“Change will not come to Nigeria on a platter of gold, if you want justice, you have to fight for it.” -Omoyele Sowore / Famous Nigerian Journalist and Human Rights Activist.
“The First Law of Churov: Putin (Russian President) is always right.” – Vladimir Churov (newly elected Head of Russia’s Electoral Committee)
Igi gogoro ma gun mi lo’ju, a t’okere ni a ti n wo. – Owe Yoruba.
“We need to use force to change this regime. It isn’t possible to change through democratic means. There can be no change without force. There is no chance of regime change through democratic elections.” – Boris Berezovsky, Russian Billionaire; on self-exile in London.Excerpt of an interview about the Russian government given to the British newspaper, The Guardian, in April 2007.
Если бы знать куда упасть, соломинки бы подстели. (Русская пословица) -Translation: If we had known where we were going to fall, we would have laid some straws on the ground. -(Russian proverb)
“Politicians in the Delta are no different from politicians elsewhere in Nigeria. The rot is right at the top and has spread right down. Nigeria will only be free when all citizens resolve to take drastic action to rid our society of these criminals who have imposed themselves as rulers over a helpless citizenry.” – Jomo Ghomo, Leader of MEND in excerpt of an interview given to Saharareporters.
“Obasanjo will be remembered as a person who literally desecrated the electoral integrity of the Nigerian nation. Obasanjo in the last few years completely blocked the possibility of Nigeria moving forward. Whatever he must have done to revamp the economy, his economic reforms, the fight against corruption; all of these will be subsumed by his abuse of the Nigerian system over the years. This is what his legacy will be. People will not remember Obasanjo for other things; he will be remembered because of this crime, this political crime that he committed against the Nigerian people. Political corruption affects national cohesion than even material corruption. Obasanjo’s regime is the most political corrupt regime in Nigeria.” – Wole Soyinka, excerpt of interview given to the BBC in May, 2007.
THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD
Fellow Nigerians, my question goes thus. Since we all knew that Obasanjo knew nothing about petroleum and its management, and that the main reason for assigning himself this ministry was to fill his pocket with Nigeria’s petro dollars, why didn’t we go out en masse to protest? Why didn’t neither The House of Reps. nor The Senate veto his appointing himself as the Minister of Petroleum? Why didn’t the progressives mobilise the masses to challenge the 419 constitution that gives the President the right to combine his job with the petroleum portfolio? The answer, I assume is obvious. Everybody was expecting to get a shot at the oil contract. Everybody was expecting to be allocated an oil block, or be a broker between the government and potential investors.
We all took “a siddon look” position. Obasanjo used allocation of oil blocks as a ‘stick and carrot’ to get undeserved support of politicians. The scheme is very simple. If you are a ‘heavy weight’ politician, most especially a retired military officer, and you back him, you get an oil block as a reward. If you go against him after being allocated an oil block, it is taken away from you immediately under some flimsy excuse. Remember the case of Danjuma. His oil block was taken away from him the moment he openly criticised Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda (TTA) By the way, can somebody explain to me why Danjuma should be awarded an oil block? Where did he get the money as a retired military officer to invest in oil blocks that requires investment in millions of dollars? Did Danjuma make this money during his military service? According to information from a reliable source, a large number of Nigeria’s oil blocks have been awarded to retired military officers. The bitter truth is that, these retired, redundant and useless military officers are not only milking the country dry, but they are as well clogs in the wheel of progress. They have not only ruined our economy, but their performances as the head of various public companies and governmental institution are catastrophic.
By allowing Obasanjo to combine the petroleum portfolio with his job as the President Of Nigeria, unknowingly, we gave him the first green light and the wrong impression that he was free to manipulate and capitalise on our 419 constitution for his own selfish interests.
THE HANDING OVER OF BAKASSI PENNISULA
I could never imagine, even, in my wildest dreams that the President of Nigeria could give out a part of Nigeria’s territory, more so very rich in oil and gas, to another country based on a fictitious agreement reached among 3 colonial masters about a 100 years ago. Apart from the billion of dollars that Nigeria has been denied due to the handling of Bakassi by Obasanjo, undoubtedly, the whole exercise is very humiliating for Nigerians and the black race as a whole. As is well known, Obasanjo agreed to hand over a part of Nigeria’s territory to Cameroon after meeting with Chirac in Paris. What a humiliation! I was disgusted to read in a recent interview where he, without any shame, told the whole nation that he agreed to hand over Bakassi, because Britain, America and Britain proved to him that Bakassi never belonged to Nigeria. What kind of man have we chosen as our President?
