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Tag: War

World-Situation-Report Personal Perspectives (WoPP): Your Freedom is not My Freedom: A Cultural Problematic

Freedom is good. Undoubtedly, life is currently best lived in the West, i.e. in the United States (US), Central and Western Europe and many other countries that run on fully-adopted Western democratic values. Practical democracy is a cultural form of freedom. She is not without her limitations. Like every other form of freedom, it is good. A justifiable question to ask is this: Is this cultural product good for all, particularly in the Middle East/North Africa? I shall attend to this question in this piece.

As a quick preamble to thoughts on the practicability of democracy in the West and other parts of the world where democracy is largely unwelcome or only a pseudo-form accepted, here is a German saying (in English): The inside is just like the outside, only differently. Considering this wisdom, our ideals of freedom in the West is/can be very subjective.

Here is a fact: The world is divided still into blocs, albeit only thinly talked about and often (implicitly) allured to by world politicians (if they must remind us in their speeches). Else, this thick-wall of separation is invisible, but strongly visible to an astute observer. So also are the ideals of freedom; freedom is BLOC-ed à la your freedom is not necessarily my ideal freedom!

This confirms that we see this inevitable human commodity differently. (Cultural) Freedom to China is apparently not the measurement of (cultural) freedom in Russia and the Eurasian hemisphere. The Western ideals of freedom are certainly a strange phenomenon to/in Saudi Arabia. The African view of freedom is only one of the world’s many perceptions of freedom.

Residents in the West have oftentimes overlooked/brushed aside this salient truth, (un-)willingly. Thus, the forceful desire to force down the throat of all world inhabitants this mainly Western ideal of freedom. When zeroed-in on the Middle East/North Africa, this forceful imposition uncovers the ignorance of the West.

The media hardly helps to abate this ignorance. I have since observed the media consciously feed the desired imaginations of Western residents à la our-BLOC-is-humane-and-thus-the-ideal! This thinking is one-sided and an illusion.

Lets move to Russia. The Western political bigwigs and media finally achieved a goal. Once Mr. Putin is mentioned, a picture of the evil-that-troubles-our-world comes to mind. I doubt if Mr. Putin is the singular problem of today’s world. It is worth mentioning that even the credibility of Russia’s democracy is doubted in the West. Mr. Putin is garbed in the Tsarists robes.

The point is, in the thinking of the West, their cultural freedom, namely democracy, if accepted, must be practiced according to (Western) prescription. Otherwise, it is not valid.

Recently, Dr. Gregor, Member of the Bundestag and a leader of German Leftist Party made a strong statement in the parliament. To sum it up, he had constantly warned that isolating Russia in the name of sanctions and more sanctions is no reasonable approach to tackling anything Russia. Thus, Russia being successfully partly isolated, the West had practically hindered a possible UN resolution on the ISIL crisis even before it broke.

Of course, nobody wished ISIL into existence, but with so much proxy-conflicts partly caused by the West and weaponry supplied by same for the region, ISIL was foreseeable! Absolutely.

On the dynamism of world politics, any country is clearly wrong-advised to isolate Russia. The West partly did that in the series of sanctions imposed. Therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact that the West had conclusively ruled out the possibility of an all-inclusive intervention against the ISIL.

On the announcement of President Obama that an all-inclusive coalition to decimate and eventually defeat ISIL was finally in place, he was clearly talking about the US and their allied partners in NATO. Where is China and Russia? And even IRAN?! Yes, Iran is a strategic partner in this consideration.

Syria may be isolated because she is presently on the wrong course in handling of her internal conflict (external/sectarian-inspired war), but this does/must not rule out the inclusion of the government of the day in Syria, namely Bachar Al-Assad’s government to tackle ISIL! This is a fact. The ability to see (two) different matters dispassionately is a key in world politics. Otherwise, reactions is/can only be irresponsible.

Alongside the US and the United Kingdom, France has also begun airstrikes on ISIL targets. So, France must also shell Iraq to combat ISIL! One can safely conclude that in the opinion of the US-led coalition to battle ISIL, any capable country would do well to help in air-striking or otherwise the ISIL to achieve a defeat of the monster!

Allow me wonder aloud: Since when/how did ISIL come into possession of such powerful weaponry that Iraq must once again be invaded through the air? God help Syria because ISIL finally open a legal gateway for air-striking her territories!

They are doing all in order to help stabilize the region. Democracy is the ultimate goal.

The point is, NATO is not the world! And the world is not only NATO. No doubt, the Middle East is of strategic importance (political and economic) to the US and Europe, but geographically, it is neither Europe nor America! The ideals upon which NATO was founded, namely mutual protection of common interest, self-determination and (cultural) FREEDOM, are worth emulating. (Un-)fortunately, these NATO-ideals are not acceptable world-over.

By the way, one cannot currently respond very positively that NATO still live by her founding creeds. Beyond crude oil and imperial interests, US, UK and France seriously have next to nothing to protect in the Middle East! Sadly enough, Germany is gradually being drawn into these messy interests.

Think of Saddam Hussein and Iraq, Ghadaffi and Libya! These countries were invaded; Iraq was a full-blown war and the coalition air-struck Libya. Summed up, under (sometimes false) pretext by the West to bring about a cultural form of freedom, namely democracy in these countries, all necessary tools must not be spared to achieve this Western ideal in a region clearly cut-out for anything but practical democracy!

So far, Libya is definitely *a million light years* far from being democratic. She is also not peaceful. On uncovering that the Bush/Blair-war in Iraq was inspired by a hoax, the country plunged further and hopelessly into sectarian chaos. No doubt, failure had being pre-programmed. Democracy was/is further out of reach.

Sadam Hussein was definitely not the only person who could unite Iraq. Hanging him via a Western provoked war was neither a credible means to uproot an unwanted dictator. Besides, before Sadam’s overthrow, it was clear that Iraq is not a country mapped-out for practical democracy à la Western thinking. Likewise Libya. In short, many countries of that region would thrive far better with far lesser conflicts or none without the West directly intervening.

