Afghanistan to Nigeria: The Futility of Foreign Legal and Political Ideas


Afghanistan is the latest example of failed intervention by foreign powers in the legal, political and social life of another nation. Like Vietnam, the intervention of the United States in Afghanistan ended up in a fiasco and major embarrassment to the foreign policy objectives and practice of the World’s number one power. In this article, using the case of Afghanistan as a reference point the writer surveys the reason why imposition or importation of foreign ideas and institutions of governance, law and economics has not succeeded in transforming African nations even where such ideas and institutions have been successfully practiced and existed in their home nations. He links the phenomenon to colonialism in Africa which could not after about a century or more of intervention in most African nations bring such nations to develop along the trajectories that the colonial masters fashioned for them or which the nationalists promised their people. He identified the major social difference of individualism vis-à-vis collectivism in Africa as being the underlying cause and recommends the need for intellectuals and practitioners to review and fashion out the organization of the nations of Africa along the original models of organization while considering the changes brought by diversity and agglomeration of different peoples into single nations. The article uses Nigeria as the country of study and pays closer attention to law and legal principles.