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March 29, 2005

Nigeria’s War on Corruption and Prevailing Ontologies

by Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh Olusegun Obasanjo; GCFR, Command-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, woke up one morning; after perusing through the reports tendered to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s Chairman; on the Investigations of the allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds, levelled against some principal officers of his government: instead of coughing emasculatedly, like was native to his public comportment; garnered courage and rose to address his fellow country men.

In one fell swoop, he fired those indicted as the peddlers of impunity. A couple of minutes reading of his text prepared for the occasion, Prof. Fabian Osuji, his 63 year-old Minister of Education stood fired. Prof. Okebunkola of the National Universities Commission, was handed over to the relevant disciplinary commission, to be summarily decapitated. At the end of the day, as well as the speech; the Former “Honourable” Adolphus Wabara, the Senate President; who was earlier imposed on the Senate by the machinations of the Presidency, was handed a broken reputation, as well as a ticket to impeachment, or resignation. He equally compromised the integrities of other conspirators fingered by the report. In one great act of courage, he scuttled the existential and career trajectories of a number of inglorious men and women, who constituted themselves into accessories before and after the fact of corruption.

My first reaction after a marathon appraisal of the reports streaming in on so many media portals, was to jump up with clenched fists and gusto, to box the air. I shouted: Bravo Mr. President! Boundless Joy and pride flooded my being. Not only because I have severally fallen victim to the corrupt excesses of unscrupulous airport officials, at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in Lagos; I have equally known others who lost their lives to the speaking ends of Police guns, for the justifiable and virtous failure to pay a bribe. My soul was gladdened not only because of the terrible image that corruption has inflicted on Nigeria, or the suspicious regard we get at international social settings. But equally because, the license to normative anarchy, which corruption promulgated in Nigeria, seemed now to be on the verge of being overthrown. For once in my life, I was edified by the thought that at long last, Walt Whitman’s poetic prophesy, that “the ravening clouds ( of corruption in our case) shall not for long hold the sky”, could be a realisable possibility, even in valleys of despair and consolidated decadence.

Poceeding to appraise the unfoldings, as Obasanjo throws down the gauntlet; my emotions commanded a triumphal celebration of the small victory, just recorded over corruption, not minding the pyrrhic cost of its purchase. My natural heritage of hermeneutic bias, resident in every human mind, struggled to lend me a prejudicial prism; with a seductive temptation to apostasize against reason, in allegiance to the black sheep of tribal attachments; simply because the principal culprits come from my own neck of the tribal hood. Thankfully, did reason triumph. My cultivation, in opposition, vehemently demanded a dialectical vivisection and appraisal, freed from the captivity to sentiment. That is the path we have consciously chosen to tread in this piece. We lay out the issues, and invites reason to judgement.

For the first time, Obasanjo brooked the frowns of privileged roguery. He stared the cabal of crookedness, and the mightily-corrupt straight in the eyeballs, and asked them to take a hike to hell. He in one glorious instance of righteous bravery, destroyed the greatest nourisher of corruption; namely, executive inaction; general acquiescence; and collective unconcern. He for once, backed his rhetoric with punches.

This action of his, convoked an agreeable unanimity that for the first time ever, united the ideological tangents of his harshest critics with that of his sycophantic cheerleaders. All honest men became agreed, on the greatness of his action, as well as the necessity of his decisiveness. Odi and Zaki Ibiam may have testified to the tyrannical propensities, resident in the core blueprint of his education in soldiery. His allergy to the word Biafra, may have attested to his Igbophobic affinities. But this blitzrieg at the citadel of corrupt complacence, even though laced with military-inspired manouvres, sends some powerful signals, that would rattle the strongholds of official corruption in Nigeria. Our hopes have been raised once more, as this moment, may be the genesis of the resurrection of probity in Nigerian public life.

May this newly excavated sense of probity, not lose steam! That is the secret prayers of our hearts. At least, the geriatic debauchees, who buried our posterity in the crapulence of their avarice; as well as the young robber-barons, that stole our aspirations by embezzling our future; tying us to the pillars of stagnancy and decadence; have all been challenged, and shocked into a realisation, that their evil, will ultimately consume itself, in the heat of its own unwisdom. Fear has at least arrived at the doors of corrupt arrogance.

Onward Mr. President! You have done noble.!

Corruption is the canonization of fraudulence. It is the brazen celebration of impunity, which pollutes the ethical hygiene of a society. It spells the diminishment of social good; as well as torpedoes the trajectory of development. Corruption kickstarts a process of social decadence, by enthroning the reign of roguery, and unvarnished dishonesty. Corruption allows ethical recklessness, and invites a normative chaos, that erodes every sane social value. It defaces and corrodes social mores, with lavatorial rotteness. It sabotages the common weal and enables the embezzlement of a nation’s posterity. When a country allows itself the extravagant luxury of entertaining corruption, it unwittingly commissions the debauchery of its social structures. A society that patronizes corruption is condemned to the outbacks of social felicity. This is because corruption empowers, patronizes, and encourages the forces of social retrogression; handing them, an unmerited leeway to wreck havoc on the society. To this end, every society, that desires progress, must do ceaseless battle with the constant attempt of negative forces to bring the social structure under its inglorious dominance.

Corruption is a pan-humanic reality, which means that it transcends the parochial insularities of clime, tribe, race or nationality. It resides in the core of reality, as its downside. Its manifestation exists in the centre of human finitude and frailty. To this end, corruption has the tendency of sprouting in any social constructs or circumstance, which either by active commission, or careless omission; provides it with the right soil for its germination and nourishment. Corruption berths at the habours of a particular circumstance, not by accident. Its arrival is a process, which takes time, and is energized by the active collusion of our collective inaction, postural unconcern or active cultural reinforcement and encouragement. For corruption to gain tap roots in a society, it skillfully co-opts the social situation; deploying it to its crucial and strategic advantage.

Corruption becomes inducted into the social mainstream, when the whole society arrantly and timorously smiles at impunity; tolerates unmerited stations; glorifies the success or triumph of dishonesty; permits the diffusion of double-standards; celebrates indiscipline; encourages the ostentatious arrogance of unearned privilege; genuflects subserviently at the altars of unmerited wealth; In short, once the society silently swallows the impunity of unearned privilege; it unwittingly canonizes corruption.

In this regard, when a society confers privilege on a criminal; it approves crime, and reinforces criminality, with all the baggage of propensities, or affinities accruing thereto. This singular recognition makes corruption and crime a lucrative option. But if the the social structure operates in a way, which reinforces the discountenancing of corruption; an ethical sensitivity and social checks gradually evolve to stand as bulwarks against corruption. This is because, with a functional operation of right structures of sanction on the ground, the message is strongly etched and reinforced, in the social consciousness, that corruption is unwelcome here. This creates a high intolerance bar against dubious practices. But if these sanctions ever close it eyes, or excuses the impunity, and corrupt excesses of the rich and powerful; the privileged; or a section of the social spectrum, it creates a dissonance, which ultimately destroys its sacrosanctity and validity.

Nigeria wandered in a desert of social corruption for so long, without any oasis of hope in sight. The descent into the miry cesspools of social rascality, was a painful process, that sacked probity from our shores, and enthroned audacious impunity. Prior to Obasanjo’s decisiveness a few days ago, corruption bestrode the Nigerian embrace like a colossus, through whose legs we must pass, to find ourselves an insignificant grave. This dubious dye, tainted the sublime echelons of governance, as well as the profane recesses of ordinary social existence. Almost all those who have ever ruled Nigeria, even to present-day politicians, are known to be corrupt, were alleged to have corruptly helped themselves to the national funds.

These crooked politicians and military brigands, presided over the debauchery of the relevant social sanctions, that would otherwise have been the waterloo of their thievery. Their brazen impunity disabled the legal, as well as the social checks, that were hitherto, firewalls against corrupt enrichment. That was not all. The flamboyant opulence of their stolen privilege, created a creeping domino effect; instituted a scramble for the national cake; as everyone chose corruption as the surest way to felicity. Their behaviour while in office, which simply followed an avaricious blueprint, enthroned instant gratification, as a goddess to be worshipped with the audacity of our impunity. Their avarice knew no bounds, and our disembowelling became so deep. The perimeters of ethical restraints, was irredeemably breached.

Since corruption was allowed to hijack power, resources were skimmed offshore. Only crumbs were left in the treasury, to finance their deceit of Nigerians. Through stupid programmes, and jumbo, lame-elephant projects, that were never intended to be completed; they led Nigeria on a crazy-circle run-arounds. The impoverishing recklessness of government, impoverished Nigerians into emasculation and sycophancy. Seeing no gateway to the social policies that would empower their drive for self-actualization, they became arse-lickers to privilege, in order to survive; even to the extremes of cultural abnegation. This set the stage for the callous and spineless attempt to confer legitimacy on rottenness. Thieves and embezzlers of our commonweal started being rewarded with social recognitions. Almost all of our worst, jostled to be crowned with some legitimacy, by buying up culturally ridiculous chieftaincy titles; empty academic degrees (honoris Causa); and traditional stools bereft of meaning or relevance. Nigeria then became the home of Chiefs, Alhajis and Drs. who never saw the four walls of a classroom.

The transformation was instant. Thieves became chiefs. Stark illiterates donned Drs. after their bastardized names. The destruction in social equilibrium was incalculable. This seismic, psychosocial misappropiration of ideals, destroyed the ethical calculus of the Nigerian society. The acquistive impulse became established as the lead impulse, over and above the creative impulse, which would have launched our society to greatness. “Having-more” became the social target; while “Being-more” was thrown into the thrash-can of social irrelevance. At that, the Nigerian socio-economic and political life, degenerated into an theatre of callousness and an arena of deceit. This became the social clime, that would eventually suckle quick-fingered bandits like Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha, Umaru Dikko, Chris Ubah, Emeka Offor, Tafa Balogun, and all other thieves of their ilk. This watered the social concourse with such an evil banality, that a policeman could extort bribes from motorists, without qualms of conscience; and a teacher could extort money from his students to award them marks. In the prophetic words of Chinua Achebe: “Things” really “Fell Apart; and the centre could not hold anymore. And in the poetic words of John Pepper Clark; we all became “Casualties”: Casualties to our avarice and silence.

The decadence of our social corruption, was allowed to fester, by the consolidated avarice of those privileged by it, as well as the crass unconcern of the disadvantaged majority, who have been emasculated into postural unconcern, by the consistent rape of the social circumstance by the powerful. This collective enfeeblement and tolerance of corruption, gave rise to a stereotypical portrait of Nigeria, which gained an inglorious currency world wide; to the effect that we started winning prizes for our corruption. Nigeria and Nigerians became famous for their notoriety.

This, though like other stereotypes, may simply remain stereotypes, that may have been impregnated by some fundamental bias; one irrefutable fact remained that corruption thrived in the Nigerian public square, so much that a radical surgery became an imperative, if this nation is to survive the onslaught of corruption that has eaten deeply into our social marrows.

Shortly after independence in the in 1960, the first republican politicians carved and worshipped a graven goddess of corruption, and Ten percent. Summarizing this era, was the late Nigerian Finance Minister, Mr. Festus Okotie-Eboh, who was recognized as the by-word for corruption and banal veniality. When the coup of January 15th, 1966 happened, Nzeogwu told the world whose his enemies were; namely the 10%ers etc. That coup was necessitated by the social unease and turmoil created by corrupt politicians of the first republic; who shamelessly conducted an orchestra of corruption, that ensured the reign of social resentment, which kickstarted the gradual impoverishment of our commonweal. Since then till the present day, almost all Nigerian leaders and public office holders, have continued to swim shamelessly, in the sea of official corruption, financial misappropriation and mismanagement; most times, arrantly, outrightly and brazenly stealing their statutory votes.

Corruption became tradition.

This was the heritage of visionless and kleptocratic leadership, that warranted Chinua Achebe’s direct accusations, that the trouble with Nigeria was, and remains a leadership, castrated by visionlessness and corruption.

Previous attempts to fight corruption by the Nigerian governments, have been more energetic than useful. Some were outrightly pharisaic and brazenly hypocritical. For instance, Sanni Abacha instituted a War against Indiscipline and Corruption during his tenure, with the popular acronym WAIC. But this guy claimed to be fighting corruption, while he and his buccaneering family, and cronies busied themselves stealing, embezzling, salting, and stashing away billions of Nigerian peoples’ money in foreign accounts. His was a baronial enterprise of official thievery, presided over by a debauched robber baron. The immensity of his looting propensities, remains unparalleled; and can only challenge comparison, with that of his predecessor and brother-in-thievery; Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

Babangida never made any pretence about his thievery. He presided over the massive liberalization of corruption in Nigeria. His was a government of deceit and volte face. At first, he was able to hide his depravity, under the cloaks of populist policies, and a toothy smile. He was a master of deception and dissimulation. He established so many agencies, which sounded populist, but were in fact, huge drainpipes and constructs of corruption. He had a singing canary in Jerry Gana, whom he appointed at the head of his laundry agency- MAMSER- which was a programme that was supposed to mobilize the masses for social and economic realiance. Gana was a perfect mouthpiece of a perverted master. He mass-mobilized Nigerians into poverty and silence, while his master was busy pillaging and eviscerating our commonweal. Nigerians know only one thing about the $12.2 billion dollars, oil windfall, we earned during the first Gulf war. Nigerians know, despite the lame and sterile attempts of lying cheerleaders like Omo Omoruyi, that IBB stole and squandered this money. The Pius Okigbo commission instituted by Abacha, returned this verdict and indictment, which IBB has neither denied nor refuted. Nigerians equally know that he fritted away over N40 billion naira, in a transition to civil rule program, of doubtful provenance; which he designed and teleguided to fail. Nigerians equally know that the Better Life Program ran by his wife, was akin to Imelda Marcos’ cosmetic shop, designed to ventilate the flamboyant tastes of the matriach of a crooked dynasty. Babangida’s boys; which is a conglomeration of all beneficiaries of his corrupt patronage, refer to him as the Prince of Minna, due to the imposing fortress of over 50 rooms he built in Minna to house his depravity, and brokenness. But Nigerians on the streets, know that this guy is the King of corruption.

IBB bribed critics with offices, and money. His government was that of “criticize-me-I-corrupt-you” variety. He ran a government of settlement; creating a congress of official and elitist rogues, who are today the vanguards of his attempt to edit the history of his crimes against Nigerians, in order to smuggle this commander-and-Thief, once more, into reckoning and political relevance come 2007.

Buhari-Idiagbon’s government, though shortlived, started on a note akin to that of Murtala Muhammed in 1975/76. These guys sent out clear signals, when they sacked the corrupt congress of second republic politicians. They were armed with a vision to root out corruption, and indiscipline in Nigerian public life. Many politicians faced military tribunals that handed out donkey-years prison sentences to those convicted of corruption. Nigerians who have been at the receiving end of the executive recklessness of the politicians, applauded the intentions of this crusading pair. But this crusade, though with some understandable excesses, and collateral damage, which are normal in such social-sanitizing crusades, was terminated, by what history has today come to see, as a greedy, debauched and superlatively corrupt conglomerate of military brigands, headed by Ibrahim Babangida

Shagari’s regime advertized puerility on all fronts, save national embarrassments. This was an ideologically deficient administration, which play hosts to a broad spectrum of sorry characters, that canvassed only selfish blueprints, at the expense of national development. Umaru Dikko’s Presidential task force on rice, was one of the greatest stealing enterprises ever supervised by a government. Corruption, inefficiency and indiscipline became the order of the day. Nigerians groaned, and the politician grinned. Corruption reigned.

Gowon’s government was both an apology and a tragedy. He was a political fiction, we wished never happened. Engineered circumstance of bestial import, had him in power, when billions of Naira flowed into Nigeria’s coffers. What did he do? He simply commissioned consumerism as a national pastime; importing every shade of garbage from abroad, without caring about Nigeria’s future. He left a rot that so much irked Murtala’s sensibilities, that he made war on corruption the cardinal principle of his administration, when he sacked Gowon.

