Monday 4 June 2007

Nigeria: The Disgraceful backlash gathers a storm

Bare-faced shamelessness

One wonders if Nigerians do not have a fatalistic approach to matters of honesty, integrity and propriety without due consideration of consequence and possible negative retribution.

Two issues bring this to the fore as the complacency with the April 2007 elections begin to yield unintended repercussions and shameful reactions which could so well have been avoided. By rights, the erstwhile President of Nigeria should be a welcome new addition to the forum of ex-Presidents - the Inter Action Council - which was formed in 1983 by Takeo Fukuda, former Japanese Prime Minister and Helmut Schmidt formerly of Western Germany. His handover in 1979 from a military regime to a civilian regime was enough to keep him a member of this August forum for life.

It would for all intents and purposes include people like Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton (USA), John Major (UK), John Jerry Rawlings (Ghana), Valery Giscard d'Estaing (France) and Mary Robinson (Ireland)

Resigning is the only option

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would presumably make his excuses by indicating his wants to spend more time on domestic issues having had his membership in abeyance whilst to took on a second tenure as the head of government on Nigeria for 8 years from 1999 to 2007. Basically, it appears he would be tending his resignation from the council to avoid the continued embarrassment of more eminent persons taking apart the debacle of an election he presided over.

Olusegun as wrecked the great wonderful house that Olusegun built - a personal legacy destroyed by ones own hands and actions.

In my book, it is shameful and disgraceful that we cannot have an ex-ruler of Nigeria participate in such a distinguished forum where Africa is only represented by two other leaders because our "so-called" democratic credentials have been tarnished beyond acceptable limits of fairness and justice. We cannot have acquiesced to this dishonest disenfranchisement in the name of a smooth transition to a new civilian government and expect to hold our heads high in the international community.

The need to mature our democracy

We might not have come to that realisation as we excuse ourselves of the responsibility to maturing our democracy and condone the corrupting infrastructure that allows for elections to be conducted in a shambolic and chaotic manner, it does not wash with the International community at all, they see Nigeria as the biggest black African democracy and expect that we do right in terms of these issues rather than fall back on the flimsy derisive excuse of being a young democracy.

Indeed, democracy is a process, but it is arguable that the conduct of the 2007 elections was considerably worse than that of 2003, 1983 or 1979, we are in a process no doubt, but were moving backwards, the international community in that sense was not going to confer any mitigating respite on accepting the purveyor of an illegitimate process - he definitely does not belong in that forum and we Nigerian are no better for that situation.

The backlash begins

The backlash is gathering into a storm, as Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate has been invited by the US Congress to give his impressions about the Nigerian elections, we can safely say he would not be signing praises of this event - some might say he is doing a hatchet job on Nigeria - I say, until somebody somewhere begins to see the right to elect our leaders and ensure that what we have decided is what is reflected as a fundamental human right, we would be the poorer for it and never develop the little flicker of potential that sometimes emanates from Nigeria.

Beyond that, other aspects of projecting Nigeria's influence and power are being compromised; for instance, the long overdue recognition of the might and status of Nigeria to be considered as a member of the UN Security Council cannot have been enhanced.

We can also see where the US Congress has been quite miffed with the White House for sending a high-level delegation to the inauguration of the new president, well, in fact, it was hardly high-level, it was the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs - we could easily have had the Vice-President of the United States and quite a few other heads of state of great stature attending what might have been a moment of great Nigerian pride to the world.

Whilst the new president has been invited as an observer to the G8 Summit in Germany, I would not think it is to heap praise on his success or plans for Nigeria and I would not be surprised if some of the speech makers do not make a pointed critique of Nigeria - Europeans are not ones to let this go unmentioned, imagine how much aggro President Putin of Russia has already been having from Angela Merkel about democratic issues in Russia.

If Yar'Adua does get a serious telling off, it would be for the good, if Nigerians at home cannot instigate and implement the right thing, like the Yoruba saying of old - If a child does not exhibit the signs of good breeding, the child would get taught in the streets.

Nigeria losing credibility

Tony Blair in his farewell tour of Africa called at Libya, Sierra Leone and South Africa, he could easily have called at Nigeria, our countries have a history too long to detail in this message.

But, the so very optimistic Nigerians who seem to be able to get by with bluster and bravado would not read anything into this systematic isolation of Nigeria of decent international forums where we now sit within a global economy.

The issues in the Delta region would always keep Nigeria in the news, every abduction or unrest immediately reflects in the global oil markets whilst starting with the US Congress they are drumming up support so as not to confer "undeserved legitimacy" on a government that needs credibility having arisen from flawed mandate.

Even I have been inspired to consider doing business in Nigeria, but the overriding condition of partnership would include ascertaining the honest and truthful assessment of those elections in April 2007 - it is a matter of the utmost integrity and anyone who gives the slightest credence to that exercise is not a lady nor a gentlemen - I will not go into business with crooked dishonest people.

By God, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua does have his work cut out, him to deal with fundamental issues in Nigeria and him against the world fighting from a position of moral weakness.


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