Libya: “No brother in the jungle” – Reuben Abati

Arab countries have a tradition of slavery dating back to centuries. This has persisted despite the existence of international conventions and legal frameworks classifying slavery as a crime against humanity. The current situation in Libya, involving slavery and human trafficking, has been brought to global attention because we now live in the age of communication where nothing good or bad can be hidden forever. But the situation is far worse than has been depicted. The Nigerians who have been brought back from Libya have told heart-rending stories of woe and misery: how they were sold into slavery by the Arabs and by their own Nigerian brothers and sisters, how they were subjected to all forms of indignity including rape, extortion, and torture, and how living in Libya is now the equivalent of a trip to hell. Quite a number of issues deserve closer interrogation to enable us to appreciate the depth of this crisis.

The Libyan story today is a sorry advertisement for the abuse of NATO and the failure of the American foreign policy process. The multinational coalition that intervened in the Libyan civil war in 2011 and made the removal of Libyan strongman Muammar Ghadaffi its primary objective must by now be full of regrets. It is instructive that former US President Barack Obama has described the failure to think through the consequences of that intervention as the “worst mistake” of his Presidency.

The character of that mistake lies in the fact that NATO and other forces despite the division among the global powers on the question of Libya, saw the internal crisis in Libya as an opportunity to deal with a man who had been labeled at various times as the “mad dog of the Middle East”, and who was gradually expressing “imperialist ambitions” – “the king of kings of Africa” with a pan-African vision. NATO’s intervention was an act of vendetta, an orchestrated punishment for a man who had been declared guilty of dictatorship. It was most convenient for the multinational coalition, with its eyes fixed on Libya’s oil, to support the rebels. The result is the mayhem that has overtaken Libya since the fall of Ghadaffi.

Under Ghadaffi’s watch, Libya was a stable, organized society. Following the bloodless coup that led to the flight into exile of King Idris 1 in 1969, the new leader, Muammar Ghadaffi, not only abolished the monarchy, he embarked on a mission of unifying the various clans under the umbrella of Libyan nationalism. He seized control of the country’s oil infrastructure from Western interests and redistributed wealth by creating a welfare system. The average Libyan had access to free housing, free medical care, and free education. The government provided infrastructure, and although Ghadaffi soon became a practical dictator, he managed to grow a sense of Libyan identity and unity.

Seeing himself as a pan-Africanist, he encouraged closer relations with other African nations. Many Africans from Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria and other African countries lived and worked in Libya, even if many of them took the menial jobs that an average Libyan would not touch – at that time. The country’s foreign reserve was about $200 billion. Its life expectancy and literacy rates were among the highest in Africa and the Arab world. The average Libyan enjoyed many opportunities except the freedom to be different or query the government and the Constitution. Those who removed and killed Ghadaffi didn’t realize how much of a potentially divided country Libya was, and the extent of Ghadaffi’s efforts in managing the centrifugal tendencies.

After Ghadaffi, Libya imploded. Anything is possible in Libya today because there is no responsible government in charge. People are resorting to self-help. Anybody that is armed exercises authority and does anything to make money. The welfare state has collapsed, criminality is widespread: kidnapping, slavery, violence, the economy is in shambles. Clannish and sectarian differences now predominate. The country is drifting. Most of the people are like prisoners, including those who are gainfully employed. In the absence of a government, the international community appears helpless. This is the setting for the chaos and the humanitarian crisis that has overtaken that country.

Libya remains nonetheless, a major transit point and exit route for many Africans seeking to escape illegally into Europe. Libya, a country whose land area is almost twice the size of Nigeria, has over 2,000 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline from the Egyptian border to the Tunisian border. Frustrated by the objective conditions in their own countries, in the form of crippling poverty, misgovernance, unemployment and the difficulty of getting a visa or being able to buy a ticket to Europe, many Africans, particularly West Africans opt for the cheaper, albeit illegal option of sneaking into Europe through the desert and across the Mediterranean sea, with Libya and Algeria as the most popular exit points. This has always been a risky venture, but the traffic continues to grow. It is also an organized criminal operation involving gangs at home, and along the route. Nigerians constitute the majority of these illegal migrants.

