A storm rages. A flash of lightning announces the arrival of the following frightful thunder clap. It reveals briefly but with the clarity of a thousand daylights how and where the feckless ship of state called Nigeria tosses precariously, caught in the black void of the vortex of a perilous sea. Is a path revealed too?
After joining the chorus of a mesmerized populace turned against President Jonathan, the people have a little remaining sense to ask, “What now”? The same journalists who were jailed by Buhari now prefer Buhari? The same peoples who were brutalized by Buhari now prefer Buhari? The same Christians in Nigeria brutalized and ostracized by Buhari’s fanatical religious extremism now prefer Buhari? Those same mothers and fathers, same brothers and sisters who just 4 years ago lost their loved ones to Buhari-incited mobs after Buhari handily lost another Presidential election, yes, those ones, they now prefer Buhari? The same elite who were stifled, battered and bullied with state-sponsored and state-managed forces by Buhari now prefer Buhari? What about those harpers of “democracy”? Given Buhari’s unapologetic and bullish autocracy, the same people shouting, “Democracy!”, “democracy!” now prefer Buhari? Boko Haram and Buhari want Sharia imposed on all and now, people prefer Buhari?
Of course, there is brief relative silence now as people pause to gauge what they are doing and the effect of the mass hypnosis that’s pushing them towards Buhari. It’s probably an exercise in futility by now: the train might have left the station already—just might have. What’s left at this time is rationalization: for example, so-called need to change guards (when it is still the same gladiators using the same weapons in the same arena, just merely changing their banners); or need to fight corruption, even when the victims are still poor and powerless, and the perpetrators are all still there—having been corruptly “selected” to continue to be in charge, while the conditions which promote corruption remain untamed into the foreseeable future, regardless of who rocks in Aso or which party hypocritically claims to exhibit less hypocrisy. Having to rationalize a “choice” only speaks more about the “choice-maker” than the available options.
Here’s a little revelation of a possible path. Buhari wins by hook, by crook or by whatever it takes. Buhari suffers the same fate as Yar’Adua, allowing Aso Rock to go back to his erstwhile South-West deputy—if the constitution is followed. (Obasanjo is banking on this; why? This speaks to his known and intriguing characteristic irrationality). But, as with Yar’Adua, the Northerners refuse, and this time around, really refuse, and keep Aso with whatever force and junta they can muster—and they really can, regardless of what the constitution (what constitution?) says.
In the instance of a North-South conflict because of this scenario of either a win by Buhari or later default to his deputy, or refusal by the North to follow the constitution in case of the latter, don’t count on South-West siding with the rest of the South. Check your history to learn the patterns, if you have any doubts. A win by Jonathan will not change this equation either should the expected North-South conflict materialize.
What emerges in the next several weeks is anyone’s guess; but, there should be no guessing as to what the people will be feeling—are feeling: not good. Nigeria has gotten herself into this fix of a situation where she is like (and my sincerest apologies for this analogy) a pregnant woman; but this is not a healthy pregnancy with the attendant anticipation and expectations, as people might like to think. This is a pregnancy from Hell carrying a dead fetus wherein the normal and natural signals to initiate labor are not there. Do you get the picture yet?
The best course of action is (and has always been) to accept, respect and find a way to work with the fixed, pre-existent natural fault lines which characterize what is called Nigeria; not to fight those lines or worse still, pretend to ignore them. There can and should be handshakes and bridges across those lines when and where such are mutual. But pretending and acting like they don’t exist or are not significant or not important leads to one thing: people will continually trip on the lines and fall into the faults, with predictable anguish. This storm presents an opportunity to come to senses. And to do the right thing.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
On the eve of the all-important vote for Scotland's separation from UK, a Scottish lad was interviewed on public Radio about why and how he had come to a Yes decision after months of being undecided. He agreed that life was good with the status quo—Scotland in UK, as it has been for three hundred odd years. But, according to him, that's as good as it's ever going to get. On the other hand, there is something liberating about the concept of an Independent Scotland. There is now a chance to do much better, though difficulties may lie ahead. There's the opportunity to spread wings, to soar, to become more. That was the take from the 17-year old's view.
Imagine that: the promise, yes, only a promise, of becoming more. The Vision of a brighter future, which can only materialize by giving up the comfort and glow of a cozy and assured relationship to seek fortunes independently. Should the Scots, in a few hours, vote to leave UK, this may well be the tipping sentiment.
It is instructive to note that the Scottish independence bid is being conducted in a democratic and peaceful manner, using a referendum and the principle of Self Determination. It is an ironic twist of fate that UK has prevented a "peaceful" separation in Nigeria, going as far as supplying the arms and fighting on the side of the Nigerian government to murder millions of Biafrans in 1966-1970 just to force Biafrans back in to stay enslaved in Nigeria. Even to the present day, UK strongly opposes separation in Nigeria, and promises to once again back Nigeria militarily to prevent any section of Nigeria from exercising its Self Determination rights, the same rights that the Scots are enjoying freely in UK, fully respected by UK.
Yes: peoples struggling in Nigeria today and perhaps, the rest of Africa, do not sense the insult to the collective psyche of Africans, to the continent and even to the individual; or the violence done to their dignity when a country like UK (or what's to become of it) arrogates to itself the authority and power to deny the legitimate aspirations of Africans to exercise their right to Self Determination. Especially when it, UK, willingly supports and allows that same right among its own citizens. This is a shame; it is shameful for Africa and Africans, and especially for peoples suffering in Nigeria.
It is not a secret that the different ethnic groups forced together as, and in, Nigeria do not get along and are not getting along; they have really never gotten along. Pretenses and periods of true nervous unease shamelessly attributed to "peaceful co-existence" do not, cannot and should not, count. Nor should the parading of purely sham and obviously hypocritical, self-serving "patriotism" be taken seriously in Nigeria. The Scottish boy can truly say that life as a Scot in UK is in fact good; but no one in Nigeria can truthfully claim the same about life for any ethnic group in Nigeria being good; for specific ethnic groups, such life has actually been practically hellish. Yet, he could understand and articulate that the opportunity is there to be better, as an independent country taking care of its own affairs, even though there might be difficulties ahead.
So, we see the sharp contrast. UK allows the exercise of Self Determination among its own peoples even when it could and would lead to separation or secession; but the same UK will not allow such to be entertained in Nigeria or in Africa. We see that Self Determination can be conducted as a democratic, civil and orderly process in and by UK, but UK will incite a country like Nigeria to go to war and equip it for such in order to mar and stop the exercise of Self Determination by the peoples.
But the greatest lesson is yet this: even when given and assured good, a Scottish child will take a chance to prove and achieve better even if it means giving up the good. On the other hand, a Nigerian in unarguably bad situation would rather stay put than risk any chance for any improvement if it meant abandoning the bad situation. What a difference!
In a few hours, the fate of UK will be known. No matter how things turn out, there are ample lessons learned and to be learned; even for UK itself. As for Nigeria, no one should continue to be under any illusions of unity or stability or security. The peoples living in Nigeria can continue in dysfunction, powerlessness and violence, or they can decide to seek to exercise their Self Determination rights if there is to be any chance of escape.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
Over two hundred Christian girls are in captivity somewhere in Northeastern Nigeria and contiguous territories, abducted with impunity from Chibok, Borno State, and are now being forcibly converted to Islam (and who knows what unthinkable else) by Boko Haram. How many? How? Where did they go? How is that even possible? Several weeks have passed. There is nothing you can do about it. There is nothing anybody can do about it. There is nothing the Nigerian Military or Police can do about it. There is nothing the Nigerian government can do about it. There is nothing the international community can do about it. Face the facts, if only so that you can better feel the heartache…if only so you can feel the helplessness. There is nothing you can really do about Boko Haram.
Why? Boko Haram was started by and enjoys the full support and protection of powerful and influential Northerners, leaders and other sympathetic kinfolks. Even till today, despite crocodile tears, political grandstanding, the Pharisee-and-Scribes-like prayers, latter-day fake conversions, and speeches dripping with hypocrisy and dishonesty, such support and protection of Boko Haram is still there and stronger than ever. There—within the Northern populace; in the Nigeria Military; in the Nigeria Police; in the Nigerian political parties, in the Nigerian government. Even from foreign soils. After all, how can over 250 human beings be moved at once from one location without logistical planning and preparation, without leaving a trail or trace, all without involving local cooperation? That’s why there is nothing anyone can do about Boko Haram and its destructiveness.
A little reminder… Who, not so long ago, successfully lobbied foreign governments—including the mighty USA—really hard, against declaring Boko Haram a terrorist organization even when it had already met all the criteria for such categorization? Do you understand how much it costs in terms of power, reach, pull, influence, money, resources and willfulness to accomplish that? Who pressured the Nigerian government initially (and even now) against arresting, trying and imprisoning Boko Haram members when they were caught? Are these parties and entities not with us today still? Think: Northerners, their foreign sponsors and sympathizers; UK, US, EU, the UN also—they are all complicit in one way or another. At one point, even the respected world Human Rights Organizations were exclusively concerned about the treatment of Boko Haram members, while being loudly silent on the victims’ and surviving family members’ rights. That’s why there is nothing that you can do about Boko Haram.
