In light of Nigeria’s highly sensitive and publicized presidential elections, I attempted to have a conversation with a fellow West African, and the response I got was startling: As a non-Nigerian speaking to another non-Nigerian, I thought we could engage in dialogue around African politics, unity, tribalism, and religious violence, but instead, the conversation began and ended with “why do you care?”
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In that moment, I was taken aback and was even slightly offended; why shouldn’t I care? I think the problem is that many Africans don’t care and/or we feel that our particular country’s issues are unique.
However, considering some of Nigeria’s recent challenges, are other African nation’s issues really all that unique?
Take inventory of your own country’s issues and see if they are that much different from any other African country.
I believe the issues of sketchy African politics, tribal and religious violence, and vast socioeconomic differences are applicable to all African nations to varying degrees.
The spirit of Pan-Africanism involves awareness and concern for all of Africa.
I am not advocating for fighting other people’s battles in a country other than your own, but when Africans are able to be transparent and are able to hold one another accountable, then perhaps the state of politics and economics would improve on the continent.
I am sure all of Europe is concerned about the stability of Greece and the Ukraine — as any instability could threaten other European nations as well.
Why can’t Africa do the same and even exceed this level of accountability?
To answer the question from my fellow African, here are a few reasons why I care about the Nigerian elections enough to be concerned:
1) A weakened Nigerian government could possibly serve to motivate other terrorist organizations to settle in the region and could spark serious internal and regional conflicts.
2) Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and West African economies are among the strongest on the continent.
3) Nigeria is a major supplier of peacekeeping troops to various nations in Africa.
These facts are nothing to take lightly; threats to peace and stability anywhere on the continent should be taken seriously.
I know I am not the only non-Nigerian who has been following the Nigerian presidential elections.
A new day has come for Africa and we can no longer accept substandard conditions within our nations.
Regardless of whoever wins the elections, I pray that peace and civility will prevail. Godspeed to Nigeria and God bless Africa!