Impeachment: Trump wants Senate trial over before State of the Union address

Donald Trump wants his impeachment trial to end before his state of the union address in just two weeks’ time, Lindsey Graham said on Sunday. That timeline is ambitious, given overwhelming public support for a fair airing of the charges against Trump at his Senate trial, in which opening arguments will be heard on Tuesday. Graham conceded that a swift dismissal of the charges, which he had hoped for, will not be possible. The trial could include testimony from top Trump advisers with firsthand knowledge of his alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. But the White House has indicated that Trump would invoke executive privilege to prevent such advisers from testifying, setting up a court fight that could drag the trial out for weeks or longer.

“The sooner this is over the better for the country,” Graham insisted. On Saturday evening, House Democrats and the Trump legal team outlined their approaches to the trial. The House impeachment managers, who will act as prosecutors, declared the president must be removed for putting his political career ahead of the public trust and seeking to hide that betrayal from Congress and the American people. The seven managers led by intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff published a 46-page tiral brief. A 61-page “statement of material facts” was attached. In a much slimmer filing, the White House replied to a congressional writ of summons notifying Trump of the charges against him and inviting him to attend the trial. The six-page White House filing was a work of blanket denial, stating: “President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment.”

Signed by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and by Jay Sekulow, a personal lawyer to Trump, it also charged the Democrats with “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away”. Speaking to ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Schiff noted that the White House did not attempt to rebut the case on its facts. “It’s surprising in that it really doesn’t offer much new beyond the failed arguments we heard in the House,” he said. “The facts aren’t seriously contested.”

“If all of the president’s arguments are true, that a president can’t be indicted, and that the abuse of power, the abuse of public trust doesn’t count as an impeachable offense – if that is true, then no president can be held accountable,” he told CNN’s State of the Union. “Then the president truly is above the law.”

The battle lines roughly plotted by the two documents will be engaged in earnest on Tuesday, when the House managers are expected to begin making their case against the president. A two-thirds majority of senators would be required to remove Trump from office. That is vastly unlikely, given a Republican party aligned behind the president and a Senate leadership openly in lockstep with the White House.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi signs the resolution to transmit the two articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi signs the resolution to transmit the two articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Trump must be removed, Democrats argue, owing to the egregiousness of his past misconduct and his ongoing efforts to encourage foreign tampering in US elections. “President Trump’s continuing presence in office undermines the integrity of our democratic processes and endangers our national security,” the managers wrote. “President Trump’s abuse of power requires his conviction and removal from office.” On Sunday Alan Dershowitz, the controversial Harvard law professor who has joined Trump’s legal team, argued on CNN that the charges against the president were not impeachable because abuse of power does not constitute a “high crime and misdemeanor” as stipulated in the US constitution as grounds for impeachment.

That view is an extreme outlier among legal scholars, but it is not the only time that Dershowitz, who formerly represented OJ Simpson and the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has gone against his colleagues. Dershowitz denied that his past representation of and friendship with Epstein could “backfire” in the impeachment trial, besmirching the president’s defense in the eyes particularly of women in Senate and beyond. “They understand that it’s pure McCarthyism to hold a lawyer responsible for having represented controversial clients,” he said. Republicans have never attempted to mount a point-for-point rebuttal of evidence amassed by Democrats that Trump mounted a months-long effort to extract announcements from Ukraine that Trump thought could damage Joe Biden, his political rival. Evidence indicates that the effort derailed the career of a respected US ambassador at the wishes of corrupt Ukrainian elements, potentially threatening her personal security; used the promise of a White House meeting to extract the “deliverable” Trump wanted; and escalated to the suspension by Trump of security aid for Ukraine appropriated by Congress.

Identifying himself as the “personal counsel to President Trump”, Giuliani sought a meeting with Ukrainian president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy in May 2019, according to Parnas evidence cited in the briefing. “President Trump has betrayed the American people and the ideals on which the nation was founded,” the Democratic briefing concluded. “Unless he is removed from office, he will continue to endanger our national security, jeopardize the integrity of our elections, and undermine our core constitutional principles.”

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Africa did not fail due to slavery, death and colonial exploitations

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

The proposition that the comparatively low quality development in some states of Africa is expressive and direct results of catastrophic colonial impact no longer evokes sufficient sympathy. The argument is increasingly becoming fragile and difficult to support by concrete facts. The argument desperately failed and became invalid in the face of the understanding that African continent is not the only continent that was savagely pillaged by inhuman colonially forces and treacherous wars of subordination and territorial acquisitions. Many outstanding kingdoms were wrecked while supplanting of various populations necessitated extensive destructions and vicious campaigns of massacres of millions of people. The devastation, the man’s inhumanity to man and the wars of total destruction were not specific to any continent. The wars came with woes, intolerable suffering, pains and deaths of several hundreds of millions statistically. The encouraging thing about this argument that blames colonialism for the present day embarrassment in Africa is that it is substantively a minority view, very unpopular.

In a definite term, every continent has horrifying chronicles of ordeal with colonialism, senseless wars of destruction and vicissitudes of different sorts. Margaret Macmillan, (2009) noted that “at the end of the first world war it had been possible to contemplate going back to business as usual. However, 1945 was different, so different that it has been called ‘Year Zero’. The capacity for destruction had been so much greater than in the earlier war that much of Europe and Asia lay in ruins. And this time civilians had been the target as much as the military. The figures are hard to grasp: as many as 60 million dead, 25 million of them Soviet. A new word, genocide, entered the language to deal with the murder of 6 million of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis.1

Germany today is an evidence of the resilience of the determined citizens to get it rebuilt after it was catastrophically ruined by the wars. The situations were bad, horrible and intolerable within and after the WWII. It was difficult to estimate how many millions of Germans that perished or uprooted. About 3 million Germans were humiliated and expelled from Czech and 1.3 million from Poland alone. It is difficult to estimate with precision how many millions of Germans that were decimated directly or indirectly by the wars. It is on record that between 1945 and 1948 over 2 million German women had abortion every year, a direct consequence of the WWII. It is believed that 70% of the houses and investments in Germany were destroyed during the war. And in the Soviet Union, 1,700 towns and 70,000 villages were obliterated. “Apart from the United States and allies such as Canada and Australia, who were largely untouched by the war’s destruction, the European powers such as Britain and France were grounded. Britain had largely bankrupted itself fighting the war and France had been stripped bare by the Germans. It was an era of pestilence famine and death. Great cities such as Warsaw, Kiev, Tokyo and Berlin were piles of rubbles and ashes.2

Violence, death and destruction were intrinsic to colonial exploitations. Colonialists used extreme forces which in most cases resulted in annihilation and expropriation of populations. In the case of Africa, these also included slavery that resulted disappearances of so many Africans some of whom perished on transit to America. “It is argued that colonial wars had strong genocidal overtones. The colonial situation was favourable to the deployment of extreme violence against indigenous people. This stretched as far as the war of decolonization, an extremely violent episode that defies clear characterization, but which fomented genocidal and other kinds of extreme violence from various contenders. 3

The world as it is today recuperated from the ruins of destruction, pains and deaths. It is an expression of the indomitability of human spirit. Man has always invented means of surviving self-imposed vicissitudes and he is today matching on boundlessly. Made in the image and likeness of God, man is creative, inventive and not subject to suppression, rather he is a ‘suppressor in chief’ and has subordinated the entire universe capriciously by means of science and technology. Creativity, inventiveness and indomitability are inviolable gifts of God to man. However, it is difficult to understand why the innate capacities are active and redundant at the same time. The capacities seemed expressively redundant when they are not effectively deployed to challenge demeaning experiences and situations. The redundancy cannot be justifiably blamed on God because he has already endowed man with the powers of invincibility. Man, also, cannot blame circumstance of any nature because he already has active powers to overcome.

The above hypothesis makes it difficult to understand why many nations are unable to stampede negating experiences of the past and match progressively forward reinventing themselves and providing creative solutions to their problems. The main objective of this essay is to demonstrate that African states and indeed many poor nations have to absolutely blame themselves for poverty and pitiable abjectness. This is because there is nothing complicated about their own experiences of wars, pains and deaths, the direct effects of terrible wars and/or colonialism. That colonialism devastated African states, enslaved the people and expropriated some of the resources are glaring facts, very self-evident. However, many Asian nations have grief-stricken colonial experiences comparable to that of Africa but unlike the Africans, Asians have successfully walked past the sorrowful path and have reinvented themselves, and through creativity exploded into fame and prosperity.

According to Negussie Siyum (2018), “the socio political set up of African countries has a similarity with those of the East Asian nations that achieved economic progress through exercising developmental state. These countries were able to solve their citizens’ unemployment through implementing technical education in their education policy, which is the peculiar feature of developmental state. Therefore, African leaders have to strive for change in the continent to reverse the situation through applying developmental state theory and gradually improve democratic culture in the region.4 Besides, “Africa is rich in natural as well as human resources which are the basis for the prosperity of a given nation. Despite its potential, the continent is still underdeveloped. Africa’s economic performance remains dismal and prospects for the new millennium are bleak. The continent, consisting of 54 countries, is the least developed continent of the Third World despite its immense wealth of mineral and natural resources.5

The Asia nations are becoming unmatched, championing innovations in science and technology and exporting prosperity. The nations crumbled and “exploited in 1900 had been transformed by 2017 into an industrious, dynamic and increasingly creative force capable of taking humanity to new heights in the 21st century. An Asian renaissance of the kind unfolding today was incomprehensible 100 years back. Such countries as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and India rose from the aches of ruin and defeat of colonialism and intolerable man made vicissitude to the present-day resurgence and renaissance, super powers of a sort. The second half of the 20th century in Asia is better known as the era of the emergence of prosperity in the East.6 Asian rebirth is a scolding-stick for Africa urging them to wake-up from perennial slumber. The rebirth reproves and nullifies ill fated thesis that Africa cannot help herself because she was colonised, exploited and enslaved more than a century ago. Regrettably, Africa’s economic forcast has been and steadily declining. Ayittey GB (2000) noted that economic growth rates in Africa in the 1970’s averaged only 4 to 5 percent while Latin America recorded a 6 and 7 percent growth rate. From 1986 to 1993 the continent’s real GNP per capita declined 0.7 percent, while the average for the Third World increased by 2.7 percent. For all Africa, real income per capita dropped by 14.6 percent from its level in 1965, making most Africans worse off than they were at independence.7 The principal reason for this continuous depressing economic degradation is that “African leaders are highly reluctant to change and bring new ideas. They are mostly unable to accept new policies that are compatible with the regions resources. Rulers in the continent have been and are still serving as weapons of politics for foreign and powerful governments rather than focusing on domestic prosperity in their respective countries. Development policies and strategies are not designed for the benefit of the citizens.8 The citizens are denied economic properity because the rulers deliberately ignored democratisation of the society, investment on education and active employment policies that have the potentials to increase productivity and invention. For Negussie S.,“today’s new economic winners are following much the same roads to power, while the laggards have somehow failed to duplicate this crucial formula for success. The key to relieving much of the world’s poverty lies in understanding the lessons history has to teach us…9

The Asian countries that are making waves today in science and technology were former colonial territories, pilloried by the former masters such as Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, the United States, and Japan between the 1500s to the mid-1940s. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia not colonized by Europeans. All of its neighbors were controlled by either the British or the French. Burma and Malaysia were British colonies, and Laos and Cambodia belonged to France. Some of these countries have dusted themselves of the disparaging past and have moved on in grand-style spreading development and prosperity. South Korea was able to absorb technology from the same Japanese that colonised and repressed them. The Koreans are the owners of Mitsubishi, Hundai etc. Japan ruled over Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, and half of China. These nations are today super successes and have risen to become economic giants.

