Urhobo Historical Society


By Nigerian Publius

Nigerian Publius is the pen name of a Reverend Gentleman who hails from Nigeria's Niger Delta.

The first time I (and I could say, we) studied history, it was European history. We studied it because the British required it to grant one a certificate, whether for the elementary or secondary school levels. In that process, no one told us that we studied it to know what happened to other people and how they dealt with their particular situations. No one told us that this was a lesson so that when we encounter similar situations, we could more accurately assess our options and consequences of our choices. I have since learned the true meaning of studying history. I have also learned the importance of studying the history of my people and my continent.

I am usually surprised then when I encounter people of my age and older who have yet to learn the true meaning of their (and others’) history. It appears to me that our President, Obasanjo, is one of those older people who are striving to make a name for themselves in history without the proper understanding of past history. His utterances about the condition of the Nigerian state, his refusal to acknowledge not just the need, but also the urgency for convening a Sovereign National Conference, finally his latest pronouncement about “our joint ownership” of the oil in the Niger Delta clearly demonstrate his total lack of appreciation for the myriad lessons of history. Luckily for us, those of us at the receiving end of the vicissitudes of his policies in all of his incarnations know the meaning of our past history. Our determination to throw off Obasanjo’s yoke -- and the yoke of those he represents -- is greater than his determination to perpetuate the status quo. This old dog will learn a new trick before it is all settled. This time, the Head of State must be made to take the coffins of Nigerians killed in the course of perpetuating evil rule in the country.

Where should we start? Let us go back to the distant past and then progress towards the present. In ancient Egypt, a Pharaoh refused to grant freedom to the Jews despite all the miracles (including plagues) that were done to convince him otherwise. The end result was that his entire army and wealth was lost. The Jews had been in Egypt for four hundred years when they walked away free. The Pharaoh thought that he could maintain the status quo ad infinitum because he had the greatest military power in the world at the time.

I see a resemblance between Obasanjo and the Pharaoh. The people of Nigeria have been in bondage for over 40 years. [As an aside, note that the duration of bondage has been getting progressively shorter: 400 years for the Jews in Egypt, 300 or so years of Roman rule, 70 years for communist USSR, 40 years for Nigerians.] Obasanjo thinks that the present status quo can be maintained ad infinitum because those who benefit from this inequity are also the ones who control the military. The carnage that has occurred in this so-called democratic dispensation does not  faze him,  just as miracles did not impress the Pharaoh. The cries of the people for relief (convening the sovereign national conference, resource control, de-militarization of the Niger Delta, etc) are falling on deaf ears. It is widely believed that the mummy of the Pharaoh on display in the British museum is that of the same Pharaoh that contended with Moses. Obasanjo should take note and be careful what he wants from history. He may get it, but he will not like it.

Fast forward to this year. A dictator and a dictator wanna-be were ousted from office by people who had no arms. Slobodan Milesovich brought untold suffering to his people until the people had had enough. Then they rose up against him. He had control of the army. For Obasanjo, a situation very close to home is the one he should pay attention to. The people of Ivory Coast in Africa rose up and paid the ultimate price but drove away a despot wanna be. Africans are no longer docile people. They have learned from others that tyrants and heads of state who do not listen to the people can be deposed. They are now willing to pay the price for freedom. This is an invaluable lesson of recent history.

In Nigeria, enough blood -- for freedom and spiritual currency -- has been shed that we should be free. But the powers that be are still bloodthirsty. They want more. This time, we must carry the coffins to Aso Rock in Abuja. From the coffins of those who die in religious riots in the north, to those coffins of people who die at the hand of the soldiers in the Niger Delta, to those of people who die trying to scoop fuel from a spill, to those who die at the hands of (vigilante justice) ethnic militias, and those who die for lack of adequate medical care. We must carry ALL the coffins now to Aso Rock. This time, they must take the coffins to satisfy their bloodthirstiness. Enough is enough!

The first and most successful federal system of government is that of the United States of America. My understanding is that it is the one we are copying because of the diversity of our peoples. In America, the oil, diamond, gold or whatever else I find on my land belongs to ME, not even the state, let alone the federal government. How then does Obasanjo continue this scam of “our joint ownership” of resources? If it was a truly joint ownership, there would be roads in Bayelsa, clean drinking water in Edo, constant supply of electricity all over the country. How come the people on whose land the revenue of the country is derived are the most oppressed and the last to derive any benefit from it? How come they are the ones, who cannot even if they wanted to, return to the ways of their ancestors because the land and sea have been polluted beyond recognition?

Obasanjo’s attempts to intimidate the people of the Niger Delta are not succeeding and will not succeed. We note his selective flexing of military muscle in Nigeria. We remember Odi and note that more people were murdered in Kaduna and Sagamu than in Odi. We note that the Federal Government has refused to rebuild Odi while Julius Berger has another contract to build a stadium in Abuja. We note that nowhere in Nigeria could one turn on a faucet and instantly obtain safe drinking water. This notwithstanding, Julius Berger must have an ongoing contract that will not benefit the average Nigerian. We note that even his Vice President is undermining his presidency but he cannot stand for the governors of the South-South or South- East to meet. We note that when Arewa meets, he has no problem. Neither does he have a problem when those whom Arewa represents  secede de facto from Nigeria by introducing Sharia. But when the governors of the South-South want resource control, he is quick to quote their “military constitution”.

 All through the ages, there have been several attempts by a lot of people to exterminate Jews from the face of the earth. The reason for this, I have no clue. Once during Esther’s reign, the architect of the extermination plan died on the gallows he had made for the Jews, The Jews were free and plundered the people who had plotted their demise. The last major attempt was Hitler’s “final solution”. It is encouraging to note that God’s prophecy of the restoration of Israel began to be fulfilled right after the darkest hour of the Jews. The nation of Israel was born right after Hitler’s final solution failed.

I predict, no, I prophesy that a truly federal entity will emerge after this dark hour for the people of Nigeria and the Niger Deltans in particular. I see a more severe oppression in the near future, more severe than the Abacha years. But just as the Jews were restored to their God given land never to be dispersed again, the people of the Niger Delta and Nigerians everywhere will also experience a restoration after this the darkest part of the night.

A word of encouragement to the governors of the South. Obasanjo is not bluffing when he threatens you. It is not Shakara. Fifty years ago, the minorities of the Delta called for the establishment of a COR state. Today you have established the CORE (now including Edo) states of Nigeria. You have created BEDROCK Oil Company. You are giving ear to your constituents. This is beautiful. Call Obasanjo’s bluff. We are behind you, willing to pay the price for freedom. This is not an issue where a compromise is possible if we are a “Federal Republic”. They have not compromised on Sharia (not that it is even the same). This is not the time to be faint hearted. Enact the laws necessary and TAKE CONTROL of your God given resources. Believe me, you have to TAKE it because it will NEVER be given to you. You must accomplish this before the next election. You have been cursed by it for 40 years. God is on our side. So do not worry that ""Papa dey for house, you just marry wife, you get one child, you just build house, you no want quench, you want enjoy." It will be all right in the end. Your posterity will honor your memory.

We no go run because na goat dey run, but man dey stand. The President should be careful about wishing people to go to hell. Those who wish to send other people to hell usually end up going there first.

                                                                                                     ------Nigerian Publius