Written by Prof. Omo Omoruyi
NIGERIA, "A GEOGRAPHICAL EXPRESSION"
Arising from the way Nigeria was put together by Britain, the literature on Nigeria is replete with such terms as "Nigeria is a geographical entity" or "Nigeria is a geographical expression" or "Nigeria is an artificial creation" or "Nigeria is a colonial creation". Let us examine two issues that arose from the foregoing.
One, at independence, there was nothing original to the term, Nigeria as that term was conferred on the British "amalgamated real estate" by the wife of the first colonial Governor General, Lady Lugard.
Second, at independence, Nigeria was born but Nigerians were still to be born even up till today. What we needed since independence was a plan by her leaders, civilian or military to make Nigeria command the loyalty of her citizens from all the ethnic nationalities. Nigerians never did.
There are three senses in which the effort at developing Nigerians should have been met and how we fell short since October 1, 1960.
- One would have thought that our political leaders would have striven to make Nigeria "a self-sufficient system of action’, as the Sociologist would say. One would have thought that its leaders would have tried to create ‘a more perfect union’, as the American would say. One would have thought that its leaders would have made it a nation in the tradition of the nation state in Europe.
Did the leaders who succeeded the British succeed in building a "self-sufficient system of action" or "a more perfect union" or "a nation state" since October 1, 1960? The answer to these issues should be obvious by now. They failed to create Nigerians up till today.
The military intervention in politics since 1966 did not only complicate the above issues, it further divided the Nigerian society into two classes of the permanent rulers and the permanent ruled and followers. Worse still the military created a new class of Nigerian leaders called in the country in general in the south in particular "militicians"? Consequently we now have in Nigeria a civilian political class that has a low self-esteem of itself and feels it cannot rule except with the leadership provided by the same retired military officers that "pauperized" the civilian political class, misruled the country and plundered the Nigerian oil economy since 1966. This is the level of political development of Nigeria today.
The so-called political class today should be embarrassed that no one is mentioning their names as potential presidential candidates. Aren’t they embarrassed that the only persons that are being discussed as potential presidential candidates and as competitors with President Obasanjo in 2003 are the same political generals of yesterday, Generals Babangida, Buhari and Nwachukwu)? I have nothing against any retired military officers who want to run for political office now or in the future. There are basic questions that should have been asked that are never asked by Nigerians. What do they stand for? We do not know and no one is asking. What are the visions of these former "political generals" for Nigeria’s future from their past? They have not told the Nigerian people the relationship between their past, their present and their plan for the future of Nigeria.
Unfortunately the media columnists are not asking them some tough questions about the relationship between their past, their present and their vision for the future of Nigeria. I raised some of the issues in the past in my essay "After Obasanjo Who/What" and in my five-part essay under the rubric, "The Generals Are Coming: Should they be Welcome" and I do not want to rehash the issues in this medium. The points I made in these essays are still valid and I would call readers’ attention to the archives of www.nigerdeltacongress.com and in the Nigerian newspapers such as This Day, Vanguard and Guardian.
REEXAMINATION OF TWO THEORIES OF CREATION
Recently Nigerians are faced with the theory of creation of Nigeria advanced by the Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that God created it. This is in sharp contrast with what we were told in schools and what is still being taught in schools today in Nigeria and all over the world that attributes the founding of Nigeria to the British colonialism. It was on the latter score that Chief Richard Akinjide’s theory should been appreciated. Nigeria, according to Chief Richard Akinjide who paid tribute to me for being able to use the documents about the amalgamation to explain the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election. He was very blunt after examining the documents that led to the amalgamation that I used in my book, The Tale of June 12 that after all what Britain did in Nigeria was a "fraud".