Remember when they were singing the dirge of “poverty”: oh, if only the North wasn’t stricken with so much poverty, as a result (obviously) of deliberate acts of the South in cahoots with the Nigerian government, to thoroughly subjugate the North and deprive the North of God-given air and water, there would be no Boko Haram? Remember that one? Who were behind this ruse? Northern leaders. Northern politicians. Northerners in government. The world, too. Pundits all over. And Northern people believed / believe that, showing preference for Boko Haram over the Nigerian government. They all bought into that one. And, still do. That’s why you can’t do anything about Boko Haram and its rampage.
Have you ever asked yourself how things got this way in Nigeria? Really, really? Of course, not. That’s why peoples living in Nigeria have not asked themselves the question: will it always be this way with Nigeria? They are too busy ignoring every sign confirming the always worsening hellish existence known by the name, Nigeria; they are too busy being the “giant of Africa”, or celebrating Africa’s “largest economy”; or citing Forbes magazine pick for the world’s # 23 richest man. They are too busy getting ready for the next do-and-die elections, when, if a Northerner does not become the next President of Nigeria, Northerners will see to it that Nigeria continues to be ungovernable and will burn past ashes: you all will die. Or they are too busy being “optimistic”—meaning being really lazy about doing the correct thing to effectively solve the correct problem, yet expecting certain serious salvation from elsewhere. Or invoking their so-called “founding fathers” in a strange show of total ignorance: fact is, Zik, Awolowo and Bello each and all wanted to use Nigeria for their own individual ambitions; and in any case, colonial Luggard was Nigeria’s founding father who was also using Nigeria to advance his own personal stature and career. They are too busy parroting that which does not make any sense at all—“the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable…” and mouthing the now all but silly mantra and oxymoron, “the indivisibility of Nigeria”, as if Nigeria was ever undivided. In a few more weeks, they will forget “our girls” as they lurch into another crisis, leaving heartbroken families to grieve alone and abandoning their children, our children, to their unenviable, unimaginable fate—alone—at the hands of sadistic Boko Haram. Yes, the rest of the world will move on too: the world suffers from “Sympathy-Fatigue syndrome”; sooner than later, Nigeria will be eclipsed on the world’s radar, as the world’s empathy and sympathy run out for peoples who do not want to rise up to defend and protect themselves.
Which all brings to focus the recent “Regional Summit on Security in Nigeria” held in Paris, sponsored by France, attended by Nigeria, Benin, Chad, Niger Republic, and Cameroon, as well as representatives and leaders from the US and other countries. In his address, President Jonathan who admitted that this was the second meeting on Africa security-related issues in France in one year, started with: “…It gives me great pleasure to attend this Special Summit to deliberate on the current security situation in Nigeria…”
“Great pleasure…” (—Jonathan)????? And then, President Jonathan follows that with obligatory, typical African-style, Nigerian-perfected sycophancy, before telling everyone what everyone already knew, and even knew more than he or Nigeria does. In effect, there was nothing really new in his speech; actually, nothing, period. As if to underscore this point, within hours after his speech, Boko Haram struck twice with the same impunity in the same areas with the same devastating effectiveness.
There is nothing Jonathan, even with the rest of the world “helping”, can do about Boko Haram. Experience and facts show that when terrorists are truly members of the same public of which a segment is being victimized, and when that public empathizes with, harbors, supports and protects the terrorists as family—whether in a regional, biological, sociological, cultural, political, ideological and or religious sense—the terrorists are there to stay. For that matter, despite the terrorism, that public regards their kin—the perpetrators—as anything but terrorists. For this reason, strong foreign help and intervention has yet to rid any nation of that nation’s terrorists or terrorism when such is rooted as above. So, even with US, UK, EU, UN, China and whosever help, Nigeria is now doomed: Boko Haram is Nigeria’s lot, etched in there and here to stay for all times.
But, don’t think that this comes as a surprise to the world. Years ago, the world experts and intelligence on terrorism already predicted that Nigeria was ripe for a takeover by Al Qaeda even as Al Qaeda itself was plotting, scheming and planning on it. Nor was the outcome a secret to Nigeria’s leaders. Back in September 2011, when he was still alive, General Azazi who was later killed by what must be a non-accidental mid-air explosion of the helicopter he was travelling in, declared: “Terrorism has come to stay [in Nigeria]”, after admitting that “the [Nigerian] nation's security outfits were caught unawares by the new dimension introduced by Boko Haram sect”. (See: http://elombah.com/index.php/articles-mainmenu/8157-per-azazi-nigeria-now-embracing-the-somali-path-is-south-sudan-option-still-possible--v15-8157 ). That was 3 years ago. They all knew. And, there is nothing they could or can do about Boko Haram.
So, expect Nigeria to be like Somali, except unbelievably worse. Expect Nigeria to be like Pakistan, except weirdly worse. Expect Nigeria to be like Afghanistan, except mind-bogglingly worse. Like Iraq, but unfathomable worse. Like Yemen, but impossibly worse. Nigeria is already worse than any other known nationally or internationally-based terrorism hotbed, what with this recent mass abduction of young girls and children in one fell swoop, with such impunity and arrogance on the part of the terrorists and with such powerlessness by the government, such resignation by the so-called Nigerian peoples and such helplessness and hopelessness by the victim’s families.
Here’s the big question: Do you really want to be part of this Nigeria whose ugly, horrific picture is getting clearer by the day, by the hour? In the past, you have deluded yourself and made yourself a laughingstock by this “indivisibility of Nigeria” mirage. Are you that blind not to see the obvious divisions, and how such disunion is being exploited by the same authors of that false statement and by everyone else, for that matter? You have been confused, indoctrinated and made a fool of with the “Nigeria is non-negotiable” rhetoric, especially as used by Northern leaders, when in fact Nigeria is being negotiated: Nigeria is being given away to Boko Haram, by Northern Nigerian leadership; you sit there pretending oblivion even as it is happening under your very nose. For that matter, when Northern leaders say Nigeria is non-negotiable, they actually mean that they have always been in possession of Nigeria, and there is nothing you can do about that, or do about what they want to do with Nigeria. You have no say as to where they are taking Nigeria: not before (didn’t Babangida register Nigeria as a member of OIC—Organization of Islamic Conference; what have you done about it?); not now (Boko Haram gains and reigns: what are you doing about that?); and not in the future (completely Shariarized, Islamized Nigeria).
Today, say, No! to Nigeria, the terrorist hotbed. Say, Yes! to your own nation, your own country, where you can deal with terrorism should such alien evil notion creep into your civilized national space. Say, No! to Nigeria where evil thrives because of certain vested interests and support, and because what is truly universally evil is accepted, condoned and celebrated by a segment as right. Say, Yes! to your own country and your own nation where such inhumane thought and acts as Boko Haram’s would never even cross the collective mind.
Do not for one moment believe or agree with the foreign pundits and or their leaders who want to support one-Nigeria—who say that they are here to help shore up one-Nigeria against terrorism. One-Nigeria does not work. If the foreigners sustain one-Nigeria, they are only making it possible for terrorism to overrun the entire area; in the end, there is nothing they can do about that, but you, yes, you and your families and peoples will suffer the consequences. The same foreigners caused the root problem of Nigeria by amalgamating the South and the North and forcing the South into perpetual servitude to the North by that arrangement, with the resultant constant friction today, in the first place. Today, references are being made about Biafra, the consequence of the non-workability of one Nigeria; the same foreigners saw to it then that that only hope for this geospace growing and progressing, each nation along its own trajectory and at its own pace, was snuffed out by their supporting one-Nigeria to kill off Biafra. It’s only in rare moments of honesty that you will hear them or even Nigerians admit this, even though no one can avoid or escape the paralyzing and stunting effects of such a pyrrhic victory in Nigeria today. So, no matter how many security summits Africans or Nigerians attend in Paris, as long as the pledge is to shore up one-Nigeria, no one can stop Boko Haram. As long as one-Nigeria exists, terrorism has not only already won but has also become entrenched in the entire geospace. These foreigners already foresaw Al Qaeda coming to Nigeria and could not stop it, assuming they did something about it at all. When these foreigners enforce one-Nigeria, they are making it easy and inevitable for terrorism to occupy and own the entire “one-Nigeria” territory: they will not be able to stop that development—assuming they will even do something at all. If one-Nigeria continues to exist, you might as well count on it all being Al Qaeda’s own country, an all-Al Qaeda territory.
It is up to you. Don’t think that Boko Haram cannot reach into your own community, even as we speak, and cart off your own children with impunity, no matter where you reside as long as it is one-Nigeria. And as long as it is one-Nigeria, don’t think that there is anything you or the government or the peoples or the world can do about such a dastardly act by Boko Haram. The sure antidote to Boko Haram is No-Nigeria. The only way to stop Al Qaeda or Terrorism owning you and Nigeria is to get your nation and people out of Nigeria. Do something meaningful and effective: say, No! to one-Nigeria. Actualize your own country and be in charge of and responsible for it and your own people.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
A measured response to “There Is No Value In Gay Culture,” Says Senator Domingo Obende, Posted: Jan, 21 2014, 3:01PM Sahara Reporters.
