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Tag: Chief Obafemi Awolowo

WeekendStarter by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed: Buhari’s Presidency is a Dream Come True

General Buhari

General Buhari

As some rightly put it, on the 1st of the Fourth month of the year, Muhammadu Buhari became the Fourth elected President of the Fourth Republic at his Fourth attempt. Mere coincidence!? Certainly this ascension to the highest office in the land by the first Opposition leader since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960  is jinx-breaking. The advent of the Nigerian Abraham Lincoln has forever demystified the Almighty incumbency factor at the central government.  The self-styled Africa’s largest political party, the PDP, taunted to rule for sixty consecutive years has been rebased to the “Africa’s largest opposition party”, albeit after just sixteen years. Perhaps they misheard their Seer’s prophecy and mistook six-teen for six-ty, or the said Seer is simply non-seeing.

One thing is definitely certain. Nigeria just opened a new page in her democratic history. A new dawn has broken. As the President-Elect aptly captured it in his acceptance speech : “You voted for change and now change has come”. And if these heavy-laden words are anything to go by, then Nigerians have just succeeded in replacing a bloody revolution à la Arab Spring with the broom revolution through the ballots.

Talking of averting bloodshed, and that will lead to the President Jonathan’s phone call, concession speech, and the subsequent heroism hoopla that trails them, records must be set straight here.  Indeed there was a pre-presidential election and also a post-presidential election. Concerned citizens counseled  President Jonathan not to thread the Gbagbo’s path and not to yield to unpatriotic pressures from the hawks in his entourage. Mr President hearkened to the warnings. And by that singular show of sportsmanship and display of humility in defeat, President Jonathan doused tension and saved the lives of innocent Nigerians. And if that is not commendable, nothing else should. President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in 2010 to his rival, President Ouattara. The consequence of which was a full blown post-election violent conflict which sent over 3000 Ivorians to their early graves within the space of four months. If we would condemn him for his obduracy and self-centeredness, and treat him as a villain, then for doing the opposite, Jonathan should be commended. Fairness and not being hypocritical require nothing short of that from us.

Isiaq Hammed An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. Isiaq Hammed came to us READY-MADE! He is a giant contributor.

Isiaq Hammed
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. Isiaq Hammed came to us READY-MADE!
He is a giant contributor.

However, commendation has a limit. There was indeed a Pre-election Jonathan who descended to the lowest of low in his desperation to clinch a reelection. A President who, together with his spouse and their cronies, threw all known decorum, modesty, morality and Presidential restraints to the dustbin. Under no circumstance should President Jonathan become a national hero overnight and through the backdoor. That will amount to a brazen denial of the pre-presidential election and  a sordid insult to our collective memory. Beatifying him as some have taken it thus far is tantamount to a reckless and heinous betrayal of the Chibok girls, the dozens of youths who lost their lives in the immigration job screening sham, the coldblooded murder of the Boni Yadi school boys, the over thirteen thousand massacred Nigerians, several millions others maimed, rendered homeless, hopeless and helpless therefore living as refugees in their own country and elsewhere, the stolen $20 billion and a whole lots of other financial frauds and scams under his nonchalant watch. The list is just endless. Unless we are a people who are so heartless as to forget their recent past, a people condemned to demand so little from those in to whose hands so much is entrusted,  and cursed to celebrate and sing the praise of their underperforming callous rulers to high heaven.

His was a trying time for our nation, second only to our excruciating experience during  the civil war. And we are so eager to turn this painful page of his and usher in a new era in our nation. And Providence, through our well-utilized votes, has confided that onerous task of heralding that national rebirth in to the hands of General Muhammadu Buhari. We believe he will not let us down. His several failed shots at the Presidency and his succeeding at the fourth attempt is a testimony that such a rare determination  can only come from a patriot who has noble dreams and plans for his compatriots. For the first time, Nigeria got a leader who truly wanted to be one and toiled for it.

