(OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW NIGERIANS ON SOVEREIGNTY V)
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Dear Fellow Nigerians,
The issues raised in the fourth letter on the Sovereignty Question are the background facts that informed our stringent call for Sovereign Conferences. We were aware of the stranglehold of the covert Imperial Family on the political life of Nigeria. We understood the facts of history that it is only by bloody revolution that this type of tyranny could be redressed. We are aware of the genesis and the nature of events that led to the American Revolution, to the French Revolution, to the Russian Revolution and even to the Mohammed Ali’s modernisation revolution in Egypt in 1805.
We knew how Ali’s revolution murderously wiped away the Mamluk of Egypt. The Mamluks, like the covert Nigerian Imperial Family, were an elite class of tyrannical military force of occupation earlier sent to Egypt as slave warriors by the Ottoman Empire. Before Ali’s revolution, they had hitherto held the people of Egypt to ransom. Karen Armstrong (2000) while commenting on the Mohammed Ali’s revolution in Egypt notes that, “It seems in order to bring a people into the modern world, a leader must be prepared to wade through blood. In the absence of stable democratic institution, violence may be the only way to achieve strong government.”
The need to avoid bloodshed and disaster in Nigeria informed the suggestion we made for the types of Sovereign Conferences proposed. If violence and bloodshed are needed to build a strong government, thank God, we are not interested in building a strong government but we are keener than ever to build numerous strong civil societies in Nigeria.
There is no law that says mankind must always go through the route of violence, bloodletting, persecution, wickedness, war, assassination etc. to dispose of tyrants. We are also aware of the beastly level that violence can take a nation.
A look at Britain and Northern Ireland, Spain and the Basque Homeland and Liberty (ETA), Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers, etc. tells the story that even when the cause is just, violence can never be a just option for redressing injustice, enslavement and inequality.
We are suggesting a novel approach that has never been tried anywhere on planet earth. We are pleading, urging and even begging Nigerians to please give this suggestion a chance to proof itself. The proposal may look too common, too pedestrian but still it might have enough juice of common sense in it.
Let us go via the route of common sense. Political theories from textbook are very good at stimulating and awakening the mind but we must allow our awakened minds to cook up these theories to the relevant taste and flavour of the culture and attitudes we are trying to influence.
There is no way we can import the political ideologies of Britain, or America or Russia or Saudi Arabia or any other culture into Nigeria and expect a good yield of harvest. Each culture must be allowed to sow and germinate the seeds relevant to its environment.
Just like in nature, some very good seeds will grow effortlessly in temperate climates but will wither away in the tropical climate and vice versa. This is the truth of life.
The Imperial Family failed to understand this fact of life and so its incursion into Nigeria since 1804 and its inglorious effort to use bloodshed, fear, intimidation and patronage to plant and hold political power in Nigeria is an unnatural exercise. It is bound to come to nought eventually.
We shall be pleading with those who believe in the religious and political ideologies of the Imperial Family in Nigeria to reconsider this cruel political game. This game can only succeed under a cultivated and sustained climate of fear and ignorance. However, as soon as the light of knowledge begins to shine on the polity, this macabre political arrangement is bound to collapse.
We shall be pleading again with these believers not to do anything foolish. It is important for each of you to begin to fight the true Jihad. The true Jihad is the fight to free your souls from the poison that political religious leaders have fed into your mind. The true Jihad is the search for freedom from the love of power, from the desire to enslave others and from the use of injustice to perpetrate evil in the name of religion. This is the true Jihad that this writer will humbly recommend to you as a worthy fight.
Please do not get involved with a Jihad for the acquisition of territorial political power or a Jihad of false belief that there is something called a Muslim country or a Jihad of hate of other fellow Nigerians who refused to accept the incomprehensible dogma of the reformed political Islam.
The true Jihad should be a spiritual struggle that shall make you submit willingly and freely to the unseen power of the creator of heaven and earth. The true Jihad should be a spiritual struggle that shall free your soul from the domineering control of those that use the name of Allah to enslave others. This type of spiritual struggle is expected to emancipate you spiritually and mentally from the psychological and political manipulation of the so-called ulema and other religious zealots who are lovers of power, money, position of honour and prestige. This is the true Jihad we shall recommend to all the followers of Islam who have not been blindfolded completely by the lies of the spirit of Shaitan.
It is important to draw this lesson home clearly. This writer will like to ask, can any true Muslim argue sincerely against this fact that the total political philosophy and practices of the Imperial Family are in any way short of idolatry? Is there any way a true Muslim can excuse the Imperial Family from the woes of Nigeria if we remember that they have willingly given unabashed support to all the despots and tyrants that graced the political landscapes of Nigeria?
