CNNInternational interview with Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo and Publisher Chido Nwangwu onDemocracyand Security Issues

Vagabonds In Power (VIP) -PART 1
(see part 2 of this insight,below)

Exclusive commentary for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston

Regardless of all the propaganda from his local and internationalagents, Nigeria's Obasanjo, aformer military dictator, has lost control of thecountry,his party and the band of rouges with which he surrounds himself. Hehas failed at every aspect of governance. The people's business hasbeen left to a band of vagabonds and killers. It has become obviousto the ordinary Nigerian that the political class has chosen the pathof self-annihilation.  It is time the President took amuch-needed retirement from public life. He should considerresignation for an obvious incapacity to improve the lot ofNigerians, Otherwise, he should be compelled by the National Assemblythrough impeachment. They should do so, quickly, before Obasanjo andthe vagabonds he brought to power and who brought him to powercompletely ruin our country.

March 10, 2004:

The tide of political assassinations that isflowing through the Nigerian political landscape is a matter thatshould concern every Nigerian, every Black person, and indeed, everydefender of law, order and democratic values on the face of thisearth. Nigeria, as the largest Black nation in the world also has themantle of the largest "democratic" country on the African continent.Political killings have become an everyday story in Nigeriannewspapers. Ordinarily, we would have celebrated this phenomenon butwe are not amused by the latest, yet old trend of our tormentorschoosing to wipe themselves out because it hurts us at our weakestpoint-our economic well-being.

President Obasanjo, a retired army General, junkets the world insearch of foreign investors. One wonders how he responds when askedabout the security of lives and property in Nigeria. Does ourPresident tell them all is well and safe or does he advise them toadd the cost of a well-trained security apparatus as part of normalbusiness expenses in Nigeria? Should any Nigerian be surprised thatthe President's globetrotting has not resulted in any significantpresence of foreign investments?

During the Abacha era there were many killings. The differencebetween then and now is that we had a dictator who was afraid of hisown shadow and was willing to do anything to remain at the helm ofpower.  People were killed and we knew who did the killings. Thegovernment of Gen. Sanni Abacha jailed or killed anybody it perceivedas a threat in order to maintain power. Some have even argued thatthe spate of killings since Obasanjo took over reflects a worsemortality rate than under the hated Abacha regime. Obasanjo hadruled, too, as a dictator from 1976-1979.

Who is killing our politicians, especially thetop members of the President's party and key members of theopposition? In fact, Nobel prize laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka,Obasanjo's kinsman and a progressive, said that Obasanjo's party, thePDP has "a nest of killers."

We have always heard the worn out excuse, "Democracy is a gradualprocess and takes time," from the Western world, as a way of puttinga positive face on our self-inflicted problems in the democraticprocess. Unfortunately our politicians have bought into that notionand use it as their excuse for all kinds of malfeasance. Yet, evenpoliticians from the Western world would not call the spate ofkillings that is flowing through our land a "learning process" in ourmarch towards a sustainable democratic culture.

Today, Nigeria is fundamentally a quasi-democratic state. One would,normally, be thought insane to compare a dictatorship with ademocratically elected government. The reality is that Nigerians arepoorer today than they were under the regime of the evil SanniAbacha. The current president and, indeed, our political leaderscannot guarantee the security of lives and property of the averageNigerian. Armed robbery is at an all time high and the government isinept and hopeless in dealing with this menace.

The real benefactors of our so-called democracy are arsonists andhired killers as there are more jobs for them than they can handle.For us in 2004, as it was in the 1960s, politics is not about vibrantdebates of ideas but whose hired gun fires first.

The Nigerian political landscape has always been painted with theblood of our people. Our history is replete with senseless killingsthat culminated in a 30-month
Nigeria-Biafrawar (1967-1970) that resulted in theloss of over one million Nigerian lives. I do not think it is toomuch for the world to expect that we have outgrown that way of lifein the 21st century. In the forty-four year history of our country asan independent and sovereign nation, military dictatorships havedominated the governance of our country. The military has alwaysstepped in to save us from politicians. The irony here is that assoon as the military boys take over the government, they appointpoliticians to help them run-or as some would say-ruin our country.

Only a few days ago into the last week ofFebruary 2004, scholar-essayist Prof. Niyi Osundare wrote in aletter to retired Gen. Obasanjo published in"DearPresident, millions of Nigerians see you as the source of theirproblems. Millions curse you under their breadth. Millions moreloudly pronounce their imprecations at the slightest opportunity. Yourule over a degraded country, Mr. President; your every act hasconsistently contributed to that degradation. In the reckoning ofmost Nigerians, you are the most arrogant, most insensitive, mostcallous, and most self-righteous and hypocritical ruler that thisunfortunate country has ever been saddled with in its hapless saga ofmisrule.Your words, behaviour, disposition, and general track recordseem to justify these negative impressions. Consider these facts: intwo years, you have hiked the price of petroleum products two times.You met a litre of petrol selling for 21 naira; it now goes for awhooping 42 naira in a few places and twice as much in many others.As if this were not enough, you topped it all with a N1.50 levymisnamed 'fuel tax.' You started by flaying us with whips; now youfleece us with scorpions."

