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U.S. and Nigeria's future: The futulity of political band-aids

By Prof. CHIMALUM NWANKWO

This commentary is Special and Exclusive to
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com


Nigerians are tired of hearing the clownish and deceptive voices of the victors of the politics of poverty, the politics of division, the politics of the mad animal in most Nigerian's heart.... The politics of the Obasanjo regime appears now to count or hope on magic and extra-terrestial intervention. How else can one describe it? As an alternative to paying attention to the pulse of that country and the loud cries for an African family gathering, that hope is sad and pathetic. But one thing remains clear. There always comes a time when the billows of national crisis rise in its tragic intensity beyond the point where such reckless and inappropriate expletives will not do because it is clear to both dummy and wise guy that it will not do. One hopes that America really believes in its friendship with Nigeria, firmly enough to begin now to think of more serious help, before the terminal illness of a friend takes that irreversible grave corner, beyond band-aids.

It is nice to know that there is what we might just call a curious military relationship between Nigeria and America, and that the whole arrangement is there to help protect and nurture an inchoate democracy. It is also nice to know that America probably helps to speak out and act in wise and necessary political surreptition on behalf of Nigeria, because godfatherism helps in circles where if you do not have money, you better have wealthy friends. So it is nice to know that Nigeria has America for a friend, a wealthy friend.

If it is nice to know these things, it is also equally nice to understand that one of the unwritten rules of deep friendships is that good friends will always call each other secretly or discretely, without any embarrassing public show, to counsel the other to mend his or her ways.

You do not wait for things to become bad before seeking help. At that point, things could either spin out of control or indeed cost very much more to fix to reverse things to normalcy.

Do Americans not say that a good offence is the best defense ? In Igbo land, people are also in agreement that since the mad man does not know shame, it is the relatives and friends who suffer the shame of the mad. So why offer band-aids to the grave injury the Nigerian condition constitutes to the people of that country ? Why not act quickly today instead of waiting to see how bad things could get, especially when we know how difficult it could be to fix broken things ? And why not act quickly today so that we do not have to hide our faces from our friends when they eventually go mad ? The kind of friendship which America expresses regarding Nigeria is sad to watch, and it is unfortunate that it is allowed to be.

The United States of America is smarter than the current policy of band-aiding with Nigeria because the Nigerian polity is dying from a very deep injury, too deep and ominous and , I daresay terminal for band-aid attention and strategies. Band-aids will not do.

Band-aids have failed America before in Iran, in Iraq, in Zaire, in Angola, in pre-Taliban Afghanistan and so forth. The band-aids fail because to support any country must be to support the will of the populace and not the will of the monarchs and leaderships or echelons of power in those countries.

That is the mistake being made presently once more in Nigeria. To be really useful to Nigeria, the will of the populace has to be understood so that the parameters of support could be clarified in order to synchronize the aspirations of the country with those great values which the world knows America for.

The will of the Nigerian populace today is for the structure of the entity called Nigeria to be re-configured and re-organized for smoother and more harmonious relationships between the component ethnicities. The linchpin of that radical rapproachment is to find a way of disfiguring the attractive center upon which rests the present lunatic politics of poverty and the grandest booty for the winner. You do that, the wrangles will end.

The attraction to the center will end. And a re-invigorated federal or confederal locomotive will chug into life in a better lockstep that will catapult all the trapped energies of that place into a mighty new life. The relationship between the center and the margins of the polity are presently unclear. That is why the North claims it is being marginalized. The East makes the same claim. So does the West and the so-called minority formations.

These claims are all right and quite true in the perceptions and from the perspectives of the various complainants. And if they are all right and true, it means that everybody wants the same thing. So if everybody wants the same thing, why is it so difficult for that seemingly collective wish to be realized ? The wish or wishes cannot be realized because the strategies for accomplishment are the same...base and brutal and chaotic and primordial and divisive !!!

As long as the older generation of soldiers in phony retirement and waspy politicians who put Nigeria where it is today are allowed to continue calling the shots for today and the future, the Nigerian situation will remain frightfully hopeless because the national journey is as good as rudderless.