“It is awfully painful to know that it cannot be explained to Obende’s understanding what Creation and Createdness which we all observe, witness and experience daily tell us about the Creator. What human beings and their societies understand and finally decide for their culture of the day—what is acceptable to them—could not and has never limited nor influenced the Nature of the Creator to express unfathomable variation and variety in the Creation and Createdness. It becomes laughable, then, that a human being should arrogate to himself to judge on behalf of the Creator or in the name of God that which is un/acceptable to God: what is allowable or acceptable to him or his society, yes—maybe; but what is acceptable or unacceptable to God, never!—except in total ignorance. God did not seek the human beings’ counsel and or society’s approval when God made Man heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, sexual, asexual and other things in-between and even outside the range of divinely determined possibilities. It is a range and a scale that the human mind couldn’t even begin to imagine. Yet he, man, is so certain of himself to speak to the Creator’s preferences.” –Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.
So-called Senator Domingo Obende of Nigeria is not an authority in values and culture, so it is preposterous for him to state that “There Is No Value in Gay Culture”. “Says who?” is the only wise response to such a foolish statement as his, a statement which in fact proves that the Senator does not understand human culture and less still, human value. Sure, he can sponsor Bills and make laws Nigerian-style in projection of his own ignorance and that of his colleagues in a dysfunctional system because he is a “Senator” but that’s all he can do; and sooner or later, one will ask him “Where is the value in Nigeria’s ‘Senate Culture’?” As surely as the Sun rises tomorrow, Humanity prevails and along with it, the Human Rights of Gays / LGBT will be accepted and respected, and yes, even in Nigeria.
Point by point, let us dissect Obende’s foolishness. By claiming that “homosexuality does not bring any advantage to Nigerian society”, what is he comparing homosexuality with? Since he sees homosexuality as a crime (which is truly nutty), then pray, tell us what advantage does the culture of arranged and or forced marriage of female children—some as young as 12 years of age—in heterosexual settings, bring to the Nigerian society? Isn’t this the real crime? If Obende is talking about the contribution of Gays / LGBT to society, if he does not already understand by now that Gays / LGBT are represented and contributing in every walk of life in Nigeria as elsewhere on this planet, side by side with their heterosexual counterparts—military, security, religious, political, social, occupational, professional, menial, leadership, followership—then he is offering another reason why he should have his head re-examined.
With regards to “procreativity”, there are heterosexuals who cannot produce offspring. Some really want to, but are unable. Others have no desire to and won’t. So, Obende would classify these heterosexuals as “bring[ing] no advantage to Nigerian Society—and perhaps, pass Bills to make them criminals too?
To invoke the name of religion in his erroneous reasoning is the mark of despots. I can address Christianity which he mentioned. If we agree that the sole Figure of Christianity is Jesus the Christ, then I challenge Obende to show us where Jesus devalued Gays or Gay culture (a point which this writer understands the new Pope is seriously trying to redirect and re-educate Christians about: Christianity is about Christ, not about defending our individual or collective hang-ups, ideologies, customs and prejudices in the name of religion.) For that matter, does Obende not know that there are in fact Christian clergy who are Gay / LGBT and are still performing their religious duty with the highest degree of piety and effectiveness?
It were better that Obende stayed away from God and Creation in justification of his errant reasoning on marriage. The very cultures and nations who own such God / Creation lore which he is quoting and who forced it on Africans already accept Gay / LGBT and the latters’ right to enter into marriages—and great! for them, too. Yes, neither Christianity nor Islam is originally native to Africa. Before these religions were exported to Africa, were there not marriages? Marriage is indeed a social contract and construct: it is not a religious thing, although couples and society are free to invite religion into it, which they readily, proudly and happily do. Yet, before there was religion, marriages were already happening.
It is awfully painful to know that it cannot be explained to Obende’s understanding what Creation and Createdness which we all observe, witness and experience daily tell us about the Creator. What human beings and their societies understand and finally decide for their culture of the day—what is acceptable to them—could not and has never limited nor influenced the Nature of the Creator to express unfathomable variation and variety in the Creation and Createdness. It becomes laughable, then, that a human being should arrogate to himself to judge on behalf of the Creator or in the name of God that which is un/acceptable to God: what is allowable or acceptable to him or his society, yes—maybe; but what is acceptable or unacceptable to God, never!—except in total ignorance. God did not seek the human beings’ counsel and or society’s approval when God made Man heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, sexual, asexual and other things in-between and even outside the range of divinely determined possibilities. It is a range and a scale that the human mind couldn’t even begin to imagine. Yet he, man, is so certain of himself to speak to the Creator’s preferences.
It is downright silly for Obende to claim that “[Nigeria as a right of sovereignty] should be able to make laws to curb “foreign” and “devilish” behaviors” [homosexuality], thereby to make draconian, uninformed primitive laws criminalizing Gay / LGBT and taking away the latters’ civil and human rights. If in fact Nigeria is really interested in curbing foreign influence, then, Nigeria should outlaw Christianity and Islam right away; nothing is more foreign to Nigeria than these religions.
Obende ignorantly makes Homosexuality a crime; in the same way, he shows ignorance by insinuating that Homosexuality is a transplant from foreign lands; and does not originally exist and will not be accepted in Africa. And in his delusion, he thinks he speaks for Africa? Only stupid Africa, which no longer exists.
As far as homosexuality being, per Obende, “Immoral behavior”? Pity, he does not understand: what create and drive homosexuality are the same underlying natural forces and influences that also create and drive heterosexuality.
It is entirely ridiculous that Obende would (quote): “encourage… Nigerians (and the West) to accept the decision, and embrace it as a facet of African tradition… We are Africans, that’s what makes us unique”.
It has to be stated that Obende and Nigeria have no right to criminalize homosexuality. That senseless and wicked law does not represent African tradition—which tradition, anyway? Perhaps some Nigerians will embrace his law, but most will not. The West will not; hopefully, they will also orchestrate the ostracism of Nigeria for this travesty. Putin and his Soviet Russia may go along with Nigeria today; but tomorrow is a different matter. Yes, we are Africans, but what makes us unique cannot be this latter-day wholesale stripping and deprivation of the human and civil rights of fellow human beings. That’s exactly what Africa is fighting against.
In the final analysis, Obende is wrong; he is way off, along with his colleagues. His law may be Nigeria’s law, but Homosexuality is in fact writ into the Law of the Land of Humanity. He may criminalize and ban Homosexuality in Nigeria today, but Nature breeds and supports Homosexuality, as well as Heterosexuality, in all of Nature, for all times. His religions and culture may abhor Homosexuality, but God created us all, Homosexuals, Heterosexuals—any-sexuals. And loves us all, might I add. Obende has his own sense of value, but he cannot tell God who, what or how to value; he cannot claim to speak for God and God’s Creation.
In the year 2014, it should be a Crime against humanity for any person, country, system or principality to make laws denying any segment of the society of its civil rights and human rights and criminalizing the existence of its members for being Gay / LGBT. It is the most un-Godly act to do so in the name of God.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
Citizen, Human Race.
Resident, Land of Nature
Time was when the British colonialists were accused of creating one-Nigeria in total ignorance of the stark differences existing between the different peoples that erstwhile lived independently and as neighbors in the geospace currently occupied by “Nigeria” prior to 1914. But, as we will learn from the following information, colonial Britain was well aware, or at least was well-informed, of these differences. Therefore, the crime of colonial Britain with regards to one-Nigeria formation, besides the general inhumanity of colonialism, is not that of perhaps pardonable ignorance, but of deliberate neglect, insensitivity, carelessness and impunity typical of colonial overlords. The result is the perpetual devastating dysfunction of that awful creation which manages to cling to life one hundred years later, its sole function to continue to torment, to ruin the life and times of peoples directly and indirectly affected by Nigeria.
According to “Revealed: Lugard’s 1914 report on amalgamated Nigeria” of December 31, 2013 (http://transparencyng.com/index.php/news-categories/130-reports/8658-revealed-lugard-s-1914-report-on-amalgamated-nigeria-tribune), in 1914, the Right Honorable A Bonar Law, the Governor General [of Nigeria], wrote a note prefacing a report of the status of Nigeria immediately post Amalgamation. In that note, he identified the serious problems facing colonial rule and administration of Nigeria, for which the challenged colonialists must / had to make allowances both then and in the future:
The principal change at Amalgamation, according to this document, was that the “Colony of Southern Nigeria” became the “Colony of Nigeria” to be ruled by the single Government of Nigeria, under a governor-general. “The Legislative Council [of the now Colony of Nigeria] remained, but its powers of legislation were restricted to the Colony” since “…it would be manifestly unjust to place Mohammedan emirates of the north and the mining interest of the Bauchi plateau under a Council sitting on the coast [in south], in which they could have no representation…”
Did you catch that? Huge fundamental problem, “fudged” over by the British, right from the beginning. So, why even attempt Amalgamation—why force on Amalgamation at all?
