
Before proceeding further, let me give you Ali Mazrui's pedigree so that you may give this concept the seriousness it deserves. He received his university education at Manchester, Columbia and Oxford where he bagged his bachelors, masters and Doctorate degrees. Professor Mazrui was the Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies and Albert Schweitzer Professor in Humanities, State University of New York at Binghamton, New York, USA. He was also Albert Luthuli Professor-at-Large University of Jos, Nigeria; He was Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large Emeritus and Senior Scholar in Africa Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA. He was also a Professor-at-large of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya. He was a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Afro-american and African Studies, University of Michigan. He had been Professor of Political Science and Dean, Faculty of Social sciences Makerere University Uganda. He had been a visiting Professor at London, Harvard, Stanford, Nairobi, Singapore, Delhi and McGill universities.
In 1979, and in 1981, first as part of the sixth BBC Reith Lecture titled “In search of Pax Africana” and later at the lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs titled “NIGER-SAKI: Does Nigeria Have A Nuclear Option?”, Ali Mazuri had concluded thus:[27]
The nuclearisation of Africa thus becomes part of the quest for peace. Pax Africana has to become PaxAtomicana before humankind abandons its most dangerous toys so far. Nigeria’s largest and potentially most creative country cannot escape the burden of its nuclear responsibilities indefinitely
In 1987, as the Minister of External Affairs, I called for Nigeria to develop a nuclear weapon, infelicitously called the Black Bomb. I believe I was right then and I believe I am still right. In 1987, when I made the call, the only high-ranking public official who called to say he agreed with me was General Abacha, not known for making calls. The media, the intellectuals and practically everyone thought I was mad. I was a little comforted thirty years later when in 2016, Ambassador OluSanu, one of the brightest and the best of our Ambassadors published his memoirs, Audacity on the Bound: A Diplomatic Odyssey, and wrote that the retired Ambassadors were on my side .[28] I wished they had offered me that warm hand on the harmattan days I went through.
When General Abacha became Head of State in 1993,he raised the feasibility of such a programme with me but I said the United States would not permit it. I still remember his reply “I don’t intend to get along with the United States.” Maybe I should have taken him at his word.
Let me be as categorical as I can be. Even If all roads in Nigeria were to be paved with gold, and every Nigerian were to own a Rolls Royce in his or her garage, Nigeria will not secure respect from the world, the kind of respect extended to Pakistan or India or even North Korea which has a per capita income of only $1,800.00 but has a nuclear programme.
At the moment, no country will speak to India or Pakistan or even North Korea, the way Nigeria is spoken to or spoken about.
Nigeria is not the most corrupt country in the world. Latest figuresshowed Nigeria is the 7th among the top 10 countries with the highest measured cumulative illicit financial outflows between 2001 and 2010 with the list showing China as first with $2.74 trillion followed by Mexico with $476 billion, others are Malaysia: $285 billon, Saudi Arabia: $210 billion, Russia: $152 billion, Philippines: $138 billion, Nigeria: $129 billion, India: $123 billion, Indonesia: $109 billion, United Arab Emirates: $107 billion. And yet of all the countries in this list, only Nigeria was referred to by a British Prime Minister as “fantastically corrupt.” Why?
Another illustration, was the ridicule Nigeria was subjected to during the coverage of the last Rio Olympics by the international media with the failure of the same media to highlight the successes at the para-olympics Nigerian athletes, some of whom broke world records.
Nuclear weapons create an aura of its own which no wealth can create. I was a student of international relations in the United States in the 1960s when China was spoken off with such contempt and derision. The day China performed its nuclear test, the tone changed overnight to one of awe and respect and yet China had at that time had a per capita income of only $103.00.