It is obvious that Obasanjo used Bakassi as a “sacrificial lamb” in order to cut a personal, selfish, political and economic deals with the west; the details of which are unknown, and may never be known to Nigerians. Obasanjo has used Nigeria’s 419 Constitution to steal the land of the Bakassi people; without any challenge. My fellow countrymen and women, my question goes thus. How many of us took to the streets to show our strong protest and dissatisfaction with Obasanjo? How many of us besieged Aso Rock to demand that Obasanjo should change his devilish and humiliating decision? How many of us went out en mass to show our solidarity with the Bakassi people? How many of us went out en mass to call for the demolition of the 419 constitution that allows a man, who rigged himself into power the absolute right to give out other peoples’ land to another country without their consent? Most of us, unfortunately, folded our hands, and watched Obasanjo deprived thousands of Nigerians of their bonafide land. All what some of us did was to write big grammar articles. As far as I remember – though, I stand to be corrected – this issue was not even discussed neither by the House of Representatives nor The Senate, talk less of passing a resolution against Obasanjo’s unilateral decision. The worst and very sad part of the Bakassi issue is that Obasanjo, up till now, has not fulfilled his promise of relocating these displaced Nigerians. We all folded our hands and allowed Obasanjo to go Scot free with day light robbery. The bitter truth is that the promise to relocate was made just to get rid of the Bakassi people as quickly as possible.
Let us look at the Bakassi issue from another angle. Supposing Obasanjo decided to give out part of Yoruba land or Ndigboland or part of Hausa/Fulani territory, would we have reacted differently? I am sure many of us would do more than just a “siddon-look” attitude. So, why did we take to siddon-look attitude when Obasanjo decided to give out the land of fellow Nigerians? Why didn’t we fight for our Bakassi brothers as if it was our land that was being stolen or given away without our consent. Unfortunately, through our nonchalant attitudes or weak protest, we allowed Obasanjo, not only to get away with another crime, but we as well, unknowingly, gave him the confidence and wrong impression that he was free to continue committing crimes against Nigerian. Details of the Bakassi issue is highlighted in one of my articles titled “Nigeria’s 419 constitution: Bakassi, Obasanjo’s sacrificial lamb to the West.”
THE UNLAWFUL ARREST AND DETENTION OF DOKUBO
The last, but not the least of Obasanjo’s atrocities and abuse power that will be cited here was the unlawful arrest and detention of the leader of MEND, Asari Dokubo. Obasanjo, instead of coming up with concrete plans to resolve the Niger delta crisis, decided to play a ‘hide and seek’ game with these oppressed, suppressed and terrorised people. Instead of a blue print plan, accepted to all sides, Obasanjo continued with oppressing, suppressing, terrorising and killing of the Niger Deltans. As it will be recalled, Obasanjo tricked Dokubo into surrendering ammunitions that worth over #137 million, with the promise of looking seriously into the grievances of his people.
My question to fellow Nigerians goes thus. How many of us went out en masse to protest the unlawful arrest, and subsequent detention of Dokubo – a fellow and innocent Nigerian – whose only crime was his having the guts to demand a stop to the pollution of the land, water and air of his people, and a fair share of the oil revenues for the development of their land?
There are many more examples that could be cited. The point one is trying to make with these above examples or cases is that if we had all along done more than writing big grammar articles, and instead had given Obasanjo a serious challenge, he would not have had the courage to have gone as far as openly mass rigging elections, and thereby stealing the peoples’ mandates.
What we have all forgotten (but need to be reminded of) is that Obasanjo has lost not only his conscience, but has as well developed a thick skin to our big grammar and insulting articles, quiet a long time ago. Obasanjo knows that we can only bark with our big grammar, but not bite. And, that’s what is most important to him. There is always the best time for everything. There is time for big grammar articles, and there should be time for actions too! Big grammar articles are from adequate to bring about the desired changes, most especially the desperately needed democratic reforms. It takes much more than that. We all want changes but we don’t want to risk our lives to realise them. Out of our fear of the unknown, we have allowed despots like Babangida, Abacha, Buhari and Obasanjo to impose themselves on us against our will.
Out of fear of avoiding death, we have allowed these tyrants to mess around with us for decades. Because of the desire to live forever – which unfortunately is not possible – we have allowed these dictators to do and undo whatever they thought fit with us and, without any repercussion.
After my interaction with the British of diversified backgrounds and ages, at different occasions, during my trip to London in 1991, the question I kept on asking myself was: “How hid these people manage to enslave and eventually colonise us for centuries?” I also asked myself: “How come the black Americans allowed themselves too to be enslaved for centuries? I got the answers to my questions after reading practically all of James Baldwin’s books; especially, “The fire next time”; “Parting the waters” – a historical documentation of the civil rights movement, written by Taylor Branch (he won a Pulitzer prize for this book) and Malcolm X’s auto/biographies.
I discovered from these books that what we, black people lack is BRAVERY. We don’t have enough courage to confront our oppressors. We lack the courage to challenge our suppressors. Why? Because we are afraid to die. That explains why Africans and African-Americans were enslaved, and subsequently colonised for centuries. We are afraid to lay down our lives so that others could live in freedom and dignity. Come to think of it, imagine if every black slave had stabbed his master to death. Most likely, they would be hanged or lynched for murdering their masters. However, this act would had frightened, and subsequently discouraged potential slave masters from owning slaves. Consequently, slave trade would had ended much earlier than it did.