The colonial administration could not administer a “unified” Nigeria as one and had to divide it into Southern and Northern Province, because of “…the difficulty presented by the fact that they were each subject to a different set of laws, in some cases widely divergent and differ essentially in many matters of policy and administration.” Really!? We ask the same question, why proceed with Amalgamation? Continuing:
“The system of land tenure and the prerogative of the Crown in respect to lands, the system of taxation, of the court of law, and the method of native administration were fundamentally different- and the adoption of any other method of sub-division, such as been suggested, would therefore have produces any initial chaos.” You must be kidding—insisting on Amalgamation. And…
“The division actually adopted, pending the unification of the laws and the evolution of a uniform policy, with such local variations as differences in race, in degree of civilization, in religion and environment, which might prove to be necessary for Nigeria, in no way precluded a later adjustment of this spheres.” Oh yes, hoping for “later adjustment”? Right! More:
“Southern Nigeria, on the other hand, presented a picture which was in almost all points the exact converse of that in the North. Here the material prosperity had been extraordinary.” And so while Northern Nigeria was devoting itself to building up a system of Native Administration and laboriously raising a revenue by direct taxation, Southern Nigeria had found itself engrossed in material development.” Wow! Knowing all this, the British still went ahead with the forced Amalgamation.
It is therefore accurate to conclude that no one or entity understood the fixed, unbridgeable differences between those whom the British would force together as one country more than the British themselves: they knew. Here, we’ve read about how they deftly adjusted their tactics accordingly to respect and navigate Nigeria’s insoluble divisions—a divided Nigeria—while at the same time forcing Nigeria to be “unified.”
PRESENT-DAY OFFENDERS IGNORE EVIDENT REALITY
And, time was when colonial Britain was deservedly blamed for creating the problem that is her baby, unworkable one-Nigeria. Today, the crime of continuing to allow (or more accurately, of using) impossibly one-Nigeria to snuff the life out of peoples living in Nigeria is to be blamed on Nigeria’s so-called leaders, along with the “followership” otherwise known as “citizens.” With the help of post-colonial Britain, Nigerian leaders have foisted and sustained a failed State on brutalized and bruised citizenry; a failure resulting from their attempting to “ignore away” the known insurmountable differences between the peoples. And, even though history, facts and experience show that these differences can never be wished away or pretended away, this pernicious exercise of sustaining one-Nigeria continues today, which brings us to up to date: January 2014.
Today, a political party called APC is promising to rescue a Nigeria divided of its own essence; APC is trying to sell this promise by preaching unity, progress, patriotism, democracy and rule of law, while at the same time lambasting the government of the day (PDP) which it accuses of doing the opposite. It only takes an infant to remind APC that it has all the same players who, from within and or without, contributed to the ongoing mess and cesspool called Nigeria, to the lawlessness of the land, to the corruption that same APC, in unbridled hypocrisy, is now shrill about. APC is even now proudly parading these same criminal and inane players in public in a flaunting show of either complete ignorance of contemporary history and experience, or senile forgetfulness or most likely, in-your-face impunity: after all, what can the masses really do to APC and to these players? A fifteen year-old will remind APC and Nigeria that he or she is the same age as PDP; and that the same unfulfilled promises made by PDP originally on his or her birthdate are those which APC is making today, which by all accounts and looks will undoubtedly never see the light of day, be it in another fifteen years or even in fifteen decades.
But mature reasoning should show APC and Nigeria that the problem with Nigeria is one-Nigeria: it is not Jonathan or PDP. It is not possible or workable to unify Nigeria, owing to the well-known and unchanging differences, differences which no one really should have any reason or cause to be ashamed of—or, for that matter, be afraid of. By the same token, no sane person should ignore or dismiss these differences for the sake of pursuing unity in certain futility. Promises can be made, but experience, facts and history prove that no promises can be kept under one-Nigeria because in Nigeria “…each [Region is] subject to a different set of laws, in some cases widely divergent and differ essentially in many matters of policy and administration” “…the system of taxation, of the court of law, and the method of native administration were fundamentally different” “…differences in race, in degree of civilization, in religion and environment…” These differences were originally catalogued by the creators of Nigeria; they understood, and realizing this, made administrative changes to acknowledge, respect and cleverly accommodate divided Nigeria in order to navigate these differences even while pretending to enforce one-Nigeria. Thanks to the referenced article, it is now clear. But is APC or even PDP listening? Do they understand—APC, PDP or whatever strutters are on the political stage? Is Nigeria—are Nigerians—any wiser?
CAUSE OF CORRUPTION (AND OTHER PROBLEMS) IN NIGERIA IDENTIFIED
Every person harps about “Corruption” in Nigeria, and every aspiring government, political party (including obviously clueless APC) or “leader” promises to do something to abolish it. As much as one may argue that corruption is inherent in human nature, let’s look at some facts about how Corruption was introduced and then sustained in Nigeria. Do you read how “the Right Honorable A Bonar Law, the Governor General [of Nigeria],” described the pre-Amalgamation regions, “North” and “South”, in the referenced document? Here, see for yourself:
“Southern Nigeria, on the other hand, presented a picture which was in almost all points the exact converse of that in the North. Here the material prosperity had been extraordinary. The revenue had almost doubled itself in a period of five years. The surplus balances exceeded a million and a half”… ”And so while Northern Nigeria was devoting itself to building up a system of Native Administration and laboriously raising a revenue by direct taxation, Southern Nigeria had found itself engrossed in material development.”
This was 1914: did you read the Governor-General complain of corruption in either the North or the South? No. I didn’t, either. If there was corruption, in his characteristic candor and professionalism, he would have mentioned it.
In 1966, though, the very first policy of the Aguiyi-Ironsi-led government announced on January 28 1966 (as reported by New York Times in “Ironsi Announces Sweeping Reforms”, of the same date) stated that the Military government “would stamp out corruption ‘with ruthless efficiency’ and initiate investigations of those ‘who abused their public offices through the acquisition of state lands and financial deals.’” (Taken from The Untold History of the Nigeria-Biafra War by Dr. Luke Aneke. Triumph Publishing New York 2007 p.34). (It is a good bet that all current leaders and officials of APC and PDP would have had a “rough” time during that regime!) So, within fifty years of Amalgamation, Corruption had infested Nigeria and had become so rampant and so ugly that the first order of business for that military government was a plan to deal with it militarily! How did this happen?
In one word: “one-Nigeria-nization”! Amalgamation! This is an analogy of what Amalgamation did: The colonialist, Smith, in order to fully exploit rich and prosperous Peter and his non-materially-minded erstwhile neighbor, Abdul, forces them into a relationship—without their consent. Smith takes Peter’s wealth and resources and uses a lot of it to entice and keep Abdul in the relationship, and, on top of that, as an added incentive, places Abdul in charge of the relationship over Peter while he, Smith, is the undisputed overall boss. This sick relationship leads to entitlement mentality on the part of Abdul: he does not have to work for anything; he is guaranteed the best of the products of the relationship and also, “born to rule” status. Peter is demoralized: merit means nothing; why work that hard if the fruits of his labor will be taken away from him and given to his “under-master”, Abdul, while the rest is wrested from him by the big bad Master Smith? On his part, Smith is all too happy: he is in colonial heaven: he is in full control; he has it all; he rules over Peter and Abdul. In this arrangement, merit and hard work are no longer recognized or encouraged as values, only replaced by favoritism. Productive and progressive healthy competition is replaced by naked exploitation. Finally, it becomes clear to Peter: three can play that game—get whatever you can without ever working for it, any way you can, any time, all the time. Nepotism? Add that, naturally. Impunity? But, of course: don’t they all go together? That’s the essence of corruption, isn’t it? This is in fact corruption.
There is no rocket science to it. Corruption in Nigeria is a result of the way colonial Britain originally put Nigeria—with its obvious unworkable incompatibilities—together and Governor-General Law told us exactly how they put Nigeria together in 1914. Kill merit, take away by force the fruit of the labors of hard work, give such away to the non-deserving, and then deliberately place the hard-worker under the control of the free rider. Finally, oversee the whole lopsided relation with the heavy hand and force of colonialism. Corruption is the only outcome of this type of arrangement. Corruption today in Nigeria cannot be gotten rid of or even controlled as long as there is one-Nigeria, where one-Nigeria represents the ongoing exploitative and corrupting relationship originally set up by colonial Britain. Pre-colonization, the British acknowledged Southern prosperity and progress: remember, today’s almighty Oil was not even part of that picture. With colonization, the South and the North became pits of corruption, devoid of productivity incentive; the wealth left the South to the North and ultimately mostly to colonial Britain. By the post-colonialism era, corruption, like a virus, flourished and completely displaced Southern prosperity. Today, corruption is no longer the colonial problem: it is now the problem of the neo-colonized—peoples who inherit the structures created, operated and left behind by colonial masters which the natives are now in charge of. Prior to 1914, there was no corruption in this Bio-space. After one-Nigeria, corruption corrupted Nigeria thoroughly. Today, the ongoing support of the structure of one-Nigeria encourages, deepens, spreads and strengthens corruption.
As for the argument about Corruption not being peculiar to Nigeria, that is entirely correct. What is unique about Nigeria and corruption is that Nigeria presents to the world a real and practical study in the origins and process of Corruption. A “snapshot” in 1914 shows an astonishingly prosperous and progressive Independent South; a second snapshot in 1966 reveals a disgusting and alarmingly corrupt Nigeria after it had subsumed the said South by colonial fiat. What transpired?
1) Merit: You have two systems. One has merit as part of its value set. The other does not even have merit in its vocabulary. Alone, both are content. Force the two systems together, without their consent. To accommodate the forced relationship, banish merit entirely.
