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War Crimes: Playing and Blaming

By Morenike Taire
When it was announced that Liberian warlord Charles Taylor was coming to hide away in Nigeria, Nigerians  ought to have shouted out  in protest, or at least arranged  a demonstration at the airport where stones should have been conveniently hurled at him (we do not do tomatoes and eggs here… too soft) at  whatever point that could have been possible.

At that time, unfortunately, Nigerians had a rather romantic view of one of Africa’s most despicable and corrupt leader.

Movies have been made of Uganda’s Idi Amin Dada as well as Mobutu Sese Seko, and their evils shown up on the screen for the world to see. Charles Taylor, on the other hand and at the time Nigeria granted him cover, was this noble guy who agreed to leave the scene of one of the most grisly wars in human history, in order that peace may return to the completely devastated nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone. He was flashy, handsome and stinking rich, just the way we like them.

When Obasanjo gave him up, though, it was one of those things. Apart from the fact that our soldiers were put in harm’s way cleaning up the mess people like Mr. Taylor had made, no one really cared what the guy had been up to in his tiny country and the rest of forgotten West Africa. Not even the release of the movie, Blood Diamond, specifically told to Nigerians the story of Charles Taylor.

It was easy at first, and not surprisingly, to mistake Taylor for a hard-done-by freedom fighter. He was popular amongst his people, for various reasons, and had actually won an election running opposite current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and his incursion into Liberian affairs had been done supposedly on behalf of the people who had been deprived of benefits accruing from their country’s human resources.

Who knows how it all started, and if he was genuine to begin with like all the other power drunks? Eventually, the biting of the power bug was to be his undoing.

If Charles Taylor had come away from it all full of remorse, tears and a plea to be able to undo the evils of the past (as if!), he might have won some sympathy for ruining the future of the children of Sierra Leone and Liberia. As it is, he sounds like the irresponsible, mindless warmonger that he is, looking for someone to blame other than himself. Blaming Obasanjo for his present trial will not save Taylor, and hopefully, he knows that.

If people insist on not behaving like human beings, they certainly should not be expected to be treated like human beings. It is about time, in fact, that a film or ten were made about the likes of Charles Taylor.

Good people really!

The handlers of Information Minister Professor Akunyili, it appears, have steered her away from the “Good People, Great Nation” fixation. The result is that Dora has got back her groove, recognised her constituency and finally figured there is no dressing up the reputation of a country that is not pretty.

The bottom line is clear, always has been: There is no great nation with corruption. Good people are not corrupt and the first job that Professor Dora has is to uncorrupt Nigeria.

Goodness knows she tried hard enough while cleaning up our drug act, but that is a somewhat different ball game.

Bringing in fake drugs into the country and passing it off for good to unsuspecting sick people for profit is an activity only a small section of Nigerians are involved in; corrupt activities in everyday life, business and governance, on the other, are more the norm than the exception in our country.

It is real, and it is hurting us; and the only real way to fix it is to inculcate a culture of accountability and transparency. Doing this, however, will prove not as easy as it had been in NAFDAC. Drug barons are the enemies of everybody. Corruption, in general, is the enemy of only a few.

It is no wonder then that the Information Minister has been stepping on too many toes, and those with the toes are not only crying out in pain, they are not sitting pretty.

Still, her struggles with the NCC (which has dragged on for much too long) and her public endorsement of the Petroleum Industry Bill have spurred an interesting degree of public reaction, and much of the reactions are in favour of accountability and transparency.

The anti-corruption drive of the Obasanjo administration has been laughed at, at best, and suffered a good deal of disdain and criticism. Yet, if it is true that the exit of the former Inspector General of Police had everything to do with his NDIC trouble Nigerian attitudes to corruption might be changing ever so slowly, but surely.


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