OBASANJO’S "THEORY" OF STATE
I was asked a question once by an American student what was the authority on which President Obasanjo based his "theory of state". I could not readily answer the question. His handlers are still to come to grip with this elementary question. Merely asserting without demonstrating how "God is a Nigerian" is not only dangerous for the multi-religious society of Nigeria, it is too simplistic and sometime borne out of laziness and maybe frustration. This is when one simply stop planning and thinking and relying on calling on God. We should pray that God should give us the ability to think plan and resolve issues. Why do we use God to explain many unjust acts of men?
What the President does too often in the name of God reminds one of the usual explanation of Muslim friends in the north that "Allah gives power to who so ever Allah wants and Allah can take that power away when He likes". I first heard of this from my former Chairman, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule in 1993 after the annulment. This was recently attributed to him Dr. Alex Ekwueme as the basis for Alhaji Maitama Sule’s decision to withdraw in favor of Alhaji Shehu Shagari in December 1978 presidential race. This kind of reasoning goes against all grains of democratic thought that is anchored on the wishes of the people of all faiths (Christians, Muslim and Believers in African Traditional Religion) at election.
Allah’s wish was unfortunately used as the justification of coups in the past since these successful coups had been an "intra-Muslim" affair or an "intra-clique" affair. Could this be true? What would be the interpretation by Christians? Those who offered this simplistic explanation or justification seemed to ignore the implication of coup. Did Allah bless the shedding of blood of fellow Nigerians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike in the name of power? This is what coup is about. It is about the violent seizure of power. It is about killing for power or blood letting for power, simple. The office holders and their supporters are meant to be killed if they resist. This is the conduct of military officers in the name of Allah in the past. Again this is a conflict of civilizations. Christianity would not approve of coups that involve shedding of innocent blood.
What is disturbing to me whenever I recall how many coups were conceived and announced in the past is the role of Christian political generals as the implementers of the Allah’s wish. I still recall the coup of 1975 and 1985 announced by Col. Joseph Garba and Col. Joshua Dongayaro both Christians respectively ushering General Murtala and General Babangida both Muslims respectively. Muslims take their faith seriously but Christians pay lukewarm attitude to their faith.
There is another disturbing aspect to the use of God to justify the unjust act of public officials. This is why it is disturbing for President Obasanjo to argue in this manner. It is dangerous and akin to the terrorists who justify all manner of killing in the name of Allah, if he is not careful with his rhetoric.
DOES ALLAH JUSTIFY COUP AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Nigeria never heard of the hand of Allah or God in the emergence of Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon in 1966. We did not read of Allah/God in his overthrow by General Murtala Muhammed. Policy issues were used to justify the actions of the coup plotters in the coup speeches of 1966 and 1975 respectively.
One started to read of the work of Allah in the intra-Muslim affairs from the coup in December 1983 led by General Muhamadu Buhari. He had to find justifications in moving against a fellow Muslim who Allah gave power through the ballot box. Later what General Babangida did on August 27, 1985 in getting rid of General Buhari on a Sallah Day also had Allah’s blessing. One recalls on this occasion, the three Majors sent to arrest General Buhari met him before he commenced his prayer. On this occasion, the ram General Buhari killed was still to be eaten and the beneficiary of the coup was planning to go the prayer ground at Minna. Did Allah sanction these acts both in Lagos and in Minna?
Another disturbing issue was whether Allah blessed the catalogue of injustices in the land under these rulers? Alhaji Shagari’s account in his memoir did not attribute what he suffered in the hands of General Buhari to Allah. Allah could not have commanded General Buhari to inflict the untold human right violations on fellow Muslims in 1984.
We may also ask why did the same northern leaders who rejected what General Buhari did to them as the work of Satan and in 1993 justify the actions of the political generals when it came to June 12?
What happened to the June 12 and his winner in the hands of clique even though justified by those who preached Allah, did not have the blessing of God or the blessing of those who practice African Traditional Religion. The former Sultan of Sokoto and many Muslim clerics in the north appealed to their colleagues in the south especially in the Yoruba land that "if Allah wanted Abiola to be the President nobody would have stopped him"! The meaning of this kind of religious justification of annulment and of the detention unto death of the winner of that election and other human rights violations was in bad taste. Again there was a conflict of civilization never appreciated. What did God tell Preacher Obasanjo in Abacha’s Gulag?
