By Anote Ajeluorou
For several centuries, Africa has been the butt of all manners of indignities from the rest of the world. The Arabs came and enslaved whole generations. So, too, did the Europeans, whose impact on the continent continues till date. Indeed, it’s European or Western impact on the continent that is darkest, most devastating and insidious.
Following the long history of slave trade and the transmutation to colonialism, European powers saw and continues to see Africa as an extension of Europe in so far as it serves as ‘bread basket’ for its advancement, especially on the economic sphere. But then came the historic period of demands for independence and self-rule. Reluctantly, Europe relinquished its active political possession of its prized colonies, but not so its economic stranglehold on a continent seen as raw material ‘factory’ that feeds factories in Europe.
Although the United States of America did not own a colony (Liberia and Sierra Leone being countries freed slaves were settled), it saw its chance to play its deft, diabolic hand as soon as colonialism effectively ended. With the cold war ragging between the U.S. and Russia from World War II up to the 1990s, Africa became an ideological battleground and a place for the most atrocious racist campaign that was to exact grave economic and political cost on the continent.
Although Europe and America’s ideological stand against stunting Africa’s economic and political growth is a vaguely acknowledged fact by some, many are largely unaware of the harm America and Europe commit against the continent. But an economics and civil servant, late Dr. Osamaro Ibie, who was an active player in most of Nigeria’s economic negotiations with foreign powers, has written an insightful book, Economic Imperialism: The Secret war Against Africa.
In it Ibie gives an insider account of the various machinations from outside the continent that continues to undermine its ability to develop fully both economically and politically. Like many Nigerians, Ibie initially wondered why it is so difficult for African leaders to lead successful democratic and economic prosperity across board.
According to him, “Wherever one turns, the picture is the same: economic mismanagement, inability to ride the tiger of democracy down the slippery slope of multiparty system, horrendous human rights record, inability of political leaders to recognize their terminus and throw in the towel gradually when the ovation is at crescendo, high walls of bureaucratic resistance to objective and healthy criticism and the absence of any discernable afrocentric thrust in foreign policy”.
With that tone of enquiry, Ibie proceeds to unravel what many Africans don’t; the barefaced interference from America, with its dreaded and ubiquitous Criminal Investigative Agency (CIA) and how America uses it to force African leaders to tow devious and criminal paths that leave millions yearning for development that never comes in spite of the enormous resources in their hands. Ibie’s submission is a startling one. America has never hidden its disdain for the black race; its leadership in the 1960s to the 1990s would do everything to stop Africa from developing. And their weapon is visiting death through assassinations on progressive forces and leaders from emerging or holding sway both in America and in Africa.
Every notable black leader in 1960s and beyond both in America and Africa fell to the bullet of assassins, of the CIA. As Ibie puts it, “Ever since the late fifties and early sixties, when the whiz-kids and eggheads of international espionage drew a positive correlation between emerging independent African countries and the explosion of civil rights and black-power in the United States of America… The history of how the star of the black-power movement was extinguished in America and how Africa was made to cease to be inspiration to black Americans, who were ensnared to become engulfed in the capitalist syndrome.
“Suffice it to indicate that the casualties of the clandestine warfare against the black race were Patrice Lumumba of Congo Zaire (now DR Congo), Joseph Kasavubu, Cyril Adoula and Moishe Tsombe, Tafawa Balewa, Murtala Mohammed, and Buhari (who was lucky to have his life spared) all of Nigeria; Hamani Diori of Niger, Leon Mba of gabon, Eduardo Mondlane pf Congo, Augustinho Neto of Angola, Fulbert Youlou of Congo Brazaville, Ben Barka of Morocco, Felix Moume of Cameroun, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, to mention a few”.
Ibie further reveals, and convincingly proves with facts that half of the fratricidal and internecine wars fought in Africa were inspired by “is part of the strategy to keep the continent poor, by making it to be spending its meager resources for procuring military hardware to keep the munitions factories of the developed economies prolifically busy while Africa uses their arms to kill its people and forget about real economic and political development”.
Further Ibie states that another factor the West uses to impoverish Africa is what he calls “the debt conspiracy”, which has “unleashed the most ruthless haemorrhage of funds from the poor countries of the third world to the richer industrialised countries that the industrialised world has ever seen”.
America’s use of the CIA to influence policies of poor foreign countries was best put succinctly by President Ronald Regan, when he said, “When vital American interests are concerned, no strategy can be considered too mean, no promise too sacred, no tactics too devious, and no instrument too immoral (to be employed to redress the situation). This is the fulcrum on which America and Europe deal with Africa.
The author states that while America shouts from the rooftops about the need for third world countries to democratise, it subtly works hard to thwart democracy from happening in Africa. With its CIA’s ‘covert operations’, America forces nations of less endowment to two its path or perish. Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was one of such tools it used to create economic instability in most countries including Nigeria. It was the reason, according to Ibe, why Buhari was overthrown for refusing to accept World Bank and IMF-induced SAP the naira by 400 per cent in the 1990s. It ushered in a period of massive economic hardship to ordinary Nigerians.
Only last year, following the visit of IMF’s Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, to Nigeria, subsidy was removed from petroleum products. It sparked off widespread protests across the country. This was clear vindication of Ibie’s position that third world countries are firmly under the control of the two financial institutions established to serve the interests of America and European powers.
Through these two financial institutions, America and Europe force down the throat of poor countries market economics that do not take into account their peculiar socio-cultural environments. Countries that succeeded are those that refused to accept market economics, like Japan and China. Ibie urges African leaders to formulate their own economic policies based on their own situations and not foolishly ape Western-type policies that are sharply at variance with Africa’s socio-economic realities.
Ibie’s book Economic Imperialism