The Commandant of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), John Ochai, a major general, said on Saturday that Nigeria must lead other African countries to resist neocolonialism from developed countries.
Mr Ochai said Nigeria, as the “undisputed Big Brother in Africa, must lead other African countries” against the new scramble for Africa by Saudi Arabia and other countries, some of whom colonised African countries in the past.
He listed some of the countries including the US, China, Russia and France.
The commandant stated this while delivering a lecture on Nigeria’s leadership role in the global competition for Africa, at the 11th leadership lecture series organised by the Centre For The Study of Leadership And Complex Military Operations (CSLCMO) of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).
Mr Ochai’s paper was presented by Ojong Tangban, a professor, at the event held at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Mambilla Barracks, Abuja.
He said the new scramble, which amounts to neocolonialism, is not only being carried out unilaterally by the countries but through multinational companies, big tech companies, grants and aid to African countries.
He noted that the $46 billion Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the USA to Africa also counts as a form of neocolonialism as American businesses benefit from it.
He added that China-funded infrastructure, aid and loans that have flooded the continent are also an attempt to have African countries to China’s side in the face of competition with other developed countries scrambling for Africa.
“After the Second World War, the USA devoted vast amounts of money, attention and military might towards the rebuilding or being the midwife of economies and democracies in Europe and Asia…Of the country’s 15 largest trading partners today, 11 are former recipients of American aid,” he said.
Putting the country in order
The commandant, however, stated that Nigeria must first address its internal challenges before it can take up the task of leading the region.
He listed the challenges to include corruption, infrastructural deficits and political stability.
“Nigeria should take a leading role in fighting this policy of neo-colonisation of Africa,” he said. “And to do this, Nigeria has to first and foremost, put her house in order. If you don’t put your house in order and you go outside, you will soon discover that by the time you finish supporting the outsider, when you come back home, your house is in shambles.”
He said Nigeria remains a giant that other African countries look up to for direction and leadership and, therefore, must foster strong diplomatic ties and collaborations with other African nations.
He said this would be essential to navigating the complexities of the global competition for influence in Africa.
He said: “(President Bola) Tinubu should spearhead the neo-decolonisation of Africa, particularly Francophone Africa where France still has a stronger grip over its former colonies.”
He added that the spread of coups, which he likened to the Ebola virus, especially among the former French colonies in West Africa, calls for concern.
He said most of the ousted leaders focused too much on pleasing France rather than serving their people, leading to displeasure that caused the populace to celebrate the coups.
“These former colonies do not have the freehand to engage in military action without authorisation from it (France). And they stationed a number of French troops in this former colony. They were there until recently in Niger Republic. They were there numbering up to 500, if not 5,000. What will they be doing, is that not a kind of machinery to ensure that the former French colonies do the bidding of the French? That is the nature of French neo-colonialism.”
Mr Ochai also said African countries must learn how to negotiate with the developed countries from the position of strength and as equals.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.
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