Incidentally, God told Chief Obasanjo the opposite of this in Abacha’s Gulag and Preacher/Chief Obasanjo told Nigerians and the international community so in June 1998 that the issues in the annulment should be resolved so as to move the country forward. Why did President Obasanjo abandon what God told him in Abacha’s Gulag as soon as he stepped into the Aso Rock?
What the Muslims were telling the Nigerian voters when Muslim political generals were inflicting inhuman treatment on fellow Nigerians was frightening. One wonders if this could be true in Islamic political thought. Few questions will be pertinent here.
Are they saying that Allah used the annullists to deny Nigerians their democratic rights in 1993?
Are they saying that Allah used General Buhari to sack the elected President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari?
Are they saying that Allah used General Babangida to sack the military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari in 1985?
Are they saying that Allah used General Babangida to cancel the presidential primaries in November 1992?
Is there some continuity in Allah’s acts between the act of annulment and the Address to the Nigerian people and the international community on the new transition program by General Abdulsalami Abubakar on July 20, 1998?
There was; one only needs to read the analogy General Abubakar drew between what happened in the past and the act of annulment as his basis for asking Nigerians to forget about the injustice in the annulment.
What Nigerians should have been asking is whether Allah inflicted on the country the most horrendous crime on the Nigerian people through the denial of their right to human dignity under General Abacha between 1993 and 1998?
Aren’t they concerned that Allah could be said to bless the reign of General Abacha?
In all the Churches I attended and in all the prayer groups I participated in Nigeria before I left the country in 1995, the reign of General Abacha was the subject of prayer. I was told that this practice continued in Churches after 1993 until General Abacha died in June 1998. Chief Obasanjo confessed to the power of God when he was in Abacha’s Gulag. In all the Churches he attended after his release, fellow worshippers told him of the power of God and he too confessed and danced because it was made manifest in his life. This is the way Christians see life in general and this was the way they saw the reign of General Abacha. To Christians, the reign of General Abacha was not of God even if it received Allah’s blessing. This again was a conflict of civilization. General Abacha sacked one Sultan and installed another all in the name of Allah. Just as the former Sultan was the representative of the former Muslim political general and led Nigeria to the assume the full membership status of the OIC, the new Sultan also assumed the same role as the representative of General Abacha at the OIC meeting in Iran.
Of course when the "prince of Kano", General Sani Abacha died in June 1998 through the intervention of God, Allah again appeared to the geo-ethno-military ruling clique counseling a new strategy.
Allah counseled the clique not to go for another member of the clique either from the military wing or civilian wing of the clique.
Allah told the clique not to go for an Igbo. We saw how Dr. Alex Ekwueme was humiliated in the party of which he was a part founder. We saw how the Igbo leaders were pushed aside in the APP, even though, they as former agents of the political generals who annulled the June 12 and sustained it between 1993 and 1998 under General Abacha, thought that they were the faithful allies of the clique.
We saw how Allah told the clique to go for an Egba Chief that was put in the Gulag according to the wishes of Allah.
If within-the-clique succession was not of Allah after the death of General Abacha, Allah told them that going for the Egba Chief to reign for a given period was seen as a tactical retreat within the overall strategy of permanent northern control of Nigeria. What was the given time frame, a period? This has become the question since 1999 especially when the important members of the clique are no longer happy with President Obasanjo. When and how will the clique come up with a scheme to inflict on the country another member of the clique? This was why I raised the question in the past, what did Chief Obasanjo promise the clique? President Obasanjo never answered this question. The question was as relevant then as it is today, when the key members of the clique such as President Shagari and other key leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum openly started talking of marginalization of the north and the betrayal of the north and all that.
One would have expected President Obasanjo to respond to the northern assertion and accusation. Maybe he would do so as part of his campaign for the 2003 election. He has to as he faces so many competitors from the north on the platform of Sharia and on the platform of how to reverse the northern marginalisation.
President Obasanjo would also say what he did for other areas. He would also say how he responded to the problems of other areas such as the quest for resource control by the people of the oil producing areas. He would have to say what he did for the Igbo. Of course, Nigerians at large would want him to tell them the effort he made to resolve the lingering political problems since 1999.
(culled from www.nigerdeltacongress.com. First published July 2002)