FEATURE ARTICLE

Leburah GanagoThursday, July 26, 2007
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Atlanta, GA, USA

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IN PURSUIT OF OUR STOLEN MANDATE

“ We have to realize that we cannot hope to make meaningful progress as a nation if we continue to sweep things under the carpet. The victims of the fraudulent elections must be able to seek redress through the existing institutions. There must be justice for those who have been robbed and cheated. There cannot be reconciliation and peace without justice”- Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, former vice president ( Nigerian Tribune, July 5, 2007).


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ere comes another unlikely hero for democracy. When former vice president Abubakar Atiku came to Atlanta ( on the occasion of the birth day anniversary of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) a couple of years ago and told his American audience that he was in the vanguard of the struggle which ousted the military and installed democracy in Nigeria I did not quite believe him. For whenever the roll call of democracy crusaders in Nigeria is taken I would rather recall the likes of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti ( of blessed memory) , Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba, Shehu Sani , Patrick Naagbanton , Uche Okwukwu , et al, and NADECO chieftains like Pa Adekunle Ajasin ( of blessed memory) Pa Abraham Adesanya, Uncle Bola Ige, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, General Alani Akirinade, Chief John Oyegun, Dr. Arthur Nwankwo et al .

However, that was before the former vice president made the above declaration. This is a statement of mission -a declaration for battle. It would appear that former vice president Atiku is poised to defend democracy, this time around. When Olusegun Obasanjo committed another rape of democracy and unleashed a regime of electoral fraud , of course aided by the notorious Dependent Electoral Commission, DEC, on the nation in 2003 and claimed a re-election, Abubakar Atiku was on his side, as number two in command. The first line victims then were Dr. Alex Ekwueme, ( at the primaries) and General Muhammadu Buhari ( in the general elections) . And the ultimate victims were all of the Nigerian peoples.

In April 2007, Obasanjo again subverted the will of the Nigerian people, stole their electoral mandate and handed same to a stooge who he trusts would cover up his dirty acts- the looting of the national treasury and the wanton assassination of political opponents. It is a monumental insult to the over 100 million Nigerians that one man could impose his will on them.

Now, Abubakar Atiku may well cast himself in the role of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, who truly believed that he was robbed of his electoral victory and fought unto death, to reclaim his stolen electoral mandate. That is if the former is ready to go the whole hog. It would also be in order for General Muhammadu Buhari , and even Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and others to think likewise ; for the conduct and process of the April 21 presidential election which purportedly returned Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as the elected president was neither credible nor transparent. In fact going by the utterances and conduct of the umpire of the (s) election, General Olusegun Obasanjo, it would be safe to argue that there was no contest whatsoever. It was Obasanjo who conducted the (s) election , the “ Area Boy” called Maurice Iwu ( INEC chairman) was only a surrogate. During the election campaigns Obasanjo had told a bewildered nation that the elections (for him and his party) would be a do or die affair. He repeatedly said that he would make sure certain people did not succeed him. Obasanjo went further to bluff that ultimately his own will, not those of the Nigerian people will be done . And the man who after the deed has been done, triumphantly declared that he came, saw and conquered, had the wherewithal – the Niger delta oil money, the security forces and a rubber stamp electoral commission to impose his will on the hapless Nigeria nation.

As it was in 2003, some feeble-minded fellows would start castigating Buhari, Atiku and co . for their insistence on seeing that justice is done to the April 2007 presidential elections. They would be derided and called bad losers. But how could there have been winners and losers when there hasn’t been any contest?

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Americans regard the right to vote as the most important of all fundamental rights. Back there in Nigeria we seem oblivious of this right or that we simply do not value it. For if we did, there would be no way we would continue to walk away as if nothing has happed each time this most important right is being flagrantly violated . Actually in Nigeria we have the freedom to vote. In fact, anyone, including the under age, can vote in periodic elections. But the problem is your vote do not count as the outcome of any election is being predetermined by the government in power or the ruling party. In this case , your right to vote is effectively being taken away from you. Nigerians are not Americans, I could hear someone say. But in Nigeria we lay claim to operating a democracy- the same very model which the Americans are operating. Then, we must subscribe to the minimum standard of the universal tenets of democracy. It is democracy or no democracy.