I am realistic enough to accept the fact that any attempt by Nigeria to build a nuclear arsenal will meet with fierce opposition from the existing nuclear powers, especially the United States. It is not an insurmountable opposition. Israel uses the Jewish population in the United States to protect and advance its interests. Nigeria should endeavor to cultivate the Africans in the diaspora and use them as allies to protect and advance Nigerian interests. The major argument advanced by Mazrui and I imply that with Asia having three or possibly four nuclear powers, Euro-America having three nuclear powers, the Mediterranean having two nuclear powers, it will amount to racism to deny the Black race its own opportunity to balance the racial equation. This is an argument that will resonate with the Blacks in the Diaspora.
In the meantime, Nigeria needs to adopt a strategic doctrine that enables her to inflict unacceptable damage on any African country that invades her territory. She does not need to aim at strategic parity with Egypt, Algebra, Ethiopia and South Africa. She needs to raise defence spending from the abysmal 0.42% of the GDP to a credible level.
A major issue which has contributed to the perception of non-performance is the lack of assertiveness in Nigerian Foreign policy except for one brief shinning moment called the Murtala/Obasanjo administration, 1975-1979. Given the fact, as already shown that the factor responsible for the promotion of Nigeria at independence unto the world platform was the need to counter Kwame Nkrumah’s radicalism and assertiveness, it should come as no surprise that the seeds of reticence had taken deep roots within the Nigerian executive and administrative establishment. 

The only exception was the Murtala/Obasanjo military regime. Within six months, it had overturned the decision to locate the ECOWAS headquarters in Lome Togo, overturned the decision of Nigeria to support a National Government in Angola for support for a fully MPLA government, made a grant of $20m to the new Angolan government, set up the Southern Africa Relief Fund, set up the Nigerian Trust Fund as a subsidiary to the African Development Bank. During the life of the regime, it nationalized Barclays Bank, nationalized Shell-British Petroleum, gave military assistance to the Liberation Movements in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. The personalities of Joe Garbaat the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bolaji Akinyemiat NIIA engaged the media in collaborative engagement to advance Nigerian interests.
Other administrations have been too apologetic about Nigerian national interests while promoting peculiar and narrowand personal interests. Murtala did not want to be loved. He was not seeking a Nobel Peace Prize. He wanted Nigeria to be respected. Till today, nobody has forgotten his “Africa has come of age” Addis Ababa speech. Yes it is only one speech. But most people in the world only remember John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you…” That is the power of the word.
Nigeria has to recapture the magic of the Murtala years. We should be prepared to contest any and every international post we are interested in. South Africa has never been apologetic about its size and has gone ahead to head the African Union, while we continue to parrot that it is our tradition not to contest leadership posts in Africa.
Aclassical example will suffice. In 1984, a very senior Nigerian diplomat was the acting Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity. Several African leaders approached the then Nigerian Head of State, General Muhammed Buhari to allow the Nigerian official to continue in the substantive position. General Buhari refused absolutely to countenance such a proposition and another African official got the job. In all my years as a scholar, I have not come across a single case where a country had to be dragged kicking and screaming into considering a position of international honour for one of its citizens.
An adjunct of this non-assertiveness has been that countries that had solicited and received Nigerian aid had turned around to vote against Nigeria and generally adopt hostile attitudes towards her because they discovered that all they needed to do was play up to the larger than life egos of our Presidents. We need to let nations that we assist know that there will be a cost to voting against or being hostile towards Nigeria on issues.
Another factor is the perception and reality of a divided nation. Nigeria is a plural nation, made up of many cultures, many peoples, many religions and many ideological dispositions. The narrative boils down to two competing visions of the divisions. A multiple-sum vision will perceive Nigeria as a mighty river made up of tributaries which we call divisions. The volume and  richness of the river is the sum total of the contents of the tributaries.  A  zero-sum vision of Nigeria will focus on the tributaries and not the resulting river. If you have a multiple-sum vision of Nigeria, then you will regard the gain to one part as a gain to all parts, and a tragedy to one part as a tragedy to all parts.
Our history shows that we have regarded Nigeria as a zero-sum case where our differences have been regarded as unbridgeable cleavages. As a former Foreign Minister, I can attest to several occasions when non-Nigerian state officials used our perceived cleavages to undermine me by using fellow Nigerians to gain access to high Nigerian officials to overrule my positions.