Chief Akinjide, like other political leaders from the south wallowed in the same fraud for too long. They, as politicians suffered this fraud for so long; they accepted the status quo for so long hence one is amazed by their new position that everything should be done to recreate Nigeria so as to make it meaningful to all ethnic nationalities. This is the position I consistently argued for since 1993. This was based on my view from what I knew about the issues in the annulment that Nigeria would never be the same again unless these issues were resolved. One should acknowledge that this is also the position advanced by such eminent jurist as Chief Rotimi Williams leading the "Frontiers" and other eminent Nigerians, such as Chiefs Emeka Anyaoku and Ola Vincent and Alhaji Babantunde Jose. But our President dismissed these people in his usual language that I would not like to repeat here. He told Nigerians that he is the sovereign by virtue of the fact that the Nigerian people elected him in 1999. Hence, he argued that there was no reason for another body to be convened to discuss and resolve the lingering political issues afflicting the country since 1993. Time will prove him wrong. His legacy would be measured by the way he abandoned the need for bringing about the fundamental restructuring of Nigeria during his first term in office.
What is embarrassing is President Obasanjo’s new theory that he propounded on May 29, 2002, which is his self-proclaimed "Democracy Day" that "God is a Nigerian". To paraphrase him, he opined that God must have a purpose for putting so many black people under one roof called Nigeria and consequently, he further opined that God created Nigeria, a huge state for the upliftment of Black people in the world. I am surprised that up till now no one has called the President to order.
A content analysis of the pronouncements of the President and other members of the political class and the developments in the country since 1999 leads one to one conclusion. It should be obvious that God being a "Just God" could not sanction the "unjust political order" that characterizes what we have in Nigeria since 1960. The picture of what is going on in the various parts of the country does not show that God blesses the injustice all over the country.
As part of the Democracy Day activities, he attended the Special Lecture at Abuja. He was surrounded by Ahmed Salim of Tanzania, a non-believer in "one person and one vote" or in the "multi-party system" all his adult life as a politician in Tanzania and Chief Tony Enahoro who has no faith in the Presidential System that took some of us our political life in the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78 to evolve because it is good for the minorities in the country. Mr./ Ahmed Salim was the Keynote Speaker and Chief Enahoro was the Chairman of the occasion. Did President Obasanjo appreciate that while he was having his celebration at Abuja, the country was not in the jubilating mood? Some of them were openly asking what was their democracy dividend? The mood of the country as gathered from the content analysis of the various complaints in the media as summed up by the President in October 1 2001 is one of dismay. In fact, this was summarized by the Herald Tribune of February 25, 2002 that
Obasanjo is highly admired as an eloquent spokesman for African democracy and development. Regrettably, his record at home is far less impressive.
Shouldn’t one come to the conclusion that May 29 is not history but "histrionics", because they are playing games with a serious issue? This is why one should call May 29 the "DEMONCRAZY DAY".
I am aware of the many requests made to the President, especially on June 12 every year for the President to make history by recognizing June 12 and not May 29 as Democracy Day. Those who are making this demand on President Obasanjo realized how he quickly recognized General Shehu Yar’Adua immediately he assumed office. Without attempting to denigrate the life of General Shehu Yar’ Adua, I found many contradictions in the attitude of General Yar’Adua to democracy especially after the annulment. Did the President know that General Yar’Adua flipped flopped on his defense of democratic rights of Nigerians arising from June 12? Even though he supported Chief Abiola for the June 12 and immediately after, he colluded with the military President to sustain the annulment on the erroneous belief and assurance from General Babangida that an opportunity would arise for him to run for the office. This is the explanation for his sustaining the annulment and the evolution of the Interim National Government (ING). This is a matter of record and not of hearsay. This is what history would say of his commitment to democracy. He buckled under after sometime and he never explained the reason for this until he died.
The question one is still asking President Obasanjo till today is why could President Obasanjo not recognize Chief Abiola? Those who are asking this question are not just asking him to do the impossible. They are asking him to do what God told him to do that he confessed to after his release from the Abacha’s Gulag. To God everything just is possible.
Those who are demanding that President Obasanjo should recognize MKO Abiola ought to or should have appreciated the basis of Chief Obasanjo’s coming to power. President Obasanjo is of the view that for him to recognize June 12 would have amounted to a betrayal of the pact he entered into with the clique that brought him into office and could have amounted to a counterrevolutionary act. Would this have amounted to a conflict of religions or a conflict of civilizations as some would put it today after the 9:11 in the US? God told Obasanjo in the Gulag that solution based on justice should be found to June 12. On the other hand, Allah told the annullist that June 12 should be denied the winner of that election and that justice based on that election should be denied.
