By Chidi G. Osuagwu
Woke Naija Youths, I salute you!
Life’s lessons are welcome, as they teach, provided they do not kill us first. You alive, after EndSARS, I salute your courage! I condole with you over the martyrdom of your heroic comrades in that struggle. You, around after nearly a session out of school, I salute you! I sympathize with you on your lost time and friends who embarked on the perilous ‘japa’ flight out of endangering Nigeria, in search of better-led societies and life. I remind you, Naija youths that these things are not new in the land.
They are the demons out of the Cauldron of British social wizardry in Nigeria. Youths as you were the miners killed in Enugu, in 1949, for daring to think Nigerian coal, mined by Nigerian youth, should benefit Nigerian people along with the British for reconstruction after World War II. Youths as you, in 1962, fought against the Anglo-Nigeria military pact that allowed Britain to establish a neocolonial military base in Kano after flag independence. Youth as you fought the Nigeria-Biafra War, which President Bill Clinton recently informed was the war that earned Nigeria’s independence.
Yes, Clinton said the British told him they realized, after three million people had died, that they were not wanted and decided to leave Nigeria. I, who write, fought and lost peers and school time in that war. A heavy price to pay for what Nigeria has turned into today! The world is in turmoil. Americans come to consult Africa. Europeans come to consult Africa. Russians come to consult Africa. Chinese come to consult Africa. Nobody comes to consult Nigeria! That is Nigerian and African world upside-down! However, Nigeria is, for the embattled nations who inhabit its land, still a clever country.
In 1991, during the Babangida regime, I published a newspaper article titled “A Clever Country”. The article noted that Nigeria, contrary to the intentions of the British who created it and successor regimes up until then, is such a complex…clever country that nobody, including the British, had been able to tame and control her. Yes, the British and their collaborators have been able to keep stealing Nigerian oil, but it is within a condition of chaos from which they cannot even cover their tracks. Nothing has changed…Nigeria remains a clever country!
When the Economist (London) recently wrote that ‘Nigeria desperately needs a new kind of leadership’ (https://www.economist.com/2023/02/16/nigeria-desperately-needs-a-new-kind-of-leadership) my lips were tempted to chuckle. However, the situation is excessively serious for chuckles or the adequate comprehension of the Economist as such. The system Britain engineered in Nigeria, with its core element of ‘treacherous puppet leadership’ for the good of British business, at the expense of Nigerian peoples, has gone haywire beyond anybody’s imagination. Contrary to what the Economist hopes, it might never return to the old, business-as-usual, mode London loved and Nigerians loathe.
The impolite current American Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called Nigerians ‘stubborn’, during the President Jonathan regime. She could not understand why Nigerians were not dancing to President Barack Obama’s ill-educated ‘Tough-love’ Africa Policy. She has been visiting Africa these days, but has managed, like others, to avoid visiting Nigeria. She seemed to have learnt something…Nigeria is a clever Country not to play ‘diplomacy’ with at the wrong times (I remember a time, Easter 1976, when Henry Kissinger invited himself to Nigeria over Angola. I, on the Sunday, told my American friends that he would not be welcome. The next day, Monday, Secretary of State Kissinger was refused visit to Nigeria, by the Muritala Muhammed regime for, misguidedly, trying to lecture Africa on their wrong-headed Angola policy). Nothing, really, to do with Nigeria Berlin State. Everything to do with the brilliant, proud, Nations entrapped in Nigeria, whose scions created and sustained pan-Africanism. Yes, Nigeria was a frontline State in the war against apartheid in Southern Africa.
For waking up; for your sacrifices and pain, I salute you Naija Youths! I am aware of the debates and contentions amongst you, in relation to the upcoming elections. The arguments about whether to vote or not to vote? Yes, the ‘1999 Ordinance’, aka 1999 Constitution, is a conceptual insult to the indigenous Nations of Nigeria. Unlike the agreed, legitimate, 1963 Constitution, which reposed Sovereignty in the Nations of Nigeria as natural inheritors of the land, the 1999 document invested sovereignty in the Nigeria Berlin State, which the British created to subjugate and exploit Nigerian peoples.
Like the Land Use Decree, which alienates their land from the indigenous peoples, the 1999 Document created the framework for internal colonialism. The Gbagyi Super-gerrymander; the gerrymandering of one of the largest ethnic nations in Nigeria…Gbagyi Nation; owners of Abuja, into political irrelevance, should never be tolerated by any Nigerian of good conscience. When do the Middlebelt people, whose self-determination the British foreclosed, by refusing to create their merited region wake up enough to ask pointed questions? That documented refusal Britain made a precondition for granting Nigeria ‘independence’ in 1960, should trouble all regular humans of good conscience, considering the killing field of indigenous peoples by invaders, the Middlebelt has become today.
The British said, in now declassified secret documents, that non-creation of Middlebelt would help them use dominant North to maintain Nigeria as part of ‘informal’ Empire. That is the policy was made for the gain of Britain at the expense of the Middlebelt! All these are part of the reasons some people want nothing to do with the 2023 elections until Nigeria is restructured into self-determined regions.
