Category Archives: Guest Columnist

AMAECHI`S THIRST FOR INNOCENT BLOOD-STOKING FLAMES OF VIOLENCE IN THE NIGER DELTA.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State lost a significant amount of public respect and goodwill in June 2013 with his display of immaturity at a dinner with President Jonathan hosting two visiting Heads of State. The Governor arrived late, after Mr President was seated, and further attempted to breach more protocol by approaching his boss. He was dutifully checked by the security aide and asked politely to return to his seat. In diplomatic and Government settings, this breach of protocol is a faux pas.

This singular action by the Governor was a clear indication of a self induced hypnotic delusion of relevance in the history of governance in Nigeria. His further egotistical approach to issues contiRotimi-Amaechi3-300x182nued with his latest decamping to the opposition party after participating in obvious anti-party activities, and his sham outing at their inauguration event  in Porth Harcourt. which he considered successful in terms of turnout. His decamping came after his daily shenanigans bordering on infantile tantrums and false alarms over his security, to claims of being denied access to Government House. In the meantime, his security aide and supporters like Chidi Lloyd played out brutish gangster-type violence on Nigerians while he kept playing the role of victim in his well orchestrated reaction to the rule of law asking questions.

Today, the latest episode of the Governor is his recent reproach of a traditional ruler over the laters fatherly and respected opinion on the Presidency`s approach to finding peaceful solutions to a forced lingering dispute between two states, over right of ownership of oil wells.

The story goes like this. Shell Petroleum (SPDC) operated an Oil Well(Soku) in Rivers State and it was named after a community where their operational base was situated, not named after the immediate host community. This seems to be normal practice with SPDC, and indeed the popular Oloibiri oil well is not situated in Oloibiri but in Otuabagi village in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State.. The room for Governor Amaechi`s mischievousness comes from the creation of Bayelsa State. In creating the new state and mapping out boundaries, Soku Oil Well is located in Bayelsa State, not Rivers State. This fact is irrefutable and backed with legal documents. So why is Governor Amaechi laying claims to Soku Oil Well?

The name Soku belongs to a community in Rivers State some ten kilometers as the crow flies away from the Oil Well. It is at Soku that the operational base of the Oil Well is located. The immidiate communities of  Oluasiri, Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc are all in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State and are captured under electoral ward 13 consituency of Nembe LGA  of Bayelsa State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). There are legal documents and submissions from committes of well respected and qualified Nigerians cutting across Geopolitical zones, ethnicity, religion, and tribe showing and stating clearly that Soku Oil Well belongs to Bayelsa State.

For the avoidance of doubt, this issue has been properly addressed and findings documented by the Obasanjo administration in 2004 when Governor Amaechi was Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and President Jonathan was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. Surely, the Governor is aware of the truth and the true position of the Soku Oil Well. So it is clear and unambigous that Soku Oil Well belongs to Bayelsa State and is indeed on Bayelsa land. Now, what does Governor Amaechi hope to achieve with his deliberate blindness? What are his expectations from neighboring communities that have an unfortunate but not uncommon history of disagreements in the past, after his improper remarks about the traditional ruler?

It is obvious to most observers that Governor Amaechi is no longer in control of his actions. No sane member of a family throws stones at his home and expects to sleep peacefully in it. Having carried out his ill advised but personal decision to decamp, it seems he has promised more than he can deliver to his new bed mates in the opposition party. It is also obvious that he is being spurred on by people who have nothing to lose in the event of a breakdown of law and order in the erstwhile restive Niger Delta communities that are all linked with a fine thread of cultural affinity. It is expedient on the press therefore to take up this challenge and make it crystal clear to readers, listeners and genuine seekers of as much of the truth as possible that Governor Amaechi is a drowning man clutching at straws.

When people understand that communities in the Niger Delta have been enjoying relative peace and harmony since the brokered Amnesty peace deal, they may now appreciate the negative  aspect of outside influence  in the scheme of things in the region as it attempts to create tension, unease and violence once again. This plot hopefully has failed as it is simply dead on arrival.  Amaechi may continually provoke sentiments with his deceptive role of a harangued pussy cat that does nothing more than mew and purr at feeding time which is however far from the truth. He is stoking already dying embers of mistrust hate and deceit in the Niger Delta and in particular,  Bayelsa State, which has successfully overcome dire security situations and maintained a steady confidence from the populace for close to two years.

Amaechi is associating with disgruntled politicians who have everything to gain from chaos and blood letting of innocent people in the Niger Delta. As the Niger Delta is Nigeria`s soft underbelly in terms of the resources derived from the land, it is wise to put the entire region on alert. The shoddy arrangement that is the supposed ACN led administration of Governor Amaechi  is toying with madness on an unprecedented scale. The best example of this is what is playig out in Southern Sudan today where brothers are about taking up arms against each other, not for idealogical differences but simply because leaders are not sincere enough to avert violence.

This is certainly what Governor Amaechi represents; destruction. Amaechi has no right, title or legal claim to Soku Oil Well and he is spoiling for violence simply because he has likely promised his new party, “Oil money” which unfortunately is not his to give out. Kindly take time to read the below document and make up your own mind as Amaechi is hellbent on creating chaos and anarchy ,all because of his perceived greed and lust for political relevance.

Ejiro Eghagha, writer , social commentator.

HARD FACTS ABOUT THE ATTRIBUTION OF OLUASIRI (SOKU) OIL WELLS/FIELD TO BAYELSA STATE
 
Following repeated and deliberate propaganda by the Governor of Rivers State against the Federal Government, the Government and good people of Bayelsa State, aimed at distorting historic and legal facts and designed to incite the people of Rivers State against their brothers, it has become necessary for us to again reiterate some salient facts about the unfortunate boundary dispute between the people of Nembe and Kalabari clans both of the Ijaw Nation, which dispute started in the 1920s.
Ordinarily, further response to the recent media statements by the Governor of Rivers State on the Oluasiri (Soku) oil wells/Oil Field would not have been necessary since the Bayelsa State Government has made clear its position on the issues in previous media publications including the Nation Newspaper of Monday 5th November 2012.  But in this season of absurd politicking and orchestration of LIES as the TRUTH, the Bayelsa State Government deems it fit to once again reiterate the valid points of the matter for due education and understanding of our Ijaw people in particular and the Nigerian public in general.
The said statement of the Rivers State Governor on the issue was obviously intended to create crisis amongst the peace-loving Ijaw people in Rivers and Bayelsa States and indeed attract undue public sympathy without regard to the security implications and the integrity of national institutions.
Contrary to what the Rivers State Governor is doing by way of promoting hatred and inciting violence, the Bayelsa State Governor on his part has been pursuing the need for peaceful resolution using existing constitutional channels.
 
Now, the HARD FACTS about Oluasiri (Soku) Oil Wells/ Field
 
1. With the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996, the Interstate boundary demarcation issues between Bayelsa and Rivers states resurfaced inevitably with both parties making claims and counter claims to appropriate agencies.
The Federal Government at the time also became so inundated with claims from other states with similar boundary issues. The Federal Government in October 2000 set up a Special Presidential Committee on Disputed Oil Wells headed by Maj. Gen. A. B. Mamman, mni (rtd) to verify the claims and counterclaims of disputed oil wells and oil fields in all the affected states.
The composition of the said committee had representatives of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Nigerian Navy (NN), National Boundary Commission (NBC), Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other notable public figures drawn from all works of life.
The committee members include key personalities such as Chief Ejiofor Onyia (RMAFC), Chief Olotu Frank Akpoebi (RMAFC), Chief Bayo Akinnola (RMAFC), Alhaji Bello Kware(RMAFC), Alhaji Yakubu  Shehu(RMAFC), Barr. Ikechukwu Obiorah (RMAFC), Hon. Chief (Dr.) Peter Amadi Nwankwo(RMAFC), Hon. Alhaji Abu Gidado(RMAFC), Hon. Chief Abu King Shuluwa(RMAFC), Hon. Mohammed Lamin(RMAFC), Hon. Barr. Emeka Wogu(RMAFC), Surveyor F.A Kassim, (the then Surveyor General of the Federation), Surveyor J.O. Okafor (OSGOF).Capt. S.A. Akinbanmi (NN), Lt. Comdr. T. Dick (NN), Comdr. M.I. Olatunji(NN), Lt. Cdr. L.N. Ugwu(NN), Mr. O.J. Odogwu (DPR), Mr. I. Frank-Briggs(DPR), Surveyor M.O. Arowolo (OSGOF), Surveyor I.A. Adewola (OSGOF), Surveyor A.F. Ayeni(OSGOF), Dr. M.B. Ahmad (NBC) and Surveyor A. Umar (NBC).
2.        It is not in doubt that Soku is a village in Rivers State.  The dispute between the Kalabaris’ and Nembes’ primarily has to do with the traditional/native boundaries of both clans who are now in different states. The case of the Oluasiiri people of Nembe LGA is that the Oil wells/Oil Field which make up the facility named after Soku are in their ancestral territory. The Kalabaris of Rivers State hold a contrary view.
The issue therefore is not whether Soku Community is a Community in Bayelsa State. Without  doubt, Soku is a Community in Rivers State but it is the location of the oil wells produced and recorded under that name, is what makes it the bone of contention prior to the final determination by RMAFC.
The name “Soku oil wells/oil field’ was arbitrarily given by Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd (SPDC) since Soku village was their nearest operational base at the time. This is not peculiar to Soku oil field. For example, the Idu oil wells/oil field is named after a town in Ekpeye land in Ahoada East LGA of Rivers State while the oil field is actually located in Biseni land of Bayelsa State.  Prior to the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996, the above issue did not create a problem of derivation as both clans were in old Rivers State except that even then there were series of cases, panels and conflicts.
The arbitrary or misleading nomenclature of oil wells and facilities by Oil Companies also occurs within the same local government or state. For example the first oil well in Nigeria (Oloibiri) is actually located in Otuabagi village while the wells is named after Oloibiri town all in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State, which was Shell’s operational base at the time. So many of such examples abound in the Niger Delta area because these names were given arbitrarily without consultation with the locals. It is clear that the name given to an oil field does not confer ownership nor depict actual location.
So it is ridiculous for anyone to say that Soku Town has now been annexed to become part of Bayelsa State as the Rivers State Governor mischievously claims on a consistent basis.
The crux of the issue here is whether the said oil wells which bear the name given by Shell are within Bayelsa or Rivers states according to the administrative map of Nigeria and other delimitation instruments for purposes of derivation. It is instructive to note that not only are the survey coordinates of the affected areas lie within the geographical area of Bayelsa state, it is also in INEC Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) delineated electoral constituency as electoral ward 13 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
3. The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in its report on the Familiarization/Verification visit to oil producing states, volume 1, Main Report, August 2006 in Chapter 3, page 30 also acknowledged the arbitrary naming of oil facilities when it stated as follows:
“The Bayelsa/Imo/Abia State Governments complained that the naming of oil fields was often done arbitrarily without any regard to the culture and particular environment of the people where the wells or fields are located. This has given rise to wrong attribution by relevant agencies”.
 