Think of Pre- and Post-Mubarak Egypt to understand how the Middle East/North Africa works best. With the successful overthrow of the President Mubarak’s government in Egypt in the Arab Spring, the West seemed to notice their failure shortly upon helping to install President Morsi. Yes, he was popularly voted into office in a presumed free and fair election, but the aftermath of his election was predictable. Egypt threatened to become another crisis-ridden country in that part of the world. Eventually, President Morsi was practically putsch-ed from office and jailed!

I would bet my shirt President/General As-Sisi seized power and consequently imposed himself as winner of a mock-election with the implicit blessing of the West. I swear he would stay longer in power than Mubarak, saving that he offended the West. Egypt would be relatively peaceful. There would be grumblings among dissenting voices, but President As-Sisi would be quick to bribe generously or jail them over to his side. Not that the West would keep her nose out of Egypt, but it would only be implicit.

It boils down to this: Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait among many other (relatively) peaceful countries in the region, function differently. She must not forcefully adopt the cultural freedom of the West (democracy) to survive and stay conflict/war-free. A renewed understanding and different approach to matters of the Middle East is thus an urgent imperative.

Of A Peaceful World and Pacifist Idealism by Nathaniel Jonah

Mr. Nathaniel Jonah is a Freelance Journalist resident in Germany. He guestblogs for www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com on various world issues. His writings can be found under the column RANdom THoughts by Nath (RANTH) on this blog.

Mr. Nathaniel Jonah is a Freelance Journalist resident in Germany. He guestblogs for http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com on various world issues. His writings can be found under the column RANdom THoughts by Nath (RANTH) on this blog.

When in November 2008, Barack Obama emerged as the first African American President, not a few political pundits and global commentators were of the view that his presidency would herald a paradigm shift from the militaristic aggression of his predecessor. Aside from the epoch making event that culminated into the ascendancy of a black man into the oval office, a feat which was hitherto considered unattainable given the long decades of civil rights agitation among Americans of African descent and their white sympathizers, Obama’s squeaky clean credentials as a new kid on the block drew global goodwill and empathy. His catch phrase of “YES WE CAN” was seen all over the world as a new dawn in the history of American politics specifically and a new chapter of the America foreign policy in general.

Given the present global political upheavals, the global wave of enthusiasm and relief that welcomed Obama’s presidency is gradually fading away into disappointment and despair. This is especially against the backdrop of declining global peace and stability which clearly stand in contrast to Obama’s enthusiastic pursuit of a peaceful world devoid of armed conflict.  From Eastern Europe where the internal conflict between the pro-Russian separatist and their protagonists in Kiev is threatening to snowball into a renewed cold war. This is clearly highlighted by the waves of renewed economic sanctions from the West against a seemingly recalcitrant Vladimir Putin who seems determined in his quest to strengthen the Russian sphere of interest.

The Arab spring which was popularized by the Western media in early 2011, when the successful uprising in Tunisia against former leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali emboldened similar anti-government protests in most Arab countries was touted as symptomatic of Obama’s diplomatic approach to the Arab world  as opposed to the militaristic and aggressive tendencies of former President George Bush Jnr.

Kow towing the traditional Democrats’ political ideology and foreign policy initiative which tends to relegate the flagrant display of America’s military prowess as the last resort and the glorification of diplomacy and dialogue as a means of resolving global disputes, Obama did not mince words as to his intention of changing the hitherto held global public opinion of America as the world police officer. And sticking to his widely publicized campaign promises, he immediately wound down the war in Iraq and set an effective time frame for ending the decade long war in Afghanistan. As if to lend credence to his pacific credentials and his ability to lay the groundwork for a peaceful world devoid of wars and nuclear warfare, the  Norwegian Noble committee awarded him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” In so doing, the Nobel committee in its hallowed wisdom inadvertently aligned itself   with President Obama’s vision of and work towards a world devoid of nuclear wars and global conflict.

At the core of President Obama’s alternative methodology in resolving conflicts all over the world, and ensuring the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of nation states, is the tenacious and sacrosanct belief that multilateral diplomatic advocacy should be pushed to the front burner while highlighting the traditional roles of the United Nations and other diplomatic channels as an effective tool of conflict resolution. In this regard, he sounded the death knell to what global commentators describe as the “war mongering ideologue of the Bush’s administration”.

The conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on President Obama was not without its backlash. This is especially against the backdrop of what was considered as his political inexperience. One of the participants of an opinion poll conducted by debate.org succinctly posits that “I don’t understand how the Nobel Committee could justify awarding him with the Peace Prize. All he had to his name was serving as an Illinois senator and then one term in the U.S. Senate. Now five years later, I’m pretty sure there’s no chance of him getting another one.” Others simply viewed the Nobel peace prize as tantamount to putting the cart before the horse, especially as recipients of the highly prestigious prize should have earned it. Those who belong to this school of thought are of the view that “The question of whether Mr. Obama deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize can be answered as a simple matter of time frame. The Peace Prize was awarded less than one month after he because President. You might argue that he did something as a State Senator or U.S. Senator that deserves the Peace Prize, but there’s nothing in his record that compares to other winners of the Peace Prize. It would have been better to reevaluate Mr. Obama’s eligibility for the prize after he leaves the office of the President.”

Half way through his celebrated second term in office, President Obama is yet to achieve his much talked about dream of a nuclear free world and world peace devoid of armed struggle. On the contrary, the world continues to tether on the brink of global instability. This is especially more obvious in the light of the escalating conflict between the Ukrainian government and the Russian backed separatists. The broader implication of this conflict is the tendency to draw the world back to the cold world era with the United States and its allies hurling series of sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s’ Russia for arming the rebels.  Although in his interaction with the white house media Obama repeatedly ruled out the possibility of a military confrontation with Russia over the Ukrainian debacle, the trend in of events in the troubled Eastern Europe and the growing division between the west and the east, is evidently indicative of the cold war blues.

The hope and optimism which heralded the wind of change in the Arab world has continued to fizzle out as the Arab spring has turned out to be a nightmare. While the Arab spring was initially indicative of Obama’s major shift in “manner of approach” of relating with the Muslim world, i.e. seeing them as potential partners in global stability rather than as axis of evil, the catastrophic end result of the Arab spring has left many pundits bewildered. From Tunisia to Egypt, Syria and Libya, the situation is the same. The   elimination of oppressive dictators through what was seen as the people’s will has not yielded any dividends of democracy for the people, rather, these regions continued to slide down the path of anarchy and political instability.