Given the history of our young nation, onewould expect that our Fourth Republic leaders would seek to avoid themistakes of the past. Sadly, the only way to describe our politytoday is, "Dance of the wild" and our rulers are best described as,"Vagabonds In Power!" - to quote one of the titles of the late FelaKuti's songs. This is humiliating, not only to Nigerians, but also toevery Black person in the world.

From Sierra Leone to Liberia, from the Ivory Coast to Haiti, peopleof the Black race are proving to the world that we are incapable ofmanaging our own affairs without resorting to senseless destructionof lives and property. The Western world, most especially, GreatBritain and the United States, stand aside and watch us destroyourselves. After we exhaust all energy on the orgy of death, theysend in troops to patrol our cities and give us first aid.

The previous statement is the reason I was embarrassed and ashamedthat the Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, reportedly copiedthe letter he wrote to Obasanjo to Britain's Tony Blair and
America'sGeorge W. Bush. If the situation inNigeria were not so serious, one would have succumbed touncontrollable laughter at the thought of state governors in Nigeriarunning scared. Abia's Kalu is the Chief Security Officer for AbiaState. And the man is scared for his life. What will the ordinary manon the streets of Aba, Umuahia or Azumini do?

Chris Ngige, the embattled governor of Anambra State is yet to havehis security detail restored by the Nigerian Police. The people ofAnambra State have chosen to guard their governor. Does Obasanjo notsee anything wrong with the conduct of the Inspector General ofPolice who denied an elected governor his constitutional rights?

Members of the board of trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), which is the ruling party in Nigeria, must be a very anxiouslot. Their friends have been killed and no one knows whose turn itwill be next. Gov. Kalu, in his March 2003 letter to the Presidentaccused Anthony Annenih, the chairman of the PDP board of trustees,of threatening to deal with him -- esentially the same way Bola Igewas dealt with. For those who may have forgotten, Ige was Obasanjo'sMinister for Justice and Attorney General when he was killed in hiscountry home.  

Obasanjo should be mortified that his second tenure as theCommander-In-Chief, is bedeviled by the
unprecedentedscenario of his serving minister of justice being killed; members ofhis inner caucus being killed off (one after another), and a governorof his party accusing the most powerful man in the party ofthreatening him with murder. Just like he did in the Ngige saga, thePresident would plead ignorance of these dastardly acts.

Regardless of all the propaganda from his local and internationalagents, Obasanjo, a former military dictator, has lost control of thecountry, his party and the band of rouges with which he surroundshimself. He has failed at every aspect of governance. The people'sbusiness has been left to a band of vagabonds.  It is time thePresident took a much-needed retirement from public life. He shouldconsider resignation for an obvious incapacity to improve the lot ofNigerians, Otherwise, he should be compelled by the National Assemblythrough impeachment. They should do so, quickly, before Obasanjo andthe vagabonds he brought to power and who brought him to powercompletely ruin our country.
Elendu is a contributing editor of He writes every Friday, exclusively He is President and CEO of Elendu &Associates, Lansing-based PR firm.

INSIGHT: Why Bush shouldfocus on dangersfacing Nigeria'sreturn to democracyand Obasanjo's slippery slide. By Chido Nwangwu

Vagabonds In Power (VIP) -part 2

Exclusive commentary for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston and

March 18, 2004: In the first part of this piece (top of this page,we mentioned the letter written by Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu to Nigeria'sPresident, retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and copied a couple ofworld leaders, including George Bush, Tony Blair and Kofi Annan. Thesaid letter had mentioned threats to the governor's life, supposedlymade by former Works and Housing Minister and current Chairman of theBoard of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, Anthony Annenih.The said threat was contained in a message given to the governorthrough his deputy, Chima Nwafor.

Annenih, a former Nigerian police officer, is one of the mostpowerful men in Nigeria. When Kalu cried out through his letter thatAnnenih had threatened to deal with him the same way they dealt withBola Ige, the assassinated former Minister of Justice, I wasconcerned. Kalu, in his own right, though young, is one of therichest men in Nigeria. He is reported to have claimed to be richerthan Abia-the state he now governs. Maybe he is right. Perhaps he isexaggerating his wealth. The point is that the man is rich andcapable of buying himself the best security money can buy.

The problem with his allegations against Annenih and itsimplications for Nigeria is the reason some of us were worried.Annenih may be the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Board ofTrustees, but to the best of my knowledge, he is a private citizen.For him to have the audacity to threaten to kill the executiveGovernor of my state (Abia), or an elected official of any state orlocal government got me riled up.