Can the acts of the members of the Imperial Family that tend to ‘arrogate to themselves divine power and behaved as though they were God, lording it over their subjects’, not be construed as idolatry, ‘a cardinal sin in Islam’?
This is a serious matter and it has to be brought into the open. The use of religion, a noble and sacred philosophy, to pervert justice, to institute inequality and to deny others of freedom is contrary to the teaching of the prophets and teachers. These are the issues. Let us face them now or remain joyously at bliss in our slave colony.
The Nigerian political situation is like the case of a microbiologist who sends out a warning, “Do not eat this food. It is full of dangerous and deadly micro-organisms.” An ignorant fool replies, “Don’t be silly, I cannot see any germ here. Give me the food. I will eat it and nothing shall happen to me.”
Of course something will happen to him eventually. But because he lacks knowledge about elementary biology the fellow runs the risk of exposing his life to avoidable danger if not death.
When we tell Nigerians about the contribution of the covert Imperial Family to the underdevelopment of Nigeria; they say, do not be paranoid.
When we tell Nigerians that this Family is deliberately very invisible but has tentacles that reach into every part of our political life; they say, you are seeing things.
When we tell Nigerians that there is a diabolical Mafia clique that runs the political affairs of Nigeria, albeit in the shadow; they tell you, now you have lost it.
Remind Nigerians to think about June 12 1993 and the circumstances surrounding the annulment and the fact that up till today nobody knows the author of the unsigned Press Release written on a plain sheet of paper that annulled the election; they say, let us move forward and forget the past.
Unfortunately, the past shall continue to haunt Nigeria until we do the right thing. We must revisit the past with open minds and common sense. It is only under this desire to know the truth about the past that the Peoples and nations of Nigeria can be set free.
We would have loved to raise other issues in support of our uncompromising position on the need for Sovereign Conferences but time will not permit. As it were, we can subsume these other issues under Agura Hotel Affair.
We sincerely believe that the need to resolve the hegemony of Nigeria on the side of Common Nigerians and the commonwealth is the only project worth embarking upon in Nigeria at this moment in history.
There are several important issues like religion and the constitution, corruption and government institutions, election and impeachment, debt burden and national independence, the illusion of rotational presidency, etc. that are doing the rounds among articulate Nigerians. Although, these issues are topical, but on a closer analysis they are mere symptoms of the unresolved sovereignty questions that pertain to the suppression of freedom, equality and justice of Common Nigerians.
We must individually and collectively find answers to the question of what the true status of Nigeria is: are Nigerians slaves or free men and women?
We need to know who really owns Nigeria. We need to have answer to the question of who are those exactly wielding political powers in Nigeria?
Moreover, we need to resolve all the grey areas of the question of fundamental human rights of Nigerians to true freedom, equality, justice and self-determination. These are the questions that we must address before we can move forward as nations and people. This is the larger picture.
THE LARGER PICTURE
It is important for every Nigerian and particularly our opinion makers to see the larger picture of Nigeria’s problems so that we can stop beating about the bush of inanity.
The groups gaining from the status quo have a fondness for manipulating public opinion and national discourses. These Nigerians have perfected the skill of political subterfuge by their foxy ability to throw selected worthless bones at the chattering Nigerians to distract their attention from fundamental issues.
While the uninformed Nigerians are struggling and maiming each other over the dry bones, the manipulators would secure another round of cruel bashing and more time to rip-off innocent Nigerians.
These clever Nigerians have learnt from the master of the trade, the political activity of divide and rule and of setting brother against brother, in order to reap where the manipulators have never sown.
Under this inauspicious political climate, when we find fellow nationals who claim to understand the problems of Nigeria suggesting any or all of the following as solutions: the reformation of the administration of governance; the rotation of presidency by zones; the reformation of a deliberate faulty electoral process, review of the military fudged constitution, etc. without given a thought to how we shall resolve the status of the sovereignty of Nigerian nations and people or how we can carry out fundamental reviews of the entire political structures, it is clearly to insult and ridicule the intelligence of Nigerians.
Let us illustrate the futility of reform when freedom is at stake. Consider the case of Mr Rich Heartless, a plantation owner of South Carolina in the 1860s during the Civil War in America. When Mr Heartless perceived that the Federal troops were advancing and may soon reach his plantation he decided to reform the conditions of his slaves.
In so doing, he hoped to persuade the slaves not to give in to the federal propaganda that promised to set them free. His reforms stated that each slave would have a pair of boot, two pairs of Sunday best wears, and a new modern cabin with partitioned rooms instead of the dormitory presently in use.
Moreover, every slave would have the use of a small plot of land for his/her personal farming. Each slave would have an hour to tend his own farm after the regular 15-hour shift on the plantation. In addition, he declared that Sundays should now be taken as a free day of rest.
