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Saddam, Gaddafi and the Arabs: An African perspective(2)

HE was never perceived as a stooge of any government as he stood charismatically for the defence of his country and the African integrity.

His country was a major financier of freedom movements in some African countries like Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa towards their independence. It was not surprising that one of the grandsons of Nelson Mandela was named Gaddafi.

He also provided financial assistance to other countries like Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso apart from providing refuge and employments for other Africans from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Liberia, Senegal and Togo, among others. He stood against Western attempts to re-colonise his country and criticized conservative Arab regimes for their ineptitudes in the Middle East sagas.

Col. Gaddafi also carried out the world’s largest irrigation project – known as the great man-made river – to make water available throughout his desert country costing billions of dollars without any external loans. His country also offered Africa its first revolution in modern times when he contributed US$300 million of US$400 required for Africa’s first communications satellite. The action reduced the cost of connecting the entire continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications. According to Professor Jean-Paul Pougala: “This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual US$500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversations, including those within the same country. An African satellite only cost a onetime payment of US$400 million and the continent no longer had to pay a US$500 million annual lease to the Europe”.

For the love he had for Africans, especially poor Blacks from other countries, he put in place a mechanism to absorb African immigrants into the Libyan civil service and the armed forces working legitimately to eke out a living. During the crisis, majority of those became victims of massacre, rape and abuse by NTC rebels as attested to by survivals and returnees.

We knew that before the invasion of Iraq under Saddam and the attacks on Libya under Gaddafi, acts of terrorism were non-existent and those countries had well-behaved security forces and law-abiding citizens. While one can list the ills perpetrated by the so-called liberators, the Arab leaders should be blamed for the indignity, humiliation and shame on Arab nations that were embroiled in political crises.

The Arab leaders who hobnobbed with the so-called infidels would employ religious sentiments to win sympathy of large followers of Islamic faith on their dilemma. At least we have seen the new Libyan leaders now talking of sharia law as it relates to polygamous marriage rather than sharia in relation to human dignity and respect for the rule of law. We should be wary of confusing the Arabs with Muslims as well as Arab’s terrorism from Islamic evangelism of peace advocates. While the Arabs are a tribal group, Islam is a religious way of life that is not associated to a particular tribe or race.

Personally, we may dislike some actions of Ghaddafi; as an African, he had made many positive contributions than negative towards socio-political and economic development of the continent of the Black race in Africa. He was not a coward who could run away from home when he had the chances, but confronted his enemies to the end in his hometown keeping to his words of “dying in his country than becoming a refugee in another country”.

We wait to see what becomes of Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and other Arab nations, whether they would be able to sustain the control they have on their people against the Western conspiracy to oust the regional leaders and leave the nations in continuous turmoil.

Mr. YUSHAU SHUAIB, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.



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