Friday, 9 June 2017

NEW BOOK on States of the South Atlantic with following contribution (ch. 7): Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “Nigeria” (or “Nigeria: circa 1850s-2017”), in Mônica Dias Martins, Defesa dos povos do Atlântico Sul/Defence of the South Atlantic (Fortaleza, Ceará: Efutuado depósito legal na Bibliotesa Nacional, 2017), pp. 177-203 (This title, 239 pages long, is the outcome of a 2-year research by scholars at the Observatório das Nacionalidades, the influential think tank based in Fortaleza, Brazil, that studies nations, nationalities, and states. There are three parts in the book including critical profiles on eight states of the region – Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Guiné-Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone. The title is edited by Mônica Dias Martins, director of Observatório das Nacionalidades and distinguished professor of social sciences at Universidade Estadual do Ceará)


Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe1


Nigeria is in southwestcentral Africa. It has a landmass of
923,768 sq km with its southern borders on the Gulf of Guinea and
the southcentral Atlantic. Cameroon is to its east border, Chad to its
northeast, Niger to its north and northwest and Benin Republic to
its west.

It has a rich multiform landscape which ranges from its
south coastal belt of mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta and the
rain forests and the deciduous stretch of the central belt cropland
of the distinctly Y-shaped confluence basins of the countrys two
dominant Rivers Niger and Benue. To the north are the regions of
savannah and Sahelian vegetation that then project to the far north
desertification zones. The country has prominent highland topography,
the Chappal Waddi peak, Nigerias highest point, and Lake
Chad, one of Africas largest lakes. 

The climatic map is also varied.
The south is characterized by a tropical monsoon climate with heavy
rainfall, while in the coastal Niger Delta, twice as much rainfall occurs.

Annual temperatures in this region are in the overall between 26˚C
and 28˚C. In the central belt cropland regions, annual rainfall ranges
between 1100mm and 2000mm while temperatures vary: 18.45˚C in
the cooler season to 36.9˚C in the hotter months. The further north
Sahelian region records very low rainfall annually and temperatures
soar between 30˚C-40˚C, making it the hottest and most arid part of
the country.
1 Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is an independent researcher of international relations who specializes on genocides, conflicts and post-conquest wars in Africa. He is also a researcher at Observatório das Nacionalidades (Ceará Brazil).

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe


Nigeria, which the British formally created in 1900, is the outcome
of the latters conquest and occupation of the principal states
and peoples of this southwestcentral African region, begun in the
1860s and certified by the pan-European conquerors conference
on Africa held in Berlin in November 1884-February 1885. These
amalgamated states include the Igbo republican conurbations to the
east that had been independent for over 1000 years, the monarchical
metropolies of the Yoruba and the Bini kingdom to the west and the
bourgeoning Hausa-Fulani emirates of the north region.

For Britain, its Nigeria conquered states were indeed prized
lands of its evolving African seized fortunes. For 300 years, Britain had
maintained its ascendancy as the worlds principal enslaver-power in
Africa and the Americas. With its conquest of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra
Leone, Gambia and later on southern Cameroon (after Germanys
defeat in World War I), all in west Africa, its additional seizure of
south/southeastern African states Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland,
Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania (after
the defeat of Germany in World War I), as well as the Sudan (northcentral
Africa), Britain was now the leading conqueror-state during
this phase of the direct occupation of Africa by the European World.

These states constituted Africas major population centres and vast
multiple natural mineralogical and agricultural emplacements.
Just as elsewhere in its occupied Africa, Britain quickly turned
its Nigeria into a reservoir of cheap labour for intensive and extensive
agricultural and mineralogical exploitation. The farmer in Nigeria
was converted overnight into a cash crop farmer, a term that at
face value has a dubious meaning as it is aimed to describe a farmer
who cultivated assorted crops such as cotton, cocoa, palm produce,
groundnut, cloves and rubber solely for export to British markets. The
farmer who cultivated other crops, but for the home market, which
he or she still sold for cash, was not a cash crop farmerInstead,


goes the conquest-economics jargon, the latter farmer was involved
in subsistent farming. Considering that the overwhelming majority
of Africans in Nigeria and elsewhere were, and are still farmers, 15-20
millions of peoples in occupied Nigeria were, as a result of the British
conquest and occupation, being culturally alienated at the crucial site
of their economic activity with obvious far-reaching implications,
which are still at the core of Africas current tragedy. If the Nigerian
labour was not bound for agricultural activity, cash crop, or not, he
or she was instead deployed by the occupation-state to the British/
European mining corporations sprouting up all over the country to
extract various types of minerals including gold, tin, bauxite, coal,
copper, iron ore and, later on, petroleum products again for export
to the Britain/European World.

Nigerias was one of the most diversified British conquest
economy in Africa. Forty years after the conquest and the outbreak
of the Second World War in 1939, the following agricultural commodities
accounted for nearly 90 per cent of Nigerias export products:
rubber, cocoa, cotton, groundnuts, palm oil and palm kernels. This
seemingly admirable range of Nigerias diversification had however
been achieved, thanks to the sheer size of the country, stretching
from the south on the Atlantic shoreline of southwestcentral Africa
to the deciduous/savannah vegetation belt of the north hinterland
bordering on the Sahel. 

