Monday, 26 March 2012

Would Obasanjo understand peace if he saw it? – Dakar update, Monday 26 March 2012

Opposition candidate Macky Sall defeats Abdoulaye Wade, Sénégal’s president, in the country’s second round presidential election run-off. Once again, the Sénégalese electorate, arguably Africa’s most sophisticated and resilient, has shown that it can be done! A salute to this beacon! This electorate has not only stopped Wade from his attempt to unconstitutionally extend his maximum 2-term duration in office, implicitly supported by Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo (the AU and ECOWAS so-called mediating envoy to Sénégal), it has, also, resoundingly voted against the president despite that much bandied, seeming armour of certitude so beloved by Africa’s dictators – “incumbency”.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Reminiscences on this restoration

There is presently a visionary and purposeful spirit felt by the Igbo as well as across Igboland. This development is immensely uplifting. Having duly received the baton recently from their General, the Igbo appear poised to complete the race begun on 29 May 1966 – the reinforcement of their inalienable right to freedom. Surely, the sun is on its ascent. These are indeed extraordinary times the likes of which have not been seen since the 12 January 1970 “end” of the Igbo genocide. During the previous harrowing 44 months (29 May 1966-12 January 1970), the Nigeria state murdered 3.1 million Igbo people, or one-quarter of this nation’s population, in this foundational and most gruesome genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.


As this race to restoration dawns, the Igbo should, as a matter of urgency, retrieve from the archives the plan for the reconstruction and transformation of the then east Nigeria drawn up in the 1950s by Mbonu Ojike, the cerebral Chicago University scholar and African-centred economist, who was the minister of the region’s economic development and planning. The Ojike Plan had envisaged a 20-year timeframe, beginning in 1954, during which the east would be transformed into an advanced multifaceted industrial and agricultural economy. The main thrust of this plan is still valid and should be reworked and adapted to 21st century priorities and the advantage of new technologies. Such was the impressive pace of this programme that, by 1964, ten years later, the overall economic performance of the east had not only outstripped the rest of Nigeria but was in fact Africa’s fastest growing economy. The east had the best schools and the first independent university system in the country, the best humanpower development in the country across a range of fields including, crucially, engineering, medicine, the arts, and the middle-range technical cadre. The region also had the most integrated infrastructural development in Nigeria and its manufacturing, distributive and extractive enterprises centred in the Enuugwu-Nkalagu-Emene conurbation to the north, Onicha to the west and Igwe Ocha/Port Harcourt-Aba-Calabar to the south were clearly the hubs of the making of this African industrial revolution of recent history. But for the Igbo genocide, the east was on course to construct the “Taiwan” or the “China” or the “South Korea” or the “India” in Africa – 20 years before these post-World War II much-vaunted “economic transformational miracles” of the era emerged!


The Igbo should now resume this journey in earnest. Right from the outset, Igbo women, who, in the past (i.e. prior to the British conquest and occupation), controlled and exercised extensive rights and authority over their own affairs as well as those of the rest of society, must be repositioned at the epicentre of the shared dual-gender complementary spaces of responsibility, power and authority in this historic transformation of Biafra. The Igbo have one of Africa’s best-developed, multidisciplinary humanpower contingents to work this transformation. Given their well-known hardworking ethic and entrepreneurial drive, the Igbo should be able to achieve an annual 10 per cent growth rate in their economy to effectuate this transformation without difficulty. They should immediately set up a trust fund foundation to finance the enterprise in the next decade. The foundation should have a core membership of distinguished Igbo men and women of which the Igbo have unlimited number. An appeal should be sent out at once, calling on every adult Igbo man and woman at home and in the diaspora in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world to make an annual voluntary contribution of US$100 dollars to the fund with allowances made of course for those who wish to contribute more than this stipulated figure or indeed less. The foundation should set up actualising working/implementation committees made up of experts in their fields to focus on various sectors of the Biafran economy: power generation, town-city/urban revival/development, industrial manufacturing, agriculture, information technology, communication/infrastructure, healthcare, education, culture/history/heritage, recreation/leisure, rural embodiment, environment/regeneration – particularly focusing on the heightened erosion and landslide occurrence in the northwest region.