The fact that the Asians threw off the colonial yoke in the 20th century is a great lesson for Africa and indeed all others who have refused to look inward for self redemption instead of transposing blames. Africa needed re-invention. It is imperative that she is able to adopt and acclimate models of development that best suits her multifarious challenges of growth in science and technology in order to lift her citizens out of self pity and poverty. The leaders of the individual nations needed to pave the way for ideal development models. By exaggerating the disparaging impact of colonialism, the Africans directly underappreciated the innate power they have to triumph over the negative past just like others.

My candid view is that colonialism ceased to be the political, social, economic and developmental problems of the colonized at the end of the forceful occupation. This is because the autonomy attained is autonomy for sovereignty. The sovereignty implied choice and right to self-determination. It is within the power and right of the former colonial states to make informed decisions to move forward away from the past or to surreptitiously re-invite the former oppressors in a new phase of neo-colonialism as it is alleged in French African countries. If all other former colonial states decidedly reinvented themselves, Africa has no reason to remain behind in self-pity because states were invaded, overpowered and plundered more than ten decades ago. Colonial stories humidify the spirit of the African. It is a dark spot for Africa. Colonialism left Africa with psychological damages, thank God for the dismantling decades ago. Today, African nations have unlimited opportunities of quality progress by emphasizing technical education and economic nationalism. Focusing on technical education will help the continent to reduce youth unemployment and the negative implications. If other continents were able to cure the psychological damages of colonial cruelties, Africa can.

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It is more infuriating when these arguments against breaking the york of the past curses are juxtaposed with the chastising imprudence of the continent’s treacherous rulers that the citizens permitted to dictate, oppress and subvert meaningful processes in the nations’ development. By means of retrogressive politics, the rulers imposed themselves on their various nations and consequently tinker the constitutional systems to give them leeway for perennial seizure of political power and control. With the distortion of the constitution, the demobilization of national institutions and destruction of civil service, the rulers intentionally defer and stunt all genuine processes of development in their respective states. The desecration of the constitution and viral attacks on the institutions of the state immediately after independence were part of the major reasons why many states in Africa are descriptively poor and ravaged by dearth of meaningful development and spells of insecurity.

Southeast Asian states are dynamic and independent from desperate povery and want today because when they took their nations away from the former oppressors and collaborators they handed them over to leaders with proven records of productivity and integrity. Besides, the Asians are vigilant and actively superintended trends in their developmental aspirations. Today the economies of these nations are booming and advancing. Africa failed and she is failing continuously not on account of colonial denigrations but on account of her inability to untie herself from suffocating york of self-injuries such as bad leadership and lethargic citizens. Africa’s foremost plagues are bad leadership and citizens that uphold and reward leaders without capacity for progressive utilization of her vast endowments. Africa rewards indolent leaders; these leaders have been colossally counter productive. What the Asians did and still doing for the stupendous progress is not magical. It is a familiar tactics, the prioritization of quality leadership and productive governance. The leaders took the citizens serious, while the citizens show that they are unprepared to countenance compromise in responsibility and service delivery. With the active consent of the people the Asian leaders invested on quality education emphasizing perfection. Science was the topmost priority. They focused on literacy and education, reformed agrarian structures, developed effective infrastructures and invested in genuine industrialization. The implication is that African states will be comparatively poor, delegated and disparaged if they are unwilling to embrace the above redemptive options. When African states individually and/or collectively embrace the Southeast Asian models of development, past colonial experience, past pains of death and former exploitations cannot stand on their paths to explosive development. Africa has the resources to cause consternation in the world of science and technology if only she takes the right path.

Let us cursorily look at what Japan did to hit top and remain paramount even without natural endowment. The Japanese rank second only to the United States in spending on scientific research and technology development. “However, in Japan, 80% of all research and development is carried out by industry. This is important because industry is more likely to support the type of research that will result in new technologies and products. This is the reason why Japan is the world’s economic powerhouse. Some of the more successful applications of the fruits of Japanese research and development include high-speed trains, robotics, semiconductor chips, telecommunications, cancer research, and environmental technologies.10

If the pains of wars and destruction of Hiroshima and Nagaski failed to stop the Japansese from bewildering the world by their spate of development, why will the pains colonialism stop collective African states from making meaningful progress? According to MacMillan, the political “impact of the war was also great. The once great powers of Japan and Germany looked as though they would never rise again. In retrospect, of course, it is easy to see that their peoples, highly educated and skilled, possessed the capacity to rebuild their shattered societies. As many as 60 million dead, great cities reduced to rubble, families torn apart … The second world war caused unprecedented hardship, but it also accelerated change. 11

It is imperative Africa looks at herself with critical seriousness to discover this urgency of reinventing herself. Africa needs to learn from Asia the miracles of her resurgence from similar colonial ruins to power house of development, technology and innovations. According to Nwedo, C.O, “the reverses of progressive advancement to productive politics after independence in some states of Africa are largely responsible for retrogressions evident in depraved politics, imprudent policies and bad governance. There is demonstrable degeneration in adaptations to constitutional democracy after intense struggles that ended in political independence.12

Many African states are finding themselves in extremely disappointing positions due to lack of commitments of the rulers to national development prescriptions. About a decade after independence, 1970, Nigeria was adjudged far better than most countries in the so-called Asian Tiger. The oil was flowing and resources were multifarious, there were practically everything that makes a country great and powerful but Nigeria failed traumatically due recklessness of her imprudent leaders. The failing became inevitable as the leaders were and still unable to deploy resource in the expansion of sectors and diversifications of the economy. Today, what is evident is diminished profiles of quality development, prospects of increasing poverty and dearth of viable infrastructure worsened by comparatively non performing economy and combative general insecurity.

The predicaments of Nigeria are self-inflicted and therefore, a folly to censor extraneous factor such as imperialism. This proposition does not exclude the fact that imperialism still exists in Nigeria. Sadly, we have agonizing cases of tiny elites of all classes imperializing the rest by seizure of political and economic powers and narcissistically enslaving the vast majority. The oppression and repression, the stealing and expropriation of the resources, the theft of political mandates, corruption and violence are devices used by the Nigeria’s elite cliques to subjugate and rule the citizens more treacherously than the former colonial masters. Experiences in Nigeria are replicated in other African states where there are intractable problems of development and bad governance. The primary reason for lack of development and bad governance among other factors is weak national institutions.

Institutions are the basic elements orchestrating sustainable and desirable development. Strong and well-structured institutions are powerful forces for quality national development, while reverses are scripts for irredeemable failure. Usually institutions in the African continent are mostly characterized by bureaucratic process superintended by intensely corrupt officials and professionals. For Nwedo, “it is unconstructive that many African states have spiralled double times way from parts of authentic political aspirations and approximately into deep self-inflicted lawlessness. The most popular political trend currently is totalitarian rule by an institutionalized oligarchy where elections are not meant for change of unproductive governance but for its legitimisation.13  The end result of fixed elections are wrong leaders. Wrong leaders make bad decisions that affect the people and development comprehensively. According to Napoleon Hill, “there are two forms of leadership. The first and by far most effective, is leadership by consent of, and with the sympathy of the followers. The second is leadership by force, without the consent and sympathy of the followers. History is filled with evidences that leadership by force cannot endure. The downfall and disappearance of dictators and kings is significant. It means that people will not follow forced leadership indefinitely.14 However, the very confusing thing about the question of imposed bad leaders in Africa is that these leaders refused to go notwithstanding woeful lack of imagination and low profile performances. “Without imagination, the leader is incapable of meeting the emergencies, and of creating plans for guiding his followers efficiently.15

If we consent to including India among Asian countries that are robustly challenging the disparagement of the colonial past, and have productively adhered to self-targets of rapid development and mortal combat against poverty, one is confronted with the challenge of answering the question why is Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh for instance still in deep poverty and stagnation?   The answer to the question is self-evident. Most countries in Central Asia are overwhelmed by their contradictions. Like some African states, they were ‘cursed’ by bad leadership syndrome, traitorous politicians and terrible mismanagement of their religious and ethnic disparities. Factors kept the nations profoundly distracted and impoverished. But, they are inclined to blame the West, colonialism and/or the Zionists for culpable inability to triumph over their perennial developmental plight.

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Regrettably, the countries have very smart political and religious elites that kept the masses busy contending with empty casts of religious piety, as their common patrimony are mismanaged and looted. The intermittent religious fights are part of the tactics of running the nations aground. Iranian revolution that was expected to provide the platform for democratic governance imperative for speedy development of the vastly endowed nation ended surfacing powerful and irreproachable rulers. The combination of both secular and theocratic powers made rulers of Iran extra-ordinary, determining unilaterally the country’s national interest. With the increasing contraction of the world, the nations that have performed badly have vast arrays of models to choose from. These models have been tested and trusted instruments for hastening economic growth and quality national development. No nation can afford to do nothing fast and urgent in the face of confrontational mass unemployment and poverty without devastating consequences.

