By Richard Murphy
Nigeria is a bizarre country. When I read the leaked letter from a small group of 18 MPs in the United Kingdom’s (UK) House of Lords Parliament under the aegis of All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief led by MP, Baroness Cox, I wept for my beloved country. Does it mean, we are still further enslaved in the new millennium by former colonial masters?
The distasteful letter was written by UK MPs who have affinities with some Christian organizations ‘and international NGOs. They directed it to the Secretary -General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, voicing concerns on internal security matters in Nigeria.
In the UK-APPG’s one-sided letter titled, “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?,” dated September 14, 2020, the British MPs who signed it unfairly upbraided the failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under President Muhammadu Buhari to halt insurgency and farmers/herders crisis in Nigeria. It propped the action as a breach of its obligations under the Commonwealth Charter. It sounds nicely and at the same time, very blackmailing.
UK- APPG bemoaned the killings in Nigeria from the violence perpetrated by insurgents and herdsmen/clashes, which is perfectly alright. But the request that the matter be raised before the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group is most offensive. We appreciate their concern because lives matter in any part of the world, but not on such glaringly lured, with misdirected and predetermined motives.
I was miffed to further read in the media that without formal investigation, the UK-APPG hastily concluded that “elements of the Nigerian Government may be complicit in violence.” Nothing can be so confounding as revealed by the contents of this leaked mail to the Commonwealth, and the orders contained therein. Nigerians must know these are subtle attempts to undermine our sovereignty by foreign powers and deprivation of our fundamental democratic liberties to govern ourselves.
Insignificantly, the UK-APPG is an informal inter-party association of all political parties, comprising the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the UK. Both chambers of the UK Parliament have 650 MPs. And just 18 MPs appended signatures of the mail or more appropriately, the petition to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and, exclusively from the House of Lords, the British upper legislative chamber.
Are Nigerians still in slumber? UK-APPG is like a pressure group in the UK parliament/ government. In Nigeria, we have many them, peopled by idle or disenchanted politicians who are willing to do a hatchet job, using the badge of the public offices they occupy for a fee. Now, for a small number of MPs to congregate under an informal group and in their warped wisdom, think they can decide the destiny and fate of Nigerians and Nigeria, a sovereign nation is what baffles me endlessly.
I would have excused UK-APPG for this arrogance! But I find it inexcusable that the UK pressure group partially verified their comments from Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and later, the Defence Minister under Nigeria’s Obasanjo’s administration, Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) and drew damning conclusions before asking for further probe by Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group. It contradicts logic and no enlightened citizenry behaves this disgracefully.
Leaking the said letter to the media before communication/ formal action of the Nigerian Government is an unpardonable slight that could even cause a diplomatic row between the two countries. I think by now, some Britons should rise above local petty sentiments and politics in Nigeria. UK should refrain itself from undue interference into the internal affairs of Nigeria and or, cease to nurse the slightest thought that it can still determine how Nigerians administer their country.
How has Britain assisted its former colony Nigeria to genuinely overcome its foibles as a nation? It was just recently, during the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, Rivers state Gov. Nyesom Wike was accused of bribing oficials of the British Consulate in Nigeria on election duty in Port Harcourt with over $2 million to doctor election observer report in favour of his party-the PDP. It sparked protests in the UK by a group, which petitioned the Queen. The matter was swept under the carpet and Nigerians are aware.
Can Britain claim it has effectively ended the reign of terrorism or arrested/ prosecuted every terrorist in the UK now? Such claims would amount to fat lies. So, why is Nigeria and President Buhari their latest focus, instead of concentrating on their own internal insecurity problems.?
As former colonial masters of Nigeria, Britain is responsible for the tribulations the country faces today because it laid a faulty foundation and handed over to Nigerians, a thoroughly fractured nation. Britain sowed the initial seeds of corruption, poverty and discrimination from the outset and these national malaises which have continued to trail and torment Nigerians to date.
Erudite scholar of global fame, Prof. Chinua Achebe has succinctly documented these facts in one of his latest books- “There Was A Country: A Personal History A Biafra,” before death snatched him away from us. Nigeria just celebrated 60 years of independence; but millions of us believe it is merely flag independence and Britain is the principal suspect of our national woes.
