By Valentine Tobechukwu Achum
Whoever sees it as a joke for Nigeria to be given permanent membership of the United Nations (UN) Security Council needs to be properly enlightened of the strategic role and substantial commitments of the country in Africa and the world at large. With a GDP of $415.08 billion, Nigeria’s economy is the 22nd largest in the world, just behind Taiwan and Thailand in 20th and 21st positions respectively, and with Poland and Egypt behind us at 23rd and 24th positions respectively. Nigeria is also the largest economy in Africa, with Egypt and South Africa as second and third with GDPs of $330.159 billion and $280.36 billion respectively. We are known for being the ‘giant of Africa’.
This is not because we have the fattest income in Africa. It is not because we have the largest population in Africa. It is also not because we have an army with the strongest combat power in the entire Africa. We also cannot rub it in anyone’s face that our country man and woman, Aliko Dangote and Folorunsho Alakija are the richest persons in the entire black race (albeit the later slipped to third position, behind Isabel Dos Santos- daughter of Angola’s President who has been in power for about thirty years, and Oprah Winfrey- popular talk show host).
I don’t think our foreign affair officials will want to make the point of Nigeria having some of the world’s leading scientists and intellectuals such as Phillip Emegweali (inventor of super computer), Wole Soyinka (Nobel prize winner), Chinua Achebe (whose Magnum Opus Things Fall Apart is translated to over 50 foreign languages and sold 10 million copies worldwide), Chimamanda Adichie (described as Achebe’s literary daughter and icon of storytelling in Africa), just to mention a few. Our major claim to having a permanent chair in the Security Council rests in our traditional nature of demonstrating love, commitment and sacrifice for humanity, especially in the African continent and black race in general. An analyst once quipped that Nigeria gives more support to other African countries than it does to itself.
Even though I consider this to be such a hyperbolic account, the import of this statement is not far-fetched, which is that: Nigeria sacrifices a lot in assisting its fellow African brothers both within the West African sub-region where its contribution is 60% (almost six times what the other 14 members contribute) in the cost of running the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and across the entire Africa where she is known for making huge commitments in both financial, moral and humanitarian aids. For instance, between 2003 and 2011, Nigeria contributed $918.7million to the running cost of ECOWAS, followed by Ghana with $225.7million.
It is no news that Nigeria was a cardinal figure in dislodging the apartheid regime in South Africa. During this dreadful period, Nigeria became the home for Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists after the regime made them untenably exit their own soil.
Aids amounting to millions of dollars were donated by both Nigerian government and private Nigerians to their ravaged brothers in South Africa, while scholarships were given to young South Africans to study in Nigerian universities.
We have provided both military, financial and humanitarian aids to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and even more recently, Gambia, during their various periods of political and humanitarian turmoil. While some may see this as being foolishly lavish with scarce resources, those who know what it means to offer help know that help does not come mainly out of abundance of resources, but from the abundance of love and grace.
An average Nigerian is a born giver, and can go a discomforting length at giving. Giving is sacrifice, and sacrifice is love. I dare say that no other country in Africa has shown the kind of love which Nigeria has shown to its fellow African brothers. No other African country has sacrificed for the African continent and the entire black race like Nigeria.
As at the time of writing this piece, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari will be preparing to attend the U.N Security Council meeting where he will make an address alongside leaders of seven other countries. I will like him to bring to the council good news of Africa’s growth, and how Nigeria has been in the forefront of such growth.
I want him to tell the council how Africa’s growth has been exponential in the last couple of decades, and how Nigeria has contributed to the overall spectrum of such growth. I will like President Buhari to enlighten the council of our destiny and natural role of defending Africa, serving the continent and acting as steward to its overall growth and development.
Achum is a post-graduate student of University of Lagos.