Hubs of industrial and agricultural activities are already in place in their designated sites of operation in Igboland and these would form the foci of this transformation: the Onicha-Nnewi-Oka-Ihiala industrial conurbation for machine tools and heavy industry; the Enuugwu-Emene-Nsukka information technology valley; the Aba-Umuahia-Abiriba-Igwe Ocha precision equipment/light industry; the Uburu-Okposi-Egbema sodium carbonate deposits/other minerals for potential pharmaceutical and food-processing manufacturing; reactivation of Enuugwu-Udi coal fields for unlimited power generation to work this manufacturing enterprise and provide affordable lighting and other energy requirements for domestic and industrial requirements in addition to exports to countries across west Africa and elsewhere; work on renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, refuse – it is indeed incumbent on Biafran engineers to exponentially increase the country’s access to these renewables in this first vital phase of redevelopment; enhanced agricultural activities in the central and east Asu/Ebonyi valleys/Abakaleke corridor and the Onicha/upper Anambra farming belt...


The involvement of Igbo expertise, especially that currently based abroad in north America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world is of utmost importance in this transformation project. The utilisation of this asset will understandably be managed with obvious flexibility in the drive and implementation of the enterprise. This will involve opportunities for visiting/adjunct professorships with appropriate colleges/schools/hospitals/laboratories/industrial facilities in Igboland to work in, summertime slots, and sabbatical emplacements.

Restructuring the communication/infrastructure base of Biafra would appear to be the trigger to impact tremendously on other sectors of the economy. Igbo road, rail, waterway and air networks should now be rehabilitated and expanded radically. The entire length and breadth of Igboland from Igwe Nga/Opobo, Azumini, Umuebelengwu, Umu Ubani/Bonny, Ahoada, Igwe Ocha in the Oshimili/Niger Delta (acknowledgement to Mazi Odera for his clarification of the Igbo name of the river called the Niger) to Nsukka, Asaba, Onicha, Aboh, Ogwashi-Ukwu and Agbo in the hinterland should be comprehensively networked by these services. There should, for instance, be daily express rail services linking Igwe Nga, Azumini and Igwe Ocha in the south to Nsukka and Eha Amuufu in the north, via Aba and Enuugwu, and from Umu Ubani and Ahoada in the Oshimili Delta to Orlu, Okigwe, Ugwuta, Onicha, Asaba and Agbo in the west/northwest. Other trains should be crisscrossing on the east-west routes originating from Abakaleke and Ehuugbo to Enuugwu, Oka, Onicha, Asaba and Agbo and vice versa. This transformation should envisage dredging the Oshimili south of Onicha to the Atlantic coast and the construction of an international ocean-bound port facility at Onicha and a dry dock at Aba.

Another road and rail bridge should link the twin cities of Asaba and Onicha and a tunnel service under the Oshimili to carry these dual modes of transport should also be constructed. Both bridge and tunnel should be appropriately named Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Asaba and Onicha should also have a modern hovercraft service in operation. Commuter bus, coach, tram and rail services in Igbo cities and towns should quickly replace the ill-suited and unsafe okada or motorcycle provisions of the present. The Igbo, a much travelled people worldwide, must now establish direct flight access entry to Igboland from the outside world that is not dependent on Nigeria via Lagos, Abuja and Kano or any of its other “entry points”. The Enuugwu and Owere airports should be transformed immediately to the status of international airports to ensure the uninterrupted movement of people, goods and services overseas flying directly into Biafra and vice versa. Direct flight routes from Igboland to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Principe, South Africa, the United States, Canada, Britain, France and Germany should be in operation here as of utmost priority in this first phase of the implementation, given the high number of Igbo people who live and work in the cited countries. Igbo émigrés in these countries should negotiate with their hosts for the latter to establish or augment existing consular/diplomatic presence in Igboland to ease travel plans and processing especially for those starting their journeys from Igboland. Asaba, Onicha, Enuugwu, Oka, Owere, Umuahia, Igwe Nga, Aba, Abakaleke, Ugwuta and Igwe Ocha should enjoy these upgraded facilities. International airports should also be built at Onicha and Ugwuta to cater for the movement of people, goods and services in the west, and at Nsukka and Abakaleke to respond to demands in the north and east of the country respectively.

