Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa
March 29, 2006
Sadly, Charles Taylor saga overshadowed US press questions on third term after Bush meeting with Obasanjo. The silence by Obasanjo versus the return of Babagida while the sudden death of any of the Ethnic militia leaders still loom are back on our lap. They had complained of not getting the medical care they need in prison. One thing is to volunteer to die for Nigeria in the army but not in paradise, I mean in office. It is a different situation altogether if one dies as a martyr for the cause of his people as Saro Wiwa.
My fear is if Nigeria is dislocated by economic invasion today, we may miss the loyalty of some Nigerians standing up to fight for the Country. Audu Ogbe had asked: with the population of Nigeria, which Country can take in its refugees? It is true that a reasonable leader will curb the excess of the Ethnic militia all over the Country. But a problem when that militia is more popular than our police, and in many cases appointed leaders. There are warnings on the wall that the fight against militia can not be won by artillery because each of them has deep sympathy within the community that is stronger than that of our armed forces. Some of them get involved in nefarious activities that can not be condoned but are tolerated in the community because the alternative is worse.
I hardly have anything good to say about our militricians apart from bringing looters to justice but that does not mean all of the Armed Forces are bad. Indeed, I am very proud of their constitutional duties and their unrivaled best peace keeping duties in the world.
When Ironsi became the head of State, one of my uncles who was his comrade in Congo told us how a perfect gentleman and a soldier he was. As a kid, I translated that to mean that if my uncle did not leave the Army as a nurse, the type we call health officer today in Nigeria or physician assistant in the US, he could have been a leader too. Unknown Nigerian soldiers, especially from the North took part in all the World Wars but never got any marshal dividend as promised. As Ironsi stood out, so did Fajuyi who died with him.
Nigeria peace keeping role in Liberia and in the World is second to none. We stood up on land while others waved from the ocean. Our role in removing Charles Taylor as nobody would take him is commendable despite the atrocities he committed against Nigerians. At that point, they just wished him out. He relied on our promises with the support of world leaders then. Our word in peace keeping role in Africa is important. They do not want him back in Liberia where we got him. Outside influence and threat forced him out of Nigeria into Liberia and Sierra Leone. I am also proud of the role of General Victor Malu as ECMOG Commander, the oppressor of Odi who became the oppressed in Zaki Biam.
Nevertheless, Nigeria export peace which we do not have at home. The only achievement that militrician pride themselves on is the ability to keep Nigeria one. It is only Obasanjo that can do this, it is only Babagida that can do that. Enough and thanks, do not insult our intelligence because we do not control the guns into Treasury. It is not enough in itself to keep Nigeria one, it must be kept one for a reason: to be the greatest, the fairest and contented in each region. Extremists can be isolated by their unreasonable demand, from the majority of their base. It can not be done by military tactics, but by civilian prowess.
I do not think every Igbo agrees with Uwazurike on secession from Nigeria but even those that disagree with him are not too happy with their status quo. This President, more than those before him, has made his mark on Igbo appointments. He has to, so that those Igbo who support him can demonstrate some dividends. Gone are the days of Fawehimi’s cases in Court to get the Igbo into the cabinet. Those with hard earned popularity in their community, not only have to be treated fairly; they have to be seen as being treated fairly by their base. After all he was able to declare a strike in most parts of the Southeast. He has tapped deep into grievances that are now being addressed. We have been humbled, that no matter how brotherly our love for Igbo is, only Igbo can articulate Igbo cause.
Asari Dokubo even generates more sympathy within his community. Never mind that he does not represent the rest of the Ethnic groups in that area, they agree with him up to a point. Short of the point where he starts boasting of dominance over the others in the area because he was uncannily elevated by Presidential invitation. That they are heavily armed is not the real threat but if equal and overbearing force is used against his militia causing too much heavy collateral damage; it becomes indistinguishable from the abuse of force and power. Future generation will see him as Abiola who died in prison. So we have to take caution as expressed by leaders of the Nigerian Navy. These are not terrorist, most Nigerians understand their cause. Delta oil of course was in Bush/Obasanjo discussion.