Only God knows when the insanity in Nigeria would end and who can save that country. Now, the chorus is let’s give Umaru Yar’Adua a chance. But my position is Umaru Yar’Adua did not win any election and if what is being practiced in Nigeria today is democracy, he ought not to be allowed to rule even if he is an angel, like some would have us believe. I do not know how religious those who are telling us to give Umaru Yar’ Adua a chance are, for them to seem to have believed that Yar’Adua is going to perform miracles to change a system he has been part of and which he has effortlessly been made to benefit from. Recall, he was in the first place brought in by Obasanjo to protect the latter’s corrupt establishment.

Yar’ Adua may not have the moral courage to move against the PDP state governors because somehow he may feel indebted to them: having been used to supplant them in the party primaries. Recall how Obasanjo ejected and compelled them ( most , against their wish) to step down for his anointed choice , Umaru Yar’ Adua. Yar’Adua in continuing the “war against corruption” has also toed the line of his mentor and benefactor, Obasanjo by being selective. So far those arrested have been Obasanjo’s vocal critics. When will his core loyalists and big time looters like ex-governor Peter Odili of Rivers State have their day in court ?. Above all, when will Obasanjo, by every account the biggest thief, made to account for his own financial misdeeds?. Political gadfly Chief Godwin Adazua Dabo raised quite an eyebrow recently when he alleged that ex-president Obasanjo is worth N180 billion ( Daily Sun , July 12, 2007) . Of course, I would consider this to be a conservative estimate, as I consistently maintain that Obasanjo who used fronts and cronies within and outside the country to salt away billions of dollars of looted Niger delta oil money, must have stolen more money than the much vilified late General Sani Abacha. We demand from the ( interim president) Umaru Yar’Adua a holistic, across the board probe of all former political officeholders-from the president to local government chairmen, with a view to committing to trial all those who are found to have corruptly enriched themselves. The on-going piecemeal half-hearted approach to fighting corruption smacks of selective persecution ( not prosecution) and this is absolutely unacceptable.

So far, Umaru Yar’Adua has been playing Obasanjo’s script. The other day he said Obasanjo could not control him. He can say that to the mariners. Yet, the fraudulent manner Obasanjo emerged as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP shows just how much the tyrant is still in control .

And more tragic for me is how the wholesale acceptance of Yar’ Adua as President has effectively enabled Obasanjo’s will to be done. Democracy is not about the will of one man: it is the will of the greatest number of the citizenry expressed through their votes in free and fair periodic elections . The docility and sometimes naivety of the Nigerian people ( of course facilitated by the colluding elite), has ensured that Obasanjo goes away with his whole baggage –the scandalous plundering of the Niger delta oil wealth and the assassination of political opponents. So long as President Umaru Yar’ Adua continues to lack the moral courage to reverse Obasanjo’s scandalous last minute deals –the last minute award of multibillion dollar shady contract s and sale of public enterprises –the Port Harcourt refinery , Igbim Power plant et al , to his business interests and his cronies, monumental injustice will be done to the Nigerian people and the Niger delta in particular. It is my position that even if the rest of the country decides to look the other way , the Rivers people must insist that the sale of Port Harcourt refinery by Obasanjo be reversed. And on this occasion I have resolved to pitch my tent with Alhaji Asari Dokubo in insisting that Obasanjo be committed to trial for the plundering of the Niger delta oil money. Obasanjo should also has an explanation to offer for the wanton politically motivated assassinations that took place during his eight year reign of horror. The inability of President Yar’ Adua to commit Obasanjo to tria lwill continue to haunt his already tainted reign as president.

An American acquaintance once suggested to me that African rulers have been able to manipulate and use the people because they succeeded in denying them access to education. That is to say because the people are not enlightened they do not know their rights and therefore vulnerable to exploitation and manipulations. You would pardon the ignorance of the white man, for those who have constituted themselves into objects of manipulations in the hands of our dumb rulers are the highly educated and enlightened ones- the colluding elites.

When we discuss the vesting issue of sit-tight dictators and tyrants-how they survive and go on to perpetuate themselves in power, and hold their peoples hostage for as long as they please or as long as their luck can run, the colluding elite factor has been largely ignored. My own personal observation of the Nigerian situation revealed that the resilience of successive dictators, be they in military “khaki” or civilian “agbada” owe much of its success to the betrayal function of the colluding elite . For the purpose of this discussion I have classified the colluding elite into two broad categories. One is those who have the unenviable task of carrying out or executing executive orders. These are those who simply explain away their complicity by arguing that they are only doing their duties. The late Ogoni leader Ken Saro Wiwa identified members of this category as bureaucrats , businessmen , professionals, party politicians, academics and journalists. Ken noted that “the net result of their ( colluding elites) action has been the total backward march of our peoples”( Vanguard September 30, 1994).

