In Defense of Muammar Ghaddaffi
By: Idumange John
When the strong man of Libya, Colonel Muammar Ghaddaffi pontificated that Nigeria should be divided
into two Countries, as a precondition for peace and stability, he came under a
nugget of criticisms, the most vitriolic came from the Senate President Mr. David
Mark. I thought that since David Mark has a military background, he would have
some sympathy with the Maximum leader of Tripoli. I was wrong. The Senate
President is not a “baptized democrat” with the holy water drawn from the
fountains of Ottah Farm. It was not surprising that the Senate President was
only pretending to be patriotic but he could not distinguish between patriotism
and sycophancy. Having studied the political history of Nigeria at least for
the past 15 years, there is every reason to believe that the single unifying
factor in Nigeria is the crude oil. The various ethnic nationalities have not
fully being integrated.
The Nigeria attained independence and inherited a fragile parliamentary system. With the three majors
gyrating for control of the centre, the first experiment was asphyxiated by
greed, intolerance and ethnicity. Consequently, on January 15, 1966, the ‘giant
of Africa’ was brought to her knees by
years of brutal military rule, which left behind a legacy of executive
dominance, further exacerbated by a vast, corrupt patronage network. Ever since, Nigeria has
remained a captive State that is dominated by powerful ethnic social forces
constantly in conflict over material reward of State power.
Since independence in 1960, the various odd ethnic nationalities precariously lumped together by
the Lugardian Fiat have not
coalesced to become socially and functionally integrated organic community.
This situation has placed national integration at high risk. There
is no universally accepted and understood rationale for the existence and
functioning of a State called Nigeria… a Nigerian ideology will be
counterproductive because of the overwhelming forces arraigned against it from
the side of tribalism, regional diversities and cultural chasms…. Neither the
masses nor the elite can be expected under these conditions to develop the kind
of perspectives, durable, constant… that can bring forth sacrifices, intense
devotion and loyalty, discipline, dedication and faith.
The Presidential System we have adopted since 1979 has not fared better either. About 50 years
after independence, the story line has not changed dramatically. Nigeria has
remained a victim of high-level corruption, bad governance and cyclical
illegitimacy. Most of the challenges facing the legitimacy of our nation bother
on the economy and the allocation of scarce resources.
The constitution has added to the already existing confusion in the areas of revenue allocation among
the three tiers of government; revenue allocation criteria as bases for
equitable fiscal federalism; State and Local Government creation to further
grassroots development. Other problems are boundary adjustments related to
claims of oil wells and other mineral resources; federal character in key
government appointments and distribution of federal projects; the need to
entrench a just, egalitarian and equitable society and good governance. The
situation shall not abate because of systemic corruption that is endemic in the
If Nigeria has adhered to the Regional System, by now there would have been Four Regions, with
the South-South constituting the Southern Region. It may be true that Ghaddaffi
does not understand the ethnic configuration of Nigeria, for if he did, he
would have suggested the existence of four Regions. By now the system would
have evolved into four separate Countries.
It is failure to adhere to the Ghaddaffi theory that plunged Nigeria into a 30 month nightmare,
which ought to serve as an enduring lesson. But sadly, 38 years after the
fratricidal civil war, the status quo
ante bellum remains, and this is evidenced by the exacerbation of ethnic
tension and fundamentalist ideas in parts of the country. Of course, where
there ethnic tension is rife, social injustice and inequity are the necessary
It is only in this context that we can explain the Niger Delta Question. The Federal Government
has created a situation of inequality in the development arithmetic of the
geo-political zones making-up the country, such that access to and
participation in the oil and gas business is dominated by people who contribute
virtually nothing to the economy. The unacceptable status quo has been
legitimized by the implementation of obnoxious laws such as the Land Use Act
and the Petroleum Act among others.
As a nation we have dallied with all types of government. We have also tried to erect a truly
united, democratic and self-reliant nation anchored on justice, equity and
fairness. But because of lack of sincerity, these laudable efforts evaporated
in a puff of elusive smoke.
Nigeria runs around a vicious circle of poverty and bad governance because the leaders, at every
turn of events acknowledge that the people are divided. The organic nature of
man is simple to understand. A child is born then passes through the normal
process of growth: creeping, walking and then running. The child becomes an
adult and progresses to old age; so from cradle to the grave, there is a
gradual and progressive improvement in growth and sophistication. The organic
concept also applies to nations but Nigeria seems to be an exception.