4. Incidentally, Soku village in Rivers State is about 10 km, as the crow flies, from the flow station while the Oluasiri / Soku oil wells/ field is completely surrounded by various Oluasiri communities such as Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc all in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State.
5. The Special Presidential Committee on verification of disputed oil wells in volume one of its report on disputed oil wells of December 2000 (Pages; 25/26) after a painstaking field verification process and hearing from both states stated and recommended as follows:
‘‘4;5.6 Soku Oil Field
The team relied on the legal notice captioned The Eastern Region Local Government Law, 1955 E.R. NO 26 of 1955. Instrument Establishing the Nembe District Council” tendered by Bayelsa State on Pages 40-41 of its submission. It should be noted that while the Kalabaris of Rivers State call the area Soku, the Nembe people of Bayelsa State call it Oluasiri which is one of the councils mentioned in paragraph 5 of the above mentioned instrument.
In the light of the above, it is recommended that the production from Soku Oil Field be attributed to Bayelsa State.’’
Please see a copy of the said letter herein.
The said letter was dated 12th July, 2004 when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State while  Governor Amaechi at that time was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, a position the latter occupied for eight uninterrupted  years. Governor Ameachi ought to know this fact by virtue of his position then and now.
Unfortunately, in his rabid attempt to run down the President and every National or state institution, undermine our democracy, and subvert our cherished African values of respect for elders and institutions of authority, create crises in the country as well as incite violence, he prefers to peddle this terrible falsehood as an agent of blackmail and desecration of the Nation’s hard-earned democracy and our cherished ties of fraternity as a people.
6. Following the above letter, which conclusively decided that the above oil wells be attributed to Bayelsa State, the Rivers State Government instituted a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja in 2005 seeking to set aside the determination by RMAFC.  During the pendency of the suit, all parties agreed to open an ESCROW account into which sums accruing to the disputed oil wells were paid. Following Bayelsa State Government’s legal objection to the said suit, the Rivers State Government realizing the futility of its case applied to withdraw whereupon the said suit was withdrawn and struck out at their instance.
Thus the ESCROW account arrangement put in place during the pendency of the case also lapsed. In that same year, Bayelsa State Government applied for the release of the funds based on the determination of RMAFC in its favour.
From July 2004, the Revenue Commission officially attributed the Oluasiri (Soku) Oil well to Bayelsa State and the amount of N7,292,218,892 was subsequently released from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa State on 19th March 2007 during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Again at this time and on this date, President Jonathan was not President or Vice President of the Country and Governor Ameachi was still Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
7.        Concerning the refund to Bayelsa in 2012 which amounted to N17, 405, 702, 164.34, Bayelsa State Government in 2011 during the administration of President Yar’Adua, made a claim for reconciliation on Nimbe South oilfield in Bayelsa State  and RMAFC verified it and found it to be true and approved the sum of  about N17b  as refund.
b.         Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government made a similar claim on Nda and Okwori oil wells from Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta states. Again, RMAFC and other federal agencies verified these claims and found them to be true and authorized a refund from the above mentioned states to Rivers State of about N17.5b.  Both claims were settled in 2012.
Upon reconciliation, Bayelsa State got a net refund of about N15.3b after making its refund  of  N2, 071, 164, 678.46 to Rivers State through FAAC deductions. Rivers State got a cumulative refund of about N17.5b from all the aforementioned states.
d.        It is worthy to note that these monies were not paid out of any ESCROW account but through FAAC deductions. So where is the source of the endless claims by the Rivers State Governor that President Goodluck Jonathan released money from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa when the account did not exist? The above reconciliations and refunds to Bayelsa, Rivers and other states were done consensually
8a. Upon withdrawal of the case at the Federal High Court based on the objection filed by the Bayelsa State Government, this time the Rivers State Government instituted a fresh suit at the Supreme Court of Nigeria , Vide Suit Number SC 106/ 2009, Attorney General of Rivers State vs Attorney General of Bayelsa/ Attorney General of the Federation. On the 10th of July 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously struck out the suit on the grounds that the national institution set up by law for the purpose of boundary demarcation be allowed to carry out its work of properly establishing the clear boundaries between the two states in order to ascertain who owns what.  The Supreme Court further opined that the National Boundary Commission should conclude the on-going interstate boundary delineation exercise between Rivers and Bayelsa States to its finality before any justiciable claims could arise.
In other words, the Rivers State Governments court action was hasty and premature.
b. In compliance with the Supreme Court judgment, the National Boundary Commission and its related agencies alongside Rivers and Bayelsa States in January 2013 continued the boundary delineation exercise until the Rivers State government officially withdrew from the exercise in writing on the 30th of January 2013
9.    The Governor of Bayelsa State who was Attorney General of the state in 2006 when Governor Ameachi was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, had at a recent peace meeting brokered by former President Obasanjo and all PDP governors in attendance explained the issues and circumstances concerning the disputed oil wells and the fact that there was no operational ESCROW account at the time of the last reconciliations and payments in 2012.
That Governor Ameachi still went ahead spreading falsehood in spite of the explanations and clarifications by the Bayelsa state Government and even though there are available channels for peaceful resolution of the issues shows clearly that Governor Ameachi is being mischievous and his motive is to politicize and destroy all democratic institutions of Government in the country; be it the Presidency, judiciary, Legislature, the political system, traditional institutions, national security apparatus, RMAFC, National Boundary Commission, Office of the Surveyor General of he Federation,  etc. We can also see this same attitude playing out in all institutions in his state.
The Government of Bayelsa State assures our brothers, friends and the Good people of Rivers State that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this trying moment in the life of our parent state, where a good number of our citizens still reside and call home.
10.    We therefore urge all Nigerians particularly the good people of Rivers State to discountenance the frivolous and baseless allegations contained in the press interview by the Rivers State Governor as they are calculated to mislead the entire country and instigate crises amongst the Ijaw brothers in Kalabari and Nembe communities.
The government of Bayelsa State therefore urges the Rivers State Governor and his appointees to refrain from making inciting and inflammatory remarks capable of triggering inter-communal crises among our people with the intention to achieve cheap political gains by the Rivers State Governor.
The Government of Bayelsa State has been aware for a long time of plans and efforts made  by the Governor and officials of Rivers State Government to create chaos  and brigandage in Bayelsa State. In our usual maturity and focus as a government, the people and security forces have been able to put this trend under close watch and control.
Officials of Bayelsa State Government and senior Bayelsa State citizens  residing in Rivers State have been targeted in the recent past and information at our disposal indicate that more of such attacks would take place. Those who have been victims include, Engr. Olice Kemenanabo, Special Adviser on Energy to the Bayelsa State Governor and Chairman of the state plastic company, Engr. Gabriel  Warde, Youth Development Committee Executive (Nembe) Chief Irigha Edward Brigidi and even an attempted kidnap of the Attorney General of Bayelsa State and Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Francis Egele etc. Intelligence indicates that perpetrators of recent kidnap cases in Bayelsa are located within Rivers State.The objective of the above incidences is to paint a sense of insecurity in Bayelsa State
Now that the Governor of Rivers State has formally joined the opposition party (which he is entitled to) he is free to support the opposition in Bayelsa State as he has since been doing but this must be done within the ambits of the law as the security machinery in Bayelsa will not hesitate to ensure that violations of the law in the state are dealt with accordingly. On our part we shall continue to stick to our well known policy of not encouraging or funding subversive activities in any state especially our neighbouring states irrespective of political differences.
As a responsible government, we would continue to do our best to provide security for our people and Nigeria in general. We would continue to support ongoing efforts at curbing criminality and brigandage along the waterways especially in border communities like Oluasiri/Soku areas.
We call on our fellow Ijaw brothers and sisters and indeed traditional rulers to refrain from being used by Governor Rotimi Amaechi as tools to cause disunity between the people of Rivers and Bayelsa States who have lived together as brothers and would always continue to co-exist and bond which will outlive anyone’s political interest or career.
We must all remind ourselves that we are one people. Our peaceful co-existence should be paramount and nothing should be done to hamper it.
LONG LIVE BAYELSA STATE GOVERNMENT
 
LONG LIVE THE IJAW NATION
 
LONG THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
 
SIGNED
 
DANIEL IWORISO MARKSON.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE BAYELSA STATE GOVERNMENT.

From Cancun to Nembe via Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and Tourism

Welcome to Bayelsa

Welcome to Bayelsa

There is a city in Southeastern Mexico  located on the Caribbean Sea. In 1970, there were less than a thousand people living on this beautiful Peninsula. There had been disease outbreaks, issues of sea piracy, and a fair share of drug trade in the area in the past and like every other place faced with such negative situations, populations dropped and the place was more or less bare.

However, the Mexican Government saw the future of Tourism quite early and in a bid to attract foreign investors to the naturally beautiful Islands and Peninsula, financed the first nine hotels in the area. That city is Cancun, and today it is arguably one of the top ten destinations for visitors worldwide. Tourism in Cancun is not just a business, it is a lifestyle that sustains over 12,000 hotel rooms and attracts  more visitors than The Bahamas, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

Cancun 1970

Cancun 1970

Major challenges facing development in Cancun included its distance to Mexico city,  which was over 1,000 miles away, lack of trained manpower to sustain development of Tourism and a dearth of modern transportation including a  functional highway to open up the area. This aside, Cancun rose out of nothing and is something spectacular today. Cancun and Dubai have one thing in common. Nobody believed anything good could come out of both.

Cancun 2013

Cancun 2013

Back home here, on the Islands of Bayelsa State, there are major issues of connecting roads for easy access to tourist sites. as well as security concerns that are thankfully being tackled head-on  by Governor Dickson`s administration with glaring results in over just a year in office. Then again if you have not been to any of the Islands, you may not understand why waterway transportation needs to be seen as a viable option to road transportation.

After visiting three Local Government Areas in Bayelsa State, Brass, Nembe and Ogbia as part of Governor Dickson`s  Thank You Tour,  it is evident that the Dickson Administration has keyed in to a salient fact about Tourism development.  Yes, we all need infrastructure and signposts of modernity, but before all of that, we need education. We need enlightened people to take over managing our long term investments.  In this regard, Bayelsa State has laid down the building block properly. There is no doubting the effort of the Government to boost the education sector.

Yenagoa, Bayelsa 2013

Yenagoa, Bayelsa 2013

This, is a major and futuristic plus with international scholarships, infrastructure development in schools  and partnerships with foreign institutions to train Bayelsan`s,  and expose the few who will benefit from educational exchange schemes and programs  to the possibilities of development  seen around the world.

Also, if this administration takes tourism seriously as it has shown early promise already,  heavy investments in Hotels and Resorts on a couple of Islands will be inevitable. In as much as the State capital is booming with construction works of all sorts, the future of business and commerce in Bayelsa cannot be excluded from the Islands.

Okpoama beach, Brass

@ Okpoama beach, Brass

Beautiful Bayelsa is one part of the Niger Delta that holds so much promise for the future. If only we the people can be brought up to speed with the implications of peace and security. Government cannot do it all alone, we the people have to embrace peace and develop security. We have to manage our communities better.

Governor Dickson is faced with an enormous task of delivering first class facilities as a platform for attracting real investors. It is surmountable. It is do-able. It is very possible. However, it will take some investing in educating the people about a future based on peace and security, and making us understand and appreciate how Local Government Areas can have over a hundred standard hotels operating at good capacity and thus provide employment and commercial boom for the Islands.

Bayelsa State Government seems to be on track with the suggestion by the Governor that a Stadium is proposed for BrasS LGA. That Stadium will require support services of hotels and restaurants in the long run. Another Island will need hotels and restaurants to support Africa`s largest Aqua Tunnel if built for example, or the biggest hotel in the Niger Delta area with accompanying entertainment options. We only have to dream big and put our minds to achieving big feats.

DSC_4703

Beautiful Bayelsa

I dare say a visionary leader can not do without intellectual and experienced support from his team. This thankfully is not lacking presently in Bayelsa State. There is every reason to believe in the future of the state therefore.  It will be enlightening to see the potentials of other  LGA`s  in the state and I look forward to the next phase of the Thank You Tour with eager expectations.

I look forward to beautiful Bayelsa, The Glory of All Lands.

