he recent declaration by Andrew Young, the US-based pro-Obasanjo lobbyist, confidante and business associate, that he and other members of his obusonjoist lobbying/contracting outfit are campaigning for President Obasanjo to be awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace is arguably the most outrageous intervention in African affairs of the past 12 months. For the Nobel awarding committee to even begin to consider giving its distinguished peace prize to any leader of Africa’s genocide-states is utterly inconceivable. This is more seriously the case if the leader being so considered is from Nigeria, the continent’s primer genocide-state and inaugurator of the grave emergency that threatens African existence currently. The Nigerian state carried out the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970 in which 3 million Igbo people were murdered. Since then, 12 million other Africans have been slaughtered in genocidal rampages perpetrated by African regimes and their allies from Sierra Leone and Liberia in the west, through to the Sudan, Rwanda and the Congos in the centre and Uganda in the east.
One would be forgiven if one thought that this “Obasanjo-for-Nobel” initiative was the brainchild of the founder of a neo-Broederbond executive, who gloated over the dreadful existence that African peoples have been reduced to by the ruthless African-led regimes in their midst, and not by a close ally of Martin Luther King, one of the most outstanding African leaders of all time. It should be recalled, to underscore the irony that interpellates the very nexus of the Andrew Young-Olusegun Obasanjo relationship of 30 years, that as Young marched alongside King and other great Africans across US towns and cities 10 years earlier heroically proclaiming and demanding freedom and liberation for America’s oppressed African populations, Obasanjo and his pulverising league of sergeants and brigadiers and corporals and colonels and majors and troopers and the like at the other side of the African Atlantic were engrossed in the encirclement and the fire-storming of Igbo towns, cities, villages, everything “that moves or doesn’t move,” to quote the outburst of one of his notorious comrades-in-arms at the time: murdering, raping, burning, looting, wasting 3 million Igbo lives in 4 long years of genocide not seen in Africa since Belgian King Leopold II’s ravages of the countries of the Congo basin during the 19th century. The Young-Obasanjo pact is therefore a relationship that the venerable Martin Luther King would have viewed with horror; he would have denounced it outright … It is an association that has undoubtedly inflicted an incalculable damage on trans-Atlantic African relations.
In the light of the above, Young cannot fail to contend with the distinct possibility that instead of his business associate heading for the European city with the spelling that starts with the alphabet “o”, Oslo, to collect his coveted “peace prize” later this year, he could well terminate his journey at a different city further south – still in Europe but name beginning with “t”, The Hague: to answer charges at the international criminal court house situated there for “crimes against humanity” committed during the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970. Given Young’s three decades of friendship with Obasanjo, it is not unlikely that either the prosecution team or indeed the Obasanjo’s defence panel might wish to summon Young to The Hague to testify as witness during proceedings. So, as Young prepares his Obasanjo-support dossier for the Nobel award committee, it is unthinkable that he would omit the cardinal features of the Obasanjo legacy in 40 years of public life deeply embedded in the Igbo genocide. Young must ensure that he covers the following areas of his subject’s life, as this will be of immense interest to the committee:
What is the nature of the Olusegun Matthew Obasanjo-Andrew Jackson Young relationship since it began in the 1970s?
What is the nature and extent of Young’s business interests in Nigeria since the 1970s?
What does Young know of the infamous fertiliser-import scandal in Nigeria of the 1970s?
As Obasanjo’s friend and confidante for 30 years, what does Young know about Obasanjo’s involvement in the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970?
In May 1969, at the height of the Igbo genocide, Captain Gbadamosi King of the Nigerian air force, who was attached to an Obasanjo-led rampaging unit in southern Igboland, deliberately shot down an International Committee of the Red Cross plane carrying urgently-needed relief supplies to the encircled Igbo, killing all crew on board. Obasanjo, who had known Gbadamosi King for three years before this outrage, remembers the latter with nolstagia – a “dare-devil-pilot,” as Obasanjo notes, quite affectionately, in his memoirs, My Command (see p. 78). Prior to Gbadamosi King’s destruction of the ICRC aircraft, Obasanjo had “challenged” the pilot, as the former recalls sardonically (My Command, p. 78), that Gbadamosi King should “produce results” to stop further international relief flights to break the Nigerian blockade of the Igbo, a crucial plank of the genocidal campaign, to which the pilot “promised to do his best.” A few days after the request, “within a week,” Obasanjo reveals meticulously, “[Gbadamosi King] redeemed his promise” (My Command, p. 79). In the end, Obasanjo’s response to Gbadamosi King’s grim crime was that of perverse satisfaction as he, himself, recalls in My Command: “The effect of [this] singular achievement of the Air force especially on 3 Marine Commando Division [name of Obasanjo-commanded unit] was profound. It raised morale of all service personnel, especially of the Air Force detachment concerned and the troops they supported in [my] 3 Marine commando Division” (see Olusegun Obasanjo, My Command, Lagos and London: Heinemann, p. 79). Has advisor Young ever read Obasanjo’s My Command? What does he think? What does advisor Young think should be the world’s response to those who deliberately shoot down aircraft on humanitarian missions? What does advisor Young think should be the world’s response to those who plan and/or approve of the destruction of an aircraft on a humanitarian mission?
