Home ViewpointColumns JJRAWLINGS… Words of eminent African Statesman | The Guardian Nigeria News

JJRAWLINGS… Words of eminent African Statesman | The Guardian Nigeria News

JJRAWLINGS… Words of eminent African Statesman | The Guardian Nigeria News

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 08, 1998 South African President Nelson Mandela (L) listens to his Ghanaian counterpart Jerry John Rawlings after the opening of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Ouagadougou. This is the last OAU summit Mandela will attend before stepping down next year. – Ghana’s former leader Jerry Rawlings, who towered over the West African nation for two decades first as a military ruler and then as elected president, has died aged 73, his party said on November 12, 2020. (Photo by Jean-Philippe KSIAZEK / AFP)

After Ghana’s Independence President, Kwame Nkruma (1907-1972), retired Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings was generally perceived as the next strongest and most influential leader of the former Gold Coast. JJ Rawlings became a Ghanaian leader after a bloody revolution he led in the early 1980s. He later transformed from military leader to civilian President and ruled for two terms.

As an incumbent democratic president, he had all the powers to rig and manipulate the elections he supervised in favour of the presidential flag bearer of his ruling political party but, remarkably, he chose to play by the rules and thus gave power to the opposition, while he bowed out quietly from the scene into retirement.

Rawlings, who has since retirement been performing his role diligently as an African statesman, was in Nigeria in 2011 to deliver a keynote at a fundraiser, dance, and dinner ball organised by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International in Lagos. Thereafter, he granted The Guardian’s ISAAC TAIWO an exclusive interview in which he touched on varied issues affecting Africa, and especially Ghana and Nigeria. The interview, which was originally published on March 6, 2011, is being reprinted to celebrate the life and times of one of Africa’s greats, whose death was announced last Thursday morning. He reportedly died of suspected COVID-19 complications at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana’s seat of power, aged 73.

Ghana is one of the leading nations in Africa today, which of course did not come without the revolution that took place there. Do you foresee a similar thing happening in some African countries where insensitive leaders, who sit on the nation’s wealth and close their eyes to the sufferings of fellow nationals, celebrate corruption?
IF the situation in any nation is as bad as we went through in Ghana, anything could happen. However, the issue of the coup is being rejected by most people and so, soldiers are feeling very reluctant to do that kind of intervention.

It surprises me of situations in some countries that would have called for military intervention simply because the issue of the coup is being misconstrued.

In the past, coups served as a corrective mechanism or intervention.

Some of those military interventions were done on moral grounds, to serve as corrective measures. That was why the revolt took place in our country, which was against the military regime of Generals, comical politicians, and others.

I guess that accounts for what is taking place in some countries in the Northern part of Africa where the military is disobeying immoral and unlawful commands are rather joining the masses and identifying with their plight.

Many countries in Africa are big and resilient, like Nigeria that is even preparing for an election and one wonders the type of effort the government is making to deal with some of the issues that border on corruption.

Record has it that the late President Musa Yar’Adua did not have the reputation of being corrupt. He was rather seen as one, who was doing a house cleaning; but unfortunately, because of his ill health, he was unable to tackle some of those issues. But it was acknowledged that he was bold enough to have made attempts; and later, the current President, Goodluck Jonathan, entered to take on the mantle of the office.

Today (February 25, 2011), when I was listening to the news, someone, who came to introduce him (Jonathan) at a rally, described him as one of the most qualified people in Nigeria, I thought he was going to talk about his academic attainments, but rather, he focused on his integrity, respect for transparency, accountability and some other values and I was amazed that he was using virtues to describe his qualities.

Should all those be true then, it affords the government a moral high ground, which draws faith and confidence from the masses, who want to team up with the leadership of integrity to fight corruption.

As I said, political aspirants in Nigeria should realise that as they are preparing for the elections, the electorate is not unaware of the fact that corruption in the nation is immense.

It is an admitted fact that one politician cannot wipe out corruption; it needs a team of dedicated people, who have to take their stand and be tough and strong against sycophants and saboteurs. In the presence of every deception, fighting corruption is not going to be an easy battle in Nigeria.

When we were in office during the revolutionary period, Nigeria was craving for what we had, just like many other countries in West Africa.