Now for any of the slaves who has had his eyes opened by knowledge to the truth of existence – the truth of equality of persons, the truth of the injustices done to his human dignity and the truth of liberty – would this reform package satisfy his hunger for an inalienable and unconditional right to freedom? This is what we are trying to say to all Nigerians.
We are saying that Nigeria is still a slave colony. That the British owner of Nigeria merely stepped out of the throne putting carefully selected puppets on the throne under a remote supervisory arrangement. Therefore, any reform package that fails to answer the question of equal opportunities for all Nigerians, of equal rights to justice and of equal rights to freedom and self-determination can no longer be good enough.
We understand the role of culture and religious belief in the affairs of societies. Our general or specific attitudes to life flow from our beliefs. If an ethnic group believes it is superior to all other ethnic groups in a polity, there is a tendency to uphold and teach this ‘truth’ as a divine oracle to its members. The onus is on the other ethnic groups who believe otherwise to reject any imposition such belief might force on them.
The Middle East is in crisis today because each of the warring party is claiming to have some peculiar revelations, promises and injunctions from God. When a nation allows religion to dominate the political space, there will always be trouble ahead for such polity.
Nigerians need to separate the truth of Islam premised on peace, equality and justice from the culture of Arabia. The truth of Islam is a universal truth but the culture of Arabia is peculiar to the Arabs and should be allowed to remain that way. When we import the cultures that contradict the revelation of truth we have inadvertently perverted the revealed universal truth.
When we introduce a family dynasty as a legitimate principle of political succession and of governance, we have perverted the truth of equality of persons before God. When we accept the superiority of one ethnic group or of sex or of belief or of language or of colour of skin over others who are different from us then we have perverted the truth of equality.
When we practice a political arrangement that continuously hoards the wealth of the nation and the juicy political posts among selected family members, we have perverted the truth of justice as well as the truth of peace.
When we use a different measure in the judgement of others outside our family, we have perverted the truth of justice. “Woe to those who deal in fraud – those who, when they have to receive by measure from men exact full measure. But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.” (Qur’an 83.1,2)
The larger picture is to help both the oppressor and the oppressed to understand the truth of life. It is glaring that both the oppressor and the oppressed are guilty of the sin of ignorance.
While the spirits of vanity and greed drive the oppressor, the oppressed is cowered by the spirits of fear and ignorance. The oppressor needs help to understand that vanity and greed do not lead to a successful life. These vices corrupt people and societies and drive peace away. Moreover, without peace and stability the oppressor cannot enjoy the loot and booty he/she has acquired fraudulently.
Although, the fear manifested by the oppressed is not unfounded it is from a vivid historical account transmitted by the ancestors of the oppressed who witnessed the callousness and wickedness of the oppressor in the past. The seed of fear passed from generation to generation as a historical experience has since become one of the received knowledge that are transmitted by superstition or folk tales to the next generation.
It is a fact that the oppressor’s claim of divine right to the leadership position of the society is borne of fraud and banditry. The only way that the oppressor can hold on to such illicit power is by a continuous display of unbridled brutal force on members of the oppressed class; as well as the occasional dangling of bread and butter, carrot, gold and lucre in the face of the poor to lure the oppressed into perpetual servitude. Gaining knowledge and understanding all these strategic political devices of manipulation are the first steps a truth seeker must take towards true freedom.
As Prophet Mohammed and other ancient wise people have advised, there is a need for each of us to “seek knowledge to the end of the world”. Knowledge is the only natural activity that can empower the spirit. Courage comes shortly afterwards to stiffen the resolve of the oppressed to stand up and fight for his/her inalienable rights.
From experience, we know that the oppressor succeeds because the oppressed is riddled with inherited fears. Fear is written all over the oppressed when he/she encounters the oppressor. With this psychological advantage, the oppressor has a free licence to kill.
Seeking knowledge is the only way out of the mess. The oppressor understands this and that is why the system of education is rigorously policed when it is allowed to operate. However, in most cases, the oppressor deliberately kills off serious education in his domain. When the oppressed refused to seek knowledge out of either sheer laziness or carelessness then he/she has simply given away his/her birthrights to the oppressor forever.
The battles between darkness and light, ignorance and knowledge, hate and love have started in Nigeria. The battle is between Nigerians who just wish to enjoy their lives without a care in the world and the awakened Nigerians who are saying, you cannot enjoy something you do not understand. It is a battle between those who want to sit on the fence and watch the show and those who want to be at the centre of the battle.
Each Nigerian has a duty to choose either to be an observer or a participant. However, for those that decide to fight in the dark corner, the truth is that when the light of the sun rises at dawn it is mandatory for darkness and all its work to disappear. This is the natural law.
In the season when knowledge and revelations were in short supply in Nigeria, it was then that the rule of darkness was supreme. Now that the season of light has come, it will be advisable for those fighting in the dark corner to throw in the towels honourably.