To succeed where his immediate predecessor failed, Mr. President-Elect only need to be the direct opposite of what Jonathan Presidency was. Our out-going President gave no damn. You, give a damn. His cluelessness went beyond what anybody could have a clue of. Sir, take a clue from that. His was Presidential insensitivity at its peak. General Buhari, be sensitive. He surrounded himself with confused sycophants who in his own words confused him the more. President-Elect, surround yourself with our best hands and our best brains. He was most unfortunately a spendthrift. Muhammadu Buhari, nothing stops you from being our Jose Mujica. He hobnobbed with fugitives, thieves and criminals and kept them within his inner-circle. Sai Baba, we know you can’t be comfortable in the midst of the worsts of us. In short, he was simply incredibly unpresidential. Your Excellency, be Presidential.

We can only imagine how far the legendary Pa Obafemi Awolowo, our first and foremost opposition leader, would have taken our nation if he had the chance that you have today. The same dream Late Chief MKO Abiola had and almost actualized but was denied of unjustly. This is a golden opportunity for General Muhammadu Buhari to become the Father and Architect of Modern Nigeria. A rare come-back and a chance to  become the Nigerian Nelson Mandela and why not a Lee Kuan Yew that will put Nigeria back on the path of stability, growth and unprecedented development.

We have the All Progressive Congress party’s manifestoes and  your various electoral promises held close to our chest. They will either testify for or against you. We will surely judge your performance based on your delivering on them. It did not take us more than 6 months in to the Jonathan Presidency in 2011 before we realized that we have entered “one chance”. He refused to declare his assets publicly and scornfully threw it to our face that he does not give a damn about it. His first derailment was shadow-chasing a self-serving six-year single tenure when the hope of the Nigerian masses who identified with his “shoeless” humble background was at all-time high on him. The rest is history.

One sure way by which you can achieve so much within so little time is forgetting about 2019. Be the President of our national reforms  and renaissance. Bury the idea of a reelection and you will go far. It will make you care less about stepping on big toes, all for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians collective interest, if the need be. Leave your reelection fate in our hands. Let us beg and implore you to go for it when 2019 comes. For this is because the historic March 28 and the heroic Professor Attahiru Jega have taught us that power indeed belongs to and emanates from us. We give it and we can as well retract it when we so will. And to whom much is given, much should be required.

A Concise Summary of the Nigeria(n) Situation! (SNS) by Oladimeji Abiola

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

The mystery behind the prevalence of poverty in Nigeria despite the country being rich can easily be unraveled. There is a class of people who rule Nigeria. They come from different parts of Nigeria, belong to different religions, but they belong to one exclusive club. They have been described as the Ogas by John Campbell, former US ambassador to Nigeria between 2004 and 2007, in his book Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink.

Oga is a Yoruba word for Boss, but I would rather translate this word as feudal lord, because it best portrays the relationship between the ruling class and the masses. The Ogas operate Nigeria for themselves and by themselves. Thus, there is no country. One of the nationalists who fought for the independence of Nigeria observed even before independence that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression and not a nation. That description is still valid today.

Nigerians mainly generate electricity privately, thanks to their generating sets. Most Nigerians get water from wells, it is not the duty of the Government in Nigeria to provide portable water for her subjects. Yes, I refer to them as subjects because they are not citizens. Lest we forget, Nigeria is not a country.

There is a police force but each community organises a vigilante group to maintain security at night. The health care system is as good as comatose/dead. Of course, the Ogas get treatment in the Western countries. Is anyone still amazed that Nigerians are poor? In fact they are just fortunate to be alive, because the Ogas rule by *divine ordination* and they owe their servants no responsibility.

The Ogas rule by divine ordination in the sense that they rule Nigeria in collaboration with the clergy (wo-)men. They even swear the oath of office with either the Bible or the Quran. The clergy does not hesitate to consolidate this oppression by the Ogas in power by preaching obedience to constituted authority, as if it were a legitimate government. I need not remind you that the clergy, especially pastors, in their own domain milk the masses. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS), suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), once narrated in a series of the Ted Talk how a well known pastor foiled the prosecution of a bank top executive, namely Erastus Akingbola, who committed serious financial crimes.

The votes of Nigerians do not really count. The Ogas have their own way of getting votes, perhaps from heaven! Remi Fani-Kayode (Fani the Power) declared confidently in the first republic that his political party did not need the votes of the people of the Western Region, because angels would come down to vote! The current Ogas have only learned not to insult Nigerians directly anymore, but to phrase their own statement in this manner: *This election would be a do or die affair!*

Stating it clearly at this point, we have the same pattern that existed in the French society before 1789, when Monarchs, the aristocrats and the clergy owned the state. Just like Louis XIV declared that he was the state, the Ogas are the state. A monarch was said to be begging the current president to stand for election in 2015, because the president has performed *excellently* in his opinion.