When you see a frog in the day, as the Igbo saying goes, there must be something after his life. A 70 years old accomplished medical doctor, who can be comfortable for the rest of his life as Fasehun, do not become an activist and a militia if there are no burning reasons. In 1999 there was a rumor of Obasanjo’s death. He sent out a warning that it must not happen, if they were testing the waters. Should he die in prison under the watch of the same man? If you want to hang a dog, you give it a bad name. It is the Court that determines his case, but this Administration presented false alarm against him in court. It was under Obasanjo’s watch that Matriarch Funmilayo Anikulapo died, as it turned out, Obasanjo had nothing to do with it.
In spite of our differences with ethnic militia, we have sought them or used their name to make our points. When negotiation fails, leaders are known to claim that their youth will fight for what is theirs as a matter of right. Indeed, some of them have been financed and armed by the same leaders only to loose control. They have also done a better job than our almighty police in the area of security. The police are so jealous of their success in this area, they turn them into enemy. Instead of eliminating armed robbers, the police fight militia for territory. They always show up at the end of home invasion by robbers.
I do not think that Northern leaders found it funny when the Arewa youth turned against them. The youths demonstrated and even pelted the leaders with stones at one of the gathering, calling them barawo. Nigerians were impressed when all the Nigerian youth organizations met and pledge peace after some riot some years ago. One may be tempted to ask if it is easier for the youths of various Ethnic groups to come to terms than for our leaders to see eye to eye. However, some of them are so full of untapped exuberance we have to make sure they do not negotiate the unity of the Country or get carried away.
There are too many issues on fire right now and care must be taken to prevent explosion. We need fire fighters that understand the needs of Nigerians both at the local and at the National levels. Not those who rub their hands with spit(e) when they can utilize water by the ocean and hose down burning issues. When it gets to the point where hell can break loose, who is going to blink first or bear the brunt of it, our cause is already lost.
We are now at a point where certain powers are warning us about third term, only God knows what they are encouraging in secret diplomacy. They are negotiating directly with our youths because we have abdicated our responsibilities. Do we know what they are promising them? Which of the youth militia are they going to negotiate with next?
While the Ethnic militia leaders are concerned about local issues that are important to the welfare of their people, hedonist leaders are concern about how to stage a come back or how to prolong their rule by hook or crook. Politicians must compete for the love of their people with militia leaders. It is probably the same as competing for votes. The danger is if the votes can be rigged, it destroys the propensity to clamor for the love of the masses creating a default for the militia to run away with.
The third term campaigns all over the Country by some Governors, and the shakers of power, plus the recent silence of the President, have created only one Ethnic casualty. Now we know how the Hausa/Fulani feel in other shoe when leaders who never benefited their people parade themselves as saviors of Nigeria. We lump every Northerner together as if they have raided only our pockets forgetting that the ones that suffer worse than us, on the streets are also Northerners. Uneasy lays the head that wears the crown. During coalition Governments, those in opposition never wish for heaven to fall and Nigeria to break into pieces until they were denied their free, fair and hard earned election victory.
Akintola did not call for the break up of the Country but for the right to share a piece of the action at the Federal level. He cried that Yoruba could not be in opposition for ever and decided to be part of Federal Government. The situation has changed in this last seven years in the history of Nigeria. Obasanjo has invited insults on his people. There are rumors of grand design to rule Nigeria forever by Obasanjo and by association the Yoruba. Since when have they been the power house of Nigeria politics? Please do your cronies a favor, Obasanjo tell them to stop this madness called third term so that you can preserve your Yoruba name in history. The love of Nigeria is not based on what Yoruba can get from the resources or gains of others but on what Yoruba have been contributing.
Oil is not worth dying for. It was the Arab embargo in the seventies that turns oil to gold. Otherwise they will still be buying it for very little. If the choice is between oil and the brotherly love of fellow Nigerians, take the harmony and run. Since men in uniform tasted power in the sixties, it seems they can not let it go for too long. They show no fundamental remorse, only changed from khaki to agbada to retain power. Khaki no be leather. We need a virgin (in sin please) from a new region to lead Nigeria.
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