In the final analysis, with two years to the end of what many though would be a radical change to the American foreign policy under the Barack Obama’s presidency, peace has continued to elude the world which inadvertently elicits the question as to whether the world is not yet ready for Obama’s dreams of a peaceful world or his pacific idealism is not suitable for the present world order.

World-Situation-Report Personal Perspectives (WoPP): Peace in a War-Plagued World

As of today there is conflict in virtually every region of the present-known world. This is disturbing for an astute observer of world politics. One would however not begin to wail. The reason is not far-fetched. It has nothing to do with being sadistic or possessed by any particular evil. To begin with, how many of these conflicts shall be bewailed? This is a very pertinent question to answer. Long before one sad occurrence is fully bewailed, hits another sadder and more terrible one. So many are these human-induced conflicts of catastrophic qualification, that one is absolutely at a loss as to how to correctly bewail them. Even if this could be helpful to conflict resolution or soothing those hurt in the conflicts, then pops the next question; no more on the appropriateness of bewailing, rather on how loud would one cry to have rightly *cried-out* a conflict.

Actually, a Yoruba proverb comes in very handy in this instance to help out of this obvious vicious circle. When a particular occurrence occurs, that which is so bad that crying is simply inappropriate, the only alternative is to laugh. Now, it should not be misinterpreted as though the laughing individual is glowing at the misfortune of the conflict-ridden countries/regions of the world and their people. On the contrary. The proverb underlines the complexity and radicalness of the situation. Radical, stubborn and apparently would-not-just-find-an-end occurrences in and around the world could and must be helpfully approached if possible in strange but unique ways. We live in strange times.

Talking about strange times, there is no clearer indicator of the strangeness of present times than this: everybody wants to be and believes (s)he is right. If it stopped at that, it certainly would have been strange all the same, but probably less-strange. The trouble is, those who believe they are right (namely everybody) believe every other person (or at least those) who do not share their opinion/are of a different opinion is wrong. This stance justifies therefore the approach of every dissent with zero tolerance. The problem is, since everyone believes (s)he is right and every other person is most certainly wrong, it becomes practically impossible to find who is right and wrong! Pray Goodness save us from attending disaster(s) of an irrational stance taken too far.

The world as we know it has come a long way. She survived two big wars in recent history, not to talk of other countless conflicts and wars, which are only remembered in museums, books and archives around the world. The world has always survived and would survive again if there must be yet another catastrophic conflict or war. It is only humans who live therein that need entertain fear if they might survive (in) the world. It is not all bleak though.

From ongoing crisis/conflicts/wars around the world, current world politicians show commendable determination and commitment to avoid irrational decisions of the past. Considering the fact that the Great War, later rechristened First World War, was directly triggered by the assassination of Crown-Prince Ferdinand would lend credence to how positively better the world has fared in tolerance and deep-thinking before striking/taking world-changing decisions. This is further evident in the latest plane-crash, shot down by the Ukrainian opposition, ably assisted by the Russians, or at least by a Russian-made machines. More on that later.

Many take less time to ruminate on this singular truth: The world cannot and shall never speak as one on all issues. I would give up my shirt if this claim about our world is wrong anytime soon. Positive disagreement at various fronts and on various issues should in fact be encouraged. Plurality of opinions and world-views can only better the world. It must not be forgotten that one can dissent without becoming forceful or violent. It would be strange to have been less disagreeable in a world populated with over 5 billion people!

This does not mean that the world should be left without rules or that everyone should be allowed to do as it pleases. That would throw the world into anarchy. This had certainly been envisaged in the establishment of the United Nations (UN), the world body responsible for world peace and regulation of inter-country dealings with each other to guarantee that for example no one country is too powerful to deem it fit to invade the other. This goal is yet to be fully realised as there are apparently double standards in its application. In fact, some would even talk of standards more than double! The unbiased achievement of the objectives of the UN is the paramount duty of all.

On to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Speaking as though no one is listening, many would immediately loose interest the moment this seemingly eternal conflict is mentioned. The battle for the soul of the Holy-Land is clearly far from being over! As far as I can remember, the conflict has always existed, I doubt it if it would be over in this lifetime. Having said that, the ongoing war must be condemned; it is shameful and should have never happened. It is a fact, it takes two or more parties to quarrel. It is irrelevant for now which party started/triggered the fight. In fact, a mission to point fingers in this current Israeli/Palestinian conflict is as good as chasing the wind in an attempt to resolving the war. More children and women would suffer, men would die and the conflict would still not end! Both parties involved are best advised to end this war and return to dialogue at once. The world has seen enough bloodshed. We know the demand of the sides and the I-am-not-the-aggressor-tactics of both camps! Both sides see themselves on the receiving end! We are by now so used to them that we need no more be told that Hamas is a terrorist group and that Hamas consider Israel a country that is best removed from the face of the earth! Put simply, the world wants to keep as much of her citizens alive as possible. She wants to see no more children and women, and men too, used as human shields from enemy fire! She does not want both parties crying wolf on international media while still biting as hard as anybody can imagine!

Truth is, the Israeli/Palestinian agelong conflict is a political conflict. It requires a political solution. Glaring is the obvious truth as well that the political will is lacking to resolve this endermic monstrous conflict. Possibly accepting that Israel as a country has the right to exist and that she is here to stay would help move the search for a solution forward. Meanwhile, it must be stated in clear terms that the Palestinians deserve a country to call home, a place where they can live in peace. This is very basic to moving the dialogue positively forward. Accepting this truth has never been a problem actually, the difficulty is only in the practical implementation when both parties seem bent to have it their way or no-way at all! May the God of the Middle-East whom the larger world population serve, deliver us from this vicious circle in that part of the world.

