Do not tell a man who is carrying you that he stinks.
An American man shot and killed nearly 50 people and injured on lot more at a Gay Club in Orlando in the US three weeks ago, and the war eating up Syria and threatening much of the entire region was thrust at the heart of his motive. Another man killed a French policeman and his partner a few days later and reminded the world that ISIS is a major player in global politics and security. A British member of parliament was shot by a man in a sleepy village in England, and the killing reminded the world that Britain was involved in a major decision on its place in Europe. International relations and politics are at the heart of the US Presidential contest, and will be central to the success of either candidates.
The loss through sabotage, of substantial amounts of Nigerian crude in the market affected the global price of the commodity. Football hooliganism in European championship matches in France reminded the world how stretched its defenses are against violence and terror. Many European nations scrutinize the movements of their Muslim nationals, and agonize over how to shield their citizens and communities from destructive ideologies and influences. Post-killing information reveals how much surveillance nations that cherish civil liberties place their citizens under, and profiles of a young practicing Muslim with strong views over Israel, the war in Syria or the global state of Islam attract intense attention. Security of Europe and the US is now substantially a function of developments in wars involving Muslim countries and communities. A few decades ago, the latter caught cold when the former sneezed.
Throughout the world in this month of intense worship, Muslims are engaged in lamentations and repudiations over the relations of Muslims with a world growing increasingly worried over the appearance of their religion with pronounced symptoms of split personality. Even as they fast, Muslims die in the hands of Muslims, using bombs, bullets, intelligence and motivation supplied by non-Muslim nations. Eighty thousand Palestinians are locked out by Israel over the killing of four Israelis, an act that will make the Ramadan even more of a difficult month. Iran signals its intention to boycott this year’s Hajj, taking its fight with Saudi Arabia to new levels. Saudi Arabia chastises the US for pampering Iran over its armaments policy. African families lose thousands of relations in the desert and the seas as they scramble to reach lands where they are not welcome.
It is not just a smaller world. It is a world without borders. Values and systems which created grounds for globalization are clashing with those which make it easier to exploit the limitations of globalization. Just about every conflict has deep religious or cultural undertone. Nations in Europe are erecting high walls against illegal migrants, worried that jobs and cultures are severely threatened. They already have millions of citizens who are so alienated that they will trade the relative affluence of European towns and cities to fight for causes that offend their nations' dominant values. China sharpens a vision of a world roughly resembling its character, while Russia asserts itself as the only power in Eastern Europe. A mosquito virus which leaves a terrible affliction threatens to compound the potential damage to the Rio Olympics, after popular discontent over poverty levels, corruption and ambitious politicians wreck havoc on Brazil's papered image.
Nigerians are in great despair as the price the world is willing to offer on its revenue lifeline takes a dangerous dive. They now pay a lot more for petroleum and rice and a long list of other foreign goods and basic necessities that other nations sold to them in the past. There is a lot less money to pay for luxuries with a weaker Naira, and even salaries of government workers is now a victim of global impact on the Nigerian economy. Thousands of young Nigerians studying abroad are living with a new phenomenon of living on shoe string budgets or no remittances at all. There is less money to sustain the elaborate amnesty programme in the Delta, and a host of interests have found this a useful entry point to re-engineer a resurgence of violence in the region. More of scarce resources that may need to be deployed to stop the carnage, or abandoning the retrieval of stolen funds from powerful people from the region will deepen poverty and desperation in other parts of the nation. Widespread and pronounced poverty will swallow investments in critical infrastructure and human development, and alienate the citizen further from the leadership and the state. Crime and violence will assume greater prominence in lives, as citizens and communities resort to self-help.
The world will not stop going round (or forward) until Nigeria gets its acts together. Bold, disciplined and imaginative policies could chart a course out of our current difficulties, but they will need substantial elite consensus and collaboration on the essentials of the next and future steps. Foreign investment will be a major component in the reconstruction of the Nigerian economy at all stages. It will look hard for an environment that is relatively safe and predictable, policy frameworks that protect and encourage them, and political stability and national security. There are many global centers of influence with resources that will give nations like Nigeria entire packages that will promise to solve their problems. They will also punish nations who choose do-it-yourself strategies. There are also investors from nations who ask no questions on your politics and values, provided their investments are safe and productive. In this small world where choices are difficult to make, those we choose to relate with as partners will say a lot about our own values and our understanding of a world that does not owe us a meal or a break.
We live in a harsh and punishing world. Friends are those to whom you are useful. No one country's problems are unique, and no one country or region operates entirely as it wishes. Difficult as it is to contemplate, Nigeria's current challenges provide great opportunities to reshape its future. Two key requirements need to be met, however. One is an improvement in engineering elite political cohesion and consensus around key goals and strategies. The other is building a solid popular base for substantial structural changes in the longer term, and a clear understanding of sacrifices that will need to be made. These challenges will need to inform all the decisions and activities of the President and other leaders.