Obasanjo’s first missionary journey in power was an accident as well as a tragedy for Nigerians. He lacked the visions of Murtala, whom Dimka’s guns sent to eternity. He oscillated brainlessly: convoking a festival of squandermania and underachievement. Projects were undertaken without vision. Corruption creeped back as accountability flew threw the window. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was so irked by the brazen nature of official corruption in that government, that he publicly and in Music labelled Olusegun Obasanjo and Moshood Abiola, as “International Thief-Thief”

It is against the backdrop of this horrid heritage, that the most recent; though belated efforts of Obasanjo, to fight corruption, which seems to have hijacked every facet of the Nigerian life, comes as a welcome palliative.

Sacking the minister and publicly naming and chiding public officers accused of corruption, is the most courageous act that Obasanjo has ever undertaken in his entire poitical career. And we salute his courage. How we wish he would go the whole way to really sanitize the system. Obasanjo should be aware of the task ahead, and must eschew all temptations, or seductive attractions to compromise this new found courage. He must never consult selective justice, if he is to succeed in this new mission of his, which is superlatively laudable. Consulting selective justice like he had done in the past on other occasions will surely ruin this enterprise.

This is because, a social construct cordially invites perpetual dysfunction, whenever the gravy for the goose fossilizes, or is allowed to coagulate into a luxuriance, exorbitantly unaffordable to the gander. Justice becomes disembowelled, whenever it becomes selective; while a fundamental social disconnect is enthroned, whenever a country patronizes some standards redolent of hypocrisy and double standard, in its dealings with its members. In fact, the social fabric is rent asunder, while a collective bout of social dissonance infects the concourse of social behaviour. This is why the integrity and majestic opulence of justice, could only be symbolically articulated, by a blindfolded maid, armed with sword and scales.

A people courts social disaster, when this maid of justice removes her blindfolds, to consider faces, demeanors, status, race, or creed while dishing out justice; or when, as obtains in the Orwellian Animal Farm, the conduct of some “animals” becomes entrenched, head and shoulder above that of other human beings, in their predisposition to impunity. This is because, hypocrisy consolidates corruption and paves the way for the arrival of social infelicity.

Obasanjo has sacked Prof Fabian Osuji and has pressured a corrupt president of the senate to resign. It must not end there. The law must be allowed to take its course. They must face a court of competent jurisdiction, and if convicted, should be appropirately punished. Unnecessary delays, in the litigation process should not be entertained here, as justice delayed becomes justice denied. These chronic pilferers must be made to lose their freedom in jail. That is the first step.

On the issue of selective justice once more: Since the train of retribution has left the station, with Obasanjo’s newfound courage; he should, as a matter of urgency, cause an investigation of Mr. Tony “Fix it” Anenih to be conducted. And he should be prosecuted if he cannot account for the 300 Billion naira, he allegedly spent in building roads, which Nigerians never saw. The Anambra State saga must be revisited and the President should ensure that the right music is faced, by all involved in this inglorious saga. Chris Ubah and all his accomplices, should be doing time in jail for kidnapping a sitting governor, and commanding an arson on public property in Anambra State. That is the first front on the battle against corruption. Secondly, he should also seek out all those indicted by the Vincent Azie audit report and prosecute them. That it happened in 2003, is insignificant. They must face the law, if the people’s confidence are to be restored.

On another front, every Nigerian knows that Joshua Dariye is not the only quick-fingered governor, who stole his people’s money. Almost all the governors of the 36 States of Nigeria were accused last year by high officials of the finance minstry, of stealing their states allocations. It is equally heart rending that a State governor in Nigeria had the effrontery to tell the press, that he is a proud owner of 76 Jeeps, and nobody asked any questions, on the source of the wealth, he deployed in purchase of a personal fleet of 76 jeeps. Nothing was done to that. All the State governors should be investigated, and their foreign accounts closed down. The people are yet to see the results of the allocations they received since 1999.

The Federal executive should as a matter of urgent public concern, introduce a bill to the National Assembly, that will outlaw, the operation of a foreign account by any public officer holder in Nigeria. Foreign bank accounts, have always given them the incentive to rapaciously plunder Nigeria, and escape abroad where things are well structured, to enjoy their loot. Like Dariye, they should be made to pay for their crimes; not only in public opprobrium, but also in strict legal sanctions. Every public officers should be made to publicly declare his assets, before he gets in; and after he leaves office. This idea of a secret asset declaration, not accessible to the public, is deceptive to say the least. Secrecy aids criminality. That is why most armed robbers operate at night or go to lenghts to hide their identities.

Furthermore, the government should equally cause a Freedom of Information bill, to be sent to the senate. This law, would give every Nigerian, access to information on the activities of their rulers. Vigilance has always been the price of liberty. This law will help the people to keep an eye on, and monitor the activities of their leaders.

Tyrannies thrive on disinformation and deception. The people need to be empowered to be able to ask questions of their leaders, without fear or timidity. This is necessary, because those who asked questions of probity in the past, in Nigeria, have either disappeared, assassinated, sacked from office, or beaten up by armed robbers from planet Mars, like Audu Ogbe was a few days ago.

Another very important front for this war on corruption, which would send a tsunamic signal to all and sundry, that thieves can run, but cannot hide, is the the issue of past Heads of States. Ibrahim Babangida and the Abacha Matriarchal dynasty, should be brought before the law. The Zambians are presently arraigning former President Frederick Chiluba for corruption. Corruption is a criminal offence, and is not statute barred. Equity and jurisprudence can never confer or extend immunity to a thief, a criminal, a felon or a public enemy. Equity never allows anybody to be a beneficiary of his crime. IBB and the Abachas have been the beneficiaries of their crimes for so long. We should make atonement to our posterity, by sacrificing them to the law. They bled Nigeria dry. They should be forced to haemorrhage and regurgitate those stolen monies back to our national coffers. If convicted, they should go “enjoy” the rest of their lives in jail for their destruction of the future of Nigerians.

What these guys did was not as simplistic as stealing huge chunks of cash. Any bunch of petty crooks staking out a major bank can do just that, like the heist on a Northern Ireland Bank recently brings home to us. They stole resources that could have been dedicated to providing, and servicing a functional social system like education, health, transportation and communication, and other things. Today, the educational system is such a bankrupt arrangement, that many Nigerians cannot go to school due to lack of funds. Our universities are perpetually starved of funds, that could spell functionality and good education for Nigerian youths. Our hospitals are simply places where Nigerians go to die. Power generation is epileptic and simply non-existent in so many places. Industries and small businesses that are dependent on power supply simple shrivel and die, as operation costs gallops away. Unemployment is then compounded, when these business throw up their former employees into the unemployment pool.

One can see from this trajectory, that corruption, creates a concentric ripple, that has essayed to send many Nigerians to their untimely graves, due to lack on so many fronts. It has equally embezzled the future of generations of Nigerian youths, who are armed with poor, half-baked education, due to the absence of the necessary facilities needed for their education. Millions of Nigerias keep losing their lives and limbs everyday on our roads, that have been transformed into strips of potholes, by the active dereliction and negligence occasioned by corruption. Add this to the millions of families, friends and extended relations, who have continued to lose their breadwinners and loved ones, to this executive crime perpetrated on Nigerians by a succession of heartless, visionless, and kleptocratic leadership, then the picture becomes really frightening.

Obasanjo’s decisiveness is appreciated equally against the backdrop of the fact, that in Nigeria for so long, political office was never pursued for service to the people. That was why our politics has remained a do or die affair. Public office in Nigeria degenerated into a distribution agency, where anyone who captures it is assure of banishing poverty in his family to the 5th generation; by stealing as much as his bags could carry. This was the mindset which saw to the introduction of GMGs-(Ghana-Must-Go) into the Nigerian political concourse; as the vehicle of bribe. This is equally the mindset, which inspired the PDP electoral fraudulence across the country in 2003, as well as the shameful battle for the triumph of political roguery in Anambra State, where like Chinua Achebe said; a band of @@@@

Obasanjo may borrow some inspirational leaves from Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, who democratized violence, to rid the society of its undesirable elements. He should go ahead to democratize the access to information. Information is power. Tyrants have always been afraid of it. This accounts for the Napoleonic assertion; that the pen is mightier than the sword. It accounts also for the fact, that tyrants have always thrived on censorship; proscription of media houses, banning and burning of books, and denying people access to information.

Individual human history is a very short chronological enterprise, or what Shakespeare chose to summarize as a walking shadow; a poor player that struts and frets it hour on the stage, and is heard no more. For this existential enteprise not to conclude this Shakespearean sentence; by wearing the garments of “a tale told, by an idiot, filled with sound and fury, but signifying nothing;” nobility then recommends that we take shots at immortality.

If we are to ensure our eternity, we must, in obedience to the recommendations laid down Longfellow in the Psalms of Life; strive to ensure that “on departing this world, we must have left our “footsteps on the sands of time”. The dead, we must remember, is not he who bowed to the finality of human finitude; which is the end of all the living: but he whom humanity hastens to forget. Eternity is the creation and establishment of a memory that survives one’s demise. Obasanjo has embarked on a path that would make him, or mar the survival of his eternity on our collective memory, long after he must have expired. History would forgive all his trespasses, if he fights this battle against corruption, with dignity, justice, and nobility; and if he fights to the end. This is the only way for him to imprint his name on the sands of time or take a shot at immortality.

The prevailing ontologies of corruption must not be offered refuge anywhere in our social firmament anymore. They must be flushed out of their hibernating fissures. Long have Nigerians hidden under the wings of tribalism, when caught stealing, as if their tribes sent them out to steal. Long have we grovelled in moronic silence at instances of brazen corruption. Long have we tolerated intolerable standards. Today, a concerted effort across all spectrums of our society, is called for, if we hope to restore sanity to our broken social firmament. All well meaning Nigerians should rise and support Obasanjo in this drive to disinfect our polity. We criticise him when he fails in his responsibility. We should also support and praise him, when he initiates courageous actions aimed at bettering our lot.

Obasanjo needs our support, because he is not fighting only flesh and blood in the strict Pauline sense. This guy is facing a deadly armada of consolidated thievery, with octopoidal tentacles across the deepest reaches of our national life. He is fighting the powerful forces of social wickedness in the high places. It is a dangerous war, both for himself and his government. We should never allow him to loose this battle. We must recognize that anybody who undertakes to change the status quo faces a very formidable hurdle. Like Machiavelli recognized, he faces stiff and deadly opposition, in the elitist parasitism, and lecherous anger of those who profit from the status quo, and who would never live to see it changed. On the other end of the spectrum, he lacks support in the non-committed opportunism of the masses, whose battle he is fighting, but who sit on the fence, watching which way the battle goes, as to enable them pitch their tent with the winner.

Men of unearned privilege have never in history, been known to have given up their privileges willingly. The have always fought for them, even to the portals of self-destruction. The Pharonic Eygptian establishment pursued the motley band of fleeing Jews, to the thresholds of the Sea of Reeds, where their avaricious attachment to the unearned benefits, and privileges availed them by Hebraic slave-labour, suffered an eternal defeat. The Iranian Shah continued to bask in the grovelling bootlicking of oppressed Iranians, until he was sacked in a desperation-inspired populist revolt. Ferdinand Marcos, and his Shoe-latrous (Shoe-worshipping) wife kept funding their horrid tastes until the people’s anger overflooded the banks of forebearance. Shylock’s inordinate craving for vengeance clung tenanciously to the privilege of his legal entitlement to a pound of flesh, until it became clear to his corrosive hate, that a pint of blood was never guaranteed by a bond, that allowed him a pound of flesh. Abacha kept at his thievery until death denied him of a life presidency.

These examples heavily conduce to the construction that it remains a delusional assumption, to believe that citadels of greed, would ever yield up their privilege willingly; without a fight. Mirroring this was Shylock, who had to tell the Judge Portia, after his sentencing to lose his estate, for his greedy vendatta against Antonio; a citizen of Venice: “You take away my life, when you take away the means by which I live”. Their impregnable fortress of impunity has been assaulted. Naturally are they bound to react. Because the means of their corrupt livelihood is on the line, it then becomes a fight to death. They are ready to lose their lives, rather than give up their privilege.

Corruption can only take a bow in this instance, if Obasanjo who has been variously accused of playing habitual double-standard on issues, really lives up to the expectations of all men of goodwill. His new declared war against corruption must never be seen as an extension of his Igbophobia, or his plans would fail, and taint him with ingloriosity. He should strive to prove to the world that his target is corruption, not ethnic witch-hunting. To this end, every corrupt action, and individuals associated thereto, should be given the same decisive treatment, that the corrupt trinity of Osuji-Wabara-Okenbunkola, are presently in receipt of.

Cancers call for merciless dosages of chemotherapy and incisive surgeries, to stem their prolific metastasis. Corruption is a social cancer, which nothing less than a tough, uncompromising assault is required. Anything short of this is notoriously incapable of making it history. We encourage Mr. President and equally remind him that the whole world is watching. He should never be afraid: Goodness and right are on his side. With justice and courage on his side, we believe; he would do bravely. Corruption is a slavery to dishonesty. Liberation only comes from a co-ordinated effort led by a blunt refusal to be compromised; displayed by a firm and resolved leadership. Nigeria can still be salvaged.

The ball is now in Obasanjo’s court.

Posted by Administrator at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

What are all the complaints about Ibrahim Babangida?

by Okechukwu Asia ---- When you put together Diego Maradona, Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Adokie Amasiemeka and four stars, you get General Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria’s former president.

His critics call him Maradona for his mastery of Nigeria’s political landscape, some call him Christian Chukwu for his methodical approach to contain his enemies, and others call him Segun Odegbami for his superb calculation on beating his enemies at their own games. Many call him Muda Lawal for being very cautious of his environment, while friends call him Adokie Amasiemeka for knowing how to perfect his games and slip through his opponent’s best defense and cause some havoc. But whatever you call him Ibrahim Babangida is a man of many traits of character. His military training has served him very well in piloting through the slippery terrains of Nigerian political landscape.

There is a serious political movement across Nigeria and abroad to ensure Ibrahim Babangida’s victory in 2007 presidential elections in Nigeria. In the forefront of this movement is the Nigerian Project, whose membership is caught across sections of Nigeria – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and minorities all joining forces to help elect Ibrahim Babangida in 2007.

In 1999, Nigerians voted enmasse to elect Obasanjo to the office of the president. That election, as we all know now turned out to be a bad omen for Nigeria. Nigerians have been suffering since then. Suffering from economic deprivation, social humiliation, academic backwardness, political embarrassment, corruption, insecurity, police and military brutality, government sponsored assassinations, military invading of our villages, official freedom of speech gag order, presidential rudeness and innuendos, out of control governors and ministers, ego massage party officers, official thievery, uncontrollable fall of our currency, official sponsored tribal and communal clashes and the list go on. Nigerians have never had it this worst throughout our history. We have endured six years of hell in the hands of President Obasanjo and it will continue until 2007.

In 2007, Nigerians will have another chance to elect a seasoned politician with superior and unquestionable military experience and background. The man who during his first outing as president provided Nigerians opportunities to grow and advance, to look inward and believe in their destinies again. Ibrahim Babangida has through his many developmental programs, some successful and others not so successful, proved that Nigeria can tap into and develop its many resources and make meaning out of them. As the architect of the second tier forex market, he not only changed the way importers do business he changed the way foreign exchange can be wisely used to make goods and services available at reasonable costs in Nigeria.