Even in a small journey by car, when the passengers are grumbling and quarreling, the driver is bound to be distracted, more especially if the grumbling and quarreling is about both the comfort and discomfort within the car and the evident uncertainty about the purpose of the journey or a lack of knowledge about how to get to whatever is the imagined or projected destination. That is the condition of the Nigerian nation. What to do? Accept first that the leaders are dishonest about where they think they are going because their perpetual disagreements indicate incontrovertibly that they are not comfortable traveling together. Every passenger's ugly dream is vibrating the vehicle of nation with dangerous mutual suspicion and distrust and internecine devilry. And please, excuse me. What am I really saying ? They know where they are going ! But it would only be nice if one, only one, could get there first and alone and in charge of the thing at the end....

Here is an interesting question for all Nigerians and watchers of Nigeria. Why do all former Nigerian leaders and politicians, despite the discomfort, even the risk of the erratic soldier's bullets, want to come back to power?

Ahhhh...!!! They have been there before. They know the condition of the nation's honey pot. They know whether that honey pot is guarded or not guarded. I daresay they know it is not guarded, and that all risks are worth it to get there. Those who have friends in government can tell you honestly,

only in private, about what is involved. It is nothing to do with the obnoxious word called principle in their lexicon of a politics of victory at all costs. It is not that holy principle which drove J.F.Kennedy to enjoin...Ask not what your country can do for you.... You know the rest. It is not the kind of confidence and pride in nation and country which took Ronald Reagan to rail at the creaking bastion of the Iron Curtain to 'Tear Down This Wall...' That is not it. No, not that sort of conviction. The thing here has the negative potency of that smell which compels flies to keep banging their heads on a glass window even when the object of attraction is encased in darkness !!! That is the kind of thing we are talking about.

Recently, there was a vote in the national assembly, I think, for the adoption of the national identity card for elections and other circumstances demanding accuracy in vote counting. It was clear that the Northern Nigerians who always believe they are numerically larger than all segments of the country did not want that kind of situation in political play. They lobbied successfully for the South to vote with them and kill the bill. The South concurred !!! The bill was killed !Nascent democracy at work in Nigeria.

Hear hear !!!You see what I mean? It's the same South which had been complaining and crying and cursing and inviting hell over these years to descend on the Northen oligarchs and raze them out of creation. That is Nigerian politics and politicians at work. So do you think those creatures at the National Assembly voted for their constituencies? Yea, right!!!

Then, why the periodic eruptions? The rashes of death and murder and mindless destruction?

So how does the power or friendship of the United States of America come into all this? The simple answer is that the politicians are doing their thing and those who allegedly voted them into power are also doing their own thing. So how does the power or friendship of the United States of America come into all this? Very simple.

By now you must be or should be accusing me and cursing me out for seeing every problem as simple. But the issue here is not space exploration Algebra.. America, like a powerful good friend of Nigeria is in an excellent position to call their political counterparts in Nigeria and explain to them discreetly and confidentially that democracy means the voters being in sync with those they voted into power. That is not what is going on in Nigeria now.

Those in power are chanting all is well for democracy but those who they are speaking for are wailing in protest. The loudest cry among all Nigerians, honest and dishonest, is to have some kind of confab where all Nigerians can seriously look each other in the face and say : "Hey let us stop deceiving each other. Whether this country was founded by God or Satan, the white man or the green man, the way things look, the country as a nation is not working.

What should we do to save and protect today for tomorrow? " If the United States of America can nudge Nigeria successfully toward that meeting hall, they would have beaten in generosity the succor from armadas of gold and medicine.

The opportunistic leadership and their friends will always cry when they hear this. They cry back that it is the voice of unpatriotic saboteurs who want to destroy Nigeria. What a dreadfully dishonest and terrible lie !!! That is instead of their crying honestly that honest Nigerians want a good open view of the nation's honey pot.They want to know every thing about it, whether it is guarded or not guarded. They want a say in who gets what.