A practical illustration of this multiple-sum approach to Nigeria on the issue of diplomatic postings is illuminating. Having a large Moslem population enables Nigeria to pick and post eminent and capable Moslems as Ambassadors to Moslem countries. Having a large Christian population, enables Nigeria to pick and post eminent and capable Christians to Christian countries. But a country shows infantile diplomacy when it decides to post a Christian to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia and a Moslem to Spain or the Vatican unless that country is only uni-faith. Influential and result-oriented diplomacy depends not just on aide memoirs and formal meetings but also on the type of informal contacts that worshipping together, and meeting at entertainment functions facilitate. But in Nigeria, where it is a zero-sum vision that predominate, posting an Ambassador who is Moslem toSaudi Arabia and posting an Ambassador who is Christian to Italy are perceived as gains or losses depending on which side of the divide you are on.
FOREIGNERS VS NIGERIANS
Only in Nigeria do we prefer Non-Nigerians to fellow Nigerians. This shows up in employment practices, in the choice of business partners and even on security partnerships, such as foreign instigation of military coup d’etats.
In order to cement the bond that binds us and create a genuine feeling of inclusiveness, I had in a lecture delivered on 14 March 2013 under the auspices of the Niger State Government advocated the following[29]
·        No federal office holder should have an ADC, Press Secretary, Special Assistants or Chief of Staff from his own zone.
·        In each state Assembly, 10% of the seats should be reserved for non-indigenes.
·        In each state cabinet, at least two cabinet posts must be reserved for non-indigenes.
·        Federal Ministries should be graded in terms of strategic importance and appointment of Ministers should be such that all zones are represented in each grade.
As the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs from 1975 to 1983, and as Minister of External Affairs from August 1985 to December 1988, I practiced what I advocated.
Another behavioural aberration is the desecration of state offices by occupants who are so patently unfit and unqualified for such offices. How in the world would political parties sponsor for gubernatorial or presidential offices, people who have no political or career track record, no record of achievements, whispers of questionable reputation in the 21st century and with the complexity of governance to confront? If we don’t take ourselves seriously, why should the rest of the world take us seriously?Professor Ayo Olukotun put it more pungently:[30] “Today, in a shockinglowering of the bar of public office, most politicians are educatedilliterates, several of them with forged or doctored certificates; do notread any books or engage in intellectual activity at any serious level”
I felt so diminished recently when the British Prime Minister, May, stood before the United Nations General Assembly (the whole world and with our President in the audience) and said:[31] “We are also using our aid budget to create a dedicated fund focused on high risk countries where we know victims are regularly trafficked to the UK.And yesterday, I committed the first £5 million from this fund to work in Nigeria to reduce the vulnerability of potential victims and step up the fight against those who seek to profit from this crime” Apart from the fact that most of this money will be spent on British goods and personnel, and debited to Nigeria, there are over 100 Nigerians who could singly or together put down £5m. Only in Nigeria would we usher into the Villa foreign businessmen whose capital export from Nigeria outweighs their investments, whose sole business is importation of tooth paste or bottled water or tomato paste or baby milk. etc.
An adjunct of this is to avoid the pitfall of self-denigration. You are what you say you are. I have visited countries where the levels of poverty are mind boggling. But their Presidents don’t go around the world proclaiming their poverty. Donald Trump has spent the past one year revealing the ugly underbelly of the United States. No President of the United States will go around the world revealing that ugly under belly. We have a successful Technical Aid Corps Scheme, proclaim it as Dubai advertises its on aid scheme on CNN, BBC and AL-JESIRAH. We have a Nigerian from Sokoto who is a world renowned designer with General Motors and a Nigerian who is the Deputy National Security Adviser in the White House.    
