Rev. Tony Agbali:
The basic idea of this initiative is resoundingly good and the
rhetorics of their Bamako declaration looks near perfect. It is good
that former African leaders are taking such great steps toward
discussing African issues. I hope that this idea is not a
transmogrification of their sentiments to form a club, to return to
power and truncate further the development of the African polity.
The present efforts of erstwhile Nigerian despot, Ibrahim Badamosi
Babangida, to return to power in Nigeria, albeit through a
democratically crafted procedure, after eight years of crass misrule,
allows room for such suspicion. Also the Togo case, where succession
has become Patrimonial either through force or manipulation of the
elective processes, call for greater sensitivity to such gatherings.
In many situation on the continent rhetoric does not match action,
and seemingly good intentions often mask hideous agenda.
However, I still commend the efforts of these erstwhile leaders
toward meeting to focus on African issues. However, it would have
been pointedly interestingly for these former leaders, some of whom
constituted problems for their country and citizens, during their
tenure of governance to have at least alluded to the difficult task
of governing within their own regimes, and adduce from that critical
lessons of significance to be learnt. For instance, Yakubu Gowon's
articulation of his civil war experiences in an honest, point of
fact manner, can help to highlight, sensitize, and direct mold and
manners of forestalling such developments in other troubled parts of
the continent. Such honest articulation rather than rhetorical
embellishment of what constitutes "progressive march" would do more
good in fostering true articulations for moving Africa forward. But
are these folks ready to do just that, when each and most tries to
justify their own rule and era as the golden one?
Another interesting thing that emerged from this, is their title of
"African statemen." Are they forcefully claiming themselves to be
statemen? Or did the people they ruled and misruled for the most part
the ones honoring them with such titular honorarium?
Also, equally significant, is the fact that I was wondering that if
Idi Amin or Jean Bokassa were alive, if they would together be
present as such meeting, offering their noxious and demented ideas?
Also those who truncated the development of democratically elected
governments would also be offering what idea. Maybe, how to
transmogrify themselves into "Monster democrats." Look at Nigeria
today, in spite of some of the merits of the democratic process in
some quarters, the democratic terrain is heavily militarized by
former military officers, whose who lives have been predicated on the
matrix of force. The President is a former military officer, so is
the Chairman of his party, Ahmadu Adah Ali, a retired Colonel, and
physician, whose term in 1977/78 as Federal Commissioner of
Education, saw the drowning of demonstrating innocent students with
the arsenal of military might, engendering a sea of students' blood.
In the last elections, almost all the significant Presidential
candidates- Obasanjo, Buhari, and Ojukwu had military backgrounds.
In the 2007, erstwhile dictator, Babangida is bubbling to be a front
runner, together with former Lagos Governor, Brigadier General
(Retired) Marwa, all with military background. The question is: what
has changed in the mentality of these people who have ruled for
numerous years and refused to transform the polity? Why are they
afraid of staying out of power? Are they hiding anything that they do
not want exposed by any kind of leader?
Well, I think the recent happening in Togo with Eyadema's son
produces a quick answer. Thus, dictator Babangida may have to
attempt using the cover of power attempt to run away from the shadow
of his misrule and misdeeds. Thus, he has grave questions hanging on
his head as to: who killed Dele Giwa, the Nigerian editor of the
Newswatch magazine? What happened to the Gulf War 1 oil accrued money
(about 12 billion), as revealed by the Pius Okigbo panel? Why has he
continue to scuttle the judiciary process, refusing to honor court
orders and appearing at the Truth and Reconciliation (Oputa) panel?
Let's hope that there is hope in all of these. Hope is such a
beautiful word, I think.