2) Hard work and its reward: You have two systems. One has hard work as part of its ethic; it looks forward to and enjoys the rewards, even if materialistic, of its hard work. To the other system, hard work is not recognized and reward for hard work is an alien concept. By itself, each is system is content. Force the two systems together without their consent and to make that stick, take the rewards away from the hard worker and give them to the other.
3) Subordination: You have two systems. Each is independent. One is progressive and prosperous, and that’s important to it. The other does not recognize progressiveness and prosperity and has a different valuation system regarding these things. Force them together in a relationship, and decide to place the progressive under the authority and power of the other.
4) Institutionalization: You have two systems. They are starkly different and that is well known. Without their consent, force them into a relationship; apply the above three conditions, and formalize the forced relationship as a country and the conditions above as the norm and law of the land, with impunity.
This is what transpired in Nigeria. It is not clear if any one of the conditions above can cause corruption all by itself; or what combinations thereof will birth corruption. What is known is that all four occurred together during the Amalgamation of Nigeria and prosperity and progressiveness turned into corruption. These conditions still exist today, and aptly define one-Nigeria.
(By the same token, [good] leadership cannot exist in Nigeria for the same reason of forcing on one-Nigeria. The way Nigeria is forced together ignoring its unmanageable deep fissures and their consequences yet pretending to maintain “unity” will never foster leadership. Neither can free and fair elections happen in Nigeria, where, at the end of the day of ugly politicking experiences, a handpicked candidate-“winner” is imposed on the electorate with glee and impunity, predetermined by the differences between the peoples, which differences Nigerians pretend are not operative.)
INCAPABLE OF LEARNING OR INCAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING?
Comes now President Jonathan with the statement of his patriotic fervor on the desirability and inevitability of one-Nigeria which (he hopes) is to be finally formally rigged into ratification by his Sovereign National Conference (SNC) planned for later this year, as if the consequences of trying to keep Nigeria one are either new or nothing to him. It was hoped that with the SNC, Nigeria would stop denying its irreconcilable differences, accept them, and summarily deal with them by the peoples freely choosing for themselves and by themselves whether to stay together or to leave. Alas, President Jonathan has chosen the path of Gowon who recognized and acknowledged in 1966 that there is truly no basis for unity of Nigeria, yet went to war and committed Genocide against Biafra along the way just to keep Nigeria one, only in the end snatching a pyrrhic victory: Nigeria is still not one today and is still at war with itself. President Jonathan failed to learn from his godfather turned nemesis, General Obasanjo, who, under pressure to convene an SNC, placed the discussion of the structure / restructuring of Nigeria out of bounds and rather tried to use the conference to advance his third term ambitions in futility. Having missed that opportunity to let the people choose, Obasanjo was saddling Nigeria with even more crippling dysfunction and destruction (which, like a typical amnesic Nigerian leader, he now blames on Jonathan!). In 1966, General Ironsi was a zealot for one-Nigeria; he failed to heed the call to re-think and re-direct; it caused him his life and threw Nigeria into a new but equally destructive trajectory still tracing out to today. As a matter of fact, many of the players running around now in the political and social arenas had a direct or indirect hand in his murder; they still style themselves as “patriots.”
For that matter, how is it that President Jonathan does not understand why his PDP party is hated in Nigeria for having achieved practically nothing, whether this performance or lack thereof is a result of perception (which is as good as reality with people) or fact? Can he not see why no party and why no leader, no matter how earnest and honest, can work effectively in Nigeria given the context of one-Nigeria? Can he not see APC and chuckle, knowing that fifteen years ago, PDP started the same way, with lofty goals and a noble cast who soon were destroyed by one-Nigeria and ended up achieving nothing of substance? (Well, truth be told, APC is not exactly starting with a noble cast, just recycled proven selfish hypocrites, opportunists and born-to-rulers masquerading as “statesmen” and patriots; and it does not have any discernible goals except to get rid of Jonathan and hand power back to the North. Yet, all the dysfunctional frenzy can be traced to one point: the atmosphere created by one-Nigeria.)
President Jonathan should read more into what is happening with his PDP. All these defections and coups (yes, these PDP defections enabled by Obasanjo and abetted by some Northern leaders are in fact “soft” coups. When late President Yar’Adua was practically dead for one year and his kitchen cabinet and wife with their outside supporters ran Nigeria while refusing to allow the VP to succeed him in complete violation of the constitution, and the PDP-dominated NASS said nothing, that was certainly a coup—all these defections and coups—) are possible because of the incorrigible dysfunction resulting from one-Nigeria: people truly responding in the interest of and loyalty to their known deep differences while pretending they are unified. In any case, these players and events are servicing the divided politics and divided political class of Nigeria, while doing nothing to solve the common problems of the divided masses, another good example of corruption. All this can be attributed to the conditions created by the friction from forcing together of peoples known to have deep differences and divisions, and attempting to maintain such a fake and forced “unity”. Surely. President Jonathan and his wise counsellors know this.
For these and other reasons, President Jonathan ought to reconsider his stance on the Sovereign National Conference. First, this, while not being a rare opportunity, is still the best opportunity to hear directly from the peoples, without the imposition of a pre-fixed government agenda and outcome. Second, it should be a conference where the peoples come to ratify each their respective ethnic sovereignties and, re-vested as such with that natural power and natural authority, decide for themselves whether to form a union or not, and whom to “union with,” if. It is called Self Determination. While there is still goodwill—is there, or is it just pretense, typical for Nigeria?
President Jonathan will have to decide on emulating the life-saving and culture-preserving bravery of Mikhail Gorbachev of then Soviet Union or the destructive nationalism of Slobodan Milosevic of then Yugoslavia. History has vivid records. Soviet Union broke up peacefully and orderly—thanks largely to Mr. Gorbachev—without triggering the feared Armageddon among the parties. But, break up it did, and the different nations are engaged in life and living activities today, including building new relationships even among themselves. Contrast that with Yugoslavia which also broke up, but not until Mr. Milosevic insisted and had dragged it and the entire surrounding region through the brutality and destruction of another war in Europe, complete with genocide and ethnic cleansing—again, for Europe. The “new” nations forge ahead, with lingering bitterness, sadness and lack of goodwill; but move on they must.
For Nigeria, there is no getting away from the fact that the problem of Nigeria is one-Nigeria. The problem of Nigeria has never been the stark differences between the peoples: that’s rather obvious and natural. The issue is that Nigeria wants to gloss over or ignore those differences—the huge white elephant sitting in the room—as if they are minor or do not exist. Then, Nigeria refuses to admit that its problems stem from such pretense. It is one thing to be playing with a square peg and a round hole and pretend that they will fit; it is another thing to refuse to understand why they will never fit; yet another thing to keep pretending that it is someone desirable or preferable to force them to fit when they will never. Blinded in this exercise in futility, like a hypnotized laboratory subject, Nigeria fails to ask the real question: how else can obviously different peoples who cannot force on a unity among themselves form different kinds of mutually beneficial, rewarding and consenting relationships? There are obviously ways; models exist in the world at large. The peoples have to have a chance to say yes or no to continuing with this impoverishing, life-sucking arrangement called one-Nigeria. NO, the peoples have a DUTY so to do.
THE HOUR COMETH
January is the bewitching hour for Nigeria. The Ides of March are come, indeed. With the likes of Obansanjo let loose and roaming the plantation pandering to sycophants and opportunists, mischief is already afoot. Whatever path it follows cannot bode well for the peoples. It is hoped that in the end, all things will nevertheless work together for the good to rescue a trapped peoples from the vicious and bruising relationship which has only been bringing out the very worst in them for 100 years. In spite of the kingmakers, chiefs, thieves, swindlers, rascals, haters and their minions.
A VISION FOR 2014 AND BEYOND
Once upon a time…
“Southern Nigeria… presented a picture… of… material prosperity [which] had been extraordinary. The revenue had almost doubled itself in a period of five years. The surplus balances exceeded a million and a half. The trade of the interior had been greatly developed by the construction of a splendid system of roads, and by the opening to navigation of waterways hitherto chocked with vegetation, while railways, harbor works, waterworks, and other capital expenditure, aggregating many millions of loan commitments, were in process. Ad valorem duties… were abolished on one class of imports after another, and for the most part only specific duties were retained. And… Southern Nigeria had found itself engrossed in material development.
(—culled from the Right Honorable A Bonar Law, the Governor General [of Nigeria]’s note (Ibid), 100 years ago.)
Let’s share this Vision for ALL: Every Region, Independent, prospers according to its own definition of prosperity.
By: Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
Have you run across this recipe for Tribes facing the dissolution of the treaty that binds them together? Here it is:
Pass a referendum bill…referendum campaigns conducted in a constructive manner…the need for a robust yet respectful debate…arguments “passionate” and “at times heated”, but informed and constructive…debate should be free from intimidation, jeering and sneering…politicians must not “go to war” over whether or not tribes should leave the political union…the sides on this question are not enemies…conduct this debate without losing the friendships and the positive relationships we have…whatever the result we will want to come together and whatever the people have decided we will want to act upon…mustn’t create a legacy of bitterness and hatred…a civilised debate rather than warfare between tribes…
“A CIVILIZED DEBATE RATHER THAT WARFARE BETWEEN TWO TRIBES…”
On November 15 2013, BBC News Scotland reported: “Scottish independence: MSPs pass referendum bill”. But it was Tom Peterkin reporting in the Scottish THE SCOTSMAN who gave us the insight and advice pouring from the hearts and minds of the Scottish leadership in “Scottish independence referendum bill passed” (http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/scottish-independence-referendum-bill-passed-1-3188213). In there, Mr. Malcom Chisolm is reported to have stated the guiding and enduring agenda:
“What we need to have is a civilised debate rather than warfare between two tribes.”