References

  1. Margaret MacMillan, “Rebuilding the world after the second world war” in The Guardian September 11, 2009).
  2. ibid.
  3. Journal of genocide Research vol.14, 2012 Issue 3-4
  4. Negussie Siyum (2018, )Why Africa Remains Underdeveloped Despite its Potential? Which Theory can Help Africa to Develop? Crimson Publishers February 15, 2018.
  5. ibid.
  6. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/qyp88Tce8TyTl25nmToagK/Asias-ordeal-with-colonialism
  7. Ayittey GB (2000) Why africa is poor. Lome, Africa, pp. 1-16.
  8. Negussie Siyum (2018, )Why Africa Remains Underdeveloped Despite its Potential? Which Theory can Help Africa to Develop? Crimson Publishers February 15, 2018.
  9. ibid.
  10. com/Asia-and-Oceania/Japan-science and technology
  1. MacMillan M. op.cit.
  2. Nwedo, C.O. (2019) in “Laurent Gbagbo: How Failed Democracy Turns Africans Against Rulers” in news Oct. 20, 2019).
  3. ibid.
  4. Napoleon Hill (1960) Think and Grow Rich, Ballantine Book New York p.86.
  5. ibid.

 

Laurent Gbagbo: How failed democracy turns Africans against rulers

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

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Former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo

In general terms, socio-political and economic problems in many states of Africa are orchestrated by sudden stunt in progressive advancement to productive politics. Productive politics rises and falls on qualitative governance. Qualitative governance can also include deliberate policies and programmes of the government that impact substantially the lives of the citizens. Here, I refer to vigorously prudent policies on education, health and infrastructure, basically. The instantaneously perceivable values of quality education are informed and active populace, ‘highbred citizens’. The more informed the citizens are, the more they actively and autonomously support themselves and contribute meaningful to the community and the nation. Quality education provides the citizens with “opportunities to develop capabilities and dispositions to act with moral and ethical integrity showing a commitment to the values of democracy, equity and justice”. An informed citizen understands and appreciates trends in politics, the individual’s roles in the economy and obligations to the self and the community. Such an individual has the capacity to ‘diagnose’ and become informed on inherent values of policies and programmes of the government and how to react to them. The individual comprehends personal roles in governance and how to fulfil the roles. It is difficult to understand an active and functioning society in isolation of operational health institutions.

It is not disputable that citizens are impoverished and desperately poor when are without physical infrastructures with potentials to support, articulately, individual citizen’s self-help economic and social creativities. The trend today is that without stable power supply one is substantively demobilised. Electricity is a potent inter-connector to productivity of all sorts. All industrialised societies are societies ‘enthusiastically’ supported with efficient infrastructure. Well-organized infrastructures amortise quantum leap in technology and innovation. It is impossible to successfully talk about impact-active societies without references to those societies that have vanquished debilitating mass ignorance, dysfunctional health and social services, unstable electricity supply, frustrating transportation system and above all chronic insecurity.

The reverses of progressive advancement to productive politics after independence in some states of Africa are largely responsible for retrogressions evident in depraved politics, imprudent policies and bad governance. There is demonstrable degeneration in adaptations to constitutional democracy after intense struggles that ended in political independence. Paradoxically, it is the champions of the struggles for emancipation that turned round to enslave the folks by introduction of one party totalitarian states where they made themselves irreproachable and uncontrollable in the aspirations to seize and hold the political power over and against collective interest. The political, social and economic atmospheres in most former colonial states are agonizingly depreciatory to the point that there is nostalgia for imperial era.

It is unconstructive that many African states have spiralled double times way from parts of authentic political aspirations and approximately into deep self-inflicted lawlessness. The most popular political trend currently is totalitarian rule by an institutionalized oligarchy where elections are not meant for change of unproductive governance but for its legitimisation. This means of legitimating rogue leaders and political tyrants has been incredibly successful in dozens of the states. Astonishingly, however, the derogatory trend had a setback in the Gambia where Yahya Jammeh was ousted through polls and efforts to annul and reorder fresh poll were unsuccessful due overwhelming pressures on him to step aside.

The dictator had strategies to dominate and rule perennially by “…changing the rules and electoral laws to open up holes in the electoral system that could make it easy for him to win the worst of seemingly contested elections.1 Prior to the election in 2016 that humiliated Jammeh, most political pundits were already convinced that the dictator will win the election with landslide but “not through the popular choice but through grand schemes blatantly pioneered by the National Assembly where the dictator controls with absolute majority, and what appeared like a lack of fighting bones among the opposition to defiantly oppose and combat the open fraud in the electoral system.2

The trend again failed in Ivory Coast where the then incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was flabbergasted by defeat in a supposedly free, fair and credible presidential election. The purported turning round of the unfavourable result to favour the incumbent incited protestation from the main challenger, and constituted the main structural obstacle to deepening democratic rule in the country and the leadership vacuum created in the period of the disagreement was latitude to violence and unrest. The disputed result costs the nation again of untimely death of hundreds of Ivoirians and destruction of billions of dollars worth of properties and time. The election in Ivory Coast that was basically viewed as the last healing balm for a long fractured country then appeared to add to the afflictions of the vulnerable Ivoirians. An opportunity for a competitive political process that could help the nation build a wider reach for accommodative politics of fair play was apparently smashed by injudicious political choices of the nation’s self-gratifying political class ‘who allowed themselves to be ceased by the Africa’s durable political cankerworm of ethnic chauvinism.8

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Against baits for compromise and reconciliation the then president, Gbagbo, obstinately held on to his claims of repeated victories and locked himself in presidential palace as his soldiers were out there fighting to silence the opposition groups. According to a commentator, Gbagbo had become irrationally defiant and was…no longer capable of making sound judgment either of his capacity to hold on or his capacity to defeat his increasingly numerous enemies. He became so inured to the reality that hole up in the presidential palace, and surrounded by UN, French and his rival’s republican forces, he expected the tide of the battle to turn somewhere down the line to fetch him victory.3 Gbagbo’s stubborn will and self-destructive stance ended ‘melodramatically as he was arrested in his bed sparsely clad. Humiliation has now needlessly came upon him.4

Eventually, the former Ivorian ‘smart’ leader was disparaged, caricatured in International Criminal Court in Hague and assaulted with punches and blows on streets by folks who were aggrieved by the former president’s indiscretion. The Gbagbo’s defiance and erroneous politics were no doubt reprehensible, but he was dependably a sparkling carbon copy of most of African rulers. Gbagbo has obviously suffered the fate and embarrassment of one imprudently adamant and, by his recalcitrance attracted vituperations of the wide-ranging publics in African and beyond. The indiscretions by the self-absorbed political class in Ivory Coast have always spiraled into deadly confrontations between north and south and effectively weaponing the dispositions of religious and tribal hostilities built over the years. The deteriorated situation then in Ivory Coast demanded cautious approach. For clement C. Chigbo, we were of the view that the belligerent language of forceful intervention in Ivory Coast bordered on idiocy in the high places, lack of critical foresight and objective perspective and above all, a profundity and pathetic lack of true appreciation of the facts on ground and the issues involved in this political impasse in Ivory coast.5 Gratitude to God at the terminals of the speculations on the practicable solutions something more calming resulted tempering the potentially explosive situation in Ivory Coast and returning relative peace even if comprehensive programmes of reconciliation were ineffective in assuaging all the folks thus the persisting animosity.

Robert Mugabe tenaciously held on in Zimbabwe after bruising and stifling every other political power contender. It is not an exaggeration to assert that Zimbabwe was ruined by Mugabe’s political egocentricity. For some commentators, Mugabe’s political demise was heralded by firing of his then Vice Emerson Mnangagwa who was seen as an obstacle to presidential ambitions of his wife, Grace Mugabe. The army capitalized the indiscretion and subtly deposed him. Mugabe relied preponderantly on army as he rampaged Zimbabwe. The hypothesis was that the army was infuriated by the prospects of handing the country over to Madam Grace. But Mugabe’s resistance to his ‘rebelling’ military was futile. Though the army considered ouster of the tyrant irreversible, they rejected description of their political action against the autocrat as a “coup and assured the safety of the first family. The military maintained that their action was targeted at criminals around Mugabe and persons believed to be behind the economic stress that Zimbabweans were facing”. Mugabe finally resigned November 21 compelled by mediation, threat of recall by Zanu-PF and impeachment processes by the parliament, mass protests calling for his departure and threats of intervention by the regional political bloc SADC. Sadly, Mugabe died September 6, 2019 at the age of 95. It is striking to observe that in spite of the long-term misrule, the despot was irreplaceable to a lot of Zimbabweans. This is neither because he has done well nor has any other value to add but because the ethnic cards he plays were magnetizing.

In Africa and in deed in many so called developing societies religion and ethnicity are tremendous electoral factors than competence. This accounts for the reasons why intolerably bad rulers keep returning to power with implausible landslide victories or forced the way back to power in extremely fraudulent electoral processes and continue to misrule devoid of consequences. It is becoming common knowledge that the combustible sectional cards in Africa’s politics have nothing to do with existence of the tribes and diverse religious orientations but in the structures and characters of the Africa’s political aristocrats. It is no longer plausible to blame the structural fragility of African states on imperial inputs. No, the contemporary Africa is the author and sustainer of her malaise. Fortunately, it is within her volition to edict valid transformation of the negating order. For Onunaji ‘the deformed neo-colonial states which are dysfunctional in every aspects of the basic responsibility to the citizens are only potent in the service of the elite handlers.6 The unreformed neo-colonial states are for the handlers the guarantor of unfathomable wealth, power and influence. Therefore, to take possession of a state, no rule is too sacrosanct to breach, no consensus is binding enough and even the helpless population, in whose name the state purportedly exist is absolutely expendable.7

Jammeh, Paul Biya, late Mugabe, Joseph Kabila, Gbagbo and their cohorts knew too well the deprivation and the sense of vulnerability that comes with the loss of power in Africa. The loss of power in Africa is beyond the period political sabbaticals of opposition parties in the west, who endure the loss of power without the vicissitude of vendetta and reprisals. Gbagbo and his clique like every other vanquished group in Africa know they are heading to a reprisal and absolutely intolerant government.8 The cruel beating, slapping and punching of Gbagbo on the streets of France by Ivoirians are specifically additional to the woes to the former president.

