By now, I’m sure we’ve all seen or heard of the leakage of the US diplomatic cables concerning Nigeria. I won’t really go into the content of the cables but I am going to point out the main lines of thought I drew out concerning these reveals.
1 There are really no excuses that can be made for Nigeria and blaming foreign companies doesn’t get us very far either. The sad state of governance in the country is clearly on display for all to see. As far as I can tell, what we have masquerading as government does not and is not intended to execute the job of successfully managing the affairs of the country and its citizenry. Rather, it is a collection of individuals bent on furthering their diverse vested interests. In that context, the lack of control over the operational standards and ethics of foreign companies should not be surprising. That multinationals act as they do is, in my view, quite a rational response to the chaos that reigns (that doesn’t make it ethical though). The objective of most companies is to win at the game of making as much profit as they can. It is the job of government to clearly delineate the boundaries of that game. If it fails in this task, the blame for hardship caused to the people should fall squarely on its shoulders. I think part of the problem MNCs have in Nigeria is that they have adapted too successfully to the system to the disappointment of a world and public expecting a better example from them. In the middle of all this, no one speaks for the people and we can see the terrible consequences of this neglect across the country from the Niger Delta to the North.
2 So much for Yar’Adua being above corruption and a defender of the rule of law. He may not have been personally implicated in corrupt transactions but he certainly had no problem surrounding himself with others who were, even apparently including his wife. I’m not sure I agree that relying on others to do the dirty work makes one a person of integrity. In fact, having a person like that in charge in a way legitimizes the activity of those people because he is not prepared to stop their corrupt activities and it becomes very hard for anyone else to go after them. No wonder his selection as presidential candidate was acceptable to different factions of the political elite.
3 Turai Yar’Adua was never just the wife of the president. At best, she only profited from her position. At worst, she was a power hungry person who had no problems jeopardising the safety and political future of the country as well as her husband’s health by a flagrant disregard for the constitution. Somehow, the image of a dangerously ambitious political wife as seen in several Nollywood movies seems strangely appropriate to this woman.
4 The Nigerian government is very tight in sharing information with the Nigerian public yet it cannot manage to keep its internal communications confidential. How ironic! Clearly, the most reliable way to get official information in Nigeria is to sit in on meetings since you cannot trust what will be said in public afterwards.
I’ll save my broader thoughts on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for now while we watch the unfolding drama of his legal troubles. In the meantime, the cables referenced above can be accessed at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-us-embassy-cables