On the ongoing war in Ukraine, I once submitted that there can be immediate peace, once the bigger parties involved achieve an understanding that they shall keep their noses out of their neighbor’s backyard. This submission still holds. Peace in Ukraine is relative, really. An Ukraine with a strong course to the West is to Russia not peaceful. That way, Russia’s backyard is on fire. In light of this understanding, a destabilized Ukraine is not necessarily un-peaceful to Russia. In fact, that is the height of peace in that part of the world as far of Russia is concerned. Look at it this way: Imagine China militarily present and wooing the (poorer) North and Central American states; those countries right in US-America’s backyard! Trust the USA would not sleep with their backyard on fire! USA and the West are best advised to thread this murky path with caution.

A portrayal of Mr. Putin as the singular evil wrong with our current world is an attempt at chasing nothing. It is never the right political tactics. Of course, I understand those who seem to believe, and that strongly so, that once Mr. Putin is out of the picture, then Russia would belong to the West again, as if she had ever been. The earlier we finally realize Russia has a different world view/agenda and thus approaching the matter with the highest form of diplomatic negotiations imaginable, the better for our world. By the way, in recent times the international media is awash with the use of that dreaded word, namely MAD, i.e. Mutually Assured Destruction. Ukraine crisis must not be allowed to degenerate to MAD level. It must be nibbed in the bud. The excesses of both conflicting sides and those of their paymasters must be curbed.

Apropos nibbing a crisis in the bud, Boko Haram, the dangerous anti-human sect in Nigeria has finally gone full-haywire! By now, those who see Boko Haram as a religious sect must have realised this is not the case. This beyond-barbaric evil-group bombed over 90 Nigerians this week alone. The possibility of another strike in the coming weeks is surer than the latest bombings. Boko Haram kills indiscriminately. Boko Haram does not kill conventionally, it has moved beyond bombing alone! It slaughters people in open-day light! It slighters throats open! it clubs Nigerians to death! Most troubled is the Northern part of the country. However, all other parts suffer the inconvenience.

The latest Kaduna bombing did not kill only Nigerians of Northern origin! Kaduna is known for its metropolitan status. Those killed in that bombings are Nigerians! Lest I forget to mention, Retired General Muhammadi Buhari was almost assassinated in the bombing that led to the death of over 90 Nigerians. Underlining the assassination-attempt on the Former Head-of-State is not to say that his life is worth more than those who died, but pointing out the political implication of a Buhari-death for Nigeria, both locally and internationally. In fact with this, it is clear that anybody could be Boko Haram’s target. The dangerous sect has no particular target. That makes it more dangerous. It targets all and sundry. May we never walk on a day when the devil-in-person decided to visit an open market.

It cannot be over-said that Boko Haram is not a Nigerian problem, it is a problem for the world. The earlier the world attend to this menace practically, the better. For those who prophesied that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015, their vision might not be far from becoming reality. I would not doubt the ability of this in-human sect to hijack an American-airline or -bound plane. That way, the road is finally leveled for the final butchering and pounding of the Nigerian state. I hope it never come that far.

Speculations are rife that Boko Haram is made-up of more components than the ordinary eyes can see. Apparently, the terror sect has (inter-)national links through which finance is channeled to fund its activities. Even a blind person knows that sophisticated bombs are not manufactured in Nigeria! Even the guns in used are definitely not made in Nigeria! To top it, the money spent by this menacing monster is not even fully-Nigerian. Directly, Northern Nigeria is on fire, but indirectly we are all in this boat, so should it sink, we sink together as a country! A word is enough for the wise.

Talking about the mourning countries, top on the list being Holland with over 100 casualties in the plane-crash. The falling of yet another Malaysian Airline Flight is another tragedy too bitter to swallow. Of course, it would have been just as bitter for any carrier to deal with, but a double tragedy within a space of 4 months is an occurrence anybody would never want. It is sad enough that the victims of the first crash are yet to be found and might probably never be found! Then came the next Job’s news from Ukraine. Word would fail anyone to comfort the world for these tragedies.

Comforting the victims families and loud call for sanctions against Russia and the Ukrainian separatists seem to be the logical reaction. Here comes a proverbial question: How does one comfort enough a (wo-)man whose mother was killed and eventually eaten-up completely by a lion?! This is another Yoruba proverb which brings home the inadequacy of any form of comfort that might be offered in these difficult and trying times for the world. One can only hope that time would heal the wounds. In a time like this, our emotion must not be allowed to control our (re-)actions. So far so good, politicians and diplomats alike have shown restraint in compounding already complex problems. While the war in Ukraine continues, the Russians and other involved seem to be cooperative thus far in the inquiry and investigation into what actually went wrong with the downed civilian plane. This is a step in the right direction; another step in comforting the bereaved. We await the outcome.

On a final note, rounding-up on a positive note can be very comforting for readers and the world at large. As I posited already, it is not all bad news. The present time is not the worst-troubled since human existence. In fact, the present world inhabitants have it far better than their predecessors. Our constant quest for peace confirms this truth. Even amidst raging conflicts and wars on all fronts, the calls for peace could not have been more deafening than now. Calls and rallies for an end to the Gaza War are being held in many places around the world. Even Russia want peace in Ukraine, even if under its own terms and conditions. The Americans and their allies in the West want peace too. Israel and even Hamas talk of peace, so far their conditions are met, partly or fully. Recently, the leader of the movement for the actualization of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was caught on video with an expensive wristwatch from the Western world to adorn his outfit! Various internet and news platform had a good laugh. Looking at it from another viewpoint, that part of his attire is an indication that he might not be an impossible task to win over to the side of peace after all.

While accepting that the current state of the world is real disturbing, I believe that the constant hope/possibility for (quicker) resolutions on many fronts where these conflicts are being carried-out is one unique achievement of present times. That way, it confirms the present civilization/world is convinced that there cannot be a better alternative to a peaceful co-existence with and among each other. That is the better angels of our nature!

In Quest for a World not Weakened by Wars

To an individual every problem becomes a nail, when a hammer is the only tool available to him/her. I came by this beautiful quote per chance on one of the info-screens installed at various metro-stations where I live. I could not agree more. This concise proverb sums up alot and gives very deep insight into the state of our world.

I saw a cartoon in the local newspaper recently. In it was a Middle East Sheikh. First he spoke on phone with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He needed arms, guns and more guns to combat insurgence in his country. Right after his conversation, he made another call to the ISIS militia. He referred to them as *brothers-in-faith*. He promised to supply them with more arms, guns and more guns to prosecute their faith-wars on various fronts!
While I had a good smile, the import of the message was not lost on me.