Ejiro Eghagha. Writer, Social commentator

Democracy, Terrorism and the Secret State: From Gladio to the War on Terror

By Adeyinka Makinde
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, unknown people far fromany political game. The reason was quite simple – to force the people to turn to thestate for greater security.” –
Vincenzo VinciguerraThe nature, necessity and scope of the miscellany of powers exercised by the stateover the nation is in one sense arguably as contentious in the contemporarycircumstances of the Western world as it was in the distant pre-democratic medievalpast.In his work
Della Ragion di Stato
 (The Reason of State), which was completed in1589, the Italian thinker Giovanni Botero argued against the underpinningphilosophical amorality espoused by Niccolo Machiavelli in
 (The Prince), apolitical treatise centred on the ways and methods of the manipulation of the leversof the power by a ruler in an organised state.The thrust of Machiavelli’s seminal piece was that virtually any action taken by aruler to preserve and promote the stability and the prosperity of his domain wasinherently justifiable. Thus, the employment of violence, murder, deception andcruelty toward achieving these ends were not ignoble in so far as the ends justifiedthe means.With its implications of a required recourse to illegality and a subtext offering morethan a whiff of authoritarianism, this is not a conceptualisation of the
modus operandi
by which modern Western democratic states are supposed to operate both in termsof their domestic and foreign policy-strategies.Yet, while the modern state, guided as it is by an ethos encapsulating the rule of lawand the respect for human rights, exercises powers which are checked and balancedby a mandated adherence to constitutionality, there are troubling questions andunresolved problems which have been raised by the workings of the intelligenceagencies of the executive branch of government.Those who work in the domestic and foreign branches of the security services aretasked with detecting threats under a necessary veil of secrecy. But questionsabound as to the boundaries of their activities and about how truly accountable theyare. Astoundingly, the laws under of the United Kingdom did not even formallyacknowledge the existence of MI5, the domestic security service, until near theclosing of the 20
th
 century.The case of Harman and Hewitt versus the United Kingdom in 1991, which wasbrought under the European Convention of Human Rights, held that the failure of theUnited Kingdom to provide a statutory basis for the existence of this body which hadpowers of surveillance and file-keeping ran counter to the rights protecting privacy,and, by extension, was an abrogation of the rule of law. As a consequence of the ruling in the case, the United Kingdom passed a statutorycharter for MI5 under the Security Service Act of 1989, and later took a similar stepfor its counterpart with a foreign remit, the Secret Intelligence Service, via theIntelligence Services Act of 1994.Quite extraordinarily, the United Kingdom’s intelligence services continue to maintainthe fiction that they ‘don’t do dirty’, in other words, that they do not subvert foreigngovernments and plan assassinations.This goes all the way back to the denials about the so-called Lockhart Plot, ascheme by MI-1C; MI6’s precursor, which was led by Robert Bruce Lockhart.Lockhart’s plan is believed to have had as its aim the assassination of Lenin and theoverthrow of the newly installed Bolshevik government in Russia.Such eventualities, it was hoped, would enable a succeeding government to tear upthe Brest-Litovsk Treaty and have Russia re-join the war being waged being againstGermany.The assertion some years ago by a top MI6 official that it did not organiseassassinations correctly provoked howls of derision as well as a sense of utterincredulity. “What do they exist for?” went the typical response.This was somewhat recanted by Sir Richard Dearlove, a former head who admittedthat agents had the power to use “lethal force”. Agents are allowed under the Intelligence Services Act to conduct illegal activitiessuch as breaking and entering and planting listening devices in the interests of
national security, and while there is no specific proviso giving MI6 agents a ‘licenseto kill’, section 7 of the Act, not only offers protection to agents who have bugged andbribed, but also where they have become enmeshed in enterprises involving murder,kidnap and torture, where such actions have been authorised in writing by agovernment minister.Still, it must be reminded that while renegade British agents have alleged that planshad existed in the recent past to assassinate former heads of governments such asSerbia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Libya’s Muarmar Gadaffi, the official policy ofcourse remains to neither confirm nor deny any allegations related to its activities.Despite the recent legislative reforms in Britain, the perception of an extremelypowerful and at times sinister working secret state persists there as it does in theUnited States and other Western nations.Congressional investigations in the United States after the fall of President RichardNixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal explored and uncovered schemesby intelligence agencies, notably by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which involved the deliberate subversion offoreign governments and targeted assassinations regarding the former, and inregard to the latter, widespread infringements on individual liberties through spyingand harassment, as well as targeting groups and associations for infiltration anddisruption. A disturbing allegation often made and documented about many agencies of thesecret state and their subterranean machinations, is a tendency to corruption andeven the perpetuation of criminal cultures which have involved the forming of unholyalliances with gangsters, political extremists and corrupt regimes.For instance, the CIA was discovered to have conspired with elements within the American Mafia to assassinate Cuba’s Fidel Castro in the 1960s, and in the 1980s,in defiance of the law set by Congress, it disbursed funds to the Nicaraguan Contraswho agents knew where also financed from drugs sources.In the 1960s and 1970s, Aginter Press, the front for Yves Guérin-Sérac’s fascistguerrilla training camp, which was designed to undermine the chances of Westernliberal democracies from falling under the sway of the Left, was partly financed bythe CIA.Most of these endeavours were carried out with the backing and direction of figuresin democratically elected governments. While politicians maintain the veneer ofbeing subject to a guiding framework of moral propriety and the operation of the ruleof law, in the shadows and behind the curtains, they urge, they manage and facilitatethe commission by immoral methods what they construe to be ultimately in theinterests of their nations. And a critical question: to what extent does the historical record unmaskgovernments as the agents of ‘synthetic’ terror? In the ‘Game of Nations’, the use ofsecret services and military ‘black operations’ to manufacture incidents to justify wars

POLITICAL PARTIES AS PLATFORMS FOR POLITICAL (IN-) STABILITY (PART 1)

16 September 2013

By Olu Adekunle Snr. – Public Affairs Commentator

It is my humble submission that leading a multi-ethnic society while remaining committed Map-of-Nigeria[1]

to democratic principles, is a task that is only achievable by a generous dose of divine favor. Otherwise, it is at best an uphill task that seldom meets with success.

My assertion is based mainly on the premise that the incorporation of several ethnic groups into a single political entity means bringing together the basic problem of conflict, which stems as a result of man’s varied wants, perceptions, opinions and insatiable nature.  Group loyalties often supercede the established concept of a common identity thereby undermining the collective interests of a multi-ethnic society or nation.

Nigeria as a nation where political, ethnic and religious interests are guarded jealously is such a society where governance under a democratic setting is often tasked to the limit. Our history is replete with instances where sentiments have been whipped up in the direction of these three groupings, with the ultimate aim of exerting influence on the outcome of whatever may be the issue of the day.

Like every other society upon the face of the earth, Nigeria too has passed through phases of change in the quest to fulfill our collective needs. Some argue that these changes have not been for the benefit of the common man, while others believe that only those in the corridors of power have gained; but what the heck, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. The truth of the matter as has been evident before us is that the masses have almost always been preoccupied with the struggle for daily survival and could not be bothered by much else. At least that was the case before 1999.

In her 53 years of independence, Nigeria has been ruled by both civilians and the military with the latter intervening mostly on the purported basis of misrule by the former. The period of military rule ( spanning a greater part of the 53 years) is best remembered as an era where widespread corruption and conscious effort to undermine due process, the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and efficiency in government were the order of the day.

With the death of General Sanni Abacha former Nigerian Head Of State, Nigerians rightly rejected the military and opted instead for a return to democratic rule where the people would be free to decide for themselves who would govern and represent them at all levels of government. This agitation became a reality on May 29, 1999.
It was the expectation that democracy would increase the role of the ordinary people in the system and ultimately provide them the much touted ‘dividends of democracy’.

Fourteen years after in 2013, this is undoubtedly Nigeria’s longest romance with democratic rule. Whether it has met with expectations is a matter for future discourse. However, at this juncture and in view of the drama playing out at the higher levels of the polity, one is compelled to call to question the ambitions of our leaders and the role of political parties which in one way or another affect the political stability.
It is my thinking that the task of leaders is to help societies. They are expected to provide direction of effort towards achieving society’s goals. Leaders are also expected to bring out the best in all of us. As history has clearly shown,
a society without talented and committed leaders will retrogress or at best remain stagnant. This is most true of Nigeria where many of our civilian as well as military leaders, are selfishly caught up in the pursuit of personal goals at the expense of the national interest.

The scarcity of selfless, non-corrupt and committed leaders has contributed to the sociopolitical and economic predicaments facing Nigeria today. Although we cannot expect to have an endless succession of great and extraordinary leaders, recent events have shown that most of those in leadership positions across the country today are yet to fully understand what leadership and representation are all about. They seem bent on extinguishing the light of democracy shinning in Nigeria. They seem incapable of settling the political and economic crises that periodically confront us.

The recent crisis engulfing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party is a good example of the lack of virtue on the part of most of our so-called leaders. Though the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has in many people’s opinions performed creditably, it seems an irony of sorts to find that his greatest critics and detractors are found within the party fold.  Several Governors led by former Vice President Atiku recently disconnected themselves from the main PDP and went ahead to create what is now known as the New PDP.

Though only flimsy and generally unclear reasons were given for such an extreme move on the part of Atiku and his group, altercations between both factions only succeeded in heating the polity to alarming proportions. Nigerians now more politically enlightened than ever were initially shocked by the development. They however quickly adjusted and in what I call an unbiased assessment of the situation, concluded that Atiku and his fellow travelers were a disgruntled lot whose grievance stemmed from perceived obstacles in the way of their selfish pursuits.

In order to prevent the country from being torn apart by attendant sentiments, many stakeholders in the Nigerian project including past leaders and the leadership of various democratic institutions have waded into the matter. Three weeks on, the conflict is yet to be resolved. The Atiku group have however issued conditions for a truce which are at best laughable and indicative of the fact that men of means in this country can hold the entire country to ransom at their leisure. It also calls to question the place of the politician and the party in sustaining political stability or otherwise in Nigeria.
Political parties are by all standards one of the most outstanding and distinguishing elements of modern government and are reputed as the drivers of democracy. In other words, democracy is unthinkable in the absence of viable political parties. They are also expected to participate in the political socialization of electorates, contribute to the accumulation of political power, facilitate recruitment of political leadership, and serve as a unifying force in a divided polity.

After a review of current trends in party activities especially the  PDP and Atiku debacle, I believe that some politicians and political  parties have become  more of a liability than an asset in the country’s quest for political stability.

TO BE CONTINUED.

VICTOR BURUBO PST ON PEACE IN RIVERS STATE

Peace!

Peace! (Photo credit: aldrin_muya)

RE: RIVERS SINKING INTO ANARCHY

OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR AMAECHI

Your Excellency,

May God’s grace and good health be multiplied to you.
I was alarmed to no end to read the above caption in the TheNation (Monday, September 9, 2013). My dear Governor, for three whole weeks I had mulled over the idea of writing you an open letter on the current drift in the governance of our dear Rivers state under your watch. I was a bit wary about writing to you, lest I be accused of writing under the instigation of “Abuja Politicians” or “Oga and Madam at the top from Aso Rock.” I am now at liberty to express my views on the very issue you are quoted to have raised in the media.
Sir I wrote an open letter to you 4 years ago on the colossal verbal barrage you had unleashed on the irrepressible Okrika people and their highly cosmopolitan-Kalabari brothers. I am happy to say that at the moment, whatever recriminations or xenophobia you may harbour against them is no longer exhibited in that raw and vengeful manner we observed then. Thank you Sir. I also made it clear in that piece that in-spite of my misgivings I had to admire your pluck, adroitness and political savvy in the way you blind-sided the formidable Odili political machinery to set up a platform of your own, upon which you rode all the way to Brick House.
Permit me, Your Excellency to say bravo to you on the many road projects you have undertaken in the state. The new schools are icons in an apt aesthetic learning environment. I can assure you that decades after your tenure, no one can forget the fact that AMAECHI WAS HERE. Again my Governor, I say bravo!
I am compelled at this point, to bring to your notice, in case you have missed the glaring fact that Rivers State is, in your own words sinking into anarchy because of YOU. By your own words and actions, you have begun to tear down what you helped to build up.
This is how:
KNOWLEDGE OF TIMES AND SEASONS: The word of God tells us “to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl 3:11. KJV).Is this the time to be standing side by side with a few “Northern Governors” whose clear demand is that the presidency of Nigeria should be plucked from the South-South back to the core North? Is that what you (ChibuikeAmaechi) want at this time? Have you at this time become a “Northern Governor”? Even those who believed you were fighting for “justice” against the Presidency which was “witch hunting” you, merely because you won the NGF election, are beginning to wonder. Is this the time to identify with Atiku, Tambuwal, Nyako, Kwakwanso, Lamido, Aliyu and Wamakko? At this time and in this season of anomy President Goodluck Jonathan is discussing peace with “New PDP” and reaching out to resolve disputes. Are you also doing the same here in Rivers State? For you is this a time for peace or more war?
KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR PLACE AND HONOUR.As governor of Rivers state, you are our light, our father and leader. You are the symbol of our collective existence and the repository and exhibitor of our honour. I have in the last 6 years of your administration continued to wonder if you have acknowledge of your place in history and the honour due your high office. I know you do crave the image and reputation of a man who is “fearless” and ”frank”. Others may rather see you as lacking in reverence, ill-tempered and brash; hardly the virtues expected in a leader. Sadly Sir, you have failed to see the nobility of manner and edified elocution due your high office.
Truly assert that any governor of Rivers state should rank in dignity with any African leader at the least!
WHAT ABOUT ABE, PETERSIDE, LLOYD AND OTHERS? My dear Governor, do you realize how carelessly you have frittered away the political chances and careers of those who have stood by you? You have immunity, but do they? Will you not spare a thought for Senator Magnus Abe, Congressman Dakuku Peterside and other allies of yours who may be nursing political ambitions for 2015? How will your current endless battles in and outside the state affect their chances? You enjoyed 8 uninterrupted years as speaker of the RSHA under former Governor Odili. However within 6 years of your own tenure as Governor, first RSHA was embroiled in a contrived “AUSTRALIAN SEX SCANDAL”. Next the former Speaker Tonye Harry got the boot. Now Otelamaba Dan Amachree the new speaker has no house to preside over! Where Sir, is your staunch Ally Hon Chidi Lloyd? Your ADC, ASP Debewari Seimokumoh has since been declared a “deserter” from the police force. For him there will never be the completion of a glorious career and a commendable retirement. Your CSO, Tony Iwelu’s career is also aborted. From the former Rivers state PDP Exco led by Ake, to NGF, only God knows what else has suffered an inglorious desolation because of their association with you. Please look back and see the wasted careers you are leaving in your wake!
In case you have not realized it, I have to point out to you that you lasted longer in politics until you became governor because though Odili fought more and harder battles, He knew when to fight and when to make peace. He never risked the careers and future prospects of his men. That, my Dear Governor is the mark of a leader of men. These days you are ensconced in Abuja fighting to impeach President Jonathan or stop his perceived 2015 bid. It seems you have become an “Abuja politician” yourself. Your Excellency, your place is here with us your people. Return home and put your house in order. At least you will agree with me that the governmental institutions and political associates of your Northern-Governor-friends are intact.

