Us Shut Down And Lessons For Africa By Sola Ademiluyi

I was invited to an event by the United States Consulate General for the unveiling of the new $100 note. I was excited and was there with my camera in the hope that I will among the first 100 to view the legal tender of the World’s most powerful Nation. To my chagrin, I was told that the event was postponed indefinitely as a result of the shutdown by the government. It was then I realised the implications of it and the plight of the furloughed workers.


While Nigeria, the largest State in Sub-Saharan Africa was celebrating its ‘liberty’ on October 1, the lack of a consensus in the American Congress with regards to the handling of the Obamacare and debt ceiling led to the closure of major government institutions like the National Parks, Tourist Sites, Government Websites, Departments of Energy, Commerce, Transportation, Smithsonian Institution, Homeland Security, Justice, Education, Environmental Protection Agencies and the Postal Services.


This is not the first time it is happening in Uncle Sam as it had happened twice under the Bill Clinton Administration with the last being in 1996. In a coincidental twist, the Heads of both governments are from the Democratic Party.


A keen observation is that Americans know clearly why some of their compatriots are being forced to sit at home. They know that they furore between the Republicans and Democrats is about the interest of the people and that the shutdown is only an unfortunate incident. The Republicans want the Obamacare to be repealed and stripped of its funding as a condition to fund the government while the Democrats oppose it as they have been selling the inherent benefits in the health bill which they opine is in the best interests of Americans. The Republicans put forward a plan to hike the debt ceiling enough to allow the United States continue borrowing funds for six weeks. The Democrats want to push the borrowing into the New Year. Whatever reservations one may have about the shutdown does not make a rational mind ignore the fact that it is for the common good albeit from divergent perspectives. There is a clear connect between the leaders and the followers which makes the GOP have some sympathy even though some critics contend that they are taking advantage of their numerical superiority to arm-twist Obama. At the end of the day, the struggle is not about ego or personal aggrandisement but is about the greatest good of all Americans.

Contrast this with the current situation in Africa and you see the monumental tragedy that makes one wonder why we still remain so backward!


The fight in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party has nothing to do with the much trampled upon hoi polloi who always receive the short end of the stick. Governance has been thrown to the dogs for sheer politicking. The implosion within the PDPbalkanisation into the old and the new with the new making demands of not having their Governors subjected to any probe, return of the party structures to them, the promise from Jonathan not to contest in 2015 amongst other ridiculous demands are simply a base form of ego tripping. Thorny issues like the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Boko Haram Imbroglio, Epileptic Power Supply, Mind Boggling Corruption and Graft, Privatisation Scandals and so on which have a direct impact on the lives of the hapless masses have been pushed to the back burner.


The social contract as espoused by John Locke which makes the leaders mere glorified servants has been thoroughly mocked as the weak and vulnerable have been forced to become their own governments if they are lucky enough to survive; those not so strong are deported at will in their own country. I won’t be amazed if Nigerians start carrying identification cards to identify the destitute status in a manner akin to what happened in the apartheid days of yore. The masses know that their supposed representatives do not care about the welfare and do not even bother to engage them in constructive dialogue as they have been reduced to daily bread searching beasts in their supposed motherland.


The recent call by the African Union condemning the role of the International Criminal Court in Africa and the dissemination of insidious propaganda that the United Nations body is out to undermine the sovereignty of African Nations is sad. The AU is not talking about the innocent lives lost in Sudan as a result of the alleged brutality of Omar Bashir. It is not concerned with the emotional well being of the survivors of the killed. The unimagined level of poverty, destitution and lack of human dignity as a result of the killings do not bother African Leaders one bit! What about the killings, homelessness and unimagined level of exacerbated poverty as a result of the 2007 killings after the Kenyan elections? If there have been allegations against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto long before they assumed the helm of the affairs of the tourist nation, why should their current status as President and Vice-President respectively throw spanner in the works of their prosecution? Why isn’t the African Union thinking about the lives of those lost in an affair they didn’t instigate and which wouldn’t benefit them? Has the AU bothered to find out how the offspring of the brutally murdered have put food on their tables? Has the AU found out if they have been any compensation made? Why haven’t they pressed for a replica of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee which Madiba pioneered in the Rainbow country?

Africans should learn from God’s own country in the art of making crisis be about the people’s interests. That way the true meaning of liberty can be felt all over the continent. Pan Africanism should devolve from Africa being led by Africans to the African people having the power to hold their leaders’ accountable and appropriate actions taken to sanction them when they fall short. Liberty should come down to the people and they should hold the ace in determining the success or failure of any leader or government.


More than Fifty years after Political Independence for most African States is more than enough time for them to be people centred and if problems arise which is inevitable, the people should not be hapless pawns, rather it should be about giving them the best as the existence of the leadership is at the behest of the people and should merely hold it at their pleasure.


@ademiluyitony on twitter

Sola points at lessons Africans should learn from the Us shut down