He understands the concept of democratic principles; either you belong to the left wing or right wing political divide. So he helped to create the two party systems, which worked well during the 1992 general election. He presided over the only free and fair elections recorded in the history of Nigeria in 1992. Although, that election was subsequently annulled due to some circumstantial technicalities that besieged our polity that period, which led to Ibrahim Babangida’s infamous “stepping aside”. Since then many have blamed Babangida for all the problems that besieged Nigeria. Even problems that have been there since independence have somehow been connected to Babangida. All the killings committed by rouge police and military personnel have been connected to Ibrahim Babangida. He has been chastised by those whose personal interests were not served by his administration, especially the people of the Southwestern part of Nigeria. The Yorubas have till this day opposed to Babangida’s rights to freely exercise his political freedom and continue to chase his shadow. Even when the man on the top is one of their own they still blame Babangida for Obasanjo’s failed and schizophrenic government.

They complained that Babangida annulled the election of Abiola. But I don’t see them complain about the election results of 2003 that Obasanjo annulled. Obasanjo annulled the results of the elections in the Southeast, South-south, Southwest, and North-central to produce the infamous faked and adulterated results for his party-PDP. I don’t see them blame Obasanjo for all the assassinations that took place under his watch. Nigerians experienced more official corruption and political assassinations between 1999 and 2005 than at any time in our nation’s history. Obasanjo should be held responsible for those assassinations. Today nobody has been convicted of any of the killings. When Babangida become president again, the Yorubas will blame him for all those murders including the murder of Chief Bola Ige. The so-called Obasanjo’s war against corruption is nothing but a charade of incompetence. This selective war on corruption only points its gun at the people who happen to be on Obasanjo’s bad book. The Baby-Doc EFCC (Economic & Financial Crimes Commission) has shamefully become a stooge of the president’s lets-harass-the-fool syndrome. Who is kidding whom?

Some people argue that all former military officers should be banned from active politics and the office of the presidency be rotated among ethnic groups in Nigeria. This suggestion is laughable. There are more than 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, and if each ethnic group serves a minimum of four years, then you do the calculation how many years it will take to rotate back to the original tribe. What these people are actually advocating is quota system for the office of the president. This idea will effectively kill the entity we know today as Nigeria. As to banning former military officers from active politics, I think this is pathetic and undemocratic. Democracy is government of the people for the people including those officers who have served our country honorably.

The people have the power to vote for or against them in an election. If the people’s vote is stolen as in the case of 2003, it is the duty of the people to rise and overthrow that illegal government. And if the government, which we voted for, become destructive of our collective interests and failed to perform we either recall that government or vote them out in the next election. If Nigerians are unable to exercise these natural democratic rights, they have themselves to blame and wallow in abject silence and self-destruction.

At this early stage of our democracy, the person who occupies the office the president must be a person with proven ability, strong military background, intellectual awareness, patriotic, civil discipline and temperament, and strong leadership qualities. Geographical birthplace should not be considered when choosing our president. The field should be open to all to come and play. Let us not waste our time arguing about quota system for the presidency instead we should put our energy to orienting our people to the intrigues of democratic politics. It will serve our country well.

This time Nigerians are looking for a serious, strong and effective leadership, corrupt-free society, revamping of our educational system, building and rebuilding our crumbed infrastructures, building new roads and bridges, injecting accountability into our society and rejection of nepotism. Whether it is Babangida or someone else, we need a president for all Nigerians who will save us from drowning in our heartless and faceless democracy.

Okechukwu E. Asia

Boston, MA, USA

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March 28, 2005

Corruption: the Bane of Nigerian Polity

by Ifeanyi Geoffrey Ekenasi ---- The removal of the minister of education Professor Fabian Osuji and others of Igbo extraction has raised some dust in Igbo circles with the serious allegations that the action of the Federal government on this matter is tantamount to conspiracy and selective punishment against the corrupt.

I read the hue and cry over this matter among the Igbos with not only a sense of shame but also that of sorrow. Sorrow, because the feelings nursed by the Igbos over this matter reminds me that Nigeria is still wallowing in a miserable ethinic chauvinism of the lowest ebb. I worry about this situation because in my humble opinion, ethnic bias ranks second only to corruption in the lethal heirarchy of Nigeria's social malaise. There is no gainsaying the fact that it has threatened the very existence of our national life for over forty five years. It has inhibited social cohesion, stability and hence progress. It is dangerous and must be avoided.

Conceded that Nigeria has continued to play the game of hide and seek with the Igbo nation since the end of the civil war, over thirty five years ago. It is true that Igbos are a marginalized group in Nigeria. However, we must not attribute every thing that happens to an Igbo person as a part and parcel of that mistreatment. To always react negatively against everything non-favorable to Igbo makes no sense. We must be careful to separate the wheat from the chaff.

In the Osuji et al case, some Igbos have failed to do this separatation with substantial accuracy. Even before all the the facts were out, we had started to cry ethnicity, tribalism and what have you. Why the current Obasanjo's war against corruption will again fail like every other thing Nigerian is the silly cry of ethinicity and the kinsmanly show of solidarity when these will serve no useful purpose.

If Osuji's alleged corruption is true, then I do not regard him as a good Igbo because he has not by so doing represented the honor, the dignity and the prestige for which Igbos are known. By his corrupt practices he acts against the interest of the posterity of Igbos who will grow up to inherit a corrupt and moribund nation. Any Nigerian privileged to hold a public office no matter his extraction must keep off corrupt practices if our children must have a future to inherit. For such an officer to do the contrarary is to provoke the anger of people of good conscience and make himself a public enemy.

Listen, every corrupt public functionary must be made to pay dearly for his crimes. We must not overlook the fact that every public officer in trouble for corruption must come from somewhere. We must not worry ouselves where he comes from. I would worry if Osuji was wrongfully accused of corruption. If not, may we Igbos steer clear and allow a culprit to pay for his misdeed.

That is the best, and in fact, the only way we can successfully fight and win the so-called war against corruption. A nation can survive wars, and famines, and pestilences, however, no nation in human history has been known to survive the level of corruption prevalent in Nigeria today.


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March 24, 2005

The PDP and the Ventriloquist from Minna

by Aonduna Tondu ---- The attempt by the former military dictator from Minna to sneak back into the arena of national political relevance, it would appear, is getting more and more brazen with every passing day. There are those who would even readily attest that bravura is a key element at work in what is fast assuming the contours of sick humour and provocation directed against the numbed psyche of a nation on its knees.

As if emboldened by recent happenings within the PDP which have further reinforced the enduring image of the party as an outfit dominated by some of the most anti-people forces in the history of Nigeria, Babangida has been gallivanting across the country in an alleged bid to be president in 2007. And, not surprisingly, the usual cast composed mainly of the unscrupulous segment of the political class and its allies - contractors for whom the bottom-line is all that counts, so-called traditional rulers, carpet-baggers of every hue, etc. -, is either cheer-leading or busy playing host to one of the country’s most despised political figures. It is during one his ‘outings’ about a week ago that the ex-dictator and the current tyrant in Abuja were to treat us to a re-enactment of political ventriloquism à la nigériane the profound significance of which citizens would do well not to ignore.

As the Minna tin god was reiterating to the local Nigerian media in Bauchi his intention to actively participate in the campaigns for 2007 (and beyond), his alter-ego, Mr. President, was, on his part, seeking to accord what is tantamount to moral legitimacy to that ambition in far-away Europe. That Obasanjo chose to merely restate Babangida’s supposed constitutional right to vie for the Nigerian presidency just like any other Nigerian is most revealing. We all know that Babangida has not played the type of role a citizen with claims to leadership would normally be expected to play in the life of the country. As a matter of fact, it is hard to imagine that any future Nigerian ruler can inflict the kind of havoc either Babangida or his friend, Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, has wreaked on the people of Nigeria. At any rate, we are dealing here with an individual whose political conduct as a power-hungry tyrant is one of the main reasons for the profound moral decay in all the spheres of our collective existence. For the president to seem to ignore that fact of our recent past by trying to hide behind legal niceties which he has amply demonstrated mean little or nothing to him is worrisome indeed. We are reminded that it was Obasanjo who in 1999 told Nigerians that there would be no sacred cows in a supposed anti-corruption crusade of his government. These days, the anti-corruption posture of the regime can be reduced to one word – hypocrisy. Babangida has been a principal beneficiary of this hypocrisy and protection on the part of the Obasanjo dictatorship. Despite his sordid track record which should have been the subject of a government inquiry, Babangida, it is apparent, is instead enjoying the camaraderie of key members of a regime he reportedly helped install.

Babangida’s aim, it should be noted, has always been to have a regime in place that would be least tempted to stir up a hornets’ nest concerning his scandalous record in government. A regime beholden to him and his allies is the best guarantee for the preservation of the status quo. This would seem to explain, at least in part, the type of political ventriloquism one has witnessed so far with both co-optation and regimentation as essential ingredients of its internal dynamism. That Obasanjo and Babangida are conceivably working together to ensure a pre-determined outcome in 2007 is hardly surprising in this regard. So, for this duo and their acolytes, what ultimately matters is not whether or not Babangida per se is sworn-in as president in 2007. What matters most is that they succeed in imposing a kindred spirit who will continue to be loyal to those interests that they have come to symbolize in the present scheme of things. Those who wish Nigeria well and are thus opposed to the prospect of a Babangida presidency in 2007 should bear this in mind. The aim should be to not just neutralize Babangida and his allies but crucially, to attack what they stand for. In concrete terms therefore, this would mean repudiating their unwholesome political practices including, especially, any surrogate either Babangida or Obasanjo would want to impose on the nation. One should remember that maintaining the status quo, because it shields the Obasanjos and Babangidas from paying for their various crimes and atrocities, cannot be in the interest of the Nigerian people.

Now that Babangida has indicated his intention to openly and actively continue to participate in shaping the future direction of a country he has helped ruin, it is only fair to confront him with not just his past but also his present. And if that past is strewn with the corpses of innocent victims and broken promises, the present, on its part, is burdened by, amongst other things, the unrepentant recklessness of the man, his utter disdain for the people, his profligate tendencies, and above all, his conniving cowardice and love of tyranny as is the case in his active support of the dictatorial regime Nigerians have been living under since 1999. Obviously obsessed with his self-preservation, the ‘big oga’ from Minna has been reduced to muttering contemptible accolades each time he is called upon to comment on the Obasanjo dictatorship. In a nutshell, this is the mindset, not to talk of worldview, of the moral poltron who wants to lord it over Nigeria again.

As a nation with democratic aspirations, Nigeria is today confronted with a Herculean challenge – the fact that Babangida and his principal ally, Mr. President, have invaded and occupied our political spaces, thanks, in part, to a largely irresponsible political class. These two individuals and their henchmen have now hijacked the platform of an otherwise democratic institution, the PDP, and are using it for the perpetuation of an essentially selfish agenda of impunity and rampant tyranny. In the struggle to salvage Nigerian democracy and restore hope to millions of citizens, there should be no compromise where tyrants are concerned. There should be zero-tolerance of the type of mediocrity that continues to ensure a political shelf-life for characters that should normally be paying their debts to society in maximum security prisons. We are aware that some people would consider this a rather generous measure against those that richly deserve to be subjected to a “take-no-prisoners” approach to ‘crime and punishment’ in Nigeria. Babangida has soiled his hands with the blood of fellow Nigerians. His buddy and current President, Obasanjo, is continuing in that grim tradition. The recent imposition of a stooge called Colonel Ahmadu Ali as National Chairman of the PDP is a calculated move on the part of these anti-heroes of the Nigerian democratic project to maintain their stranglehold on our polity beyond 2007.

Remarkably, the very first move by the now three-headed monster called the PDP was to order the expulsion of Governor Ngige and his estranged godfather, Uba. It is obvious that Ngige was the main target of this illegal act which is yet another indication of the extent to which the likes of Obasanjo and Babangida can go in their politics of disdain regarding Nigeria’s constitutional order. If any one person were to be banished from the PDP or any other party for their role in endangering Nigerian democracy in the present dispensation, that person would be Obasanjo. As for Babangida, his supremely un-edifying role in the annulment of the late Chief Abiola’s victory in a presidential election that was arguably the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria does render his pro-democracy claim suspect.

It is noteworthy that for once, there are voices within the PDP itself that are rising not just to condemn but also to offer resistance to what is happening to the PDP, and by implication, to the national polity in general under the reign of Obasanjo and his éminence grise composed mainly of the likes of Babangida. An erstwhile National Chairman of the PDP, Solomon Lar is vowing, in the light of the illegalities that have taken place of late in his party, to help organize resistance against what he sees as the loss of focus by the party - a tragic consequence of its control by undemocratic and tyrannical forces. His words, though belated, should be music to our ears. “What is happening shows that some people don’t have respect for democracy. And we will resist it. I am resisting it. Anybody that is a dictatorship, anytime, any day, Solomon Lar will fight back...I mean the owners of the party will not sit down and watch this useless thing…We are planning…We are trying to see that the party that Nigerians worked for comes back in a very strong form…It will not be a party that will be playing the script of a few people” (The Punch). These are encouraging thoughts, but Nigerians should be vigilant because of Chief Lar’s recent history of collaboration with the regime in Abuja. One is more re-assured by the position of Gani Fawehinmi – a constitutional lawyer and an indefatigable pro-democracy activist - concerning the PDP, Babangida and the latter’s fantasies about 2007.

The human rights and pro-democracy lawyer has expectedly taken a dim view of Ali’s appointment as National Chairman of the PDP. Stating that Ali is unfit for the post, Gani goes on to point out what this imposition entails for democracy in Nigeria. He avers that Obasanjo and Ali “must be told that political parties are constitutionally recognised and established bearing in mind Sections 221-229 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. The Constitution of PDP cannot ignore the Fundamental Rights of its party members. If Obasanjo and Ali are allowed to render party system ineffective and inconsequential, then both of them will become dangerous impediments to the sustenance of democracy in the country and the consequence will be very grave for both the PDP and the future of this country. Ali must go” (Daily Independent Online).

But Gani has reserved the strongest indictment for the ex-dictator from Minna. Reacting to Babangida’s reported interest in the presidency in 2007, the pro-democracy activist has said that he is “most unacceptable”. “This man is most unacceptable, most derided, most hated because he has caused the greatest hardship for Nigerians politically, economically, socially and culturally. He is a nemesis on this country and is a man whose evil must be exorcised from the Nigerian psyche. God will never allow an evil man again to triumph in this country. Enough of his evil and he has no place again in Nigerian history. There is no positive side to him. There can be nothing positive about evil…” This is a potent and apt reflection. On Babangida’s army of sycophants and foot-soldiers and their sleazy campaign, the human rights activist had this to say: “This is the first time evil men will fail in Nigeria and they will fail disastrously. No matter how much stolen money they have acquired, they will collapse” (Daily Independent Online). This is no doubt a demystifying view on the ventriloquist from Minna. And it should be noted that the truth it projects is not meant to convey complacency or a false sense of security on our part. The note of urgency and determination contained in those wise words should be seen as Gani’s way of telling fellow Nigerians that Babangida and his allies in the PDP have waged a moral and political war of attrition on the nation and what is left of its values. There is a lot at stake and citizens cannot afford to sit on the fence.

Gani has spoken the mind of the silent majority. His is a timely reminder to Nigerians at home and abroad and the international community to take note of a continuing source of danger to the nation and act decisively to salvage democracy in this strategic part of the world. Babangida and his gang have had their fun at the expense of the country. Now is the time for people of goodwill to draw a line in the sand by insisting that enough is enough.

Aonduna Tondu

New York


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March 23, 2005

Obasanjo, the Greatest Hypocrite, and Deceptive President

by Chidi Peter Eze ------ “I have been under pressure to go for the (fourth) third term”. ----------- President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The recent revelation by Obasanjo in Germany that he is or has been under pressure to stay on power until he dies gives truth to the avalanche of insinuations that he has a hidden agenda.

