I do not support the ignominy brought on Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgency in some parts of the country and the way those vested with the constitutional mandate to safeguard every Nigerian from such – as custodians of our well-being – have handled it. However, I take exception to South Africa’s Julius Malema, 33, throwing verbal spanks at a ruling Nigerian president. It is wittingly debasing. It is also unappreciated for several other reasons.
Malema’s comment about President Goodluck Jonathan’s incapability to curb the insurgency ravaging Nigeria would not change anything but worsen the already fragile relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.
We all know there are norms governing our existence as Africans, and real Africans don’t violate them. But Malema’s comment, to me, was way above limit. In fact, it has been rendered almost ineffective by his exuberance to make a point on the homefront.
The supposedly well-intended concern depicts mockery which has the tendency to make his country, South Africa, choose not to intervene in the Nigerian situation as he (Malema) would have wanted it even if the country had planned something more proactive.
President Jonathan and his men may be too busy, as usual, to give a robust response to the comment or choose to employ a quiet diplomacy on it. The main opposition party too, may look away on the pretext that it is a plus for their movement. But the fact still remains that the situation is still a Nigerian affair. I think it should remain so as we don’t know who and what will come next just as President Zuma turned a new leaf after succeeding President Mbeki who had received the baton from President Mandela.
Yes, the Nigerian state has been degraded to a lower bar by some unreliable Nigerian leaders who have mortgaged their credibility for whatever best suit their interests as individuals but it doesn’t necessarily mean most Nigerians are in concert with their actions.
The Nigerian President’s seat, whether occupied by Jonathan or ‘Jetlag’ as Malema puts it, is still the honourable symbol of the Nigerian state and its authority – our fountain of honour. Malema needs to look beyond the man sitting there for now and respect the seat governing over a hundred million people.
The South African and Nigerian governments have been dealing on various issues in a mutually understandable way and I believe some correspondences will change hands on this matter with time.
At the bottom level, Malema’s comment may trigger a trend that many South Africans may not like in the long-term. With the highest number of internet users in Africa and Facebook’s readiness to put more videos out on its platform in the next five years, no one could vouch for what would be posted online by some Nigerians who have the nerves to send out rude messages.
Considering the political disparity in the country presently as the February 14th presidential election draws nearer, it is not surprising that some Nigerians have endorsed Malema’s words at this point, sharing the video over Facebook to blow the comment out of proportion as a ridicule of the ruling party. If only they know what the comment, which Malema should have injected in banters with his lieutenants, portends for their country tomorrow.
But I’ll wish them the best. I’ll wish Malema well too, for the altruistic activism he’s been running in his country. But with regards to my country and its president’s seat, I think the distance between South Africa and Nigeria (West Africa) is just too far for him to dare a walk through at his age so he should just zip it.