Editor's note: A Nigerian analyst based in Ibadan, Babatunde Ajayi, writes on activism across Nigeria.
According to Ajayi, there is a long history of externally-induced rebellions or revolts against our people in Africa.
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Foreign powers have sustained diabolic political and economic hold on African nations, even with the flag independence the 54 countries on the continent savour, or granted since the early 50s and 60s.
Of late, Nigeria, with its status as the most populous and richly endowed black nation on earth has come under immense pressures of plots by the external destabilizing forces.
And because of the slavish submit of Africa leaders to the dictates of Western powers, exploiting the political cum economic resources of African nations, it has been pretty easy.
Western powers set us against ourselves; they set the stage for us to bitterly scramble for the political power under a concept of democracy defined in their own terms, to the extent of inducing internal conflicts, crisis and violence, which tend to consume us.
A varsity don and anti-corruption evangelist, Prof. PLO Lumumba has been traversing Africa, trenchantly reawakening our consciousness to this reality and the imperative to carve a trajectory for a new dawn on the African continent.
But oftentimes, Western powers use some African leaders as repellants and instruments of attacks and embarrassments to Prof. Lumumba for a raising a voice.
But Lumumba has remained undeterred.
We cannot be fooled anymore that African leadership is not doing enough yet, towards a genuine or total political and economic liberation of Africa from the stranglehold of the West. African leaders and some of its conspiratorial and unconscionable elites still posture as vessels in the hands of foreign powers.
I was again reminded pungently, in a glittering anniversary article on Berlin conference of 1884, just yesterday, by Patrick Gathara.
It was titled, “Berlin 1884: Remembering the conference that divided Africa,” published online by Aljazeera, November 15, 2019.
The author meticulously recounted the issues parcelled by the partition of African colonies on November 15, 1884, by European powers. The rules for the partitioning of Africa were set and endorsed at an international conference presided over by the German Chancellor, Auto Von Bismarck at his official residence on Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin.
Gathara disclosed that the 104 days Berlin conference had all European representatives, with the exception of America, Switzerland and the Ottoman Empire. But Africa whose soul and future was to be decided was deliberately not invited to the conference and had no single representative.
“It was no accident that there were no Africans at the table-their opinions were not considered necessary,” says Gathara, for a conference Bismarck declared to delegates in his opening remarks as convoked “to discuss matters of sovereignty either of African states or of the European powers in African.”
Like Lumumba has always asserted everywhere, we have sadly donated our economic power to Western interests to date.
However, what has remained a profound dream of foreign interests is to recapture through the backdoor, the political power they rashly conceded to Africans, perhaps, too early in their estimation. So, several tricks are employed to create an unstable political climate to remote-control African nations.
It is unfortunate to say, we have lived under this yoke and bug imposed on us by Western powers for almost a century. And we seem unprepared to free ourselves from this entanglement. There is a long history of externally-induced rebellions or revolts against our people in Africa.
Let me say, in Nigeria, there is a consistent pattern used by external forces to cause disaffection, disunity and instigate violence that could precipitate a possible break-up of the country. Predictions of Nigeria’s disintegration have failed in the past. But I sensed the undertakers have not let it go. They are more emboldened now, as more internal conspirators are recruited into the fold.
Today, we are confronted with the furore over the lawful detention of the #RevolutionNowProtests convener, Mr Omoyele Sowore and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare over charges of treasonable felony and allied count allegations.
He is in lawful detention in the facility of the Department of State Security Service (DSS). Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has granted Sowore and his comrade in arms bail.
But instead of approaching the bail diligently by meeting the conditions as stipulated by the court or comply with the operational procedures of the DSS for Sowore’s release, we are playing to the gallery, as usual with impunity because there is a leader to blame.
Even Sowore’s lead counsel, a famous human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana has surprisingly enlisted into the clan of confusionists and rouble rousers over Sowore’s release. His actions hint me that he is more interested in currying public sympathy and support to portray the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, as unjustly holding Sowore, a pro-democracy activist and presidential candidate in Nigeria’s 2019 general elections.