In an article published once by a guest-blogger on my blog, the writer questioned in a conference the motive behind selling arms and more arms to crisis- and war-ridden African countries when it is crystal clear that these weapons are used to fuel and prolong wars and civil unrest in these parts of Africa. The response could not be more diplomatic than evasive. The respondent only wished that these deadly instruments of war do not get into wrong hands. According to him, the EU is doing her best to ensure this wish is achieved.

Meanwhile, international diplomacy and deal-cutting continue in a quest to solving problems caused largely by arms sold/delivered to the troubled regions by various world power.

Lets leave it at that for now. I move to Ukraine. I once submitted in an article that the end and worst looser in the crisis is Ukraine. A look into the devastating civil war ongoing in Syria will give an insight into this. At the end, the country is brought down to its kneels with the aid of bombs, grenades and even deadlier weapons. War is never a joke. Ask survivors. They will confirm the sad truth.

Politically considered, a strong and West-oriented Ukraine can only be to Russia’s disadvantage. Russia would never open-eye see this come true. It is her worst nightmare. Therefore, the destabilization strategy is the singular tool available to Russia. Russia has since adopted this tool like the proverbial hammer, albeit in a far too-overt manner. One would have wished for Russia to be less confrontational.

Anyway, the country of the Tsars has never been known to be a fan of covert-diplomacy. Speaking in direct and clear-terms are her ways. In short, she would call a spade a spade. A reminder of this is a saying allegedly attributed to a former First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, angered by the US spy action on the Soviet Union while both countries sat at table in Washington to dialogue on ways of bridging the widening gaps of mistrust between both world-powers. He gave way to his anger. *You do not shit on the same table where you intend to eat thereafter!*

This directness of approach is what has been seen again in the ongoing crisis in East Ukraine. Even a blind person can see that the separatists are Russia’s own creation to destabilize the region, and indirectly the country. She has denied any direct involvement with or finance of the separatist, but we all know better.

Russia did not mince words either on making it clear that the EU and the US are directly responsible for this forced destabilization of Ukraine. That is to say, if the EU and US would keep their nose off Russia’s backyard, she certainly would have no interest in a proxy war! I am sure Russia is even more angered now than ever before because she just cannot punish Ukraine too openly or more than she is doing so far like she did years back when Georgia *foolishly* angered the sleeping lion!

The quick summary of events in Ukraine is to underline a point, which is, the conflict in Ukraine is a conflict of interests. If the interests were met today, or at least, the wishes of those behind the various masks were largely met, absolute peace would return to Ukraine. In fact, the swiftness with which the calm will descend on Ukraine would surprise even the worst doubter of a possible permanent peace deal in Ukraine.

Moving to the Middle East and particularly to Iraq and Syria. Definitely, the emergence of the terror and militia movement Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) did not happen overnight. Although I must be quick to add that I personally only woke up one day and heard on the news of a new terror group that now trouble the already troubled Iraq and a gradually and systematically dying Syria. I missed a breathe on seeing the cruel execution in cold blood by the ISIS militia, but beyond this, I quickly adjusted to living with the latest nightmare born into our world. No doubt, ISIS is a brain-child of certain interest groups in and outside of Iraq and Syria. One would not be too wrong to talk of proxy wars and mindless/heartless adventure.

Like it would be expected, the US and various allies in the West grabbed the microphone. The airwave is bombarded with calls for the end of the barbarism ongoing in that region of the world. Expectedly, the conflict only got hotter, bigger and more cruel with each passing call for peace and reason. It reminds of a situation of a stubborn child who keeps doing exactly that same thing which angers the mother, with the singular motive of getting the mother to shout even louder!

Of particular interest is this question: Whose weapons are being used to execute the ISIS-wars, which has taken over large part of the war-torn/war-tired country? We need not speculate too far. We know Kalashnikov, bombs, grenades and other even more dangerous weapons are manufactured not in Iraq or Syria! These places are simply too war-troubled to care about manufacturing weapons.

In the light of this simple truth, one is tempted to question the sincerity behind calls to stop the barbarism being perpetrated by ISIS. Such calls are at best hypocritical. The Foreign Minister of Germany declared millions of Euro, clearly a giant sum of money, is being earmarked for the troubled region, as a result of ongoing ISIS-inflicted conflict.

Guns are meant to be used. Even before then, a gun manufacturer would certainly want to sell her market! The manufacturer is not in doubt of the fact that guns are used to snuff out lives and maim mercilessly, and that they must be sold when manufactured! The industry is a multi-billion industry, both for government, private individuals, companies and banks bankrolling the whole scheme. Earmarking *peanuts* of the profits from earning made to *mop-up* the aftermath of conflicts caused by their own making is not a *bad-loss*. Besides, the donated money is being garbed as humanitarian aids among many other brand names.

While ISIS continued its offensive like a theatrical performance full of tragic episodes, the US Secretary of State John Kerry was flown into Iraq. Apparently to show support for the collapsing and crisis-ridden Iraqi government. Unfortunately, the super-suggestion of an all-inclusive government was turned down by the Iraqi President.

Personally, I believe the Iraqi President is acting out a script. One can say he has so far acted his part well. Really, what could have been so difficult in accepting a proposition that suggested a common-sense solution to a crisis that should not have occurred in the first place. That he even waited, first for the suggestion to be made, only to reject it, is laughable. Anyone would think the President ought to have come about the idea all on his own. A country as ethnically divided as Iraq must not be told that a government that cater widely for the interests of all is a plausible and possible way out of a senseless conflict. Well, the President of Iraq opined differently!

There are speculations that going by the recent/latest conflict and what seems to be an ever un-ending state of turmoil in the region, a new map of the Middle East might be about to emerge with new countries birthed. This is not a bad idea, really. The autonomous region of predominantly Iraqis of Kurdish ethnicity has been far more peaceful than other parts of the country since after the Bush war that fell Saddam Hussein dictatorial and draconian government.