The restructuring of city and local governments in Biafra is vital in this transformation project. Igbo cities and towns should enjoy extensive autonomous status in order to transform themselves into advanced modern spaces for living, working, recreating, and the growth and development of culture. Each Biafran city and town should have a municipal authority to raise its own taxes, power its own development including the establishment of educational institutions at all levels, transport systems, including buses, trams and rail services (underground and overground) and city airport facility, cultural institutions (including homes for orchestras and bands of varying musical genres and traditions) and recreational facilities such as parks, theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls, stadiums and the like.

Every Igbo child must have access to a computer and every school in Igboland linked to the internet. Equally crucial, technical colleges should be set up in Igbo cities and towns to develop and expand on that sphere of humanpower resource upon which the advancement of society is largely predicated – growth of plumbers, electricians, draftspeople, carpenters, builders, etc., etc. Cities and towns including Aba, Nnewi, Agbo, Nsukka, Eha Amuufu, Abakaleke, Ohafia, Mbano, Item, Umuahia, Onicha-Ugbo, Owere, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Aboh, Ozubulu, Agbaani, Akaeze, Abaa, Okigwe, Enuugwu, Asaba, Ogidi, Igwe Ocha, Isele-Ukwu, Igwe Nga, Onicha, Mbaise, Okpana, Oshiri, Ahoada, Ogwu, Ehuugbo, Ehuugbo Road, Uburu, Aguleri, Nnobi, Umu Ubani, Ahiara, Abiriba, should be sites for these colleges. These urban centres could also have their own city universities to cope with the continuously high demands from Igbo youths and others who have, since 1970, consistently maintained top position for the highest number of students seeking university places in Nigeria. The existing universities in Igboland need to expand even further to respond to these needs. The trust fund will no doubt be looking into ways to increase funding to these institutions after 42 years of programmed neglect and degradation by the occupation regime.

The 50 million Igbo should now set to work as determinably as ever. The prospects are incredibly exciting. This resultant transformation of Biafra within a generation will at once be a time-honoured memorial to the 3.1 million and the triumph of the nonnegotiable right to freedom.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Would Obasanjo recognise peace if he saw it?

It is indeed a sickening and cruel joke by both the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States to have recently sent Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo to Sénégal to “mediate” in the deteriorating political impasse between President Wade, who has insisted on seeking reelection for a third-term in office contrary to the maximum 2-term provision in the constitution, and the constellation of political parties opposed to the extension project. Obasanjo’s so-called “just two years further stay in office for Wade, then Wade steps down” as “compromise” to resolve the crisis was robustly rejected by the opposition and the wider Sénégalese electorate, one of Africa’s most sophisticated, which, in 2000, ironically worked flat out to ensure Wade’s victory at the polls against the then incumbent candidacy of the French government-preferred Abdou Diouf. This victory was scored most spectacularly under that much loved, exhilarating, and progressive slogan and banner of the day, “Amoul Problème”!

In the Dakar public forum a fortnight ago as Obasanjo sought to announce his warped offer, the Sénégalese electorate once again stamped their presence indelibly on another critical course on the history of their land: “Go home, Obasanjo!”, they screamed, with the distinctly staggered discomfiture of the fanged impostor, “Leave our country Mr Obasanjo. We will never accept this!” And they definitely didn’t accept “this” as they forced the interloper out of town and forced Wade into an 18 March (2012) presidential run-off with geologist Macky Sall – a contest that Wade will obviously have an uphill task to win.


The AU and ECOWAS may have taken the cue from the UN in making their bizarre appointment of Obasanjo as “peace envoy” to Sénégal. In 2008, Ban Ki-Moon, the current UN secretary-general, did not find it outrageous to appoint the same Obasanjo his “peace envoy” to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was despite Obasanjo’s rigging of three previous head-of-regime elections in Nigeria (including particularly the April 2007 “poll” which Obasanjo codenamed “Operation Do-or-Die” and had, on its eve, imported the following range of weaponry fit to equip a small army to effectuate his vicious “electoral” coup d’état: 40,000 AK-47 rifles with 20 million rounds of 7.62 x 39 mm ammunition, 30,000 K2 rifles with 10 million rounds of 5.5 x 45 ammunition, 10,000 Beretta pistols with four million rounds of .9mm ammunition), despite Obasanjo’s desperately-engineered attempt to extend his own second-term tenure as Nigeria’s head of regime before the April 2007 “election” (a precedent Wade could not have failed to note!), despite Obasanjo’s appalling human rights record and corruption during 11 years as Nigeria’s head of regime, and, most gravely, despite Obasanjo’s role as one of the most notorious genocidist officers in the Nigeria military whilst the latter waged a war of genocide against the Igbo people in the 1960s. Between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970, Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo people in this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa and the continent’s most gruesome genocide of the 20th century. Obasanjo commanded a nefarious brigade in south Igboland that murdered tens of thousands of Igbo people during the period. Obasanjo shows no remorse, whatsoever, in his principal role in the perpetration of this heinous crime against humanity. On the contrary, he boasts about his involvement as he reminds the world in his My Command (London and Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1981), his memoirs of the time, of ordering the shooting down of a clearly-marked, relief-bearing International Committee of the Red Cross DC-7 aircraft bound for the Igbo whose country was then being blockaded and bombarded by the genocidists. The 3-person crew in this plane perished as a result of this crime.