RIVERS STATE IS DRIFTING. Rivers state has become rudderless and as you rightly pointed out anarchy has slipped into our land. It has nothing to do with President Jonathan, his wife, Wike, Obuah or Mbu. As you said years ago in one of your expansive moments, The buck stops of your table. You must, at this time, muster the moral fibre and courage to retrace your steps and make peace in your state (Rivers).Now is the time to reverse the current state of ennui. Again I wonder how you as a governor will work with the National Assembly as the new legislative arm of Rivers state government. Please resist the temptation to consider with glee that now you and Mr President work with the
Senate and House of Representatives as their chief executives. Just ponder how you can pass you fiscal demands through a National legislature not elected by Rivers people. How can you pay civil servant salaries more regularly and on time? Our dear state is paying a heavy price for this crisis. For example which investor foreign or local will come to a state which its own governor says is sinking into anarchy? Should the interest and cooperate survival of 7 million people be sacrificed for one man’s interest? RIVERS STATE SINKING INTO ANARCHY? Well there is only one man I know who swore an oath, with a Bible in his hands to fix it. You!
Thank You my dear Governor

I remain yours truly
VICTOR BURUBO, Pst.
Port Harcourt.

OBIARUKO NDUKWE ON MATTERS ARISING

 

EMAIL-obiarukondukwe@ymail.com

PDP AND THE REFORM OR ‘RETURN’ GROUP?

“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment for the patch pulls away from the garment and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined but they put new wine into new wineskins and both aree preserved”. –  Mathew 9:16-17

The Holy book couldn’t have been wrong and there is no better way to explain the actions and inactions of some members of Africa’s largest ruling party, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The above quotation from the scriptures captures the scenario being created by the recently formed group known as the PDP Reform Forum, whose agenda according to the group is to reform the party which is said to be drifting. Well, nothing could have been better for a political party which has held sway for a period of eleven years at the presidency and controls about twenty-eight out of the thirty-six states of the Nigerian state. But I have my reservations as it concerns the name and path chosen by this group of political big wigs in the PDP from different states as there is no known face of reform amongst the group. While parading the names and faces of those involved in the new arrangement, one cannot wonder then that the group is largely made up of those who are disgruntled or aggrieved with the powers that be in their different states. There is hardly any known face of those who are at home with the incumbent governors and the leadership of the state excos of the party in the said arrangement. It looks more like the coming together of those who have one score or the other to settle with their state chapter of the party. This informs the need, and I suggest that rather than go by the name, Reform Forum, it should rather be Return Group or Returnee Forum.

While I agree that the ruling PDP has areas where the party needs to seriously look into, more so as it concerns the much talked about electoral reforms, the truth is that one doubts the level of sincerity amongst the members of the group. In actual sense, the group should consider as a matter of urgency, self-reformation first so that they would be able to reform the party. Let us take a closer look at the issues before the party and what may have incensed this oppositional stance by those who once controlled the party machineries.

In Imo State, the former governor, Chief Achike Udenwa must take credit for being used by the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to frustrate the chances of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume from becoming his successor at the 2007 polls, despite the fact that both Udenwa and Ararume belong to the same Party and were mutual friends, until their relationship went sour. Ararume, in what would have crowned him ‘the face of the struggle’ in the fight to stop the indiscipline within the PDP, had gone to court, thus defying the powers that be in the party as well as the party’s constitution. He fought so hard and was lucky to have the supreme court decide the matter in his favour prior the April 14, 2007 governorship polls, but he was again stopped by Obasanjo and Udenwa who in turn defied the decision of the apex court, and played the worst kind of anti party activity by asking party members and the electorates to throw their weight behind the candidate of the less known Peoples Progressive Alliance, Ikedi Ohakim, who eventually won the election. The party since then failed to sanction both Obasanjo and Udenwa, rather Obasanjo was rewarded with the position of the party’s Board of Trustees Chairman, while Udenwa later became a Minister. The question is whether Udenwa deserves to be leading the struggle on the reform agenda of the PDP? Does it not also beat the imagination of people that both Udenwa and Ararume have teamed up again all in a bid to stop the incumbent governor, Ohakim, who committed what I consider the worst political suicide by defecting from PPA to PDP where he is now seen as a political neophyte despite his huge financial war chest?

Senator Ararume in any case, deserves to belong to the group to ensure that there will not be a repeat of the 2007 scenario which destroyed his near-His Excellency status. But am worried that he is romancing the same people who caused him the loss of several millions of naira , eventually stifled his voice and wiped his name out of the ‘Nigerian Guinness book of records’ as the symbol of the struggle to correct the  injustice within the PDP. On the other hand, ex-governor Achike Udenwa must fight to stop Ohakim’s second tenure since both men no longer see eye-ball to eye-ball, no thanks to the issue of who gets what from the state’s meager allocation. This is a picture of the reformers in Imo PDP!

As for the Deputy Chairman of the group, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari, one can understand his frustrations and his sudden appearance on the political stage, more so with the exit of former President Umaru Yar’adua, who was said to have imposed a stumbling block against the ambition of Masari to be governor of their home-state, Katsina. Yar’adua was said to have ensured that Masari does not make it to the seat of power. This angered the former speaker who now sees the exit of Yar’adua  as an opportunity to re-launch himself to relevance within the Katsina PDP. Again, this is a case of an aggrieved party member who never bothered about reforming the Party while he was the nation’s number four man. Masari was the Speaker when Nigeria had a golden opportunity to amend about 104 sections of our flawed 1999 constitution excluding one which has to do with the tenure of the President and Governors. A reformer in principle,  in truth and spirit, should have resigned, and that would have placed him as a leader of the new face of reform in PDP and the nation as a whole. Some argue that Masari was instrumental by virtue of his position, in stopping President Obasanjo from serving a third term. To a reasonable extent, this is correct, but it shocks me again that he is now working in the interest of Obasanjo who wanted  Ogbulafor out at all cost, as a way of making him pay the price for stopping his (Obasanjo’s) nominee, Sam Egwu, from assuming the position of the Party’s National Chairman. Again, I think its all about interest and not about what they truly believe in.

The sudden message of ‘Reforms’ being preached by these politicians in the PDP is rather for the purpose of re-capturing power at all cost. Those who lost out of the political power game see this is an opportunity to return, if nothing else, impress upon President Jonathan that they have his interest at heart – 2011 Presidency! Mr. President needs to look beyond these claims if he must not be short-changed at the last-minute as former Gov. Odili was badly bruised by his mentor and a man he called ‘Father’-OBJ. The same forces are at play again, and it takes only the Solomonic wisdom and that of Nebuchadnezzar who sought the interpretation of the writing on the wall, for President Jonathan to escape the impending doom.

Former Senate President Ken Nnamani, having received accolades and a new leadership status courtesy of his role in shooting down Obasanjo’s ambition to continue in office beyond the constitutional mandate of a maximum of two tenures, does not really impress me with his new role as the Chairman of the Reform Group. This definitely is the bane of the South East in the political equation of our country. When it comes to such roles, someone from this part of the country must ‘lead’. One may argue that Nnamani is the right person to talk about reforms within the PDP, yes, I agree. But I must point out that Nnamani led the group that blew a once in a life time opportunity for Nigerians to draft a people’s Constitution and not the one hurriedly packaged by the Military. It was wrong for the National Assembly then to throw into the thrash can other sections of the Constitution which needed to be amended after an extensive research by the Constitutional Conference. A total of 105 areas were identified by the Conference of which tenure elongation was just one. I doubt if Nigeria in the next decade  will have such an opportunity again. Funny enough, these persons were part of the cabal under Obasanjo when he grossly violated the party’s constitution in the process of choosing officers of the party as well as the party’s candidates for the general elections. Not even his deputy for eight years, Atiku Abubakar was spared of Obasanjo’s rod. Others include former governor of Bayelsa State, DSP Alamieyeseigha, former governors of Rivers and Ekiti, Peter Odili and Ayo Fayose, just to mention but a few.

Some of these men, have decided to learn their lessons the hard way, while some still bask under the euphoria of being yesterday’s men who would change their tomorrow by way of compromise. I think it’s rather a wise thing to do, to be like dog that leaks its wounds, rather than be like the dog that goes back to its vomit.

The case of Rivers State is rather pathetic. It is not out of way for some aggrieved politicians in the ruling PDP to seek for ‘reforms’ since they were in the game for eight years and understand the way these things work. The hue and cry over marginalization by those referred to as ‘Abuja Group’ who form the present day PDP Reform Forum from Rivers State who have tasted power, emasculated the opposition and stifled voices of  dissent both within and outside the PDP is better described as a joke. I think it is rather the fear of what they know that has compelled them to toe the path of opposition, than the sincere quest for reformation in the PDP. The emergence of Governor Rotimi  Amaechi as the governor of the state after a ten –month legal battle against his party, (PDP), INEC and the then sitting governor, Barrister Celestine Omehia, has in no doubt further polarized the party and led to a PDP opposition group within the PDP. It would be recalled that Amechi had earlier won the party’s primaries with over 6000 votes out of the 7000 votes cast, but was eventually stopped from carrying the party’s flag by the then President and leader of the party, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo had declared at the South South Zonal rally of the party that Amaechi ‘s candidature had developed a ‘K-Leg’ , meaning   that he (Amaechi ) would not be allowed to contest the governorship election as the candidate of the PDP. When this did not go down well with Gov Odili, and after several efforts to convince Obasanjo failed, Odili then moved to pick Celestine Omehia as a substitute for Amaechi, an action which was not only illegal (since Omehia did not participate in the primaries nor purchase the form for expression of interest), but was sort of belated since he (Odili)  had actually encouraged Amaechi to go to court to challenge the action of the party. But when Odili was threatened by the party for supporting Amaechi‘s legal action, he decided to withdraw his support for him, since Omehia had emerged as his candidate. This move by his political godfather had irked Amaechi who remained resolute on his stance. Emboldened by the principle of justice and fairness, Amaechi defied all entreaties and sought to right the wrongs of the party. He was expelled from the party while the matter was at the Appeal court. That did not deter him.  After a ten- month legal battle in spite of Omehia’s five-month stay in office, Amaechi with the help of the Judiciary (the Supreme Court) set the pace for the true reformation of the PDP. He single –handedly challenged his party which at that time had totally drifted.

Having remained consistent, he thus became the new face of reform in practical terms within the PDP. Till date, many of those who were disgusted at his emphatic position are yet to accept him as the governor of Rivers state, having been declared the actual candidate of the PDP for the April 14, 2007 governorship election. They have repeatedly said that the Supreme Court nay the Judiciary erred. Is it not then surprising that the same persons who have disregarded the supreme judgment of the apex court are those at the fore front of the change in PDP? For daring to challenge the party‘s National Working Committee, the ‘reformer’s were suspended from the party, and they immediately proceeded to court to again challenge the decision of the party. Is it right then for those who do not believe in the Supremacy and infallibility of the Court to again go to the same Court to obtain judgment? Who will enforce the judgment if it falls in their favor? These are the questions  that need to be answered?

One of the key players in the reform forum is Dr. Abiye Sekibo – former SSG to Gov. Odili and a former Minister of Transport under Obasanjo. Abiye is one of the most avowed critics of Amaechi’s emergence and governance. He has not hidden his hatred for Amaechi. He is a member of the Reform Forum and a leader in the Rivers PDP ‘Abuja Group’. Others include Celestine Omehia and Austin Opara, who is said to have been the worst hit when he was asked to step-down for Amaechi by Odili, a night before the Primary elections.I agree with a friend of mine who said they need a platform on which they would re-negotiate their way back to the party in their various states before the next elections. For the sake of the party, the state chapters of the party need to re-absorb them if only they would change their name to PDP RETURNEE FORUM OR PDP RETURN GROUP! Let me end by quoting the National Secretary of the PDP, Baraje Abubakar Kawu, “after gaining relevance through the platform of the party, members of the reform forum are now seeking to reform the same party”. He further stated, “we believe that they have totally lost touch. It is only after they have fully re-integrated themselves in their constituencies that we can begin to consider their electoral value as well as, their reformatory value”. “They need to totally reform themselves before they can call for the reform of the party”.

The people must not forget that before a change can be made in the Party’s constitution, a convention must be held. The question is, how many of these men and women who belong to the reform group will make the delegate list that will participate in the convention? I sincerely think that the person or persons who should lead the fight for reforms in the party must be someone or those who dared to challenge the party’s leadership when it grossly violated its constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not those who kept mute or chickened out when they were threatened by the EFCC. A reformer must be one who was not afraid of speaking the truth even in the face of intimidation and threat by the powers that be. Chikena!       

Solzhenitsyn: The Price of Blacklisting a Nobel Laureate’s Book, by Adeyinka Makinde

August 27, 2013 at 12:39pm

The Nobel Prize has been described as the highest honour awardable among humankind. Spanning the gamut of the highest levels of endeavour achievable in the sciences and the humanities, a Nobel laureate may thus tend to be viewed as a repository of wisdom, innovation and revelation; and, for many who have won the category in literature, as one who is adept at articulating the human condition in its myriad psychological and cultural manifestations.

In constructing and elaborating on the dramas of life, they can provide avenues of perspective and of understanding which transcend geographic boundaries and enable us to meditate anew and challenge our conceptions, our prejudices and our ability to empathise.

