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A Brief History of Agitations in Nigeria
December 5, 2015

A Brief History of Agitations in Nigeria

Nelson Mandela was not arrested and jailed as a freedom fighter, he was arrested, charged and jailed as a terrorist! At his trial, he pleaded guilty to 156 acts of terrorism carried out by his ‘terrorist’ organization! These acts include bombings which killed men, women and children.

It was only in 2008 that the African National Congress (ANC) and its members were officially removed from the  US terrorist organization watch list. ANC was the platform through which Nelson Mandela carried out his anti-apartheid struggle.

ANC had two wings, the intellectual wing and the terrorist wing. While the intellectual wing was doing a great job in writing and campaigning against white majority and gathering international sympathy, the terrorist wing was raining terror on the whites and the government and was expanding its network. They were battling the apartheid regime on two fronts. Nelson Mandela and many other leaders of the ANC were arrested and jailed. Nelson Mandela represented the intellectual wing of the ANC and never denied the existence of a terrorist wing which he fully supported their actions. In the long run, the ANC won the struggle and in 2008 the ANC was no longer recognized as a terrorist organization. ANC wanted equality in South Africa and after decades of fighting, they got it. Why did they win? Their demands were reasonable and appealing even to those who they opposed. Their intellectual wing was doing a great job locally and internationally and they had majority of their people in support of their cause. The demands of ANC was so legitimate that even Nigeria and many other countries later admitted to have sent in millions of Dollars to support their acts of ‘terror’ and anti-apartheid campaigns despite the fact they (ANC) were recognized globally as a terrorist organization. ANC is now the dominant political party in South Africa.

Now lets look at four Nigerian situations.

In 2004, MEND was formed in the Niger Delta. What did MEND want? They were angry at the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, they wanted the multinational oil firms to leave, they wanted resource control. They wanted a better life for the host communities. They wanted Niger Deltans to be respected in Nigeria. They wanted negotiations. They wanted their share of the oil money.

In the course of their struggle, hundreds of foreigners were kidnapped. Tens were killed. Nigerians were killed. Niger Deltans were killed. They made the headlines worldwide. The Nigerian government panicked and was ready for negotiation (after all military efforts failed). While this was going, the economy of the Niger Delta was in ruin, hundreds of companies were relocating to Lagos from Port Harcourt, Bayelsa and Delta. Port Harcourt was loosing money and name.

MEND was not asking for secession, they were asking for resource control. For this reason, they had local and foreign supports. Foreign support meant more arms and local support meant more money and support from some state govts in ways to defeat the Nigerian army and continue with their campaigns. Somehow along the line, MEND became corrupt. They lost credibility. They lost some of their sponsors (I guess). This corruption was probably caused by what FG was offering them; money. They wanted a better life for their people but the FG was offering them money. Some wanted the money others remained focused. Because MEND lacked an intellectual wing, the money FG was offering corrupted them. They became divided. While the corruption was going on, FG was mounting pressure on their sponsors. Soon, they resorted to self sponsorship- kidnapping for ransome. They resorted to arm robbery, bank robberies, kidnapping of construction workers, expatriates, Nigerians, etc. They were divided. They lost credibility. They even lost the sympathy of those they claimed they were fighting for. Foreign media turned against them. They knew their end was near.

FG had a deal to offer; a brand new Ministry solely for the Niger Delta.  Increased derivation funds, amnesty for the militants and lots of billions of Dollars for them as well as contracts, foreign trainings, etc. The FG even went ahead to make one of their son a Vice President. All these did not solve the initial demands, rather it made the militants become politicians, billionnaires, contractors and entrepreneurs.  Because there was no intellectual wing, they accepted the offers. MEND was defeated so was the initial issues they claimed they were fighting for. The Niger Delta people are still poor and their lands constantly still polluted. MEND ceased to exist the day they accepted the offer, so was their demands.

In 2009, Boko Haram became well known despite the fact that it was created in 2002. What did Boko Haram want? They believed that socio-economic-political corruption is a product of Western Civilization, therefore to defeat corruption, one must get rid of Western Civilization (including Western education and style of govt). They saw democratic tenets as incompatible with Islam and therefore advocated for the full implementation and return of the Sharia system and law. They desire to have an Islamic State of Nigeria (ISN). From 2002 to 2009, they remained peaceful but radical in campaigns (preaching hate), recruiting and campaigning in some parts of Northern Nigeria. But not until their leader was summarily executed in 2009 by the Nigerian government in what many describe as a ‘human right abuse’ by the Nigerian govt. Their leader was killed while in Police custody, the Police claimed he was killed while trying to escape. Later evidence suggest that their leader Yusuf, was killed while in handcuffs (he could not have tried to escape with handcuffs on).

Following the death of their leader,  Boko Haram, became a full blown Islamic extremist group. They regrouped and made a massive launch, attacking prisons and releasing hundreds of their members. So far, Boko Haram has killed more 20,000 Nigerians and has kidnapped more than 600 people, majority of those kidnapped are women and girls. They also presently lay claim to some areas of Nigeria, having claimed it after defeating the Nigerian Army raising their flags. The Nigerian Army is doing all it can to reclaim such territories.

The demands of Boko Haram are against the spirit of the Nigerian constitution and therefore the FG has no option than to fight them till they are willing to reach a compromise. One thing that baffles about their demand is that despite the fact the Nigerian constitution forbids a State from adopting a state religion, 12 Northern states have gone ahead (between 2002 and now) to adopt Sharia as a state religion and the FG did nothing to oppose their actions. Despite this move by Northern States, Boko Haram is still determined to establish an Islamic State of Nigeria. The fight continues….

In 2015, a group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) became known, together with its radio station, Radio Biafra. What did IPOB want? IPOB believes that Nigeria is a contraption (an absurd creation) of British imperialism and that the time to destroy this contraption is now. According to its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Nigeria is a Zoo designed to oppress and exploit the Igbos and Niger Deltans in favour of the Hausas/Fulanis and the Yorubas. For this reason, IPOB believes that secession is the way out. Through its Radio Biafra, IPOB preaches hate and calls for the Igbos to attack other tribes, specifically the Hausas and Yorubas of Nigeria so as to become an independent Igbo nation.

IPOB is seen as a radical group (in the making) and a threat to Nigeria’s unity. For this reason the Nigerian Government arrested its leader Kanu in October and has vowed to jail him on the charge of treason, terrorism and creation of an illegal association. There has been protest over his arrest in both the Niger Delta and the South Eastern regions of Nigeria. The FG, I believe is in a dilenma as to how to resolve the crisis. There is sufficient evidence to send Nnamdi Kanu to jail for terrorism and treason but the Nigerian government is deliberately slowing down the prosecution process. IPOB has taken its petition to the United Nations and is determined to actualize its dream of an independent Igbo Biafran Nation…

In 2015 an ideological movement was formed in response to the unending political abnormalities that has been witnessed in Nigeria. What does this new ideological movement want? First, they believe that the structure of Nigeria’s federalism is faulty and that this is responsible for political crisis and economic undervelopment that Nigeria has witnessed over the years. They believe that Nigeria is a joke because of its skewed federalism and that the best way out is for the country is for it to be restructured from its present Unitary system into a #TrueFiscalFederalism. This new movement is recruiting and campaigning and challenging the Nigerian Government to a national debate. It is pressing on Legislators to begin the process of constitutional review so as to restructure the country from its present Unitary system into into a True Fiscal Federalism…. Tony Osborg is a proud member of this movement….

To be continued…..

@TonyOsborg writes from Port Harcourt

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