However, everything may not be appropriately right about the detestations and aspersions poured on the former dictator and the lack of sympathy from friends and foes in the international community that always give impression of a compassionate agency. This is remarkable. This detestation may be traced primarily to the character of mainstream international media. It is noted that ‘the tendentiousness of the reportage in the Ivorian crisis was not only ludicrous but indicative of the fact that truth of the election that ousted him was blatantly ignored and facts were skewed up and presented in a manner to serve a certain sinister unknown and ulterior motives. All these tended to suggest that there were well orchestrated conspiracy not to tell the truth but to inflame the nation.9 The hypothetical opportunity to inflame the nation was seen playing out in the will of the incumbent to hang on to power until it turned out shoddier. In addition, there is an intensifying tradition in the west of uncritical supports to opposition groups seeking liberal political environment. More support is garnered when a move for political change is directed at a ‘dictator’.

Dictators continually cling on illegitimate tools to legalise their suppressive regime and develop oligarchic institutions that prioritises their cleavages to power. It has become increasing evident that elections and reforms in some states are defensive and rationalizing strategies of popular dictators unwilling to step aside. As the popular Arab Spring political uprising was gradually absorbed giving way to transitory changes of strategy by individual national dictators, ‘the steps taken by Arab governments were not democratizing reforms, rather there were carefully circumscribed efforts designed precisely to head off the possibility of true democratization by alleviating popular dissatisfaction with the regimes. Some regimes, such as those in Morocco and Jordan, have managed to stay in place by persisting with such a strategy.10 The dictators have time-tested tactics of dealing with popular demands for change or democratic reforms. These rulers in the eyes of the western powers inexpediently squander the chances of inclusive or democratic politics at every election. It is noticeable that western media propaganda have rightly or wrongly supported and given every logistic to oppositions seeking displacement of ‘unjust’ administration.

We saw this role in Kenya between the former president Kibaki and opposition leader, Raila Odinga. It was with the backing of the western powers that government of national unity was formed in Kenya that gave opposition, a prime minister slot. The same was replicated in Zimbabwe between late Robert Mugabe and late Morgan Tshangari. Even the revolutionary uprising in the Arab world that targeted displacement of undemocratic governments endeared the western powers and has been applauded by the excited main western media. It was natural that Vladimir Putin accused the Europe and America of contributing to mounting oppositions against imposition of himself repeatedly against the interest of the greater Russian public. Since democratic dispensation in Russian, Putin has had the rare advantages of doing whatever he wishes with the power and politics of Russia. Putin caused mutations of the constitution to give himself automatic prime ministerial position immediately after he exhausted constitutionally approved two consecutive tenures as president. Later, he swapped position with the former president, Dmitry Mevdev. By this arrangement, Putin reoccupies the presidency and the president stepped aside into prime minster position, an arrangement opposition groups decried and vowed against. However, the opposition was impotent and incapable of halting the denigration of Russians.

All governments rest on some kind of mixture of coercion and consent, but democracies are unique in the degree to which their stability depends on the consent of a majority of those governed. Almost as a given, theories of democracy stress that democratic stability requires a widespread belief among both elites and masses that democracy is the best form of government for their society, and hence that the democratic regime is morally entitled to rule.11 The global trend today is glaringly anti-dictatorship, no matter how benevolent the junta is. People are more and more resolute to partake in determining the trend of their lives and shaping their future. This surely makes sense.12 By boldly confronting the tyrants without fear and any where irrespective of circumstances, Africans can demonstrate their commitment to culture of cleaner and more productive politics.

Atiku Vs Buhari: Catalogue Of Lies!

By Tai Emeka Obasi.

 

“Can a Lord in the real meaning of the word give an incorrect judgement when the facts have been laid bare? Can a judge, who passed through all routes of excellence to ascend to such enviable position lie to the nation and the watching world by delivering a defective judgement?

Somebody said our judiciary is on trial and I can’t agree less. I can only add that never before has our nation needed heroes than this very moment. None exists in the Presidency. The Legislator either lacks the will or in evident bondage.

The Judiciary is the only arm left to raise heroes at this very perilous time in our chequered history. If they decide to continue  the lying spree and save Buhari, our nation will continue to sink with them in it”.
Both the holy Bible and holy Quran preach  Heaven and none acknowledges lying as part of the requirements. But let’s keep God’s Heaven aside and dwell on man’s Integrity. When the Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was wrongly rumoured to have passed on, Chief K. O. Mbadiwe wrote a tribute thus, “Glory has left the shores of our father land.” Though this was premature but that stuck in my memory. I cast my mind to the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal as the judgment must happen this week and recall that Mbadiwe’s short but concise tribute to slightly rephrase thus ‘Honour Has Left The Shores Of Our Father Land.” Universities do award honorary doctorate degrees but never honorary professorship. A professor is simply meant to be intellectually above board. It is in this line of intellectual prominence that Nigeria decided to laden the burden of electoral umpires on the shoulders of our revered professors.

The issue is – should an intellectually above board individual lie to a nation in matters of such national issues as important as electioneering?  Besides the chairman,  all other Resident Electoral Commissioners are university professors. Every turn of the electoral body has a university professor manning the gate.

Still…

Apart from Professor Humphrey Nwosu, it is difficult to single out any other of these our so-called intellectually above board professionals who showed any sign of honour when their electoral conduct brought dear country into global scrutiny. In that context, the worst hit is our present Professor Mahmoud Yakubu. The current INEC chairman has given birth to a new dimension of unreliability by creating two worlds for himself and his body – The Tribunal World and The Free World. In Prof Yakubu’s Tribunal world, INEC has no and never had a server. In his Free world, INEC has a server but did not use it for the election. The other version is that they used it but only as a pilot that shouldn’t be relied upon for final collation and pronouncement of result.

And by such elementary lie,  Prof Yakubu turned INEC, President Mohammadu Buhari and indeed Nigeria into a global laughing stock. But the lies surrounding the last presidential election didn’t stop with Yakubu and his INEC. Sometimes I wonder what is LEARNED about lawyers. Should a learned gentleman live by lies? Starting with Buhari’s lead counsel Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN to all the other senior advocates paid to save the president, it was lie gallore at the Tribunal.

The INEC lead counsel, Yunus Usman, SAN, flagged it all off by telling the court without blinking that INEC never had a server. To make his lie stick he never presented any witness for cross-examination. Olanipekun followed suit, lying to the court that Buhari has the certificates he claimed under oath that he had. But unlike Usman, Olanipekun knew he must present witnesses to back Buhari’s claims. And in doing so, cross-examination laid the certificate lies very bare in court. Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN having seen how Olanipekun’s lies were unmasked, quickly copied Usman by literarily abandoning his lies that his party, APC freely and fairly won the election. He presented No document. No witness.

And it didn’t even stop there. Beyond the confines of the court the lies continued. Many people say the present Information Minister is a master of the art of lying and deception. And Chief Lai Mohammed is not doing much to disprove this school of thought when he told the world on Channels television that after 53 years, that Nigerians should forgive Buhari for not knowing where he kept his certificates. By so doing, the minister was trying to divert attention and make lightweight of a super heavyweight of a perjury case.

Down to the judges, who are referred to as “Lords”. Can a Lord in the real meaning of the word give an incorrect judgement when the facts have been laid bare? Can a judge, who passed through all routes of excellence to ascend to such enviable position lie to the nation and the watching world by delivering a defective judgement? Somebody said our judiciary is on trial and I can’t agree less. I can only add that never before has our nation needed heroes than this very moment. None exists in the Presidency. The Legislator either lacks the will or in evident bondage.

The Judiciary is the only arm left to raise heroes at this very perilous time in our chequered history. If they decide to continue  the lying spree and save Buhari, our nation will continue to sink with them in it. If they decide to be courageous and deliver equitable justice, then they will enter hall of fame as the direly needed heroes and be appropriately celebrated all over the world and long into history. It may not be so easy to ignore the rumoured blackmail, threats and inducements from an extremely desperate presidency but in their shoes, honour, integrity and the good of the nation should be their propeller.

The choice is still theirs as…

#HistoryBeckons.

Fiery clashes in new round of French Yellow Vest protests

Anti-government protesters turned out in several French cities Saturday, hoping to inject fresh momentum into weekly demonstrations calling for social justice and the ouster of President Emmanuel Macron. The so-called “yellow vest” movement had tapered off over the summer, but its leaders are hoping to galvanise support for a fresh wave of rallies as the government embarks on a reform of France’s retirement system.

Police said around 1,500 people gathered in the southern city of Montpellier, where a police car was set aflame by a firebomb as officers used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Several storefronts were also vandalised, and police said three people had been detained.

Rallies of several hundreds of people were held in cities including Rouen, Strasbourg and Toulouse. “We’re all together, we want the government to drastically change its policies… and radical change can only come when this government resigns,” said Alexandre Chantry, a yellow vest organiser in Lille. However only a few dozen people demonstrated in Paris, where the authorities have maintained a ban on protests on the Champs-Elysees.

The famous avenue was the scene of burning cars, smashed storefronts and violent clashes with police after the yellow vest protests erupted last November. Triggered by anger over a fuel tax increase, they quickly ballooned into a broad movement against Macron, accused of ignoring the day-to-day struggles of low-income earners in small-town and rural France.

The protests rocked Macron’s presidency, and he eventually unveiled nearly 17 billion euros ($18.8 billion) in wage boosts and tax cuts for low earners to quell the protests, while vowing to better address voters’ grievances after months of town-hall debates. But after attracting 282,000 people nationwide at the first yellow vest marches on November 17, their numbers had fallen sharply by last spring, and only sporadic protests were seen over the summer.

(France 24)

Laurent Gbagbo: How failed democracy turns Africans against rulers

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

20180115-portrait-main-laurent-gbagbo

Laurent Gbagbo, Former President of Ivory Coast

 

Principally Africa’s socio-political problems are orchestrated by sudden stunt of the progressive advancement to qualitative or productive politics. There is demonstrable degeneration in adaptations to constitutional democracy after intense struggles that ended in political independence. Paradoxically, it is the champions of the struggles for emancipation that turned round to enslave the folks by introduction of one party totalitarian states where they made themselves irreproachable and uncontrollable in the aspirations to seize and hold the political power over and against national collective interest. The political, social and economic atmospheres in most former colonial states are agonizingly depreciatory to the point that there is nostalgia for imperial era.

