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Re: Nigeria has potential to be next Afghanistan

- Oguchi Nkwocha, MD

(Saturday, October 30, 2004)

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“…Indeed, Washington should be seriously concerned about Nigeria, a principal supplier of oil to the United States and Africa's most populous country. Nigeria has about 66 million Muslims (more than Egypt), most of whom have provided a strong center of moderate Islam in West Africa. There is no history of virulent anti-Americanism…”—Princeton Lyman and Scott Allan, in “Nigeria has potential to be next Afghanistan” under the title, “Prevent the rise of another Taliban” of October 19, 2004.
* Princeton Lyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Scott Allan was a counsel to the 9/11 commission focusing on Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Ambassador Lyman is clearly being insincere here. Nigerian Muslims have not “provided a strong center of moderate Islam in West Africa,” as he claims. Unless one considers “moderate Islam” the practice of going straight from Muslim prayers in Northern Nigeria, the bulk of Nigerian Muslims, into the streets to unleash mayhem on unsuspecting Christians in unprovoked attacks, and on Christian homes and property. The Nigerian government finally admitted last month that in one Northern Nigeria state alone (Jos), such murderous rampage claimed 52,000 lives between 2001 and 2004. And, there are scores of Muslim cities, towns and villages where this is an ongoing exercise—even as we speak; Kano and Kaduna are major examples. Just how many Christians do Muslims have to kill in such unprovoked attacks driven by sheer Islam doctrine before the Ambassador would consider Northern Nigerian Muslim as no longer “moderate Islam”?

Moreover, the Ambassador knows quite well that there is nothing “moderate” about Sharia; even he would be hard-pressed to claim that Sharia has not taken a strong foothold in Nigeria Muslim. In fact, in most of Northern Nigeria, Sharia has replaced the Nigerian constitution and Nigerian law, and Islam is the only citizenship recognized in those regions, while Nigerian citizenship is meaningless and without rights there.

When Ambassador Lyman states that “there is no history of virulent anti-Americanism…” with regards to Nigerian Muslims, he commits intellectual dishonesty, or at best is disingenuous, having allowed himself wiggle- and denial room by the use of the qualifier, “virulent.” The facts of the matter are that Muslim Nigerians are the only Nigerians (or West Africans, for that matter) that burn the American Flag with regularity and predictability on Nigerian soil. This has been going on for decades. This is not a matter of free speech either; it is the veritable symbolism of sheer hatred of America by Nigerian Muslims—Ambassador Lyman should know. Nigerian Muslims were just about the only other group in the entire world to cheer and celebrate 9/11. In fact, the same Nigerian Muslims went on a rampage and killed and maimed as many Christians as they could find for the stated reason of the US attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan; earlier, they had given the same treatment to Christians who were on a sympathy-rally with US regarding 9/11. It is reported in at least one Nigerian newspaper that following 9/11, many babies born to Northern Nigerian Muslims were named “Osama,” after bin Laden. Finally, that the Northern Nigerian Muslims sympathize with bin Laden is no secret. They rebuked Obasanjo’s administration for “being quick to drag Nigeria” to go along with the US anti-terrorism policy which was crafted with bin Laden’s activities in mind. Just how much more “virulent” do the Nigerian Muslims have to get against the US for their activities to be considered “virulent anti-Americanism” by the Ambassador?

While it may not be obvious here, the fact is that Ambassador Lyman advocates—has always advocated—as a principle and policy, further US accommodation and appeasement of Nigerian Muslims. Well, the US followed his advice, and predictably, it has backfired: the Nigerian Muslims still hate the US with a passion and with religious fervor—that is never going to change. Now, Ambassador Lyman is recommending more appeasement, more accommodation. How many times in the history of US foreign affairs have we witnessed this type of tragedy and disaster where the US follows a policy, on the advice and insistence of some functionary, of doing more of the same thing which did not work, has not worked, is not working, and will never work? Since when did appeasement and accommodation and acquiescence make good foreign policy, anyway?

The problem with Nigeria is not the “extreme poverty of Muslims in Northern Nigeria,” as opined by Ambassador Lyman. After all, for the past almost 40 years, one Northern Nigerian Muslim military leader after another has ruled Nigeria—all but for 2 brief spells; during that time, billions of dollars were realized by the oil in Southern Nigeria—yes, the oil is in Southern Nigeria, mind you. Most of that money was stolen by these Northern Nigerian Muslim leaders and their cronies, and the rest used to develop new infrastructure in, and or shift pre-existing infrastructure from Southern Nigeria to, Northern Nigeria. Ambassador Lyman was the US Ambassador to Nigeria at one time during that period and there is no public record of his taking a stand against these unconscionable practices. If the Muslim North are “extremely poor,” it is not the fault of the US nor should it be the concern of the US; neither is it the fault of Southern Nigerians who, themselves, have nothing to show for the fact that the oil is in the south.