Here is another example: Dr. Olurotimi John Badero is a Specialist Consultant in Internal medicine, Nephrology and Hypertension, Interventional Nephrology and Endovascular Access, Cardiovascular Medicine, Nuclear Cardiology, Invasive and Interventional Cardiology; and also Peripheral Vascular Intervention. They are our best faces.
Should Nigeria accept my proposal for a nuclear option, I hope it will be regarded as a special enclave project, manned by the brightest and the best and free from bureaucratic cobwebs.
Another factor is the misapplication of resources which I have already dealt with ad nauseum.You also have the reckless misapplication of resources in building of unneeded and useless airports that are unutilized most of the year. On 15th September 2016, your Chancellor, His Eminence, AlhajiSa’aadAbubakar, Sultan of Sokoto, at the Convocation of the National Post-graduate Medical College of Nigeria drew the attention of the audience to a Governor who spent N28billion building an airport when there was no functioning medical facility in the state. There are other Governors who have built or are building airports which are only 15mins flight time from other nearby airports and yet have not paid salaries for months or pension for years. Not to be ignored is the competition to acquire private jet planes for the sole use of the Governors, with some acquiring multiple planes. Indicative of the level of corruption is the the annual outflow of illicit funds from Nigeria with Nigeria losing figures such as $26billion in 2009 and $28billion in 2013.
All of these while Nigeria is faced with infrastructural decay and all kinds of socio-economic challenges. Hence the Nigerian position of 152 out of 188 on Human Development Index. This has not gone unnoticed by the international community.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONDITIONAL LOANS
An aspect of the Nigerian financial peculiar mess is Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, the most illiterate provision, which provides that all money collected by Nigeria shall be deposited in a central pool and then distributed to the three tiers of government. There was no provision made for savings. Compare the Nigerian experience with the Norwegian experience which set up a Government Pension Fund Globalinto which 100%of the government’s revenue from royalties and dividends are paid. In any one year, no more than 4% is allowed to be drawn from the account. No President has found it fit to seek a Constitutional amendment to rectify this situation. Blaming the Governors [32] or past administrations is misapplied demonization. The fault is in the constitution. My proposal is for a Constitutional amendment embodying the Norwegian model. To take account of the Nigerian peculiar federalism, the amendment should include a provision that withdrawals from the account should not be before 25 years and only by a unanimous decision of the National Economic Council.
Some have suggested that irrespective of the constitutional lacuna, each of the three tiers of government should have embarked on voluntary savings. But in a situation where there is no effective institutional control over the Executive, where it is not the party that controls the government but the other way around, what is the guarantee that savings by one regime would not be squandered by a successor regime?
In the interim, the Federal Government should take advantage of the silver lining on this economic mess to effect some temporary repairs. The Federal Government is now in the business of giving giant bailout funds to rescue states from bankruptcy. Yet the Government is missing the opportunity to use the loans to instill some measure of fiscal discipline on the states. Before any more bailout funds are disbursed, states should sign on to some conditionalitiessuch as cabinet members/special assistants/special advisers must not exceed a limited number, no white elephant projects such as airports, resuscitation of abandoned projects etc.
We must also address the issue of structural instability.At independence, we inherited a stable Federal structure based on a tripod of three regions. This structure was characterized by positive competitiveness. It was not accidental that each region installed a regional Radio/TV system, a marketing Board system, a free primary education system (in the case of the North, students were even paid to go to school.) In other words, no region wanted to be left behind in producing an educated citizenry. Each region built a University.  All regions invested in industrial estates. No region wanted to be left behind. Each region monitored developments in other regions with a view to replicating them.
Then came the declaration of emergency in the Western Region in 1962, which led to the emergence of a regional government that was dependent, not on the will of the people but on the power of the Federal Government. I need not dwell on the disasters that followed---the violence and paralysis in the Western region, the two 1966 coups detat, the civil  wars and the various state creation that dominated this period. A Swahili proverb states that you don’t have to learn how to fall into a ditch. Just take the first step off the edge and all the other steps would follow. The important thing to note is that from positive competitive federalism of pre 1962, we now have negative competitive federalism characterised by a competition among state governments as to which government will have the most reckless financial profiles.