Really, this monarch knows what he is talking about. The trade between both camps has been excellent. The president has been visiting some people recently. If you have been reading the news, you would surely know those people and those places. You would also agree with that there are three Estates in Nigeria too, just like it was in France. The only difference is the swap of position by the traditional rulers and the aristocrats, the clergy has maintained its position.

It appears we do not have men like Voltaire, Rousseau or Montesquieu, but nobody should disturb him/herself mobilising anybody. Just like Fela Anikulapo sang: These uprisings would bring out the beast in us. Nigeria is a brutal capitalist enclave with no value for human life. This is their own enclave, we need our own country.

No surprise, we have a lot of hungry almajiris ( young chaps who are either orphans or neglected by their parents) all over the country and not necessarily in the northern part of Nigeria, while we have more than 10 jets in the presidential fleet. Two wild animals even spend millions on feeding annually in the presidential villa, when human beings are hungry!

The Ogas appear so powerful, but their days are numbered. The Lord-servant union must be broken either by the Ogas themselves or the servants would revolt. Is anyone asking me when the servants would revolt? Save yourself and myself the displeasure of an invitation by the State Security Service (SSS). They should not even disturb themselves, the servants will revolt spontaneously. Perhaps, someone doubts that the servants would revolt, an ex-president said it himself: This army of unemployed youth would consume us [the Ogas]. The Boko Haram violence is certainly a sign of this revolt. Although, Boko Haram appears to be a project by some factions of the Ogas’ club, but the lesson out of it is that there is an army, which is ready for battle. The time would surely come, freedom always has a price and the price must be paid. The servants shall one day be free!

The Biafran/Nigerian Civil War: Of Conspirations Of Choices and Of Many Truths! By Abiola Oladimeji

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Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany

There are two theories, which are best referred to as The Two Igbo Theories, namely (1) The Theory of Igbo Superiority and (2) The Theory of Conspiracy against the Igbo Ethnic Group. I will consider both theories as Nigerian and Non-Igbo. Put differently, I will attempt a consideration as an outsider. It is important to state right from the onset that I am of Yoruba ethnic group, but I am not necessarily a die-hard Awoist. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was not perfect. I would not expect him to be because he is human. If Chief Obafemi Awolowo or anyone at all committed a wrong in my opinion, I will point it out. Culture, tribe or religion is a matter I am careful not to allow influence too greatly my judgement. I will respond to issues some raised in their analysis of Nigerian political history from the 1950’s till the end of the Nigerian Civil War. I also intend to remind that politicians can manipulate the feelings of the masses, in which only the politicians profit at the end of the day.

Nigerian politics of the 1950’s and 60’s was largely dictated and dominated by tribalism. The three major ethnic groups played a major role. Larry Diamond captures this very well in his book Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria. Some accused only Chief Obafemi Awolowo of playing tribal politics. Such people surely have their plans to single him out. They argue that he formed Egbe Omo Oduduwa in 1945 and the Action Group was formed out of that organisation. To them, he was a tribalist because of this. They know or pretend to overlook the fact that the Igbo State Union was founded in 1934. In 1948, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the president of Igbo State Union. Thus, ethnic sentiments had entered the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC), the party Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe took over as leader in 1946. If Chief Obafemi Awolowo formed Action Group in 1951, how then was he to blame for starting tribal politics in Nigeria? I leave that answer to objective minds.

When Okpara (Nigerian of Igbo Ethnicity) and Sardauna (Nigerian of Hausa Ethnicity) most probably conspired to jail Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Yoruba people, who formed the largest of Chief Awolowo’s supporters, did not rampage that certain tribes hate their leader or tribe. It is also worthy to point out that Okpara had threatened to secede in 1964 after the Federal Census and Federal Election, which did not favour the Igbo in his opinion ( I would point out that this opinion is strictly that of Okpara because he acted majorly in his own interest. He only abused the name of the people with his claim to speak on behalf of the Igbo people).