Let me quickly ask the UK-APPG’s delegation which claimed meeting Gen. Danjuma (rtd) whether they ever bothered to inquire from him the actions he took when Boko Haram started in Borno in 2002 and he was the Defence minister under Obasanjo administration to stop it? Danjuma, from Taraba in Northern Nigeria is now a prominent member of Northern Elders Christian Forum (NECF) and has continued to fan the embers of hatred between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
I don’t know what he hopes to achieve. But why would Danjuma falsely classify Boko Haram insurgency/killings as extermination of Christians? Are Muslims not killed by the same incensed insurgents? Some elders of Nigeria are creating problems for every Nigerian.
Nigeria has internal security problems, no doubt; but it does not mean elder statesmen like Danjuma should inject religious biasness into it, intent on aggravating tensions in the country and heightening the existing crises. What is obvious is that years of imposed poverty on Nigerians, especially in the North and the struggle for supremacy of economic resources among ethnic groups are responsible for the remonstrative bloodshed by insurgents and herdsmen/farmers in Nigeria. Its uncharitable for anyone to classify these crises as religious!
President Buhari is doing his best to curb the violence and killings; but personally, disgruntled Nigerians like Danjuma still finds the strength to mouth inanities. Did UK-APPG care to ask Gen. Danjuma (rtd) why he has maintained suspicious silence over the ethnic cleansing agenda of his Jukun tribes’ men against the Tiv people ancestral to Taraba state and the near two years of genocidal killings in his home state or they also herdsmen/farmers crisis? Who is fooling who?
I challenge Gen. Danjuma (rtd) to show one evidence of his public condemnation of the Jukun genocide against Tiv people in Taraba. Others even allege, Danjuma is bankrolling his kinsmen for the genocidal killings through his protégé, Gov. Dairus Ishaku.
Danjuma is quoted as insisting that villagers must defend themselves because ‘depending on the armed forces will result in them dying ‘one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop.” He made such inciting statement some two years back at the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University. But Danjuma should first call his Jukun kinsmen to order by stopping the genocide at his doorstep. Even the Holy Bible says it loudly about removing the speck in your eye first.
Shockingly, the lawmakers demanded a probe into the killings and to their narrowed and predisposed perspectives claimed, it is to ensure “adequate protection and aid for those suffering the loss of family members and the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.” But these same UK lawmakers have never demanded to know from UK parliament how and through which route sophisticated weapons sneak to land in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists to torment Nigerians.
The UK-APPG wrote; “And to end impunity by ensuring that complaints related to human rights violations are promptly, independently, and impartially investigated and those responsible are held to account after fair trials.” What a shameful display of imposing international neo-colonialism on Nigeria by the British MPs!
Sometimes, I prefer to sound raw! Do the UK MPs intend to seat over the probe panels themselves in Nigeria? Why this thoughtless level of interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria? Meanwhile, they are housing and shielding from lawful prosecution, an escapee terrorist from Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed IPOB.
The Nigerian Government has set up various probe panels over Amnesty International’s (AI) falsified allegations of human rights abuses on the Nigerian Military’s prosecution of Internal Security (IS) operations in the country. Each time the accusers are called upon to testify or substantiate their claims before various official probe panels, they shirk. And these are the positions supposedly venerated UK MPs are backing against Nigeria.
It is now clear-cut to Nigerians and quite glaring that the so- called UK- APPG on Religion and Belief has decided its tainted mission to strengthen Amnesty International’s campaign of calumny in Nigeria. They are out to escalate conflict in the West African sub-region with Nigeria in mind. One is no longer at a lost as its publicized agenda is to destabilize the peace of Nigeria and her innocent citizens by backing forces fixedly against the interests, peace, security and progress of Nigeria.
But UK cannot bewitch Nigeria again, by thinking disgruntled elements can use them as planks to further destroy Nigeria. We shall resist it with all our might as echoed by our national anthems. The recent letter by UK-APPG group to the Commonwealth Secretary -General, leaked to the press betrays their satanic motives and a clear illustration of these foreign desperadoes or how certain destructive interests are bent on setting the country up in flames.
We shall resist it with all the strength in us. We welcome genuine foreign assistance, but not an influenced one as the tenor of the UK-APPG letter indicates in this circumstance. Those behind this ugly idea in the UK Parliament’s APPG should better drop the idea because its not workable and Nigerians stand by President Buhari’s focused leadership in the redemption of Nigeria.
The world is too civilized for such further jokes on an independent nation’s sovereignty, like Nigeria. We have been silent for too long a time; but it should not translate into playing baby games with Nigeria. It’s demeaning for a handful UK MPs to ludicrously pose as champions of international politics, prodded by disgruntled elements’ and characters in Nigeria to stretch the campaigns of calumny against the Buhari -led administration in Nigeria this far.
Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.