International Dimension of the Nigerian Crisis

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Hitherto Nigeria used to be regarded as a tolerable dictatorship in the comities of Nations. She was remembered for offering her large war tested troops for any regional peace keeping effort in Africa and beyond. She took away joyfully the tough job of crises control from the international community. She was not nonaligned; a euphemism for being always available to every side. She was not a religious fundamentalist nation and allowed her oil to fuel American economy while the Soviets and Egyptians helped out with her military hardware. The Israelis are often consulted for irrigated Agriculture in the Northern parts of the country while the Chinese and Indians are involved in Rail transportation and trade respectively.

In the 1980s, Nigeria having emerged from the oil boom of the 70s became a candidate for economic austerity which tested her naïve military leadership, leading to an inevitable upgrading to a civilian dictatorship by 1999.You see Nigeria was measured from abroad as generally a 'success' under military rule, very obedient to the super powers and stabilizing force in the sub region, so the issue of quality of democracy did not immediately curry favor of the West. Instead what the West did was to help handpick a military leader who has some openness in character to preside over the country, and they found favor in Gen. Obasanjo who had earlier in 1979 voluntarily handed over power to the second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. At that time the experiment of a full blown civilian ruler was known to have blown in the face of those who focused on classical democratic ethos in designing the Second Republic.

The Second Republic was designed to make amends by handing power to retired military personnel who could continue the good work of the military in peace keeping and policing of the oil interests of the international community. It was signed and sealed with the agreement of the military establishment. There was no need to talk to the Nigerian people, they would take any cue that money and guns expect of them. President Obasanjo performed his role well and was taking orders as usual from his sponsors flying all over the world. After the usual reaction to a change of government in Nigeria-bloodshed, ethnic riots and extra judicial killings, he got to grips with the situation as his men took control of strategic power centers, then he began an economic revival that accentuated with monetary and Banking reform to complement his privatization policy. The strategy was to sell off all Nationalized and acquired industries and the like because it was thought they would become more viable in private hands. His success hinged on appointment of technocrats whom he handed over blank cheques. The same reason for their success was attributed to their reluctance to move on. There was really nothing they left behind that was sustainable in another mans hands under a different environment as long as they were not guaranteed by a leprous 1999 Constitution and worked by porous and largely inexistent institutions.

For instance the famed banking reform produced banks that were merely currency speculators, unable to give agricultural loans except to their Directors' subsidiaries. The major GSM revolution has turned into nightmare due to lack of regulation which must involve enforcement, the moribund judiciary and the hellish prison system. So of course like all else a short cut is found out of it: Bribery and corruption.

Today the National carrier of telecommunication is dead-NITEL because the government cannot decide who is anointed to buy it. The GSM companies weighed down with incessant government taxation and harassment are now openly lottery companies exercising their rights to deceive and dupe unsuspecting subscribers. The only thing constant with their services is known as network problem while they can sell your very private data to the highest bidder in an attempt to break even in an environment that demands so high an overhead such as power generation, etc. So don't be surprised that any one can tap into your phone to know your location in case they simply need to kidnap or rob you. Of course you may chose to go to the Police or file a suit in the everlasting court rooms. Everything will surely bruise you. You can see why the easiest way out is to stay uncomplaining and the world would see Nigerians as un-reactive of their light. When it costs you so much to complain, and you know that even the international community were you to live to such a time will not listen to you, it will be foolish for you to do so.

So came 2007 when it was clear President Obasanjo would not be going for the 3rd term because the classical definers of democracy in Nigeria had gained the upper hand in the meantime across the world. So in line with the tradition of his sponsors, President Obasanjo decided to choose for Nigerians this time around. He needed a surrogate who could play the cards without reshuffling. Only one man from the North could do so or so he thought. From the Minority Muslim North, came a member of the Yar Adua family whose prominent son served as second in command during his Headship of Nigeria cumulating to the 1979 hand over of power to President Shehu Shagari. It was like killing two birds with one stone. First it would cem4ent his political base in the North; second it would satisfy the north that he had kept the faith of rotating power to the North after his own era, thereby keeping his PDP party intact. But most of all it will delay any probe against him for any improprieties while in government.

It would have worked out perfectly but for the consideration of capacity and capability of the new President Yar Adua to carry the burden on his shoulders without complaining. Even as the campaign progressed it became clear that the president to be was a sick man who could not carry the burden of state governance for long. But also incase of any eventuality, a Vice President who could also be trusted was picked ahead of loud contenders around. Despite earlier hopes of transparency and accountability, government began to lose steam instead of making gains until the country came down hard on its knees. Then the dangerous dimension was noticed: A religious bridging of a tenuous secular configuration from the top of the government down to the bottom. Government business shared airtime with one pilgrimage after the other. A steady movement of Nigeria into the Iranian camp became evident as the country became a member of the Iran led D_8 countries, after becoming a member of the OIC and the Islamic Banking Structure. Soon Religious fundamentalists like the Boko Harram came into violent play under the noses of the security forces. Alas, the reoccurring Jos riots and then again. The only thing that was constant was a state of denials of even of what was made manifest on television. It became clear that Nigeria was not being governed but had become a looters paradise. Then we are back to capability not just the origin of the imposed leader or the party. We are lucky to have survived it in one piece.

Thanks goodness the international community has woken to the dangerous trend their contraception was going-to wards full blown Al –Qaida fundamentalism because capability as denied Nigeria in their selfish calculation. Had the Christmas day bomb gone off the world would have awoken to a misdirected Nigeria forcefully pushed to fight the Iranian war whenever it breaks out? You could see what awaited the entire country placing power in the hands of a band of people who should have been rule indirectly as the British did in the 50s not to talk of letting them rule Nigeria as it occurs to them. You can see the guilt of the same international community who are today plotting several scenarios to deny the Nigerian people of final liberation from this tyranny of democracy. You can see the two global power centers struggling to have the final word while we bury our dead.

Mr. Nworisara aspired to be President of Nigeria in 1992.

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Articles by Nwokedi Nworisara