For those laureates who have had first-hand involvement in the struggle against dictatorship and borne the sting of persecution such as Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka,their pronouncements and analyses carry great moral weight that is added to the acknowledged power of their intellect.

These elements of intellectual capacity and the struggle against despotism do not resonate any stronger than the life and works of the late Russian writer,Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn.

A victim of the Gulag system to which he was sentenced in 1945 for criticising Stalin in a private letter to a friend, he was in 1970 awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature based on what the judging panel announced as the “ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.”

With their vivid depictions of the conditions within the Soviet work camp network and an adroit synthesizing of philosophical, historical and personal components, Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In TheLife Of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, served as unparalleled indictments of the totalitarian system that ultimately developed out of the Marxist-Leninist idea of what was supposedto be the creation of a socialist paradise on earth.

The collapse of the communist experiment in the old Soviet state as well as its displacement as a form of governance in Eastern Europe and many other regions of the earth may arguably have consigned it to the ash heap of history, but it nonetheless remains a contentious area in the consideration of the recent past.

As an arena laden with perspectives which may be predicated on philosophical stances, political agendas, cultural heritage, or even racial and national affinities, history is not an objective science and has often become something of a battle ground.

This has proved to be the case so far as the legacy of communism is concerned.Several books have been written such as Comradesby Robert Service, the eminent Oxford University historian, which excoriate the Marxist-Leninist model for an inexorable tendency toward despotism and individual coercion, while other works such as Howard Zinn’s Marx In Soho have attempted to humanize Karl Marx the man as well as to validate his original theories.

Solzhenitsyn in the twilight of his life moved from his lifelong theme of exposing the excesses of Stalinism to that of a subject which has for long been considered as taboo; namely that of the Jewish role in bringing Bolshevism to power and enabling its sustenance.

His two-volume work published in 2001 and 2002,  Two Hundred Years Together, explored the relations between Jews and Russians dating from the time when the Russian Empire acquired a substantial Jewish population after the partial annexation of Poland in 1772 up to the Refusenik-era and Jewish emigration to Israel.

Par tone, Russian Jewish History: 1795-1916,is a largely uncontroversial historical document in which Solzhenitsyn acknowledges the specific hardships faced by Jewish communities but that in general, their lives were no harder than that of the Russian peasant, while the second part, The Jews in the Soviet Union,inevitably touches upon the role of Jews in the Bolshevik Revolution and in the subsequent Soviet purges.

The sensitivity associated with the topic is perhaps encapsulated in the words of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the Russian-Jewish writer and creator of Zionist New Revisionism, who once said that “the best service our Russian friends give to us is never to speak aloud about us.”

There were those whose suspicions were aroused by Solzhenitsyn’s immersion in such a project given his reputation as a Russian nationalist and a pan-Slavic stance which went as far as suggesting that Russia excise the non-Slavic areas from its territory and amalgamate with Ukraine, Belarus and parts of ‘Russified’ Kazakhstan.

It was alleged that his patriotism extended into naked chauvinism.

His sojourn in the West which began in 1974 when he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and deported had revealed him to be a man who was instinctively deeply conservative and even reactionary in his views.

“This is a mistake, but even geniuses make mistakes,” opined Yevgeny Satanovsky, the president of the Russian Jewish Congress. “Richard Wagner did not like the Jews, but was a great composer. Dostoyevsky was a great Russian writer, but had a very sceptical attitude towards the Jews.

The book was published in Russia amid fears that it would electrify anti-Semitic sentiment and present an opportunity to calumniate the Jews. It became a bestseller there, but in the more than a decade which has elapsed since then no English language translation materialised.

The reluctance of the publishing industry to put into print a substantive work created by the winner of a Nobel Prize is a development that warrants close scrutiny.

The description given by the German news magazine Der Spiegel which interviewed the writer at the time of the release of both volumes was that they had “provoked mainly perplexity” in the West:

“Arewe to conclude from your rich array of sources that the Jews carry more responsibility than others for the failed Soviet experiment?”

Solzhenitsyn,who died in 2008, replied as follows:

“Iavoid exactly that which your question implies: I do not call for any sort of score keeping or comparisons between the moral responsibility of one people or another; moreover, I completely exclude the notion of responsibility of one nation to another. All I am calling for is self-reflection. You can get the answer to your question from the book itself: Every people must answer morally for all of its past – including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? Where in all this did we go wrong? And could it happen again? It is in that spirit, specifically, that it would behove the Jewish people to answer, both for the revolutionary cutthroats and the ranks willing to serve them. Not to answer before other people’s, but to oneself, to one’s conscience, and before God. Just as we Russians must answer-for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors.”

It is indisputably the case that a great many of the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution and of the early Soviet state were of Jewish origin. This was not an altogether surprising development given, in the words of Robert Service, that“Jews supplied leaders and activists to revolutionary parties in the Russian empire wildly out of proportion to their size in the population.”

Such preponderance is evidenced by key personages such as Leon Trotsky, the founder and leader of the Red Army; Yakov Sverdlov, the chairman of the Centra lExecutive Committee; Grigori Zinoviev, who headed the Communist International;Karl Radek who was commissar for the press; and Maxim Litvinov who was the foreign affairs commissar. Other key apparatchiks were Lev Kamanev and Mosei Uritsky.

Jews formed sizeable proportions in the Council of Peoples Commissars (or Sovnarkomin its Russian acronym), the diplomatic corps, trade missions and,controversially, as key administrators within both the state security apparatus including the Cheka and the labour camp network.

Given the necessary depictions of persons of Jewish origin acting as hangmen and not victims, and also as slave drivers and not the ill-treated, these latter features have the capacity to be particularly incendiary; yet, in a lengthy tome published in 2004 and entitled The Jewish Century, the Jewish scholar Yuri Slezkine admits that Jews wereStalin’s “willing executioners”.

Andin 2006 Seve Plonker, an Israeli writer, published an article on Ynet News beseeching his readers not to forget that some of the greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish. Entitled ‘Stalin’s Jews’, he specifically referred to Genrikh Yagoda, the founder of the NKVD, as having been “the greatest Jewish murderer of the 20th Century.”

It was Yagoda, Plonker reminded, who “diligently implemented Stalin’scollectivisation orders and is responsible for the deaths of at least 10 million people.”

Many of the deputies who managed the Gulag system were ethnic Jews and their over representation in membership of various incarnations of the secret police meant that during the 1930s, the NKVD was “one of the most Jewish of all Soviet institutions.”

As the historian Leonard Shapiro once commented, “Anyone who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Cheka stood a very good chance of finding himself confronted with and possibly shot by a Jewish investigator.”

Plonker,whose piece contained the allegation that “many Jews sold their soul to the devil of the communist revolution and have blood on their hands for eternity”concluded thus:

“Evenif we deny it, we cannot escape the Jewishness of ‘our hangmen,’ who served the Red terror with loyalty and dedication from its establishment. After all,others will always remind us of their origin.”

speaking the time of the release of Solzhenitsyn’s book, Robert Service candidly told a journalist for the British Guardiannewspaper that it was an issue which could not be tackled “without a huge amount of bravery,” and that as the matter was often the preserve of those whom he described as “fanatics”, Solzhenitsyn’s efforts were welcomed since his book appeared to be more measured.

It is arguably this general unwillingness of mainstream historians to tackle this issue which has invited others with ill-intentioned motives to fill the vacuum.

The blatant ignoring of Solzhenitsyn’s work which may have the tendency to be viewed as a form of suppression or, at least, as self-censorship has effectively provided an avenue for those describing themselves as ‘White nationalists’and those on the extreme political Right to refer to this as an example of what they would claim to be the abject surrender to Jewish sensitivities and an affirmation of the ‘control’ wielded by Jewish interests in the cultural and media outlets of the Western world.

The narrative emanating from these schools of thought often posit the thesis that the Bolshevik Revolution was in essence an upheaval promulgated by ethnic Jews primarily for their own benefit and largely at the expense of ethnic Russians and other Slavs whom they despised for the persecutions they had continually suffered including the murderous rampages known as pogroms.

The establishment of the Soviet state and its instruments of coercion as well as the pursuance of harsh social and economic remedies such as the suppression of the Orthodox Christian Church and policy of enforced collectivisation represented, in this line of thinking, a ferocious attack on the heart and soul of Russia by an alien and alienated people.

Thus the eternal theme of Jews as relentless conspirators and tribal-networkers seeking to dominate a society where they form a ‘hostile elite’ has, in the near century which has elapsed since the revolution, been repeatedly constructed.

However,the explanation of a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ behind the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia followed by a strategy to export it to the rest of Europe and the world was not one which was first articulated by Adolf Hitler in all his demonic fury, but was in fact put forward by Hitler’s future nemesis Winston Churchill.

In an often referenced article in a 1920 edition of the Illustrated Sunday Herald entitled ‘Zionism Versus Bolshevism: A Struggle For The Soul Of The Jewish People’, Churchill expressed astonishment at the accomplishment of this “mystic and mysterious race” whom he claimed“have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.”

In connection with what he termed a “sinister confederacy of international Jews”, Churchill had mentioned the leaders of national communist parties such as Rosa Luxembourg in Germany, Bela Kun in Hungary and Emma Goldman in the United States as part of the tentacles of what he grandiosely branded a “worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence and impossible equality.”

Such conspiracy, it continues to be argued by the contrarian Right and advocates of White nationalism, was manifestly and predictably tribal in terms of its transcending of both religious and political leanings as well as national boundaries.

In other words, the fact that the Jews as atheistic communists had cast off the formalities of religious observance did not preclude them from continuing to adhere to a Jewish identity and to co-operate with those who were ethnic Jews.

It also meant that they allegedly accepted funds from capitalists such as Jacob Schiff, the senior partner in the New York-based firm of international bankers Kuhn, Loeb and Company; this the figure who had ensured that Japan had access to financial credits which it utilised in building up the naval force which defeated the Tsar’s navy in 1905.

And the fact that Trotsky was an apostate Jew and others who rose to prominence continued to receive entries into publications such as the Encyclopedia Judaica and plentiful coverage in Jewish-orientated newspapers suggested an expression of racial pride and ethnic solidarity that confirmed to those on the Right the accuracy of their thesis.

Certainly,the opinion expressed in an edition of the periodical American Hebrew in September 1920 that the “Russian JewishRevolution was largely the outcome of Jewish thinking, of Jewish discontent, of Jewish effort to reconstruct”, has been often quoted as evidence of this.

The unavailability of Solzhenitsyn’s work in the English language has meant that the limited translations available have been facilitated by White nationalists who, largely disinterested in the first volume, have unsurprisingly focussed on the second where they are keen to give emphasis to those passages which can be projected in a manner to fit in with their views.

TheOccidental Observer ran a series of articles by Kevin MacDonald, a psychology professor at California State University, who summarised what in his estimation were the main points of chapter savailable in English in which he then made analogies regarding his perception of the contemporary role of organised Jewry in the Western world.

MacDonald is the purveyor of a concept he terms ‘evolutionary group strategy’ within which context his works have focused on his thesis of Judaism and its culture as having presented the means and mechanism through which Jews as a highly ethnocentric, cohesive and aggressive group have consistently risen to the elite of the societies in which they have resided.

Thus the part played by Jewish figures in the Bolshevik revolution and the exercise of Jewish power form a well established pattern which in the 20thcentury saw their rise not only in the former Russian Empire, but also in the Middle East and in the United States.

MacDonald therefore extracted those portions of Solzhenitsyn’s narrative which confirm Jewish domination of the Soviet government in the first decade of its existence as well as the resulting anti-Semitism.

So for instance a person identified as a “Jewish observer” in 1923 states the following:

“TheJew is in all corners and on all levels of power…The Russian sees him as a ruler of Moscow, at the head of the capital on Neva (Leningrad), and at the head of the Red Army, a perfected death machine. He sees that St. Vladimir Prospect has been renamed Naumson Prospect…The Russian sees the Jew as judge and hangman; he sees Jews at every turn, not only among the communists, but among people like himself, everywhere doing the bidding of Soviet power…Notsurprisingly, the Russian, comparing present with past, is confirmed in his idea that power is Jewish power, that it exists for Jews and does the bidding of Jews.”

In another excerpt ruminating on perceived Jewish privilege and influence, the translation has Solzhenitsyn citing a Jewish writer named Maslov as saying the following:

“Theexpression ‘Kike Power’ is often used in Russia and particularly in Ukraine and in the former Pale of Settlement not as a polemic, but as a completely objective definition of power, its content and its politics.”

Maslov adds:

“Sovietpower in the first place answers the wishes and interests of Jews and they are its ardent supporters and in the second place, power resides in Jewish hands.”

Solzhenitsyn apparently did not subscribe to the claim that Jews who had prominent roles in the Bolshevist state had shorn off their Jewish identity and assumed an assimilated one within the context of the new Soviet culture.

