By Obi Nwakanma
I have a problem with politicians who at the drop of the proverbial hat, make appeals to the “international community” to intervene in Nigeria’s internal or domestic questions. Nigeria shames Africa in many ways. Nigerians prostitute their hard worn liberty and sovereignty. This generation of political leaders and citizens apparently have very little idea of the extent of work and sacrifice that went into securing the sovereign rights of Nigeria through the anti-colonial nationalist movement between the interwar years of 1938 to full republican status, when Nigeria’s Parliament declared Nigeria a full republic, no longer under the rule of the British Commonwealth and her Queen, by the Act of the Republic of 1963.
That sovereign will is what ill-informed, and badly advised politicians, particularly if they are in the opposition, compromise when they write these unctuous letters “appealing to the international community” to intervene in purely Nigerian affairs. They do not even write to, or trust an organized Nigerian citizenship to act in their own sovereign interest. Politicians who do this show very little respect for Nigerians. This tendency to look to “foreign powers” took on its most contemporary character from the years between 1993 and 1998, when the groundswell of Nigerian opposition found great patronage with pro-democracy institutions in America and Europe, who funded this opposition, funneling enormous resources, material, strategic, and logistical, to fighting the Abacha military dictatorship.
It was all in support of the pro-democracy coalition’s call to restore democracy, starting with the mandate for Mr. Moshood Abiola. Many of the so-called pro-democracy “opposition” in that moment adopted tactics that subverted, and sought to compromise Nigeria’s sovereignty as it was, justifying their method with the claim that Nigeria’s sovereign will had been hijacked by a military dictatorship, and as result, even if it meant a pact with the devil to restore the people’s will, they were prepared to partner with the devil of imperialism. Well, no one talks “imperialism” these days, not since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the resolution then of what seemed like a bi-polar world on the side of what we often call the “West.”
Now, Nigerians should take their minds back to 2015: the “West” – meaning Europe and the United States fully, and unambiguously intervened in Nigeria’s election, and they fully backed the current incumbent, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, and his party, the APC. They shoed out Jonathan. These governments, without question, out of their own clear interests, worked against the election of President Jonathan, on account, some Nigerians say, of Jonathan’s refusal not to veto a piece of legislation passed by the Nigerian Legislature in spite of pressures mounted on him from these metropolitan sites. Jonathan’s copper could no longer turn in the diplomatic circles.
Some political leaders wrote to the US and the European governments, not to sell arms to President Jonathan to prosecute the Boko Haram insurgency. Jonathan’s administration was blocked, even by the South African government, succumbing to pressures from the US and the European Union, not to sell military equipment to the Nigerian government under the administration of Jonathan, leading to a massive military contracts scandal. It was all in an effort to find alternative means of sourcing military equipment that the administration, through the office of the National Security Adviser, resorted to the black market. That was the only basis by which they procured hot arms to fight the insurgency – through these private black market operations, for which Dasuki and various PDP big wigs have since been accused of corruption, and are standing trial, accused of side-stepping long standing arms procurement protocols and funneling slush funds through private hands.
The Buhari administration has refused to bring Colonel Dasuki, the former NSA, who has all the facts on Buhari, the APC and their operations of subversion, including possible back room support of the Boko Haram during the Jonathan administration, to an open court ever since. We must also remember that in the heat of that election, as a matter of fact, two weeks to that election, Fayemi, Tinubu, Amaechi, and a few others, took Buhari, the APC candidate to a tour of London, where he was presented before a triad of British powers. He variously met ex-PM Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in the company of APC leaders. They shepherded him through Chatham House, and later through a meeting with David Cameron, then Prime Minister at Downing Street. Barack Obama gave them David Axelrod to work with.
The APC actively summoned “the world” to intervene against Jonathan when it was most useful to them. But the curious thing is, the APC “big wigs” are now strangely calling on the same “international community” to steer clear of Nigeria’s domestic affairs over the Justice Onogghen case, and the concerns expressed about the possibility of plans, given many signs, to rig this elections. Oshiomole did say, in some puerile retort, “Nigeria is not a colony.” Well, many people would wonder what that means, given that Nigeria has very frequently acted like a “neo-colonial” contraption in all matters. But the more curious development last week was the strange eruption of Governor El-Rufai, who threatened that anyone of the international community who came to intervene in Nigeria’s domestic matters, also known as the elections, “will leave in a body bag.” That was weird! That was beating the mother of all war drums, and as some have discerned, right there, is evidence that the APC is determined to rig this election. El-Rufai’s outburst is what folks would call a “Freudian slip.” It is also evidence of what is wrong with politicians like him, who lack the rugged sagacity of the politicians of yore, tested in the subtle language of politics. But El-Rufai is not playing politics.
He seems fully, and unambiguously engaged in an end-game, and is very clearly prepared to use violence to see to that end. And that gives one pause, and confirms some grounds to the concerns of Mr. Abubakar Atiku, who wrote in the first place to the “international community.” But where one finds some wrinkle in Atiku’s call is in the substance of the call. What can the “international community” really do? Slap sanctions on Nigeria? Impose travel bans on some politicians and their families? Seize known foreign accounts? These measures have limited, short term effects. But true summons, and true appeal must be addressed to the Nigerians who are voting in this election, who must organize, vote and be prepared to defend their votes, and make certain that they push for clear consequences, even if it means the use of jungle justice, where formal justice fails to protect them, and their rights to suffrage. Atiku must signify, and demonstrate a willingness to lead Nigerians on the streets if this election is rigged.
The problem with politicians like Atiku, however, is that they are out of touch with reality and a wee bit too soft. I personally feel that his current surge in the polls, and there is clear nationwide evidence of that, has much to do with the very terrible failures of the Buhari administration, not because Nigerians have fully interrogated, or even support Atiku’s political programs and his policy thrust. Any vote for Atiku would be a vote against the stultifying politics of inertia, blame, nepotism, and bigotry, all associated with the Buhari administration. Never before have Nigerians had it this bad. Many Nigerians think that president Buhari trails the worst president before him by long margins on the performance index.
The APC and opponents of President Jonathan campaigned against him in 2015 on the grounds that he was clueless. But Buhari’s opponents today, including many who once voted for him now say, he not only has no clues, he is lifeless! That’s the current concern of many Nigerians who are determined to vote him out of office, and who are placing their support on Atiku. But Atiku’s politics, particularly shaped by his extreme pro-business policies, may need to be modulated, because it is dangerous to the common interest left as it is. Atiku and El-Rufai, oversaw the process of privatization under the Obasanjo PDP administration.
They made a mess of it. Privatization is clearly a failed policy. It is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul. It cannibalized once functioning government corporations, and left many jobless, while making a few individuals extremely wealthy. No one has accounted very clearly for the proceeds. Nigerians have not been well-served by the kind of predatory capitalism which Atiku advocates, and not enough people have confronted him on this policy questions. So, once again, Nigerians must be wary of political promises which are often like painted sepulchers. If Atiku wins this election, in other words, Nigerians must force him to revise his “trickle down” policy, and his “privatization” goals. It is predatory capitalism.