By now, it is no longer news that Scotland is engaged in the exercise of her rights of Self Determination, pursuing steps to forge ahead and craft her own political and sovereign destiny outside of the United Kingdom, leaving a union resulting from a 300-year-old treaty. The UK government and the rest of UK have not tried to quash, subdue, suppress, intimidate or criminalize the process, nor threatened Scottish leaders and their people with the charge of Treason. UK has not bandied around the term, “indivisible” to mock and frustrate Scottish moves; UK has not made any claims of a special Divine dispensation guaranteeing her unity or stamping unity on her Seal. Rather, UK respects the right of her citizens and her tribal groupings to decide what is good for them and where they [want to] belong politically; and UK is determined, as a matter of principle and course, to abide by, facilitate and carry out such decisions. The rest of the world accepts the process, too. One does not read anywhere that such and such a country, superpower or not, is invested in the unity of UK; or that a “united UK” is supreme, and as such, Scotland is vilified and discouraged in her bid to leave, because “to keep UK one” is now an imperative to be achieved at all costs.
There are lessons here for Nigeria, most of them obvious, some not so obvious. For example, Scottish leader, Mr. Chisolm, sees the situation as an issue between “Tribes”. Wow! That word, Tribe, is a dirty word for Nigeria, a derogatory term retained from the regime of those who bequeathed their language to Nigeria and first used that word as an insult against Nigerians. No one in Nigeria can admit his or her tribe—not if he or she does not want to be thoroughly disparaged and condemned as a “Tribalist.” But to those who own the word and the language whence it derives, Tribe is a mark of natural identity which neither a three-century-old Union-treaty nor globalization can erase or take away. There in UK, it is still the “Queen of England”, not the Queen of UK; “the Prince of Wales”, not the Prince of UK, where England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are the major tribal groupings of UK. They know and understand that the Tribe is the most natural and logical unit and basis for sovereignty and sovereign pursuits. They do not forget or deny their collective natural identity which is defined by Tribe.
Another lesson for Nigeria is this: why is it acceptable for other tribes in the world to exercise their Self Determination rights, but the same world frowns upon and discourages African Tribes from seeking the same basic collective human rights? Isn’t it ironic and patronizing that the same UK government which allows its own citizens to purse a referendum for separation is yet the most ardent opposer of Nigerian Tribes seeking the same relief and disposition? Why does the US make [reported] statements implying that the continued forced unity of Nigeria is in the best interest (of the US?) and must remain so, even though the Nigerian Tribes want to do what the Scottish did not have to seek others’ permission to do, what the Scottish Tribe is allowed to do in UK? Nigerians, indeed, Africans, must be lesser human beings, not human enough to partake of natural liberties taken for granted by the rest humanity on this planet? Why do the tribes in Nigerian, in Africa, allow themselves to be deprived of these liberties, either by other countries and or their expectations, or by their own self?
In any case, Nigeria should learn and understand that the desire and pursuit of leaving a union by a Tribe as such does not constitute declaring or waging war against the union. In 1707 the Scottish Tribe signed a Treaty with Britain to form a political union. In 2014, the Scots are going to decide either to continue to honor the treaty or to pull out: that’s all there is to that. They don’t even have to have an adverse reason to do so; it’s their right. The act is not confrontational. Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why Nigeria’s 1904 political “Amalgamation” “Treaty” cannot stand; any Tribe opting to leave has plenty of justification. To read such a move as a hostile act against Nigeria is not called for; such characterization is neither logical nor justifiable. In other words, it cannot and should not constitute or be regarded as a threat to Nigeria or to Nigerians (or to the world) that any Tribe or Tribes want to leave Nigeria.
As Nigeria prepares to engage in what is now looking like a “been there, seen that, done that” exercise (in futility), otherwise known as a Sovereign National Conference, wherein the outcome of continued non-consenting, unequal and forced union of Tribes is already a fixed endpoint, it is crucial that Tribes and peoples living and suffering in Nigeria wake up and take notice. Paraphrasing Albert Einstein, one cannot continue to do the same thing the same way over and over again and expect a different result. The Scottish Tribe of UK has handed you a recipe which fits Nigeria’s situation where Tribes desire to leave the (unworkable) union. Use it wisely; use it. Ignore it at your own continued peril. Here are the essential steps the Scots are taking:
- Craft and approve a Tribe Self Determination Referendum Bill
- Debate the Referendum
- Specify Procedural details
- Focus on what Independence really means
- Vote on the Referendum
- Resolve to carry out the Tribes’ wishes
- No hard feelings—preserve goodwill.
After years of trying to avoid the issue, Sovereign National Conference (SNF) has bubbled up again in Nigeria. Against its repression by mass psychological denial of the insurmountable problems bedeviling Nigeria, SNC has still managed to rise to the surface. Against its suppression by sectional and personal interest which benefit from the people’s woes and Nigeria’s dysfunction, SNC worms its way back to the surface. It is like lava or molten rock which can no longer be contained underground: it erupts as a volcano with evident force.
So, can we get something straight? No matter how Nigeria spins its status and denies its problems and prides itself in its pretense, it is still a rumbling volcano, and there will be destructive eruptions, and there will be need and calls for SNC. SNC itself is like medicine: when one reaches for medicine, one is finally admitting that there is threatening illness which cannot be wished away; and that this medicine will remedy the illness—when taken correctly. Yes, like all medicine, if it is not taken correctly, the illness can only persist.
Nigeria is a place where lessons are never learned, it seems. Not only that, Nigeria acts like it does not matter that she refuses to learn obvious lessons. Faced with serious illness, Nigeria feigns ignorance. When it is finally faced with complete destruction, it reaches for medicine. Typically, it reaches for the wrong medicine, out of denial, until compelled by failure to try the right one. Then, she manages to take the medicine but not as the doctor prescribed—deliberately.
SNC-like activity did not start occurring (and failing) in Nigeria with Obasanjo’s failed so-called National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) of 2005. Forty years before that, on Saturday, January 2 1965, then Prime Minister of Nigeria, “…said today that to avoid bloodshed an urgent meeting of regional representatives should be called to resolve Nigeria’s election crisis…” in response to widening and serious electoral crisis to which the South had reacted with the threat of secession. The meeting or conference never happened, because within the ensuing day, then President Nnamdi Azikiwe, with the aim of preserving one-Nigeria, was intimidated by the North into a compromise, which essentially handed power to the North over the rest of Nigeria. Supposing that meeting of regional representatives had actually happened and they truly tackled the issues equitably then? We’ll never know; but what we certainly know is the catastrophic result of that failure, and it didn’t take long to manifest. That result continues today.
On September 12, 1966, a “National Conference” authorized by Gowon’s Military Government commenced in Lagos to help find a solution to Nigeria’s life-threatening quandary (remember: it is the latter half of 1966 in Nigeria). Representatives came as regional delegates from the four regions (East, West, Midwest and North); 26 prominent Nigerians joined them. After intense discussions and negotiations, by September 17, they were all leaning towards a loose Confederation. But Gowon and his Military government stepped in firmly against such a confederation; they wanted their style of “Federation” and of course, one-Nigeria. What followed is well-known to everyone.
There was yet another attempt: the now famous or infamous Aburi Conference, this time, of Nigeria’s leaders themselves, in January of 1967. This time, Gowon himself was present, a participant. The transcripts of the meeting are clear on the agreement: Loose confederation. But before the ink had dried on the agreement, Gowon was to renege on it. This set off the fuse that finally lit the Biafra-Nigeria War.
As “Volcano Nigeria” continued to erupt during Obasanjo’s regime in the 2005, he was reluctantly forced to accept the need for SNC. But in his characteristic power-mongering complex, he stole the concept from activists and turned it into his own thing: the NPRC was thus born—a stillbirth, though, because he had unilaterally fixed the endpoint of the conference to be the endorsement of one-Nigeria. Thus failed the conference; SNC energy was dissipated for the time being then. Until now.
Today, as President Jonathan and his government and politicians have moved from total denial of the need, to an endorsement and a serious and credible plan of action, for SNC, he seems to be forgetful of why previous SNC’s failed. SNC fails in Nigeria because of the insistence on the outcome of one-Nigeria. David Mark, the President of the Nigerian Senate, appears to be speaking for the government when he stated that a “red line” has been drawn placing the discussion of the unity of Nigeria in the “no-go area”—just like Obasanjo’s NPRC and Gowon’s misadventures before him. This time around, at least one group, the Afenifere, has come out with courage and the wisdom from previous experiences to advice President Jonathan not to draw any red lines. There should be no no-go areas.