It is unconstructive that many African states have spiralled double times way from parts of authentic political aspirations and approximately into deep self-inflicted lawlessness. The most popular political trend currently is totalitarian rule by an institutionalized oligarchy where elections are not meant for change of unproductive governance but for its legitimisation. This means of legitimating rogue leaders and political tyrants has been incredibly successful in dozens of the states. Astonishingly, however, the derogatory trend had a setback in the Gambia where Yahya Jammeh was ousted through polls and efforts to annul and reorder fresh poll were unsuccessful due overwhelming pressures on him to step aside.

The dictator had strategies to dominate and rule perennially by “…changing the rules and electoral laws to open up holes in the electoral system that could make it easy for him to win the worst of seemingly contested elections.1 Prior to the election in 2016 that humiliated Jammeh, most political pundits were already convinced that the dictator will win the election with landslide but “not through the popular choice but through grand schemes blatantly pioneered by the National Assembly where the dictator controls with absolute majority and what appears like a lack of fighting bones among the opposition to defiantly oppose and combat the open fraud in the electoral system.2

The trend again failed in Ivory Coast where the then incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was flabbergasted by defeat in a supposedly free, fair and credible presidential election. The purported turning round of the unfavourable result to favour the incumbent incited protestation from the main challenger, and constituted the main structural obstacle to deepening democratic rule in the country and the leadership vacuum created in the period of the disagreement was latitude to violence and unrest. The disputed result costs the nation again of untimely death of hundreds of Ivoirians and destruction of billions of dollars worth of properties and time. The election in Ivory Coast that was basically viewed as the last healing balm for a long fractured country then appeared to add to the afflictions of the vulnerable Ivoirians. An opportunity for a competitive political process that could help the nation build a wider reach for accommodative politics of fair play was apparently smashed by injudicious political choices of the nation’s self-gratifying political class ‘who allowed themselves to be ceased by the Africa’s durable political cankerworm of ethnic chauvinism.8 Against baits for compromise and reconciliation the then president, Gbagbo, obstinately held on to his claims of repeated victories and locked himself in presidential palace as his soldiers were out there fighting to silence the opposition groups. According to a commentator, Gbagbo had become irrationally defiant and was…no longer capable of making sound judgment either of his capacity to hold on or his capacity to defeat his increasingly numerous enemies. He had become so inured to the reality that hole up in the presidential palace, and surrounded by UN, French and his rival’s republican forces, he expected the tide of the battle to turn somewhere down the line to fetch him victory.3 Gbagbo’s stubborn will and self-destructive stance ended ‘melodramatically as he was arrested in his bed sparsely clad. Humiliation has now needlessly came upon him.4

Eventually, the former Ivorian ‘smart’ leader was disparaged, caricatured in International Criminal Court in Hague and assaulted with punches and blows on streets by folks who were aggrieved by the former president’s indiscretion. The Gbagbo’s defiance and erroneous politics were no doubt reprehensible, but he was dependably a sparkling carbon copy of most of African rulers. Gbagbo has obviously suffered the fate and embarrassment of one imprudently adamant and by his recalcitrance attracted vituperations of the wide-ranging publics in African and beyond. The indiscretions by the self-absorbed political class in Ivory Coast have always spiraled into deadly confrontations between north and south and effectively weaponing the dispositions of religious and tribal hostilities built over the years. The deteriorated situation then in Ivory Coast demanded cautious approach. For clement C. Chigbo, we were of the view that the belligerent language of forceful intervention in Ivory Coast bordered on idiocy in the high places, lack of critical foresight and objective perspective and above all, a profundity and pathetic lack of true appreciation of the facts on ground and the issues involved in this political impasse in Ivory coast.5 Gratitude to God at the terminals of the speculations on the practicable solutions something more calming resulted tempering the potentially explosive situation in Ivory Coast and returning relative peace even if comprehensive programmes of reconciliation were ineffective in assuaging all the folks thus the persisting animosity.

Robert Mugabe tenaciously held on in Zimbabwe after bruising and stifling every other political power contender. It is not an exaggeration to assert that Zimbabwe was deliberately ruined by Mugabe’s political egocentricity. For some commentators, Mugabe’s political demise was heralded by firing of his then vice Emerson Mnangagwa who was seen as an obstacle to the presidential ambitions of his wife Grace. The army capitalized the indiscretion and subtly deposed him. Mugabe relied preponderantly on army as he rampaged Zimbabwe. The hypothesis was that the army was infuriated by the prospects of handing the country over to madam Grace. But the decrepit Mugabe’s resistance to his ‘rebelling’ military was futile. Though the army considered ouster of the tyrant irreversible, they rejected description of their political action against the autocrat as a “coup and assured the safety of the first family. The military maintained that their action was targeted at criminals around Mugabe and persons believed to be behind the economic stress that Zimbabweans were facing”. Mugabe finally resigned November 21 compelled by mediation, threat of recall by Zanu-PF and impeachment processes by the parliament, mass protest calling for his departure and threats of intervention by the regional political bloc SADC. Sadly, Mugabe died yesterday September 6, 2019 at the age of 95. It is striking to observe that in spite of the long-term misrule, the despot was irreplaceable to a lot of Zimbabweans. This is neither because he has done well nor has any other value to add but because the ethnic cards he plays were magnetizing.

In Africa and in deed in many so called developing societies religion and ethnicity are tremendous electoral factors than competence. This accounts for the reasons why intolerably bad rulers keep returning to power with implausible landslide victories or forced the way back to power in extremely fraudulent electoral processes and continue to misrule devoid of consequences. It is becoming common knowledge that the combustible sectional cards in Africa’s politics have nothing to do with existence of the tribes and diverse religious orientations but in the structures and characters of the Africa’s political aristocrats. It is no longer plausible to blame the structural fragility of African states on imperial inputs. No, the contemporary Africa is the author and sustainer of her malaise. Fortunately, it is within her volition to edict valid transformation of the negating order.

For Onunaji ‘the deformed neo-colonial states which are dysfunctional in every aspects of the basic responsibility to the citizens are only potent in the service of the elite handlers.6 The unreformed neo-colonial states are for the handlers the guarantor of unfathomable wealth, power and influence. Therefore, to take possession of a state, no rule is too sacrosanct to breach, no consensus is binding enough and even the helpless population, in whose name the state purportedly exist is absolutely expendable.7

Jammeh, Paul Biya, late Mugabe, Joseph Kabila, Gbagbo and their defiant cohorts knew too well the deprivation and the sense of vulnerability that comes with the loss of power in Africa. The loss of power in Africa is beyond the period political sabbaticals of opposition parties in the west, who endure the loss of power without the vicissitude of vendetta and reprisals. Gbagbo and his clique like every other vanquished group in Africa know they are heading to a reprisal and absolutely intolerant government.8 The cruel beating, slapping and punching of Gbagbo on the streets of France by Ivoirians are specifically additional to the woes to the former president.

However, everything may not be appropriately right about the detestations and aspersions poured on the former dictator and the lack of sympathy from friends and foes in the international community that always give impression of a compassionate agency. This is remarkable. This detestation may be traced primarily to the character of mainstream international media. It is noted that ‘the tendentiousness of the reportage in the Ivorian crisis was not only ludicrous but indicative of the fact that truth of the election that ousted him was blatantly ignored and facts were skewed up and presented in a manner to serve a certain sinister unknown and ulterior motives. All these tended to suggest that there were well orchestrated conspiracy not to tell the truth but to inflame the nation.9 The hypothetical opportunity to inflame the nation was seen playing out in the will of the incumbent to hang on to power until it turned out shoddier. In addition, there is an intensifying tradition in the west of uncritical supports to opposition groups seeking liberal political environment. More support is garnered when a move for political change is directed at a ‘dictator’.

Dictators continually cling on illegitimate tools to legalise their suppressive regime and develop oligarchic institutions that prioritises their cleavages to power. It has become increasing evident that elections and reforms in some states are defensive and rationalizing strategies of popular dictators unwilling to step aside. As the popular Arab Spring political uprising was gradually absorbed giving way to transitory changes of strategy by individual national dictators, ‘the steps taken by Arab governments were not democratizing reforms, rather there were carefully circumscribed efforts designed precisely to head off the possibility of true democratization by alleviating popular dissatisfaction with the regimes. Some regimes, such as those in Morocco and Jordan, have managed to stay in place by persisting with such a strategy.10 The dictators have time-tested tactics of dealing with popular demands for change or democratic reforms. These rulers in the eyes of the western powers inexpediently squander the chances of inclusive or democratic politics at every election. It is noticeable that western media propaganda have rightly or wrongly supported and given every logistic to oppositions seeking displacement of ‘unjust’ administration.

We saw this role in Kenya between the former president Kibaki and opposition leader, Raila Odinga. It was with the backing of the western powers that government of national unity was formed in Kenya that gave opposition, a prime minister slot. The same was replicated in Zimbabwe between late Robert Mugabe and late Morgan Tshangari. Even the revolutionary uprising in the Arab world that targeted displacement of undemocratic governments endeared the western powers and has been applauded by the excited main western media. It was natural that Vladimir Putin accused the Europe and America of contributing to mounting oppositions against imposition of himself repeatedly against the interest of the greater Russian public. Since democratic dispensation in Russian, Putin has had the rare advantages of doing whatever he wishes with the power and politics of Russia. Putin caused mutations of the constitution to give himself automatic prime ministerial position immediately after he exhausted constitutionally approved two consecutive tenures as president. Later, he swapped position with the former president, Dmitry Mevdev. By this arrangement, Putin reoccupies the presidency and the president stepped aside into prime minster position, an arrangement opposition groups decried and vowed against. However, the opposition was impotent and incapable of halting the denigration of Russians.

All governments rest on some kind of mixture of coercion and consent, but democracies are unique in the degree to which their stability depends on the consent of a majority of those governed. Almost as a given, theories of democracy stress that democratic stability requires a widespread belief among both elites and masses that democracy is the best form of government for their society, and hence that the democratic regime is morally entitled to rule.11 The global trend today is glaringly anti-dictatorship, no matter how benevolent the junta is. People are more and more resolute to partake in determining the trend of their lives and shaping their future. This surely makes sense.12 By boldly confronting the tyrants without fear and any where irrespective of circumstances, Africans can demonstrate their commitment to culture of cleaner and more productive politics.

