The capital of a country is the city where the national government is located. This location is usually carefully chosen and designed to provide the best impression and position for a country’s government and people to optimally interact with citizens and visitors. Sometimes countries change their choice of capitals to get new ones that adequately serve these purposes and this was the idea behind the Nigerian government that moved the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1991.
Thirty-one years later, however, we are faced with a situation where Abuja faces a significant terrorist threat that began as a wave of armed robberies on the fringes of the Federal Capital Territory and recently manifested itself as prison breakouts in which terrorists were arrested and criminals turned into criminals. released.
The situation should be shocking, but it isn’t. It was, unfortunately, rather predictable, starting with the regime of retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari responding to attacks on northern minorities with a disdainful lack of concern leading many onlookers to believe it was somehow complicit.
Benue and Kaduna states had experienced violent attacks that were said to be “clashes” and Benue state governor Samuel Ortom was even attacked on his farm a few years ago and recently asked the US government to Buhari regime responsible for the violence and deaths caused by the actions of the terrorists who for years have been described by the federal government as “common herders”.
The so-called “shepherds” have also been implicated in a spate of attacks in the largely Christian southern Kaduna portion of Kaduna State, and the complaints and victims of the southern Kaduna people have been dismissed with disdain by state and federal officials. The communities attacked claimed that the violence was deliberately instigated to allow for the confiscation of land.
Rather than respond responsibly, the government through one of its spokespersons, Femi Adesina, asked the beleaguered people to surrender their lands in order to stop the violence. Adesina’s words on national television were: “Ancestral attachment? You can only have ancestral attachment if you are alive. When you talk about attachment to your ancestors, when you are dead, what does the attachment matter?”
Governor Ortom went to President Buhari and was told, “I ask you in the name of God to meet your countrymen.”
The ethnic and religious identity of the victims of the attacks clearly played a role, and this became even more evident when the federal government even tried to propitiate the terrorists, posing as herders, by creating government-sponsored farms for them in all parts of the world. states of the country. Violent opposition from the southern and middle belts led to the idea being abandoned.
The lack of backlash encouraged the terrorists and criminals who eventually went looking for more lucrative opportunities and kidnapped commuters on the Abuja-Kaduna Road, became bolder and began attacking the Kaduna-Abuja train service. Now they’ve grown bold enough to target the nation’s capital.
All of this could have been avoided if the government had not let ethnic and religious differences dampen its response to a situation with dangerous implications for national security. For those of us who dared to speak out in those heady days how dangerous was the slope we were on, we were attacked by troll farms and took chosen ones, “big intolerable” was the favorite. People often forget that when you feed a baby monster with your enemies, it will turn into a teenager, and if you run out of enemies at that point, it will eat your children.
Now Abuja faces a significant terrorist threat and the impact will long be felt beyond the immediate security threat. You know, Abuja and other Nigerian cities already struggled in the battle to become commercial hubs for the African ecosystem and lost a lot of ground to cities in Ghana and Kenya.
The city of Nairobi scored a major coup when Google launched its first African product development center there after setting up an AI and research center in Ghana in 2019. Financial giant Visa has also set up an innovation center in Nairobi.
It gets more interesting when you realize that even non-African cities are competing for the main African hub, with Dubai as a major competitor. More than 21,000 African companies are registered in Dubai. 45 multinationals grouping together their activities in the Middle East and Africa have also established their regional headquarters for these zones in Dubai.
Becoming the center of African Business for decision-makers in Dubai is not such a strange idea when you consider that it really is about a location with the right mix of proximity, infrastructure, political connections, comfort, safety, capital, structure and accessibility. Miami, Florida is in the US, but serves the same purpose for Latin America for much the same reasons that Nigerian cities are losing: insecurity and infrastructure. Miami is a three-hour flight from Colombia, a six-hour flight from Brazil and a two-hour flight from Puerto Rico. It has become a major hub for Latin America with more than 1,200 multinational corporations having their Latin American operations headquartered in Florida.
Dubai’s excellent flight connections, ICT infrastructure and tourist-friendly structure have made it attractive to many African and non-African power brokers looking for a hub to connect and do business. Abuja is seen as unsafe at a time when Nigeria needs an annual inflow of FDI of $90 billion, but getting only $698.7 million in FDI in 2021 is not helpful. Hopefully, this will teach us the economic value of adhering to the principle of justice and fairness, regardless of the ethnic or religious affiliations of the victims or the aggressors. Best Practice usually produces the best results.
- Nwanze is a partner in SBM Intelligence