Maslov is again quoted by Solzhenitsyn in the chapter dealing with the Gulag in which Jewish success in institutions is based on their networking which ensured that they were favoured when selecting staff.

This theme is repeated so far as the implementation of the New Economic Policy in the early 1920s under which limited forms of capitalist endeavour were allowed.Solzhenitsyn records that the anger against Jewish success arose from the perception that “their commerce was routinely facilitated by their links and pulls in the Soviet apparatus.”

The extrapolations MacDonald makes from reviewing not only the work of Solzhenitsyn but also Slezkine’s The Jewish Centuryis predicated on references to Jews as a minority always having to form alliances to maintain their power, including their representation within and‘colonisation’ of the institutions of academia and the media as well as their influence on culture and the nature of laws created by the legislature.

Thus,in regard to the last issue, the Bolshevik criminalization of anti-Semitism as“anti-revolutionary” activity is seen as an extreme form of contemporary‘political correctness’.

Another avowed White nationalist who is attempting to make capital out of the absence of Solzhenitsyn’s work is David Duke who has recently published a book entitledThe Secret Behind Communism.

Duke,who claims to have relied extensively on Solzhenitsyn’s work, has high hopes that his book will serve to be a ‘game changer’ of sorts.  His book introduction contains a quote which he attributes to Solzhenitsyn on the occasion of a meeting he had with the Nobel laureate in 2002.

“You must understand the leading Bolsheviks who took over Russia were not Russians,”Solzhenitsyn is claimed to have told him. “They hated Russians. They hated Christians. Driven by ethnic hatred they tortured and slaughtered millions of Russians without a shred of human remorse. It cannot be overstated. Bolshevism committed the greatest human slaughter of all time. The fact that the world is ignorant and uncaring about this enormous crime is proof that the global media is in the hands of the perpetrators.”

This statement together with references to Seve Plonker’s article on ‘Stalin’s Jews’set the scene for an elaborate thesis which posits the Soviet regime as effectively being the instrument for Jewry’s vengeance against the Russian and Ukrainian people.

Duke argues that the deaths of millions of Orthodox Christians at the hands of a‘Jewish-led’ government was a crime “unparalleled in history”; and that the Holodomor, during which anything from 5 to 8 million Ukrainians starved to death as part of a state-sponsored policy aimed at diminishing Ukrainian nationalist sentiment, was a tragedy which not only rivals that of the later Shoah but in fact surpasses it.

His idea therefore is to change the nature of the discourse from what he considers to be the defensive posture imposed on others by organised Jewry in regard to the issue of the Holocaust and Jewish accusations of Gentile complicity and inaction into one where Jews are accused of perpetrating mass genocide on another people.

Duke is also keen exploit the role of Lazar Kaganovich, an ethnic Jew, as the key overseer of the Ukrainian policy. Kaganovich, who Simon Sebag Montefiore characterised as having been “unmoved” by the tragedy of his devising, is to Duke surpassed in genocidal culpability by Genrikh Yagoda.

That Yagoda, a man who cultivated a distinct moustache identical to that of AdolfHitler’s, is not known to the wider public as a mass murderer is as telling to Duke as is the lack of public consciousness about the Holodomor.

But the references to Solzhenitsyn’s work by those who fall out of the spectrum of contemporary historical orthodoxies by reason of their race-based political and social standpoints should not be taken as evidence of an effort by the Nobel laureate which is sullied by naked anti-Semitism.

Solzhenitsyn’sviews are more nuanced and his book had motives clearly divergent from those intended by those advocating the White nationalist cause. As he explained to Der Spiegel, “My book was directed to empathise with the thoughts, feelings and the psychology of the Jews – theirspiritual content.”

For instance, while the contrarian view postulates a Jewish conspiracy in the early20th Century upheavals in Russia, Solzhenitsyn was categorical in his explanation that the Jews were not the orchestrators of the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. And of the latter event he clearly stated that “one layer rushed headfirst to the revolution”, while “another, to the contrary, was trying to stand back.”

At the end of the ninth chapter, he denounced “the superstitious faith in the historical potency of conspiracies” by which Jews have been attributed responsibility while ignoring “Russian failings that determined our sad historical decline.”

Another clear distinction between Solzhenitsyn and those who would claim him is his berating of the ‘White Russians’, the supporters of the ancien regime, for condoning violence directed at Jews in general as opposed to those particular Jews who were combatants in the ensuing civil war.

This factor, he claimed, undermined “what would have been the chief benefit of a White victory” in the Russian Civil War with the Bolsheviks: a victory which would have amounted to “a reasonable evolution of the Russian state.”

Yet another key point of distinction between Solzhenitsyn and revisionists such as David Duke is the interpretation given of the Holodomor.

Unlike White nationalists, he does not posit this event as a racial massacre of a Christian people by vengeful atheistic Jews.

While acknowledging it as an exceptional tragedy, he fits it in to the overall context as a Bolshevik-inspired calamity which was the by-product of the ruthless decrees geared towards fulfilling grain procurements.

For Solzhenitsyn the idea of the Holodomor having been a policy of deliberate genocide is in essence an act of revisionism. The Ukrainian tragedy in his view was not different from the Russian famine of 1921.

Where White nationalists cannot misappropriate, distort or otherwise co-opt from Solzhenitsyn to fit into their narrative, some have not failed to criticise him where he has not come up to their standard of revisionism.

For instance, the German revisionist historian Udo Walendy, whose writings have enabled him to run afoul of ‘Holocaust denial’ legislation, took him to task for falling short when dealing with the German prosecution of the war and thefate of the Jews in German occupied Europe and those living on the western borders of the Soviet Union.

Solzhenitsyn’s“shameful” shortcoming, according to Walendy, was in relying exclusively on articles and reports in Pravda and Izvestia; which to him equate to “Jewishsources”, a number of Russian books and portions of the Nuremberg trials.

Here Solzhenitsyn, perhaps in Walendy’s view the Russian patriot with more than a residue of anti-German sentiment, “remains a captain of the Red Army that marched in 1945 into East Prussia.”

One issue which Solzhenitsyn’s book makes crystal clear, as indeed does that of Yuri Slezkine, is that the narrative which positions Jews as having been perpetual victims under the Soviet system is not a tenable one.

While most Jews were not Bolsheviks at the time of the revolution, evidence does indicate that they broadly benefited in terms of opportunities offered by the Soviet state; a new order in which many became part of or associated with the privileged elite.

But of course, the aggregate power of Jews diminished as the revolution began to devour many figures under the direction of Josef Stalin and also in the aftermath of the Second World War; fought under the banner of the ‘GreatPatriotic War’, which saw the assertion of ethnic Russians and their increased deployment to positions of state power.

A clear phenomenon of a state sponsored campaign against Soviet Jewry occurred during this period when Stalin became convinced that the communist state would have to compete with Zionism for the loyalty of its Jewish citizens.

Thus the history of the Soviet Union is also the history of the waxing and waning of Jewish power. And so far as the malodorous aspects of this history are concerned, they were, as Robert Service explained, “part-victims andpart-perpetrators.”

Solzhenitsyn was clear that he never made general conclusions about a people, and that he differentiated between layers of Jews.

This is crucial. He had already set out his line of thinking in a 1974 essay which he entitled Repentance and Self-Limitationin the Life of Nations which called for atonement for all ethnic groups in Russia.

Unlike the ploy of White nationalists who assert that Jewish interests held the whole of Germany responsible for the sins of the Nazi state; a guilt which they claim has been inherited by later generations of Germans and a line of reasoning they wish to apply to Jewish involvement in the outrages of Soviet communism,Solzhenitsyn’s emphasis is not one of apportioning collective guilt and responsibility or of scapegoating a race, but on acknowledgement as part of a process of atonement.

One of his biographers, DM Thomas, expressed the view that he did not think that he had been motivated by anti-Semitism and doubted that he was insincere in his support for the state of Israel. “In his fiction and factual writing”,continued Thomas, “there are Jewish characters that he writes about who are bright, decent, anti-Stalinist people.”

By writing a non-fictionalised account of Russian and Soviet history, he was attempting to write while relying solely on scientific analysis. It was alleged that Solzhenitsyn had made several factual errors, and that while he was an expert in the field of literature, he not a trained historian.

But these issues alongside the disputed allegation of anti-Semitism do not form a valid justification for ignoring his work. Solzhenitsyn’s literary work,although fictionalised, often contained accurate contexts of history which added to the authenticity of his plot lines.

Publication would enable his researched factual content, his points of analysis as well as his conclusions to be available to the reading public and scholars thus presenting the opportunity for open discussion and debate on this extensive 600-pagework by a man once described as “too intelligent, too honest, too courageous and too great a writer” to succumb to rabid anti-Semitism.

As it stands, the deliberate neglect of this work arguably strikes a tremendous blow against the values of freedom often pontificated upon in the Western world.

(C)Adeyinka Makinde 2013

AdeyinkaMakinde is a writer and lecturer in law.

“INTELLIGENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY: FROM THE COLD WAR TO THE WAR ON TERROR”

Paper Presentation by Adeyinka Makinde at the biennial Conference of the Centre for International Intelligence and Security Studies (C.I.I.S.S.) held under the auspices of the University of Aberyswyth at Gregynogg, Mid-Wales; 25th of May2013.

Thank you very much I will get straight in things without further ado.

The topic is intelligence and accountability from the cold war to the war on terror. It’s obviously potentially a wide field of area so I’ll try to be as selective as possible.

I do want to give the idea of comparing the intelligence projects that were undertaken mainly by democratic nations; centring on the United States and CIA with strong support from the British SIS.

To cut to the chase it’s essentially an issue of national interest. Nations need to promote their national interest and to preserve them and the use of intelligence is a very crucial feature of that.

And speaking of national interest the United States has been in a position of world power and dominance and seeks not unnaturally to preserve that.

Through the Cold War as well as the contemporary circumstances of the War on Terror. But in doing that, the use of intelligence has provided moral and ethical dilemmas.

Without getting totally philosophical about things, I wanted to use the analogy of Machiavelli and his thesis about how a ruler preserves his domain and in that sense the United States seeks to do that.

The question is how far do you go? Because Machiavelli’s thesis, as we all know, was that the end justifies the means. Whatever is done, whether it involves murder, cruelty, deception is all par for the course.

The ends justify the means.

However the United States and Great Britain are democracies and when you are a democracy this has consequences if you do immoral things.

So I am looking at accountability not just from the point of view of intelligence officers on the field but the politicians who are the engineers of national policy and who make the intelligence services the tools of their statecraft and some of these do stray into the morally objectionable.

The question is what limits can be placed on that.

Is the rule of law, transparency, all the things associated with democratic societies, justice, is that inviolable or are there no limits involved?

So I think that is essentially the scene as one wants to set things.

So speaking in terms of morality, at the outset of the Cold War a memorandum was sent to President Eisenhower from the National Security Agency.

They were facing what was described as an “implacable enemy”; international communism, “whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and whatever cost” and that the US needed to learn to “subvert, sabotage and destroy its enemies by more clever and more ruthless methods than those of its opponents.”

“It entailed a fundamentally repugnant philosophy which contradicted longstanding American concepts of fair play”, but insisted that such an approach was necessary given the gravity of the international situation.

So that sort of sets the scene. The United States were against a so-called totalitarian society in (the form of) the Soviet Union. And it provided some sort of a dilemma of how hard you fight to protect your domain.

It’s a question of the rule of law, it’s a question of human rights when you indulge in certain forms of intelligence and covert operations and there comes a point where you say is there a threshold or do you go “full out.”

Or to quote Oliver Cromwell, he once said that there were “great occasions in which some (great) men are called to perform great services in the doing of which they are excused from the common rule of morality”. That was something of a question posed.

I think that being a man who killed a king; he would say that wouldn’t he.

There is that conflict between democratic values and espionage values. When you think about democracy it’s all about transparency, objectivity.

With the rules of espionage. It’s about deception. It’s about plausible deniability, and I think that everyone realises there is a certain element of a dark art to the practice of espionage and when it comes to the vital protection of national interest this comes into sharp focus as we’ve seen not only in the Cold War but in the contemporary circumstances of the War on Terror.

A sample of this that gives an exception to the institutions of the intelligence world is section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act of 1994.

Now what that actually implies is that if an MI6 officer was involved in murder, kidnapping, bribery (or) corruption outside of the United Kingdom, they would have a defence if that operation was undersigned by a secretary of state.

It’s been in the news recently with a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who is now suing the British government. He is alleges that Jack Straw undersigned a rendition request.

We’ll come back to that right at the end, but very little to remind us about the basis of the Cold War. It was in the aftermath of the Second World War; Churchill’s speech about the Iron Curtain from the Baltic to the Adriatic.

He should have known what was coming anyway because he had already had talks with Stalin about the division of spheres of influence and that was confirmed in Yalta.

And certainly one thing that America wanted to preserve was that ‘Yalta System’ particularly in Italy and the efforts made by the CIA for it not to fall under communist influence or the influence of the Left.