Organized by a criminal gang at home, they usually travel through Niger, which is a contiguous, ECOWAS country. In Niger, another gang of human traffickers, mostly Touaregs take over from their Nigerian partners to take the illegal migrants across the desert to Libya. Only about 60-70% eventually make it to Libya. Many die along the way because of the harsh desert conditions and they are buried in the sand. Those who eventually make it to Libya are not necessarily lucky. They may be kidnapped at the border by rampaging Arab militants, turned into slaves, and asked to contact their families back home to pay ransom. The men are beaten; the women are raped. The images that we have seen from Libyan slave camps are sad. Arab racism has been an issue and violence towards foreigners is not necessarily new in Libya, but it is getting worse because now the issue is not strictly racism but the people’s desperation for survival in a state that failed.

It is estimated that about 500, 000 – 700, 000 Nigerians are trapped in Libya. The Obasanjo government once had to repatriate over 17, 000 Nigerians from that country. In the light of recent developments, the Buhari government has also repatriated over 1, 000 Nigerians from Libya in 2017 alone, but there is no hope that all of them can be brought back home. Many will like to return home, but they don’t even have the means to transport themselves to the evacuation points. Those that are not enslaved are still hoping to make enough money to be able to cross to Europe. They wash cars, work as farm hands or as security guards, or prostitutes, and they get exposed to all the dangers imaginable. The few who manage to make the final journey to Europe are not always lucky either: they could perish in the sea like the 26 Nigerian girls who recently drowned while trying to cross into Italy.

The saddest part of it all is that Nigerians are also involved in the trafficking and dehumanization of their own compatriots. In a shocking account by one Sunday Anyaegbunam, a Libyan returnee, who left Nigeria in April 2017, with his wife, we are told that: “The Nigerians selling people in Libya are more wicked than many of the Arabs. I have never seen people so heartless as the Nigerians who bought and sold me. There are many of them in Agadez and Sabha, who are making so much money from selling their own people. But there are other West Africans doing the business too. When you approach them and say “please, my brother, help me”. They would tell you: “No brother in the jungle”. Libya is indeed now a jungle in the hands of armed militants, the Islamic State, tribal gangs, and an interim leadership authority. The jungle is a dangerous place: which is why it is surprising that more Nigerians would prefer to abandon their own country and go to the jungle.

About 70% of the Libyan returnees are reportedly from Edo State, and in general most of them are from Edo, Delta, Imo, Anambra and Rivers states. But this is not enough reason for this problem to be treated as Southern Nigerian or Christian. This should not be about North or South, or Christian vs Muslim. It is unacceptable for every Nigerian issue to be reduced to this kind of division, the same way some Nigerians tend to dismiss Boko Haram as a Northern problem. This is a crisis that affects all of us. It is embarrassing that Nigerians are deserting their own country and flocking to Europe in droves despite the risks of illegal migration. In the 70s, many Nigerians were proud and happy to live at home, but since the introduction of austerity measures in the 80s and the gradual collapse of the Nigerian economy, a new kind of economy has since developed around dangerous choices.

The consequences are not limited to the tales from Libya. There are Nigerians in jail or on the death row across the world, in China, Thailand and the Middle East. We need to have a strong policy in place to check illegal migration. Massive enlightenment campaigns should be organized to educate the populace about the associated dangers. There is an assignment here for the National Orientation Agency (NOA), a strategic agency, which has been relatively sleepy since 2015. Our youths should be told that there is no safe route to Europe through the desert or a boat ride.

Everybody should wake up – government, civil society, and all the people who have abdicated their responsibilities at the level of the family unit. The human trafficking gangs in the country especially in the identified major centres should be tracked, identified and sanctioned. Government should create a conducive environment for our youths to make a living at home. Government has a constitutional responsibility to empower all Nigerians and to guarantee their security and welfare. Nigeria should also engage the government of Niger. What can we do to prevent illegal migration through Niger? This has to be a joint responsibility between Nigeria and Niger. Although Chad is not in ECOWAS, quite a number of Nigerians also travel through that route. Joint border patrol and exchange of useful intelligence between Nigeria and her neighbors would be advisable.

The Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Edo State Government and the International Organization on Migration, CNN, Pastor Temitope Joshua’s The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and every other group or agency that has responded decently and responsibly to the plight of the Nigerians from Libya, and the evil of slavery in Libya, deserve to be commended. In spite of the deviousness of a minority who earn a living by dehumanizing their fellow human beings, it is enheartening to see that warm blood still flows in the heart of mankind. The Edo State government has put in place perhaps the most comprehensive rehabilitation programme for the Libya returnees: counseling, accommodation, vocational training, and take off grants after training.

These are worthy steps, but they are at best short-term. The long-term measures for all governments should be good governance, public enlightenment and concerted international action against slavery and all forms of cruelty and inhumanity.

Written By
Reuben Abati

The Libyan Slave Route and The Greed Factor, By Kayode Ogundamisi

I just glanced through a list of over 2380 Nigerians who have returned from the notorious Libyan slave camps on failed and suicidal trips to Europe. Not ONE name from areas affected by the deadly Nigerian Boko Haram war was on the list. All the names there are from the fairly stable Southern Nigeria. Is the South also undergoing insurgency? Aside the general state of insecurity, and the economic crisis that is also applicable to most countries, do we really have a full-blown war in Southern Nigeria? Are people ducking from bombs and mass refugee camps?

Even if we had war in Southern Nigeria, would it not make sense to see long lines of refugees heading towards the Seme Border in Ogun State or the border between Cross River and Cameroon or in the direction of any other bordering countries in the South? No, our compatriots head North, cross to Niger and then to Libya on the deadly journey to Europe. Our young girls now account for the largest number of prostitutes in Europe; our drug dealing compatriots now account for the greater number of undesirables on European streets; not once will you meet a Nigerian victim of Boko Haram crisis seeking international escape, but just that migrant who desires a ‘better life’. Yet, there is nothing wrong in that but for choosing a deadly route and expecting applause when it goes wrong.

One would have expected those facing the Boko Haram war in the Northern part of Nigeria to be the first to face North Africa, considering that they are also closer to Niger and the slave trade route, but no they have remained in IDP camps or only relocated to safe areas within Nigeria and Africa, in the hope that things will get better soon. They are now our ‘mai guards’ in Lagos, you find them pushing wheel barrows in Aba, working on farms in Ikare and doing all that it takes to survive.

As we cry against the Libyans, can we also call out GREED disguised as DESPERATION, the very factor influencing most of the travelers? We can all try being politically correct but we have to go into our Southern Nigerian communities and find out what is really happening there; who are the criminal gangs selling greed to our vulnerable citizens?

It is natural for humans to seek opportunities but if you chose to pay thousands of dollars so you can have more than the basic needs of life, live in affluence or build mansions, the price you will ultimately pay could be disastrous.

You have nothing but yourself to blame. Return back home, borrow yourself some brain, as there are better legitimate means of migration, and invest those millions on a small scale business. Otherwise, you will die hard trying to migrate to Europe. The choice is yours. Nigeria is facing multiple challenges, don’t add your own self-inflicted choices to it.

It is understandable when refugees from war torn areas such as Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and even Boko Haram crisis infected areas, choose the Saharan route over gun and bomb blasts at home, but for an economic migrant to invest millions of naira into a journey of no return? It surely speaks volumes, and I shuddered in disbelief as one of the victims with a Yoruba sounding name on CNN claimed he would rather die than return to his home town in Ogun State. I try to imagine what could be going on in Ogun State that would inspire such desperation.

I acknowledge that Nigeria is not an outstanding place to be in, and a number of us migrated years back as a matter of choice, but that choice does not include subjecting oursleves to indignity in a slave camp. As I write this piece, another set of Nigerians are probably on their way to the land of no return; they may have watched the CNN expose but still decide to ignore the danger, as the only image they see is that of a neighbour who left a few years back who is now ‘doing well’ in Europe.

They will never see the drowning families, the young girls raped to death, the viral video of the Edo lady made to swallow the urine of her Libyan slave master, the young Nigerian girls buried in Italy, abandoned by their own government, etc. The new set of victims are propelled by the Nigerian lingo that “it is not my portion”, and it is only when death comes staring at them during the journey that they know danger does not understand Nigerian lingos or our religious mumbo jumbo.

You have nothing but yourself to blame. Return back home, borrow yourself some brain, as there are better legitimate means of migration, and invest those millions on a small scale business. Otherwise, you will die hard trying to migrate to Europe. The choice is yours. Nigeria is facing multiple challenges, don’t add your own self-inflicted choices to it.

