Continuation of the Speech by Chief Obafemi Awolowo to Nigerian Students at Conway Hall, London, September 3, 1961.
I have consistently held the view that this agreement is much more dangerous than the Anglo—Nigerian Defense Pact. Under the Pact (with which I will be dealing briefly later), we know exactly what rights and obligations we have assumed and undertaken. Besides, Nigeria as a nation is directly a party to it. Under the agreement, the obligations which we have undertaken are omnibus and undefined, and what is more, they are all, without exception, Britain’s obligations under any valid international instruments, in so far as they were applicable to us in the days of our subjection.
Now, who is there in the Federal Government, or among Nigerian politicians and intelligentsia as a whole, to tell us with candor and unimpeachable accuracy the number and contents of valid international instruments — both open and secret — to which, in the days before October 1, 1960, Britain had, on behalf of herself and of her territories overseas, committed herself?
The Monrovia Conference has been given a good deal of boosting by the Western Press, and Sir Abubakar has been specially patted on the back for the part he played in it. This is on1y to be expected. This Conference is known to have been inspired and completely financed by the more important countries of the Western Bloc. Undoubtedly, the Monrovia Conference had been brought into being as a counter-poise to the Casablanca Powers which do not appear to find favor with the Western Powers and their Press.
But whatever attitude the Western Powers and their Press hold, there are outstanding attributes which the Casablanca Powers possess, but which the Monrovia Powers are still to demonstrate. First, the freedom of each of the countries which constitute the Casablanca Powers is not only legally in existence, but also is being made to be seen in all the country’s doings at home and abroad. Second, the resolutions passed at the Casablanca Conference are positively constructive, and bear the radical stamp of contemporary African nationalism at its best. In order to clinch this second point, I would like to refresh your memories by giving you a summary of some of the resolutions of each of the two groups of Powers.
The resolutions of the Casablanca Powers include:1. The setting up of an African High Command.2. The liquidation of colonial regimes through the liberation of territories still colonised.3. The elimination of all forms of racial segregation in African States.4. The consolidation and defence of the sovereignty of New African States.5. The acceptance of the objective of a political union of Africa, and the taking of such steps as will lead to the early attainment of this objective.6. The reaffirmation of Africa’s non-alignment to any of the two East and West Blocs. 7.The evacuation of all occupation troops from Africa.8. The barring of Africa to all nuclear experiments.
Those of the Monrovia Powers include:1. The recognition of absolute equality of sovereignty of all African States irrespective of size and population. 2. Each African state has the right to exist and no African state should try to annex another for any reason.3. Should any African State desire freely and voluntarily to join with another State no other African State should stand in its way. 4. All States should respect the principle of non-interference in the internal and domestic affairs of any African state.5. Each State should respect the territorial integrity of another State and should not harbor, within its boundaries, any dissident elements from another State who might wish to use that State as a base for carrying out subversive activities against their own State.6. Any conception of unity entailing the surrender of sovereignty of any African State to another is totally unrealistic.
It will be seen that, apart from the fact that the Monrovia Powers lack the attributes of the Casablanca Powers, the Monrovia resolution are actuated by fear, and place much, too much, emphasis on the minor differences between some African nations. Before independence, cur economy was dominated by Britain and her fellow-members of the N.A.T.O. Since independence, we have made no effort to relax this imperialist stranglehold on our economy.
On the contrary, we now throw the doors of our country wide open to indiscriminate foreign exploitation. Every conceivable inducement is being given to foreign investors of the Western Bloc to come to Nigeria to exploit our natural resources in whatever way they choose. The type of venture, its financial structure, and its location, are left entirely in the hands of intending foreign investors. The assumption appears to be that foreign businessmen are so altruistic and philanthropic that their main concern would be to help the masses of Nigerian people, and not to enrich themselves at our expense. In seeking foreign aid for our development, our Government has allowed itself to be led into a blind alley by its Western masters and mentors.
`Money has no earmark,’ so says an old adage which is as true as ever. But our present Government has so imbibed the prejudices of Britain that it appears to see the very Devil himself in any foreign currency other than British or American.