What in fact is at stake here is that the UN and the world have been quite prepared to “receive” and “fraternise” with personages such as Olusegun Obasanjo, in spite of their past, in ways and means that would have been unthinkable if they were a European or Asian or Arab people, for instance, or if the target of their despicable mission on the Igbo and Igboland in 1966-1970, and subsequently, was directed at some European or Asian or Arab peoples, for example. Would Ban Ki-Moon, conceivably, appoint a Serb genocidist commander as his peace envoy to say, Chechnya?, or a Cambodian genocidist commander to say, the Philippines or Myanmar? How does anyone realistically expect an Olusegun Obasanjo to recognise what peace is if he sees one?! In the same breadth, in 2007, Andrew Young, an African American who once served his country as ambassador to the UN and later made a huge, personal fortune in his business interests in Nigeria, thanks to Obasanjo’s patronage during the latter’s first tenure as head of regime, campaigned for Obasanjo to be “awarded” the Nobel Peace Prize. One can’t but recall that as Young marched across the United States with the venerable Martin Luther King and others, defending and demanding universal societal recognition of African American human rights, the genocidist brigades of his latter-day unlikely pal and business partner were engrossed in the orgy of firebombing Igbo towns and villages east of the Atlantic.

This grotesque Wilsonic-dimunition of African life and well-being (from British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s infamous: “would accept half a million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide – proclaimed at the height of the Igbo genocide…) which has undoubtedly given the impetus to the international “receptibility” and “fraternisation” that the Olusegun Obasanjos of Africa have “enjoyed” so uncritically, in the post-Igbo genocide epoch in Africa, has now been challenged dramatically by the great Sénégalese electorate from this great land of Bâ, Diakhate, Diagne, Alioune Diop, Birago Diop, Cheikh Anta Diop, David Diop, Kane, NDiaye, Sembène, Senghor, Socé … For Africa, it could never be business as usual subsequently…

In kicking Obasanjo out of Sénégal, the Sénégalese public has surely served notice to the rest of Africa: Africans must no longer “reward” those Africans who have murdered Africans, robbed Africans, and destroyed African fortunes but benefit immensely from the “protective cover” provided by the rabid external (and pliant local) hegemonic forces who haven’t relented from their primary goal to control Africans and African lands in perpetuity. For these forces, the Olusegun Obasanjos of Africa pursue anti-African interests that suit and reinforce their goal.

Friday, 2 March 2012

A love supreme indeed

“A leader… must at all times stand for justice in dealing with the People… should be the symbol of justice… A leader who serves [the] people well will be enshrined in their hearts and minds. This is all the reward [the leader] can expect in his/[her] life-time…” – Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Ahiara Declaration, Ahiara, south Biafra, 1 June 1969
General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s extraordinary service of dedication to the Igbo during the Igbo genocide (29 May 1966-12 January 1970), Africa’s most gruesome and devastating genocide of the 20th century, is his love for his people, for humanity. 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population were murdered by the Nigeria state and its allies during those 44 haunting months of certain death. As the General is laid to rest later on today in his beloved Nnewi, no other than Coltrane’s classic suite, A Love Supreme, sets the panoramic canvass that defines Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s indelible service. Here, the John Coltrane Quartet plays “Psalm”, the fourth and final movement of A Love Supreme – personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums (recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, United States, 9 December 1964).