However, I would strongly oppose countries, especially Nigeria, going the same way we went because it would not be safe for her to do that. I mean; to get involved in that kind of rage and volcanic outburst because the extent of damage would not be only too much, but would be uncontrollable and I believe Nigerians also would admit this fact.

Much as the Western powers like the Nigerian former civilian President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, did everything they could to knock us off in other to safeguard President Shagari’s political career; but our revolution was unshakeable.

Would you say your revolution was for the people of Ghana?
The revolution was not for Rawlings but for the people’s power to enjoy their freedom. And, of course, in the end, they won their freedom; people that had been denied justice and a sense of dignity for so long. And now, nobody can take their freedom from them again.

Some Western press analysts said there were about 82 attempted dissident actions and (failed) coups against us. It was as high as that, but they could not shake us. We fought for the freedom that belongs to the people. One may succeed in shifting people one or two steps backward, but they would still recover because ‘freedom’ in every sense, belongs to the people.

The people we fought for did not see it as if the army was just fighting or fighting for Rawlings or somebody else. Freedom was theirs; they had tasted it and were determined they were not going to lose it.

As I was saying, that kind of freedom and justice have a cleansing effect and made the people to later be very creative and productive. It spurred people to voluntarily and sacrificially commit themselves to programmes that would move the nation forward because it was no longer a question of ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey shop’. They now operate in the atmosphere of freedom without the sense of enslavement any longer.

The energy level in the country (Ghana) was so high. We could achieve anything with the people and that is why I describe it as a point in time.’ Even though there was no constitutional rule, it was our democratic period and our sense of mission that made it possible for us to transform some of the latent energy from 1979 into productivity.

The women transformed their energy to cultivating the land. They seated, laboured for economic power, and from there to political power. We were AFRC-PNC and June 31st became NDC. We were for the masses and the women were our backbone because they were the cynosure of the society. There was no age that was disregarded or disrespected. It was a revolution for everyone. They became recognissed in the society just like any Christian person.

I am saying that it (revolution) had no ideological bases and people really worked. It was sad enough that so many of our people that led the nation (Ghana) to independence corrupted themselves, which led to coups and counter-coups. There were socialism, capitalism and that was why I said one-party system, multi-party system, and democracy, among others, were not accountable to our people.

People got tired and fed up and that was why they teamed up with me when I led that insurrection. I did not have to be arrested. The situation was so charged and could be likened to opening of a gas and all I needed to do was to light a match and throw it there.

But then, I realised that too many innocent ones would have died, including my colleagues and animosity between the ranks and officers was too much. I thought I had to change the formulae, knowing I could be arrested in the process. So, in the course of my trial, the first thing I was trying to prevent happened on June 4.

I remember I used to advise my colleagues, young officers, that we should look up to some of the Colonels, Brigadiers, and Generals, but unfortunately, no one was ready to lead, to effect the necessary change we anticipated. And if nothing was done, it might end up with the ranks below us, like in the case of Sergeant Samuel Doe of Liberia.

I am not disrespecting ranks, but the point is that why should we allow it to descend that far when we had higher officers, who could be more effective. Since the higher officers were folding their hands and time was passing by, I picked up the courage and went ahead with the mind that I was going to succeed. I risked what I did.

Wasn’t your intervention somehow belated?
That is what I am trying to arrive at; that we waited too long till the leaders became destructive and very dangerous. Had we made that move two years earlier, which I kept advocating, eight Generals would not have been sent to the stake and executed.

The country was already calling for blood and it was getting too late. I spent three months trying to cool down the anger of the people in the entire country, as they continued to call for more blood: ‘Let the blood flow, let the blood flow.’

Would you recommend such a revolution for Nigeria?
Nigeria’s case, for example, is complex because of its size and it might not be necessary to wade through that kind of volcanic eruption. The ideal thing is for leaders, as they are preparing for another election, to call themselves to order, and not make it do-or-die for their selfish purpose, which many people are aware of, and think of the electorate they are to be responsible to and not themselves or the gains, the unnecessary wealth they have at the back of their minds, to make for themselves to the detriment of the people.