Nigerians are tired of hearing the clownish and deceptive voices of the victors of the politics of poverty, the politics of division, the politics of the mad animal in most Nigerian's heart. That is why the hundreds of homes are on fire, the ethnic groups are at each other's throats, the streets in daylight or deep night, are full of gun-toting hoodlums and desperadoes, the infrastructure from education through health and human services is in disarray, and foreign embassies including that of the United states of America remain crowded and in siege from Nigerians praying for the gods or demons who rule this planet to help them flee their homeland! America can help not with band-aids but with a missionary sense of urgency. Quickly, America, before a collectively feared impenetrable darkness falls over that helpless country.

We read or heard of the response of retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria's President) to the anguished wails of the victims of the disastrous military explosions in Lagos, some weeks ago. That response thundered across the globe. "Shut up!!!" I do not know whether the people shut up. And people understand that Obasanjo is a good man, as well as they understand and read his frustrations when those frustrations are expressed without the matching dignity of his high station. The politics of the Obasanjo regime appears now to count or hope on magic and extra-terrestial intervention. How else can one describe it? As an alternative to paying attention to the pulse of that country and the loud cries for an African family gathering, that hope is sad and pathetic. But one thing remains clear. There always comes a time when the billows of national crisis rise in its tragic intensity beyond the point where such reckless and inappropriate expletives will not do because it is clear to both dummy and wise guy that it will not do.

One hopes that America really believes in its friendship with Nigeria, firmly enough to begin now to think of more serious help, before the terminal illness of a friend takes that irreversible grave corner, beyond band-aids.
Nwankwo, acclaimed poet, critic and Professor of English at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, is a contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper. He contributes poems and commentary on public policy and issues in the news. His new book of poetry, The Womb in the Heart, has recently been released in the U.S. Archiving of this essay on any web site is not authorized; only web links are allowed.

DEMOCRACY DEBATE
CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy was livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu.
Transcripts are available on the CNN International site


NEWS INSIGHT
CNN, Obasanjo and Nigeria's struggles with democracy.By Jonathan Elendu
Why Obasanjo's government should respect
CNN and Freedom of the press in Nigeria. By Nkem Ekeopara
REFLECTIONS
A lady called
Nigeria writes 'Dearest Job.' By Guinness Ohazuruike in Botswana

Biafra-Nigeria war and history get fresh, critical look from a survivor. By Alverna Johnson and Vivian Okeke.
  'Biafra: History Without Mercy' - a preliminary note. By Chido Nwangwu
ODUMEGWU EMEKA
OJUKWU:"It was simply a choice between Biafra and enslavement! And, here's why we chose Biafra"
Biafra: From Boys to Men. By Dr. M.O. Ene
Ige's murder is another danger signal for Nigeria's nascent democracy
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa  
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials

Why Bush should focus on
dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide
TRIBUTE
A KING FOR ALL TIMES: Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st century.




DIPLOMACY Walter Carrington: African-American diplomat who put principles above self for Nigeria (USAfrica's founder Chido Nwangwu with Ambassador Carrington at the U.S. embassy, Nigeria)
DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.

The Economics of Elections in Nigeria
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.
Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game 
It's wrong to stereotype Nigerians as Drug Dealers

Private initiative, free market forces, and more democratization are Keys to prosperity in Africa


Apple announces Titanium, "killer apps" and other ground-breaking products for 2001. iTunes makes a record 500,000 downloads.
Steve Jobs extends
digital magic

Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability


What has Africa to do with September 11 terror? By Chido Nwangwu
Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?
Bola Ige's murder another danger signal for Nigeria's nascent democracy.

MEDIAWATCH
Reuben Abati's fallacies on Nigeria's history and secession. By Bayo Arowolaju
How Abati, Adelaja and others fuel the campaign of hatred against Ndigbo. By Jonas Okwara
"Obasanjo, secession and the
secessionists": A response to Reuben Abati's Igbophobia. By Josh Arinze, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor.
Abati and other
anti-Igbo bigots in Nigeria. By Chuks Iloegbunam, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor and author of Ironsi
Abati's
Revisionisms and Distortions of history. By Obi Nwakanma, USAfrica The Newspaper contributing editor and award-winning poet

Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (above) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.


22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting

In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination,
USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'

Powell named Secretary State by G.W. Bush; bipartisan commendations follow.

AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
CONTINENTAL AGENDA
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
By Al Johnson


Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam

Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No