The CIA was created in 1947 under the National Security Act, and it was going to be involved in the application of the Truman Doctrine and also remember that NATO was established in 1949 as a military alliance which potentially would do conflict with the Warsaw Pact in the event of a war.

This was the directive issued to the CIA. They were to carry out operations against “hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups, but which are so planned and conducted that any US government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorised persons.”

This is very important when we talk about what has happened recently, not just in Iraq, but in Libya and also what is currently happening in Syria.

A lot of people are quite familiar with the Cold War activities of the CIA. They famously overthrew a number of governments starting in spectacular style in Iran when they overthrew the government of Mohamed Mossadegh.

Actually, the SIS was very much in support of that operation. It was officially led by the (Middle Eastern) station chief of the CIA, Kermit Roosevelt, however Britain had this legacy in the Middle East so they would have supplied them information to do with geography and the makeup of Iranian society etcetera.

The tricks of the trade were all on display there. There was rumour-mongering; use of what you could call ‘black propaganda’ or deception in the media; trying to link Mossadegh with communism. Thugs were paid to rampage during election time. Influential Muslim leaders were made to distance themselves from Mossadegh.

And it was a success; Operation Ajax.

And then in Guatemala, the same thing happens. You have an enlightened leader trying to build bridges, to be socially progressive and he embarks on land reform. But the United States doesn’t like this: it affects the interests of the United Fruit Company.

And the same tactics are used: media manipulation, dropping of pamphlets from the air, suborning members of the armed forces; inciting them to rebel against the constitutional order.

And of course the government of Jacobo Guzman Arbenz was overthrown. So this was a Bay of Pigs scenario that actually worked. They stimulated a civil war and that led to a military coup and the overthrow of the government. It was known as PBSUCCESS.

In Indonesia, I think everybody is aware that the government of Sukarno was overthrown by tactics engineered by the CIA, however, the British SIS’s role was not really that really well known to its fullest extent until the 1990s.

They were involved, not just the SIS, but the Foreign Office and its Information Research Department; again manipulating the media from Phoenix Park in Singapore.

One of the most insidious things they did was they identified the Chinese community in Indonesia with Red (Chinese) communism, so when the purges came, a particular ethnic group also bore the brunt of that. So Sukarno was overthrown.

I think the most famous one is probably Chile. The CIA spent a lot of money trying to frustrate Salvador Allende’s attempts to get elected in 1970. They (the CIA) actually paid a gang who were to kidnap the chief of army staff Rene Schneider and it went ‘wrong’ apparently and he was murdered.

But I think that is aiding and abetting. The CIA was in the background manipulating the media: Time magazine had to change a cover. There were newspaper reports in the Latin American press and the European press that bore the imprints of intelligence interference; not to give Aliened a fair stab at the cake, basically saying that it (his government) was on course for disaster.

They tried to bribe the Chilean Parliament not to have him elected because it wasn’t a totally direct election. The congress had to confirm that.

And so we have to think about the cost and benefit of that. Here is America preserving its national interest. You don’t want the Soviet Union to get a foothold in Latin America; somewhat a continuation of the corollary of the Monroe Doctrine, but at what cost?

Iran was then led by the Shah with a repressive regime which was overthrown twenty-six years later and it left a vacuum which was filled by an Islamist regime which has been at loggerheads with the West ever since. So what was the victory at the end of the day?

In Guatemala we’ve had death squads in the supervening years and a corrupt, repressive military dictatorship.

In Indonesia we had concentration camps. Half a million people slaughtered, including members of the Chinese community who were targeted because of that association with Red Chinese Communism.

And of course Chile:  Did General Pinochet save Chile from a pit of Marxist misery? Or was that worth it with all the executions and the murders?

I also want to look at Operation Gladiola in Europe because this involves something that people might say is the preserve of so-called ‘conspiracy theorists’.

I want to remind us that as I said at the beginning; America liberated (Western) Europe from Nazi domination.  So lives were lost, they shed blood. They also undergirded European economic rehabilitation with the Marshall Plan.

So they had an interest that Europe should not fall in the hands, so to speak, of communist or Leftist influence. That was shown because one of the first operations of the CIA was to protect the Christian Democrat Party in the first (post-war Italian) elections.

Gladio, a secret army which goes by different names in different European nations, were emplaced after the Second World War to form a band of guerrillas who would wage war against the Soviet Union in the event of an invasion. That did not come to pass. In fact elements of the Cold War were probably overstated.

And so what happens to these secret armies? They are actually turned against their populations. Members of the secret armies tended to be recruited from Right-wing groups.

And one member, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, made an admission which shed light on a number of bombs that exploded. There was one in Milan in 1969, another in Peteano in (1972), and Bolognia in 1980.

These were planted by Right-wing extremist groups on the direction of Italian military intelligence who themselves were advised and paid by the American CIA. This is well documented.

The result was to create what the Italians call ‘La Strategia della Tensione’: a strategy of tension. So that when bombs blow up and people are killed in the streets, it will create fear and panic and people will look to the state for authoritarian government to bring order.

The military coup that was expected after Milan did not transpire, however, the repeat of this strategy was in place.

I must say that much of the secret army has not been revealed and we don’t know whether they still exist. I say the chances are that they still do.

There were suspicious bombs that went off in Belgium in Brabant (and) the Munich Festival, the October Fest in 1980 and there are those who feel that these were strategy of tension ploys aimed at bringing in Right-wing governments because in Belgium nuclear disarmament and the Left were gaining ground, and in Germany they wanted a Right-wing government in place of the one led by Helmut Schmidt.

This is an excerpt from a parliamentary inquiry into Gladio. That directly links the American intelligence services:

“Those massacres, those bombs, those military actions, had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and as has been discovered more recently by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence.”

Very quickly, the Cold War in Latin America.

Operation Condor was run by Latin American dictatorships: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and a few others, and they involved kidnapping people on the Left or people who were just simply anti-military regime.

And then, if they were in foreign countries extraditing them, illegally, to face torture, imprisonment and quite frequently death and they were secretly buried.

Now, did the United States know about this? They certainly did. The United States has trained generations of Latin American officers and they’ve done that under the Army School of the Americas based in Panama, and in that whole context, a lot of these officers were indoctrinated by manuals produced by the Pentagon; things that stray into the rules of torture, for instance.

They also were guided; these Latin American dictatorships, by the Doctrine of National (Security) which was about preventing communist subversion and preventing so-called class warfare.

There are cables for instance like from the State Department. An ambassador in Paraguay was communicating to Cyrus Vance, the secretary of state and implicitly everyone in the US government knew what was going on.

These countries used an encrypted system based in Panama which the United States controlled. So the United States had foreknowledge about everything that was happening and obviously they were very much in support of anything that would keep communism out of Latin America.

The death squads are extremely well documented. The United States military intelligence has had an agenda of using death squads that dates back to the Vietnam War and the Phoenix Program which claimed (26,000) lives in South Vietnam. And that continued in Central America in El Salvador and other Central American countries.

President Kennedy was the one who introduced what was ostensibly a very enlightened program to prevent the spread of communism. It was the Alliance for Progress.

This was to increase economic development and was supposed to forestall any sympathies with communism, but it came to the point where the State Department and the CIA felt that this programme could not be successfully implemented unless it had a back up from civil, paramilitary and military structures. This is where you have the creation of death squads, ORDEN and ANSESAL .

ORDEN was a rural paramilitary force. It collected information and it would send that information to ANSESAL which was located with the presidential office and ANSESAL would give instructions as to who would be liquidated. The American military trained these death squads; these practitioners and interestingly we will see this repeated went it comes to the aftermath of the war in Iraq.

We know the basis of the War on Terror: the attack in New York on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and other buildings. There is a lot of controversy about the circumstances of that.

Nonetheless, it inaugurated the War on Terror; a different kind of war against irregulars who are supposed to be Islamic extremists. The Cold War wasn’t an outright military confrontation although there were proxy wars, but this has brought up its own set of controversies.

But I do want to argue that whether you want to call it the War on Terror, and now we have an annexe called the Arab Spring, however they were created or however they were perpetuated, the Americans have always followed their national interests.

Take for example the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring is something in which it is purported to be mainly youthful, forward-looking, progressive, Western-influenced people who want democracy to come to their country.

The problem is that that does not seem to apply to certain countries which the United States has good relations with such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. So the countries that have been targeted for destabilisation have been Libya and Syria.

The PNAC, the Project for the New America (n Century) was the blueprint I think for essential American policy as far as (identifying) who the enemy is. The neo-Conservatives were about using American military might, while ignoring multi-national agreements, to go into countries and fill out a vacuum left by the retreated Soviet Union.

And those countries who were earmarked: Libya, Syria; all of them were supposed to end with the taking out of Iran. It was a five year project and this was revealed by General Wesley Clarke the former head of NATO.

So that policy has been followed.

I have this chart which on the one hand shows you what the governments of America and Britain say are their aims and objectives, but they actually have other aims and objectives.

Yes, they are combating or trying to contain Islamist-inspired terrorism, but they are at the same time trying to secure economic advantages around the Persian Gulf – there’s no question about that. They have invaded Afghanistan, they have invaded Iraq and that entailed the encirclement of Iran.

When they talk about promoting democracy and the Arab Spring and overthrowing oppressive dictators such as Libya’s Gaddafi, Syria’s Assad on the other hand what they are really doing is targeting the ‘hostile’ regimes, they are not targeting Bahrain which is violently suppressing protests by the majority Shias.

Also humanitarian intervention through this juggernaut of NATO protecting civilian populations from massacres. Essentially it is also a device used very selectively to attack certain countries which are hostile to America.

I think that we’re all clear about the War on Terror as relates to Iraq. Saddam Hussein led a secular government and he was in no way a bedfellow of al-Qaeda terrorists. That war, as we know, was engineered by the use of flawed and fabricated intelligence. Again, a way in which intelligence is used in a deceptive manner to fool the public and to utilise it for some form of national interest.

There’s no question about it. There was a revelation that Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, in a conversation with Tony Blair was saying, “Look, it’s very “thin”, this evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but President Bush has made his mind up that he’s going to invade Iraq, but what they are doing is they’re “fixing things around intelligence” and Colin Powell showed what the fix was, and as we know there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Another way in which American intelligence has shown its ‘dirty hand’ was in combating the insurgency. When the Americans removed Saddam Hussein, they dismantled the Baathist regime. The Sunni insurgency was very successful and a lot of American soldiers were getting killed.

So what happens, very publically, but it was a short, brief announcement, the Pentagon tells the press: “we are thinking about the Salvador Option”. So we’re going back to El Salvador death squads. And so what do you do? You make friends with your enemy. They did that with the al-Qaeda-like fighters who overthrew Gaddafi in Libya and those who are fighting to remove Assad and in this case, they recruited members of Shia militias; the Badhr Brigade and the Madhi Army.

They were highly motivated in getting their own (back) against the Sunnis who were the favoured people under the Saddam regime. It involved not just kidnappings, torture and murders; it involved also regulating a (special) prison system.

And so who does Donald Rumsfeld get? He gets retired Colonel James Steele who was a veteran of the death squads of El Salvador. And he comes and works in concert with a Colonel Coffman who reports to General Patraeus and they use that to defeat the insurgency. So again, end justifies the means? But severe human rights violations.

So we know what happened in Libya, Gaddafi with whom they had a bit of a rapprochement but they decided, “We want him overthrown.” And effectively Britain and America were arming and training militias who had Islamist sympathies to overthrow this secular regime of Gaddafi.

Here’s the news about Syria. All this talk about, “Oh, we are thinking about officially supplying a few radio bands whatever to (the opposition)”…There’s a secret war going on. There’s no question that the so-called Free Syrian Army is being aided by the United States intelligence.

There was a report in the Daily Telegraph in early March about the airlift of 3,000 tons of weapons from Zagreb in Croatia and this one also from the New York Times which says “at the behest of the CIA Arab governments through Saudi Arabia and Turkey” are arming these Syrian rebels. So that’s what the agenda is all about.

How do we compare these tactics? It’s a never ending cycle.

Extraordinary renditions, black sites and torture: We became familiar with the term waterboarding; a form of medieval-like torture. And where does that come out of?  It comes out of the book as applied in Operation Condor which the American intelligence services oversaw, and the death squads that occurred in Central America.

Assassinations: The attempts to assassinate Castro and Sukarno. They tried to assassinate Saddam Hussein. And the same way with Gaddafi who eventually was lynched. I think the militias were guided to him by intelligence supplied to them.

The use of criminals and political extremists: We’re familiar in the Cold War with the American CIA recruiting the mafia to try and assassinate Fidel Castro and also political extremists; we’ve noticed the use of neo-fascists preserving European democracy ironically because that was the sort of person who could be reliable ideologically in fighting communism.

In the same way the United States has no problem in terms of forming alliances with extremists who will serve their purposes. Let me just give you an idea about that:

Is al-Qaeda the shock troop regiment of the CIA?

