By Owei Lakemfa
THIS is another season of Ghaddafi-bashing in Nigeria. There is righteous indignation in the land. The Libyan leader, Muammar Ghaddafi has givenÂ an opportunity to diverse groups to speak with one voice.
While the Federal Government promptly recalled the ambassador to Tripoli, the House of Representatives wants us to go a step further by severing diplomatic relations. Like an opportunistic infection, the French Embassy joined.
The attacks on Ghaddafi are in response to his call that Nigeria be split into northern (muslim) southern (Christian) countries in order to stop further â€œbloodshed between muslims and Christians and the burning of places of worshipâ€. He had cited the example of India and PakistanÂ where a 1947 split had saved many Muslim and HinduÂ lives.
His suggestion follows his obviously erroneous conclusion that the continuous massacres in JosÂ are due toÂ rivalry between the two Middle East religions.
Interestingly, Ghaddafiâ€™s suggestion is very mild compared to the American conclusion that Nigeria will disintegrate within the next 15 years. The wonder is that while the later suggestion has generated so much heat, the American prediction has generated none. In comparison, Nigeria is just sending its ambassador to America.
The general consensus in the Senate is that Ghaddafi is insane. Three senators who led the Senate to this conclusion are Senator Joel Danlami (PDP Taraba) who asserted that Ghaddafi â€œis a reckless leader and his madness is incurableâ€ and Senator Mohammed Jibril who conluded that â€œthe man is really out of his sensesâ€. For Senate President, David Mark, Ghaddafi is a â€œmad manâ€.
But is Ghaddafi a lunatic? Yes, he is an exhibitionist who would gather women in Europe and preach the virtues of Islamic womanhood. But no, he is not mad as he has emerged clean after decades of accusations by the West that he is mentally sick.
The origin of the hypothesis of Ghaddafiâ€™s madness is from the old American and Western leadership. He was a man that defied their classification of rulers as either pro-West or pro-Soviet; he could not be pigeon-holed into any of their boxes. In any case they did not even know the correct spelling of his name: Ghaddafi, Gadaffi,Kaddafi, Ghadaffi, Khadafy or Quaddafi? How can a man who speaks English insist on Arabic translation in his official dealings?
He was accused of being the godfather of terrorism, but the only terrorism involving Ghaddafi are the AmericanÂ bombing of Libyan military positions in March 1986,Â the April 14, 1986 bombing of Benghazi and Tripoli by the Americans during whichÂ 37Â Libyans, including a daughter of Ghaddafi, were murdered. Yet a third attack was the January 4, 1984Â downing of two Libyan Mig-23s by American aircraft near the Libyan coast.
In all these attacks, Ghaddafi refused to be provoked; those who were mad on those occasions were the people in Washington who ordered the attacks. Two Libyan agents were accused of blowing a Pan Am airline across Lockerbie, Scotland. The men were tried; one freed, the other found guilty. Last year, there was conclusive proof that the evidence that procured the guilty verdict was fabricated.
Ghaddafiâ€™s Libya has alsoÂ had disagreements with its Chadian neighbour mainly over their colonial borders and rebel activities. Just as Ghaddafi was caught onÂ the wrong side of the anti-Idi Amin war in Uganda, so has heÂ backed progressive politics such as support for the repressed Palestinians and Western Saharans and the liberation movements in Africa from Eriteria to South Africa. These are the actions of a rational mind.
Again, we can examine his rule in Libya. Unlike Nigeria where there is mass poverty in the midst of oil wealth, Ghaddafi used oil wealth to transform Libya. Education was made the right of all Libyans. Decent housing replaced the Libyan slums, the government reached into the depths of the desert to provide water for the people.
Libya has no periodic replacement of its leadership, but it is inherently more democratic than countries like Nigeria because the masses are consciously involved in governance, and affirmative action which Nigerian women are demanding today, was implemented in Libya from the late 1980s.
The looting that is state policyÂ in Nigeria is not so in Libya. And unlike Nigeria where our oil production is controlled by foreign companies, Libya controls its oil. In Nigeria ,the David Mark Senate does not know how much Nigeria earns from oil; it merely appropriates. In contrast, Libya knows. So who is mad; the Nigerian political elite or Ghaddafi?
A point to clear: Given his antecedents, Ghaddafi does not want the break-up of countries,Â African or Arab countries, but their merger. His beliefs for merger of African countries across artificial colonial boundaries have led him to sometimes quixotic merger of Libya and other countries. For instance, there was the August 1972 union with Egypt which collapsed over differences with Israel, the January 1974 union withÂ Tunisia, the September 1, 1980 merger with Syria,Â the January 6, 1986 merger with Chad, the August 1984 Oudja Treaty merging Libya and Morocco, the June 1987 Libya-Algeria merger agreementÂ and the 1990 attempt to merge Sudan, Egypt and Libya. Another that is well documented is Ghaddafiâ€™s campaigns for a United States of Africa. So when he made the ignorant call for Nigeria to be split, it is not because he does not see the value in Nigerian unity, he is simply appalled and frustratedÂ by the unending carnage in the country. His example of India and Pakistan is also wrong; an Islamic Pakistan
further split in 1971 into Bangladesh and Pakistan while the bloodshed in Kashmir as a result of the 1947 split continues to this day.
Nigeria remaining united ,or splitting ,will not depend on Ghaddafi. It will depend on us Nigerians and how we handle the political elites who rather than promote unity and development, propagate splitist tendencies like religion, regionalism, ethnicity, marginalisation, indigeneship, quota system and rotational leadership while being united in fleecing the country and leaving most Nigerians desperately poor.