Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan recently described revelations contained in the Wikileaks cables as nothing short of “Beer parlour gossip”, missing the whole point when common sense indicates that he should have treated the cables with the sort of seriousness it deserves.
Just like many other Nigerian politicians, the president appear to see nothing wrong with the cables, other than mere reports of the statements of “gossips” out to rundown his name and that of other political office holders.
However, for Nigerians on the street, the real owners of the land if I may say, the revelations of Wikileaks confirmed old rumours and granted fuel to others that were just beginning to shimmer.
No, it is not that the revelations were too surprising, because much of the stories contained therein, no matter how outlandish, have at one time or the other has filtered through the ears of the national consciousness. That these issues, or gossips, are weighty is stating the obvious, but beyond the issues raised by the report and the condescending side comments of the then US ambassador, the attitude of the Nigerian political class –who the cable was all about in the first place – to national affairs, raises some serious stink.
Of all the nations covered by the US diplomatic spying cables, Nigeria is probably the only country where those who deemed it wise to report the affairs of their country’s government to the US ambassador did it with a sense of righteous bravado, as if they, the snitches, have a higher moral ground than those they were snitching on.
Nigeria, also appear to be the only country where the snitching was done with a sense of duty – no, not to the Nigerian nation, but to the US authorities, on whom the snitches availed a reverence akin to worship.
This need to explain Nigerian affairs to the US is the most embarrassing aspect of the whole episode. By acting like kids elucidating to a domineering parent, how a school uniform was stained with palm oil, the Nigerian political class have sorely disgraced any form of pride Nigeria should have as a sovereign nation. They sold not just themselves cheap, but did too the integrity of Nigeria as a nation. Their actions, whether self-serving or done with intent for a greater good, is appalling and qualifies as reason enough for indictment for high treason anywhere else.
Every Nigerian old enough for constructive reasoning knows that corruption is the country’s bane, so people talking about it to anybody is not a big deal, but presuming that the United States, a foreign government, has a higher jurisdiction over Nigeria than the Nigerian government is taking an insult too far.
While many Nigerians would readily agree that those who bore tales to US diplomats erred in one way or the other, there are those who would never see anything wrong with that kind of attitude, and that, I dare say, is one of the fundamental things that is wrong with the largest black nation on earth; lack of moral ethics.
In the US of A, a country with very dubious “friendship” record anywhere in the world, acts such as those perpetuated by blabber-mouthed Nigerian government insiders would carry nothing less than a dismissal from government service and a blacklist from any sensitive position for life. Here, in a country where much of the graft that for years has kept the society effectively underdeveloped gets swept under the carpet, nothing much can be expected from the Wikileaks scandal; nobody will be out of a job, none will be indicted and one cannot readily expect the reporting to the US ambassador to cease.
That is the crux of the Nigerian problem. When those who have the constitutional authority to protect a country’s sovereignty, see nothing wrong with another country’s spying, who then will bail the cat? When the only comment a country’s president have for those who effectively revealed internal workings of a country to a foreign government is; “they are nothing more than beer parlour gossips”, then Nigerians had better begin looking for another way to salvation.
Wikileaks, by revealing these odious documents, have done more than enough to show how self-serving the foreign policy of the United States is, but beyond this, it has also shown citizens of the nations covered by the reports how their countries are perceived by the United States, through the eyes of their political class. As such, the ball has left the Wiki court and now resides with citizens of the affected nations and posterity demands that they re-evaluate relationships with the US accordingly.
One believes that the major reason Jullian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks released the US diplomatic cables is to serve mankind in general and the third world nations, who are continually being short-changed in the general scheme of things, in particular. By showing the conveniently blind citizens of these countries, what the US is up to, and disabusing the minds of those who think the US makes the world go round, Wikileaks granted the world a powerful tool. How well this tool is used is up to the people, though as a Nigerian I do not expect to be surprised much, not by this government anyway.
A version of this post was published @ http://www.dailytimes.com.ng