“During the civil war, we were sent out to campaign for our cause. I went to the United States and I remember Alhaji Shehu Shagari went to the Scandinavian countries. When we returned, we compared notes before submitting our reports to Gen Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of State. Shagari told me he met a common friend of ours and this is what the man told him.
“We know why you are here, you have come to seek our favour and support for your cause. But let me tell you, we do not care about you, all we care about are your resources. If we could get robots to exploit your resources for us to develop our economy, we would not mind a lot of you being eliminated. You Nigerians are a peculiar case; you have the population, resources and we know your resources more than you do know about them. All you need in Nigeria is a fairly long period of say ten to twenty years and you will be able to make it.
You will become a very strong economy, will join the economic powers, but you need this period of uninterrupted peace and stability. But we will not allow it because within that period, you will use your brains, and Nigeria has got brains. You will work hard and you are hard working people, you will exploit your resources and you have them in abundance and you will develop your economy.
Developing your economy needs market and you have no problem with that because of your huge population, in addition, you will have the entire West African region as your market. If that happens, you will be a thorn in our flesh; we would lose our source of raw materials because you would be using them in your factories. We would lose our market because you will be the market and also get other markets in West Africa. So, even after your civil war, we would create one problem after the other for you so that you may not enjoy the peace and stability that will enable you develop and become such a strong country.
“So, it is up to us.”
Alh Yusuf Maitama Sule in his last interview with The Guardian published on July 28, 2013.
Credit: The Guardian via Fadima Ibrahim.