Even the Ambassador’s cited example, the newly-formed Northern Nigerian Muslim Taliban, is reported to be made up of university students and graduates who do the killing and dying for their Taliban agenda in Muslim Northern Nigeria all by themselves—hardly the picture of “extreme poverty” driving or sustaining a cause.

The real problem with Nigeria is the all-consuming effort to keep Nigeria one, even if all the truly different nations that cannot, and will not, mix as one country called Nigeria, perish in the failed political experiment. Ambassador Lyman, along with countries and principalities whose self-interest is served by that, subscribes to this paradigm. What Ambassador Lyman is now doing is trying to get the US to come in and buttress the failing Nigeria, in order to delay the inevitable, in order to maintain the structure of one Nigeria which gives the Nigerian Muslims an enormous advantage—actually sustains the already huge and unchallenged advantage of Muslim Northern Nigeria over the South. The questionable aspects of Mr. Lyman’s advocacy are that 1) this would be done at the expense and punishment of Christians, especially Southern Christians; 2) this would be an un-even-handed and one-sided, unfair support of the US for Northern Nigerian Muslims, while, as we have seen in the Sudan, no one is providing commensurate “field-leveling” advocacy for the Christian South (after all, rather than speak up against Muslim atrocities against Christians in Nigeria, the Ambassador is willing to consider Nigerian Muslims as “moderate Islam”); 3) this rewards Muslim Northern Nigerians for persistent and consistent anti-US acts, for doctrine-driven ongoing anti-Christian genocidal acts, all at a time when every fact and evidence points to the conclusion that a positive change of behavior is unlikely.

Finally, it is necessary to cite another evidence of a fundamental nature in order to completely counter Ambassador Lyman’s policy. Right from the inception of Nigeria, the British colonial masters of Nigeria did, and have continued to do, everything to appease, accommodate and acquiesce to Muslim Northern Nigeria, and all, to the known disadvantage and expense of Southern Nigeria. This has been done openly and unabashedly in a policy that is formalized and woven into the political structure, fabric and function of Nigeria; the point being that this has not positively altered Northern Nigerian Muslim behavior, but has instead spawned a certain arrogance, remorselessness and insensitivity with respect to their behavior and its results on their hapless Southern victims. If anything, this situation is the fuel that powers the ongoing instability of Nigeria today. Ambassador Lyman now wants to invite the US to formally take over, continue to execute and sustain this fundamental mistake in Nigeria?

Nigeria will remain unstable until it breaks apart—there is nothing anyone can do about it, because one cannot continue to force the union of peoples with such huge differences and incompatibilities. If the national interest of the US is oil, well, the oil is in the South and it belongs to the South, though the North is currently usurping it. And the South is pro-America. If the US wants friendship and goodwill, there again, the US can find that amply in Southern Nigerians who openly admire, adore and try to emulate the US. If the US and the world want stability in the region, then the best course is not a policy of ongoing acquiescence to, and appeasement of, Muslim Northern Nigeria at the expense of the Christian South; the best course is not the shoring up of an unstable structure called Nigeria, a structure which is coming apart all the time at the loose stitches; a structure which is force-grinding different peoples to subsist, suffer and die under cruel repression by Islam in Nigeria. Stability will come to the region—and quickly too—when the US and the international community can allow, support and maintain an enabling environment wherein the different nations currently subsisting and suffering forcibly in Nigeria can come together and decide among themselves their mode and modalities for inter-national co-existence. The peoples of the nations living in Nigeria have indicated their inclination towards this solution, although the current corrupt, inept, visionless dictatorship cum one-party system in power, masquerading as a democracy, is predictably in the way—for the moment. With international support, a stable transition can occur.

One more thing: the Ambassador really needs to understand that by making light, or indeed, denying the plight and victimization of Southern Christians by Northern Nigerian Muslims in his blind, one-sided, selective open advocacy for the Muslims, he diminishes the worth of a Christian life. Is that really necessary—never mind, right?

Related Link:-
Princeton Lyman: Nigeria has potential to be next Afghanistan

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