CONNECTING THE BLACK NEXUS
Finally, we have to revert to the issue of the Black Diasporic nexus. You will recall that much earlier on in this lecture, I had explored the connection between the concept of exceptionalism thus: “It is absolutely critical and crucial to bear in mind that of significance is the fact that critical to the concept of exceptionalism is the issue of the purpose of the policies designed to actualize the exceptionalism. The purpose is usually designed to promote dominance internationally. Rome bred a Roman Empire, Britain, Spain, Portugal and France, each bred an empire, Russia bred an empire under the cloak of a worker’s revolution and was clever enough to mask it by calling it a Soviet Union.”
But Nigeria has made no such claim to dominance, or irredentism. Nigerian response to the Black aspirations has been cultural rather than political.On official level, Nigeria sought to concretise its nexus with the world Black Community by announcing the "establishment of a Museum of Black and African Arts and Civilisation...the Nigerian Federal Government pledges further its willingness to subscribe to any such efforts based in institutions of higher learning or outside, in the belief that a proliferation of Centres of African Studies all over the world, is one of the firm guarantees that a break-through will be made in giving a sound basis for what we are trying to achieve in FESTAC '77".
But the fact is the cultural angle is begging the question. No one is denying that Nigeria or Africa has a culture, a culture of stamping feet, wiggling waist and bottom, talking drum and kakaki trumpets. I am not saying that is all African culture is. We now have African literature which have earned several Nobel Literature Prizes, African paintings and ancient and modern sculptures. But what Nigerian governments focus on is the stamping feet and wiggling waists.That is not part of the existentialism that the Diasporic Blacks are demanding from Nigeria. They are demanding the evolution of a modern powerful state.
The Blacks in the diaspora who have been enervating agents driving the Nigerian exceptionalism dream have made no demands of employment or foreign assistance. A clue to their expectation is embedded in Obama’s criticism of Nigeria when he said “ Nigeria has clearly failed to be the beacon of hope for other African nations.” That is it. Even though Obama limited his reference term to Africa, whatthe Blacks in Diaspora are looking for is a Black Star in the firmament, an effervescent illumination representing a Black nation, a Black nation that has progressed from “The Third World To (beyond) The First World”[33]. This is what makes Nigerian exceptionalism unique. The external beneficiaries are not asking for anything for themselves. They are just asking Nigeria to be successful.
Let me for the purpose of emphasis make reference back to EdemKodjo, a normally urbane diplomat, a former Secretary-General of the Organisation of AfricanUnity and a former Prime Minister of Togo, who could not have been more direct when he wrote "...I am getting furious that Nigeria is not totally assuming the role which should be hers ever since...The country must first of all overcome her own problems to assume a sound management of her resources, effect national consensus to help the consolidation of the country by the Central Government before turning to the external world... Nigeria is too much undermined by centrifugal forces, selfish interests and religious upheavals. All these are set-backs to this great country and to the whole Africa."[34] It is within this context that in the February 2005 lecture at the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, I referred to Nigeria as “The Blackman’s Burden”.
EdemKodjo and Nzeogwu, quoted above, struck at the core of the BLACKMAN'S BURDEN argument. To most Nigerians, Nigeria through its aid programme is already carrying the Blackman's burden. But my position which is shared with those who have been associated with the exceptionalist school is that in fact it is Nigeria that is letting down the Black race by not achieving all aspects of its manifest destiny.
Let us stop boasting about having the largest Black population in the world. In any case, we had nothing to do with that. That credit belonged to Frederick Lugard. We can claim some credit in the sense that we have shamed the Cassandras by keeping the House from falling.[35] It is what we do with this Black population, and our various assets that will determine the judgement of history as regards whether we fulfil our manifest destiny or not.




[1]Sunday Punch, September 4, 2016 p1.