Quite unfortunately, some Nigerians, including intellectuals are brainwashed into believing their schemes. For instance, a few days ago, a group of 11 Nigerian academics, lawyers and journalists in the diaspora, led by Ebenezer Obadare of the University of Kansas, USA issued a joint public statement calling for the release of Sowore and Bakare and blaming Buhari for his woes.
The statement partly said, “The continued detention of both human rights advocates is an egregious injustice and a travesty of the rule of law.” Even the somewhat dubious rejigging of the motive by these intellectuals from the illegal clamour for a revolution or dethronement of a legitimate democratic government as advocated by Sowore and other accusers to a human rights agenda bespeaks of our dilemma.
We must recognize that Sowore is a mere addition to the flock of externally influenced conspirators, very determined to push the country into extinct. Before him, there was Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
Kanu assembled all manner of criminals and hoodlums in the Southeast; armed them to hold the entire region hostage in molestations, intimidations, harassments, torture and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians, who denounced their violent ideology of secession. Kanu is allegedly backed by external forces and when he was arrested to account for his enterprise in a lawful court, he secured a bail, violated all conditions of the bail and finally jetted abroad where he is taking protective refuge.
But we all know how a genuine aspiration for self-determination is anchored, as against the aberrational brand served us by Kanu and his gangsters, who illegally declared a republic within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
There is yet another potent agent of Nigeria’s destabilization, with external sponsorship. The leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) or simply, the Shiites in Nigeria, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky has been a thorn in the flesh of Northern Nigeria. The sect members freely instigate unprovoked violence and killings, all too frequently to overlook by any government.
With incensed members, always armed with guns and other dangerous weapons in the guise of religious worship, the Shiites impudently committed killings of Nigerians and security agents, flouted laws of the land with impunity. El-Zakzaky has been arrested and undergoing trial on various charges.
But as characteristic of some Nigerians, we are inexplicably crucifying the Buhari Presidency for “illegal” detention of El-Zakzaky, even after the IMN publicly pledged allegiance to the Republic of Iran, a terrorist nation in the Middle East. Like IPOB’s Kanu, we cannot deny the very dubious attempts by El-Zakzaky to escape justice in Nigeria into the warm embrace of his sponsors in Iran and elsewhere, when he feigned ill-health and was granted bail for treatment abroad. So, while Nnamdi Kanu brands his own as secession; El-Zakzaky hides under an Islamic movement.
Lest we forget, Nigeria is not the only African country under this spell or targeted for dismemberment by external forces. And the target is on African nations with enormous naturally endowed wealth and where there is a bright prospect for prosperity.
There is the Somalian case of a war raging over 20 years. But let’s ask ourselves where is democracy in the oil-rich Libya now, after external forces influenced and instigated a masses popular revolt, exploiting the platform of the February 2011 Arab spring? It led to the ouster and death of Libyan strongman, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi.
Of course, like former Zimbabwe's leader, Robert Mugabe, we are conversant with Gadaffi’s hardline postures over policies and actions of powerful Western nations. Both vehemently challenged these obnoxious and discriminatory policies even in the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). It’s not a hidden fact.
The former Libyan dictator was ousted seven months into the Arab spring and killed by opposition rebels; “with the help of the larger international community,” writes Babjee Pothuraju. It’s something, which has stabbed me in the heart and has continued to occupy my psyche over a long time.
Libya was officially declared liberated on October 23 by a provisional government, tagged National Transition Council (NTC) led by Abdel Rahim el-Keeb as interim Prime Minister.
Because Gadaffi was a military dictator, the rebellious militias external forces inspired and armed against his government were simply known as “Libyan Rebel forces.” The dummy sold to these rebels was that Libya needed democracy and they must oust the dictator Gadaffi.
So, the rebel forces also recruited a handful of compatriots, convinced about fighting for democracy and with mouth-watering sums in foreign sponsorship, the rebels trudged on and on until Gadaffi was dethroned and killed in his local village of Sirte. But where is Libya today and where is the democracy in that North African country?