The category of colluding elites who feel they have a duty to do often times go out of their way to help demonize their task masters by acting overzealously in executing official orders. They end up painting the devils they serve and worship darker than they really are. Recall the lanky sadist Army Major and ADC to General Abacha, Hamza Al-Mustapha, the psychopathic Major Paul Okuntimo who went over and above his “ call of duty” to execute the Ogoni pacification agenda.

The second category of colluding elites are those who ordinarily have no reason to play the diminished roles they have elected to play. In other words, they have no obligation or couldn’t have felt compelled to play those roles; except for their greed and get rich quick mania and sometimes traitorous disposition. In this category we have the pseudo human rights and pro-democracy “activists”, trade union leaders, opposition politicians, community leaders et al. This category of colluding elites often times play double agents. They profess to take up the cause of their oppressed and downtrodden followers-criticize and harangue the establishment in the light of day but go behind close doors , in the cover of darkness, to cut deals with the oppressors and feed fat on the carrion of the people they are supposed to be fighting their cause. Today, in the troubled Niger delta there has been an explosion of agitation groups with all shades of leaders. And wonders occur here all the time. You are wont to see leaders of human and environmental rights groups-opposition figures (supposedly) who double as government contractors and agents. So being an “ activist” leader could be a lucrative business just as been a career bread and butter politician . Also being a cult leader or gang leader could make you a millionaire in the Niger delta, even more so in my native Rivers State, which is now being ruled by cultists. In Rivers State today we have a government of cultists, by the cultists for the cultists. Little wonder it is now Rivers of blood.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, recently embarked on strike to protest the eleventh hour hike in the pump price of fuel by former president Obasanjo. The strike was adjudged to be “very successful”. But it lasted only three days and called off in the “national interest”. However, the opening paragraph of the Guardian editorial of Sunday July 1, 2007 buttressed how useless the NLC strike was. It reads “ The recent three-day nationwide strike by Labour has come and gone but the issues involved have not yet been fully resolved . The pump price of petrol is still much higher than N70 a litter, resulting in deep frustration among the populace” . Shame on you, NLC leadership. What manner of strike which did not achieve anything.? The NLC leadership, as always, has betrayed Nigerian workers. The evil regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo had used pricing of petroleum products to torment Nigerians for all of eight years. And President Umaru Yar' Adua looks set to follow in his mentor's footstep ; only promising Nigerians to give them a break of one year . According to the Guardian editorial (The Guardian July 1, 2007) in eight years the Obasanjo administration had raised the price of petroleum products 13 times. And like the Guardian noted “it is unacceptable that Nigerians are being asked to bear the pain of increase at a time the country itself is reaping extraordinary profits and revenue from the sale of crude oil, the country’s main resource” .Yet, the more oil revenue the government realizes the more the treasury is looted ; with little or nothing to show in terms of improved facilities.

The Clergy also has its own share of the colluding elites. In other parts of the world, religious leaders take advantage of the justness of their cause to use the pulpit to fight evil and unjust rulers and liberate their followers. The Civil Rights legend in America, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a Baptist clergy ,used the pulpit for non-violent campaign against discrimination and racial inequality in God's own country. In South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu used the pulpit to fight the evil apartheid regime . Today, the young Archbishop Pius Ncube of Zimbabwe is effectively using the pulpit to fight the demonic regime of Robert Mugabe . Like Archbishop Pius Ncube would say, “The church has a prophetic role to speak the truth when no one else dares to”-( Vanity Fair, July 2007).However, in Nigeria where our “men of God” are using the pulpit to aid evil and oppressive rulers for a fee, the story is different . After General Obasanjo have looted our national treasury silly, presided over the extermination of political opponents, and unleashed the worst form of electoral fraud on the nation, Nigeria clergies queued up to pray for him , wishing him god's protection.