This ensured that the occupation regime could
maximally exploit the varying climatic zones across the territory in its
choices but these were still dictated fundamentally by the imperatives
of the British economy. In the 1970s/1980s, this diversification of the
Nigeria economy virtually came to an end. Even though Nigeria had
since become independent (October 1960), it is actually significant
that the main export product, petroleum, which displaced the basket
of commodities of economic diversification enumerated above,
shares an equivalent quota of the countrys export trade currently
as the latter did a half of a century earlier: 90 per cent. As should

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

be expected, this role of petroleum has been dictated principally by
the needs of the British/Western economies. Whether as monocultural
or indeed dualcultural, the whole logic and character of the
evolving Nigeria conquest economy was to serve the interests of the
British occupier. Expectedly, all forms of new taxes were imposed to
expedite this British take-over of Nigeria, and the strategic spheres of
the countrys independent pre-conquest cultural, industrial and other
forms of technological creativity therein were curtailed or suppressed.

In effect, pre-conquest African land and property relations
were abolished by the occupation to make way for the seizure of
land for both plantation agriculture and mining enterprises, or for the
construction of new communication infrastructure, or for the direct
population settlement by European immigrants as found in towns
and cities such as Lagos, Ibadan, Enuugwu and Port Harcourt in the
south and Jos, Kaduna, Zaria and Minna in the north.

Economy, World War II and the aftermath

The course and outcome of the Second World War gave considerable
impetus to the anti-British occupation struggle in Nigeria. In
1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Nigerians soon
found themselves fighting in another global war that was not of their
own making. Apart from Liberia and Ethiopia, the rest of Africa was
under the occupation of the same European powers at war with each
other, except, ironically, Germany. 

Germany had lost its hitherto occupied
African countries of Tanzania, Namibia, Cameroon and Togo due
to its defeat in the First World War by Britain and its allies. But instead
of restoring immediate independence to these African states at the
Versailles conference terminating the war, Britain and France scandalously
incorporated them into their own existing conquest empires
overseas (Tanzania and southern Cameroon were seized by Britain;
northern Cameroon and Togo were taken over by France), whilst Namibia
was assigned to the European minority population-ruled South


Africa to administer a euphemism that hardly disguised Namibias
de facto status as Pretorias newly conquered land. In contrast, the
defeat of Austro-Hungary and Turkey, Germanys central European
allies in this war, resulted in the liberation of several subject nations
and peoples, which included the Pole, Czech, Slovak and Greek.

So, for Africa, whose peoples (in Africa itself, the Caribbean
and the United States) lost 400,000 soldiers, mostly conscript
combatants who fought for the conflicting territorial claims of rival
European powers in the 1914-1918 war, the outcome was grim indeed:
continuing occupation. (EKWE-EKWE, 1995) 

The victorious
alliance, including crucially two leading European conqueror-states
that then occupied most of Africa, continued to maintain the most
contemptuous disregard of the human and national rights of African
peoples, even though Britain and France had claimed that they went
to war to confront Germanys territorial ambitions. As one and half
million African descent conscripts worldwide went to fight for these
same European World occupying states in 1939, it was even less likely
that Africas own independence would be reclaimed in the event of
victory against Germany.

About 100,000 Nigerians were part of the total number of
Africans who fought for the anti-German coalition forces during World
War II. All accounts record the valiant performances of the African
contingents in the principal fronts of the war: western Europe; the
gruesome Far East campaigns against Japan, where Africans casualties
were in tens of thousands; the battles in north-east Africa in
1940-1941, which led to the liberation of Ethiopia from Italian occupation,
and, finally, the preparations leading to the coalitions landings
in western Europe in 1944, which was decisive in the subsequent
defeat of Germany. 

Indeed, the role of the African-Guyanese governor
of Chad, Félix Éboué, was crucial in the anti-German alliances
successes at this theatre. He provided logistics in west/central Africa
and his support for the Free French Forces was unequivocal even at

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

a time when influential French, including François Mitterand (who
would later become president), were collaborating with the German
occupation regime in France.2 The total number of African descent
casualty in the war is estimated at 900,000 killed, and hundreds of
thousands wounded (EKWE-EKWE, 1995).

Besides providing troops, Nigerian territory was used extensively
as rear bases and supply lines, particularly for the north African
and west European campaigns against Germany and its allies. This
was part of the massive expansion of air and seaport facilities in the
west African region in 1940-43. The absence of combat activity in
Nigeria itself provided another advantage for the anti-German coalition.

Britain, which was now the only effective European occupying
power in Africa, with the sudden fall of France to the Germans, was
able to offset the sharp drop that occurred in the early 1940s in the
global production of palm oil, groundnut, tin and rubber due especially
to the Japanese overrun and occupation of southeast Asia. It readily
stepped up the production of these commodities in occupied Nigeria,
Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia. 

In similar vein, increases in the
production of sugar and banana were embarked upon in British-occupied
Caribbean, home to mainly peoples of African descent, as part
of the war effort at the time. Crucially, direct financial support for the
British war effort from British-occupied Africa was spectacular this
totalled £446 million by the end of the war in 1945 (RODNEY, 1982).