By the way, we need to constantly remember that Iraq and Syria are not the only troubled countries in the Middle East. The region is actually in a permanent state of conflict ever since I can remember. One can bet without any fear of loosing that the conflict will go on for a longer time to come. It seems that the the desires/wishes of the various interest groups in and outside the Middle East are so designed that they can never be met. This is one dividing line between Ukraine and the Middle East. Moreover, the Middle East is not in Europe. It is shameful to have to accept this truth, but that is not to be overlooked. It cannot be overlooked!

Lets move to Africa.

The African continent is another potpourri of near-war conflicts, full-blown conflicts, (proxy) wars and more wars. Insurgents are on the rise. Boko Haram, the Islamic terror sect in Northern Nigeria competes very favorably with the likes of Al-Shabbab of Somalia and Al-Qaida on national and international level. In recent times though, there seems to be more conflicts and war in and outside the African continents that conflicts on the African continents, which are only best described in the superlatives, are being over-shadowed/dwarfed by these newer wars and conflicts.

Nobody need be told that Al-Shabbab is a terror group whose threats are worth taking serious. They owned up to attacks in Somalia and Kenya. They terrorize residents in places where they control territories. Boko Haram of Northern Nigeria eventually and finally got more international attention and recognition with the abduction of over 200 girls. Prior to the kidnap, the numbers of bombings attributed to this group of nuisance mad-dogs already won them the much-craved attention. But who need be told that sadists are ever insatiable with in-flinching pain. They only crave for chance to do more damage! Boko Haram still bombed a shopping mall in the capital of Nigeria, very recently claiming over scores of lives!

The ongoing civil war in Central African Republic (CAR) is yet another being run on fuel processed in other parts of the world and with weapons *shipped* directly into the hands of both rebels and government troops alike by their foreign allies/supporters.

South Sudan is an example of a mega-failure even before the country was birthed! One would have thought that their common experience in the hands of the government-supported Janjaweed rebels would have taught them to embrace themselves, eschew self-hate, stay as one and unite even stronger! Hardly was independence declared, the political Orang-Utan who wield power in that new country decided the best place to go for is the opponents throat! The ultimate goal seem to be to already nip in the bud any sign of life/dissent from perceived competing ethnic groups- an all-out war is the way! They found means of execution in weapons of mass destruction they never invented, namely guns and more dangerous weapons! By the way, they used machetes and home-made clubs too.

What more can be said to underline the very obvious that our world is a big mess all because we adopt only the tool(s) of violence to resolving our differences. Any sincere observer of world events so far must be serious enough to accept a basic truth- war is never a way out of any crisis/differences and can never be!

To round up, here is a beautiful quote , whose origin I do not know for sure but in whose words I passionately believe and its practicability too: *It is only when a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize there is always a way to resolve problems without using violence.*

Mr. Putin’s Russia, The West and Ukraine: A Fight of Two and a Half!

Let us be clear: The agitation of the West/Western powers, that is the European Union (EU), the United States (US) and their NATO-allies, for the soul of Ukraine, which is garbed as being their support for the wishes and yearning of the people of Ukraine for freedom is not without self-interest(s). Understandably, nobody would gladly wish to do a bad business under any circumstances, be it political, economy or any other adventure. The question to ask thus is this: What do the West stand to gain in the quest to conquer (or better politically put- to gain) Ukraine for itself? And yet another question: Why does the West need to gain Ukraine for itself? Many questions can and need be asked, but let us stay put on these two for now while I turn to talk about Mr. Putin.

Better put, let me say I want to talk about Russia. Actually, the line of differentiation between Mr. Putin and Russia as a country is very thin so that one can as well talk of Russia as if one is talking of Mr. Putin. Overtime, it has come to be that it does not matter in any order one talks about either of both parties mentioned, the one can be (and in fact is to be taken) for the other. Simply put, since the emergence of Mr. Putin into power in Russia, Russia is as good as Mr. Putin, and Mr. Putin is as good as Russia. When he speaks, the world in and around Russia listens, and that very attentively. This could be perceived either ways, positively or negatively. In recent times, it must be said though, that the latter seems to be the dominant effect being deduced when Mr. Putin (Russia) speaks.

Now, let me be clear about another matter: Being in the West could make it very difficult to objectively see beyond one’s nose when talking about issues which affect relations between Russia and the West. Most especially, as in recent times, Western media have succeeded in their propaganda-like portrayal of Russia as being against the rest of the world. Even if this is the case, an objective reader or viewer would be careful not to take in these reports hook, line and sinker without looking beyond the peripherals. I am one of such critical and objective consumer of Western media. Understandably, being dwellers in this hemispherical part of the world i.e in the West, we can practically do very little to influence what we consume from the media world. Let us leave that aside for a while, lest I loose focus on the key matter being addressed here. This is the truth: Russia is not against the world. The present provocation is a conflict situation between Russia and the West for the soul of Ukraine.

Of course, one can say this: Because Russia is against the West in this matter, it is also indirectly in conflict with all other countries, who, in case of unavoidable escalation or even war, will support the West. We should however not be easily carried away by the numbers of countries who are likely to support the Western powers. Russia is also not alone. There are hundreds of countries who do not support the West. There are those who are strong supporters of Russia and there are those who neither support Russia nor are against her. We should not forget too that decision-making and side-taking can be very fluid in international politics, particularly in conflict situations. These are unsure times; a seemingly trustworthy ally/agent can become an enemy overnight: Think of Mr. Snowden and you will understand better!

Having made clear that Mr. Putin, namely Russia, is not in conflict with the whole world, I will move on to the next item. By the way, the same questions as posed to the West can be posed to Mr. Putin: What does Mr. Putin stand to gain in his quest to win Ukraine to his side? Why does he want Ukraine on his side and is apparently ready to militarily march into Ukraine if he is “forced” to do so/left with no choice?

There have been many speculations so far as to Western interest in the region. Clearly, the expansionist motive of the EU cannot be mistaken; this has been explained as a historical prerogative in order to keep Europe together and avoid the mistake(s) of the past. The unity of Europe has thus made the expansion towards Eastern Europe a must apart from economic interests which is accruable from the adventure to the powers that be in the EU.