Given media reports that Chima Nwafor has denied such a threat wasever made by Annenih, nor that he told Kalu anything of such, makesone wonder what is going on in Abia State? What is with Kalu and thepeople who work for him? During his first term as the governor ofAbia State, Kalu had so many problems with his then deputy, EnyinnayaAbaribe. The deputy governor had to resign to run against Kalu on theplatform of the rival All Nigeria's Peoples Party, ANPP. Despite theformer deputy governor's resignation, and obviously prompted by thegovernor, the Abia House of Assembly impeached him.

Orji Uzo Kalu won reelection for governor with Dr. Chima Nwafor ashis running mate. My thoughts were that the governor found a betterpartner this time around.  So, when the Governor told the wholeworld that Annenih had passed on a message of threat to him throughhis Deputy Governor, I believed him completely. When some newspaperssuggested that the Governor's allegations against Anthony Annenihwere lies, deputy governor Nwafor quickly sent out a press releasestanding by his earlier story and the Governor's claims.

Now the Nigerian media is saturated with stories of the deputygovernor's denial. Suddenly the man has an epiphany and cannot recalltelling Gov. Kalu that Annenih had threatened to mete out the BolaIge treatment to the Governor. I am sure the question on your mind isthe same as mine: What is going on in Umuahia? And why is theNigerian media not carrying out investigations to discover the truth,but instead are relying on the politicians for their stories?

The Governor even went as far as declassifying a memo from theDeputy Governor to him, which was supposed to contain the threatsfrom Annenih. That has not helped matters in any way. This issue isfast becoming another Nigerian phenomenon of "the more you look, theless you see." Is this another ruse from Kalu to garner politicalsupport of Ndigbo or is there some veracity to this story? Why didthe deputy governor allow the story to get so much mileage in themedia before recanting it? And why did he choose Abuja as the placeto recant? Is there a Chima Nwafor secret agenda here? Thesequestions beg for answers.

It is fair to say that Kalu, in his short political career, hasdemonstrated that he is capable of playing both sides of an issue orphilosophy. He was one of Obasanjo's champions in the General's bidto become an elected President in 1998. Not too long after Obasanjowas sworn in as President and Kalu as governor of Abia State, Kalupublicly withdrew his support for the President.

I remember attending a meeting of Igbos in Okemos, suburb ofLansing, the capital of the State of Michigan. The issue of Kalu's"fight" with the President was raised. Some of the young Igboprofessionals at the meeting were rejoicing at Orji's messiah role inthe Igbo cause. I told those who cared to listen that it was all agame by a smart young man. Some people at the meeting called me an"anti-Igbo Igbo man." Needless to say that a few months later, thetide changed as the governor was back in his role as the President'schief praise singer.

Nigerians must be growing weary of the shenanigans of thepolitical class. The Ngige saga has yet to be resolved. The Presidenthas refused to take a public stand on the crisis in Anambra State,though by his silence he has telegraphed his private feelings on theissue. Another Igbo Governor is supposedly being threatened by thePresident's friend and long time political soul mate. What is goingon with the Peoples Democratic Party? How can a house so dividedcontrol the mantle of leadership of a country as big and important asNigeria?

I have asked these questions before and at the risk of soundinglike a broken record, I will repeat my question: Where is the outrageof the Nigerian people? Why are we so docile, lackadaisical andtimid? Could it be that we are so concerned with daily bread that wehave lost our honor and sense of pride and therefore no longer carefor the future of our country? When are we going to take back ourcountry from these vagabonds that masquerade themselves as ourpolitical leaders even as they plunder our nation's wealth?

It is about time that we the people of Nigeria demand someresponsibility and respect from our politicians. The allegation madeby Kalu, against Anthony Annenih, is a very serious one. The NationalAssembly and the Nigerian Police should carry out independent andsimultaneous investigations to uncover the truth in this matter. Theresults of the investigations should be made public. Whoever is foundculpable should face the full wrath of the law. Rule of law shouldnot only be thrown at the poor and less privileged. Our democracycannot blossom until all are made to feel equal before the law. Ournation cannot continue as a country where there are different sets oflaws for different classes of people.

Obasanjo claims to be an honest born-again Christian. This is thetime to prove it to Nigerians. He must authorize, without delay, aninvestigation into Kalu's claims. Did the Governor lie or is Annenihanother thug who wants to assassinate a sitting Governor? We need toknow. Let the chips fall where they may.

Mr. President should direct his Justice Minister - despite thefact the president's h

enchmen like Chris Uba are combatants - to prosecute those whocommitted treason in Anambra State on July 10, 2003.  
Elenduis a contributing editor of and writes every Friday, exclusively for He isPresident and CEO of Elendu & Associates, Lansing-based PRfirm.

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