While the clergy fights evil and oppression in other parts of the world, those in Nigeria applaud and worship evil men in power. As a parting gift Obasanjo on the eve of his departure hired Primate Sunday Mbang to insult the Ogoni at Bori , claiming that they had come to pray to God to spiritually “cleanse” Ogoni land. But it did not occur to Obasanjo and Sunday Mbang that they have not “spiritually cleansed” Nigeria of the blood of Uncle Bola Ige, Dr. Marshall Harry , Chief A.K. Dikibo among others who were murdered during Obasanjo’s reign of horror. But tell me ,how could such morally and spiritually bankrupt souls like Obasanjo and Sunday Mbang have thought of “ spiritually cleansing” Ogoni land . “God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, so shall he reap” , so says the holly scriptures. Obasanjo and Sunday Mbang think they can mock God. We were later made to understand that Obasanjo, Sunday Mbang and Matthew Kukah had wanted to use the “spiritual cleansing” plot as a ploy to have their collaborative Ogonis sign a MOU , paving the way for Shell's resumption of operations in Ogoni. However, the spirit of Ogoni overpowered those crooks and they were chased out of Bori, to their eternal shame and damnation. Yet, I am enlightened enough to know that the true God that I worship will NEVER answer the prayers of such workers of darkness as Obasanjo and Sunday Mbang .

Now there is this idiotic talk of moving the nation forward by glossing over the monumental injustice that has been done to the Nigerian people in the aftermath of the worst electoral fraud in our nation’s history. But you cannot talk of “moving the nation forward on the foundation of fraud and injustice. In fact, allowing the April 2007 electoral fraud to stand amounts to taking the nation back to the Stone Age era. If Nigeria is laying claim to running a democracy it must subscribe to the universal standard . There are no short cuts or our own unique primitive way of running a democracy, where a man no matter how powerful he may be, should be allowed to impose his will on the nation. In this light , I applaud the determination of General Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku to pursue the cause of justice through constitutional means. They deserve the support and encouragement of all Nigerians in this battle to save democracy.

The colluding elites are sabotuers who frustrate our march to oust the reigning corrupt and vicious cabal.

Chief Ume Ezeoke has claimed that the ANPP considered national interest and the need to advance national development in joining the Yar’ Adua government . What national interest is Ume Ezeoke talking about? And what is he doing in court after agreeing to join the Yar’Adua government. It is regrettable to observe how Ume Ezeoke has openly displayed his political flirtation ;swinging between the ANPP and the PDP. He shameless to admitted that he is having his legs in both parties and that he would abandon Yar’Adua should the election petition tribunal sack his government. Hear him “ If the administration is nullified , I mean if the president’s election is nullified here , we will simply pull out, go back to our place and fight.” He went further to say “ ANPP is currently wearing two caps . We are in government to move this democracy and the nation forward . But we are in court to protect the rule of law. We are in court to ensure that the tribunal has the full power and authority to entertain grievances from any aggrieved person in the last election”. .( Vanguard, July 19, 2007) Has old age taken so much toll on Ume Ezeoke that he is this confused on such simple issues as going to court to contest a disputed election and forming an alliance and working with the same person you are supposed to be in dispute with ?. Why should Ume Ezeoke at his old age still want to wear two caps at the same time?. When will he grow above that? For such bread and butter political spent forces as Chief Ume-Ezeoke who feel that they have nothing to bother about posterity , they must desist from the very diminished spoiler roles they are now playing or history shall be cruel to them.

Poor Buhari! He has had the singular misfortune of dealing with traitorous, scrum- picking Southern politicians. It was Don Etiebet another political prostitute in 2003 and now Ume Ezeoke in 2007. They are strange bedfellows. While General Buhari may be interested in real political power the likes of Don Etiebet and Ume Ezeoke- traditional Southern politicians are only interested in lobbying for scrums from whoever is in power. Ume Ezeoke like Don Etiebet is not really interested in political power but in having access to government patronage. These traitors must be shoved aside as we march on to reclaim our stolen electoral mandate and get our beloved country back from the buccaneers . For Nigeria to move forward there must be retributive and restitutive justice. All those who looted our national and states treasuries must be rounded up and put on trial and made to return their loots before being sent to jail. There must be an inquest into all cases of politically motivated assassinations that took place in the past eight years and beyond, with a view to bringing perpetrators to justice . Then, a foundation would be laid for institution of true democracy such as it is practiced in the rest of the civilized world. Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua is incapable of presiding over this daunting but necessary process. This can only be undertaken by an interim ( transitional )government. In any case, Nigeria is long overdue for a revolution , in whatever form it takes, that would overthrow the status quo and usher in real change. Until then, the concept of Nigeria as an indivisible united entity remains a fool’s dream.

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