Another fact in this phase of our history is this: The rivalry for Federal power between the three major ethnic groups ( Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo) had been reduced to a battle between Northern and Igbo leaders. Again not necessarily the people, the politicians were the actors. Chief Awolowo was in jail. The man subsequently imposed on the West (majorly lived in by the Yoruba) was unpopular. He was at best a puppet of the Northern establishment. This rivalry between Northern and Eastern region influenced the perception of the January 15th 1966 Coup. The coup-plotters were idealists who intended to execute a revolution. Unfortunately, the revolution failed: They could not implement their reforms and the victims of that coup were mainly Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba. I do not believe it was an Igbo Coup. I will quickly point out though that it was difficult to prove it was not. The man who took charge of government was Major-General Agunyi Ironsi. Worthy of mention is the fact that the Army General was of Igbo Ethnicity. To make matters worse, Nigerians of Igbo Ethnicity in the North celebrated the death of Northern leaders on the streets of Northern Nigeria! I will not justify the massacre of the Igbo people in the North after Northern officers staged a counter coup against the Igbo officers, but it cannot be left unsaid that those events are undoubtedly interconnected.

At this point, it was obvious the Federal government was sectional, namely pro-North. Igbo-residents in the North were not safe anymore in that part of the country. Caution and reasonability demanded that they fled the West too, though nobody attacked them in the West. The most important question at this point is two-pronged: (1) Sovereignty or (2) Security for Igbo people? Upon secession, the emergent Biafra Republic would claim the oil reserve of Nigeria in the Delta (not Igboland). The question which was less considered in the calculation is this: Could the young and inexperienced Biafran Army defeat also young but a well-trained and better equipped Nigerian Army without too much unwarranted civilian casualty? The young Major-General Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern military Governor, and his war hawks were hell bent and capitalised on the sentiments of the larger Igbo people, who at that point in time were clearly traumatised. It is reasonable that many Igbo wanted to fight. They had been treated badly in the North. But could sentiment and sheer will to fight win a battle? A Yoruba adage says: You do not challenge killers of your father if you do not possess superior weapons. Unfortunately, young Major-General Odumegwu Ojukwu and his advisers risked a war.

The Federal government was not justified. General Gowon had agreed to a confederacy arrangement in the Aburi-Accord in Ghana, only to renege on arrival in Nigeria. There was speculation Chief Awolowo influenced General Gowon to renege. This speculation remain at large what it is: A mere speculation and another wind-chasing conspiration.

It is also worthy to raise the point that Chief Awolowo went to Enugu to plead with Major-General Odumegwu Ojukwu not to secede. In the middle of the night Major General Ojukwu sought Chief Awolowo to tell him that the decision has been made and there was no going back. Chief Awolowo requested Major-General Ojukwu to inform him 2 weeks earlier before the announcement of secession. This episode is narrated in the memoir of Wole Soyinka: You Must Set Forth at Dawn.

The question whether Chief Awolowo would risk the lives of the Yoruba people like Major-General Ojukwu was bent on doing hanged in the air still. The encounter in Enugu is cited only to compare it with some assertions that Chief Awolowo promised the young Major-General Ojukwu, thus indirectly the Igbo people, to secede once the Igbo did. Thus, the Igbo see Chief Awolowo as traitor. It must neither be forgotten too quickly to sentiment nor be given up to ask: Did Major-General Ojukwu inform Chief Awolowo 2 weeks prior to secession? Some even went as far to claim that the decision to secede was unanimous. Even if it was, was there any political reason or legal justification beyond “the morality of gentlemanhood” that would prevent a second thought?

Ralph Uwechue, the Ambassador of Biafra to France until the end of 1968, states clearly in his book Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War that there was a schism in Biafra: There were those who wanted secession by all means and those who placed the security of Igbo as the paramount. The latter group tried to persuade the leader of the Igbo against secession. Two days after the Biafran General and leader of the Igbo, Chief Ojukwu fled, when Biafra had been conquered, Philip Effiong said he had always counselled Chief Ojukwu negotiation for the security of Igbo was the best for the Biafran course.

