So Nigeria’s presidential elections appear to have gone, by and large, very smoothly. So smoothly many Nigerians are literally in awe. And then to top it off a last minute show of grace by out-going president Goodluck Jonathan. Slap me silly and call me Sally, for I am in disbelief. No last minute scramble to call in the military and have the results overturned. No mass ransacking of INEC headquarters to spoil the ballots. No magical conjuring of 3 million voters in the delta. No petty shenanigans by Jonathan whatsoever when the results were announced. But I am nowhere near as shocked as the mysterious ‘international community’ who has spent the last year whispering tremulous warnings about its ‘fears’ over the elections aftermath.
To be sure, the terrorist traitors did strike killing a number of people in the northern cities of Gombe and Borno, and all Nigerians continue to fervently decry the loss of even a single one of our fellow citizens at the hands of such groups. But this is not what the ‘international community’ seemed to be hoping for; sorry I meant ‘predicting’. Mass riots, looting, country-wide carnage, civilian deaths in the hundreds of thousands, all of Africa destabilised by the internal destruction of ‘Africa’s Giant’. Now that’s a story. And, of course, should such scenarios play out, ‘the international community’ would do its damndest to mitigate the fall out for it just loves Nigeria so much you see. Just like it loves ‘Africa’. Or so the story is told.
Take the report published by the Council on Foreign Relations in February this year which states: “the success or failure of democracy, rule of law, and ethnic and religious reconciliation in Nigeria is a bellwether for the entire continent.” I have literally been reading this line about Nigeria regardless of the context since I was a school girl. And the report goes on: “The 2015 elections again may precipitate violence that could destabilize Nigeria.” The idea of a positive plan for assistance to Nigeria if the elections did go well did not seem to cross the authors mind. That would be boring wouldn’t it? And actually helpful.
And its not just the CFR, from the Guardian, to those entire countries that appear to have time to spare from their own myriad internal problems, too many foreign commentators have almost seemed to take a disgusting joy in pretending to care about Nigeria’s future while seeming to revel in the possibility of its failure.
Clearly the fear of mass violence after the elections sparked by whichever side did not like the outcome or even of the elections themselves not running so smoothly was felt by anybody who has even a minimal understanding of Nigeria’s turbulent past. But ‘the international community’s’ doomsday warnings appear to be made with such a lack of understanding of the current dispensation of Nigerian politics and the current feeling on the ground that you wonder if these analysts don’t actually write up their conclusions before having done any research whatsoever.
Its Nigeria, so who cares, we will just write the stuff we’ve been writing since the 70s. No one will notice and it will fill most people up with the kind of nice warmth you get when you see your favourite old lecherous uncle at the Christmas table totally unchanged. You complain about him everyday but you know that deep down if he ever changed your world would be ruined because you’d have to find something more meaningful to do with your time than pretending to ‘fix’ him. So it is no surprise that much foreign analysis appears to be stuck in the 1990s where oil and dictatorship were all the country dealt in. My advice is that these commentators get some ordinary Nigerian friends even if its only on facebook and even if its just for the purpose of getting ‘a feel’ for what Nigeria looks like to Nigerians today.
This, however, will only be useful if foreign analysis is actually meant to be for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians themselves and is not some kind of gleeful indulgence in fear mongering to give foreign businessmen and foreign correspondents the exotic jolts they crave to make their ordinary lives seem more interesting. For what would be the point of having gone to Nigeria to strike a deal or to cover a story and not be able to go back home and tell the tale of your near death experience with hooligans or with a corrupt bureaucrat. You might as well just have stayed at home.
But lets face it, the number of Nigerians ‘congratulating’ the nation for basically behaving itself suggests that it is not just the so-called international community that needed convincing as to our nation’s capacity. However, now that we have proved to others and apparently to ourselves that our ‘Nigerianess’ does not make us irrational beasts who strike out in violence regardless of whether or not there is reasonable cause, most Nigerians seem to be ready to move on from the self-congratulation to ask what exactly Buhari’s ‘change’ is going to look like. I wonder if the ‘international community’ still needs some time to ponder endlessly the myriad ways in which Nigeria can humiliatingly fail to meet its expectations.