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IKE ABONYI
Ike's Column Opinion

Nigeria, the Shrinking Giant

If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood

An Igbo Saying

When the Philistine giant Goliath, the biblical superman who was gifted with colossal power got killed in a humiliating manner by a small young David, it was because what really made him invincible was no longer with him.

As tiny as he was comparing with Goliath, David was possessing something special, the extra-ordinary power of the Holy Spirit lavished in him by God made his size immaterial in the contest. What was in David even in his smallness was far more greater than what was in the giant Goliath.

The message from that biblical David/Goliath saga is that being huge and gigantic is not enough unless backed by a rich content to buttress and bolster it.

In the youth jargon if you are huge but lacking in the necessary back up endowments like in academics or wisdom to depict it, your peers often refer to you as ‘big for nothing’ meaning that to be big in the real sense, it should be for something. Also, if you are stupendously wealthy for instance but not utilizing it well, instead you are displaying some characters that is unbecoming in the eyes of the public, in that instance you are often referred to as money miss road, an indication that the wealth you possess rested on the wrong person, indicating that you may be carrying what you do not deserve.

All these parallels and resemblances drawn above copiously mirror the image of our beloved country Nigeria today when viewed against the backdrop of the growing facial slaps from small nations. These nations in the past venture not look us on the face. Some of them even at a point looked up to us as a protective big brother. We were once giant of the continent in all ramifications not just in size, resources and numbers but in all facets, including but not limited to leadership.

Any African country could in the past wait for the big brother Nigeria to speak or act on an issue on ground and everybody will fall in line. That was then when Nigeria voice mattered in the comity of nations. That was when the giant was outstanding in real sense of it.

Then was the time when Nigeria was a member of the frontline states of South Africa during the Apartheid era even though from West Africa, because her voice was needed and could not be ignored no matter its geographical distance. That was when our own Olusegun Obasanjo could be a co-Chair of the Commonwealth of Nations Eminent Persons Group on Apartheid.

It was also Nigeria of old that led the Economic Community West African States Monitoring Group popularly called the ECOMOG and was able to save the two tiny nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia from total annihilation due to deep internal political crisis.

The global community stood in awe for Nigeria over their ECOMOG roles in the region as well as her enviable peace keeping credentials.

Recall when some ambitious soldiers few years ago overthrew the government of one small nation of Sao Tome et Principe, Nigeria restored democracy there immediately. Nigeria also exerted enormous influence in Guinea Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire in the restoration of democracy in these countries.

That was then, the good old days when Nigeria was the giant of Africa and when if it sneezes the continent catches cold.
Today, when soldiers seized government, arrested the President in Mali ignoring and rubbishing the mediation role of the former Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan who was midwifing peace in that country, Nigeria might was tested and found AWOL. Nigeria was missing because she had no moral standing to challenge Malian soldiers. Nigeria was facing similar challenges as Mali and the 75-year-old President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was in a similar situation as our own President. It’s just that our soldiers were not as ambitious and they lacked the necessary support from the gullible and docile civil society bodies as was the case in Mali. What does this show, the decaying of our status as a nation?

The other day a building belonging to Nigeria High Commissioner in Ghana was demolished insultingly. Still trending also is the isolation of Nigerians for a special taxation by Ghana government leading to closure of Shops belonging to Nigerians.
The killing and destruction of Nigerians and their wares by South Africans in that regrettable xenophobic action last year is still green in our minds.

Why all these and what does it show, you may ask? The why of it is that we have lost our status and could no longer occupy the commanding height in the continent. And what it shows is that we have fallen in the pecking order of relevance in the comity of nations. Lack of visionary leadership bedeviled by corruption and infrastructural decay have combined to lower our status globally.

The fearful Barcelona FC of Spain with the almighty Lionel Messi lost its bite and ruggedness, and it collected eight goals from a more prepared Bayan Munich of Germany. That you were once dreaded does not stop your annihilation by a prey if you lose your sting.

Nigeria is today where Barcelona FC is in football parlance. But unlike Barcelona who is concerned and has begun taking steps to return to glory including replacing its coach, sent out none performing players and threatened to sack its Chairman, Nigeria is doing nothing to change her situation. Nigeria is contended with its declining status and not in a hurry for any adjustment.

Five years after, the Service Chief even with their apparent nonperformance and worsening security situation in the country, are staying put because the President who should act in similarity with Barcelona, who sacked their coach is okay with the situation.

Those holding the ace in Nigeria political system at the moment feels that there is nothing to overhaul, status quo must remain.

As a result, the giant diminishes in its international status and gets slaps from minnow nations. When a valiant man is knocked down as in Goliath being knocked down by David, the accompanying shouts will be tremendous and that is how it is for Nigeria of today, a shrinking giant.

‘Bankroll’, ‘Stupid’ as words of nemesis.

When the Cross River Correspondent of Daily Trust Newspaper, Eyo Charles woke up that fateful day he had no premonition of any kind that his use of the word ‘bankroll’ was going to fetch him some problems.

He did not know that the man he was going to meet that day, a former Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode who should appreciate what accountability means given his daily scrutiny of public officers was averse to the word probably for what he knows that he was not expecting any other person to know or look into. But journalist’s duty actually is to look into those areas you don’t want looked into so Charles was not busy bodying.

Immediately he mentioned the word Bankroll in his harmless question, it triggered off the head of Fani-Kayode who himself in reaction released the word ‘stupid’ severally, that later became his own nemesis. While the poor Journalist who was visibly intimidated along with his colleagues was apologizing profusely for the infuriated Fani-Kayode even though he did no wrong professionally, he was pouring more abuses on him.

When the fire of the word stupid also started burning like the bankroll, it became more and the Fani-Kayode who refused to take the ‘am sorry’ plea of the Journalist was also pleading begging Journalists and the nation to forgive and forget. The big man who proudly announced his ‘bigmanism’ and his lawyer-ship status egoistically was seen begging and confessing that he failed himself and the public. Big lesson here for all about how and when to allow your oratory flourish. Hearing yourself in your oratory without allowing others to hear you can be dangerous and Fani-Kayode can now attest to that. The political marketing trip to launder some governors has since turned negative because of the word bankroll which simply means-to support a person or activity financially. The matter may end up in court where the two words will be further scrutinized.

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