[2] Ibid
[3]Law Professors Forum….14 September 2016
[4]Complete &Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
[5],  Democracy in America  (Foreword: on American Exceptionalism; Symposium on Treaties, Enforcement, and U.S. Sovereignty, Stanford Law Review, May 1, 2003, Pg. 1479) (( Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vintage Books, 1945)  (de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America (1840), part 2, page 36:
[6] Kipling, Rudyard. 1899. The White Man's Burden. Published simultaneously in The Times, London, and McClure's Magazine (U.S.) 12 February 1899
[7]It is a tribute to Kwame Nkrumah that two seminal books on  Leaders both include Kwame Nkrumah: LivresGroupe (ed) Nationaliste: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom Stein, Thomas Sankara, Kwame Nkrumah…. Youssef Karam (Oct. 2012) and Ivan Van Sertima (ed) Great Black Leaders: ancient and modern (1988)
[8]Editorial, “ill-timed visit”, Daily Service, 8 April 1958
[9] Daily Times, 17 June 1960
[10](John F. Kennedy: “Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Nigeria Independence,” September 22, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74155)
[11](see Robert B. Rakove, Kennedy, Johnson and the Non-Aligned World, 2013, New York: Cambridge University Press).
[12]Ibid.
[13]See J. Wayas “Nigeria’s Leadership Role in Africa”(London, Macmillan Press Ltd…..); OlayiwolaAbegunrin, NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY UNDER MILITARY RULE, 1966-1999 (Greenwood Publishing Group) especially p.160 where a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam was quoted saying “we are the hope of the Black nations…”;  Law C Fejokwu, NIGERIA, A VIABLE BLACK POWER , (Polcom Ltd 1996)
[14]data.world Bank.org.
[15]Preface in Bolaji Akinyemi, Essays on International Politics: Foreign and Domestic Affairs, (Nigeria: Macmillan 2002) p.x
[16] former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, October 22 & 23, 2015, www.herald.ng/nigeria-and-the-future-of-the-black-world-walter-carrington/
[17]http://www.okadabooks.com/book/about/nzeogwu/7820
[18] See  201                             AAC3621810        Examining the geopolitics of aid in education: A comparison of the United States Peace Corps and the Nigeria Technical Aid Corps in Namibia             Webb, Tamara Sheree        Teachers College, Columbia University            Ed.D.       2014               
[19]He first used it in a lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIGER-SAKI IN 1981.
[20] .”GDP(Gross Domestic product) is the value of all goods and services produced in a country in one year. It indicates the size of a given country’s economy.The comparison to GDP is a rough indicator of the proportion of national resources used for military activities, and therefore of the economic burden imposed on the national economy” as per the GFP
[21]quoted in Tunde Decker, Matrix of Inherited Identity, A Historical Exploration of the Underdog Phenomenon in Nigeria’s Relationship Strategies, 1960-2011, (2016, University Press PLC, Ibadan p.5)
[22]https://talkpoverty.org/basics/
[23]http://www.economist.com/node/465047
[24]Humphrey Orjiako, Nigeria: The Forsaken Road to Nationhood and Development, (Rasmed Publications Limited, Ibadan, 2016),p.xviii:
[25]Vanguard, September 28, 2016 p.5
[26] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/06/africa/nigeria-nasrda-space-astronaut/
[27]NIIA LECTURE SERIES NO 33, p.19
[28]P.136
[29] THE ONE-DAY NATIONAL SEMINAR ON CORRUPTION HOSTED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF NIGER STATE MINNA, NIGER STATE, NIGERIA    14 MARCH 2013
[30]http://punchng.com/nigeria-56-adversity-opportunity
[31]https://www/government/speeches/theresa-mays-speech-to-the-un-general-assembly
[32]Vanguard, September 28, 2016, p.2
[33]An adaptation of Lee KuanYew From Third World to First: The Singapore Story - 1965-2000,https://www.amazon.com

[34] See Akinyemi, ibid.
[35] Karl Meier, This House Has Fallen: Midnight in Nigeria, Public Affairs, 2000

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