On President Buhari’s Blinkered Understanding Of Self-determination
Despite the perceived viciousness of the military regime of late General Sani Abacha and the condemnation which trailed it, that government did the unthinkable when it ironically or rather absurdly sent troops to restore a democratically elected government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone which was toppled by the military. It was a case of one having a big plank in one's eyes but was concerned about the little speck in the eyes of another. The action of that military junta then was aptly captured by the Economist which described Nigeria as a nation which imports what she has and exports what she does not have. Nigerian leaders clean their noses in the public with tissue papers or white handkerchiefs only to use their index fingers to clean the same nose in private.
The hollowness in that military diplomacy like the unprofitable age long futile diplomatic policy and leadership grandstanding as the “big brother” of the continent has taken a toll on government and its policies even after the death of Abacha. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has once again sipped from the hypocritical cup of Nigerian leaders who see the tiny speck in other peoples' eyes but fail to note the big planks in theirs. At the UN General Assembly on 28th September, 2015 the president vigorously championed for the independence of the Palestinian state. In fact in his address to the assembly, the president frankly made a good case for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He said, “the international community has come to pin its hopes on resolving the Palestinian issue through the two – states solution which recognises the legitimate right of each state to exist in peace and security. The world has no more excuse or reason to delay the implementation of the long list of Security Council Resolutions. Neither do we have the moral right to deny any people their freedom or condemn them indefinitely to occupation and blockade.”
The president further echoed his support for the freedom of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic lately. He made this known while receiving Mohammed Salem Ould Salek, Minister of foreign Affairs, SADR in the State House, Abuja. Buhari said, “the issue came up first when I was in office as military head of state. As I left government, Nigeria remained steadfast on it. In my maiden outing at the UN General Assembly last September, the issue of Sahrawi was in my speech. You have no cause to doubt our commitment. We stand with our African Union colleagues on the issue. Nigeria will maintain focus till everything is finally resolved positively” Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic – a partially recognised independent state that controls a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara region of Morocco has an estimated population of a minimum of 500,000 in 1976. The president assured the SADR delegation who paid him a visit that Nigeria will stand with them in their agitation for their rights to self-determination and independence. On the same day, over the same issue of self-determination, President Buhari's government was in court to ensure the conviction of Nnamdi Kalu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra whose crime was peaceful protests to press home their demand for self-actualisation. President Buhari firmly believes in the cause and promotion of the Palestinian and Sahrawi struggles but will not tolerate the agitation for self-determination of Biafrans whose crime was the same cause the Palestinian and the Sahrawi's are pursuing. This is an obvious case of same agitation; but different perception.
“The President authorised and encouraged Nigerian troops to shoot, kill and decapitate unarmed civilian protesters, boasting that he will kill more if the protesters did not stop demanding their rights. More worrisome is the fact that when it became clear to the protesters that justice can never be gotten within the context of Buhari's government and sought international intervention, the Buhari-led military tampered with the evidence of their atrocity by cremating the decomposing bodies of the victims of their atrocity.”, said Chinomnso Awazie.
An idle Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara chaired by Professor Ibrahim Gambari with the membership of NLC and ASUU ably represented by Ayuba Wabba, Dr. Dipo Shina and Dr. Nasir Sagir former and current ASUU President respectively has found a common ground to drum support for the independence of aliens who they know little or nothing about while they kept mute in the face of provocation, injustice and wanton killing going on in the South East. Many Biafran demonstrators were slaughtered like those President Buhari rallies international support for their freedom from those he thought are their traducers and elements of oppression. What makes Biafra's case different from these? What breeds discontent in every society is the deliberate effort to cover up falsehood, circumvent justice and the frantic attempt to bury the truth or turn it upside down. Truth is truth no matter who, where, when and how it is told. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
Nigerian leaders are not good students of history. In a paper presented by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at the “National Conference on the 1999 Constitution” jointly organised By The Network For Justice And The Vision Trust Foundation, at the Arewa House, Kaduna from 11th –12th September, 1999, the former Central Bank Governor and highly revered Emir of Kano bluntly prophesied thus: “the Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have conspired to keep the Igbo out of the scheme of things. In the recent transition when the Igbo solidly supported the PDP in the hope of an Ekwueme presidency, the North and South-West treated this as a Biafra agenda. Every rule set for the primaries, every gentleman´s agreement was set aside to ensure that Obasanjo, not Ekwueme emerged as the candidate. Things went as far as getting the Federal Government to hurriedly gazette a pardon. Now, with this government, the marginalisation of the Igbo is more complete than ever before. The Igbos have taken all these quietly because, they reason, they brought it upon themselves. But the nation is sitting on a time-bomb. After the First World War, the victors treated Germany with the same contempt Nigeria is treating Igbos. Two decades later, there was a Second World War, far costlier than the first. Germany was again defeated, but this time, they won a more honourable peace. Our present political leaders have no sense of history.
There is a new Igbo man, who was not born in 1966 and neither knows nor cares about Nzeogwu and Ojukwu. There are Igbo men on the street who were never Biafrans. They were born Nigerians, are Nigerians, but suffer because of actions of earlier generations. They will soon decide that it is better to fight their own war, and may be find an honourable peace, than to remain in this contemptible state in perpetuity. The Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have exacted their pound of flesh from the Igbos. For one Sardauna, one Tafawa Balewa, one Akintola and one Okotie-Eboh, hundreds of thousands have died and suffered. If this issue is not addressed immediately, no conference will solve Nigeria´s problems.” Intimidation, coercion or arm-twisting by government will not deter the group either. Government should learn to heed saintly advices and take a cue from the undiluted opinion of not only the Emir of Kano but those of others who had previously made these same views known.
Written by Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Communications Specialist.