Yet the feverish increase in all these productive activities for
the British war effort from across the African World co-existed with
a sharp deterioration of the living conditions of the majority of the
peoples in British-occupied Nigeria. Prices of locally produced goods,
as well as imports, especially foodstuffs, soared. In Lagos, prices of
assorted meat had increased by at least 90 per cent between 1939
and 1945; prices of pepper and salt had increased by 150 per cent and
400 per cent respectively, during the same period, while price rise for
2 See, for instance, In Memoriam: François Mitterand, a BBC review, at newshour/bb/remember/mitterand_1-8b.html>. Access on: Mar, 11, 2006.


rice was 92 per cent and milk rose by 86 per cent (ANANABA, 1969).
By 1943, there was a distinct possibility of a countrywide famine
in Nigeria (NJOKU, 1987). The general foodstuff situation had been
made worse by the occupation regimes enhanced diversion of local
human power resources from the farms, producing food for domestic
consumption, into the military or associated enterprises to support
the war effort. The regime had also decreed a wage freeze, the paltry
sums that accounted for payment of African workers notwithstanding,
until the end of the war, and its resultant effects added to the despair
of the times. Workers mandatory cash payments to the war effort,
supervised by regime officials up and down the country, were also
another source of the tense situation.

In July 1941, workers embarked on a mass protest, demanding
an increase in their living allowances or what they called, quite
appositely, a war bonus (ANANABA,1969, p. 26). The regimes
inability to meet this demand to the workers satisfaction, coupled
with the generalised deterioration of the living standards of the
people across the country, ultimately became the background of
the 1945 countrywide strike itself, the turning point in the politics
of Nigerias liberation movement as we shall soon show. 

It is also
important to recall that by January 1941, Nnamdi Azikiwe, whose
party, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons/NCNC,
would support the 1945 strike, had begun to show disillusionment in
the ability of the principal states of the anti-German war coalition to
confront the issue of the British occupation of Nigeria. After all, the
only basis that leading officials of the NCNC freedom party could justify
Nigerian peoples support for the anti-German alliance of the era, in
which occupier Britain played a central role, was that the outcome
of the war should lead to Nigerias liberation. Azikiwe had observed
in an editorial in his West African Pilot in January 1941: Day by day
as I taste the bitter pills of being a member of a [subjugated] race, I
become sceptical and laugh at the effusions of those who proclaim

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

to the world how paradisical is the lot of the [occupied] peoples in
the present scheme of thing (NJOKU, 1987, p. 3181).
In May 1945, with victory assured, the European powers were
now faced with the choice of implementing the Anglo-America Atlantic
charter, formulated in 1941. A clause in the charter unequivocally
affirms the right of all peoples to choose the form of government
under which they will live [and] to see [the] sovereign rights and
self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived
of them [...] (PORTER, STOCKWELL, 1987, p. 103). But in practice,
Britain felt that this clause did not apply to Africans (and other conquered
and occupied peoples in Asia, the Pacific, South America and
the Caribbean). Its wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill, had
stressed that he had not become the Kings First Minister in order
to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire (PORTER, STOCKWELL,
1987, p. 25).3 

Bernard Bourdillon, the British occupation
governor in Nigeria, was equally blunt, even derisive of the demands
for the restoration of African independence: The British government
did not anticipate any change in her policy towards Nigeria The
war did not provide opportunities for the acceleration of greater
participation in the administration of the country by Nigerians
[No one] should expect a reward for failure to cut [their] own throat
(NJOKU, 1987, p. 180).

Once again, it was evident that Britain, and other European
conqueror states occupying Africa, was not prepared to pull out of the
continent. Just as in 1918, London and Paris were about to ignore the
extraordinary role that African peoples, their countries, and resources
had played in defeating Germany during this second time round. It
was clear, though, that unlike 1918, the world after 1945 opened up
3 The French were similarly contemptuous of the liberation of its occupied African states (as well as
those in Asia, the Pacific and the Americas), notwithstanding their early capitulation to the German
invasion at the outbreak of war. During the 1944 Brazzaville conference of exiled French occupation
governors from across the world, which was chaired by General Charles de Gaulle, the French
position on the subject was restated emphatically: Self-government must be rejected even in the
more distant future (DESCHAMBS, 1979, p. 249). Sixty years on, Frances supercilious disposition to
African independence and sovereignty continues unabated. For an analysis of the current epoch, see
Ekwe-Ekwe (2003).


more advantageous possibilities for African peoples to effect their
liberation, on their own terms, across Africa and the Americas, in a
manner that would have a tremendous impact on global development.

In the meantime, the irony of the pan-European superciliousness
towards African liberation, given the tragic history of the world of
the previous six years, was not lost on the consciousness of the rest
of humanity: Britain, France and Belgium, especially, had fought
against German cultural supremacism and territorial expansionism,
but emerged from this war apparently oblivious that their own form
of cultural supremacism was part of the conquest ideology that had
been used to legitimise the occupation of Africa and several regions
of the Southern World for centuries. The fact that these conqueror
states were not willing to withdraw voluntarily from occupied Africa,
despite the cataclysm of the war of 1939-45, was highly indicative
of the serious limitations that characterised their publicly-declared
war-time political aspirations, propaganda, and objectives.

