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Few minutes after the international media broke the news that one of the world’s most feared dictators Colonel Moamar Ghadafi of Libya was killed in a gun fire exchange in the middle of the war front between Sirte and Misrata cities, I did not show any outward sign of emotional pain or feelings not necessarily because I have become so disenchanted with tyranny and dictatorship that I now accept that brutal dictators should be brutally murdered.

The story of Ghadafi’s killing as relayed by the global media on Thursday October 20th 2011 reached me at exactly 1.35pm while visiting an old time friend who now holds a very strategic appointment under the current President Goodluck Jonathan’s federal government.

My host was shocked that I never displayed any emotion on witnessing through the global media the unprecedented level of brutality that led to the killing of colonel Ghadafi after he was reportedly captured alive by fighters from the revolutionary National transition council of Libya.

Please Emma may I know why you were not moved on seeing the bloodied photograph of the disgraced former military leader of Libya who exercised arbitrary military power for more than forty two years?

Looking my friend straight into her eyes, I told her that although as a human rights activist, I do not subscribe to mob action and targeted assassination as a way of bringing justice to tyrants but I was not particularly moved because I believe that Nigeria still harbors severed political office holders who are worst than Ghadafi.

Why should I rejoice that Colonel Ghadafi is dead when I am fully aware of the existence of many Ghadafis in our midst who are indeed making life very unbearable for the millions of our people that are extremely impoverished as a result of total lack of transparency and good governance.

My host was not very comfortable that I sounded very pessimistic about the style of governance in Nigeria and she stoutly disagreed with my conclusion.

She argued that unlike Libya under the then Colonel Ghadafi-led dictatorship without liberty and respect for the basic freedoms of the Libyans, Nigeria is seen as one of the few countries in the developing world that respects pluralism and media freedoms.

Armed with the charming evidence that not too long ago the current President signed into law the legendry freedom of information Act into law after more than a decade in the works, my friend submitted that the current administration has done a lot to bring the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

According to her, President Jonathan has greatly feminized the Federal Executive Council and has entered the Guiness book of World record as the First President of the over 51 year old nation to have promoted a lady to the military rank of a full General in the Navy with the recent promotion of Mrs. Itunu Hotonu to the prestigious rank of Naval Admiral (two star General).

Frankly speaking, the current administration deserves all the praises for doing some things right in seeking to open up the public space and to promote greater openness through the introduction of some revolutionary laws like the Freedom of Information Act and for appointment of some very credible and cerebral Nigerians into sensitive positions.

However, the fact remains that traces of dictatorship are alive in virtually all segment of the governance structure. I indeed told her that at the state level, most of the Governors have become absolute rulers so much so that whenever council elections are ever conducted, only hand picked nominees of same political affiliation like them emerge as ‘winners’ and are actively looting the resources of those local government councils.

Shehu Sani in his 269 page scholarly book titled “Civilian Dictators of Africa”, made it known that lack of effective checks and balances is one sure way to produce dictators in civilian garb in Africa.

Shehu Sani submitted rightly thus; “Dictators may come into power by a number of ways. It could be hereditary, by succession, or via military coups, rebel insurgency, appointment, and even democratic multi-party elections. A dictator could plot his rise through boot licking, trickery, deceit, bribery, or any other means.”

My host capitulated to what she later called my superior logic when I informed her that forty two years of colonel Ghadafi-led dictatorship did not leave Libya’s finances badly bruised at least because he is not known to have enslaved his country men and women by borrowing dubious loans from equally dubious international financial sources like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Paris or London club of creditors as was done by Nigerian political leaders who are indeed still actively borrowing dubious loans and diverting the proceeds of economic crimes to their offshore accounts in the developed western world.

Talking about Ghadafi and his now defeated infamous dictatorship, is any one in doubt that the current Nigeria federal government’s illogical effort to remove fuel subsidy is not synonymous to the tyranny and total lack of constructive opposition as was the case in the days of colonel Ghadafi?

Ghadafi was said to have lived in opulence even when millions of Libyans lacked basic necessities of life, but is the case different in Nigeria?

For instance, the Federal House of Representatives under speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is planning to purchase choice automobiles valued at over six Billion of tax payers’ fund for the use of the legislators even when most of them already have decent means of transportation. The same Federal House of Representatives threw out a motion raised by one of them to regulate the exorbitant cost of house rent regime in the nation’s capital. Some of the legislators were seen on television arguing that Abuja is not meant for the poor people who can not afford the high house rent charged by the shylock house owners in Abuja.

These legislators who are living in opulence at the cost of tax payers’ fund and are not moved by their consciences to make good laws for the betterment of the large population of poor citizens are simply not better than Colonel Moarmar Ghadafi.

Writing in the book; “The Saddam Hussein Reader” edited by Turi Munthe, under the catchy title of “something evil has visited Kuwait City”, Robert Fisk of The Independent, presented the story of the havoc that was visited to Kuwait city when the then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the city in his quest to achieve his expansionist agenda.

Robert Fisk reported thus; “What kind of people would do this? That’s what we kept asking ourselves in Kuwait City. Day had been turned into night, so thick was the canopy of smoke, the nation’s oil wells burning gold and orange along the black-fringed horizon, …courtesy of the Iraqi army. They had even used the modern equivalent of a torture wheel. All day, Kuwaiti men, young and old, approached our car with their terrible stories.”

In the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, multinational oil companies like shell petroleum and others have come under intense attack from a broad spectrum of credible sources around the world for their roles in destroying the eco-system and the beauty of the environmental through bad oil exploration practices and also for fueling several cases of torture, killings and harassment of the impoverished inhabitants of these oil rich but neglected Niger Delta Communities.

So, who says that Ghadafi and Saddam Hussein are not alive and well in the political environment of Nigeria?

** Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and can be reached on [email protected];;

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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