The EU is not the only bloc that made up the West/Western powers. The US cannot be left out of the equation. One can even say that this is more worrisome for Mr. Putin’s Russia. Mr. Putin has never been too friendly with the EU. In fairness however, it cannot be said that he was too hostile either. His dealings with the EU has made a Mr. Putin, who cannot be said to be democratic in the Western-sense of the word (and this is not to be understood negatively), practically into what he is not- he is gradually and practically being garbed in a Westernized system that he normally would not be ready to partake in. Russia and her territories have not been known to subscribe to democracy as practiced by the West. They have their ways of doing democracy- Think of the Russia of Lenin and the Russia of Stalin! After the death of Stalin, the succeeding governments can as well be referred to as regimes close to a “totalitarian state” saving that of Mr. Gorbachov’s government. I need not emphasize that Mr. Gorbachov is seen in Russia as a puppet of the West and as a traitor because they believe Mr. Gorbachov’s self-imposed weakened position in dealing with the West led to the collapse and eventual death of the Soviet Union. Mr. Putin is not different from past regimes who had reigned in Russia before him.

Russia is a world-power. At least many Russians believe they are, according to a survey conducted. The US believe Russia is a seriously weakened world-power. Although the US have been very careful not to negotiate with Russia from this point of view, Mr. Putin believes, and that very strongly, that the US do not often take Russia serious. He wanted a Russia that is seen to be at par with the US when negotiating. On the other hand, the US often believe they have always conceded too much when Russia is in play. Mr. Putin does not want a Russia being treated with hand-shoes on, as though it is a sick fellow, who is gradually recovering from a bout of life-threatening fever. In short, the atmosphere can be said to be that of a complexly challenged Russia whose complex is not unnoticed by the US. This often makes relations between both powers strained.

Recently, I read in a newspaper of Russia finally letting go of the believe that she is being surrounded by friends. The expansionist moves of the EU towards Eastern Europe, and the recent flirts with Ukraine finally confirmed his feelings of a Russia that his being pursued/pushed even farther into a corner. Like the proverbial snake or goat that is finally being pursued into a corner, it is left with no other choice than to turn and face its pursuer(s) for a fight-out or an escape route from the pursuers’ end! Mr. Putin’s feeling is that of a Russia that is being asked to give away too much of her perceived territories and areas of influence. We should not forget too quickly the bone of contention between Mr. Putin and the US during Bush administration. The presence of US military know-how and equipment, be it those of NATO or directly from the US is a direct threat to Russia’s interest in the region in Mr. Putin’s opinion. Let us remember that in recent conflict over the soul of Ukraine, many of Mr. Putin’s government officials have never stopped to underline the fact that monies given by the US to support protest in Ukraine and other activities are meant to drive forward the quest of the US for a regime change in Ukraine.

Moving beyond speculation, I positioned yesterday while I talked to friend that Russia’s interests in Ukraine explains in no unclear terms those of the US in Ukraine. It does not matter how we choose to see it, Russia, being a power in that axis is right to want to ascertain and expand her influence in the area. The US is however not wrong in their attempt to win/gain Ukraine into their nest. The EU’s intrusion into the area in the name of expanding eastward is thus one intruder too much for Russia to live with! Come to think of it: The EU is the most trustworthy ally to the US. Therefore, Mr. Putin’s Russia is now being confronted with two of her most-feared “enemy” in the quest for influence. Besides, the fact that this fight for the soul of Russia is right at the door of Russia makes Russia’s reactions more volatile and perhaps even more irrational than they might have been if the dispute was somewhere else.

Before I return to talk about my opinion over Mr. Putin’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine, I will first talk about the US crisis management strategy in recent times. The US have always been known to present themselves as the non-aggressor if we are to look away from many conspiration theories which think otherwise. Moving forward, the non-aggressor often wants to make us understand that he is being “forced” to respond like the proverbial snake/goat, and most of the times, to protect the basic rights of every human, to support the yearnings of all for freedom and for humanity’s sake among many other reasons for intervention in a conflict. Let me state that I absolutely support these grounds. They are legitimate reasons. There are clearly those from whom the common people must be protected because left to these monsters they do not give a damn. All they want is to have their way at whatever cost. The US are thus right to intervene very forcefully in the interest of the people. There are accusations though of double standard in this regard. The US have been known to support some repressive regimes whose peoples also desire to be as free as residents of those countries where the US have been “forced” to come-in in the people’s interest. Beyond the problem of double standard, in recent times onlookers and many observers seem to be less-impressed/convinced with the non-aggressor-but-compulsory-intervention-theory. Therefore, it is pertinent for the US to rethink this particular strategy. We need a new approach established on a better theory. To understand the demand for a new approach, a good question to ask is this: Must the non-aggressive US often be “forced” constantly to intervene in a conflict? The truth is this: When one has to give the same reason for doing the same thing over and over again, the outcome of which is more often than not worse than the initial position/problem, then an objective observer must realize it is time to rethink and re-strategize.

I will move on now to Mr. Putin’s strategy in the crisis in Ukraine. Germany’s Finance Minister in a talk referred to Mr. Putin’s approach as very akin to those of Adolf Hitler. Hitler wanted to “protect” the ethnic Germans outside the territories of the German Reich before the outbreak of the Second World War just like Mr. Putin. He made this clear in the annexation of the Crimea. Mr. Putin also made it clear if he is compelled to do so, he will not hesitate to militarily march into East Ukraine to protect Russia’s interests and those of ethnic Russians. His support for the pro-Russian militias and separatists is unwavering.

Of course, the West is not less guilty of mobilizing her military mights in the region, it must be said though that this is a precautionary move in response to the martial display of Mr. Putin’s Russia. Right from the onset of the crisis in Ukraine, Mr. Putin has never stopped to wield his military might. It can even be said that his body language is such that places military solution above dialogue and international agreement. Come to think of it: The Geneva Agreement is yet to receive his blessing. This is not unexpected because throughout the negotiations, it was Mr. Putin’s Foreign Minister who was prominent in the deal-cutting. That he thus far ignored the commitments in the agreements is not unconnected with his preference for military solution. It need not be repeated that Mr. Putin mistrusts the West. In fact, it could be said that his mistrust of the West is one contributive factor that has made his grip on power last this long. Also, it must not be left unmentioned that Mr. Putin started his career in the Russia of the Soviet Union as a spy- a job that is best-survived when one learns to trust nobody, not even his own instincts!