Nigeria is destined for greatness but first we must seek healing for the spiritual ailments in our personal and political bodies. It is important to emphasise that we cannot fully understand the problems of Nigeria in pure academic terms. It is fundamentally a spiritual problem.
Again, we need to clarify this. To be spiritual does not necessarily mean one has to be religious. It is possible to attain a spiritual state of existence with or without any of the established religious institutions.
We shall recommend the spiritual path that is fundamentally rooted on the love of knowledge. We believe God is knowledge or Knowledge is God. Therefore, the love of knowledge is the love of God.
The issues facing us are not the kind that we can clear with one lengthy sermon. Every awakened Nigerian should continue to seek knowledge, understanding and wisdom about the truth of our existence. It is under this intellectual engagement that the knowledge and revelation of what we need to do to be free to pursue the goals of equality, justice and freedom can be realised.
Let us remind our eminent personalities in the political arena who are presently braying for the blood of their political opponents that there is nothing in this world that is worth losing a soul for. Neither Nigeria nor political positions nor fame nor fortune is worth the price of a soul.
When you keep telling Nigerians that the evil you are engaged in is for our sake, for the unity of Nigeria, for the progress of Nigeria, we are now more than aware that you are just a filthy liar. We can now say to you, ‘Tell that cock and bull tales to the Marines’.
Now, we know you never had a single thought for our well-being. From the beginning it has been me, me, and me. You wanted everything for yourself even the whole country. You are totally devoid of the spirit that shares. All the pacts and deals you have so far made were made just for your own benefit. In addition, for this useless honour, you were willing to offer your soul to fellow humankind. It is a shame.
To fellow Nigerians please stand clear and allow the fools in our midst to continue with their electioneering, with their character assassinations, with their murderous engagements, with their bullying and terrorising. When they have fully destroyed themselves, then the coast shall become clear for the meek at heart to take over. The meek are destined to inherit the earth.
In the meantime, let every awakened Nigeria accept the truth that he/she has a job to do, the job of touching and waking up other Nigerians from their careless slumber. The light of Nigeria shall shine when all the sleeping souls are awake and alert to their responsibilities of just being a little light and salt in their various communities.
Let us keep the light of the Sovereign Conferences burning in our hearts. The suggested phases of the conferences are still valid.
Again, as mentioned earlier, we must not wait on government or on the calibre of self-serving political deal makers to liberate Nigerians. We must accept the truth that governments and their agents are part of the problem and so they cannot be the solution. We must creatively learn to by-pass them as we fashion a new approach to governance.
This is the time to urge creative and thinking Nigerians to set their horizon higher and beyond the American or British or Russian or Saudi Arabian models of government. Let us recognise that each of these models is a perversion of noble ideas.
It is possible to make Nigeria an oasis of new values, new culture and new institutions in our present confused world for the pursuit of true human happiness. It is therefore very important for our thinkers to see the obvious and hidden flaws in the present global order. It is under this revelation that we would be able to appreciate the great challenges facing all the awakened Nigerians.
We must not accept to be pushed into a blind-alley of global inevitability; into believing that there is no alternative to the present political and economic abracadabra on the ground; and into accepting as gospel truth the pronouncements on justice, equality and freedom from the western and middle eastern pulpits.
Let us pull our intellectual resources together as we crack the seemingly complex yet simple jigsaw puzzle of true governance that can bring joy and happiness to the many rather than the few in our societies. This is what the Sovereign Conference is promising and this is what it shall deliver whenever we decide to give it a chance.
Nigeria cannot find peace and progress by duplicating the existing models of economics and politics of the Western and Middle Eastern worlds. These models were not designed to provide for the happiness of all people and nations but for few people and few nations of the world.
Under this model, the only option opened to the disadvantaged is to use brute force or sophisticated violence called competition to displace some of the careless few in positions of power and wealth before the dispossessed can have access to the good things of life. This model is disaster prone. It is a war-enhancing model. Peace can never be assured under this model.
Definitely, Nigerians love peace and that is why we must reject the present global economic order. There is much work to be done in the realm of knowledge acquisition. Nigerians cannot sit on their oars when it comes to the issue of knowledge. It is in the desire to seek and search for knowledge that we can come to a better understanding of the problems facing humanity and Nigeria in particular.
And until then Nigerians cannot do better than what we are doing now all over the country – assassinating, killing, maiming, murdering, robbing, stealing, slandering, terrorising, torturing, kidnapping, etc. Unfortunately, these depraved behaviours of the brutes are the price we have to pay for our collective ignorance. Fortunately, the sickness of ignorance is curable and we must cure it.
Let us remember the popular Serenity Prayer as we embark on the Sovereign Conferences project. It says:
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.
In The Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
7 October 2002