Those who don’t follow British politics probably haven’t heard of Kemi Badenoch. Born in London in 1980 as Olukemi Olufunto Adegoke, she spent her childhood in Lagos and the US before returning to the UK at the age of 16. After graduating, she later went into politics where after initial failures and losing her first election she eventually succeeded in becoming a Conservative British Member of Parliament (MP). For reasons best known to her, she thought she could become the first black female British Prime Minister.
It was obvious to everyone except her few supporters that Britain wasn’t about to tolerate a black woman as Prime Minister. Having lost in the race, she now knows better. In Nigerian parlance, she “forgot herself”. During her campaign, she mindlessly and needlessly rubbished Nigerian politicians. Kemi said “I grew up in Nigeria and I saw first-hand what happens when politicians are in it for themselves, when they use public money as their own private piggy bank, when they promise the earth and pollute not just the air, but the whole political atmosphere with their failure to serve others….” There is no disputing the truth in the assertions she was making; it is simply that she is in no position to make them.
Kemi said she chose to run for the office of UK Prime Minister in line with her ambition to serve a country that gives her the opportunity to maximise her potential. The problem is that she decided for no reason to ridicule Nigerian politicians, which has become a common trend among Nigerians who have abandoned the nation to live overseas. Expatriates like Kemi are simply economic and social refugees who live in countries other than their own because they are better off there. Deciding to relocate overseas is not an achievement; it’s simply a decision which many American, European and Indian expatriates make when they choose to live in luxury in Nigeria rather than remain in their countries where Nigerians like Kemi flock to.
The difference between them and Nigerian expatriates (who mistakenly refer to themselves as being in “Diaspora”) is that they don’t go about bad-mouthing their countries. Kemi should be made to understand that being born in England isn’t an achievement, and there are many Nigerians born in the UK who didn’t run away and choose to live in Nigeria as bad as things are. Kemi is however correct in her assertion that looking at Nigeria, it’s pretty easy to see that things could be much better. Truthfully, Nigerian politics has become a celebration of mediocrity, impunity, profligacy, selfishness and arrogance. Nigerian democracy is mass deception used to keep the majority in poverty and underdevelopment.
The nation is going through a turbulent era and current political leaders appear to have little understanding of the times. The economy is in a shambles, unbridled corruption is the order of the day and the civil service has collapsed. The health and education sectors are in a mess, as is the energy sector with the national grid routinely collapsing. Worse of all added to this failure of the executive branch of government, nobody can remember a single redemptive legislation that the National Assembly has enacted. Nigerian democracy has never been about the greatest happiness for the greatest number; consequently the nation no longer stands in brotherhood.
The current administration fails to accept reality and claims that the narrative of Nigeria being a war zone with religious bigotry and extreme poverty is false because they came into office on three pillars of the economy, security and anti-corruption and as far as they are concerned, they have acquainted themselves creditably! It’s pertinent to ask whether or not President Buhari, who promised to fix the nation seven years ago, is aware that Nigeria is no longer a desirable place for Nigerians? How does Kemi think Nigeria will ever develop if all patriotic citizens decide to relocate? Does she expect or deserve any respect from Nigerians for choosing to live abroad permanently? Or has she become so British that she no longer cares about Nigeria? Nigerians, like Kemi, who choose to live overseas, should desist from rubbishing their nation. They have voluntarily given up their right to participate in our democracy and contribute to change and development, yet they continuously criticise from overseas. Diaspora describes people who have left their home country usually involuntarily such as Jews in Judea, Africans in the slave trade and Syrian refugees running from war.
People like Kemi are simply immigrants; they are not in “Diaspora”. Ironically, despite her praise of her adopted country, the truth is that Britain is not heaven on earth. She was very correct in pointing out that Nigerian politicians do not care about the weight of the verdict of history, and that they listen only to sycophants rather than genuine experts and patriots who can help them make some difference to the nation’s dire circumstances, but how on earth did she think that as Prime Minister, she would be able to visit her ancestral homeland and be treated with any respect? Paradoxically, in 2021, Kemi herself criticised a report by the British Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities that concluded Britain was not institutionally racist. Evidently like most Nigerians resident in Europe and America, she prefers the racism prevailing over there to the tribalism prevalent in Nigeria!