According to international analysts, Nigeria is a failed state. What this means is that our country lacks the tools or legitimacy needed to pursue policy outcomes such as security or prosperity, at least according to international standards. But what if our state has failed as a result of the very international system which places these standards upon us?
The features which make Nigeria a failed state according to the 2017 Fragile States Index include economic inequality, poor human rights, and demographic pressures. These problems emerged as a result of the colonial period, during which Nigeria was kept firmly under the thumb of Elizabeth II.
Colonial practices politically and economically fractured the nation and set it up for a precarious future characterised by dependency and internal strife. It therefore goes without saying that colonial exploitation played a large role in Nigeria’s state fragility. But one may wonder why Nigeria has continued to fail almost 60 years after independence.
The truth of the matter is simple. Colonialism is indeed in the past, but exploitation remains a marking feature of the international system. States that already enjoy more material and military success than Nigeria continue to exploit it for material resources.
In 1995, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act allowed for 100 percent foreign ownership in all sectors aside from the petroleum sector. An unfortunate side effect of this is that foreign-owned enterprises often thrive at the expense of local production.
Foreign involvement in the Niger-Delta has not only ravaged the environment and the local economy, it also threatens peace in the region. 1,462 deaths have been recorded in 22 months from 2015 to 2016 due to the Niger Delta conflict. The international system not only fails to respond to this exploitation, it in fact encourages it by upholding the so-called liberal economic practices that keep Nigeria trapped in the throes of underdevelopment.
All seen, it becomes painfully evident that the very international system which calls Nigeria a failed state is responsible for its failure. Neoliberal policies and practices which result in an overabundance of wealth in the West rely on the exploitation and deterioration of our country.
As a result, we Nigerian can no longer seek aid from the international system, as this practice has only proven detrimental to our success. The international system has instead proven that if we want to see an end to Nigeria’s fragility, we must do it by ourselves.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.