Written By
Kayode Ogundamisi, a public affairs analyst, from the U.K.

One On One Session With Atiku Abubakar

Fellow Nigerians, I’ve always wondered what drives or propels the man, former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. For real, I have never seen a man so fastidious about his dream and so obstinate about achieving a lifelong ambition to be the number one Nigerian Citizen. I’ve followed his trajectory with keen interest since 1993 when he took on both Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe, in an epic Presidential primary, that Chief Abiola ultimately won. His formidability we were told was a result of the influence of his godfather and political colossus, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, now of blessed memory. Chief Abiola actually reached out to the General, as he was fondly called, to prevail on Atiku to pull out of the race and support him. A deal was subsequently struck, between Abiola and Yar’Adua, for Atiku to be Abiola’s running-mate. Everything looked good on paper until the powerful and influential Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governors threw spanners in the works, forcing Abiola to renege on his word. Whilst Abiola wanted Atiku, the Governors led by the irrepressible Olusegun Osoba, from Abiola’s home State of Ogun, insisted on Abiola picking Kingibe. They convinced Abiola that it was dangerous to pick Atiku who would have been more loyal and too submissive to his godfather.

atiku abubakar
Atiku Abubakar.

I have no doubt that from that moment onwards, the June 12 Presidential election was already threatened and endangered. According to insiders, the General was so miffed and enraged that he swore Abiola would not be President for dumping his godson. Efforts were made by different personages to settle the matter, but it seemed the camaraderie was over between Abiola and Yar’Adua who, once upon a time, were successful business partners at African Ocean Lines.

Anyway, Atiku was kicked out of the race to fight another day. Abiola won the Presidential election eventually but was never allowed to assume power. The June 12 election fallout led to a cataclysmic eruption that consumed many of the big players, including Abiola, his wife, Alhaja Kudirat, Major-General Yar’Adua and General Sani Abacha. The boss of bosses, General Olusegun Obasanjo, escaped only by the whiskers. He was jailed but came back to be President. Ironically, the same Atiku who was not allowed to be the Vice-Presidential candidate in 1993 became the substantive Vice President in 1999, when he ran, and won, with Obasanjo. Whilst Obasanjo emerged, in a bid to assuage the betrayed and wounded Yoruba, Atiku’s choice appears to have been predicated on the sense of injustice that he had suffered as a result of being dumped by Abiola.

Everything initially ran smoothly between Obasanjo and Atiku in their first term in office, from 1999 to 2003. However, the relationship collapsed when Atiku started showing interest in the number one position. I will not bore you with the rest of that fiasco, including the anecdotal humbling of Obasanjo who allegedly had to beg his deputy, Atiku, to allow him a second term. My mission was to provide some background to Atiku’s uncommon trajectory. He has pursued his dream since 1993 and has never given up. That was 24 years ago. Indeed, Atiku has been in partisan politics for 28 years but only served in government for eight years. He has criss-crossed different political parties in search of that magic wand that could give him his heart’s desire. It has been a painful journey. He’s been dissed and lampooned as a serial “decampee” famed for wandering endlessly in the wilderness of Nigerian politics. That, for many people, is a major weakness which signals integrity issues. There are other minuses weighing on him like an albatross. How does he deal with these very serious issues of perception or misperception?

The opportunity came for me to engage him very critically, and very privately, yesterday afternoon in Lagos. A mutual friend had called to arrange the meeting at Atiku’s behest. I gladly accepted not only as I was anxious to bombard him with many nagging questions, but also because by some quirk of fate, the political gladiators for the number one hot seat in Nigeria seem to feel that a session with me is a sine qua non for their aspiration. I’m deeply humbled by that trust.

The meeting was arranged for Lagos. Atiku had arrived on Thursday. I arrived in Lagos yesterday afternoon from Abuja where I had been the Chief Presenter of Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi’s book, On a Platter of Gold, chronicling President Goodluck Jonathan’s twilight days as President. I checked into my hotel just before 12 noon and put a call through to his room. He told me to give him a short time to freshen up and invite me over. He’s obviously been doing a lot of consultations and was working well into the early mornings. I dozed off. Suddenly, I was awoken from my slumber by banging on my door. I stood up to look through the peephole and was pleasantly surprised to see the most-talked about politician of the moment at my door. I opened the door and Atiku immediately apologised for the intrusion. He came without any aide, so we were both comfortable to talk frankly.