Being a talkative and inculpatory, he is very primitive to polished expressions and lacks the modern initiative to communication, both attributable to his irascibility and his being socially and intellectually challenged. Everyday it is becoming clearer on his moves to entrench himself in power perpectually. First, he set up a committee and appointed that corrupt and intellectually challenged individual called Ibrahim Mantu to head the committee to review the constitution, a cover for the fourth term. What has come out of that constitutional review committee? When Nigeria can parade constitutional lawyers of international repute. Mantu, I believe, did not possess a basic diploma of any high school home and abroad, but possesses qualification to do anything and everything to leak Obasanjo’s ass. Even if it means giving up his State as litmus test to exhibit imperialistic power in the name of S.O.E,(state of emergency) he was a willing partner as long as he would be allowed to keep his loots through bribery and corruption and as long as the EFCC or ICPC if it still exists, will never visits him. Knowing that it may be difficult for him to sell such hypocrisy to Nigerians, he toyed with the idea of setting up another committee to be headed by Borishade, his first term education minister. It leaked out and he abandoned the idea, instead sent him to the power ministry to perform the fit he did in education that culminated in Yorubas having more universities than the 19 northern States and southeast States put together. With Mr. Borishade at the power ministry, the Yoruba land is witnessing explosion of power stations. Three power stations to be built in southwest. A pipeline from south-south through southeast to Ogun State for its refinery of oil and gas. Ogunlewe is at works ministry making sure the Yorubas have the best roads. Olujimin is at justice ministry to give legal protection to Obasanjo’s Yoruba economic and political empire by interpreting the law the way Obasanjo wants it. Naijeyu is there at general accounting to make sure the financial numbers coming to Yoruba land is well maintained. Joseph Ajiboye is at the auditor-general post to make sure that no one audits the oil money flowing into Yoruba land. Kukpolokun is at Nigeria’s oil wells making sure the oil money is flowing to the Yoruba land.

Peter Okebukola is at the NUC flooding the Yoruba land with mediocre universities and projecting the Yoruba universities as the best in the world even though none of the Yoruba universities is recognized outside the federal republic of Nigeria. Mr. Sunday Ehindero has now taken over from that notorious thief called Mustapha Balogun, to ensure that the use of that notorious organization called Nigerian Police to witch haunt, intimidate and harass people who disagree with Obasanjo is maintained.Obasanjo once raised the issue of immorality when he said, “Is it morally right for a sitting governor to establish airline?” “Is it morally right for a sitting governor to establish radio station and TV house?” But it is morally right for a sitting president to employ the resources of the government to improve his farm in Otta to fetch him 30 million naira every month. It is morally right for a sitting president to establish a university at Badagary.What a hypocrite! Now that the Yorubas have maintained economic, legal and security control of the country, the igbo men and women have the job of cleansing Obasanjo’s mess and that of those before him. To give further impression of federal republic hypocrisy and fallacy, he has to appoint governor Markfi of Kaduna from the north to head another committee to work out plans for his “Idi-aminization” of Nigeria’s presidency, hence the birth of the so-called National Political Reform Conference. NPRC for shot, the delegates who are mainly people that will not oppose Obasanjo’s continuation of monopoly of power in Nigeria. Other wise why was Ojukwu, the initiator of the national conference dropped from the delegates? Ojukwu would oppose any attempt to impose Obasanjo on Nigerians again as well as members of “Operation Loot Nigeria” the deranged and tired military looters represented by Ibrahim Babangida. Ojukwu is an embodiment of true Nigerianism as exemplified by his performance at Aburi, Ghana, 38 years ago.Why did he oppose the inclusion of Navy Cmdr. Ebitu Ukiwe from the delegates. After all, they are Igbo representatives and not Yoruba representatives.They are to represent igbo interests not that of the Yorubas. Ojukwu’s exclusion from the delegates demonstrates Obasanjo’s hypocrisy. Obasanjo is always scared of sound and strong intellectually minded igboman. He should be, given his intellectual and social deficiencies. Ojukwu’s deliberate exclusion from the delegates by Obasanjo is a further testimony to his hidden agenda.

If Mrs. Ngozi Iwuala, Oby Ezekwesili, Charles Soludo, Dora Akwunyiri, Ernest Ndukwe, and the young man at the culture ministry from Ebonyi State decide to withdraw from Obasanjo administration today, Obasanjo and Nigeria will collapse like a pack of cards. His so-called anti corruption crusade is one of his greatest hypocrisy. Look at people whom he brought into PDP. Tony Aneneih, that corruption infested individual who was disgraced from the police for corruption, and who is yet to account for the 300 billion naira given to him to fix Nigerian roads. Bode George, another corrupt retired and tired Naval officer. Ahmadu Ali, a tired military colonel and one of the most corrupt and beast minded Nigerian. Venatius Ikem, a lawyer whose legal practice is PDP fraud and corruption. Chris Uba, a notorious 419ner who should be cooling himself at Kirikiri Prison along with Fred Ajudua and co. Obasanjo is the president who openly admitted being accessory to fraud and corruption. Hear him, “I invited Chris Uba and Chris Ngige to my house where Uba in my presence looked at Ngige in the face and said, you know you did not win the election and you did not know how we did it”. All a president whose presidential words are, anti corruption crusade could do in light of admittance of fraud and corruption was only to tell them to leave his house. What a monumental hypocrisy. For almost six years, with oil selling for consistent average of more than $40 a barrel and a nation ranking 5th in world oil production, yet no good roads, no electricity, no good and quality water supply, her tertiary institutions are mere after school program, no good hospitals. Those Nigerians who looted the country dry would prefer to die at European hospitals than die in Nigeria, so they can die close to their loots stashed in Europe. Nigeria under Obasanjo has been ranking the most corrupt country in Africa. 1st, 2nd,and 3rd most in the world, the most human rights abuser in Africa, yet this man is junketing the world asking for debt forgiveness on the money he and his military colleagues shared. Other wise what did have to show Nigerians for a loan of such magnitude? The same man fighting war on corruption has been bribing his way to inflict un constitutionalism on Nigerians and continued to turn deaf ears on corruption, except fighting a dead man Sani Abacha, while dinning and winning with those who instituted corruption in Nigeria. What happened to his cousin Dr. Julius Makanjuola, known to have embezzeled more than 420 million naira as permanent secretary ministry of defense? Does it mean that all the Babangida celebrated wealth and his 57 room house at hill top Minna, the aborted establishment of Heritage university were from his legitimate salary as a military general? What happened to late Dr. Pius Okigbo report on the 1991 oil windfall? Was the late Sani Abacha the only member of OLN (operation loot the nation)?

I find it difficult to make meaning out of Obasanjo’s statement once, at Akwa Ibom State during his visit to that State not too long. That is, that he saw no sense in denying the late General Philip Effiong political access, while Ojukwu was allowed political access. Rubbish. I don’t know how he could have forgotten that he Obasanjo is an ex-convict who should not have been allowed into Nigeria’s political arena let alone giving him the presidency if it hadn’t been the military conspiracy to deny Ekwueme the presidency through PDP. He was appointed president by the then northern military looters, who felt he was qualified as their stooge as exemplified by his first outing in 1976-79. He got the president he now uses with all federal government machinery to do for the Yorubas what the former northern cabals did for the north. Yorubanization of Nigeria began in 1999 just as the northernization of Nigeria began in 1966 and ended in 1999. Today, Yoruba people control every strategic Organs of Nigeria’s institutions and economy. Be it oil, security, works, justice, police and communications. Yoruba land is being flooded with infrastructures, three power stations in southwest, international cargo airport in Abeokuta, 20 private universities for Yorubas alone approved within three years. Oil and gas refinery in Ogun State. NNPC M/D, attorney-general of the federation, accountant-general of the federation, auditor-general of the federation, police IG, SSS Director, DMI Director, PPRA chairman, DPR Director, PPRA executive secretary all Yorubas.

That’s exactly the way of the northern cabals. It used to be Alhaji this Alhaji that, whether he knew how to sign his name or not. At least these Yorubas are intellectually sound. Go to chief justice, you are talking to a Hausa man. Petrol minister, Alhaji Hausa, controller-general of immigration, Alhaji Kano, Director-general of Custom, Alhaji Sokoto, Minister of finance, Alhaji Katsina, All strategic western embassies, Alhaji A. Alhajis.Chief of Army staff, general Setima Alhaji , chief of defense staff, general Alhaji Abuja. Airforce, Vice Marshal Mig. Alhaji, Navy, Admiral NNS Alhaji. SSS Director, Alhaji Maiduguri, Military intelligence, general Hadeja. President of federal court of appeal, Alhaji justice Kaduna. Nigeria defense industry corporation, Kaduna. Nigeria military school, Zaria. Nigerian defense academy, Kaduna. Nigerian civil aviation school, Zaria. School of senior military commandant, Jaji Kaduna. Institute of policy and strategic studies, Kuru, Jos. Peugeot Automobile Plant, Kaduna. Oil refinery, Kaduna. 1st Division Nigerian Army, Kaduna. 3rd Division Nigerian Army, Jos. Corps of Artillery, Minna. Kano, Kaduna, Ilorin, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Jos, Makurdi, Yola all have international airports, whether planes land there or not. They are all international airports for lizards and broken windows. As long as the north controlled oil money, it must flow in the north, just as it is now flowing in the Yoruba land. I don’t see any difference between Gowon, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo. They are all hypocrites and are all in the league of Operation Loot Nigeria. They pretend to be patriotic Nigerians outside the power, but Military looters and human right abusers inside the power. Outside power, they talk about Nigeria’s unity, but inside power they work tirelessly for her disunity. Inside power they institute and nurture all kinds of system that will permanently dismember Nigeria. Other wise where was the unity of Nigeria when all the oil money coming to Nigeria was used to establish infrastructures in the north and southwest, when the greatest and hardest workers in Nigeria to develop that wealth are igbos and people of the south south? Where is the unity of Nigeria when Babangida single handedly forced Nigeria into IOC,( Islamic Organization Conference). Where is the unity of Nigeria when the northern military looters were building Mosque at Aso Rock without any church at Aso Rock?

They criticize each other when the critic is out of power. Can these looters and hypocrites mention any federal infrastructure in the southeast? Yet people like Chimaroke Nnamani sees Obasanjo as the best thing that happens to ndigbo. Although Nnamani is just a lone ranger in igbo land, so he has to leak Obasajo’s fat ass for protection for his atrocious leadership in Enugu State and beyond. Since he sees Obasanjo different from the way all true igbos see him, how many roads in the southeast has the federal government built or fixed? Why is Obasanjo playing 419 with Enugu airport and Niger Bridge? Why was the design of the Niger Bridge cancelled after the design? Why will it take the governor the ability to get international airliner that will be capable of flying and landing in Enugu airport five days a week for Obassanjo to internationalize it? What happened to the dry port, international airport, building of another Bridge across the Niger and two other infrastructures Obasanjo promised the southeast prior to his 2003 electoral façade popularly known in national parlance as 419 of 2003? Chief Audu Ogbe was once Obasanjo’s point guard. Before Ogbe was Mr. Bernabas Gemade. They all lived like kings and ended up like trash under Olusegun Obasanjo. Ahmadu Ali will no doubt go the way of the two gentle men above. They were all conscripted to do Obasanjo’s dirty job and enforce his hypocrisies. The expulsion of Ngige from PDP was just one of his defense mechanism for his political immorality. He knows he is a hypocrite. Will he also expel Jubril Aminu, Ibrahim Mantu, Adolphus Wabara, that one will be easy for him to expel since he answers igbo name, and all those who lost in his 419 of 2003 now parading as Senators and House of representatives otherwise V.I.P? (vagabonds in power) in the words of the late Fela Anikpolokun. The only rope Obasanjo is hanging on is his immoral control of the nations security forces. He has so perfected the use of the military and security apparatus to intimidate, abuse, harass and demean Nigerians. These members of the military and security outfits are the willing tools as long as they enjoy the perks of the office and the corruption that goes with it. And the absolute control of these security forces or outfits by the Yorubas has absolutely secured the dictatorship and hypocrisy for him. Obasanjo was quoted to have said that no one in Nigeria is qualified to take over from him.

The truth is that he has injured a lot of Nigerians such that he will prefer to die in the office rather than live to witness another retribution from Nigerians he has injured. Nigeria known for her revenge politics, he will prefer that the Bridge collapse, after he has crossed the Bridge. This man who pretends to have unity of Nigeria in his heart is nothing but a hypocrite and a deceiver. He will prefer that Nigeria dismember after his death as long as he protected the Yorubas, furnished them with all the resources and build economic empire for them. Obasanjo’s mission is not development of Nigeria, far from that. Obasanjo’s presidential mission is to do as much collateral damage to Ndigbo and provide the Yorubas Nigeria and her wealth.

Babangida and members of his OLN have given Nigerians a check. A check returned to Nigerians marked “insufficient fund”, in the words of that great African American, the late Dr. Martin Luther King jr. No condition is permanent. 1966 through 1999 were the years of Alhajis. 1999 through present are the years of Oduduas. Who knows whose years will it be from 2007? For now Nigerians other than the Yorubas have gotten a rotten product from their political purchase. They are always issued a wrong product whenever they ordered a political bargain.

Chidi Peter Eze

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March 21, 2005

A critic [al] self-evaluation

by Ndubueze Godson It has become very important to breach my self-imposed sabbatical to lend voice once again on issue that I know I’m guilty of in the Nigerian context, critiquing as I wont to, with aura of honesty nonetheless. Just for the removal of any doubt, this essay is strictly about me and my method of showing disapproval over certain things that daily occur in Nigeria with occasional reference to things or authors for reinforcement sake.

Most times after a browse through superbly written articles I nod my head in acknowledgement of the grammar prowess at display which a good number of you have. That thought usually fades with a self reminder that most people who attended Communication/Journalism school are expected to write better. And when they don’t, we tend to wonder what type of night school (lol) they struggled out of in the same way we look up to Physicians to know their onions. Thus, it is not by leap of fate that they are better.

You cannot read without admirable appreciation of the skills of many writers whom I have privately sent felicitous note of thanks for their command and honesty. The few sincere ones my mails eluded definitely get my respect as well. What, however, determines the approach is the state of mind of the author. For instance, one who at one point or another was involved or benefited from the looting of Nigeria’s wealth or even supported or is a murderer will not display the same hostile persona a victim would. In my case, as someone who has never participated in any underhanded treachery of any kind, I let out my frustration with Nigeria through my writing. My communication knows no bounds, made possible by my fervor for truth. Many Yoruba and Northern writers that I confidentially commended for their truthfulness and language finesse would affirm. Does it not sound crazy to support a lying bum just because we share the same ethnicity? See, I give no damn whence someone hails as long as I dictate dishonesty I’m sure to be troubled. I bring openness and un-negated frankness to the table with a little attitude, which rattles the sanctimonious. All these make me one with a very good “nuisance value.”

To not acknowledge the strengths of those who avoid the use of foul or harsh language in their piece will undeniably be dishonest. Still, they should be made aware that badgering honest composers whose language they consider objectionable suppresses the flow of vital information the public nevertheless need. Yours truly do not get offended by candid admonitions of decent well meaning writers; they are in most cases innocuous. On the other hand, I come out swinging very hard simply to parry any covert attempt meant to shield or support sheer nonsense just to be politically correct. There is nothing wrong with articles that encourage decency, they are fine. My disagreement is with those that totally disregard the contents of others solely on language. You can’t mistake the “nuisance value” sincere writers bring to the forum, which I believe jolts the lying crooks and their supporters back into reality after their evil crafts are shown to the world. Going by this paradigm then, “annoying” composers that are nonetheless honest should wear it like an honor badge. As for me, if it pleases the court of public opinion, my wish is to remain in this capacity until a genuine democratic atmosphere is ushered yonder. Only then could a change of approach be considered to address bonafide honorable men exactly so.