Ralph Uwechue left his job as Ambassador of the Republic of Biafra, because he discovered that secession was Chief Ojukwu’s singular plan. Security was less important. He preferred to show the world Biafran children who starved than end the war! Security could be achieved through secession or negotiation, but the option of secession in this context is suicide in itself. The young Republic Biafra was not prepared to fight Nigeria in a real War. Argument to the contrary is a waste of time and sheer self-deceit.

In my opinion, it would be best to reflect on why the wrong decisions and choices were made which led to the failure of the Biafran project rather than propound a baseless theory in the name of creating scapegoats upon whose head the failure of the Biafran project is to be laid.

I am not Chief Awolowo. He knew best why he joined the Nigerian Government of General Yakubu Gowon. His decision to join the Nigerian Government did/does not make him the problem of Igbo, if Chief Ojukwu had planned and though well before secession like he claimed, then these words of his would have come true: No power in black Africa would be able to touch Igbo once they secede.

I have said earlier, Chief Awolowo was human, therefore fallible. One must not fail notwithstanding to recognize his brilliance. In fact, it is even this humanity which speaks strongly for the recognition of his brilliance. Thus, it can be said in praise that Chief Awolowo’s brilliance won that war to a large extent for the Federal side. If that explains the hatred, it is understandable. It must be made clear that Chief Awolowo did not risk a war for personal gains; he did not capitalise on the state of a traumatised people and brutalised nationhood. A study of the personality of Chief Ojukwu would help to understand the decision-making mechanisms and machinations which eventually culminated into his choice for war.

Some also raised some wishful accusations against Chief Awolowo, but the man answered those questions. Here is a link to the interview in Abeokuta, where he addressed the issues of starvation, the 20 pound policy and other baseless accusations against his person http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/newsflash/exclusive-chief-obafemi-awolowo-on-biafra-in-his-own-words.html

I am always shocked each time I listened to claims like this:

(1) Igbo are the best in everything

(2) Other Nigerians hate Igbo because they always achieve better than other tribes.

In the 1950’s, one Dr. Sylvester Anieke, an Igbo, who trained in Canada as a medical doctor, claimed he got a PhD in Medicine. He got a job at the University of Ibadan. Rumour had it way and he was forced to resign. Years after, this same Sylvester Anieke was forced on the University of Ibadan as Chairman of the Governing Council. This misconduct is well documented in Wole Soyinka’s memoir: Ibadan, the Penkelemesi years. This saga, among others, throws doubts into claims of Igbo supremacy theory at all cost.

It is not much of a surprise anymore after having read the article of Dr. Johannes Harnischfeger, a German who lived in Igboland. He describes the discourse in Igboland about the theory of Igbo supremacy and the purported conspiracy theory against them. He pointed out the Igbo-belief in a Jewish root and historical connectivity to Jewishness. They are the purported Jews through the theory of the lost tribes of Israel. They believe they are God’s own people. Others around them are thus pagan and inferior. The cited article is a must-read to better understand this jingoist argument. Here is the link:http://www.afrikanistik-online.de/archiv/2011/3042

Scholars have claimed that Yoruba people are also part of the lost tribe of Israel, but nobody is interested in this myth in Yorubaland, here is another article by emeritus Professor Dierk Lange in an attempt to connect the Yoruba people with Israelhttp://dierklange.com/pdf/LOST_TRIBES_OF_ISRAEL.pdf

The Igbo people have the right to believe whatever they want, but the perception about themselves will definitely shape how they see others. An objective reflection would help a lot.

Thinking that the way you cook your own food in your own culture or tribe is the best and others are inferior is the height of jingoism. It is very dangerous. Here is a worthy reminder: Should they be led to war again, only the masses would fight and suffer the most like it happened in the defunct Republic of Biafra: Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu had enough to eat. One would even think he would commit suicide when Biafra lost the war. He did not. He simply fled.

Children, who did not tell Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu to fight, suffered and were wasted! This need not repeat itself. I want to state clearly here that not all Igbo people believe in the aforementioned conspiracy theories, but the more left unchecked, the likelier the possibility of an ever-increasing followership and believers. Unfortunately, winning followership and faithfuls at any cost- therein lies the ultimate goal of conspiration theorists and peddlers of such irresponsible mercantile.

Notice: The opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

Civility is demanded when commenting. Comments will be forwarded to Mr. Abiola Oladimeji for response if neccesary.

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