For Obasanjo to yield to what God told him in the Gulag could trigger a backlash from the anti-June 12 zealots in the military to force him out of office. In any case those who managed his election such as Chief Tony Anenih, the former Chairman of the party that gave away the June 12 in July 1993 was around to make him recognize the danger of non-recognition of the June 12. Of course, his security handlers and serving with him in the Presidency such as General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, the National Security Adviser to the President, who was in the clique that annulled the June 12 would cry foul if the President should attempt to recognize the June 12. The question is why should the distinguished Chief from Egba land agree to be the candidate of the PDP on the anti-June 12 platform?
What bothers me is not in his decision to accept the invitation. What bothers me is that the President does not seem to see the injustice in what he is doing in pretending that June 12 did not exist as a historical fact. He should have appreciated that it is odd for him not to accord recognition to June 12.
What bothers me is the hypocrisy in the profession of faith in God in whatever he does and failing to carry out what he told Nigerians as originating from God. The President who talks about God in everything he does, ought to or should have appreciated that it is not in furtherance of God’s work on earth to ignore the voice of the people as recorded in their vote of June 12, 1993. Is the President saying that what God blessed on June 12, 1993 should be ignored? Does the President not acknowledge the saying that the voice of the people is the voice of God? What is a better determination of the voice of the people beside their vote?
Nigerians are asking the critical question of when does the President acknowledge and do what God says? He seems to pick and choose events as when he likes.
Nigerians are asking the President if he forget what he told Nigerians on June 20, 1998 at the Baptist Church, Abeokuta? I am referring to what Nigerians once heard from the mouth of preacher Obasanjo himself before a packed Church in Abeokuta on June 20, 1998 immediately he was released from Abacha’s Gulag. He told Nigerians in a clear language what God told him in Abacha’s Gulag about serious issues.
God told Preacher Obasanjo something about the June 12, as follows:
Once again as God has given me opportunity I will comment on the election of June 12. I have always held the view that the non-resolution of the issue will remain an indelible blot on our body politic and a bad and dangerous precedent for political development in this country. It forebodes ill for the destiny of Nigeria.
Preacher Obasanjo warned:
Sweeping it under the carpet, and pretending that it does not exist does not solve it; rather it makes it to incubate and fester.
Preacher Obasanjo then warned:
Let it not be said that by act of omission or commission there are two classes of Nigerians as far political, economic and social participations are concerned.
Preacher Obasanjo then pleaded with the power of God on the pulpit in the following words:
Let all Nigerians have a sense of belonging and a stake in the affairs of Nigeria. Peace and unity, which are preconditions for development and progress must be founded on justice, equality of opportunity and equity.
Finally Preacher Obasanjo left his listeners with what God told him about the non-resolution of June 12 in the following words:
Without the resolution of the events of June 12, we may not have a firm and solid foundation to erect the structure of democracy on a lasting basis,apart from the implications for unity, and stability in the country.
On the military, God told Preacher Obasanjo to tell the Nigerian people the followings: Today we are all victims and eyewitnesses, Let me venture and to give another warning no matter what names I may be called or what threat or danger maybe involved. Our military personnel have generally become inured to corruption, lying, selfishness, lack of patriotism, avarice, and character and behaviour unbecoming of a good military.
On what should be done about the military in order to have democracy, Preacher Obasanjo had this to tell the Nigerian people:
They must change and be motivated by ideals of patriotism, nationalism, morality, and the good of the nation, rather than the good of themselves at the expense of the country politically and economically.
Making a case for the good ones in the military, Preacher Obasanjo had this to say about the bad influence of the bad ones:
In the recent past, the bad ones have gained ascendancy.
Preacher Obasanjo then appealed to the Nigerian people as to what should be done in future, if the military made that early morning announcement about taking over of government. Preacher Obasanjo told Nigerians what they should do in the following words:
Nigerians must resolve that any future military adventurism into our political life must be met with non-violent resistance and total withdrawal of services –public and private—-complete non-participation non-fraternization and non-cooperation.
Preacher Obasanjo then recommended to the future lawmaker what should be done in the following words:
Stiff punishment must be prescribed for those who covertly or overtly break this national resolve.