At times, I crave for better writing you betcha, but as the saying goes; hard to teach old dog new tricks. Suffice here that we all insult, the only difference are words usage. Example, if reference to someone as a liar is made by one writer while the other prefers untrustworthy instead, what difference is there? Or better yet, some people use “dumb” as a qualifier whilst others prefer “atom intellect, intellectual midget” so forth; both to me carry negative meaning. What ya say, what’s the fuss? Apart from that, most writers insult, annoy, instigate, you may even plug in your own word, but as I said earlier, prevailing circumstance should determine whether it is deserved. Tafa Balogun as we know triple somersaulted out of office on account of the peoples’ billions he stole, should a novelist be reproached or scorned for calling him a THIEF? Unnecessary sarcasm is equally insulting in case you guys forgot. With that, I honest to God wish that we would skip semantics and address the nucleus of the aligning issues raised by people who are disenchanted over the inordinate abuse of the system. You don’t need a shout from me to remember how the abusers tickled themselves by quickly suspending one of the few (maybe three) honest Members of House of Representatives, Haruna Yerima simply for telling the ever elusive TRUTH. I am of course aware of the collateral damage here and there my writings and that of a few good men and women out there inflict upon liars, but the greater and overall benefits are what counts not the trifle, mannerism. Ingloriously

Make no mistake about it, we are never homogenous without question in life; so, any canvass to emulate certain ways of writing will remain unattainable moreso, since style is subjective. Some people are fashion disasters, they dress badly. Yet, others eat, cry and speak differently, not alike. Should writing be exempt? Let there be no doubt what this writer is, an honest social critic who advocates good sense and governance. Objective analyst may be added given that no one, Igbo or not escapes my alert lens as I call it without fear or favor. As a community activist that abhors liars, thieves, murderers and what have ya, no apologies over my method of disseminating views to those receptive to honest exchange devoid of decorative words that are carefully crafted to obfuscate and sweep inattentive readers off their wobbly feet. Check this out, as charming taller U.S. presidential candidates (need confirmation just ask Ross Perot and Michael Dukakkis) utilize their height advantage over their shorter counterparts so also do fancy writers deploy all tricks to sway the not so vigilant. Asking oppressed people to maintain impartiality is simply adding to their burden, it is untenable and this fella here won’t. Remain neutral in the face of wicked bombardments from the Arab north with help from others who consider Nigeria their private possession at their capricious disposal? In fact they disposed of her with their years of abuse and neglect that went unchallenged.

In my heart of hearts, I find certain requests burdensome and kinda asking too much from writers like me who were driven into writing in the first order after many years of reading total junk from rapacious supporters of military and political robbers in a country I once called home. Even my close friends and relatives are surprised to find me in this writing arena I was forced into merely to spread the truth gospel. Let it be said without waffling that a distressed unadulterated “onye Igbo” is bound to be angry, a by-product of oppression therefore, it is unfair to expect miracles from an aggrieved rather the blame must rest on the provocateurs’ doorsteps. Need I say that opinionated articles that are designed to mislead or full of outright lies draw strong and somewhat violent reaction from me? No regrets for that, for sure! It is so easy to because money is not a motivator in things I do, not driven by it and I hope my essays portray this. In the course of writing, writers once in awhile let the readers have a glimpse of certain aspects of their private moments. So, with that, here we go. During both my Traditional and Western wedding/marriage ceremonies, this individual never extended any invite to the so-called rich Yuppies, no! Why? I’m not about money! Another example was my disinterest in taking advantage of few Generals I came in contact during the three hard years I spent in a country that refused to grow. Never capitalized! I am rather propelled and guarded by well established and respectable principles that has nothing to do with personal advantage, anything less is not me. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome financial comfort but not by every roguish means. My profile (family name) still means a lot to me.

Swearing aside, one’s write-ups should be judged on its merits with a certain degree of waver granted the author based on honesty as evident in his/her piece. Makes sense! The crop of writers that somewhat penetrate my thick hide are those that load their fabrications with impressive prose to peddle and back mediocrity. They are the ones we should watch out for! The ability of an essayist to write truthfully should be sacred, it shouldn’t be compromised or auctioned off; it ought to be guarded jealously, which to me appears to be the identifiable bane of my writings. Should the question “how do you rate your language rules” be asked, I did as usual be forthright and badly rate myself with one exception though, honesty. For all that can be said about style, no one could rope me in dishonest writings, having said that, the stipulation by Monsieur La Drière to be honest critic is accomplished. Moving right along, to be a critic as seen in the senior writer’s essay, “Oga make we manage am so,” here’s La Drière. “The critic should be honest.” I am! If anyone disagrees, contradict me. “He can never be perfectly intelligent.” I am not! “Or perfectly informed.” Not close! “Or perfectly disinterested.” Bingo! “Or perfectly humble...” I am hardly “perfect” in any of these attributes therefore, all the requirements met, so, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a TRUE and balanced critic, me, with little nuisance/annoying assessment that affect only those who abhor truth. At the fore of all my scripts you did find in quantum honesty, which is miserably lacking in all spheres of governance in Nigeria going back many, many years and made worst under Obasanjo. Sad but again true! Open minded readers would absolutely consent to this.

Let me henceforward lend comfort to those who are still wondering if a fine piece “Nuisance Value of the Nigerian Internet pundit” few weeks ago by a great columnist on affected them, with a resounding yes. As it concerned yours truly too! Ouch!! Every writer is a critic with some element of annoyance that depends on where one falls, negative or positive. Let me clarify, for liars, theirs connote the former based on the absence of truth. For those that are tempted to argue against any positive value of nuisance, allow me to explain. Writers who tell the truth bring with them “positive nuisance,” they hurt the criminally minded who see their essays as irritation. But sincere folks, receive it as good/positive omen hence my point. It is in order to further clarify that where two opposing variables (good/bad nuisance) exist, a separation should be made between the harmless and nefarious ones who probably get paid to sell their souls. As such, it was very humbling to have read Maazi Uche Nworah’s “A dose of my own medicine” in acceptance of his seeming role, which to me exudes the positive side of nuisance since the information in his like mine are for the good of BiafraNigerians. His posts that I have read thus far are factual, sincere and direct.

One need not be Shakespearian or schooled in journalism to recognize the damage articles that lack straightforwardness have. All it takes to expose is a quick glance. Take for instance, “An Open Letter to Baroness Lynda Chalker” – Maazi Nworah and “Those Comments On Nigeria By Baroness Chalker” – Mr. Adujie both of which appeared on Gamji, to clearly see the one that woefully failed to meet the basic test as proscribed by Monsieur La Drière according to that sublime editorial by Mr. Eso. In consonance with the advice given in that editorial, which to me boils down to maintenance of some level of decorum in our writings, it is equally important to evaluate and reconcile one’s grammar hiccup with its veracious contents. For all that could be said and indeed said about my mode, none will accuse this writer of lying since that’s the thrust of my message. There is no beneficial purpose in a sweet and advanced writing that is over infested with damaging lies that support evildoers. For this, I thank the master architect of the universe, the ever seeing eye who gave me the wisdom to know right from wrong with lots of help from my father. To overlook a country such as Nigeria with callous corruption that went into overdrive is to deny the simple truth. People that mean well should not be handicapped to describe her as such, fraudulent. Any other views to the contrary blends against the basic requirement of La Drière as seen in that post by a very good gentleman whose coded caution we should all value. I have to, I am a learner.

This brings us to Mohammed Haruna another writer with language command whom I also read at times on Gamji, but in his “Igbos, Biafra and the Presidency,” he wrote; “This may sound rather harsh, but if the Igbo have failed so far to clinch the presidency and look set to fail again and again, it is mainly because they do not seem to be sorry for trying to break up this country.” This comment is sharply at variance with the most fundamental need of the critic. Please forgive me for repeating his quote which already appeared in my, “Tribalist vs Nationalist: A case of two misplaced nouns in Nigeria.” Now, shouldn’t he go back to Monsieur La Drière’s school of honest critiquing? Oh my God! We[Igbo] tried to break up Nigeria? Did he not know our engagement was simply to repel the pre-contrived extermination of Ndiigbo by his Arab Jihadists with help from their western colluders? His offensive lies should then be seen as a wicked design to paint us with the villain brush for maximum pain effect. Good news is he failed shamelessly. By the way, the only thing liars have going for them are their propensities to mislead anything else is pure facade. Mohammed’s dangerous worldview towards my people notwithstanding, it hasn’t risen to the level where I can say I hate him. No! Some stuff he writes is cool with me though I see him as one of the boys. Know what I mean? Flattering jobber that is!

Only those that what is being done in Nigeria or said here do not directly affect can expediently afford the executive luxury of remaining impartial. To help their public image I guess. To think that one could stay outside the loop when his very essence of living is under serious assault, under constant threat of extinction by those who harbor the type of gutter belief as the above subject for no sound reason is reprehensible. Oftentimes, we hear of light at the end of the tunnel, but this is not to be for the Igbo in that HOPELESS nation of the liars where the light gets dimmer the nearer the Igbo get towards the end of the subway. Thanks to the crazy prodigal Arabian governments of Nigeria. Coming up is information that should be of high interest to every democratic thinker since only sick minds could dream up such nonsense. Do you know that years before the Igbo elders declared a Sovereign and Free State of Biafra, the Arab north had this devilish plan for Ndiigbo? Shouldn’t Nigeria then apologize to Ndiigbo or let them go?

The Arab North’s Agenda prior to the declaration of Biafra:

1. (a) To kill off the Major-General and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces,
J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi
(b) To kill off all the Yamiri Army Officers;
(c) And subsequently purge the Army of Yamiri by killing the rest in the ranks.

2. To take complete control of the Armed Forces, the Police and the Navy and to purge off
the Yamiri in these Forces too with the aid of the Westerners in the Army.

3. To kill off and dispossess all the Yamiri domiciled in the Northern Region.

4. To use the control of the Armed Forces to take control of the country's Government.

5. To revenge Sardauna's and Abubakar's death by killing Dr. Zik, Dr. Okpara, Ojukwu
and Major Nzeogwu.

6. To destroy Port Harcourt, Enugu and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

7. (a) To kill all Yamiri in top civil service posts;
(b) All wealthy Yamiri - male and female;
(c) All Yamiri educational giants;
(d) All grown up males and females of Yamiri;
(e) To leave out only sucklings in Yamiri land.

People I hope can now begin to understand the source of my resentment, which needs no tricks for those with integrity to see. Given what my people had and continue to go through in that “Iti bọrịbọ” – foolish country, count me as a pious proponent against your “One Nigeria.” Love to see her scatter! Care I don’t! Most of these lying posters come across to me like people that could tell someone to go to hell and he looks forward to that trip. You don’t expect us to be kind towards those responsible for our hardships. As many flaws as I have, insincerity is out. For that I am satisfied. It is the one thing no one can dump on me. Trust me! Upright people have always been over pampered in my essays, a privilege not fit for crooks and their minions. Before I exit, let me say this piece is my way of accepting my own annoying contributions in my pursuit to let the world see the plight of Nigerians generally and Igbos mostly. Whether or not I made my case is now in the hands of the readers to decide accordingly. But in the absence of any clear choice, I will remain resolute in selecting appropriate language to address erring embezzling liars, thieves, murderers, ad infinitum. It is said to whom much is given, a lot is equally expected. Consequently, we look upon talented writers to use their gifts to advance only the TRUTH, period. It can’t be emphasized enough. What gives to address a crooked murderous embezzling scallywag as anything short of what he is? Smiling as I sign off.

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March 18, 2005

The Exclusion of Ojukwu: A Nigerian Affair

by Geoffrey Ifeanyi Ekenasi The regret expressed by former SSG of Imo state Mr. Enoch Anyanwu on the exclusion of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu demands further discussion given the mundane and backward nature of the philosophy behind this exclusionary policy, and the potential consequences of such a policy on our newly recreated democracy.

I agree almost completely with Mr. Anaynwu that Ojukwu is conspicuously missing in the national confab, however, I disagree with this gentleman when he blamed Ohaneze ndi Igbo for not protesting over the exclusion, thereby making it sound like and Igbo problem.

That there is a national confab in Nigeria and Ojukwu is excluded is not an Igbo question, it is a question of right and wrong. I submit that the exclusion of Ojokwu from the national confab is wrong.
Yes, Ojukwu is just one among about 130 million Nigerians. Yes, not everybody must attend the conference and yes, Ojukwu is just a human being like all of us. Nevertheless, Ojukwu has been an outspoken political Nigerian who has often projected the other view without fear or favor and whose sense of logic and intellectual prowess is no news to most of the reasonable Nigerians.

He has demonstrated a wealth of knowledge of the Nigerian situation; has been a part and parcel of the inner dynamics of the politics of Nigeria and appears to comprehend its details. Has he not often articulated the issues in such a manner that, whether you agree with him or not you know where he is coming from.

His vision of a modern polity and the position of the black man in the world was made manifest in his famous (notorious?) Ahiara Declaration. When ever provoked to do so or called upon occasionally his thesis has proven to be a serious outburst of brain energy. Why doe this writer seem to heap all this encomium on a living soul? One reason is that this is the writer's way of protesting the dwarfist policy in Nigeria of shying away from the brightest and the best, and instead, wasting a great deal of time trying to run him down rather than encourage, tap and utilize his/her mental energy. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a victim of this rubbish. That is why he was never a Nigerian President. Nigerians were too intimidated to put him in the forefront and utilize his bewildering mental abilities. We debated more of Awolowo's tribalism and his role during the civil war (which is personally disgusting to me though) than tapping his mental enrgy for the good of Nigeria. I was ready to forgive and forget his civil war thing so we could forge ahead and tap what he had upstairs for the sake of our nation but fellow Nigerians were not as ready.

Awolowo is now gone and we all lost. Today, Ojukwu is alive but again, many Nigerians are intimidated by his mental power. They are afraid to debate him. They quake and shake at the other view, the opposing view. They think hell will be let loose if the intellectual giant is not held in chains.

Fellow Nigerians, if I must ask, if Ojukwu is not qualified to sit at the confab and air his views, who is ? Oh! by the way, did I mention when I appeared to be presenting his credentials that he was the leader of the break away Biafra? Methinks, that he knows more than any Nigerian dead or alive why he led the then Eastern region out of Biafra. If that is so, would it not benefit Nigerians to hear him now that he is no longer a rebel discuss in a national confab the panecea for resolving those probelems that angered his people? Being a living rebel leader in our great nation would he not have a lot to say in a conference that is aimed at making Nigeria better?

I have friends who believe that the exclusion of Ojukwu is a clear indication of lack of seriousness on the part of Nigerian government in the confab as a means of moving Nigeria forward. Could it be true? May be the future will tell. For the present, as long Nigeria as a nation continues to close our eyes against talents due to petty jealousies and silly prejudices, so long will Nigeria continue to lag within the comity of nations and regrettably remain the shame of Africa and the black man.


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March 16, 2005

Hats off for Maryam Babangida

by Okechukwu E. Asia --- It began with a Saturday morning telephone call from a very dear friend in Boston, Massachusetts, USA Mr. Ndamati Timothy inviting me to accompany him to a reception organized by the National Chairman of The Nigerian Project, USA Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam at his Boonton, New Jersey mansion to honor Nigeria’s former first lady Madam Maryam Babangida. I quickly accepted. I have not seen Maryam in person before. I am, however, one of her greatest admirers having witnessed the wonders of her “Better Life for Rural Women” program did and continues to do for women in my Local Government Area. I have been praying for this day to just shake her hands, and I will be happy.

Sunday March 6, 2005 I set out on a 5-hour drive to Boonton, New Jersey in the company of my good friend Ndamati. It was a beautiful day to see a very beautiful woman and beautiful terrains of Boonton, New Jersey. As we pulled into this brand new, intimidating and yet gorgeous mansion belonging to Dr. Egbuchilam overlooking the White plains of New York with a breath taking landscape made for Buckingham Palace my curiosity began to set in. We were more than three hours early. But waiting for three hours to see Maryam was like waiting for 10 minutes. I was determined to wait for one week to see her. We settled into this cozy living room decorated with a 42” Widescreen Plasma television mounted on the wall and several museum-quality works of arts in every corner.