There is a new dispensation in the world and no single person or group of people can any longer be called everybody’s fool like what is happening in the Northern part of Africa. They (politicians) should ponder on all I have said about my own country and draw a lesson from that. You do not foolishly create such a wealth that you or your family will not live to enjoy, as your ambition or covetousness can easily translate into your destruction, especially in modern times. People are no longer fools.

So, politicians or those seeking power at all cost, not even caring whose ox is gored, should know that in such a situation, when people are pushed to the wall and become angry because of the insensitivity of their leaders to the plight of the citizens, it is not the wisest person who becomes the leader to fight back. Sometimes, it is the angriest person who becomes the leader of the crowd.

Generally speaking, in a revolt of this nature, the leaders may not necessarily be the high-ranking people, but those that would be respected with the passage of time, no matter how junior they may be. The situation is an angry situation. No matter how smart, wise, beautiful, or angelic you are, if your anger is not identified with the people, they will brush you aside. So, one has got to understand some of the psychological transformations that would bring about effective control in that kind of heat.

‘How Nigeria Tried To Undermine Our Revolution’
You mentioned how Western powers were trying to use the Shagari government to truncate your revolution, would you elaborate on that?

NIGERIA, during the period of President Shehu Shagari, tried to punish us by repatriating our people, but it did not work. After all, there would always be a home for everybody. Whether it is your mother, uncle, cousin, or brother’s place, there is always a place you can go to. So, it was so easy to absorb all our millions of people.

I believe the Western powers advised Shagari wrongly. At that time, staying with Shagari was the former Ghanaian President, Hilla Liman’s wife, who had given birth to a baby, who was named after Shagari. You would have expected a woman like that, who was the First Lady before the coup took place, to have advised Shagari: ‘please, do not do that; they are my people. If you want to fight, go, and fight Rawlings.’

Anyway, let us leave that for the moment. So, they tried to push us but it did not work.

Also, in 1979, General Olusegun Obasanjo cut oil supply to Ghana. One thing people forget is that ‘freedom’ is so precious to a humiliated man, for it is like taking away a man’s dignity, which is the worst thing you can do to him.

You can give him all your oil, Rose Royce, Chalet, but I bet you, he will throw all of them back to your face and would want your neck, all because he does not cherish all those material things like his freedom. He wants his dignity.

Though Obasanjo in 1979 also cut oil supply to Ghana, workers and staff were walking miles to their offices and back… ‘To hell with Nigeria’s oil.’ That was the kind of defiant mood in the country. And people, who are not defiant, cannot defend their freedom. It was wonderful!

Nigeria’s military then, I think, sensed that a revolutionary temple was about to be built up all around Africa or thereabout including Nigeria and God forbid that what happened in Ghana should have and would happen in Nigeria. Even if there would be a reaction to insensitive governance, it should not be bloody; it should not be with arms. It is Nigeria’s civil responsibility and it is in its constitution to go on demonstrations, which would suffice. Ghana did it in their own way and I am not advocating that any nation, including Nigeria, should take after that.

So long as we were there, President Shagari was feeling threatened because the upsurge in the country was something he could not handle and that was why I think General Buhari stepped in. If he had not done that, the junior officers would have hijacked the situation.

I can remember Buhari’s regime was called ‘the Supreme Military Council (SMC). Incidentally, the one we revolted against in Ghana was also named SMC and we called (ours) the Revolutionary Council: the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.

But I think it (Buhari’s coup) appeared to be to latte in the sense that Buhari’s government could not satisfy the frequency, the tempo, the pressure, and the demands in the air as well as on the ground and so the regime was also becoming endangered. If care was not taken, the very minds of the junior offices we were talking about that were thought could be pre-empted could be ignited again.

So, I think he (Buhari) was a little too oblivious. You know, sometimes, when we become big men, we lose the sensibility and the sensitivity on the ground. We become big men and we lead our people at a fast pace not minding their own pace. We forget to make room to slow down so that other soldiers and officers do not only catch up with our pace but even also run ahead. We encourage them to move on. Sometimes, we feel threatened by their speed and we hold them back and retort, ‘Do not overtake me.’ But it is not helping matters.