Furthermore, to underscore its staggering indifference, if not
contempt for the restoration of African independence in Nigeria, in
the immediate post-World War II years, the British occupation regime
sought the expansion of productivity in the Nigeria economy to meet
Britains own homeland demands for urgent reconstruction. So, the
occupation regime in Nigeria directed the intensification of both agricultural
and mineral export products in the country (especially palm
products, cotton, rubber, hides and skins, beniseeds, groundnuts,
tin ore and columbite) in response to this British need (ONIMODE,
1982). In 1946, the value of Nigerian exports was £23.7 million; by
1955, it was £129.8, and in 1960, £165.5 (EKUNDARE, 1973). There
was a distinct growth in Nigerias Gross Domestic Product during the
period, an annual rate of 4.1 per cent in 1950/51-1957/58; indeed,
not since 1916 had Nigeria enjoyed a favourable net-barter terms of
trade with Britain as was recorded between 1951-1955, and 1958-
1960 (ONIMODE, 1982). But Nigeria was still a British occupied land,

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

with a socioeconomy that existed principally to serve British interests.

This was underlined by the fact that the gargantuan sum of £276.8
million, the preponderant chunk of the surpluses that accumulated
from this unprecedented boom, was transferred to Britain between
1947 and 1960 (ONIMODE, 1982). This is not to mention British
surpluses enjoyed by the corresponding increases in the value of
Nigerian imports from (mainly) Britain at the time: £19.8 million in
1946, £136.1 million in 1955, and £215.9 in 1960 (EKUNDARE, 1973).

Britains more advantageous trade relations with Nigeria were
further consolidated in 1955 when Europe slumped into an economic
recession. The prices that Europeans were prepared to pay for imports
of agricultural and mineral products abroad fell considerably. This
was an instant blow to the Nigerian economy. Even though its export
trade that year increased by 7,000 tons in volume, the value fell by £17
million (NNOLI, 1981). 

The result was an increase in Nigerias import
bills, which continued to rise. While a buoyant Nigerian economy
with its reliance on the British economy for imports was an advantage
for Britain, especially at a time of recession at home, the enormous
strain on Nigerias own accounting was becoming severe. Not only
did the country incur deficits in its balance of payments position, it
also drew heavily from its external reserves; such was the situation
that Nigeria allocated at least one-fifth of the total investment bill
earmarked for the 1955/56-1961/62 development plan to be financed
from abroad (NNOLI, 1981). 

The leading Western companies in Nigeria
clearly took advantage of a series of liberal measures which the
occupation regime had instituted to stimulate production in response
to Britains post-war reconstruction programme.

Road to restoration of independence, pogroms, genocide

Yet Britain could no longer carry out such control with the
totalising impunity of the past; it had to be mediated somewhat locally,
and this historical responsibility lay squarely on the NCNC, formed


on 26 August 1944 to spearhead Nigerias liberation struggle. The
background was of utmost symbolism because this was connected
with the ongoing Second World War. Earlier in the month, students
at the Lagos Kings College had gone on strike as a result of the deterioration
of social conditions in the institution, caused initially by
poor management but exacerbated by the wartime emergencies. In a
rash response to the crisis, the newly appointed occupation governor
ordered the immediate conscription of the students strike leaders
into military service.4 

A number of other students were arrested
and prosecuted including Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the
10-year-old student, who would in 1966, aged 33, play a leadership
role in the resistance of the genocide unleashed against the Igbo
people by the Nigerian state and British. A few days later, the death
of one of the student conscripts while still in military custody sent
a shock wave across Nigeria. Leaders of the Nigerian Union of Students
conferred with Azikiwe, proprietor of the leading newspapers
that made up the liberation press, who called for a conference of all
Lagospro-liberation organisations to discuss the crisis. 

The students
union convened such a conference on 26 August 1944, with the
historic outcome being the formation of the NCNC. Part of the conference
communiqué stated categorically: Believing our country is
rightfully entitled to liberty and prosperous life ... and determined to
work in unity for the realisation of ultimate goal of self-government.
(COLEMAN, 1958, p. 264).

Nine months before the end of the war, the NCNC had forced
to the fore the question of the restoration of the independence
in Nigeria. This was undoubtedly a momentous development in the
peoples consciousness and aspirations, but it was unacceptable for
the occupation regime, especially coming fast on the heels of the
Kings College crisis, not to mention the ongoing war against Ger-
4 Arthur Richards had acquired notoriety in his implacable opposition to African liberation from
the European conquest as evident in his previous position as governor of British-occupied Jamaica
(COLEMAN, 1958).

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

many. The NCNC was essentially a federal party with membership
derived from organisational affiliations such as trades and students
unions, womens organisations, and cultural associations of constituent
nations in Nigeria and the southern Cameroons.

On 22 June 1945, Nigerian workers declared a countrywide
strike to back their demands for an increase in wages and improvement
in the ever deteriorating conditions of the people made worse
by the war. The strike paralysed Nigerias economic life. It went on
for 44 days in the Lagos capital district, but up to 52 days in some
regions. The NCNC and the restoration-of-independence press (particularly
West African Pilot and Daily Comet, both edited by Nnamdi
Azikiwe, then secretary-general of the NCNC) supported the strike,
underlying the increasingly cooperation between the trade unions
and the emerging political leadership in working towards the countrys

The strike was the most far-reaching mobilisation of
labour in occupied Nigeria and its implications were not lost on the
occupation regime.