I thanked him for the honour of actually coming to me and asked if he won’t mind me asking some tough questions. He said that was fine and I should feel free. My first shot was about his moving from Party to Party. Does this not make him look desperate and unserious? He must have answered this question a thousand times because he wasted no time in answering very calmly and confidently:

“There is nothing wrong with it. Ours is a fledgling democracy of barely two decades since the end of the last military regime. What it means is that the political parties are yet to mature and are going through constant transformations and changes. That is why even President Buhari has been able to move from party to party, including ANPP, CPC and now APC. And for those who read about world history and political books like I do, they will know that Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill and others went through so much before achieving their dreams…”

He went further: “I’m not different. I know what I want for my country. I’ve served Nigeria in different capacities and I am one of the most experienced leaders around today. There is no part of Nigeria I’m not familiar with. I have friends everywhere. They know me and I know them. The benefit of being around for so long is that they have come to know me for certain principles and know that I have a rich knowledge of Nigeria and what it would take to move us to the height of greatness. They can also trust me that I’m not coming to government to steal their money. God has blessed me with business acumen. How can you run a nation if you cannot run your own business? I run my businesses to international standards. Let any of those who want to compete with me show what they have managed successfully. I’ve lifted over 45,000 families out of joblessness and poverty through my microfinance company in my State Adamawa and we’ve have empowered mostly women. The good news is these women have been very honest. Returns on our loans have been about 98 percent. They have not disappeared with the loans given then. We plan to replicate this nationwide…”

I asked if he was obsessed with being President at all costs. His answer was an emphatic, No! He asked rhetorically why he should not give back some of his experience and exposure to a country that has given him so much? Why should he allow incompetent people to run down the country when God has given him the talent and wherewithal to lift up Nigeria?

I told him the belief out there is that he is a corrupt man and that the stain won’t be easy to remove. His former boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has sold us that line, and would stop at nothing to regale the world that Atiku is a thief who nobody should vote for. Atiku’s response was very concise and assertive: “I have the highest regards for my boss. He gave me eight years to serve Nigeria under him. We had our differences but we both tried our best. But on the issue of corruption, I have challenged anyone, anywhere, who has any evidence of corruption against me to come forward. I’m sure they would have combed everywhere trying to find anything incriminating against me, but they have not found it, or they are still searching. Dele, I’m throwing that challenge again, let them bring out whatever they have on me…”

I followed with a bazooka and asked him “how come you are running away from the United States of America? What offence have you committed to warrant not being able to visit, since all this time?” Atiku fired back at me: “It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America. I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process. This is not peculiar to me. For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of religious considerations. The current Indian Prime Minister, Modi, suffered the same fate for years. Today, he is being treated to red carpet treatment in America.. I fly to different parts of the world, including Europe, if America wanted me, it would be so easy for them to reach out to their allies…”

We soon dovetailed to the nitty-gritty of politics. Why did he not wait to contest the primaries in APC first and see the outcome before running away? I felt this was defeatist! His response: “After Buhari won the election, he was no longer interested in the Party that made him President. Every activity stopped and not even the Party Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, could take any decision. I called Chief Oyegun a few times to tell him our Party was dying slowly but he told me he would not do anything unless he got clearance from the President. At a stage, I gathered about 18 prominent members and began to meet in the hope that we can re-energise Party activities, but some people lied to the President that I wanted to use the forum to launch my Presidential campaign. That forum became simply dead on arrival. No BOT, no NEC meetings, as stipulated in our Constitution. The Party became a one-man property. Everyone grumbles behind the President’s back but they are too timid to raise a voice against the illegalities being perpetuated. I should be bold enough to know what I want, and can do so at my age, so I decided to leave…”

So, where is he going from here? He says he hasn’t formally declared for any Party, but is sure PDP is waiting to welcome him back into the Party he co-founded with others at the end of military rule. I asked if he has any guarantee of getting the PDP ticket. He told me why he should get it: “Nothing is absolutely certain in this life, but PDP needs a candidate with the brightest chance and that can only come from someone who has major experience, exposure, knowledge about running an economy, who is a Nationalist and not a sectionalist and whose brand cannot be intimidated in anyway by that of the current President. If PDP picks a weak candidate, then the Party is doomed. Some of those whose names are being touted and bandied about have not grown beyond their immediate domains.”