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IMG-20190907-WA0025.jpg

 

 

Death Of A Nation: Biafra and the Nigerian question

By Chido Onuma

Image result for ethnic flags in nigeria

 

“There are two basic questions that must be answered by all Nigerians. One, do we want to remain as one country? Two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions?” – Chief Bola Ige

Introduction: To paraphrase the historian, mathematician, journalist, Marxist, and progressive thinker, Edwin Madunagu, every political history has its significant dates, landmarks or turning points. In Nigeria’s political history, for instance, landmarks would include October 1, 1960, (the day Nigeria gained independence from Britain), January 15, 1966, (when the first of what would become a tradition of military coups occurred), July 6, 1967, (the official start of the 30-month Nigeria-Biafra war) and January 15, 1970, (the official end of the civil war).

To these dates, I will add January 1, 1914, (the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by the British to create Nigeria), May 27, 1967, (the beginning of state creation in Nigeria), and May 30, 1967, (the official declaration of the secessionist state of Biafra). The latter dates, May 27 and May 30, 1967, are significant in many ways. On May 27, 50 years ago, Yakubu Gowon, who served as head of state of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975, perhaps in anticipation of the audacious move by the Military Governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu, announced the division of Nigeria into 12 states from four regions. The division of Nigeria into 12 states and Ojukwu’s declaration of Biafra were decisions that would change the country forever.

Gowon’s action did not only alter the structure of Nigeria, it led to the reconstruction of the nascent nation through the lenses of the so-called Nigerian military; a military that was provincial in outlook as it was ill-equipped for leadership. The military centralized economic and political power and moved Nigeria from a federal republic to a unitary state. In many ways, we can conveniently say May 27, 1967, was the day Nigeria began to unravel and any attempt to understand the current crises and our inability to make progress as a nation must necessarily return to the action of the military junta on May 27, 1967.

The road to Biafra

Three days later, May 30, 1967, Lt. Col Ojukwu, a Nigerian soldier of Igbo extraction declared an “independent sovereign state of the name and title of the Republic of Biafra,” officially excising the Eastern Region from Nigeria. Ojukwu based his action on the resolution, four days earlier, on May 26, 1967, of a joint conference of the Eastern consultative assembly and leaders of thought that asked him to declare the Eastern region as a separate republic at an “early practicable date”.

The declaration of Biafra was the culmination of a series of tragic events. First was the bloodletting that started with the January 15, 1966, military coup. That coup led to the assassination of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, the country’s first and only prime minister and Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region, among other high-profile casualties. Some recollections by Edwin Madunagu in “Settling account with Biafra” (The Guardian, May 4, 2000) are apposite here: “One, the politics of the First Republic (1960-1965) was heavily characterized by ethnicity, especially towards the end of that tragic period. Two: Of the five army majors that are more frequently mentioned as leading the coup attempt, only one, Major Adewale Ademoyega, was non-Igbo by ethnic origin. Three: No Igbo political leader died and the only Igbo military casualty occurred not because he was a target but because he was considered a ‘nuisance’. Four: The attempted coup was the culmination of a long period of political crisis in Nigeria, a crisis whose centre of gravity was Western Region where, before the military intervention, the crisis had become an armed popular uprising.”

On July 29, 1966, there was another military coup led by officers from Northern Nigeria and Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon became head of state. According to Madunagu, the coupists “first made a move to pull the Northern Region out Nigeria, but when they were advised that they were now in a military situation to rule the whole country, instead of a part of it, they dropped the idea of secession and became champions of ‘One Nigeria’. Lt. Col Ojukwu refused to recognize Lt. Col Gowon as head of state.”

The second coup led to the assassination, among other high-profile casualties, of the country’s first military head of state, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo, as well as the military governor of the Western Region, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi. This was followed by, as Madunagu notes, “mass killings not only in the North but all over the country, except the Eastern Region. Now, multiply the May 1966 tragedy by a factor of 50, add to it the fact that the killings were now led by armed soldiers whose commanders were now in power and add to this the fact that the killings did not abate for at least five months and you begin to have an idea of what happened.”

The criminal indifference of the Nigerian state to the manifest pogrom against people from Eastern Nigeria, particularly Igbos, the repudiation by the Nigerian contingent (and the “unilateral implementation” by the Eastern regional government) of the agreement on decentralization of power reached at a meeting in Aburi, Ghana, involving the main protagonists, Yakubu Gowon and Emeka Ojukwu, at the instance of Gen. Ankrah of Ghana, finally paved the road to Biafra.

The accounts of what took place in those turbulent days are as varied as there are ethnic groups in Nigeria. But one thing is certain: the effects of those events, particularly the actions of May 27 and 30, 1967, are still being felt today. In one fell swoop, the military unilaterally restructured Nigeria according to its dictates. While Ojukwu drafted “unwilling” minorities in the Eastern Region to create a Biafran state where Igbos were in the majority, the Nigerian military which was nothing but the armed wing of a reactionary feudal class that had power thrust on it at independence began the implementation of an agenda of conquest. Interestingly, barely a year earlier, the section of the military that seized power after the January 15, 1966 coup had attempted to reconstruct Nigeria as a unitary state with the promulgation of the unification decree 34 of 1966. That attempt was opposed fiercely by those (including a section of the military) who felt they had lost out in the power equation. The rest is history.

When history repeats itself

Unfortunately, Nigeria is on the cusp of that tragic history repeating itself. Regrettably, 50 years after the declaration of Biafra many young Nigerians of Igbo descent are trying to recreate Biafra. In a few days, there will be events in Nigeria and around the world to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra on May 30, 1967. Forty-seven years after the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War, Biafra still resonates with individuals and groups within and outside the country; perhaps, a testament to the fact that the war hasn’t ended in the minds of the protagonists and victims and the reality that many of the issues that propelled the civil war are still with us today.

So, how do we deal with this conundrum? Is Biafra the solution? In other words, can we solve the problems of 2017 Nigeria using the tragic solution of 50 years ago? As S.M. Sigerson noted in The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? “A nation which fails to adequately remember salient points of its own history is like a person with Alzheimer’s. And that can be a social disease of a most destructive nature.”

Seventeen years ago, Edwin Madunagu, in the piece referenced above, admonished “the young Nigerians now threatening to actualize Biafra (to) forget or shelve the plan. In place of ‘actualisation’, they should, through research and study, reconstruct the Biafran story in its fullness and complexity and try to answer the unanswered questions and supply the missing links in the story. This is a primary responsibility you owe yourselves: you should at least understand what you want to actualise. If 30 years after Biafra, you want to produce its second edition, you need to benefit from the criticism of the first. History teaches that a second edition of a tragic event could easily become a farce—in spite of the heroism of its human agencies. On the other hand, those who enjoy ridiculing Biafra—instead of studying it—are politically shortsighted. My own attitude to Biafra is neither ‘actualisation’ nor ridicule. I propose that accounts should be settled with Biafra.”

Madunagu’s admonition needs no elaboration. It is clear enough for the young people pushing for the actualization of Biafra, many of whom were born after the end of the Biafra war 47 years ago. The aspect of his position on Biafra that I want to focus on is the aspect that warns of the “political shortsightedness of ridiculing Biafra”.

Balkanizing the nation

When the military regime headed by Gowon divided Nigeria into 12 states, it sought to weaken the prospect of the different groups in the Eastern Region uniting against the Nigerian state. Of course, that action was music to the ears of minority groups, particularly those in the Eastern Region, who had long demanded their own state. With the creation of states, however, the military not only unilaterally abrogated the geo-political structure that existed then, it went a step further to destroy the principle of federalism on which Nigeria gained independence in 1960 and which had sustained and kept the country together. We need to understand that this principle was adopted not only to assuage the fear of domination by a single group in the country but as recognition of the differences (multi-ethnic and multi-lingual) of the various “ethnic nationalities” that were brought together to create Nigeria.

Part of Gowon’s broadcast on May 27, 1967, signaling the breakup of Nigeria into 12 states is pertinent here: “The main obstacle to future stability in this country is the present structural imbalance in the Nigerian Federation. Even Decree No.8 or Confederation or ‘loose association’ will never survive if any one section of the country is in a position to hold the others to ransom.

“This is why the first item in the political and administrative program adopted by the Supreme Military Council last month is the creation of states for stability. This must be done first so as to remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people.

“As soon as these are established, a new revenue allocation commission consisting of international experts will be appointed to recommend an equitable formula for revenue allocation taking into account the desires of the states. I propose to act faithfully within the political and administrative program adopted by the Supreme Military Council and published last month. The world will recognize in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.

“I have ordered the re-imposition of the economic measures designed to safeguard federal interests until such time as the Eastern Military Governor abrogates his illegal edicts on revenue collection and the administration of the federal statutory corporations based in the East. The country has a long history of well-articulated demands for states. The fears of minorities were explained in great detail and set out in the report of the Willink Commission appointed by the British in 1958. More recently, there have been extensive discussions in Regional Consultative Committees and leaders-of-thought conferences. Resolutions have been adopted demanding the creation of states in the North and in Lagos. Petitions from minority areas in the East which have been subjected to violent intimidation by the Eastern Military Government have been publicized.

“While the present circumstances regrettably do not allow for consultations through plebiscites, I am satisfied that the creation of new states as the only possible basis for stability and equality is the overwhelming desire of the vast majority of Nigerians. To ensure justice, these states are being created simultaneously. To this end, therefore, I am promulgating a decree which will divide the Federal Republic into 12 states. The 12 states will be six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Eastern Region, the Mid-Western will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the Western Region and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western Region will otherwise remain as it is.”

What the military regime of Gowon gave with one hand it took with the other. And that would become the hallmark of subsequent military regimes in Nigeria. Gowon failed to realize, or deliberately ignored the reality that the issue wasn’t the division of the country but the reluctance or inability of the military to keep its promise, viz., “This must be done first so as to remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people.”

Unfortunately, that never happened. It couldn’t have, considering the rapacious and parasitic nature of the Nigerian military so-called and the interest it represented and still represents. Once the military couldn’t deliver on that promise, it also meant that the second part of its declaration that, “The world will recognise in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country,” was nothing but meaningless soundbite by a rampaging military sub-class in desperate search for legitimacy.

Since then, there has neither been “justice nor fair play for all sections” of Nigeria. There hasn’t been any serious attempt to “accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.” The sham of a federation that the military created has evolved into a Frankenstein’s monster. Fast forward 50 years. Cleary, it is the nebulous federal government that is holding the country to ransom. The moment the military government took economic powers from the states, there was no way we could ensure justice and fair play. And once you can’t ensure justice and fair play, there is no way you can stop the concomitant disquiet.