On the mode of resolving the lingering political crisis arising from the annulment Preacher Obasanjo had this to say:
I believe that it is never too late for patriotic men and women of goodwill in this country to get together and dialogue to find generally acceptable solution to this unnecessary problem.
For the above see Kayode Olarenwaju’s account in the Vanguard June 21, 1998 with such quotes from the Sermon by Preacher Obasanjo as "Fadile begged me in prison"; "No Democracy without June 12" and "God used me to save others".
Nigerians should ask their President some tough questions such as:
- Why did he forget what God told him in Abacha’s Gulag? What happened to his prophecies of June 1998 when those who made him President approached him? Was he lying when he made those prophecies? Why does he now believe that Nigerians who heard him in June 1998 say one thing about what God told him and abandoned it after he became the President and was in a position to implement the prophesy? Does he not know that this is at the root of the credibility crisis facing him today?
Arising from the foregoing questions, I was forced to remind the President in a two-part essay in 2000 that he should go back to that sermon that I called in the essay, "Sermon on Olumo Rock". When President Obasanjo uses God’s name today in what he does in office, he forgets that he once used God’s name immediately after he was released from prison. How long would he be allowed to use God’s name in vain?
IMPLICATION OF OBASANJO’S THEORY OF CREATION
General Olusegun Obasanjo, the President in the Vanguard of July 19, 2000 opined, "God knows why Nigeria was created". He went on to argue that "God created Nigeria for Nigeria to be a great country where no tribe will dominate or subjugate others". Is this true? What is the President’s authority for this assertion, when Nigerians are feeling some kind of subjugation here and there?
Another very dangerous impression, in fact, a dangerous claim in the President’s theory is that his Presidency was ordained by God or that he was sent by God to save Nigeria from many years of misrule in the hands of bad leaders. Consequently he told Nigerians that since Nigeria was God’s creation and since God ordained his Presidency, he would refuse to be a bad leader. Finally he prayed to God "to take him away from this job if he became a bad leader". How this would come about is not made clear. He would never yield to public opinion because the opinion of Nigerian people may be at variance with what God is telling him. This is why his constant refrain, of all that call for "prayer fasting and seeking God’s face before announcing his "self-succession" was very disturbing to me. I am sure to many Christians, this was also disturbing.
It is my view that the issue is not whether one believes in the efficacy of prayer, fasting and seeking God’s face. The issue is how one goes about it so as not to become a "hypocrite" as defined by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6.5. I have no doubt that Chief Obasanjo knows what a "hypocrite’ is in the Bible. He ought to have known this from the lessons he received from various settings under the Baptist Mission in Abeokuta on how to pray. He should have known that how to pray is a serious matter in the Holy Bible. Does President Obasanjo know that he is daily breaching what Jesus teaches us Christians on how to pray in the Gospel according to St. Matthew 6: 5-7? Does he know that he is behaving like a "hypocrite"? Jesus defined hypocrites as those who
"Pray-------on the corners of the streets That they may be seen by men".
Jesus also warned Christians about vain repetition……..for the Father knows the things you have need of before you ask him". (Matthew 6:7).
On what Christians should do if they want to pray, Jesus enjoins Christians to do the followings: Go to your room; And when you have shut the door, Pray to your Father who in the secret place; And Your father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:6) It is after all these that we commence the Lord’s Prayer.
I recall another disturbing incident during the reconciliatory dance or exchange of partners or wives between the President and the former Senate President, Dr Chuba Okadigbo during the house warming ceremony. The President wanted to show off his knowledge of the Bible in a gathering involving Christians, Muslim and others. On that occasion, President Obasanjo likened the Official Residence of the Senate President that he was opening to a country and he then introduced the Biblical injunction that unless God builds a house all the work of the builders might be in vain. This is true; did the President know that this Biblical injunction also applied to the country? He should have alerted the leaders of Nigeria that Nigeria as was put together did not have the blessing of God. The only way to explain the lingering problems afflicting the country since 1960 is that since God does not bless the country at its creation, those who have been laboring in it since 1960 have been laboring in vain. God does not bless the country conceived in injustice/ Maybe what God has been telling the leaders of Nigeria, military and civilian is that Nigeria should be renegotiated and recreated and made a system of justice.
(culled from www.nigerdeltacongress.com. First published July 2002)