Within hours Nigerians from all walks of life filled the house in anticipation to welcome Maryam. They came from Texas, Washington D.C, Boston, Ohio, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey etc. Many of them in serious traditional attire, and some in their Sunday best. Wherever Nigerians gather, you know very well that rice; stew, moi-moi, fufu; egusi and vegetable soups are very plentiful. This was no exception. Also there were plenty of beers and cognac to drink. I took care of myself very well.

At about 5 pm Maryam walked in with Madam Ibrahim Gambari, the beautiful wife of the former U.N. Ambassador by her side. At first I did not believe who she is. She looks younger than I expected and very beautiful. She has a teenage body. You really have to look closer to notice that she is a woman, a mother and a grandmother. She was offered a very fluffy and smooth leather chair, she rejected it and opted for a dinning room chair. Amazing!

I was expecting to see a glamour lady with gold and diamond all over her fingers, but I was wrong. She wore only her wedding band and another small ring. I had expected to see her in an expensive and designer dress and shoes. Again, I was wrong. She wore only some not so great long skirt with a matching top and a Moslem head tie and regular shoes. As she sat quietly on that dinning room chair, my eyes were glaring at her in amazement and disbelief. But I was filled with happiness that I finally met one of the people I most admire.

Few minutes later the chief host Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam and his beautiful and very excited wife introduced Madam Maryam Babangida to the full house. The chants of first lady erupted-as to say she will become Nigeria’s first lady come 2007. She took the floor and began to speak. First, she apologized for being late and for keeping many of us waiting, as if we were worried about waiting. She notices and acknowledged the African attires worn by the majority of the guests. “I am so happy to see you here today in your African attires, it shows that you are proud Africans” she said.

Her speech focused more on Better life for Rural Women than politics. The following are the excerpts of her speech:

Thank you very much for welcoming me and my entourage to your beautiful home. Ladies and gentlemen as I stand before you today, I feel happy and proud. Proud in the sense that you have great Nigerians around the world and you are one of them. Proud in the sense that seeing a lot of you in our traditional outfit is a very good act of patriotism. I am indeed very happy that God has given me an opportunity to meet you today. Most of you I have not come across to know, and some of you are just seeing me for the first time. But what a great opportunity God has given to us to meet tonight. You coming across from your various communities, living your various lives to come here today, I say thank you very much.

I have been given a task of explaining a program to you. Now I am going to be a teacher and act like a professor. The Better Life for Rural Women (BLRW) program commenced its activities in 1987. The BLRW is for rural women. Who is the rural woman? The rural woman is the woman who resides in rural area, who lives in the typical rural setting with no water, no electric light, no amenities, or basic facility around her. And yet she nurtures a family and she is not educated. She does not have health facility; she does not have anything around her that will give her recognition and that will give her sense of belonging. So what we do was to visit and identify with her to see what she got and be able to help her out.

How do we help her out? If she is a farmer, what does she plan to produce? Rice, cassava, vegetable? What tools does she need? How many hours of labor does she put in? We take these findings to urban areas and people like you, to discuss her problems. How do we help the woman in terms of productivity? How do we increase her labor production? How do we help her, and how do we work closely with the woman? What are the tools she will need that will help her to produce more and better?

We have to educate her, give her basic education on how to manage her business. Then we go out and recruit more people like you. If you are a teacher, give us your time, come to the villages and contribute the materials needed to give her the education. The BLF is a program that addresses the welfare of women. It addresses their education, their health, and their agriculture. That is their economic problem, their industry, where she does her market. After all these productions, what happens? They do not know how to market their production. How can they move these goods to the urban market? The roads are not accessible. They do not have education. If they had education, they could do something. So we the urban people, we the elite, you the elite, you the haves, we are pleading that you support what we are trying to do now. When you come home, I would like you to travel with me to the village. There is no water in the villages; rivers are dry now. You cannot tell somebody to do something with her life when there is no water supply.

So what do we need to do now that we have all these problems? We are expanding. We have not done so yet in Africa. Some African countries have contacted us to help train some of their people to introduce this unique program to their peoples. So now we are expanding nationally and internationally. In the process of expansion for example, Abuja we move from there into the rural areas to provide it or some of the amenities that are in Abuja. Listen, ladies and gentlemen, if you are really a true Nigerian, you must be worried about the education system in our country. In the next few years, maybe 30 years, if we do not educate each individual in our country, we will have a very poor country, because if they are not educated we can’t achieve anything. What we are doing here are for the people. We can’t call our country rich when there is no drinking water in our urban and rural areas. In many rural areas you can see our people swimming and drinking water from the streams in which animals wash themselves. The human beings and animals are struggling for the little water left in our ponds. And then, when you see the color of this water you will weep for our country and our people.

Our plan for this program “Better Life” is to expand, to bring women’s products to trade fairs, including international trade fairs. The Better Life works with the women in our rural areas, we don’t work for them. We go there and we see what they do. We provide them with tools and training facilities. We partner with them. Many times there are no good roads to get to the rural areas. We approached the Ministry of Works and we asked them to please give us their graders to grade the roads so that the women may be able to ship their produce to the urban areas. We partner with the ministries. We are all working for success. We explained to the people in the ministry, whether you are living in there or out there, that we all have to join hands together to achieve our goals. It is our country.

Each and every one of us here is from the rural villages. That’s who we are. We are rural people. So our development should be reversed from rural development to urban. We should all go back to the rural areas and live there. You people in America are capable of training ten or more people in primary and secondary schools in your village. Our program is in all the states of the federation. The program has branches in most of the local government areas of the federation. It is very difficult to try to cover all the local government areas, but we are working towards achieving that goal. You in America should thank God for what you have, and who you are. When you go to the villages you see the children in rag clothes, many naked. You see the women going to fetch water, coming back to cook, going back to the farm, that is why we must address the issue of women’s development. You the men are comfortable. You are the bosses. You can never have a full development when you leave the women behind. Men should take their women side by side. The truth is that men cannot succeed without a strong woman by their side. You cannot wash your hands clean with one hand. You need two hands to wash your hands clean. You cannot walk fast on one leg; you need both legs to walk fast. You cannot have an even balance on one leg; you need the other leg -- that is the woman. Who is the man here that can claim that he was not born of a woman. If you know that, why don’t you look at your wife as a partner? Women have the economic base, but politically they cannot be there. How can they be there when the political meetings are scheduled at 3:00 A.M? At this time, the women are at home in bed with the kids. If a woman dares to attend one of those meetings, the men will call her “Ashawo”. I think the time has come for all the women to participate fully in the prophecy. God has given us so much. Men must be grateful to God for giving them women. The men are denying women privileges, which means that men are not grateful to God. Men and women should partner together. Sincere partnership. Women are not in competition with men. Women respects that authority, which God has given to men, and we want to be there for them, bathes them feed them and love them. All we ask from men is to allow us to belong.

So my dear sisters and brothers, to cut my speech -- the Better Life Program is designed to help the rural women, to teach them necessary skills, provide good health, teach them personal hygiene, good nutrition and a clean environment. So I am appealing to you, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, think of the rural women. Think of your root. How you can help. That is what you should be thinking. If today you save a dollar per week in a piggy bank within one year you will have saved enough to take care of one or two women in the rural areas. And bring the piggy bank with you when you come home. It will go a long way in helping more people than you will ever realize. You have the option to decide how your donation can be used. Do you want to use it to build a well, water tank or school, or market stalls or to purchase tools for their trade? You choose where your money goes. Or tell us which village should benefit and we will use that money and invest it there and you will see what we did with your donation.

In the name of God, the Almighty, we thank you for all the things you have given us. We pray that our needs and goals be met. Amen. We pray that each and every one of us present tonight, and those absent, be blessed. Amen. That whatsoever we set to do, God will help us achieve. Amen. As we are all together here, I am not in your minds, but you know what you are pursuing. You say you are pursuing 007, the Nigerian project, may God bless you all and keep us alive. But it’s my prayer that each and every one of you has some good intentions at this moment. May God bless your intention. May God bless your goals; protect you, because if you don’t have good intentions you can never succeed in life. And if you are not honest, you can’t go far in life. So, therefore, we are all human beings, we have our likes and dislikes, we have our weaknesses, and so what I strongly appeal to you is that you work with us. It is okay that we work out our differences. We cannot all be leaders. Let us pray for good leaders in Nigeria, and that others should learn to be good followers. So my dear brothers and sisters, I thank you all for coming here tonight to converse with me. I am glad you came, and I am so happy to be here with you.

May God bless you all.

The speech was followed by all night pomp and pageantry with appreciative guests and hosts all congratulated each other for a reception well organized. There were stampede to take photograph with Maryam. So many photographers both professionals and not-so-professionals all struggling to get a snap of the former first lady. It was a night I will never forget. Thank you Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam for hosting this wonderful august visitor. Thank you The Nigerian Project, USA under whose auspices this event was made possible. I hope we will be able to meet again.

Okechukwu E. Asia

Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

Posted by Administrator at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2005

Feminism and the man

Uche Nworah You must have read or heard by now that writers have peculiar styles and are also influenced by political and philosophical thinking and ideologies, hence it is easy to read Edwin Madunagu and identify that he is a Marxist, also Ndaeyo Uko is easily exposed as a satirist in his writings, Ama Ogan in her days at the Guardian was an avowed and unmistakable feminist, and so was the late May Ellen-Ezekiel (Richard Mofe-Damijo’s late wife), based on their writings and views.

I have always struggled with my self in trying to discover who or what influences my writing; I have read some of the different philosophers and thinkers but do not completely agree with all their principles and ideologies. I have therefore chosen not to align myself to any political or philosophical school of thought, at least for now.

But clarke (not his real name) has not. clarke is a fellow doctoral student at the University of Greenwich, ever since Dr. Hall in his Research Methods class advised that as doctoral students, we should read extensively in order to critically support and underpin our thesis in known theories and paradigms, I have watched clarke brand and re-brand himself week after week from being a Marxist, to being a positivist and most recently a pseudo - positivist. Lately he told me that he thinks that he has finally seen the light and that feminist may well and best describe him.

Sometimes I wonder if clarke knows what he is talking about, I doubt if he indeed understands what these critical theories are all about, one thing though is that I have come to like and admire him and his intellectual honesty. He is not your typical know – it - all academic (he teaches nursing and healthcare at the same university). Anytime he attempts to speak in class especially during seminar presentations; his reasoning and argument ensures that we all get a dose of the clarke humour medicine. He is now officially the class clown.

What has clarke got to do with this article? Well, everything. Firstly I have been struggling, just like him to identify a theorist, philosopher or paradigm to underpin and align my thesis with, however an accusatory email I received a while ago after I wrote an article on the rising profile of Igbo women as well as my tendency to play up women issues in some of my writings have made me begin to wonder and aloud too if I am not maybe, a feminist.

I took this issue up with Professor Ainley recently; I wanted to find out from him if men could also be feminists. Thankfully, despite his long academic rhetoric in trying to provide a simple yes or no answer to a simple question, I was able to come away from the discussion with the impression that men could support feminist causes and issues without necessarily being branded feminists. I have since found out however, that men could also be feminists.

So once again, I wish to share with you a thought that has been bothering me lately, this bothers on the issue of sons and daughters. Hopefully, I will not be called names again this time by the gentleman (you know who you are) who felt that my article about Igbo women empowers Igbo women and could therefore stir up trouble in Igbo families and homes. As if the women are not empowered already, wait till you hear my mother’s story. I don’t know if the gentleman in question is afraid that my article will incite the womenfolk to another round of riots, just like they did back in 1929.

Even as I write this article, President Obasanjo has appointed another Igbo woman, Mrs.Irene Nkechi Chigbue as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE). She takes her place among the Igbo amazons.

Back to my mother’s story, my father is one of those Igbo men, typical if you know what I mean. Growing up, I remember how proud he was that he had four of us (all boys) first before the two girls came. I can still recall how we had to endure his antics of dressing us all up in the same set of clothes and shoes (we used to call them papa’s uniforms) and then ‘matching’ us all to his friends and associates, proudly announcing his handwork (sons) at every house we visited, I used to feel that we were some sort of museum pieces on display during such round trips.

Trust my father and all the other Igbo men of his generation, he really kept my mother busy on the home front and ensured that she was a regular guest at the maternity ward of the Aba General Hospital every other year. To compensate my mum, the Lord of the Manor opened a restaurant for her in front of our family house (where else?). A ploy still used today by Igbo men to ‘tie’ their wives down.

What was funny about this was that, around this time, although the girls (my sisters) had already been born, but still my father went ahead to, wait for this. He brazenly named the restaurant after himself and affixed the phrase and sons after his name on the signboard.

I can still picture the big blue coloured signboard, which for a long time was a regular feature of the nworah residence, until fate and fortune dictated otherwise.

My mother is your typical ‘obey your husband’ kind of housewife, as was obtainable back in the days but when fortune smiled on her, and her business began to blossom, things began to change. By some act of fate, probably heaven’s way of teaching my father and the other Igbo men of his time a lesson, he began to suffer dwindling fortunes in his business to the extent that my mum took over the running of the household financially.

Instinctively, although we were still young, but we knew where the money was now coming from (trust children to wisen up fast) and so we (the Nworah children) switched alliances and allegiances.

I will never forget the look on my father’s face, nor the smirk on my mother’s when my father came home one day to find that his beloved signboard had been knocked down, (picture the pulling down of Saddam Hussein’s statute in Baghdad) and in its place was now a new shining board announcing amaka restaurant to the world.

We had expected my father to swear thunder and brimstone, or even to send my mum packing for daring to pull down his ‘board’ and by implication for challenging his manhood and authority, without proper and due consultation. But he didn’t, he quietly went inside the house and sulked like the wounded lion that he was. I thank God that my mother did not abuse the power and paradigm shift.

She still managed to remain the devoted and caring mother and wife (I didn’t say housewife), proving that yes, women can do all that and still keep their homes, and remain loyal and submissive.

This trend of male child preference over female children is still largely obtainable in Igbo land and also in some other parts of the world; hence most men still affix and sons to their business names. I have never seen any business with and daughters and I still wonder, why not?

I still don’t know if I am a feminist.

Posted by Administrator at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

The Second Amalgamation of Nigeria under Obasanjo: PRONACO is why the Federalists always win

By: Attorney Aloy Ejimakor (Washington, DC USA). Time is nigh for Nigerians to take a bipartisan stand and make bold to express their profound dismay with this crass and impolitic posturing, and all the annoying moral superiority bandied around by some eminent persons on the whys and wherefores of Obasanjo’s National Political Reform Conference.

The inalienable right of Nigerians to freely assemble and express contrary opinions during periods of great national debates is not served when carried too far to the point of filibustering a critical moment in the country's search for solutions. In pluralist and free polities like ours with a reputation for vibrant national debates, opinions can sometimes range from the very absurd and bizarre to the very politically sensible. It is more like a political prize fight without the violence and blood letting, but with plenty of the laxity of rules. A largely harmless national pastime which comes with such spirited exhibition of political machismo that at the end, leaves Nigerians spent and feeling better about letting it all out. Prize fight or not does not however excuse our very eminent persons whose opinions count for much to bare their knuckles and engage a sitting President in a take-no-prisoners contest over peripheral matters of procedure and settled issues of Nigerian political customs and traditions.

