By Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe
It is indeed a sickening and cruel joke by both the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to have recently sent Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo to Sénégal to ‘mediate’ in the deteriorating political impasse between President Wade, who has insisted on seeking reelection for a third-term in office contrary to the maximum two-term provision in the constitution, and the constellation of political parties opposed to the extension project. Obasanjo’s so-called ‘just two years-further stay in office for Wade-and then Wade steps down’ as ‘compromise’ to resolve the crisis was robustly rejected by the opposition and the wider Sénégalese electorate, one of Africa’s most sophisticated, which, in 2000, ironically worked flat out to ensure Wade’s victory at the polls against the then incumbent candidacy of the French government-preferred Abdou Diouf. This victory was scored most spectacularly under that much loved, exhilarating, and progressive slogan and banner of the day, ‘Amoul Problème’.
In the Dakar public forum a fortnight ago as Obasanjo sought to announce his warped offer, the Sénégalese electorate once again stamped their presence indelibly on another critical course on the history of their land: ‘Go home, Obasanjo!’, they screamed, with the distinctly staggered discomfiture of the fanged impostor, ‘Leave our country Mr Obasanjo. We will never accept this!’ And they definitely didn’t accept ‘this’ as they forced the interloper out of town and forced Wade into an 18 March presidential run-off with geologist Macky Sall – a contest that Wade will obviously have an uphill task to win.
WHAT ‘PEACE ENVOY’?
The AU and Ecowas may have taken the cue from the UN in making their bizarre appointment of Obasanjo as ‘peace envoy’ to Sénégal. In 2008, Ban Ki-Moon, the current UN secretary-general, did not find it outrageous to appoint the same Obasanjo his ‘peace’ envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was despite Obasanjo’s rigging of three previous head-of-regime elections in Nigeria (including particularly the April 2007 ‘poll’ which Obasanjo codenamed ‘Operation Do-or-Die’ and had, on its eve, imported the following range of weaponry fit to equip a small army to effectuate his vicious ‘electoral’ coup d’état: 40,000 AK-47 rifles with 20 million rounds of 7.62 x 39 mm ammunition, 30,000 K2 rifles with 10 million rounds of 5.5 x 45 ammunition, 10,000 Beretta pistols with four million rounds of .9mm ammunition), despite Obasanjo’s desperately-engineered attempt to extend his own second-term tenure as Nigeria’s head of regime before the April 2007 ‘election’ (a precedent Wade could not have failed to note), despite Obasanjo’s appalling human rights records and corruption during 11 years as Nigeria’s head of regime, and, most gravely, despite Obasanjo’s role as one of the most notorious genocidist officers in the Nigeria military whilst the latter waged a war of genocide against the Igbo people in the 1960s. Obasanjo commanded a nefarious brigade in south Igboland that murdered tens of thousands of Igbo people during the period. Obasanjo shows no remorse, whatsoever, in his principal role in the perpetration of this heinous crime against humanity. On the contrary, he boasts about his involvement as he reminds the world in his ‘My Command’ (London and Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1981), his memoirs of the time, of ordering the shooting down of a clearly-marked relief-bearing International Committee of the Red Cross DC-7 aircraft bound for the Igbo whose country was then being blockaded and bombarded by the genocidists. The three-person crew in this plane died as a result of this crime.
What in fact is at stake here is that the UN and the world have been quite prepared to ‘receive’ and ‘fraternise’ with personages such as Olusegun Obasanjo, in spite of their past, in ways and means that would have been unthinkable if they were a European or Asian or Arab people, for instance, or if the target of their despicable mission on the Igbo and Igboland in 1966-1970, and subsequently, was directed at any European or Asian or Arab peoples, for example. Would Ban Ki-Moon, conceivably, appoint a Serb genocidist commander as his peace envoy to say, Chechnya?, or a Cambodian genocidist commander to say, the Philippines? How does anyone realistically expect an Olusegun Obasanjo to recognise what ‘peace’ is if he sees it? In the same breadth, in 2007, Andrew Young, an African American who once served his country as ambassador to the UN and later made a huge personal fortune in his business interests in Nigeria, thanks to Obasanjo’s patronage during his first tenure as head of regime, campaigned for Obasanjo to be ‘awarded’ the Nobel Peace Prize. One can’t but recall that as Young marched across the United States with the venerable Martin Luther King and others, defending and demanding universal societal recognition of African American human rights, the genocidist brigades of his latter-day unlikely pal and business partner were engrossed in the orgy of firebombing Igbo towns and villages east of the Atlantic.
The grotesque Wilsonic-dimunition of African life and well-being (from British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s infamous: ‘would accept half a million dead Biafrans if that was what it took’ Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide, proclaimed at the height of the Igbo genocide) which has undoubtedly given the impetus to the international ‘receptibility’ and ‘fraternisation’ that the Obasanjos of Africa have ‘enjoyed’ so uncritically in the post-Igbo genocide epoch in Africa has now been challenged dramatically by the great Sénégalese electorate from this great land of Bâ, Birago, Diagne, Alioune Diop, Cheikh Anta Diop, David Diop, Kane, NDiaye, Sembène, Senghor, Socé. It could never be business as usual subsequently.
In kicking Obasanjo out of Sénégal, the Sénégalese public has surely given notice to the rest of Africa: Africans must no longer ‘reward’ those Africans who have murdered Africans, robbed Africans, and destroyed African fortunes but benefit immensely from the ‘protective cover’ provided by the rabid external (and pliant local) hegemonic forces who haven’t relented from their primary goal to control Africans and African lands in perpetuity. For these forces, the Obasanjos of Africa pursue anti-African interests that suit and reinforce their goal.
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is that author of ‘Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature’ (Reading and Dakar: African Renaissance, 2011).