Indeed, Pothuraju wrote in 2016 that whatever pretences to democracy which was sold to Libyans never worked after the ouster of Gadaffi. The foreign sponsorship of rebels also ceased. In its place, violence among rebel groups, tribal and regional warriors took centre stage and ensured Libya remains perpetually destabilized and possibly break-up.
Pothuraju tacitly warned Africa; “Libya is divided into regional, factional, and tribal lines, with members of each faction supporting their respective leaders.
However, there is no coordination among these political factions and movements, which is very essential given the multi-dimensional aspects of the transition. It has resulted in the sidelining of pressing issues that otherwise might have been appreciated by the public. For example, Libya’s civil war hugely disrupted economic activity by reducing oil output, which is the primary source of revenue.”
It’s the same trick these foreign forces are applying on Nigeria today. The likes of Sowore, Kanu, El-Zakzaky and hordes of other accomplices have been allegedly recruited to spearhead the struggle for Nigeria’s break-up, through a carefully instigated internal crisis. So, lawyers, academics and journalists have keyed into this agenda too, relentlessly pulling the strings. The invisible drummer is elsewhere beating the drums, but those dancing on the stage knows the source of the rhythms.
The DSS has made a simple request in conformity with their operational etiquettes. It unambiguously said those who signed for Sowore’s bail bond should also appreciate the office to take him on bail. Why is compliance so difficult? Falana has been threatening since the last eight working days to institute contempt charge on the DSS. But he has not done so. He rather prefers to unofficially engage the DSS-DG on phone calls.
Why? Because as a senior lawyer, he knows the procedures of the release of any detainee arrested by the state and granted bail by courts. Yet, he is not prepared to follow due process, but in its stead, he follows the herd's instincts of those who mobilized and invaded DSS office to forcefully “take away” Sowore.
Who would be held responsible if Sowore fails to appear in court on the scheduled date? Like in the case of Kanu, they would be the same characters claiming President Buhari has killed and buried Sowore in DSS detention facility.
I align absolutely with the response of Ms Lauretta Onochie, Special aide to President Buhari on social media after she gave a thumbs up to DSS boss, Mr Yusuf Bichi for refusing to pick Falana’s calls.
She tweeted last Friday In a tweet in Friday, “Good job DG Bichi. DSS means Department of State Services NOT Department of Sowore Services. The demands of the DSS are unambiguous, clear and straightforward. Tell the Sureties to go and sign him out.” Nigerian compatriots, is this too difficult an assignment to accomplish?
I stand with her position completely. Anyone under the fake illusion that the ongoing trial of Sowore is between the Buhari administration and the self-acclaimed activist, which are dozens on the streets of Nigeria, must have his head re-examined for a mental disorder.
We cannot flinch on this fight between the truth that we must know and the exter1nal forces after the soul of Nigeria. I mean those forces who want to disintegrate the country at all cost, using our own compatriots. We don’t want the Libyan experience, so the DSS must stand firm to resist this nonsense!
The manner we appreciate national security threats, obviously backed by foreign forces, very soon, we shall rally support for Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau if he is given a second chance. Shekau would call his own plot by a moniker that will hide the real motive from the rest of us.
Shekau would probably call his own version as “North East Emancipation Agenda.” So, expectedly, lawyers, academics, journalists and so forth will stand to defend him so boldly, citing laws, they also flout.
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Meanwhile, I have never read a Nigerian journalist who has undertaken and published a detailed report on Shekau’s cord with terror groups in Iran and the Middle East. It will be a breaking story on any tabloid.
In essence, whatever name the internal agents hired for the break-up of Nigeria, decided to adopt, whether in English or any vernacular as may be handed to them by their paymasters, all we know is that they will never and should not be allowed to break up Nigeria. It is my message to them now.
Sowore is by every nuance, an inconsequential detainee to President Buhari as a person. Each one of us must be vigilant now because I suspect many more Sowores will still bounce on the stage.
No foreign force should use the cloak of street activism to veil and blur our eyes. Nigeria must remain united and continue to move forward in the #NextLevel under President Buhari.
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