As for David Mark, he insults the peoples by taking away and denying them their natural right of sovereignty. Sovereignty belongs to the people, even if the people are foolish, passive or cowardly enough to allow a political class such as is foisted over them to trample on their rights. In Nigeria, the people have their individual ethnicities: that’s natural; no one can wish or take it away from them. That’s where sovereignty is based and vested. Ethnic nations are sovereign. It is these sovereign ethnic nations who will be represented in SNC if the conference is to be given the chance to succeed. And if the SNC is to be effective, no one or force should presume to set, or actually set, the outcome. The ethnic nations must work out the outcome among and between them, whatever that will be.
Yet, it is mindboggling to observe the mindset of the Gowon’s and Mark’s of Nigeria. On January 1 1965, in the thick of the latest crisis rocking Nigeria, President Azikiwe “described Nigeria as a nation charged with suspicion, fear and hatred…” Has that changed since then? No. Gowon himself also observed that “After six years of independence, we seem to be further away from national solidarity” (Associated Press. September 12 1966). Earlier, he had declared that there seemed to him “…no basis for Nigerian unity, which has been so badly rocked, not only once but several times…” “Rocked”? This was still in August 1966; the war had not even happened yet. Has the rocking of Nigeria stopped? No.
President Jonathan has been advised elsewhere to be the Soviet Union’s Gorbachev of Nigeria. He can use the Sovereign National Conference as the vehicle for this function by ensuring that this is the meeting of delegates representing the different sovereign ethnic nationalities hithertofore caught in the destructive web woven as Nigeria by colonial intent. Or, he can be the Milosevic of Nigeria. Gorbachev led his people to and through a peaceful self-determination process resulting in the non-violent dissolution of the Soviet Union. The world did not end on that day, and the different nations separating out of old Soviet Union are on their own and managing their own respective affairs today.
Slobodan Milosevic was the Serbian leader and President of Yugoslavia who, in contrast, stubbornly insisted that Yugoslavia (of which Serbia was part) had to remain united even when the different constituent nations wanted to go their own separate ways. This led to a horrendous war with heinous atrocities committed on hapless civilians, including ethnic cleansing and genocide—horrible things that are familiar for Nigeria. In the end, those nations (Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo; as well as Slovenia) did all separate; Yugoslavia was broken up. Milosevic was arrested and sent for trial in the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity which he had instigated and permitted. He died in prison after 5 years while his trial was still in progress.
Gorbachev or Milosevic: which will President Jonathan emulate? This will determine whether SNC is the usual dud and joke it has always been, or if this time around, it can release the peoples from their misery. In the end, like Gowon said, there is no basis for unity of Nigeria. Events and experience bear this out.
(Quotes taken from “The Untold Story of the Nigeria-Biafra War” by Dr. Luke Nnaemeka Aneke. 2007 Triumph Publishing)
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
On The Passing Of Professor Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
We mourn, as our duty, the passing of our beloved Chinua; but this is certainly overtaken by the compelling celebration of an exemplary life that has positively touched every corner and every culture of this planet and all peoples of the world. Through his literary works, Achebe speaks to us convincingly about Life being really large, while Living itself is really local—an intense personal dynamic relationship with forces and things locally linked, yet building out a web that will eventually not be constrained by any dimensions—there is no contradiction.
Like all great men and all great lives, Achebe refused to move on until that “one last thing” that had to be done was accomplished: the unfinished business of Biafra. “THERE WAS A COUNTRY. A PERSONAL HISTORY OF BIAFRA” (The Penguin Press, New York, 2012), tells the true story of Biafra, truly; as only Achebe can. There are many ways the world may choose to remember this star, and deservedly so; but Chinua Achebe, an Igboman, an African, a World-man, is telling us, through his last work, that he chooses as his lasting legacy, Biafra. Let the world take note of that: especially, the Biafrans. Achebe lives; Biafra lives.
Prof. Emmanuel Enekwechi
On behalf of:
Biafra Government in Exile (BGIE)
Biafra Liberation in Exile (BILIE)
Biafra Foundation (BF)
Submitted by Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
Hardly anyone remembers this headline on BBC News of Tuesday, 8 December 2009:
“Nigerian hospital ‘overwhelmed by corpses from police’”, reported by Caroline Duffield, BBC News, Lagos. That hospital is the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu.
The short story most likely did not even register:
“A Nigerian hospital has told the BBC it is overwhelmed by the number of corpses being brought to them by police” …The Chief Medical Director at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu says his staff are being forced to carry out mass burials of between 70 and 80 bodies some weeks ago…and that another mass burial is planned to take place soon.
In investigating the story, “the BBC has visited the morgue and taken photographs. The images are disturbing…They show piles of young men, lying on top of one another and strewn about on tables and floors…In places the corpses are stacked four or five deep…Records show 75 corpses were delivered to the morgue by police between June and 26 November this year.”
“Inside the mortuary in the south-eastern city of Enugu, two rooms are set aside for the remains of the young men…In the first room, they are stacked, naked, one on top of the other. In places the piles are four or five deep. Faces peer out amongst a forest of legs. Heads loll into groins. Limbs are flung around torsos. Some almost seem to embrace. The smell - and the flies - make it impossible to get close. It is a scene beyond belief.”
“The BBC has established that at least seven people were last seen alive in police custody, accused of kidnapping…” but, “Enugu State Police Commissioner Mohamed Zarewa told the BBC he was too busy to talk about their case…he was unaware of the number of young men lying dead in the morgue…that his officers are forced to engage armed robbers in gunfights and that many police officers are also killed…insists that his police force operate within the law.”
The report consoled with the announcement that: “Amnesty international is presenting the results of a three-year investigation on Wednesday, in which they will describe the level of police killings as shocking.“
The fact that BBC news carried this report, and that it was repeated in various national news media and international organizations, brought neither swift nor meaningful response—any response at all. A FedEx letter recounting the report with the pictures sent to the office of the Vice President of the USA by a concerned private group weeks later yielded nothing by way of tangible results.
That was 2009. If only we acted then, or remembered, we would have prevented the recent mass murders of another group of Igbo / Biafran youth whose bodies were thrown into the Ezu River in Anambra, making shocking news today. We would have prevented the unreported ongoing murders in smaller numbers of Igbo and other Biafran youths taking place all over Igboland / Biafraland, ALL THE TIME, at the hands of different branches of Nigeria’s armed forces including especially the Police.
But, let’s not kid ourselves. Killing the Igbo and other Biafrans is Nigeria’s favorite pastime, since 1940’s. It happens all the time, and nothing is done about it. Being in denial about such a genocidal crime against the Igbo and Biafrans is Nigeria’s preferred collective state of mind, especially since 1966. It does not help that so-called Igbo leaders and elite have joined in such a denial, like the case of Governor Okorocha and one Lotanna Ojukwu who claim that the Igbo were never targeted as a group by Boko Haram. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m5q4DG0f7U&feature=share&list=UL2m5q4DG0f7U ) Or the case of Peter Obi who, on June 20 2006, as the Governor of Anambra, actually gave “Shoot on Sight” orders to crazed and trigger-happy Nigeria’s security operatives, giving them cover to continue with relish the murdering of innocent Igbo and Biafran youth in cold blood, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of many MASSOB members. It was a heartless, criminal turkey-shoot of an exercise now accepted by the sanitizing phrase, “extrajudicial killing” which has not abated since then, leaving Igbo and Biafran youth corpses and unmarked mass graves in its bloody wake.
That Chris Ngige has gotten the Nigerian Senate to form a committee to look into this matter should not be a source of consolation to anyone—that is, anyone who has a memory. Since when did any government-initiated or government-backed investigation produce and or publish its results, and even if so, have the recommendations be acted upon? The masses will be soothed by the mere sight of such a committee, somehow mesmerized into forgetting to demand results.
The Igbo and other Biafrans will have to learn to stop living in denial. They have to stop pretending that they are not being hurt daily by Nigeria; they have to stop deceiving themselves by thinking that Nigeria has the will, desire, capacity or plan to stop acting to injure the Igbo and other Biafrans and their life-essential interests. The moth can claim and act out its attraction to the flame and pretend that it is a mutual love-affair, but the result of their encounter or embrace could never be pretended away. How many times, in how many places, and by how many ways and means do the Igbo and Biafrans die at the hands of Nigeria? Can the life of the Igbo and Biafran be that worthless or meaningless that they would still continue to stay in a relationship which allows Nigeria to continue to kill them?
When targeted by race and or religion and or economic/social profiling and violently attacked in other parts of Nigeria, the Igbo have received conflicting counsel—stay put and die in the defense of Nigerian patriotism, or relocate and live in Igboland and Biafraland or any other part of the world for that matter. Those who stay put continue to be victimized and live in constant fear. Yet, those who relocate to Igboland and Biafraland are also being killed by the same Nigerian forces and influences, in Igboland / Biafraland. Thus, Nigeria daily screams to the Igbo and other Biafrans anywhere: “die, die, die”!
“What is life?” we ask the Igbo and other Biafrans. What does it really mean when the collective life of a people is constantly being bled away by the ongoing killing off of the individual members of that group by a systematic and determined machinery? Do these murderous deaths really touch the heart of the Igbo and other Biafrans—really, really—or do they merely produce sham emotions? If there is no life, what else is there? Where there is no life, what can be there?