It is evident that Nigerians, when organised, as James Coleman
(1958) has noted, had great power, that they could defy the
white bureaucracy, that they could virtually control strategic centers
throughout the country, and that through force or the threat of force
they could compel the government to grant concessions (COLEMAN,
1958, p. 259). While the regime agreed to enter into negotiations with
the workers after the strike was called off, it nonetheless sought to
destroy the huge political dividend of liberation consciousness that
the shutdown had generated across the country. Earlier on, it had
proscribed the circulation of the vanguard newspapers, and accused
its editor and Igbo people for engineering the strike (NNOLI, 1980). 

regimes propaganda on alleged Igbo responsibility for the strike became
an instigator prop to Hausa-Fulani leaders organised massacres
of Igbo immigrants in Jos and the surrounding tin mining towns and
villages in October 1945 as well as in the north, this time in Kano, in
May 1953. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of Igbo business


enterprises, homes, schools and recreational centres were looted or
destroyed. These latest attacks coincided with the debates on the
possible date for the formal termination of the British occupation and
the restoration of independence. In contrast to the Igbo, Yoruba, Bini
and other nations in the south who favoured the year 1956, the north,
with total British connivance, as expected, was vehemently opposed
to any such dates. Essentially, the north unleashed the Igbo pogrom
in Kano to scuttle these debates which it succeeded in doing, with
evident British relief and satisfaction. These attacks were a portent
of the widespread genocide of the Igbo by Nigeria, beginning in May
1966, in which a total of 3.1 million Igbo, or 25 per cent of its population
were murdered during subsequent 44 months.

Britain was a central operative, along with the Nigeria state, in
the planning and execution of the Igbo genocide right from its outset
to its concluding phases in 1969/1970. 

It was Britains punishment
of the Igbo for its audacious lead of the struggle for the freeing of Nigeria
that began in the 1940s. The pogroms against the Igbo in north
Nigeria were carried out by pro-British political forces in the region
who were opposed to the restoration of African independence but
who Britain would hand over supreme political power of the country
on the eve of its so-called departure from Nigeria in 1960. Without
British complicity and massive arms support it was highly improbable
that Nigeria would have been in the military position to pursue this
foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.

Rule of the juntas and the economy: 1970-1999

For 25 years, following its 44 months of perpetrating the
Igbo genocide, Nigeria was run by a coterie of military officers as the
country went through a stretch of coup détats. The era coincided
with the phenomenal boom in the petroleum oil-driven economy.

By the mid-1970s, Nigeria emerged as the sixth largest petroleum
oil producer in the world. Its gross national product was US$ 22.4

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

billion and had become Africas third richest state after South Africa
and Egypt. The period was of unrelenting corruption in government
as top officials lurched ravenously into the public purse in a frenzy.
A junta leader even boasted that Nigeria will become one of the ten
leading nations in the world by the end of the century.

Of course, in 1999, Nigeria was anything but a world power
not because the country lacked a resourceful population nor because
it was deprived of an enabling natural resource infrastructure to
accomplish such a task. On the contrary, many countries in history
with a fraction of Nigerias human and natural resource capacity have
achieved major societal development in very limited timeframes as,
for example, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. On material resources,
Nigeria had by 1999 earned the sum of US$ 300 billion from petroleum-
oil after 40 years of exploitation and exports. Unfortunately, this
revenue had by and large been squandered by the countrys regimes
of the epoch through its institutionalised corruption and profligacy.

Between 1972 and 1999, one fifth of this sum was looted personally
by these furacious leaderships and transferred to Western banks and
other financial institutions. At the time, budgetary allocations to the
Nigerian military and other paraphernalia of the juntas repressive
apparatus averaged US$2 billion per annum (REPORT, 2001) with
Britain enjoying 60-70 per cent of all imports. The dictatorships
were therefore fully equipped to pursue their state of siege on the
populations with devastating consequences: a run-down economy,
the murder of scores of political opponents, the detention of several
others, the catastrophic military interventions in Liberia and Sierra
Leone which cost the country US$13 billion (THIS GENERAL, 2006;
REPORT, 2001) and thousands of casualties, and the flight of tens
of thousands of intellectuals and professionals into exile.

This was the epoch of dubious contractual deals and dealing
that yielded enormously-inflated financial returns for thieving public
functionaries: the importation of everything from cement, sand, nails


and rice to champagne and lace, and the staging of innumerable
feasts and festivals! At some point in 1983, at the apogee of this
scramble of an economy, Nigerias external currency reserves were
reduced to about US$ 2 billion. Inevitably, this scramble has churned
out the directory of millionaires and billionaires whose names and
gory legacy make up the haunting epitaph of a failed state. In this
context, Edwin Madunagus description of this shenanigan as the
political economy of state robbery (Madunagu, 1983) could not
have been more evocative.

It does not require emphasising that with the judicious use
of the gargantuan sum of US$ 300 billion, not only Nigeria but also
the entire African World would have been radically transformed.

No one would dare equate disaster, degradation and desperation
with contemporary African existence as it is often the norm in many
a standard discourse. On this very squandering of [the peoples] riches
(NIGERIA, 1984), ignoring for once the other striking features
of successive Nigerian regimes of the era, all those who have been
heads of regime, as well as all those intellectuals who surrounded
them as aides and advisors must be ashamed of themselves. They
constitute the most vivid tragedy of Africas recent history. They have
frittered away the treasured trove of several generations of peoples.

