Nigeria needs a robust foreign policy that will involve a reduction in the number of African nations

By Ayo Akinfe 

[1] Today in July 11. Do you know that on this day in 1960, Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Upper Volta and Niger Republic all declared their independence from France?

[2] That year 1960 was the one which most African nations achieved independence. If we want to be honest about it, after World War Two, Britain and France were no longer interested in their empires and decided to let Africans run their own affairs 

[3] In the case of Britain, once India gained independence in 1947, they had no appetite left for colonies. Britain had lost the jewel in the crown of the empire, so these agrarian undeveloped African territories were of little value to them. Bear in mind that India back then was made up of modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

[4] In the case of the French, their hand was forced by the humiliating conquest they suffered at the hands of Hitler. France spent five years condemning German occupation but then were themselves occupying African colonies. They had no choice but to withdraw

[5] However, as we now know, despite independence, it was not yet uhuru. Africa is made up of 54 countries, many of them economically unviable and as a continent, we account for less than 3% of global trade despite accounting for about a quarter of the world's population 

[6] Just watching the Benin Republic football team singing the Nigerian song Ose Ose O Ose O Ose Baba after their recent victory over Morocco in the ongoing African Cup of Nations brings home the problem we face as a continent. There is absolutely no justification for Benin Republic and Nigeria to be two separate nations

[6] Africa currently has 54 countries when she only needs about 12. Nigeria needs a robust foreign policy that will champion the fusion of many of these mini states. We should start off with merging Benin Republic, Cameroon and Nigeria into one nation

[7] Do you know that over a third of the world's landlocked states are in Africa? That for me is simply a no-no. A state with no access to a port is already handicapped and is operating with one hand tied behind its back

[8] At the moment, West Africa has a problem with Fulani herdsmen. We can only really address that with robust nation states as the activities of these herdsmen transcends national boundaries. If West Africa was only made up of three nations, it would be much easier to track the activities of these nomads

[9] We can only blame colonialism and imperialism for our problems for so long. After a point in time we have to accept responsibility for our own destiny. Personally, I stopped blaming Europe for Africa's woes in 2010 when most of our nation states hit 50. That was enough time to turn round the exploitation we suffered

[10] I dream of a continent made up of about 12 economic giants that are genuine competitors on the world stage and who can match say the Chinese, Americans and European Union in terms of productivity, inventions, sports, academics, military might and creativity. With some of the tiny and hapless mini states we have at the moment, we will forever remain an under-developed continent.