If he gets the PDP ticket, is he confident he can beat a sitting President and Buhari for that matter? “I will definitely beat him this time. He has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill. A lot of people are disgruntled but keeping quiet and lying low. Our youths are suffering terribly and now they are being sold into slavery. Everyone knows my track record of inviting and attracting a good team and giving them the opportunity to work professionally. Nigerians are tired of leaders who cannot think big and work big. Dele, I will be ready from day one…”

Is he not afraid of Buhari? “No, definitely not. Buhari is free to contest and I’m free to contest. And Nigerians will make their choice.” I could see that glow in his eyes. He sounded determined and more prepared at this time, than at any other time.

Will Atiku play a joker as his last card in 2019? Time will tell.

Written By
Dele Momodu
The boss magazine

Thoughts On Libya: What Africa Needs To Do By Pius Adesanmi

I was on a national radio program here yesterday to offer my thoughts on the recent tragedy of black slave auctions in Libya. Here we go.

  1. I am shocked and outraged like everyone else but I am not surprised.
  2. I am not surprised that black Africans are being auctioned in broad daylight in Libya because I am not divorcing what is happening now as we speak from the overall history of the Arab Slave Trade in black Africa
  3. It is more fashionable to talk about the trans-Atlantic slave trade which moved millions of black Africans to the Americas. The history of Arab enslavers of black Africans is not well-known. It is hardly taught in the school curriculum in Africa.
  4. Yet, Arab Slave slave traders and hunters preceded European slave traders and hunters in black Africa by seven centuries.
  5. For seven continuous centuries before the Europeans, Arabs traded in black bodies, routed them through North Africa to be sold all over Arabia and the Middle East as slaves.
  6. The reality of Arab slavery goes hand in hand with a certain imaginary of race. Blacks are deemed inferior. In many parts of North Africa, belonging in Africa is treated like a geographical indignity.
  7. In essence, what is happening in Libya is to be seen within the framework of historical continuities going back several centuries. It is only more outrageous now because of the power of the image – CNN and social media have brought centuries of the treatment of black bodies in North Africa and the Arab world to your dinner table.
  8. The African Union and many African states are jackasses with no political willpower or moral authority to do anything meaningful about the tragedy in Libya, hence the largely disgraceful response from Africa thus far. They have not even expelled Libya from the AU.
  9. The European Union, the UN, the West are the congenital hypocritical jackasses we have always known. They are making perfunctory noise and expressing outrage. When they want results in Africa, they know how to get results. When Robert Mugabe began to target whites in Zimbabwe, they massed on him, choked him with sanctions, and hastened the course he was already on – the destruction of Zimbabwe’s economy. None of them is talking about sanctions against Libya and expelling her from the international body politic – the victims are expendable black people who would have become burdens on White Europe had Libya not done the needful! Now they are saying that the Libyan authorities have reassured them that they are looking into the matter. Shior!
  10. Africans looking up to the West and asking where the outrage is must therefore cut the crap. Africans in Paris, in London, have been marching and protesting. Where are the protests in the capitals of Africa?
  11. The Nigerian President has apparently only just heard of what is going on Libyaand issued a Twitter statement today. His government has ferried Nigerians home from Libya. The Ghanaian President is heehawing and blowing hot air on Twitter with no real action. I am the one who should be blowing hot air on Twitter, not the President of an African state. Uncle Jacob Zuma was recently honored with a statue in Nigeria by one of the most irresponsible state governors on offer in Nigeria. He is still basking in the fact that Nigeria accorded him worth he does not have at home in South Africa so he is yet to hear about Libya.
  12. These are the characters in charge of the state in Africa. They are the ones that the citizens of Africa should hold responsible. They are the ones we need to put pressure on to act decisively about Libya – starting with Libya’s expulsion from the AU. After all, their misrule of the continent is why our citizens are crossing the Sahara in the first place.

God bless Africa.