It sounds like a smart-alecky comment, but effectively this is what happened in Libya with the unseating of Gaddafi in Libya and this report in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh in 2007 talking about the reconfiguration of the Bush Administration’s policy that they were engaging in operations in Lebanon aimed at marginalising Hezbollah.

All roads, as I said earlier on, lead to Iran. These are bastions of Shiadom who are in opposition to American and British interests. And this has succeeded in bolstering Sunni extremist groups. They have taken over Libya with the aid of NATO; they want to take over Syria again with the aid of America.

So again, what are they creating? A Mediterranean lake to be festered by al-Qaeda-like sympathisers?

And then media manipulation, which we mentioned earlier on as a Cold war strategy. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, MI6 was involved in ‘Operation Mass Appeal’ which was discovered sometime in November and admitted to in December of 2003.

They were planting stories which heightened the suspicion that Saddam Hussein was better armed than he actually was. So again a continuation of a situation.

So what is the basis of accountability? There is a framework in which the CIA and MI6 are supposed to operate. Ironically as most of us will obviously know, the British security services were not acknowledged to even exist until the later part of the 20th Century.

So accountability was essentially an abstract concept as far as the wider public was concerned or having parliamentary committees oversee them, but at the moment both in America and the UK you have these intelligence committees that technically monitor their work and they are given briefings in secret.

But there are always caveats involved. As we know, both the CIA and the security services in this country are exempt from Freedom of Information legislation. There are exceptions to the 30-year Cabinet rule regarding the release of documents, so again the intelligence services tend to operate on a different plane from the rest of the civil institutions of the executive side of government.

And as I gave that example of the MI5 and MI6 officers being able to claim some sort of immunity as long as the secretary of state undersigns it, the same thing under the PATRIOT Act or Homeland Security regime, CIA officers and members of the United States military cannot be tried for war crimes or torture. They have immunity.

So again, not a level playing field in terms of accountability which obviously gives cause for concern as to the extent of how far they go.

Well we want to think about who is responsible? I think political, military intelligence service figures should be able to face prosecution.

You have leaders of countries from the Balkans and Africa being tried in The Hague for war crimes. Why isn’t Tony Blair, why isn’t George Bush in a cage in the Hague  being tried for instigating a war of aggression, because that is what is was in terms of invading  Iraq based on that flawed, fabricated evidence.

That was what led Generals Jodl and Keitel to the hangman’s noose at Nuremberg, because they aided a war of aggression.

The picture I have there is of Nicollo Parroti, the (former) head of SISMI, Italian military intelligence who aided the CIA in the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric who was based in Milan.

He was jailed in February 2013 for the rendition. He has a lot of time to appeal, I guess, but this is showing us a vista. It is not about forming reconciliation commissions as in certain other societies. It’s a situation in which the law exists if judiciaries have the will and politicians have the will to pursue the figures who transgress.

The CIA station chief of Milan has also been convicted in abstentia.

Those are the (transgressors). How can you get redress?

Through criminal prosecutions such as the head of SISMI, but also through the European Convention of Human Rights. And a particular individual, Khalid el-Masri who was kidnapped in Macedonia and renditioned to Afghanistan and then left in Albania when they found that they got the wrong man, he won 50,000 euros as compensation.

His case against the head of the CIA, George Tenet at the time, was thrown out by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it would involve divulging national security issues.

So how do we conclude on this?

There is no fast and easy answer, but my point is to accept that vital national interests are always involved in things. It is a question though if you are a democracy and America a land of freedom and liberty and you hold yourself out to be an exemplar of this, you need to practice what you preach.

But it seems that Western governments through the able hand of the intelligence services are able to operate almost on the level of psychopaths. They profess one thing on the one hand but do another thing with the other. And it’s been patently obvious.

It presents not just problems of human rights and freedom of information, it can outright distort history; the fact that secrets are kept for an inordinate amount of time.

I’ll give a good example before I finish off.

The Lockhart Plot. This is a legendary situation that involved the precursor of MI6 in Russia through Robert Bruce Lockhart, who was stationed as a diplomat in Moscow and it was always been suspected that the British wanted to have Lenin killed and the Bolsheviks overthrown so that  Russia could come back into the first world War.

It was always denied but more evidence has come to light.

This is almost a hundred years ago, but more evidence has come to light that that was indeed the truth, but yet a lot of the relevant papers are still locked up.

I think as Robert Service the historian basically intimated, the only reason for this must surely be that the British security establishment and government want to put forward the idea that they are not in favour of destabilisation or assassinating leaders of foreign nations.

But the truth is that the British have played dirty like everybody else, and it is a fatuous situation for you to deny that this never occurred. Because if you cannot account for the past, how are you going to properly pursue things as they stand in the present and the future?

So that is where I shall leave it for the moment.

(C) Adeyinka Makinde (2013)

BETWEEN IDOWU AKINLOTAN, THE OPPOSITION AND THE REST OF US

Peace

Peace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   

 There is great wisdom in reserving one’s decision’s as long as possible and until all the facts and forces that will be potent at the moment are revealed”…Winston Churchill.

 

As much as I admire his style of writing, I am afraid Idowu Akinlotan’s extreme and oft-times pessimistic views on the Nigerian project are deserving of some response if not for the sake of argument than possibly to dislodge the influence of  his biased write ups on psyche of many Nigerians.

His column PALLODIUM which features on the back page of the Nation newspaper on most Sundays is one that I usually look forward to because I had up till now considered him as one of Nigeria’s foremost opinion moulders and  critical analysts.

In the past few months, I have had reason to question my dedication to his column. My position stems from the fact that he seems to be losing his credibility and objectivity as he makes to address issues of national interest. It seems to me that the fiery columnist now prefers to use his pen as a weapon with which he so zealously castigates the person of President Jonathan. His persistent criticism of the administration’s every move smirks of the handiwork of one who is carried away by a deep hunger for recognition or perhaps he is playing out a script designed by the so-called opposition to run the reputation of the administration aground.

The PALLODIUM is not only losing its objectivity but is also beginning to serve as a platform for the expression of misguided opinions capable of misleading the less discerning amongst us. I personally have issues with most of his opinions and though I may not be as gifted as Akinlotan in the use of words, I take it as a personal mission to speak out against his use of the column to continually defame the Jonathan administration. I am not a political office holder nor do I belong to any party. I am first and foremost a Nigerian, who from the depth of my heart realize that Nigeria may not achieve that greatness we all dream about in my life time.  I am however encouraged to hope for the best at least for posterity’s sake. The situation we find ourselves in is an intrinsic part of many a nation’s history. With conflict or strife, we may be moved to take each other for granted to the detriment of our unity and the democratic process.

My disappointment in Akinlotan is further accentuated by the fact that his lines of argument are often biased and taken from a unilateral point of view. Seldom if at all are his criticisms constructive. Rather the venom his words carry reveal a person who is gradually making a name for himself as a national irritant. I am now forced to see him as dancing to drum beats of the opposition; namely the ACN whose views I believe PALLODIUM really represents.

This write-up was occasioned by his recent article in the Nation’s publication of Sunday, May 19, 2013 where he so despairingly centered on the issue of the recently imposed state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.  Not only did Akinlotan describe the initiative as being superfluous, he also had this to say about President Jonathan; “President Jonathan, I have argued does not need a state of emergency to take the measures he has just adumbrated. But none in the National Assembly will have the heart to tell him that. I am persuaded that indeed the proclamation reeks of offensive politicking. The Northeast is anti-Jonathan and will stay so until 2015 and beyond. The President does not have any emotional attachment to these states and could care less what they feel as he said when he reluctantly visited them in March. Judging from his anger as he read his speech in a tremulous voice on Tuesday, Dr. Jonathan was evidently tormented by his private demons and was intemperate, unstatesmanlike and full of unnecessary fury. His supposed fierce mien was not as some imagined a ploy to display presidential toughness; instead it betrayed his boyish instinct for sophistry, his rustic impulsiveness and his burgeoning ruthlessness and dictatorial tendency”.

While Akinlotan argues that Jonathan doesn’t need a state of emergency to take measures, he failed to proffer an alternative. I ask him though; Did President Jonathan not attempt to reach out to the insurgents? Did he not time and again appeal for them to lay down their arms and state their grievances? Though he initially opposed the idea of granting amnesty to ‘ghosts’, did he not later buy wholeheartedly into the initiative? While the amnesty idea was being fine-tuned, the Bama incident came up and Jonathan was blamed for what was deemed the excesses of the Nigerian security forces. Shortly after, there was a massive reprisal by the Boko Haram insurgents which resulted in the death of many innocent souls including a number of security personnel. Of Borno State’s 27 local government areas, the insurgents were said to be in control of no less than 20. Nigerian flags (a symbol of our sovereignty and unity) were pulled down and replaced by unknown ones. For me and I believe a majority of Nigerians, that singular move was an affront and assault on our territorial integrity. In the face of all this, what was the President supposed to do? Was he to sit down with arms folded while the wanton killing of Nigerians and destruction of properties continued?

Has Akinlotan forgotten so quickly that the people of Odi did far less harm before former President Obasanjo ordered the tanks to be rolled out? When the same President Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau State, was the carnage up to half of what Boko Haram have wrought? When a state of emergency was declared in Ekiti State again by Obasanjo, were the reasons for it so compelling? Why then must Jonathan’s declaration be different? Why the attendant criticisms of a course of action that is clearly within his powers to enforce especially as it is in response to an armed threat to our national security?

The activities of the Boko Haram insurgents have led to the crippling of the economy of an entire region and have adversely affected the way of life of the people. How can the likes of Akinlotan hold the views they do on the declaration of a state of emergency by President Jonathan. He goes further to downplay what is on record as one of Jonathan’s greatest speeches made before the elders and prominent citizens of both Borno and Yobe States during his visit in March. Was he (Jonathan) not right to advise that he would them (the elders) responsible for continued bloodletting in the affected states? Do we not all know that many of those so-called elders interact with the insurgents? How I ask were his words out-of-place? Is Jonathan expected to go fedora cap in hand pleading with the insurgents while countless Nigerians are mowed down by bullets on a daily basis. Surely not! His stand on the matter and the declaration of a state of emergency are in order. His firmness and perceived fury are equally in order. By daring him, the insurgents dared the rest of us.

There must be peace in the land at any cost. We may not be residents of the affected states but wherever one lives in Nigeria, one lives from one day to the next under an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. How can we progress under such a shroud? I do not hold brief for President Jonathan and do not necessarily agree with some of his policies. However, he is my President and I owe him my allegiance. While I will exercise my right of expression to the fullest like Akinlotan so fitfully does, I will (unlike him) be mindful to do so  in a manner that makes way for solutions that will lead to sustained development and lasting peace.

To describe the state of emergency declared by Jonathan in the affected states as offensive politicking is rather cruel. How can Akinlotan say in one sentence that it is politicking and in the very next line insist that “the President does not have any emotional attachment to those states and could care less what they feel”. I ask Akinlotan; what then is President Jonathan doing it for? He might as well leave the region to fend for themselves since he doesn’t care for their votes or support should he decide to run for a second term. Or is his action meant to assuage other parts of the country and win their sympathies and support towards a second term dream? Come on now Mr. Akinlotan sir; you can do better than that. My introductory quote made by Winston Churchill is meant to give you a perspective on leadership that I believe you lack. I do hope you will learn from it and mete out less disrespectful invectives at our leaders.

I am equally irked by Akinlotan’s attempt to dress the ACN in the clothing of saints. In a write-up filled with so many paradoxes, he had claims that a day after the Jonathan’s declaration the ACN spontaneously denounced the declaration and was in fact playing politics with the issue of insecurity. According to him, the ACN much more than any party did well to publicize its initial opposition to emergency rule and went ahead to describe the party’s leadership as realists. For me this was a huge joke. What in their declaration makes them realists? The same ACN who consistently described Jonathan as being weak and un-presidential in his approach to issues. When he did eventually stand up to the occasion they were the first to cry foul! Who if I may ask are the ones playing politics. Wasn’t the opposition’s initial objection to emergency rule born out of the fear of losing those states and subsequent votes come 2015? After the opposition’s outing in Borno State earlier this year where they doled out cash gifts to the state governments what else have they done to follow-up in the quest for sustained peace in the region?

It is my personal opinion that people like Akinlotan give the Yoruba a bad name. With the likes of him, I am not surprised that politically inclined opinions emanating from the Southwest are often dismissed with a wave of the hand. It seems we play to the gallery every time.

This write-up is not aimed at causing any dissention. Rather it appeals to the minds and hearts of all Nigerians to give peace a chance. We cannot afford to play politics with every national calamity. We are all responsible and should put love for country first. Nigerians must wake up and stop being used by the few who do not have our interests at heart. My brother egbon Idowu, please endeavor to preach more of tolerance and peace in your articles. The power of the media is great and a misapplication of perspectives could lead to dissentions even you cannot predict.

God will surely see us through.

 

OLU ADEKUNLE Snr.

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