The politics of state creation

When Gen Murtala Muhammed created additional seven states—three in the “South” and four in the “North”—bringing the total to 19 states, and a new federal capital territory, Abuja, on February 3, 1976, ten days before his assassination on February 13, he left no one in doubt that the conquest was real. While Gowon showed an inclination to balance Nigeria geo-politically, Muhammed ensured that the “North” had ten states while the “South” had nine. It has been alleged that the decision was to create four new states in the “North” and four new states in the “South”, but when Muhammed announced the creation of states, instead of creating two states (Cross River and Akwa Ibom States) out of the old South-Eastern State, he simply announced the transformation of South-Eastern State into Cross River State.

Subsequent military regimes continued the conquest, not just on the political front, but on the economic front as well. Ten years later, in 1986, when the self-professed evil genius, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, set up a Political Bureau to review the country’s political and democratic system, one of its recommendations was the creation of an additional state (Akwa Ibom State) in “South” to create a geo-political balance of ten states each between the “North” and “South”. Babangida spurned that recommendation. He did create Akwa Ibom State, but he added another state (Katsina State) in the “North” to maintain the imbalance. It was the same pattern that was adopted in subsequent state creation in 1991 (under Gen Babangida) and 1996 (under Gen Sani Abacha). Geo-politically, today, Nigeria is composed of 36 states: 19 states in the “North” and 17 states in the “South”.

Ordinarily, this should not matter. After all, in a federation, the federating units (states) are supposed to manage their affairs substantially and contribute to the sustenance of the Federation. Therefore, only those who feel their states can sustain themselves would clamor for the creation of such states. Of course, more self-sustaining states would mean more opportunities for the national government to benefit from the exploration and exploitation of resources in every state. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Nigeria.

In a country where the military had hijacked and centralized the control of economic resources and political power by, for example, arrogating to itself the authority to create local governments as well as placing itself in the position of chief dispenser of funds based on its own criteria, including population, land mass, number of local governments, derivation principle, etc., the dog eat dog demand for states was inevitable. Thanks to the military—the armed wing of Nigeria’s dominant power bloc—Nigeria has a weird federation where states can’t create their own local governments; where local governments are listed in constitutions that have been nothing but military decrees writ large. Thanks to the military, Nigeria has spurned justice and fair play and disregarded the genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.

It is not for nothing that Nigeria is described as a federal republic. It was a choice made by the three regions in Nigeria preceding independence. Both the Eastern and Western regions obtained internal self-government (independence) in 1957, while the North got same in 1959. Each region could have opted to go its own way in 1960. We could have had three countries as opposed to one at independence. The decision by the regions to be part of a shared territory called Nigeria came with some obligation and expectation. There is little to suggest that the federating region were willing to jettison the greater part of their economic and political independence for the sake of “one Nigeria”.

In 1963, the regions (the precursor of our current states) controlled 50 percent of the revenues accruing from their region; today we are quibbling whether the states have right to as little as 13 percent. In a sense, this manifest heist by the federal government has perpetuated injustice in some sections of the country while condoning indolence in others. It is this quest for control or lack of, that is at the heart of the Nigerian crisis.

Biafra of the mind vs Biafra of the field

What is Biafra? If that question was tough to answer in 1967, it is even more difficult today, fifty years after. As a nation, Biafra was going to be difficult to sustain even if it had been actualized. Was Biafra a nation made up of ethnic nationalities? In other words, was Biafra a microcosm of Nigeria? One of the things those who are agitating for Biafra have not been able to define or communicate effectively is an answer to the question: What is Biafra? The answers to this question are as varied as there are agitators.

There are those who will tell you that Biafra encompasses the area that used to be the Eastern Region of Nigeria and beyond, including parts of Southern Cameroon and stretching to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Some define Biafra as simply the former Eastern Region of Nigeria that was given the name Biafra on May 30, 1967. Some say it is the five states (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo) in south-east Nigeria where the Igbos are the major ethnic group. Yet, others define Biafra as encompassing all the Igbo-speaking areas of southern Nigeria, including parts of present-day Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Benue States. The issue of definition is important because the lack of understanding and agreement can pose great problems.

Of course, up until May 30, 1967, there was nothing like Biafra as nation or political territory. The only thing that bore the tag Biafra was a bight off the West African coast, in the easternmost part of the Gulf of Guinea, stretching to Cape Lopez in Gabon, over which Britain established a colonial protectorate in 1849. Biafra as a nation was a child of circumstance that would become a child of necessity.

What if the bloody January 15, 1966, coup and the attendant assassinations didn’t happen; if Igbo political leaders had been killed alongside their counterparts from the “North” and “West”; if the “revenge coup” of July 29, 1966, and the attendant murders didn’t occur; if the Nigerian state had reined in the murderous groups (military and civilian)  that had targeted Igbos after the July 29 coup; if Gen Aguiyi Ironsi—the first indigenous general and leader of the Nigerian Army—an Igbo who was not part of the January 15 abortive coup, had not been a major beneficiary by seizing power and becoming head of state; if Gen Ironsi had executed the coup plotters ofJanuary 15 as military tradition dictates; if the regime of Gen Ironsi did not promulgate Decree No. 34—which abrogated the country’s federal structure in exchange for a unitary one; if the “January 15 boys” had completed their “project” either by one of them becoming head of state or as some have alluded, released the imprisoned leader of the national opposition, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and installed him as prime minister; if the Nigerian government led by Gowon had implemented the agreement reached at Aburi?

We can raise many questions and speculate as much as we like, but we will never know. Of course, a few things are known. Madunagu reminds us that, “In Eastern Region, a militant group in the present Bayelsa State, led by Isaac Boro, rose in armed rebellion against the (January 15) coup. They wanted political autonomy for the minorities, not the replacement of (the premier) Dr. Michael Okpara (an Igbo) by Col. Ojukwu (an Igbo). Boro’s rebellion was defeated after 12 days. My studies and reflections convince me that this rebellion was the authentic position and voice of the minorities of Eastern Nigeria at the time.”

I don’t think that position has changed even though many advocates for Biafra would say otherwise. My own research convinces me that if the minorities in the Eastern Region wanted “political autonomy” from the Igbos 50 years ago, today that feeling is even stronger today. If this is the situation, how then do we construe the renewed clamor for the actualization of Biafra? If the minorities refuse to be part of the renewed Biafra experiment, will they be forced to be part of it? Some Biafra activists believe that should be the case. If we equate Biafra to the Igbo ethnic nationality, how do we define Igbo (or any other ethnic nationality) in a country where ethnic borders have become amorphous and miscegenation has taken place for over a 100 year?

Clearly, once the Biafra experiment failed, it was going to be difficult to put it back together again. Perhaps, that was why Ojukwu, the man who led the Biafra war of independence many years later spoke about “the Biafra of the mind” as opposed to “the Biafra of the field”. On January 9, 1970, shortly before the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War on January 15, 1970, Ojukwu handed over power to his second in command, Chief of General Staff, Major-General Philip Effiong, and went into exile in Ivory Coast where he lived for 12 years.

Ojukwu was granted political asylum by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny whose country had recognized Biafra on 14 May 1968. He returned to Nigeria to a hero’s welcome in 1982 after he was granted state pardon by the civilian government led by Shehu Shagari. He joined the ruling party at the federal level, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), to the disappointment of many who had hoped or wanted him to join the party that was in power at the state level, the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). Unfortunately, he couldn’t receive enough support (or was sabotaged by his own party as some have alluded) from his kinsmen to represent them at the Senate.

Ojukwu ran unsuccessfully for president in 2003 and 2007 under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) winning just 3.3% of the votes in 2003. 2015 estimates put the Igbo population at around 33 million, close to 20% of Nigeria’s estimated 180 million people. Ojukwu died on November 26, 2011, in the United Kingdom. Does this narrative signify anything? Maybe, maybe not. Until his death, Ojukwu remained quite vocal about the Nigerian dilemma. He had no regrets, rightly so, about his role in the declaration of Biafra. But he also realized that the circumstances had changed. He was concerned about the injustice in Nigeria, but he was also passionate about the need to deploy new arsenals, taking into account current realities, in the quest to end injustice in Nigeria.

I think it was this realization that led him to the conclusion in his 1989 book “Because I am Involved.” According to the late warlord, “All over Nigeria, there is Biafra but that Biafra of today is ‘the Biafra of the Nigerians and not the Biafra of the Igbos’; the Biafra of the mind not the Biafra of the fields.” Quite evocative. Clearly, we can hear the shouts of injustice (read Biafra) across the length and breadth of Nigeria. The question then is what must we do to get Nigeria out of the current quagmire and ultimately save the country from self-destruction?

Mythical nation

There are no easy answers, considering the historical trajectories of Nigeria and the beating the country has taken from rogue rulers (military and civilian) in the last 57 years. But we can start from somewhere. A genuine national conversation founded on shared existential experience can be a good starting point. We must come to the realization that we have very limited choices and time is of the essence. The single agenda of such national conversation is to work out an agreeable and sustainable structure for the country. This is critical for many reasons, the most important being that it is on such agreement that every other thing, including the survival of the country, rests. It is this sentiment that the late politician and lawyer, Chief Bola Ige, expressed when he noted: “There are two basic questions that must be answered by all Nigerians. One, do we want to remain as one country? Two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions?”

Undoubtedly, a majority of Nigerians would respond in the affirmative to the first question. The question then is if we agree to remain together, under what conditions? Do we want a truly federal nation? Do we want a secular and egalitarian nation where the rule of law prevails? Do we want a semi-feudal and religious republic that poses as a modern democratic society? Do we want a nation where some citizens are treated as second-class citizens? Do we want a nation where some people feel ostracized, marginalized, dispossessed and neglected or an inclusive nation of equal opportunities, freedom, responsibility, and trust? The choice is ours, but that decision must involve the majority of Nigerians. Enter the term restructuring!

