Three excellent insightful articles by Nigerians on Nigeria with my brief comments.
“People In The Niger Delta Now Recognize That Jonathan Is A Waste Of Time” — Isaac Osuoka
Issac Osuoka is a long time environmental and social justice activist from the Niger Delta and a founding member of the IYC and more recently Social Action. He is someone I have great respect for. Here he is interviewed by Sahara Reporters about the Occupy Nigeria movement and President Jonathan’s standing in Nigeria and significantly in the Niger Delta his home region. His conclusion is that Jonathan is “the worst president that the ruling class ever fostered on Nigeria” He is clueless, inept, passionless and with the mentality of a “local government committee chairman”. Based on two brief conversations with colleagues in Port Harcourt yesterday and following Twitter there seems to be very little protest actions in the region except for in Delta State [Warri and Sapele] or in the south east generally. There could be a number of reasons for this such as the lack of support or consciousness by Nigerians with the 20 year struggle in the region and maybe people dont feel they are part of what is happening. Maybe they dont feel they are part of the country. Maybe they are against the fuel subsidy being removed but dont want to be seen to be critical of the president. These are just suppositions and personally I am disappointed with what appears to be the low level of participation in the Niger Delta core states and hope I am either wrong or this changes over the next few days. UPDATE: [5.15 GMT+1] Pleased to see I was proved
[partially] wrong as total shut down in Port Harcourt:
“IO: The removal of fuel subsidy demonstrates again that the Jonathan presidency does not care a bit about the welfare of Nigerians. Can you imagine the puerile argument that fuel subsidy does not benefit the majority of the Nigerian people? Only those that see benefit in terms of how much you loot can make such a stupid argument. You see, since they know that the figures of how much the government is expending on subsidies is over bloated because of the corruption in the system, and they know the few individuals that have benefited from all the fraud, they have come to associate benefit with whose hands are in the lucre. That is all they see. The loot. That is all they are interested in. From their exalted position, they don’t see the mass of the Nigerian people who are mostly unemployed or have the lowest incomes anywhere in the world. That is why World Bank sponsored economists like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will ask during one of her meetings with the NLC why people were so worried over subsidy removal when about 70 per cent of Nigerians don’t own cars! Continued…
Niyi Osundare on religion and politics in Nigeria
Jeremy Weate of Naija Blog publishes an article on Nigerian Christianity. Osundare is not kind to Nigerians as he exposes the bitter truth of “followship”, how religion is practiced and the cozy relationship between the supposedly secular state and religion. It is not pleasant. But then religious instituions in Nigeria act with impunity no matter how degrading and abusive [see the response of the ‘slapping pastor”, if the pastors says so then people do follow.
In the thinking and preaching of many of these latter-day evangelists, every scoundrel in power in Nigeria is “God-chosen” and must be treated as such. Religion in this country is a dangerous opium; really dangerous opium. And that is why our rulers are encouraging the building of churches and mosques all over the place.
When in December last year the newspapers carried the picture of a kneeling President Jonathan with a ministering Pastor towering above him in prayerful supremacy, we were presented with an image so symbolic of the relationship between the state and religion in Nigeria. No picture could have been more emblematic!
State Of The Nation: Soyinka, Achebe, Clark Warn Against Another Civil War
Anticipating the possible response of the government and aware of the the violence being unleashed by people who are or claim to be, Boko Haram and other associated ethnic religious violence, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and JP Clark have issued a statement of warning on the possibility of another civil war. Their statement is the most interesting in the context of Nigeria, an illustration of the African nation as a construct of post-colonialism; an ambitious project from which to examine the human condition – how do we live together with all our differences, social and ethnic hierarchies, religions and gendered interests and
pretend try to be one.
What is proposed here is not any doctrine of submission, of ‘turning the other cheek’, or supine supplication to divine intervention etc. etc. Very much the contrary! Self-defence is a fundamental human right and responsibility. However, we caution that we must place the total humanity of our nation above the methods and intent of a mindless, though programmed minority that are resolved to set religion against religion, community against community, destroy the internal cohesion of homes, render meaningless the very concept and imperatives of guest, strangers, the extended human family, and the universalist obligations of hosts as practiced under the finest traditions of human encounters. Our duty is to denounce the killers among us, to deny them, right from source, the sump of blood that is their nourishment, the chaos that is their ambition, and the hatred that has poisoned their collective psyche. Our mission is to prove ourselves superior to them in understanding, to leap ahead of their perverse scheming and preserve our own humanity even as they jettison theirs — if ever they even were aware of its existence.
Someone [sorry but cannot remember who] on Twitter said something about Nigeria facing unchartered waters and therefore no one knows where we are going. My response was yes, maybe, but we have been through awful times. Civil war, coups some violent some not, terrible military dictatorships, religious and inter/intra ethnic violence, a whole region condemned to drowning in black liquid on which the nation has survived for 50 years, another whole region condemned to the dust of feudalism. There are possible obstacles to a sustained movement not least of all; Osundare’s religion… I remain forever optimistic!
What is becoming clear is that there is very little gender analysis or discussion on the impact of massive rise in prices on women and children, the protests themselves, issues such as sexism, homophobia, witch hunting of women and girls. It is not clear whether any women’s organisations are taking part in the protests or have representatives within the unions; there does not appear to be any statement by women’s organisations [if I am wrong then please do let me know]. Ultimately there has to be a discussion and it isnt gonig to be handed to us on a plate by patriarchy – and that includes all age groups. Lesley Agams raised a number of these points on Twitter early this morning including the question as to whether women “involved are merely supporting a male agenda”.
Let us also remember that Nigeria has a rich history of protests and that protests has come from women. Women have paid a very heavy price for standing up against successive governments – rape, beatings and murder, loss of land and property. And not a single tyre was burnt or stone thrown. There is much to learn from women on peaceful sustained actions.