It is true, you should not lose your authority but you must make room for something like that, even encouraging them to move on. But when you are in a situation like this and you feel endangered, other senior officers could feel the same. It then did not surprise me that President Babangida took over.

From the SMC, as we did, he called his regime AFRC. I am not saying that calling it AFRC was a bad idea because it rhymed with the revolutionary name we gave to ours and, of course, by that time, we had come back the second time. Well, he (Babangida) managed for as long as he could and we also did what we could not to encourage a kind of revolutionary explosion of a volcanic eruption in Nigeria.

Against this background, do not forget we have a new generation also growing, who actually did not go through what we went through and who are suffering.

I think it is obligatory for the officers, the managers, the government in Nigeria, and the sub-region to wake up to the reality of the suffering. The same suffering is going on in my country and I can assure you that our own government appears very oblivious to it.

‘Every Level in Society Is Corrupt’
Is corruption restricted to the politicians or the top people in society?
Sometimes, it is not only the politicians, sitting up there, who get corrupt. Corruption catches up with so many people way down the line. That middle-level manager, who sees a pretty, beautiful, lovely girl, well qualified, looking or a job and is insisting on sleeping with her before giving her the job is just as corrupt as that man sitting up there!

That vehicle driver, who sits in that big vehicle and would not want to make room for smaller ones on that road because of the size of his vehicle, is also enjoying misuse of power!

So, it is not only those up there. It is only that they have everything it takes and in a better position to correct its own line and it is when they do this that others begin to follow them. Many of us are susceptible to this behavior.

I was telling people that when you drink alcohol, you also get intoxicated. The second day, when you wake up, you shake your head and ask yourself what you did. Somebody tells you what you did and you exclaim, ‘Did I do that? Oh my God, I have disgraced myself.’

But there is something worse than alcohol. That is political power. When political power intoxicates you, you can sleep off 100 times and you would not get up with any guilt that, ‘Why did I do that?’
You get worse and worse and worse until you get a shock treatment and such treatment can be very expensive.

‘In Africa, We Elect People Before They Become People’
What do you think is fuelling corruption in Nigeria?
Nigeria runs presidential system of government and some school of thought believes it is very costly with too much power concentrated at the centre, which is believed to be promoting corruption. There was also this indictment on the lawmakers, of recent, of earning too much money, to the detriment of other Nigerians. Would you say that the nation is not ripe enough for the system? It is the question of what type of government the people themselves want.

Concerning the lawmakers, there is no problem in someone serving his nation and getting the requisite salary. If what they are earning is concomitant with the level of development in the nation, then it is all right. However, where the level of development is at variance with their earnings, then obviously, there is a problem and it goes to say that they are not serving the country but for themselves. And that appears to be a general problem.

In Ghana, there is this clamour for an increase in Parliamentary remuneration, and the civil societies and the general public are not happy about it because members of Parliament have all sorts of nice languages when they want salary increase: how they are sacrificing, serving the State and how some other professional colleagues are earning so much and they forget that they are working as private citizens including the fact that they are serving the community.

Where do you locate the problem?
Part of our problems in Africa is that we elect people before they become people. The actual thing should be that those to be elected are already recognised in their communities, not necessarily rich, but one who was certain leadership qualities to serve and die for the community.

If that person is poor and is having credibility and a sense of service, and he is someone people can trust, it is more unique than someone who borrowed money to campaign across the length and breadth of the community and convinced them that he has the ability to serve. At the end of the day, when he gets to the position, he uses it to amass wealth.

We should be looking at the quality of materials we elect into offices. That would help to resolve the issues of us looking at our elected personalities with disdain, jealousy, and anger. We should also appreciate the fact that responsibility is down to the ordinary person as well. We tend to detach ourselves from the responsibility of choosing our leaders and we become the losers at the end of the day.

The problem that is prevalent in most countries in Africa is that we essentially adopt political systems hook line and sinker. We do not intend to better appreciate the socio-cultural, and political milieu that we come from.

If you look very well at the West where they practice this kind of political system, you will identify unique differences that each country has. Americans have their system and likewise the British. If you come to Africa, to a place like Ghana, during the revolutionary era, there was an introduction of this assembly concept, which was married to the presidential system when we went into the constitutional rule.