These are weighty arguments! However, there is also too much ignorance, confusion and implicit violence. For instance to distinguish problems Nigerians create for each other from those Britain created for all. What is feasible immediately, while more and more Nigerians wake up from long-term slumber within the layers of imperialisms to which indigenous peoples are subject? Opinion polls reveal that overwhelming majority of Nigerians want to participate in the elections. At the same time, some candidates have committed to restoring SOVEREINTY to Nigerian peoples, from the feudalistic Nigeria Berlin State. These are, obviously, the candidates to consider at all by voters, ignoring those against restructure.
Whereas, from Opinion polls, majority of Nigerians are committed to voting on 25 February for the presidential elections, nearly half that number are undecided as to their preferred candidate. That is to say, these people are still looking for discernible qualities or attributes to help them separate one presidential candidate from the others. This is in spite of the fact that the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, has been topping the opinion polls.
OVERSIGHTED FIRST LADY CRITERION
I want to suggest one important, but oversighted, attribute of the presidential candidate for voters to consider…the First Lady each candidate brings with them. In the future, when women are the contestants, the First Gentleman they bring with them should, likewise, be evaluated.
IN NIGERIA FIRST LADIES ACQUIRE POWER BY PROXIMITY
The Nigerian Presidency, though claimed to be modeled on the American, is run as an oriental feudalist Court. In a Court, courtiers acquire power by proximate reflection and fancy of the ruler. It did not use to be so in Nigeria. However, since Mariam Babangida and her Rural Woman Program, during the Babangida regime, Nigerian first ladies have run parallel courts. The Nigerian First Lady Office has got so powerful that, not long ago, one first lady helped sack her husband from office by using her Office to contest for the political control of her native State, outside which she is married, with the Governor. The embattled Governor was forced, in desperation, to abandon the party of the President and use the enormous resources of his State to support the election of their opponent.
Recently the politician Janaatu Muhammed, on Arise News television, called the current First Lady a member of a political ‘Cabal’. Vice-President Osinbajo, diplomatically, called the first lady’s role controversial. It is all about power acquired by proximity to the most powerful presidency in the world. Nigerians must, therefore, consider whom they ‘elect’ to the ‘Office’ of First Lady alongside whomever they elect to the office of President of Nigeria.
HERE IS WHY I RECOMMEND AKWA IBOM WOMAN FOR FIRST LADY
Mike Achimugu, a former aide to Atiku Abubakar…one of the presidential candidates, has warned Nigerians of the danger of electing the head of a rapacious family as president of Nigeria. That warning should be taken seriously. Candidate Bola Tinibu’s reputation would, also, recommend against election of a president from a rapacious family. Rapacious family has been one oversighted source of the destruction of Nigeria by elected officials. When one is elected to a powerful office and each member of their rapacious family grasps for every opportunity available in the polity, the highway to anarchy and State capture opens up. That, already, is the bane of Nigeria. It could get much worse. We must heed Achimugu’s warning!
One candidate who has foresworn Rapaciousness in this Presidential Campaign is Labour Party’s Peter Obi. With Reverend father brother and sister Reverend Sister of the Catholic Church, who forsook marriage and child-bearing (tough decision for Africans!), one suspects the rapaciousness gene is not in their lineage. Who the wife is, then, matters even more. One has wondered what kind of wife Peter Obi has that would understand his rejection of land allocations and other perks-of-power? And no aggressively complaining in-laws? I learned of the natural explanations recently. Peter Obi’s wife is from Akwa Ibom State.
Many do not know the humble ‘Okon’ servant of theatre and videos is more about the Ibibio-Annang sense of humility than of servility. As a matter fact, the ‘Moko’ (slave-time name for Akwa Ibom people) were rated one of the most freedom-loving Africans during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Freedom loving people are, usually, self-assured people. Self-assured people are usually self-respecting people. Self-respecting people are usually not rapacious people. They are modest and reliable people.
Akwa Ibom people, particularly their politicians as other Nigerian politicians, are not all angels. However, one can reflect and realize that Akwa Ibom is one State where no feudal overlord or family of over-bearing overlords has emerged since 1999 return to democracy in Nigeria. Those who have tried keep being dragged from one court to the other, as the people have the least tolerance to injustice compared to any other Nigerian people one can think of. Sometimes they overdo it, but that is who they are in pursuit of justice.
I suggest for those who have not decided on a candidate to vote for president to consider joining me on Saturday, 25 February 2023, to vote for Mrs Peter Obi for First Lady of Nigeria. Faithful to her Akwa Ibom inheritance, she is a modest and non-rapacious, not a greedy or grasping, woman. She is the kind of woman a hurting Nigeria needs at this time as First Lady of what has become the poverty capital of the world.
Great Naija Youths, Four Gbosas for expected cheerful Presidential election result!