Furthermore, they were and remain a monumental disappointment
and disgrace to the millions of Africans elsewhere in the world. In
effect, Nigerias regimes appear to have ignored the salient feature
of the development ethos, any development ethos, that the engine
of such an enterprise is anchored internally right there at the very
locale of the projected activity. Or have they?

Obasanjo “civilianisation” and the non-militarist regimes:

Contrary to expectations across the country in 1999, the end
of military rule did not reverse the underlying anti-democratic policy

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

and manifestation of militarisation. The situation had not least been
helped by the leadership of the new regime, headed by none other
than Olusegun Obasanjo, an ex-military dictator himself who led a
junta for three years in the 1970s and a commander during the Igbo
genocide of 1966-1970. In an era when the rest of the world appeared
completely exasperated in watching Africa forced to its knees by a
cyclical retinue of colonels and generals wielding the cudgel of their
brute usurpation of state power, Obasanjo had essentially followed
in the footsteps of former military dictators in west and central Africa
(Togolese General Eyadema, Ghanaian Flt-Lt Rawlings, Burkinabe
Captain Compaoré and Central African Republic General Bokassa,
for instance) to civilianise himself into head of regime. His eight
years in office were a disaster in the country. 

Rather than slash the
budget on militarisation, civilian regime head Obasanjo increased
it! In 1999, the juntas stated budgetary allocation to militarisation
was US$ 2.2 billion; in 2000, Obasanjos own first budget, he earmarked
US$ 2.4 billion for militarisation, an increase of almost 10
per cent from the previous year (REPORT, 2001). In contrast, US$
500 million was assigned to education while health care received
US$ 150 million (OGUNSAKIN et al., 2005). 

The widespread human
rights abuse and personal insecurity did not abate. Instead, the situation
worsened with the increased levels of state and quasi-state
violence on principally Igbo people and the further strangulation of
the economy of occupied Igboland.

In the eight years that Obasanjo was in power, 10,000 people
in Nigeria were murdered by the state, quasi-state agencies and
others. Ninety per cent of those murdered were Igbo. In all, Obasanjo
had overseen one of the most corrupt and incompetent governments
in Nigeria. Transparency International branded Nigeria the second
most corrupt country in the world (OGUNSAKIN et al., 2005). But
the Obasanjo regimes more detailed and graphic indictment came
from a January 2003 damning report on its financial life published by


its own auditor general, noting gross irregularities: over-invoicing,
non-retirement of cash advances, lack of audit inspection, payments
for jobs not done, double debiting, contract inflation, lack of receipts
of back pay, flagrant violation of financial regulations, release of money
without approving authority…” (UGBOLUE, 2003)5. Thousands of
employees, especially in public services, were owed salaries ranging
from 12-18 months. Industrial enterprises operated at about 30 per
cent capacity and acute shortages of petrol and petroleum products
were the norm for a country that is the worlds sixth largest exporter
of petroleum oil! 

Several universities and other educational institutions
of higher learning were strike-bound for long stretches during
the academic year due to both staff and students protests over
lack of adequate state funding for education. Hospitals were also
frequent sites of strike action by doctors, nurses and other medical
staff protesting over the governments poor funding of healthcare.

What Obasanjo had shown demonstrably in Nigeria was that rather
than ease an already desperate situation, the civilianisation of exmilitary
dictators in the politics of their countries deepened the crisis
of militarisation and brutalisation, with the predictable consequences
on the welfare and aspirations of the people. The haemorrhage on the
economy as the regime ploughed even more resources into the procurement
of armaments to suppress targeted populations intensified.

After the brief interregnum of the non-militarist presidencies
of YarAdua and Jonathan in office (2007-2015), the militarised civilianisation-
regime type was back in power (beginning May 2015)
with Muhammadu Buhari as head of regime the position he earlier
on occupied in December 1983-August 1985 as a putschist, having
overthrown the elected Shehu Shagari administration, only to be
overthrown himself 18 months later by yet another putschist.
5 See, also, an associated study of the Obasanjo regime by Chatham House (London), which concludes:
The scale of the corruption, mismanagement and non-execution of projects in the Obasanjo
years has sent shockwaves through Nigeria (ANGOLA, 2009).

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

Nigeria today – miscellaneous highlights

a) Population
The population figure, 187 million inhabitants (2016), should
be treated with caution as there has been no reliable census in Nigeria
throughout its history. Since the 1950s when the British occupation
regime concocted that historic untruth that the north region was
50 per cent of [Nigerias] population without any census, to quote
the startling acknowledgement of the infamous deed 50 years later
by Harold Smith, a British conquest administrator who was then deployed
in capital Lagos where he worked on the programme (EKWE
-EKWE, 2006), all subsequent countrywide organised censuses and
outcomes in Nigeria have been grossly fraudulent. 