So, we do not necessarily have a complete system of adoption either from the United Kingdom or America. But we have what we can describe as UK-Ghana in the sense that right from the grassroots level, there is decision-making from ordinary people, who may necessarily not be members of Parliament or just Assembly members.

‘Many African Countries Deserve The Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan Treatment’
What signal is the revolution, taking place in North African countries, sending to other African leaders?
What we have been claiming, as democratic culture, has been nothing but superficial that, of course, lacks substance. Even though some of them might sometimes have gone through the rituals of electoral processes, they lacked integrity.

Once the foundation is corrupt, they would have no alternative than to develop state machinery that is oppressive. It buttresses the saying that, ‘absolute power corrupts.’ It is very real. People, who want to be feared by fellow mortals, do not draw a limit to say, ‘this is enough’. The more you fear them, the more they want you to continue to fear them. The more you respect them, the more they clamour for your worshipping them.

So, naturally, it is crazy creating stress in society and it is also the fear factor that gets converted into hatred. And hatred can react and that is what happened in the course of the revolution in Russia, even the recent collapse of the Soviet Union.

People are tired of long rulers sitting tight on the seat – 40 years as a ruler! Though they may be portrayed as fine, peaceful countries by the Western media, the situation is quite different from the reality on ground.

In my country, for instance, when Kufuor was there, the West tried to polish his image. It was very sad and that was why people kicked his government out in 2004.

Though the West supported him, four years was too short for a revolutionary period that had been in the country for 10 years and eight years of constitutional rule. They tried to steal it (elections) again in 2008. (But) the late President of Nigeria, Musa Yar’Adua, sent one of his competent aides to come and warn Kufuor that if he tried it, Ghana was going to blow up. ‘If Ghana blows up, the repercussion would hit all of us here.’ Otherwise, it (Kufuor government) was going to attempt it (rigging of the polls) just like that of 2004.

In effect, there is a limit to which people can absorb pressure. But there again, we can have a situation where people can end up being emasculated. And when they are emasculated, the power to fight is no more there. And that is the most horrible thing that can happen to humanity, which should not be allowed.

A human being would always want to establish a cause for fighting for his right, which is happening to our brothers and sisters in the Northern part of Africa. They have been into the problem for so long and now they are reacting.

It appeared there was not going to be a break or solution in the corruption going on there and in the way their leaders had been carrying away their money to foreign banks in the midst of poverty of their own people. The leaders became absolutely insensitive.

People are created to fear God, I believe. I had become politically conscious at the age of 14, 15, 16 and began to realise that people feared mortals more than God. And yet, we were taught to fear God. It does not make sense that human beings should be demanding so much, what God Himself does not demand.

I remember one time, I told the Ghanaians in a big Chapel that I had no fear of God and the whole place was dead silent! Many of them thought I was blaspheming, but I knew what I was doing. In my next utterance, I told them I do not have the fear of God because I love Him and they all responded again.

The point is that I do not see God, but I relate with Him through my fellow human beings. My belief is that wives and children should love their husbands and fathers and not to fear them.

‘Obama Should Help Return Looted Funds To Africa’
Were you surprised by the revolts in the Arab world?

The people in the Arab World have the moral ground to fight their cause – and not the people only but the military also. It was clearly seen in the soldiers’ refusal to carry out orders to shoot their people, knowing the reality – that they are brothers and sisters fighting the same cause. Those soldiers have a conscience, which is the attribute of good soldiers.

Even in the Western World, you think that their soldiers do not have a conscience but they may necessarily not display this sometime when they are fighting.

However, we must learn to appreciate our own. Our soldiers have been misused brutally against our people for too long and I am happy from recent happenings that these are becoming things of the past.

We must learn to govern our people with respect and without necessarily creating fear between the civilians and the uniformed men. Most leaders foster such a relationship, to terrorize the civilian populace and protect themselves. When the September 11 incident happened in America, I told them that now, you know what terrorism is like.

We, in Africa, have been living under terrorist governments and regimes for decades in terms of how we were used not to fight and defend our territorial integrity, but actually to defend their seats and protect them with their corruption.