It is now eleven months after independence, and yet our Government has not succeeded in producing a bold development program for the prosperity and happiness of our people, with the result that, economically, we just drift, and become more and more dependent on foreign aid of a kind that is not likely to be in the long-term interest of Nigeria.
I understand — or more precisely the country has been promised by the Government — that a five-year development program is in preparation. The architects of this program are a Mr. Prasad from the International Bank Mission and an American from the Ford Foundation. The United States has promised substantial aid towards the execution of the program, but 90 per cent of such aid, I understand, will be in the form of American goods.
As a matter of interest, it may be mentioned in passing that while Nigeria’s proposed five-year program is already being studied in Britain and America, for the past five months or so, even an outline of its contents has not yet been made known to the Nigerian people or their parliament. In other words, Sir Abubakar wants to clear the program with Britain and America first, before his Government can ever have the courage to lay it before his fellow-citizens whose lives and fortunes are going to be affected for good or for evil by the proposed program.
The Government has also slavishly committed itself to British economic and political ideals and prejudices. Words like nationalization, public ownership of the means of production, or socialism, are to the Government what the rag is to a bull.
The advocacy of the Opposition for nationalization( (a) of the Plateau Tin Mines where foreign companies declare as much as 150 per cent yearly dividend (b) of the entire mercantile marine operating in Nigeria, and(c) of insurance businesses, as an interim step,) has been roundly condemned by the Government as heretical and mad. Instead, the Federal Government has declared that industries shall not be nationalized in Nigeria beyond the extent to which public utilities are already public-owned.
Before independence the Government of the Federation was not so scared by the demand for nationalization as it is at present. Indeed in a Government publication, first issued in 1956 and reissued in 1958,it was made clear that in the event of any industry being nationalized, fair compensation would be paid. It would appear, therefore, that on the issue of nationalization, which conflicts with the basic economic ideal of the Western Powers, our present Government has shown less courage in freedom than its predecessor had done in bondage.
In emulating British political ideals, the Government has even gone much farther than the Tories of the deepest dye would approve here in Britain. Up till today, Communist literature is banned from entering Nigeria. Even though the public has been told, after pressure from the Opposition, that permission has been given for the opening of a Russian Embassy in Nigeria, every obstacle is actually being placed in the way of the Embassy being opened. The representative of the Russian Government, who has been in Nigeria for some months now, stays in the Federal Palace Hotel. Every effort of the Soviet Government to secure accommodation for its Embassy is being secretly foiled by some countries of the Western Bloc with Embassies in Nigeria. I know a Nigerian businessman who has been threatened with reprisals by a Federal Minister for daring to offer suitable premises to the Russian Government.
In keeping with the fashion obtaining among newly emergent Asian and African nations, our Government has put the label of `Neutrality’ on its foreign policy. But our brand of `neutrality’ is, to all intents and purposes, sui generis. In our `neutrality’, we are already militarily aligned to Britain, and hence indirectly to N.A.T.O. In our `neutrality, we do everything to prevent the opening of a Russian Embassy in Nigeria and we do nothing to open one in Moscow ourselves. We proclaim `neutrality’, and yet Chief Okotie-Eboh, Federal Minister of Finance, on his way to Soviet Russia at the head of our Economic Mission, went to very great pains to assure an audience of British businessmen and politicians here in London that though he was going behind the Iron Curtain, they could rest assured that be was going to return from there with his natural color intact and untarnished. We proclaim `neutrality’ and yet the Sardauna of Sokoto, with the express consent of Balewa, is moving heaven and earth to drag Nigeria into a Commonwealth of Moslem States.
He has done more. As if the Northern Region is not just an integral part of the Federation of Nigeria, and as if he is entitled under the Constitution to pursue a separate foreign policy for the North, he has, with the open acquiescence of Sir Abubakar, committed the Northern Region to the Arab side in the Arab-Israeli dispute. We proclaim `neutrality’, and yet we refrain from participating in the Belgrade Conference of `non-aligned nations’. Our Government’s `neutrality’ in foreign affairs must, in the light of events, be said to have been conceived in deceit and born in hypocrisy.(to be continued)