A plain reading of the hard line stance taken by PRONACO and its ilk suggests a surprising lack of awareness of the settled rules of engagement when a national conference is convened during a democracy by a competent President. It is a universal rule of the thumb that you cannot force your own brand of a conference or a particular set of nominees on a de jure President. You can only recommend and lobby but the President is free to embrace or ignore your recommendations. The suggestion that Obasanjo must accede to the conference agenda canvassed by groups like PRONACO is tantamount to asking the President to cede control of the NPRC and Nigeria’s political future to a hardly organized political opposition, the ranks of which are probably infiltrated by those the President believes to be harboring separatist and predatory designs on the federation of Nigeria as we know it. The President’s ramrod maneuvers to stick to his own guns can find support not only in Nigeria but in other societies that have matured in their practice of the system of representative government as we presently have in Nigeria. Outside of the United States Congress, no other assemblage of unelected persons or groups in America, however morally superior, can gather and overawe the President of the United States to convene a “sovereign conference” of racial nationalities – Blacks, Caucasians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Eskimos, Braves, Indians, and perhaps, even their multiracial subgroups. For what purpose? Is it to decide the future of America or some ambiguous notions of ethnic/racial autonomy or redistribution of resources and political office along those lines? It is just not right, and if you dare suggest such, you may be branded the quintessential wacko and mercilessly caricatured on the circuits of America’s late night television comedy shows. Instead, America uses her constituted legislative and judicial organs and sometimes through sheer executive actions, to make political concessions to minorities on a scale that can hardly pass muster in a politically less conversant court of law. And outside of the constituted political organs, the President of the United States can see fit to appoint a political or economic reform committees (read: conferences) to brainstorm an issue and produce a blueprint that will only become public policy when passed into law by an act of United States Congress. The distinguishing feature of this method, which Nigerians can emulate, is the orderly and phased-in environment it brings to bear on America’s bonafide struggles to tackle its own political and social injustices. One of such is redistricting and gerrymandering through which Blacks have gained more seats in Congress than the natural political equation would have allowed. Nigeria can borrow a leaf by looking to our representative process epitomized by the National Assembly and its state and local counterparts, as well as to the courts and executive branches, howesover presently underdeveloped and hardly adequate to dispense with similar political, social and economic injustices. Failing this, the President of Nigeria, not PRONACO or even the National Assembly, has the exclusive constitutional right to call a national conference on any issue the President determines to be germane to federal policy making, including the political restructuring of Nigeria.

The number of seats reserved to the Boers in the South African national legislature is greater than the proportion of their population to that of Blacks. But that was done on the good graces of a majority population that knew that such “undemocratic” and unique measures are necessary for the survival of the whole. In our Nigeria, it is a truism as well as politically correct to assert that no ethnic group is greater than the other, but if you were to excise the Niger Delta and parts of South East from the rest of the federation, what is left of Nigeria might begin to queue up alongside Somalia for food rations and charity to keep body and soul together. In other words, our GDP will plummet dangerously to the extent of threatening national security for what remains of Nigeria. Therefore, if Niger Delta or the South East is demanding some special concessions, we need to take a serious view of it and consider whether there is a unique fiscal or political status that can be arranged without endangering our collective security as a federation. Obasanjo's brand of a conference may as yet prove to be the answer, but a "sovereign" conference is hardly necessary in dealing with a matter that Nigerian superior courts have held to be actionable; and failing that, through an orderly process of political horse trading. To be sure, endlessly pillorying Obasanjo in the hope that he will turn chicken and permit some unreasonable demands to hold sway won’t cut it. Even in Britain with its famously wheeling-dealing parliamentary system, you cannot even contemplate a situation where a liberal Tony Blair suddenly turns partisan turncoat by acceding to a conservative manifesto forced on him by estranged Tories wallowing for years in political wilderness. And despite the relative level of political maturity and tolerance in that country, Blair will be crazy to kowtow to the separatist demands of the Irish Republican Army just for the asking, talk less of permitting them and their Gerry Adams the leave and space to dictate national public policy. But he still manages to make concessions to Sein Fenn without compromising national security.

Cooperating with Obasanjo does not necessarily mean that bonafide but unelected citizens cannot raise a contrary voice on matters fundamental to our national governance or reformation. They must be assured the unfettered political space to freely enunciate any new ideas that may redefine the coexistence of our varying nationalities within a pluralist, strong and secure Nigeria. It is good for Nigeria that lively opposition is thriving, but while we at it, we must remember that aside from political conferences, there are myriad orderly and procedurally compliant ways of forcing changes from the outside, and one of such is to get your federal legislator to introduce a bill for a constitutional amendment or other form of vital legislation before the National Assembly; or even look to the judicial branch. A case in point is the judicial and legislative means deployed to resolve the “derivation” set asides and its close relative, the onshore/offshore dichotomy. It did not require a “sovereign” conference that would have been hamstrung by the vast majorities from the North which have gone on record to note their vigorous objections and discomfort with the Southern position on resource control. On the contrary, it took the right mix of covert political maneuverings among the executive branches, an activist Supreme Court, and a surprisingly conversant National Assembly to arrive at a solution that even found grudging support in the restive far North. Conversely, it is a generally accepted strategy that you can jettison decorum, settled procedures, and political customs and take extreme measures to overawe a dictator without a National Assembly, and whose reign is tottering on the slippery slopes of the unconstitutionality of his coming. “Radio Kudirat” was the height of this, all to the admiration and support of Nigerians and the international community. But even at that, it would have been politically dumb and illogical to boycott a conference merely because it was convened by an illegal government such as the Abacha regime of the days gone. Why? Because participation is your best legal opportunity yet of engaging the dictator on his own turf with any fighting chance of presenting ideas that might force some concessions from him. Did we not gratefully, even if grudgingly cooperate and participate in all the conferences convened by all the “illegal” regimes that have been our lot since amalgamation, beginning with the many by the colonial masters and culminating in the most recent by Abacha’s regime, arguably the “mother” of all illegal administrations. Had we boycotted Britain’s invitations to the conferences that saw to our independence, they might have as well relinquished reigns of government to the Martians in frustration and left us to own devices to deal with the anarchy that was sure to follow. Ditto for apartheid-era South Africa if ANC and Mandela had rebuffed De Klerk’s overtures, or attempted to impose their will, Marxist manifesto or ideologues on a politically insecure De Klerk. Yet, we would as soon scoff at a conference convened at the sufferance of a President with a democratic mandate to govern. It rankles as much as it frays raw nerves that men of renown who should know better have banded together to deny Mr. President his rare moment of history, and our well earned quietude in democratizing a complex country like Nigeria after all the traumas perpetrated by our reluctant dalliance with military regimes. It is good enough to debate issues of material fact but bad to throw up a national ruckus and a frivolous case and controversy on collateral matters with such reckless abandon that can potentially portend some unintended peril for the entire polity. It is asking too much to expect Obasanjo to sideline himself in a process that may well engender a new era of a serious and sustainable political realignment of Nigeria. And that he even appointed some of his avowed political opponents, who are intent on embarrassing the President by refusing to serve, is pressing their luck too far, and smacks of an inept attempt to court a national gridlock simply because of a conference the President is not even constitutionally mandated to convene. Any rookie pundit barely familiar with the history of the beginnings of organized governments of our generation is wont to agree that no sane chief executive, whether de facto or de jure, will stand by and permit a few unelected citizens, some with fine ideas but a load of animus to exclude him, his favorite conferees or his agenda from a conference primarily convened to decide the future of his country.

Some have even cited the less than free and fair election that saw Mr. President to power to press their hackneyed case that Obasanjo lacks the requisite legitimacy or clear mandate to convene the conference. Who then possesses that authority? Is it the hastily formed but largely mainstream PRONACO, or the numerous off the wall fringe groups? It is writ large from their serious mien and self-righteous inflections that they really believe that the President’s purportedly questionable electoral victory can easily justify a position that practically amounts to convening a constituent assembly or a parallel national assembly that can go over the heads of all constituted organs of government including the present National Assembly. Quite frankly, this is troubling. The whole shenanigan as well as the spirited battle over semantics and nuances like “sovereign” and “conference of nationalities” tempts the very sad conclusion that rather than contribute meaningfully to the political process, the postulates coming from some our leaders have this peevish tendency of "dumbing" down the intellectual content of the ongoing national debate. What nationalities; how many nationalities, nobody even really knows for sure. Or is it that a small tribe numbering in handfuls like the one recently discovered in the remote reaches of northern Nigeria is less of a nationality than any of the Big Three, or better still, equal to them in terms of sovereignty? From what I hear, I doubt that anybody who dares to forage into their reclusive kingdom to lobby their participation will come out with his vital members still intact unless the President’s policemen were handy to save the day. The case for the conference to be sovereign pointedly ignores the stark constitutional reality that Obasanjo alone is the President of Nigeria as a matter of law and fact. This fact, without more, is leverage enough to make sham of any opposite confab and render its deliberations nugatory from the get go, if it is not considered by many as a threat to national security. It is therefore a no contest that compared to PRONACO and its genre, Obasanjo has the exclusive constitutional prerogative to call a conference that will have any hope of passing legal or legislative muster within the laws and political conventions of Nigeria. It is pertinent to note that the international community has collectively deadpanned on the call for the conference to be "sovereign", and unlike the Abacha era, rebuffed all indirect pleas for even a tacit approbation or goading of that view. This reticence may have more to do with their anxiety over whether this whole debate may be carried too far to the detriment of Sub-Saharan regional stability than with any sense that the present system in Nigeria is fair and just.

For good measure and I suspect, sheer political theater, others have continued to rail against the process of nomination of the conferees, and will rather the whole thing be disbanded instead of weighing in with their strong personalities to see whether they can make the list and deal with the President from the inside. Some who made the list despite the darts they threw at the President are still sitting on the fence and threatening a boycott, the certain effect of which is that the Conference will proceed without the benefit of their personage and the gamut of the alternative ideas they fancied to carry superior moral force. Why is it so hard to come to grips with the cold fact that since the conference is a political battle for the future of Nigeria, the President as a citizen in good standing has a concurrent right to project his own views as vigorously as he sees fit. Others can do likewise but everyone else needs to permit the President some space and wiggle room to set the ball rolling. You never know, but the whole thing might blossom and slide out of his enormous capacity for micro management but still produce a popular result that roughly agrees with his political philosophy and agenda in its impact, if not in semantic uniformity. Bill Clinton would have been nuts to invite the extreme right wing and neoconservatives to his “conference” on health care reforms, which he called a “committee” because that is the word Americans love to use to categorize their political or public policy dialogues. The man even waxed unashamedly nepotistic by appointing his own spouse, the indefatigable and much despised Hilary as the chairperson for what was then known as the Health Care Reform Committee. The subsequent political storm over the Committee was not over the nominations of the ranks of its membership or nuances but with the substance and reach of its recommendations. In other words, nobody, including the ultra-right wing opposition disputed Clinton’s legal or constitutional right to convene the committee and nominate members to it. And you can bet your Naira on it that he seemingly rubbed in his prerogatives by stacking the ranks with card-carrying members of America’s ultra-left liberal establishment. The absence of too much storm over the political leanings of the nominees was primarily due to the fact that the opposition understood that the committee was Clinton’s temporal means of delivering his campaign promise of assuring some form of universal health care system for the American people. They instead waited to unsheathe their political sword at the right place, and that place is the United States Congress. That the recommendations ultimately failed to pass is one of the fallouts and beauties of the presidential system of government which requires a federal legislation before such recommendations become state policy. Therefore, despite the shortcomings of our own, we must play by the rules of the game by looking to our National Assembly, howsoever docile, as the proper venue and battle ground for testing the acceptability of any new ideas coming from Obasanjo’s conference. We elected the National Assembly to make laws for us, and in the absence of any superior tier, we must learn to accept the reality that it is the sole national legislative body for now.

Alternatively, if you are credible and sufficiently persuasive to get the President to see your point outside of the conference halls, you might as well consider it passed because, as every one agrees, the man enjoys enormous powers and clout with all organs and tiers of government which has enabled him to accomplish some fundamental restructurings that Nigerians never even contemplated possible a few years ago. And Obasanjo is not even the originator of some of the agenda he has so far implemented to date. And the list is legion. Restructuring of the Nigerian armed forces to reduce the capacity of a single region or ethnic block to politically disadvantage others was first muted by Ojukwu in relatively good times before Gowon’s flip flop emboldened a politically courageous Ojukwu to demand more at Aburi. Our present experiment with privatization and direct foreign investment was initially articulated by IBB’s assemblage of the eminent economists and industrialists who labored to write new economic blueprints for Nigeria. Derivation set asides and limited resource control in their present form for the Niger Delta are the main reasons Adaka Boro rose up in arms against the federal government; and more than three decades later, his dreams, though watered down, came to pass. And the idea of due process is a political mantra of informed Nigerians in Diaspora, especially those in the United States, who have seen its many budgetary advantages and the sanity it brought to American public spending. It was Ralph Uwazuruike, the MASSOB maestro and Nigeria’s poster child for separatism who presented the best case yet for restoration of some of the military benefits denied to Nigerian soldiers who fought for Biafra, and then some, including the impressive statistical means he deployed to prove a pattern of redlining Ibos from certain federal high offices. Yet Obasanjo, in a benign plagiarism of high ideals propagated by others, has implemented them all, lock, stock, and barrel without minding that a great deal of these concepts originated from some elements of the extreme wings of the opposition that he detests. Looking at the foregoing trend, one can hazard a guess that this conference might be Obasanjo’s own unique way of sounding out Nigerians of grand ideas for new programs to implement before he becomes a lame duck.

Whether you agree or disagree with his overbearing ways of going about it is a matter for an academic argument over personal styles of deploying presidential powers to get things done. Bill Clinton and JFK used their charm, oratorical skills, and animal appeal to women to overwhelm a conservative America and paved the way for the success of their liberal presidential agenda. Reagan and W. Bush, despite their lack of familiarity with public policy and the name of the Premier of China are generally believed to be effective in the use of simple Texan or Yankee swash and swagger to have their way not only with their fellow Americans, but also with the erstwhile “evil empire” and the present “axis of evil”. Our own Obasanjo may not be hip and "cool" but he has this patriarchal bent of an old warrior who goes about the business of government with a combative style that leaves his critics panting and ducking for cover. Even outside our shores, he has used this with resounding success when he so intimidated some military officers of a small coastal West Africa nation to the point that they ran from their new found power with their tails in between their legs. Well, a presidential system of government is like a box of chocolates. And as the Americans say: “You never know what you are gonna get”. We chose it. So we must live it. I believe that the generality of Nigerians were conscious of this when they chose this system over all others because they wanted their chief executive to have the enormous powers that ruling a complex and diverse society like our requires.

Analyzed further, this conference is, in some less obvious ways an attempt by Mr. President to leave a legacy of sorts or to put it more bluntly, to restructure Nigeria "after his own image”. And what is wrong with that? After all, this has been the case from the beginning of constitutional democracy as we know it – right from the original concepts espoused by the founding fathers of United States to the present day attempt by George W. Bush to not only restructure America, but the whole world order to boot. The ranks of the first Continental Congress of the United States were a mixture of state delegates nominated by the governors of the constituent states and a federal delegation with "federalist" credentials handpicked on the political whims and instincts of America’s federal leaders of the time. They were serious men with a keen sense of history who made no bones about their common intention to create a strong and indivisible United States amid their sharp and differing notions on state rights. And all other ensuing national dialogues by whatever name called that were convened at various epochs in that checkered era, up until the Emancipation and beyond were controlled by the very bold federalists who dominated the national governments of the day, and not by those ardent critics of the federal experiment whose true intentions became clearer when they called to arms and levied war against the United States. Back in motherland Nigeria, the ideological structuring of the West by the visionary and bullheaded Awolowo left a fine political template that continues to power the policies of succeeding governments in that region to this day. The Asian Tigers, such as Korea and Taiwan prospered under similar national restructuring plans emanating from conferences guided by the firm hand of leaders like Obasanjo with seemingly unyielding views on nation building and impatience for the niceties and fine points of political manners. And such leaders seem to have other traits in common: They were policy wonks through and through, and overly vigilant on matters of national security and cohesion. As an incumbent, Obasanjo is the sole gatekeeper to the hallowed halls of the Conference, and if you want to get in there to bring your views to bear, you have got to get him to let you by. It is so sad and sometimes depressing to some, but that is just the way it is.