The Igbo and other Biafrans need to show courage; or at least show a willingness to prove to themselves, to Nigeria and to the world that their life has value and is not cheap. Self Determination allows them to wrest control of their collective destiny from Nigeria and become master of their own collective fate. Only then can these killings be stopped for good, because an independent Biafra and her people could not conceive, condone, tolerate or allow such heinousness. Salvation for the Igbo and Biafra comes through Self Determination and the exercise of their right thereof. It has to happen. Now.
The Igbo have a saying thus: “The insoluble has a solution.” It is high time for a people who own and know and practice this wisdom to step up to the stage and show us.
Nigeria is a place where facts mean nothing. Regarding Professor Achebe's not-as-yet-released book, "There Was A Country", pre-release excerpts have caused an already rumbling active volcano re-cocking for eruption to explode prematurely. At the center? Chief Awolowo's role in Nigeria's genocidal war against the Igbo / Biafra during the Nigeria-Biafra War. What are the facts?
Here is an authoritative link to a report of an interview conducted with Chief Awolowo where, in his own words, he stated what he did during the war. And, why he did it. It appears in "Punch" of October 8 2012:
After reading through this Punch article, it will do everyone a good service if somebody was to step up and say, "this report is a forgery"; "this interview never happened;" "the publication is a fraud"—or something to that effect. That will probably not happen, because the supporters and defenders of Chief Awolowo are using or republishing the same document and variations thereof in their unprecedented lash-out at Professor Achebe for writing that Chief Awolowo was the architect of Nigeria's starvation policy against Igbo-Biafra during the war, and that Chief Awolowo provided intellectual backing for the Nigerian military government of that time. Well, what facts boil out of this document relevant to these specific assertions?
1. Twenty Pounds Policy:
In the matter of the "twenty pounds" policy, whose effect was to cheat the Igbo, post-war, out of their pre-war savings in Nigeria's banks, Chief Awolowo says that it was he who laid down the principle; he says that although he was not part of the panel raised to work out and decide the specifics, he did approve the panel's recommendations. Yes, of course, he gave his reasons.
2. Starvation Policy:
In the matter of the starvation policy, whose mantra was that starvation is a legitimate weapon of war, in defense of Nigeria's genocidal blockade of Igbo / Biafraland, resulting in some of the horrific experiences Chief Awolowo says he witnessed himself when he encountered Kwashiorkor victims in Biafraland / Igboland, Chief Awolowo also says that he masterminded and carried out the policy. He also gives his reason.
Question: Is it a fact that Chief Awolowo was the architect of Nigeria's starvation policy against the Igbo / Biafra during that war?
Answer: Yes. Chief Awolowo himself says so.
3. Reasons for the Starvation (and other anti-Igbo / Biafra) policies:
In the matter of the source of the reasons and rationalization for these policies, their articulations and principles; their sustenance and enforcement, and the approvals necessary to carry out and sustain these policies, Chief Awolowo says that he is the one responsible and he shows off the lucidity of his thinking in these policies. He gives at least one example of how this worked in the section about the Nigeria Currency Change policy. He leaves no doubt as to whose reasoning subtends these policies.
Question: Is it a fact that Chief Awolowo provided intellectual backing for the Nigerian military government waging a war of aggression against Igbo / Biafra?
Answer: Yes. Chief Awolowo himself explained how that worked.
Chief Awolowo, without equivocation, in his own words, says he did these things. These are the facts. Why would anyone be arguing about whether he did it or not? He says he did! What should, however, generate controversy and fierce challenge are the reasons he gave for his deadly policies and for his role in Nigeria's military government / war cabinet. With a certain coolness and lucidity, Chief Awolowo rationalizes his acts; with similar calculated coldness and single-mindedness, even a hint of pride in his work, Chief Awolowo affirms that he is indeed the architect of these policies.
As such, all those lambasting Professor Achebe need to re-examine their motive. It is not mere assertion that Chief Awolowo was the architect of the Starvation Policy; it is a fact issuing from Chief Awolowo's own mouth. It is not mere conjecture that Chief Awolowo lent intellectual legitimacy to the Nigerian military government aggressing against Biafra; Chief Awolowo himself affirms it in talking about his policies and gives us examples how, making it a fact.
The real victims of Chief Awolowo's policies do, and should, have a right to question his rationalization, and to advance their own reasons why a person (who says he sees himself as a friend of the Igbo and who says that the Igbo are his friends) can so deliberately and so thoroughly hurt his victims and be so proud of doing so. Why shouldn't an Igbo, a Biafran, and a victim himself like Professor Achebe challenge Chief Awolowo?
Chief Awolowo at least deserves credit for admitting to what he did (thereby shaming all those who would today deny that, ostensibly to protect him). No one can say the same for the other Nigerians (and their international friends) who prosecuted the genocidal war against Biafra, including, but especially, Gowon. They are in denial, or pretend to not know what they did.
Which brings up the context of this horrible drama... Nigeria is a place where facts mean exactly nothing. It is only in Nigeria that people are numb, or pretend to be insensitive to obvious grievous wrongs perpetrated against others and against humanity. It is only Nigerians that refuse to accept the fact that ethnic cleansing is genocide—good luck! if you expect that they would acknowledge and accept the fact of the occurrence of ethnic cleansing itself at all. It is only Nigerians that refuse to acknowledge that completely blockading a race of people for the purpose of maliciously and deliberately starving them to submission and death is genocide, a crime against God and against humanity. Check out Chief Awolowo's rationalization for his life-sapping starvation policy directed against the Igbo and Biafra—after he actually saw Kwashiorkor-ridden Igbo and Biafran children? Did you actually, really, really read and understand it? Yes, he was so moved, he tells us, by that ungodly, inhumane and haunting sight—a parent with children of his own—that he decided that the best course of action was to go for total starvation, and by his own words and in his own calculations, many more of such Igbo / Biafran children would die so horribly, "but the [most important thing to him was that Biafran] soldiers will suffer the most." Go back and re-read Chief Awolowo, "in his own words".
Of course, not every single Nigerian is completely desensitized to pricks of conscience. Chief Enahoro was one of Chief Awolowo's disciples during the war, travelling the world over to sell Chief Awolowo's Nigeria's starve-Biafra-to-death policy; he, Chief Enahoro, must have at one time shared the same rationalization with his mentor. But, one day, well after the war, Chief Enahoro officially apologized to the Igbo for his role in propagating such a genocidal policy, at last, showing remorse. That's a human being for you! And even now, here and there, above the din of sheeple falling over themselves to defend the indefensible are a few cases of Nigerian commentators breaking ranks to essentially state that Chief Awolowo's Starvation of the Igbo / Biafrans policy was wrong, is Genocide, and that an apology is the correct response at this time. Amen!
In the final analysis, it all comes down to what is wrong with Nigeria, and why Nigeria can never rise from its comatose position but must in fact eventually dissolve. As we speak, forceful defenders of Chief Awolowo proffer the document above as proof that Chief Awolowo's war legacy makes him a hero to Nigeria and a benevolent to the Igbo and Biafrans; a functionary whose war actions must not be challenged. After all, in Chief Awolowo's mind, by this document and his account, he was a friend of the Igbo who executed a "quick kill" of the Igbo using his starvation policy in the Biafra war, thereby sparing the Igbo an agonizing death, so as to deserve being hailed "the savior of the Igbo"? And, at the same time, the Igbo / Biafrans, on their part, are not expected to or supposed to protest, else, all Hell will be brought down on them—again. This is friendship?! How can such completely antagonist, mutually exclusive collective views exist in a relationship called one country, if not by force and by cynical pretense? Such a feat defies even Schizophrenia.
What is happening in response to Professor Achebe's new book here is only a variation and just one instance of what is common all over Nigeria: different cultures with starkly different senses of what is wrong and what is right, what is acceptable and what is not, what is a good relationship or what is not, what is fair or what is not; different value-systems, different world views, and for that matter, different concepts of what the other's human life is worth—if at all another's life is worth anything to some cultures. In short, these cultures do not agree and will never agree on what is humanity and what constitutes a human being. These cultures are constantly grinding on one another and pounding one another with their respective alien pestles, in a hideous mortar called one-Nigeria, now completely devoid of goodwill, the more aggressive the culture, the more successful and domineering they are at it. These cultures have no business being thrown and forced together as one country.
Professor Achebe's book is not quite in public circulation yet. The excerpt about Chief Awolowo contains facts which Chief Awolowo himself established as facts in the areas noted above. The typical Nigerian tradition of fighting against obvious facts is heating up the polity at this time, when moral humanity demands a recognition of hideous wrong done and a healing apology be tendered to Humanity. Chief Enahoro did just that. Yet, all this will add nothing if Professor Achebe's conclusion in his book is that Nigeria should remain one, as he has been wont to state in the past. Facts—yes, facts—do not support one-Nigeria. The root of all evil and wickedness in Nigeria is one-Nigeria. The ultimate source and enabling medium of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Nigeria is one-Nigeria. The destroyer of the peoples living in Nigeria and the squanderer of their resources is one-Nigeria. There is a sense that in fact, "There Was A Country" is not the epitaph for Biafra that Professor Achebe implies in the title of his new book. "there was a country" is most apt as a description of Nigeria: a system which so thoroughly corrupts and wastes the peoples and their aspirations should not be allowed to exist. It will not.