by Shalini Chatterjee, student of BA International Relations at the War Studies Department of King’s College London.
Mankind is inherently selfish. Words that an IR scholar reads too often. But how much do we pay attention to this statement that is alive and breathing in today’s world? States that have helped themselves and generally acted in their self-interest have tended to get somewhere in history. When I say “get somewhere” it doesn’t always mean success, but it has always meant some betterment, some power, some progress or at least attention. Self-interest may not always mean a chase for power, but also the protection of your own people, your own state, your country’s wealth and good health. With this in mind, I have analyzed the situation in Nigeria ever since it caught my eye when a vast amount of schoolgirls went missing.
Yes, it’s sad that I only came to know about Boko Haram and their terrorizing acts only after the West paid attention to them. I realized that this was not Boko Haram’s only attack in Nigeria when I researched further into them and the country itself. Atrocious headlines appeared one after another about fires, kidnappings, brutal mass murders and much more. Heads turn to the West when we hear about plight like this. This time, especially in the direction of Britain. After the rejection of American help, many MPs have voiced their concern of Britain’s lack of action in Nigeria. Some believe that since the UK is home to such a large Nigerian population (around 1 million), they (we) have a responsibility to help in this crisis.
Fair enough, after all it is Britain’s history which split Nigeria into 3 regions of resentment even till today. An acquaintance of mine who is Nigerian told me a few little facts. The British had used their divide and rule system to split Nigeria into the North, South and East each of which now believe the others are corrupt. Goodluck Jonathan, the President, is soon to undergo an election where his competitor is another evil. He believes that this election is picking between evils. Goodluck Jonathan is just short of promoting corruption. He believes that people will do it anyway so you may as well just let it happen.
This is exactly the type of rhetoric that leads to a spiraling downfall. In my eyes, corruption is a poison; it seeps through communities and destroys them. It affects justice, politics, health care, wages and law enforcement to even list a few. Man is selfish and this poison will be allowed to spread because everyone wants the best for themselves; money, and all that comes with it. In each and every stage in there is corruption from policy makers right down to the lower skill workers.
But why do people pocket a few bucks when they know the consequences this has on the collective good? My grandfather, in regards to India, says “they are (lower paid workers) all too poor to know better, when people at the bottom are so poor a small bit of extra money can drive them to do many things. Since they don’t know better this becomes a chain of corruption”. This means that it eventually snowballs into the country’s leaders being corrupt.
President Goodluck Jonathan has not only accepted nationwide corruption, but has also tried to cover the numbers. Whenever something takes place like the recent massacre, he tries to make the numbers seem much smaller, downplaying the circumstances and losses. However, it is organizations such a Human Rights Watch that reveal the real numbers. This is embarrassing. A president that accepts the corrupt state, ignores the massacres and security threats to his OWN people. Where is the national self-interest? Or is it just for his self-interest? A good state leader who acts in self-interest pursues his people’s interest, what would be better for them? How can WE as a country build and progress? Not just ME. This is the national self-interest that should be motivated by man’s selfish nature in state leaders. In this way it is very clear that Nigeria and its population are not willing to help themselves.
I’m no grand theorist or policy maker but if the Nigerian people want to see a change they can do so with this election. Do not choose out of two evils. Find the one quiet voice who has been trampled, who believes in the greater good, a stronger, more powerful, self sufficient and prosperous Nigeria. Not the same old corruption, devastation and cowardice towards their biggest threat: Boko Haram. As for Britain, is it in our self-interest to take our troops to Nigeria and try to put broken glass back together? Can we really do anything if Nigeria doesn’t want to help themselves?