Alternatively, you can contribute to the deliberations from without by following quasi-parliamentary protocols to avail the Conference with your views in hard copy. I doubt that the conferees will ignore a written submission laid before them by a Soyinka or an Enahoro, and even the eloquent Ojukwu, whose own submission will surely outshine all others in both presentation and substance. Even a viscerally stubborn Obasanjo will take presidential notice thereof, and he has already shown early promise and uncommon democratic mien by nominating two of these distinguished Nigerians to the ranks of the Conference delegates. Ignoring all these and resorting to issuing acerbic press releases and grandstanding before an adversarial press won’t cut it but will only mar credibility and motives, and strengthen the President’s lone ranger status and moral authority on hot button issues like the indivisibility of Nigeria and resource control. And whenever the President looks this good or gets politically burnished by default, well intentioned contrary opinions from men and women of goodwill begin to sound like shrill catcalls and filibuster. And that is when Nigerians begin to polarize and obfuscate to the greater likelihood of yet another deadlock on issues that a more civil debate and responsible political behavior from our statesmen would have dispensed with without breaking much sweat. The alternative, which is to permit PRONACO to proceed with a “sovereign” conference of “nationalities” is pretty scary, to say the least. Look at what happened to Soviet Union after a politically weak and overly idealistic Gorbachov allowed his fine political restructuring agenda to slip from his control into the hands of ethnic nationalists like Yeltsin, and pseudo-democrats from the Balkans and the other outlying possessions in Soviet Asia. They banded together like “braves-in-council” and marooned poor Gorbachov to the lonely grandeur of the Kremlin from where he reigned over the escalating ruins around him like a puppet. The pros and cons of Soviet disintegration are besides the point here. What really counts is the anarchic dimension it later assumed under Gorbachov’s watch, the global vacuum that came forth in its wake, and most importantly, the Soviet-wide nostalgia for a return to the old order after the "cookie crumbled". Do we really want Nigeria to break up just like that? Even if some of us want Nigeria to break up, we should not expect Mr. President who swore to defend the constitution to unwittingly cheer us on. That will be an impeachable offense, if you will; or barring that, a bizarre act of political self immolation. That he even wants a conference is very telling that he truly cares about the future of Nigeria.

We have had certain moments in Nigerian history when national conferences of similar coloration and “no go” areas unexpectedly produced some results Nigerians later applauded. Despite all his faults, Abacha gave us a conference or a constituent assembly that produced the concept of the six geopolitical zones, thanks to his number one threat at the time, Chief Ekwueme, who agreed to participate despite his well founded reservations. That Abacha projected his own views and nominees much more vigorously and dangerously than Obasanjo is stating the obvious. I do not believe that the jury is still out on the verdict that the six-zonal structure is the best yet of all prior attempts Nigerians had made to have a semblance of a widely accepted political formula that brought some order in the distribution of federal political largesse from top to down. That tens of disparate tribes and tongues in the South South can now congregate under one political umbrella to demand the Presidency with one voice is a better weapon against the cankerworm of ethnicism than the several doses of state creation standing alone. You may disagree with IBB and his complex political models, but his own conference(s) or bureaus gave Nigeria a two-party system that saw the best election this nation had ever conducted since the McPherson Constitution. I doubt if Abiola would have made it if he had had other fringe parties eating away at his core base in both the North and South, and costing him a few critical election-winning votes. After all, it took the absentee ballots of a few American GIs on overseas tour of duty and a handful “butterfly ballots”, or “hanging chards”, and a partisan Ms. Harris for Bush to clinch the election against Gore. Sometimes it can be a close shave like that, but rather that than the contentious and obscenely overwhelming margins of our own. Contrast the two-party Nigeria with the legalized multi-party system of post-IBB Nigeria. Is contemporary Nigeria not quickly becoming a one-party structure in practice, if not at law? Is that not telling enough that Nigerians are by political behavior averse to multiplicity of parties? Yet when IBB claims that he understands what Nigerians truly desire, some people still laugh him off as presumptuous. Any candid pundit, however anti-establishment is likely to agree that there is now a widespread and ethnically neutral nostalgia for the brief political order and predictability enjoyed by the nation during the halcyon days of IBB’s two-party interregnum. It is beyond the scope of this discourse to dwell on the legalities of annulling the subsequent election, the result of which was most probably singularly made possible because only two parties were allowed contest. The pertinent point is that Obasanjo’s own conference might produce a similar surprise, even if of a different impact, but one with ramifications that may well comport with the true wishes of Nigerians from differing political and ethnic divides. That Obasanjo wishes to redline some people and their issues and force some cohesion and orderly conduct reveals a genuine concern he has long harbored for the future of Nigeria. And it is his duty to do so. That he stretched an olive branch to his tormentors strengthens the proposition that the man has the requisite character and fitness to govern even handedly. Even when he clambers at it, you still "gotta" give it to him for mostly scoring a perfect ten in managing to slitter through the many mines and inanities that litter our political landscape.

It makes a lot of political sense and bespeaks of uncommon spunk to have a leader like Obasanjo who does not blink from taking strong responsibility for the future of his nation. And what better way to do this than to convene a national political conference that will give him the forum and quasi-legal cover to bring the rest of his programs to some fruition. Recall that Obasanjo is not handing down a decree of sorts, or careening some half-baked bill through an arguably discredited and neutered National Assembly. Rather, he is bringing people with complex personalities together to discuss the future of Nigeria, and as should be expected, not the dismemberment of Nigeria. Or would you rather he presents the Conference with terms of reference that included some outlines on dismemberment of Nigeria? See how that sounds? Not good, right? That he desires to influence the course and content of deliberations or contribute indirectly to it by appointing some men of similar political leaning or “verified federalists” is merely presidential and should be acknowledged as such, pure and simple. To do the opposite will be politically irresponsible because unelected men without any privities to security reports will have a field day attempting to constitute themselves into a de facto constituent assembly (read: "sovereign conference") to decide the future of Nigeria within the narrow purview common with anti-establishment organizations. Such extremes can only be expected to occur in anarchic polities, such as we saw in the former Eastern Bloc nations after the fall of Soviet Union; or in blood-letting revolutions like the Bolshevik garden variety in Russia. The Romanov Czar of the era was not a bad man but he allowed Lenin much leeway, and paid with his life and that of his children. Another way of looking at this whole issue is to press a William Jefferson Clinton to invite renegade bands of Klansmen and Black Panthers to jaw-jaw on the issue of race relations in America across the street from the White House. If you are domiciled in the continental United States, you might as well gather your loved ones and take a quick transatlantic hike back to motherland Nigeria in advance of the conflagration that must occur when men of such diametrically opposed and non-mainstream views are convened to talk it out. Nigeria has not come to that point of degeneration yet, and I do not believe that Nigerians will intentionally attempt to restructure their country through such potentially regressive and mischievous mode of conferencing, or even tolerate a leader who permits that to happen. But should a popular uprising for revolutionary change arise some day, even an Obasanjo with all his famous political skills and all the apparatus of coercion under his command and control cannot prevent it. If he tries, some very bad banana pills will sure be waiting for him. Despite his sub-continental dreams, Nehru could not prevent the partition of India largely because the time was right.

Therefore, we should not by instinct be too wary of Nigerian federalists of the Canadian genre, or “amalgamationists” - my “Nigerianese” coinage and parlance, if you will - for describing people like Obasanjo and his ilk who continue to espouse a ramrod commitment to the concept of "One Nigeria" with a strong center that will make Lord Lugard and the Great Zik smile from their mausoleums with admiration and pride. In a uniquely heterogeneous society like Nigeria, men like these can also be the best guarantors of state or regional autonomy, real or watered down. They tend to be politically smart enough to reckon that some form of state or regional autonomy is both necessary and expedient to the survival of any federation as complex and populous like ours. Whether that autonomy is more of a fiscal or political nature is merely a matter of ideology and political concessions. And compared to those with the opposite view, federalists are the ones with the credibility to deal effectively with the divisive issue of devolution of real power between the center and its constituent units. In the United States, it was the federalists, not their opposites - the confederates or separatists who saw fit and also had the requisite clout to pass the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This Amendment and a few others like it relinquished autonomy to the states on certain fundamental matters that Nigerian regionalists, or even separatists cannot even presently contemplate. One of such is the autonomy of the states to exclusively control law enforcement within their own territory, except for offenses committed within the clear jurisdictional reach of federal authorities, or in other words, on federal property; or other offenses that border on commercial intercourse between the states, such as wire fraud. Thus, between "suspected" regionalists like Odumegwu-Ojukwu or Musa Ahmed Yerima on the one hand, and "trusted" federalists like Obasanjo or Orji Uzor Kalu on the other, who will make a more credible or less threatening case for the establishment of state police? If the operative word is “credible”, then Nigerians might as well dismiss such case as malicious and mischievous if presented by the former, but benign and patriotic if made by the later. You will as soon hear many say “Ojukwu wants state police as a ruse to bring back Biafra” and “Yerima wants a state police that will defend his Sharia dreams”. And then conversely, that “Obasanjo or Orji Uzor wants state police for a stronger and indivisible federal Nigeria because they hold the concept of One Nigeria to be self evident and inviolable”. See what I mean? It is a no brainer after all. And there is more.

The Sarduana declined a legal right and opportunity to become the federal Premier in 1960 because he was politically smart and considerate enough to reckon that the South was too uncomfortable with his notions on regional autonomy. He instead sent Tafawa Balewa, less of an icon but unquestionably, a federalist to the core, with whom the South found a comfort level. Igbo army officers led by Odumegwu-Ojukwu who held the fate of Nigeria in their hands after the fall of Balewa gathered to not only lead the second "coup" that prevented Nzeogwu from ruling Nigeria but rallied behind Ironsi because they figured that the other regions deemed Nzeogwu to be an ethnic champion as contrasted to Ironsi’s federalist or centralist record. They were Igbos with ethnic sentiments in their veins but they overcame that to pursue a goal that put the entire nation first. If not for the suspicious "secessionist" flag the impresario Murtala was flying at full mast on the grounds of the military cantonment from whence he launched his successful "third" coup, Gowon, the Northern Christian and federalist by comparison would not have had a chance at the top job. He was the best and probably the only officer of Northern extraction of the era his region, the North could offer the rest of Nigeria to prove that they were not on a course for ethnic cleansing and serious about national reconciliation. Umaru Dikko, the avowed regionalist as well as the NPN frontrunner for the Nigerian Presidency made the South so queasy and electability so uncertain that a junior scion and neophyte in the person of Shagari got lucky and had his meteoric rise to federal power, largely on account of his perceived centralist or federalist appeal. One of the best kept secrets on the motivation for overthrowing Buhari was because he appointed a fellow Northerner and a Muslim to boot as his deputy, which without more, placed him under perennial suspicion as a "log cabin" regional champion. This is partly why Nigerians of great political intellect like Awolowo, Bola Ige, and Odumegwu-Ojukwu have had a hard time trying to be elected to rule Nigeria. Nigerians may carry on with lively debates and animated calls for ethnic autonomy but when the opportunity truly presents itself they abandon ship and hanker down to the better collective security offered by national unity and strong federal government. Without appearing to exclude other reasons, this is why the Northerners who were the forerunners of secession quickly backpedaled to battle against it, and the West and other minor parts demurred in tow, leaving Ibos out in the cold feeling guilty and finessed as the only secessionists. Taken further, I do not believe that the gains made by the South South both on the political arena and the courts of the land on derivation, resource control, and onshore/ofshore dichotomy would have been possible without the tacit nod of a pragmatic Obasanjo, who deployed his stellar federalist credentials to assuage the concerns of our Northern brethren. Again, contrast that with the paltry appropriations he gruffly set aside for the oil producing states during his first coming as a military Head of State, and then see whether you will not reconsider your assessment that the man is unresponsive to changing political tides. He is responsive indeed but he goes about it with such endearing lack of elegance to the point of driving some men of even temperament crazy enough to jettison their good political manners and congregate to obstruct and dare him needlessly.

Some may dismiss Obasanjo as lacking vision, forgetting too soon that "vision", like "inspiration" can come at any time – just like a wellspring sprouting forth without any forewarnings. George H. Bush was dismissed as lacking the "vision thing" and political will to boot (a wimp, if you wanted to be rude) until Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait compelled a rethink of global proportions. Other leaders like Gorbachov and Shah of Iran who blinked and “wimped out" or took their reforms too far succeeded only in undermining central power and leaving their nations and the world order in tatters. Kennedy’s belated vision of a truly desegregated America brought skeptical white men around to supporting the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, thus federalizing an issue which was until then a proper and exclusive matter for state and county policy making. And long after Kennedy’s death; the ripple effects of the integrationist (or federalist, if you will) policy he pursued with much vigor and gusto compelled ardent racial champions and other closet supremacists in the Dixie belt to change retrograde Jim Crow views they held steadfast for over five hundred years. It was the ultimate rapture of sorts inspired by one man who stirred benign passions in the hardened hearts of men all because he went about it with an uncommon commitment, grit, and a sense of messianic call to duty. The difference between him and Obasanjo is in style and visage, and women loved Kennedy more. History is replete with instances when the vision of one leader, and the actions (speak “conference”) he engineered or inspired took root and trickled down to produce fundamental shifts in a nation’s future for the better. Looking at his overall record, some may have since concluded that like the senior Bush, Obasanjo lacks the "vision thing". But does he really? Look at his record on the restructuring of the armed forces, his record on due process, and his record on direct foreign investment, and contrast that with what was the case before his first inauguration.

A lot of people seemed to have too easily forgotten that it was the same Obasanjo who risked Iraqi-type sanctions by expropriating foreign multi-national holdings in Nigeria much to the collective consternation of the West, which as soon pardoned him and Nigeria when he seized a moment in history to hand over to a democratically elected government. And he went on to garner more political capital in retirement to the extent that he looked set to become the first African Secretary General of United Nations. That says a lot about the man. It may be sad, yet intellectually dishonest not to acknowledge that to much of the rest of the world and among a vast number of Nigerians, Obasanjo is evolving into one of the most effective leaders the federation of Nigeria has produced since its inception, at least in terms of political engineering. You can disagree but you can at least grudgingly concede that the man has political skills so stark and consummate that it is increasingly becoming too difficult to ignore. That his political skills may as yet sire the rudiments of policy shifts upon which the solution to some of our intractable problems will be predicated is one reason he needs understanding, if not cooperation of Nigerians at these trying times. He needs especially the understanding and proactive help of those Nigerians like the ones in PRONACO who are equally endowed; otherwise his fall or frustration may not augur well for the orderly development of our democratic process. It is true that, sometimes, he is like a moving train with a cargo mix of explosives and bounty. If you live within his trail or neighborhood, you better duck for cover, or spike his trail with myriad gauntlets to your peril. But on the present issue, he has shown some gentility and predictability that should serve to reassure skeptics. Most importantly, Nigerians need to remember that it is the same Obasanjo who had, before now, stridently opposed any National Conference in any shape or form that is suddenly so inspired that he is clamoring and fighting so hard to have one. That he wants a conference now shows that he is indeed a "visionary", even if somewhat of a late bloomer at that. The man needs a break. He needs understanding, and he deserves his day with history. He does not deserve these growing pains, baits, and trials by fire. Those who are now opposing his methods and questioning his motives should go back and read his speeches and see for themselves what views he long held on the instant issue before now. It is only then they will begin to understand that this man may mean well after all. Let us permit him his conference, warts and all and see what happens. If you are a political realist and pragmatic to boot, you will agree that Nigerians really don’t have any other choice. As in “Shaft”, the epic remake starring Samuel Jackson, I ask “Can you dig it”?

Attorney Aloy Ejimakor
1717 K Street, NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

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