Speaking as a someone foreign to that country, all my life, I have had a love-hate relationship with the United States. America burst into my consciousness as a child watching the movies. They were the good guys. Always ready to take on the bad Russkies. But as I grew older, and my Uncle Eloka, of blessed memory, introduced me to history books, I began to question more and more what I saw on my Dad’s television. Why did all the World War II movies that I got to watch never ever seem to talk about the fact that the Russkies and the Americans were once on the same side? Why did the the movies I was exposed to at the time never let me know that the colour of my skin would be a problem if/when I ever visited America? Then the unabashed love turned, for a brief moment to hate. Then Abacha happened, and the unabashed hate turned back to love, and admiration. As time went on, and I grew older, the love waned, but the admiration remained, albeit tempered with a good dose of cynicism.

Then 2016 happened, and I realised that the Americans are human after all. There’s nothing special about them, and they are just as narrow minded as the rest of us.

“Prepare yourselves. The next four years are gonna be lit!”

However, looking at the growing resistance, already, to someone who is clearly going to be a bad leader, I can’t help but admiring them once again. No doubt, there is a risk that we are, like we were before the US Elections, being inundated with the thoughts of people with a larger than life media footprint, but, their seemingly overbearing footprint has left one impression on me. The number of American A-listers boycotting the Trump inauguration lies in stark contrast to what obtains here. To be honest, the influence of pop culture is an interesting barometer to what will come, and if the entertainment industry there continues to rail against Trump, it is just a matter of time before businesses follow suit, and eventually the people.

How can I relate it to my geographical expression, Nigeria?

Asides Daniel Wilson, I’ve not seen many of our entertainers speaking out against the many policy missteps of President Buhari. While the argument can be made that the culture in Nigeria isn’t quite the same as it is in America, the argument can also be made that another set of celebrities, who are directly affected by Buhari’s ghastly economics, ought to be speaking out. Our “business community”.

Why do we still have, despite record drops in almost every field of economics, and record job losses, and the dwindling fortunes of all of us, our business community keeping mute? Or in many cases, actively smiling with a government that is killing their businesses?

The answer, to my mind at least, is simple: they don’t care. Why don’t they care? Because too many “businessmen” in Nigeria are not running real businesses. We have too many stories of people who may have had a great idea, and started well, then at some point got seduced by the lure of easy money via government patronage. Once that happens, the business becomes a shell, and the individual simply gets rich, doing nothing. His interest then becomes protecting the system which has been so kind to him. It matters not who the leader of the system is, or if the leader’s policies are decidedly inane. What matters is that soja come soja go barracks go remain.

That’s where we are. Do not expect too much resistance to even the most appalling of policy blunders, because, it does not really affect the most important of commodities in Nigeria — access to the corridors of power.

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.

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Cheta Nwanze

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.