What does advisor Young know of Obasanjo’s pernicious anti-Igbo socio-economic and military programme of 1999-2007? What has been Young’s advice on this policy, which singularly defines the catastrophic tenure of a vile regime?
Young has been an unofficial advisor to Obasanjo since 1999. He has an elaborate executive office located at the presidency in Abuja. There is no local (Nigerian) legislative oversight involved in the appointment or maintenance of this position, nor over the resultant benefits in cash or kind. How much has Young received for these services since Obasanjo was sworn in as president of Nigeria in 1999? Is there a fixed or a more flexible salary? From what budget provisions has he been paid? Who has approved this budget? Whilst Young was an elected 2-term mayor of the US city of Atlanta, could he have appointed a foreigner, say from Turkmenistan, as advisor without approval and oversight from the city council? If not, why not? Could a US president appoint a foreigner, perhaps an Azeri, as his/her advisor with a well-furnished office and support staff at some wing of the White House in Washington without any oversight from Congress and the wider democratic institutions of the US? If not, why not? Would Andrew Young be able to procure his Abuja-brand appointment in Pretoria, Dakar, Gaborone, Brussels, London, Nouakchott, Ottawa or Alma Ata? If not, why not? What is it about Nigeria and/or Olusegun Obasanjo that ensures that such a crass anti-democratic and illegal process of public office abuse could prevail with impunity?
Young is an Obasanjo lobbyist in Washington. How much is he paid annually for his service? How much has he been paid since this assignment began? What exactly does this job entail?
In 2005, Obasanjo launched a so-called presidential library in his hometown in west Nigeria. Millions of dollars’ worth of “donations”, including from corporate organisations especially in oil and engineering-contracting firms located in Nigeria, were raised. Was Young involved in this project? Is Young still involved in this project?
Obasanjo has been Nigeria’s minister of petroleum – the key ministry of government – for most of these eight years of his 2-term presidency. Does advisor Young know how the hundreds of billions of dollars that accrued to the Nigerian treasury have been spent?
Since 1999, 20,000 people have been murdered in Nigeria by the state and its allies. These include a number of prominent public figures such as intellectuals (Chimere Ikoku, Victor Nwankwo, Victor Uchendu) and politicians (Ayo Daramola, Bola Ige, Funsho Williams). In 2003, Chuba Okadigbo, an ex-senate president and leading critic of Obasanjo, died suddenly. Okadigbo’s family has still not ruled out the possibility that the former senator was the victim of another political murder of the era. In 2004, Obasanjo ordered an armed attack on the Anambra region of Igboland. It was led by Chris Uba, a self-confessed obusonjoist-operative, during which every conceivable asset of the region’s executive, legislative, judicial, information/communication infrastructure was destroyed. The total cost of this rampage ran into millions of dollars. Thirty Igbo people were murdered during the brigandage. Since then, the regime has placed the entire Igbo country under a quasi-state of siege. Of those 20,000 murdered during this Obasanjo presidency, 18,000 are Igbo. Does advisor Young know the circumstances of these murders and brigandage?
What does advisor Young know of Obasanjo’s expansive plot during 2005-2006 to illegally extend his 2-term presidential term? According to reports in the Nigerian media at the time, the president resorted to bribing members of the central legislative assembly (US$500,000 for senator; US$400,000 for member of the lower house) for the enterprise. The venture collapsed ultimately due to sustained countrywide opposition. Did Young support or was he opposed to the Obasanjo extension scheme?
As these lines are written, Obasanjo is feverishly engaged in rigging the forthcoming (April 2007) presidential elections for his self-apponted “successor”. He had earlier rigged the results of the 2006 countrywide census. Obasanjo has already tagged these elections, quite ominously, as a “do-or-die” affair. Is advisor Young aware of these developments? What does he know? What doesn’t he know?
Andrew Jackson Young must now inform an eagerly awaiting world of what his behind-the-scene role has been in the cataclysm that is Nigeria during this long-drawn out age of pestilence – particularly in its obusonjoist 1999-2007 phase.
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is the author of Biafra Revisited (African Renaissance, 2006)