By Hafsat Abiola-Costello
“I live in Brussels now, the capital of the European Union. The organisation I work with, Women in Africa, was founded and initially largely funded by the French. Suffice to say that I have been extensively exposed to the Western world and its ideas and practices.
You mentioned my father. When he came to the U.S. shortly after his election, to request U.S. government’s support for our cause, he made the time to come to my university to meet my professors. He asked me then to find out what our friends know that allows the achievements they have recorded. Perhaps because that would be his last request (he was taken into custody upon his return from that trip), I have dedicated my life to doing just that.
It is too small to suggest that I speak as I do because of any interest in benefiting from the current Nigerian administration. I do not think in that way. I have never approached the government for anything. I do not need to. I hold three positions at an international level and, even if that were not the case, perhaps because I was raised in comfort, it is not money or position that can secure my allegiance.
I am interested in the development of the continent. It is actually what I studied for undergrad at the best university in the U.S. and what I studied for my master’s at the best university in China. It is what consumes my time.
Here’s what I know:
There is a global competition for the continent.
This doesn’t bode well for us because our interests and needs are rarely taken into account by these power players, especially if the competition devolves into a scramble.
We have to look out for our interests ourselves.
And that means being careful not to allow our country to degenerate into anarchy or civil war. It does not mean that we do not have problems that need to be tackled. Nor that issues should be swept under the rug. It just means that we must not allow our problems to be used as entry points to forment violent conflicts.
If we do, at the end of the day, we will be left carrying the bag. And the problems will not have been solved.
A brother from the East put me on the board of his company. He had a project that will run into about $20 million to execute. It could have been done in Abuja or in his home state, Anambra. He chose the latter, because it will have the possibility to lift thousands out of poverty.
With the violence in the last few weeks, he has set the project aside for the foreseeable future. He wants to leave the country. He has the means to do so but it is unfortunate that this is where we are. In the end, in an unstable country, it is Nigerians that will lose.
Many do not like PMB. No doubt he has failed to carry the different parts of the country along with him. He has even failed to carry the North along. But he will be out of office soon enough.
Whatever changes we want, it is in our interest to pursue them peacefully. In the heat of conflict, we – the people of Nigeria – will be the last to the considered and the first to be sold out.
If our history over four hundred years has taught us anything, it should have taught us that much.”
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