To understand Nigeria and why we need to restructure the country, we need to debunk a few myths and lay bare certain facts. Myth: God used the British to bring Nigeria together and, therefore, not only is there nothing we can do about that, we shouldn’t attempt to alter what the British put together on behalf of God. Fact: Nigeria was brought together by the British for purely economic and imperialistic reasons. Myth: The size of Nigeria is an asset. Fact: Of course, size is an asset, but no country is great simply by the size of its population. Myth: Nigeria has always been one “united” country. Fact: Nigeria has not always been like this. Nigeria was basically two different countries (Northern and Southern Protectorates). The British brought these two countries together for economic, administrative and expansionist interests as well as its desire to check the burgeoning French interest in Africa. The evil colonialists created one country yet did everything to keep the people divided. The fault lines still exist today. Myth: Once the British “conquered” the people that would later form Nigeria, they lost the right to “self-determination”. Fact: The ethnic nationalities that were “conquered” by the British were not “conquered” collectively as one group and the fact that they were “conquered” by the British does not in any way vitiate their right to “self-determination”. Only a hegemonist and internal colonialist will push such a position. Myth: Nigeria is non-negotiable and indivisible. Fact: Nations are not eternal constructs; they come into being at certain historical junctures due to different factors and can likewise go out of existence for different reasons. Myth: Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. Fact: Nigeria is not a mere geographical expression. The country is simply no longer the sum of its constituent parts. There are people and institutions that are Nigerian.

So, let’s not romanticize Nigeria or take it for granted. Having said that, it is also important that we understand that there is nothing special about the way Nigeria was formed. And this is in response to those who refer to Nigeria as a “fictional nation” or an “artificial creation”.

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Who is afraid of restructuring?

For those who fear the word restructuring, let it be clear that it doesn’t imply breaking Nigeria into tiny sovereignties or going back to the status quo ante. That is far-fetched. Of course, there are many positions just as there is much misperception and confusion when it comes to restructuring. Many people genuinely do not understand what is at stake when the issue of restructuring is mentioned vis a vis the politics of Nigeria, while others, for purely partisan and ethnic reasons, decide to conflate the issue.

Make no mistake, the “restructuring” of Nigeria both politically and economically has been a continuous process since amalgamation in 1914. The restructuring in 1939 saw the division of the South into two regions, the West and East. In 1946, the country was again restructured to create a federation of three regions: East, West and North. The process continued in I963 with the creation of Mid-Western Region out of the former Western Region, the unitary system in 1966 and beyond, the creation of 12 states on May 27, 1967, etc. Add to this, the emasculation of the states through the reduction of the percentage of revenue accruing to states from their resources.

Basically, what restructuring will do is to create new, workable and generally acceptable rules on how Nigeria should federate. We need to reorder the polity for effective governance. Clearly, our fortunes as a nation is tied to the kind of political, economic and social structure we put in place. We need to review revenue generation and allocation. We can’t talk or wish our way to prosperity as a nation. We must end financial irresponsibility and fiscal rascality by revisiting the issue of fiscal federalism. We must allow states to share greater responsibility in the policing of their states. We must abrogate local governments as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and allow states to create local governments according to their needs. We must redefine citizenship rights and banish the indigene-settler dichotomy. This is what restructuring is about. We must continue to interrogate Nigeria because our misleaders (past and present) have failed to forge a nation out of what was bequeathed to us by the colonialists. The nationhood question is never settled. The way out is to never be afraid to confront it.

Any attempt to understand and tackle Nigeria’s seemingly intractable problems must go back to the basic principles of the formation of Nigeria. We may not have it the way it was in 1960 or 1963, but it is important that whatever way we decide to have it, the decision is inclusive and acceptable. That is the essence of restructuring. Restructuring is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all our problems, but trying to solve our national crises without restructuring the country effectively will amount to putting the cart before the horse.

The bottom line is that Nigeria is not working for Nigerians. It may be working for some Nigerians, either Igbos, Fulanis, Yorubas, Hausas, Kanuris, Efiks, Tivs or Ijaws, but for the majority of the country, it is a nightmare living the Nigerian dream. We can point to poor leadership, bad governance, corruption and the need for attitudinal change, but these are symptoms of a much insidious problem, the existential crisis that confronts Nigeria.

Nigeria is not working not because Nigerians can’t make it work or are not willing to make it work. Nigeria is not working simply because there is no incentive to make it work; there is no allegiance to the Nigerian dream if it does exist. That explains the mindless corruption in the country, the contempt the rulers have for the country and its citizens, their eagerness to run it aground and their willingness to run to the Metropole at the slightest opportunity either for medical attention, to educate their children or simply to enjoy the good life. And, the country, the proverbial giant of Africa remains, in the words of Noble Laurette, Prof Wole Soyinka, “the open sore of a continent”; a nation that made billions of dollars from oil, yet (with Pakistan and Afghanistan) is one of the three remaining polio-endemic countries in the world with one of the highest cases of out-of-school children and maternal mortality.

Reclaiming Nigeria

The purpose of restructuring, therefore, is to set Nigeria on the path of a civic nationhood, a modern egalitarian society, and not to create new fiefdoms for ethnic warlords. It aims to end internal colonialism wherever it exists in the country and to free the creative and intellectual capacities for Nigerians from the east, west, north and south, to contribute to the development of the country.

Can we reconstruct Nigeria? Can we reclaim the country and provide succor to millions of our countrymen and women in the east, west, north, and south who have endured decades of misrule, impoverishment, injustice and oppression? This is the question that should engage true patriots and the current generation of Nigerians. Can the post-civil war generation of Nigerians reclaim the country and create a new Nigeria that can become a global contender? I think it can. But nation building is not a tea party. This generation must learn to overcome the fear and loathing; it mustn’t allow our tragic history to repeat itself.

The future of Nigeria belongs to young men and men, millions who are unemployed and daily roaming the streets of major cities across the country. I share your frustration, pain, suffering, anger and anxiety. But no one feels the pain more than you and, therefore, you are in the best position to bring about the kind of change you and Nigeria need.

You must rise to the occasion. You are the future of this great nation. Nigeria of 2017 is not Nigeria of 1914, 1960, 1966, or 1967-70. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, once admonished Americans, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” Kennedy was speaking to Americans and the “right” answer may not be in the interest of non-Americans, but the same principle can apply in our own situation. In seeking solutions to the country’s problems, you must learn from the past but you should not allow the past to cripple you. You must accept your own responsibility for the future. You should see yourselves as Nigerians first before being Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, Fulani or Ijaw. And in seeking to deal with the Nigerian question, that should be your guiding principle.

Nigerian youth must seize the moment and define the kind of future they want to create. Nobody will live that future but you. Don’t let our crooked politicians and so-called statesmen define that future. You can’t leave the solution to Nigeria’s problems to those who created it in the first place for, as Einstein poignantly put it, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Our rulers have defined themselves and the country for too long; they have no right to define you and the future.

Our rulers and so-called elders shouldn’t speak for you any longer. Don’t let a 90-year-old Edwin Clark or Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who as Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University from 1979–1986, was more of a despot than an administrator, ruining the future of many students in the process, speak for you. Don’t let the dishonorable men and women posing as your representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives speak for you. Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, OPC, Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), IPOB, MASSOB, and sundry agglomeration of ethnic jingoists and bigots, shouldn’t speak for you.

Your reality and challenges—in the light of globalization and a world where oil is increasingly becoming irrelevant and advances in science and communication technology are changing the way we live and operate—are different from the realities of your forbears. Don’t let the prejudices of the past hold you down. We have wasted 57 years as an independent nation, we can’t afford to waste the next 50 years. As we mark the 50th anniversary of Biafra and the start of the civil war, we must remember our fellow citizens from the east, west, north and south and everywhere in between who lost their lives or loved ones, were injured or maimed for life in that unfortunate 30-month war and resolve to say never again!

I believe we can a build a nation where no group or individuals place their ethnic, sectional, state, regional or religious interests above the national interest. That is the condition precedent for the survival of Nigeria. That is what restructuring can do for us.

The eternal words of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the great Pan-Africanist who died on Africa Day, May 25, eight years ago, are apropos:“don’t agonize, organize”.

Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Connect with him by email conumah@hotmail.com; Twitter: @conumah- source Sahara Reporters

 

Democracy & Induced economic poverty in Nigeria: Poverty as an Instrument of command and control in Nigeria’s democracy?

 

By Dr. Godalex Ezeani

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I read with great delight and awe the ancient Athenian concerns for the efficient working of their democracy; history has it that modern democracy started in Athens, Greece. The Athenians were able to meticulously articulate that for their democracy to function well, there has to be some reasonable economic buoyancy amongst her citizens. The expectation is for the citizens not to unnecessarily overwork themselves in their life’s pursuits just to satisfy their basic needs. This is because for the citizens to participate fully in their country’s democracy, they should be able to have times for leisure, relaxation and meditation. When people are poverty stricken, they tend to lose touch with their political duties and obligations to the State; they will have low morale, negative attitudes towards political participation and engagement. All their concerns would be focused on being able to put food on their table; for themselves and their families. So, they are forced to become workaholics. They cannot afford not to work every single minute of their lives, or else they go hungry.

The situation in Nigeria today exposes the ugly reality that too many citizens are unable to provide three square meals for their families, and consequently are incapable of meaningful participation in the country’s politics and democratic process. The dangerous part of the whole situation is that Nigeria’s leaders and politicians seem to indulge and crave for such abnormalities in order to take advantage of the electorate to achieve their selfish goals. The Nigeria’s leadership seems to masterfully and cunningly impoverish her peoples, and then use them to ascend to political positions of power using fake promises of economic emancipation. That is why it is very easy for these corrupt politicians to buy votes with two hundred naira per electorate; as was the case in a Nigeria’s voting booth very recently.

The poor and ignorant Nigerians happily collected the paltry sums and smiled away thinking they have collected their own “democratic dividend”, without realizing they just mortgaged their lives to perpetual penury and perfidy. While Nigeria’s politicians should be ashamed of themselves for looting the country’s treasury, and perpetuating poverty on the people, the citizens should take responsibility for their own actions and must come to the realization that they are the employers, the politicians are their employees, and that their ability to vote their conscience is their power and the key to control the affairs of the country. Like the ancient Athenians, Nigerians should work tirelessly towards good governance that provides equitable economic and social system to all citizens, where the peoples are economically buoyant enough, and not too stressed out in their overtly pursuits to satisfy their basic life’s needs.

In a country where elections are fair, and votes are counted without deceit, it would be very easy to vote out and replace irresponsible politicians with honorable ones who stand by good governance that benefit the masses. However, the masses have got to fight to restore the credibility of the electoral system as a viable means of electing honest politicians that are dedicated to serving them.