Africa’s Leader-Manias and the Take-Over by the Chinese

What has happened, Africa? This is the question a bright youth leader on a private forum asked when he learnt the Chinese have set up the 13th Chinese Police Station in South Africa. The answer is Nothing. Whether the question is based on fact, fiction or exaggeration is immaterial. The Chinese are coming and coming big to Africa. The tragedy is that the African people who should have known better in advance especially the intellectual / educated class enthusiastically and unashamedly supported the decadent rubbish many post-colonial leaders foisted upon their citizens on the continent up to this day. Africans are now living with the harsher realities of such thoughtlessness and misfortune and the Chinese like the are taking full advantage of it.

Were the African elite asleep as China started taking over the continent or were they too drunk on money, rent-seeking, privilege and power ? Or were they seized by leader mania?

Patrimonial leadership quickly caught on in Africa and became a path-dependent reality for governance.Inexperienced, untalented, incapable, venal, mediocre heads of state became “father figures” to their nations despite their gross failures to take their nations forward or make like better for their citizens,but for very few exceptions. These very father figures were constructed and hailed as “messiahs”, “God sends”, “men of destiny”, “irreplaceables” by intelligent indigenous men and women. In reality these men’s missions were to “steal kill,and destroy” within their nations they ruled – Africa is became a playground for Devil’s Incarnates as heads of state. The citizens most unfortunately especially the intellectual / educated ones followed the whims and perversions of these incompetent and inept leaders like children and outright morons. As Fela indicated using Shagari as an example, when African leaders misrule no one tells them they did something wrong. It was a pun, a great pun. Many thought Fela was accusing the Europeans but he was attacking the Africans who should have known better.

Today in Nigeria, we have the rage of Buharimania, Atikumania, we have also had Obasanjomania,Jonathamania, Abachamania and Babangidamania. Outside Nigeria there has been Eyedemamania, Nkurmahmania, Biyamania, Mobutumania,Nguessomania, Kaundamania, Mugabemania. These manias were created, propagated, updated and enforced by the intellectual / educated class of Africans purely for personal gain; education had become the license to entitlement to vast riches on the continent. Under the tenure of a given head of state, it does not matter how much corruption takes place, how many citizens are impoverished or immiserated, how many massacres take occur, how low the life expectancy is, how insecure, unsafe, and unstable the society is, how backward the country is comparatively, the mania for these very bad leaders continues unabated with ever increasing persuasion and fervour.

 However, we all know the truth but most choose to ignore it, for mania sake, for religion sake,for ethnicity sake, for personal gain sake and for social acceptance sake.

Nigeria is a nation that has earned over $1 trillion in oil revenues since Independence,58 years ago. Oil companies always exercise nonfeasance in paying the$1 billion per annum in penalties for gas-flaring ($4 billion per presidential tenure if it was adequately collected). The current Government of Nigeria claims incessantly to have broken all records in the recovery stolen public funds. Oil revenues are still flowing into the national coffers making it still a middle income nation. Let us then ask, is that the kind of nation that should habitually seek foreign loans that voluntarily places it under the servitude of the West and China? Well, Nigeria like other African nations are addicted to foreign aid.

China has been casing Africa since the 1950s and 60s using ruses like Non-Alignment Movement cooperation, cultural exchanges and organising sporting fiestas to lure the African leadership into a colonial relationship. The ostensible neocolonialism of multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and IMF quickly placed African nations under the servitude of the West by getting them into debt then dictating how their economies can suit the profit aspirations of multinationals. It was purely financial and the West called it“foreign aid”, so magnanimously. Foreign aid turned out clearly to be crippling odious debt and usurious loans given to mostly self-seeking but dim-witted African leaders. Classic example: the $5billion loan taken out from the World Bank in 1972 to build Kainji Dam as of 2000 had generated interest payments of $16 billion while the principal of $5 billion remained intact. This is excluding the conditionalities attached to the loans such as currency devaluation,abysmal credit ratings, dumping of goods and technology, high domestic interest rates, high taxes, callous fiscal discipline etc.that are all inimical to economic development.

The Chinese do it differently. They do not use multilateral financial agreements to give loans to African nations, they controversially use bilateral barter agreements with renegotiable terms in favour of the creditor. Without much hypocrisy, the main conditionality of the Chinese is that if African nations cannot pay back the loan as agreed they will take over the domestic assets directly. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be taken over by the Chinese if and when Nigeria cannot pay its debt obligations on loans it has taken. One so Nigerian scan learn Chinese on TV and the other for the oil, respectively. This is what Buhari and other African leaders signed up to when they were taking “generous loans” from China but they never told this part of the deal to their citizens. To the Chinese it is only business, to the Africans…

Therefore, do Buhari or Atiku or any other Nigerian or African leaders deserve the manic following of support and adulation they get?

Ask the intellectuals and the educated.

Grimot Nane

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