Competition among and within political entities and polities has proven to spur nations ahead. As it has often been said, necessity is the mother of invention – that saying has worked for a couple of countries that are faced with an external threat.
There is no country in the world without internal wranglings and disagreements between internal groups and forces but history has shown that one of the biggest propellers of a country’s unity is the existence of a common external enemy or rival as the case may be.
During the days of nationalistic struggles, a certain degree of unity and quest for a better nation was cultivated by different sections of people because they had a common enemy which was their colonial masters. After independence, most African countries lost the drive they once had and became so complacent in pursuing their development ambitions largely because there was nothing to push them on further.
For any nation to develop, its people must be United and fuelled by nationalistic motivations. The best way to achieve these things is to rally the nation against a common rival at best and enemy at worst.
Like the USSR was to the US during the cold war and like China is becoming to the US or like North Korea is to the South or like those Arab nations are around Israel, If a country like Nigeria has an external rival or enemy that is an established collective threat to lives and economy of her people, the country might unite and aggressively pursue her development objectives.
One of the reasons why most African countries are redundant is that they don’t have competition both within and without. A nation needs external enemies to develop. That enemy model worked for a couple of countries especially countries with innovative and brilliant people. For instance, Israel wouldn’t be half the country it is if not for the fact that it lives around enemies. The rivalry between European powers in the 15th through the 20th century is responsible for the rapid industrialisation and advancement of countries like Great Britain, France, and co. The fear of being overpowered by another nation kept them on their toes. It kept the US on her toes from 1945-1990 and when the US went to sleep, the emergence of China is once again making them wake up.
Even the short-lived nation of Biafrans was able to achieve great things because they were threatened by Nigeria. Nations need enemies and rivals to develop and improve as much as they need friends. Individuals need enemies to succeed, so do nations. If your country has no enemy, it’s best to even create one. Enemies make you better, someone has to keep you on your toes.
Caleb Onyeabor is a Nigerian intellectual, an avid advocate for political justice, social justice, and economic justice. Author of Diary of a Messed Up country. Follow him on Twitter via twitter.com/caleb_onyeabor
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