FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA'S
INVASION OF ODI, BAYELSA STATE, NIGER DELTA
I think the NDM press release is misguided to a large extent. The letter in question by Mr. President is non threatening. It is a way of drawing the line beyond which it would be necessary to get another mode of protection for life and property. The carnage cannot just be allowed to continue because of wanting to be nice. I am sorry to say this, but many a Nigerian in power have no respect for human life. I want to know from the NDM council or what ever they call themselves, how many lives should be lost before something drastic designed to reduce the loss of lives is done? I wonder why Nigerians seem so callous, when it comes to the thought of human lives? Nobody thought that Nigerian lives were being wasted in Liberia, or Sierra-Leone when our soldiers were being sent to their premature deaths there. There were no protests that our soldiers had no business there. Around the world today, you name the place and Nigerian soldiers are there because our people have never thought that our soldiers are human and when they die they leave widows and orphans. No Nigerian ever protests that our soldiers should not go on these missions abroad, so we are usually the first on the scene. People are being killed and yet, when the President said that it should be stopped here is NDM saying that the governor is being threatened! If that is not a callous disregard for human life, I wonder what is. Why can't we learn that human life is very precious. America has learned several decades back with protests against service in Vietnam that human life is precious. Today, before American service people are sent anywhere around the world the first consideration is how much threat to life is involved. Why do we still think that our soldiers have to die just because they are soldiers?
A state of emergency is usually aimed at restoration of law and order, and under our civilian government, there should be no fear. This is not the beginning of the end of civil rule. However, if anarchy becomes pervasive, with so many bush fires here and there, our nascent civil rule will evaporate. The military will then return in full force again. This may actually be what the NDM wants since they were formed under the military. The existence of the military in government gave them a reason to exist, and now that the military is out of sight, they seem to want their return to justify their existence. I do not know of one loss of life in Zamfara state that a state of emergency should be declared there. What the governor did is unconstitutional, and that could be settled with dialogue, not a state of emergency, therefore, I do not see Mr. President using double standards.
Nigerians should just give the present government time and space to work for the good of all. In due course, there will be time for the structural adjustment which should not be on the basis of states, as Igho has suggested, but rather on the basis of nationalities. That time should be when the next election comes up. I do not expect that the current incumbents should just throw away their elected positions so soon after an election that ended a military dynasty. There should be a period of calm and some gains made before we go on to the next stage, and I think four years is about right.
The present Federal Government is not responsible for the ills that the so called youths are holding them responsible for. If they were making peaceful protests, we could sympathize with them. However the way they are going, does not augur well for a negotiated settlement. If the governor had sought a negotiated settlement and has not yet attained it after so many lives have been lost, and so much time has been taken, it is time to say, governor, "Time out!"
Capt. Philip A. Ikomi, Ph.D.
Human Factors/Applied Cognition Program
Applied Research in Cognition & Human Factors (ARCH)Lab.
George Mason University
4400, University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
On Fri, 19 Nov 1999, Philip A. Ikomi ALSO wrote Dr. Igho Natufe as follows:
I do not think that Obasanjo's letter is "militaristic" as you have interpreted it. Rather it is a pointer to the urgency demanded by the situation. Obviously he had to set a time limit to enable him take necessary action to protect life and property of civil society. Even back in the old times when the regions were said to have had greater autonomy, the Federal Governmentt had to send an administrator to Western Nigeria. It was felt then that there was too much delay before the Federal govt. took action. In a democratic government, even the governor of a state has to abide by the rule of law and take his responsibilities seriously. Therefore, I do agree with Obasanjo's actions calling the governor to order, to take his responsibilities seriously, because, the Federal government under his leadership is not going to allow things to deteriorate further. His tone is quite appropriate based on all the facts stated. There is actually no other way to make it any clearer that if things are not brought under control, the Federal government would declare a state of emergency in the state. Do you think that the President of the United States had a nicer tone to the governor of a state before he ordered the military to ensure that the student being denied admission on racial grounds was admitted into the university at that time? I don't think so. Merely because Obasanjo is ex-military does not mean that we have to couch all his actions as hall marks of his military past. After all, some of the best presidents around the world have been ex-military even in these United States there is at least, an example.
P.S. Governor Wallace of Alabama were the governor and state. I think the person denied admission was James Meredith, to the University of Alabama, in Montgomery, AL. However, am not very sure of the names of persons and places so I have not mentioned them because they are not relevant to the point I have made.