Obasanjo And The Liberation Struggle


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Obasanjo And The Liberation Struggle: What Substance?




Peter Falowo





July 17, 2006


I hate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, it is no news, a lot of Nigerians do. I hate his hatred for the Press, but the press if highly motivated against military men in power and their relationship started from there (daggers drawn). I hate his arrogance and know-all attitude, but without those attributes he could be a weaker President. I hate his brand of politics, his win at all cost and winner takes all trademarks.

However, I love President Olusegun Obasanjo. I love his love for his country, he has shown over the years that he always wants the best for our country. I love his "super Eagles", with Oby (Ezekwesili) in goal, Ribadu in the central-defense, El-Rufai at the mid-field, Akinyuli at the outside-left, Soludo at the outside-right and Okonjo-Iweala the deadly top-striker. It takes a genius of a coach to assemble a team this magical. I love his battle against "the cabal that has held this country to ransom in the past".


Obasanjo recently declared during the swearing-in of five new ministers that his administration is leading a struggle against the entrenched forces. This seems so clear and unambiguous, yet the likes of Amanze Obi (the "Broken Tongue" of Nigerian Sun Tabloid) could not assimilate it, he wondered what forces OBJ was referring to.


Let me break it down for you. Nigeria is currently in a state of suspended reality.We are only taking a break from our normal national life of domination and internal oppression. I read the news of an executive bill to scrap the NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority), I laughed and waived my finger at the computer screen. I said loud to myself "that will never happen". The NPA, like the Nigerian Airways, NEPA, the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA), the Defense Ministry, The Nigerian Railway Corporation while it existed all belong a particular section of the country. It is their avenue for siphoning the nations funds, the (un)-official language at these places is the language of those people. These are the ones Obasanjo called "the cabal" in that speech on June 22, 2006. Having "killed" the NRC and the Nigerian Airways, with NEPA almost out of their control and the national spread of promotions in the Armed Forces, they will not open their eyes and see OBJ scrap NPA. It will mean too much work to do restoring that order when they come back. As long as the NPA scrapping is a constitutional matter that has to go through the national Assembly, forget it.


Nigeria is based on falsehood, Chief Obafemi Awolowo once said "...the Federation of Nigeria is monstrously abnormal in structure...". Professor Henry Bretton is an American, he once observed that "the very construction of the Northern Region (of Nigeria), in the form in which it entered the era of independence, represents one of the greatest acts of gerrymandering in history" Ken Post is a man who should know a lot about the immediate pre-independent Nigeria, he was in charge of Statistics in the Department of Labour's headquarters in Lagos in the 1950s. He stated that the Northerners demanded 50% of the Federal Parliamentary seats by stating that the North did indeed have over 50% of Nigeria's population. Ken, said of this claim "I did not believe a word of it". I am not going to discuss "The Colonial Politics and Nigeria's Future" here, it is an issue I will handle in greater details in another paper. Remember Professor Wole Soyinka once came back from exile and gave a lecture about the selfish stomach, which takes the food and its nutrients from all other parts of the body and keep it for itself. He was talking of the same cabal. This is the cabal that sat Obasanjo down like a little boy in that hotel room at Hilton in Abuja and asked him to sign some portfolios to them, as the only way he could be President. While Chief Awolowo believed that the problem can be solved peacefully by attaining power and correcting the "illogical, spiteful and unprincipled opportunist" approach to governance in our land, Chief Odumegu Ojukwu believed that it could be negotiated like they did in Aburi and if broken, the aggrieved should break away, Chief Mathew Mbu believes that it could be negotiated like they did at the Obasanjo's confab. Unfortunately that is not working too. Obasanjo is saying he has been opportune to be in power and he has experienced a cabal, he has seen clearly that true to the words of Major Albert Okonkwo "the northern vandals... have been allowed to slowly, greedily, viciously and brutally leech on our very existence, sapping us of that vital elements of life and of greatness..." Obasanjo can not say it the way Okonkwo did or the way I can, he has said it the way he could as a national figure. The purpose of the present is saying it the way it is understandable to the Amanze Obis.


Why should anyone drum up ethnicity while it is becoming a thing of the past in our polity? The reality is, the maintenance of the undue advantage granted by the colonial masters remains the foremost interest of the beneficiaries of that charade, the youth becomes elites in that region by how much defense they can put up for that and how much committed they are to keeping it so. What else can you make of Umaru Dikko's claim that in every partnership, there is a senior and junior Partner, the north to him is the Senior Partner in the Nigerian partnership. I wish to educate him that Nigeria is far from comparison to a partnership in any sense of the word. Alhaji Tanko Yakasai recently asserted (or rather boasted) that no section of the country can become President without the cooperation of the North, according to him the North holds 65% of the population of Nigeria. Reading carefully through the lines of the interview Babangida recently granted some selected Editors, you will see the man behind the mask called "IBB". He was nothing different from Umaru Dikko, except that he is not a basket mouth. He expressed the northern oligarchic passion the way I have not experienced him do. Talking about the derivation figure, he was not telling history to his grand-children, IBB was telling Editors of an event that is less than a year old and said "But common sense prevailed and an amicable figure was arrived at... 18% is fine" To him, "itís a waste of time to start talking about whether we should not be a Federal Republic of Nigeria or whether we should be something else. It is also silly not to consider the part of the country that is, perhaps, not at the same level of development with other parts of the country and see how we can bring everybody up to certain developmental level. So, some of these settled issues are issues we shouldn'tít even bother to talk about . There are issues in the constitution, for example, that no state would adopt a religion for the state. You donít even need to talk about it because it is already settled." In essence he is saying let us keep the status-quo. Remember that young lady from Edo State that moved a motion that all oil companies should locate their headquarters in the areas where they operate, and should employ the locals to fill about 50% of their employees slots. That was during the first term at the House of Representatives of the Obasanjo administration. The voting was done by sitting, all the northerners sat on one side saying no, and the rest is history.


Abubakar Atiku, Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida recently held meeting to fashion out how power will return to the north. Considering that these are foremost aspirants to the Presidency of Nigeria at this point in time, it could be worrisome to unveil the background of those meetings. It is not how they can complement each other on the good governance of Nigeria, not withstanding which one of them wins. It is not an attempt to present a consensus candidate among them, but to strategise on how power will return to the north. We should be sorry for our dear nation.Where does this arrogance come from? The attitude of the north is coming on the heels of a seemingly irreversible enthronement of lies at the very foundation of the Nigerian nation combined with the unrepentant attitude of the perpetrators and their willingness to eternally cover up the lies in the cloak of keeping official secrets. The north has maintained what was handed down to them and as a matter of fact they have consolidated that subterfuge.


Our history as a nation is one big drama far away from reality. Attempts to live a real life is at best utopian, so you and I who hope to see Nigeria as a strong virile nation are mere utopian idealists. We shall wake up from our slumbers one day, hopefully as you and I, and not as our grand children carrying on with our surnames. Our desire for peace has left us torpid and it is no solution to the problem. No sane man will recommend war or any kind of violent revolution as the solution to Nigeria's problem. However, if a problem identified is half solved, we should agree with President Obasanjo that there is a liberation struggle to lead. There is a cabal to wrestle. Our instruments principally include advanced technology. How else can you convince a people born into the believe that they are born to rule, to agree that the whole idea was based on lies. How would you reduce the number of Senators and Representatives to reflect the actual number of people they represent?

We have a long way to go, agreeing with OBJ on this is one way to start.



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