Since democracy resurfaced, Nigeria has never operated a balanced budget. Whereas the Finance
Ministry declares excess crude oil money, the oil producing communities in the
Niger Delta have nothing unique to show for their contributions to the economic
wellbeing of the Country. There have been grave inconsistencies in terms of
balancing the budget. Now, the Nigerian economy is bleeding and nothing is
being done in practical terms to stop the hemorrhaging. In Libya, although
Ghaddaffi is a military ruler, the oil resources have been optimally utilized
to pursue the welfare of the citizens. This explains why Nigerian youths
emigrate to Libya in search of greener pastures.
Nigeria is the only oil producing country that has made the list of failed States. The nation’s
economy is fragile State with a soft comparable
along side Burundi, Cambodia, Comoros, Congo Democratic Republic,
Guinea-Bissau Kosovo and Laos PDR. The fragile States as defined by the World
Bank are countries characterized by weak institutions, poor governance, high
mortality rate low life expectancy, with maternal mortality rates 20 percent
higher than other developing countries. While it may not be patriotic to add to
these negative indices, Nigeria’s case is compounded by the fact that the
nation does not fit into any of the economic systems such as monopoly
capitalism of the West or the command economies of the East. Rather, the nation
is running a war economy where the term empowerment titrated to rationalize
some failed national programmes.
We spend public monies to organize series of workshops and conferences yet we pay only
lip-service to sustainable development. It is very clear that the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) are not attainable yet our economic “sorcerers and
prophets” engage in the intellectual deception of brandishing figures to
bamboozle the masses. No amount of vitriolic criticism will discourage the
economic fifth columnists because such reforms serve their interest.
Over the years, the nation has been striving at good governance in principle but not in reality, we
seem to have taken a giant leap backwards. Political office holders do not
sufficiently adhere to the basic tenets of constitutionalism and the rule of
law. Our electoral system is far from transparent. The electoral system must be
de-iwunized if we are poised to conduct
free and fair elections. Under Prof. Maurice Iwu, the ballot box is desecrated with impunity and
the judiciary is sometimes dragged into rough politics such that some are
beginning to question the integrity, independence and apolitical stance of the
The party system in Nigeria is still evolving, yet it is at its embryonic stage. Nigeria is
gradually degenerating into a one-party State. The dominance of one-party
presents no competitive ideology and programmes for the people. Democracy can
only thrive when we nurture the culture of tolerating opposition parties
founded on the basis of sound, progressive ideology. In Nigeria opposition
parties only appear during elections and disappear soon after. Even civil
society organizations and non-governmental organizations get dehydrated as soon
as their sponsors get embroiled in politics.
No nation has succeeded in fighting poverty without improving the material well being of the
people. Poverty makes the masses vulnerable to electoral corruption. That is
why all our experiments at ethical re-orientation from the Ethical
Re-Orientation of the Shagari era; the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) of the
Buhari - Idiagbon regime to the anti-graft Commissions of the present political
system, have not yielded dividends. The Nigerian political landscape is tainted
with near absence of ethical values and common etiquettes and this affects the
behaviour of public officers. It has also affected the psyche of the youths who
now believe in the get-rich-quick syndrome.
Nigeria’s foreign policy has utterly collapsed. In the foreign policy scene, there is consensus that Nigeria’s foreign policy is unprogressive and
stagnant because the leadership has not been able to define what constitutes
Nigeria’s national interest. Nigeria has been benevolent to other nations while
Nigerians are humiliated even among the contiguous States, subjected to
xenophobic attacks abroad amidst apathy on the part of the Nigerian government.
Nigeria exhibits false generosity abroad in order to create a wrong impression
that the political economy is healthy. In Africa, Nigerians suffers rejection
and even maltreatment wherever they go.
The vile trinity of naked aggression, genocide and the violent law of the corporate frontier have
all conspired to bear out the fearsome dialectics of blood and oil. The power
of fossil fuel and the politics of the capitalist West c** the underdevelopment
we see in Nigeria suggests that oil is thicker than blood. When a blessed
nation is ruined, raped and mangled by self-serving leaders, one can discern
the modesty in Ghaddaffi’s theory. What is actually required is the creation of
4 separate countries: the North, East, and Western Regions in addition to the
present Niger Delta. Our leaders should not shy away from the proposed
Sovereign National Conference (SNC) because we may be postponing the doomsday.
Anyone who would challenge this viewpoint should provide a list of Libyan
Youths in Nigeria who are either here to seek employment, greener pastures or buttress
their natural tendency for self-actualization.
Idumange John, is Fellow of ICEN, IPMN & ACCD, London