Britain had deliberately
inflated the north regions population as a ploy to entrench
its Hausa-Fulani islamist-clients in power in perpetuity.

b) Economy
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is US$493 billion. GDP by
sector is as follows: services, 54.6 per cent; industry, 25.6 per cent;
agriculture, 17.8 per cent. According to the Nigeria bureau of statistics,
the Nigerian economy is currently in recession.6 This is its worst
recession for over a decade. It states that the 2016 second quarter
GDP declined by -2.06 per cent. Annual inflation rose to 17.1 per cent
in July 2016, and food inflation rose to 15.8 per cent. The population
below poverty line is 33 per cent and unemployment countrywide rate
is 6.4 per cent. Exports amount to US$93 billion (2015) chiefly petroleum
and petroleum products. The countrys main export partners
are India, Spain, Holland, South Africa, and Brazil. Its main import
partners are China, United States, India, and Holland.
6 See Premium Times, Lagos, 31 August 2016.


c) Education
In Nigeria 20, 682, 000 children (6-12 year-old) are enrolled
in primary schools7 while 9, 057, 000 older children (12-17 year-old)
are enrolled in secondary schools, representing 44 per cent gross
enrollment ratio. Tertiary schools enrollment is 1, 700, 000 students
or a 10 per cent gross enrollment ratio. There are 128 universities in
Nigeria, 51 of which are private. The countrys adult literacy rate (15
and older) is 61.3 per cent.

d) Political and diplomatic relations foreign policy: regional, continental
Africa, African World and world-wide multilateral relations
Nigeria is an active member of the principal regional and
supranational organisations in Africa and elsewhere in the world. It
is a member of the 15-country west Africa regional economic organisation,
ECOWAS, formed in 1975. The headquarters of ECOWASs
appeal court is located in Abuja, Nigerias capital. Nigeria is also
active in the broader continental organisation, the African Union, a
successor to the Organisation of African Unity, based in Addis Ababa,

It also belongs to the United Nations and various UN
bodies and affiliates. In South-South relations, it is a member of the
Non-Aligned Movement as well as the 24-member states of the Zone
of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic which it played a key
role with Brazil to found in 1986. Nigeria participates expansively in
UN-directed peace-keeping missions in African conflicts, a role it has
played in west, central, east and southern Africa in the past 40 years.


Right from the outset, in the mid-1930s, the principal leaders
of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) restoration-
of-independence movement against the British conquest
in Nigeria had conceptualised the African World, namely the Africa
7 All statistics on education are derived from Education... (2016).

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

continent and the African presence in states and territories outside
the continent especially in the Americas as the space of mutual
relations and solidarity of African peoples which would be the important
focus of cooperation with an independent Nigeria. Many of
these leaders, especially the political scientist and journalist Nnamdi
Azikiwe, the economist Mbonu Ojike and the educationist Nwafor
Orizu had all studied in the United States. 

They were impressed by
the African-centred philosophy and writings of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican
thinker, journalist and publisher, and had become associated
directly or experienced the immediate aftermath of the tumultuous
1920s-1930s Harlem Renaissance African American cultural movement
which emphasised an encompassing African universalism,
following centuries of pan-European enslavement of African peoples
and the occupation of Africa. Azikiwe had worked closely with Kwame
Nkrumah from Ghana, another African student in the US in the 1930s,
Jomo Kenyatta from Kenya (who had studied at the London School of
Economics) and a number of African intellectuals from the Americas
(particularly US, Jamaica, Trinidad, Martinique, St Lucia, Guyana,
Surinam, Barbados) to arrange the historic 1945 conference on the
future of the African World in Manchester, England. 

Consequently, the
working principle of Africa as the centre-piece of Nigerian foreign
policy became a defining crucible of independent Nigeria in October
1960 (PINE, 2011). Jaja Wachukwu, first foreign minister and himself
an African Worldist who had studied in Ireland, was adamant on
this future policy direction: charity begins at home and therefore
any Nigerian foreign policy that does not take into consideration the
peculiar position of Africa is unrealistic (pine, 2011).

Organisation of African Unity:

The all-Africa continental body, Organisation of African
Unity, which was formed in 1963 with headquarters in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, was an opportunity for the new Nigeria to begin to pursue


its Africa World-stated vision of international relations. It aligned
with Ghana, Mali, Guinea-Conakry, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania and
Zambia to map out support for African peoples in southern Africa
especially in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique,
as well as in Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and
Principe in west Africa who were still ranged in their freedom movement
to free themselves from the British or Portuguese conquests
of their homelands. Nigeria would extend these support activities in
the Non-Aligned Movement which it had become a member at its
formation in Belgrade (then Yugoslavia) in 1961 and also at the United
Nations especially in its several ad hoc decolonisation committees
on the subject during the era on which Nigeria had served as a
member. Nigeria also used its membership of the Commonwealth,
an organisation that incorporates Britain and its former conquered
states, to bring forth this contentious subject of non-liberated African
countries in the south and west Africa.

The OAU was also an opportunity for Nigeria and other
member states to begin to construct other avenues of collaboration
in economics, educational and cultural affairs across Africa. Students
exchange programmes across states and regions were developed in
addition to cross-border economics relations that would evolve to
such regional groupings as the East African Community, ECOWAS
in west Africa, and, later on, SADEC in southern Africa. Nigeria and
other states in west Africa were most vocal in the OAU in the 1960s
in condemning the repeatedly defiant French nuclear tests in the
Sahara, carried out in flagrant disregard of the lives and heritage of
millions of Africans in the region and elsewhere on the continent.

Additionally, the OAU was a platform for Nigeria and others to extend
messages of solidarity to African Americans during their freedom
movement uprising in the 1960s and to Africans in the Caribbean and
South America in their own freedom movements and aspirations.

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

The OAU was replaced in May 2001 by the African Union and
Nigeria has continued to exercise an active role in this new organisation
as in its predecessor.

Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS):

ECOWAS was formed in 1975. Nigeria and Togo played a central
role in its formation. It comprises 15 members of the countries of
west Africa except Cameroon. Its principal aim is regional economic
integration, a goal that has not progressed significantly since its inception.

The region is still chiefly an exporter of primary agricultural
and mineralogical products, as was in the epoch of the multipower
European occupation, and there are limited vistas of economic integration
based on this unchanged, underlying socioeconomic profile.

There has been an improvement though on cross-border travels by
peoples in the zone. It has a common passport and citizens with
their own national passport no longer require an entry-visa before
travelling to a member country. The region is currently beset by a
serious terrorist emergency occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorist
group, the globes deadliest terror organisation, which is based in
Nigeria. Besides its murderous campaigns in Nigeria which has resulted
in the death of over 20,000 people in the past seven years, Boko
Haram has also been carrying out devastating raids into Niger, Chad
and Cameroon. It is also linked strategically if not tactically to the
terrorist group al-Qaeda in the islamic Maghreb which has carried
out several gruesome attacks in Mali to the west from its bases in
south Algeria to the north.

Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic (ZPCSA):

The Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic
was formally inaugurated at the United Nations on 27 October 1986
by resolution 41/11. It comprises 24 countries positioned west and


east of the South Atlantic Ocean 21 countries in Africa, including
Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Ghana and Guinea Bissau,
and three in South America, namely Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Principally, the zone is aimed at maintaining peace and security
across the region, ensuring complete denuclearisation, and with
the aspiration of eliminating the military presence of any non-zone
member states from there.

Nigeria and Brazil worked closely for the creation of ZPCSA.
Nigeria had thought of the possibilities of such a zone a decade earlier.

In 1976, the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs in Lagos,
then the countrys capital, had a seminar to consider the lessons
and aftermath of the 1975 major international conflict over the
restoration-of-independence in Angola which involved the military
forces and intelligence services of disparate forces external to Angola
which included South Africa, the United States, Cuba, Portugal and
the Soviet Union. The Lagos seminar recommended that the Nigeria
government should work:

towards the emergence of a South Atlantic zone to
protect and promote the interests and aspirations of
African and Latin American countries on both sides of
the [Atlantic] ocean. This recommendation was clearly
influenced by the events in Angola at the time, as well
as concerns for apartheid South Africas military and
geo-political designs on and illegal occupation of Namibia
and southern Angola, the extension of super-power
military competition into the South Atlantic region,
reflected in the establishment of military bases with
their negative consequences for the states of the region,
and the desire to straddle the centuries-old colonially
inspired divide between the African and Latin American
states bordering the South Atlantic ocean by instituting
a new era of contact, cooperation and development.
(NILOS, 1993, p. 57-58).

Nigeria then embarked on intensive discussions with Brazil.
The outcome of these talks saw the materialization of the zone in
1986 (NILOS, 1993, p. 58) with the historic UN resolution. In the

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

follow up, post-resolution major conference, the 24 member states
met in Rio de Janeiro in July 1988 to work out a full agreement to
formally establish the zone. The outcome was the defining document,
A/43/512, signed by all the visiting heads of state or government, and
which summarises the zones mission as follows: common objective
of cooperation for peace and development in an environment free
from tension and in conformity with international law, constructive
relations based on dialogue, understanding mutual interest and respect
for the sovereign equality of all [ZPCSA] States, to the benefit
of the peoples of the region and the international community as a
whole (NILOS, 1993, p. 58).

The ZPCSA is indeed a functioning vehicle for South-South
cooperation (NILOS, 1993, p. 57) and can only augur well to determined
efforts elsewhere in the world towards constructing polycentric
global fields of international relations away from the very conflictual
tri-/dual-, even uni-polarity, that has tended to characterise world
affairs since the end of the Second World War in 1945.

e) Terrorism and security, human rights
In its Global Terror Index 2015 (CLARKE, 2015), the Institute
for Economics and Peace, a research institute based in New York,
shows that the Boko Haram islamist terrorist organisation in Nigeria
is the world deadliest terrorist group, surpassing the killing of the Islamic
State in the Middle East. Boko Haram and the Fulani militia,
its affiliate group that also operates in north Nigeria, are part of the
worst five lethal terror organisations. The yearly increase of people
murdered by Boko Haram in Nigeria is more than the total number
of those killed by terrorism around the world. 

During 2013-2014,
Boko Haram murdered 5,662 people in Nigeria making this figure
the largest number of people killed by terrorists in any one country
across the world at this period. The Washington-based Fund for
Peace, which publishes an annual study of the worlds fragile states


index, has placed Nigerias position as 13th out of 178 states in its
latest research (FFP, 2016). Amnesty International recently published
a damning report of the latest in the ever-continuing stretch of the
Nigerian militarys role in the Igbo genocide (NIGERIA, 2016).

f) Prospects
Increasingly, the viability of the Nigeria state, so constituted in
the wake of the British conquest and occupation, is not sustainable.

Constituent nations and peoples are defining and redefining liberatory
trajectories that are bound to transform the politics and economies
of this strategic southwestcentral region of Africa most profoundly.


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(John Coltrane Quintet, “Brasilia” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Reggie Workman, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: live, at The Village Vanguard, New York, US, 1 November 1961])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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