A good question to ask is this: Does the world need another war with the numbers of catastrophic and war-like conflicts raging already? I do not think so, especially when this might involve too directly three major world powers, namely The US, Russia, and the EU. In my opinion, I strongly believe Mr. Putin can explore many avenues to drive home his points and achieve his aims without a head-long collision with other parties concerned. His approach so far is such that one might be made to believe Mr. Putin had from the onset chosen to exclude any form of solution that might want to include non-military negotiations and dialogues!

The talk of de-escalation and easing tension has been very loud from every corner of the globe in the past weeks. It remains only to be seen if there are serious moves from both sides, particularly from Russia, towards the realization of a peaceful/war-free solutions. The fact is this: This crisis can be resolved without the use of more force than we have seen so far in display in Ukraine; further escalation is in nobody’s interest. In order of loss, Ukraine will most-likely loose the most because she is at the heart of the crisis. However, Russia will not be left without a great loss nor will the other parties, namely the EU and the US be left out. At the end, we all loose and our world will not be made safer for it, in fact we might end up mutually assuredly destroying each other in the fight for self-interest and -realization! This is not desirable and must be stopped in a way that exclude the use of (military) force of any kind.

Of Africa by Abiola Oladimeji

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

It is no more news that stories of war, hunger, poverty and underdevelopment shape the image of Africa. Many believe (Africans too) that the continent has never contributed to world civilization and that she still has nothing to contribute. In today’s world order, the West appears as the saviour of this continent, which is definitely not the case.

This essay aims to achieve two goals: to restore the necessary confidence in Africans and to provide friends of the continent with another perspective to fully understand her situation. In the same vein, the essay does not intend to put the blames for the woes of Africa on other continents, but stating that the West has played/is playing a significant role in the disorder in Africa.

We all know that bad governance is the main problem of Africa ( I have even argued that it is the only problem of Africa). There are questions to ask; two of them are these: (1) How did Africa get into this situation? (2) Did Africa have good leaders?

Harold Smith, a formal British colonial officer in Nigeria, revealed in an interview (New African Issue 440 : How Britain Undermined Democracy in Africa) how Britain taught and rigged politicians from the Northern part of Nigeria into power before Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Britain feared the Southerners and preferred the Northerners, who would serve British interests. The former were simply too brilliant. Harold Smith referred to one of the political parties in Nigeria in the 1950s and 60s as a great party too much for African standard. Such parties posed threat to British interests.

Britain wanted a weak Nigeria in order to perpetrate Neo-Colonialism in Africa. That is obviously the birth of rigging incompetent politicians into office. Harold Smith’s confession has always been suppressed; his autobiography, in which he reveals the undemocratic acts of Britain, was rejected for publication. That should not amaze anyone, because books always terrorise those who want to suppress the truth.

If Nigeria appears to be an isolated case, what about the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of Congo? February 2002: The Belgian government admitted to a moral responsibility in the death of this great leader. Britain and the United States were also part of the conspiracy against this Pan-Africanist. This marks the beginning of disorder, or rather the crescending of the already Western-created/fuelled existing disorder into new heights in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We should not forget the case of the young Army officer Thomas Sankara. He got into trouble with France immediately he started working towards transforming Burkina Faso from an enclave of France to a great country. If Western powers had left these great leaders, it is most probable that Africa would not be this terribly bad today. Instead, puppets were installed and things started to fall apart. Africa has not recovered from this quagmire till today. Does any Western politician even have the moral ground to blame the current rogues in power across Africa?

Diamonds in the Congo and Algeria and crude oil in Nigeria are few among the resources that are in abundance in Africa. Corruption has been institutionalised in most African countries and most Africans thus live in poverty, despite the wealth of these countries. Switzerland is the safe haven, where these corrupt leaders keep the wealth of Africans and as long as these leaders do not offend the West, the booty is safe.

When Western media report about wars in Africa, they only show us the Western soldiers on ‘’peace keeping’’, they seem to forget the substantial role that weapons from the West play in these wars. I attended a seminar on German security policy abroad. The story is still the same: War, war and more war. Then I asked these questions: (1) Africans do not manufacture many of these sophisticated weapons, but how do they come into Africa? (2) Is weapon control not a better policy other than send soldiers on peace keeping?

As expected, I got a very diplomatic answer: We are still looking into how to control weapons from getting into wrong hands. Weapon industries provide jobs in the West and taxes for the government only when the produced weapons are sold; thus they must be sold. Who cares if that leads to the destruction of others! Without foreign weapons, how would some people in Africa wage war? I do not argue that foreigners mastermind wars in Africa, but the role their weapons play is very significant. Yet, they claim innocence. The truth is this: The West is in fact (only) interested in helping to manage the problem(s) they partly (sometimes wholely) and indirectly created/fuel and from which the West benefit greatly.

In terms of contribution to civilization, Africa surely has a lot to contribute, if only the ‘’superior’’ cultures would desist from the claim to superiority . Imperialists portrayed African culture as inferior, whereas they stole a lot of artefacts from the “so-called inferior cultures”. The West demonized the traditional religions. However, the Ifa Corpus of the Yoruba people is a very good example of what Africa has to contribute to the development of the world. Professor Olu Longe in his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Ibadan in 1983 argued that the innovations that were introduced into computer science in 1963 had been in Ifa divination, an oracle, for more than 1000 years.

I would want to point out that the title of this essay, Of Africa, is actually the name of a book by the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. He discourses the continent at length and it is a book I would recommend to Africans and friends of Africa. He argues in this book that Africa has more to offer, if the continent is allowed to. He narrated a scenario in which an African sustained a spinal injury. Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles among other specialized hospitals could not help his situation. He found solution only in a clinic managed by a Ghanaian doctor who trained in the West, but he got treated with leaves from the bush in Ghana. This points out again, that Africa has enough in her culture to contribute to world civilization. The story of Africa is certainly that of paradox. I hope this discourse would provoke reflections on what is wrong with the continent.

Notice: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer/columnist and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

Comments will be forwarded to the writer/columnist for response if necessary.

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


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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