Written by
Professor Pius Adesanmi

Give the Nigerian Youth a Chance: A Memo to APC, By SKC Ogbonnia

The clarion call by the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF) demanding President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election did not come as a surprise. In fact, some of the most difficult questions that greeted my recent expression of interest to vie for the presidency under the All Progressives Congress (APC) centered on the plight of the Nigerian youth today. These youth are aggrieved, and understandably so, that our brand of democracy is skewed against them. Before delving into the matter, let me quickly offer two innocent acknowledgements.

The first goes to the leaders of the APC, particularly Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and President Buhari. Before gaining power, despite various breathtaking overtures from successive regimes in the Fourth Republic, these leaders were steadfast in personifying the cause of the opposition. In short, the defeat of a sitting president in 2015 represents one of the greatest milestones in Nigeria’s democratic journey. It proved, for a change, that there can be consequences for bad behaviours in our beloved country.

The next applause must go to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former President Goodluck Jonathan who, by default or design, provided the enabling environment for the emergence of a strong opposition party by the time of the 2015 election. Even more, Dr. Jonathan graciously accepted defeat. That gesture alone was historic and helped to elevate the Nigerian democracy to a hopeful trajectory.

This memo, therefore, is an appeal to our great party, APC, to take a cue from the preceding legacies and move the Nigerian democracy up another notch. There are many ways to accomplish such objective, but none will be more endearing than to truly create a level playing ground that can enable the youth to lend their abundant talents to the growth of our democracy.

The Anambra governorship election has become the foreplay to Nigeria’s general elections. Overall, President Buhari deserves commendation for ensuring that there was no interference through the federal might. However, notwithstanding that the election was generally adjudged peaceful, it was far from free or fair. It did not give the youth any fair chance for meaningful participation. For instance, only billionaires or their political godsons were free to fly the flags of the major parties in the said election.

This predicament presents the APC a grand opportunity to step in and effect the desired change.

The ruling party can begin by leading by example. As a progressive party, the APC must no longer be a party to arbitrary nomination fees. Its nomination fees – for all offices – ought to be reduced to the barest minimum, drastically lower than the current limits prescribed in the Electoral Act of 2017, as amended…


The ruling party can begin by leading by example. As a progressive party, the APC must no longer be a party to arbitrary nomination fees. Its nomination fees – for all offices – ought to be reduced to the barest minimum, drastically lower than the current limits prescribed in the Electoral Act of 2017, as amended, so that the ordinary man and woman can also aspire to serve. The advantages of this approach are two-fold. It profoundly broadens the party, as it enables mass participation in the process. It will also help redeem the image of the party from the negative public opinion it caused itself when the then candidate Buhari had to grudgingly borrow N27 million from a bank to purchase his nomination form towards the 2015 presidential election.

The most inevitable is to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to obey the laws of the land. The Electoral Act is explicit on campaign finance, outlining specific spending limits for every elective office, from councilor to the presidency, and relative consequences for violations. Yet, even though there is always ample evidence that the candidates spend without limitation, including buying votes, the INEC never seems to care to enforce the extant campaign finance laws. The Anambra election was no different.

This pattern does not bode well for our nascent democracy. Huge campaign money, of course, does nothing but accelerate the engine of corruption in the country. It also goes to grossly disfranchise the masses, especially the youth. Needless to mention that the pattern accounts for the unfortunate history of youth marginalisation in successive national governments.

Some critics may attempt to dismiss this call as self-serving since I am a candidate for president. But they should not. A simple scan of the internet will show that I have been a tireless crusader against tainted money in Nigerian politics for over a decade. Moreover, as hinted in my declaration statement, my team is blessed with the resources to fund our campaign to victory—from the ward level to the presidency.

It can also be convenient to view the memo as mundane since all the political parties, as well as the general masses, including the youth, are guilty of tainted money in our politics. For there will be no giver without a taker. But this is where the posterity beckons on the APC to leave a legacy. The PDP and Goodluck Jonathan will forever be remembered for creating the ideal condition for the opposition to thrive in Nigeria’s democracy. Let APC and Muhammadu Buhari thenceforth go further to foster mass participation and fair competition by curbing illegal money in our politics.

The ultimate beneficiary is Nigeria. Fair competition in our body politics will unleash the unique potential of the Nigerian masses, particularly the youths. Our future is a mirror of the present condition of these innocent youth, and that is troubling. But that future can, and should, be better. Let us, therefore, go forth to lay the right foundation today.

SKC Ogbonnia+