VOICE OF LIBERTY: From Africa: With death, pain and hope ~ Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede


Once I heard the sentence, “they got more money than they got senses”, first thing that came to mind is how rich African’s dictators are, both in military uniforms or in civilian attires, and yet, how senseless they become. It is the same across board, more money, less senses.

It has not been a really nice week, this past week. The longest serving dictator in Africa, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea during a one-on-one with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, maintained that an allegation of fraud against his government is the work of his enemies. Yet, he could manage a six hundred million dollar worth of personal wealth despite being on a salary of just about $60,000 per annum and in an oil rich country where one in every eight children dies before the age of five. How interesting? Yet, grilled about a possible longer stay in power, the same malnourished people has the say, he asserted. How convenient?

The news was not different from other parts of Africa. Dealing with violence in Congo, stalled negotiations in Mali, Mine owners sacking workers in South Africa, not too long after police opened fire on some protesters, fighting cholera in Sierra Leone, Liberia inmates in mass jailbreak, the news is simply too many more to mention.

Kudos must at least be given to few positives out of the continent, amidst the array of unpleasant events. A hard talking clergy reputed of undoubted integrity went home with a one million Dollar Mo Foundation exceptional prize, and perhaps, the rise in good governance in President Joyce Banda led Malawi. Or so it seems.

However, of more attention is a particular African State reputed to be an economy to watch out for. It is no other than the West African giant, Nigeria.

Despite the barrage of calls for the urgency, and importance of combating insecurity in the country, peace seems yet, to be a tall dream. Over the week, the nation’s 52nd Independence Anniversary was celebrated in the midst of divergent opinions. While some pundits argued about the lack of anything to celebrate, much worse are the allegations that the President lied to the entire nation during his broadcast regarding a Transparency International rating on the battle against corruption.

Evidently, priorities, as always, are still being misplaced. Not less than 40 young undergraduates in a Northern University were murdered in cold blood. Another few were sent in the same direction a couple days after. However, from the stable of the Presidency, everything is under control.

The challenge before the government has transcend the effort to discontinue the mortgaging of the future of the young ones who also makes more than half of the population, but more tedious is the present task of ensuring they live long enough to see that future.

The market for a quicker means of getting rich is on a sharp rise. There are a few benefits to joining the militancy or insurgents ranks. You in the least stand the advantage of having a weapon, ready to protect yourself should you find yourself in the middle of the events that claimed the lives of 40 young future prospects. Soon afterwards, as usual, the zone is into an AU Peace Mission Scenario, where 500 soldiers are deployed to “enforce” peace. Mr. President, oftentimes, it could be cost effective to work on prevention, rather than un-thoughtful cure measures.

Someone tweeted, “with 500 soldiers in Mubi, the matter is all but dead. Forensic experts, homicide detectives, ballisticians needed not jackboots” – @ds_abdallah. Nothing could be further from the reasonable thing to do.

Leaving it at that, there is one more curious event that could possibly not pass the curious or uncurious eye in this past week. A certain Nigerian Senator overseeing the SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY led his members to the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. My first sight of the pitiable pictures from the area reminded me of recent drive into a fancy Shell Gas Station in company of a partner. I had so much in my stomach to spill out regarding the life of those in the communities where this finely refined oil probably comes from. Unfortunately, or unsurprisingly, as it was, when some nine men were martyred for standing up for the rights to a clean environment, so it still is, even when the region has one of its own as the Civilian “Head of State.”

Soon Mr. President emerged the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one of his notable political moves was to rearrange who oversees the affairs in his home state. Not too long after, Her Excellency, the philanthropic psychologist first lady earned a sizeable political appointment in the State (wishing her quick recovery). However, despite the pride that comes from the Niger Delta producing the Nation’s president, cleaning up the oil spillage resulting from the major national source of revenue seems too little an issue to deal with, or perhaps, it is a cause worth ignoring, so far oil business remains undisturbed.

I understand however, it will be a tall dream asking that you protect the environment, Mr. President, even when protecting human beings remains a headache. However, charity, they say, begins at home.


~ Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede is a columnist on the African Liberty VOICE OF LIBERTY Project

Picture: A typical Niger Delta farm taken over by oil pollution

From Obiang, to Jonathan and then the seeming outlier in Joyce Banda