What happened in Tunisia did not surprise me. When a university graduate could not get a job, as it is happening in many countries in Africa, and decided to sell vegetables and police still have to question him if he had a license to sell vegetables only to be eventually arrested; that was the height of humiliation, which would make one prefer death than life under such condition. So, it did not surprise me when the young man set himself ablaze!

Many so-called leaders steal their nation’s money and bank them in foreign banks and the question to the Western world is, ‘How many of such frozen amount in European countries are returned to those countries from where the money came from?’ Those foreign banks should be made to return those monies. We should mount pressure on the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who is known to have a very high international political sense of morality, to enforce those banks to release at least an initial 50 per cent of those monies from Swiss banks and the rest of them.

What is your position on the problem in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)?
The situation in that country does not require the much ado that the international community and ECOWAS made us believe. The matter did not call for any use of force at all, but peaceful overtures of authenticating the results, as called for by one of the parties involved.

After all, the first round (of elections) was so peaceful and applauded by the whole international community. The very incumbent, who could have used his position to get whatever he wanted, ensured that there was a free and fair election and in the subsequent development asked for authentication of the results. Why then are we unnecessarily calling for bloody intervention? It does not make sense.

I am glad for the call for a recount initiated by South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, and President Goodluck Jonathan came to me in Ghana and we all agreed on that peaceful move. President Yoweri Museveni even articulated the problem properly.

What is questionable about the attitude of someone (President Laurent Gbagbo) you accused of stealing and he is saying, ‘come and look at my records?’ If he were hiding it, it would be a different matter. And even the second party (Alassane Quattara) is refusing. On what ground? Does he have anything to cover-up? The same thing happened in my country.

I have never been a believer in multi-party democracy. The Super Powers, who assisted us with finances to build our infrastructure, blackmailed me into it. The so-called multi-party democracy, single-party system, socialism, capitalism, Generals’ coups e, and what not – none of them was accountable to the people of my country.

For a brief period after the coup for a new government, we saw what appeared to be accountability. Another time, we saw again true accountability and democracy in the judicial system was when lawyers became redundant.

Our finest time and hour was during the revolutionary period from 1982 to 1992. Some of the Western powers tried to describe this period as an undemocratic period and that we had true democracy in 1992. I refuted that. I maintain my stand that 1982 to 1992 was our most democratic period, while in 1992 we only introduced our constitutional democracy. But the true democracy that we know took place within that period and I can cite various reasons why it was so. People understand democracy. It is in our culture.

“Anger Is Sweeping Through Africa’
ISN’T this anger, the people’s disenchantment limited only to some countries?

No! There are people even in my country who are wishing that what happened in Egypt should also take place there. If that were to happen, I would say, ‘O! Thank God.’ I know it is not going to be as explosive and as demanding and exactly like that of June 4 (1979) because that one was a beautiful civil action. It appears that things have gone too far, as we are also going through similar pain.

However, I think that type of volcanic eruption we went through in 1979 is still at the back of our minds. It may be a new thing for regimes, especially within West Africa, who are going through what we went through, as we had a taste of it from 1979, 1980 with one regime after another and the executions that took place. It is not something you forget easily though and as humans, we do not want to see that again. I believe we bring about changes without that kind of eruption. I think this is better and it is what people would prefer.

There again, in Africa, there is one mistake we tend to make. I think in some of those Western countries, have a kitchen and there is a gas cooker. Normally, before you switch on the gas, you have to light the match. Bit in a situation whereby you switch on the gas, you have to light the match. But in a situation whereby you switch on the gas and you are not lightening the match, you will have an odd sound.

The problem we seem to have now is that we allow pressure, emanating from lack of basic socio-economic amenities, such as roads, education, power supply, water, and so on to build up in the society and create pressure and stress on the people who cannot pay the fees of their children. They cannot even pay the full cost of malaria tablets, among others.

The pains the people go through is excruciating. You marvel that in the midst of all these, you have a handful of people who are just having a good time.

There was this case of someone whose mother was even supposed to be involved in some bad fraud. The son just took a plane, every weekend, and had a good time at one of the most expensive places in Ghana. This he did almost on weekend bases.

I am not saying one should not enjoy oneself but it should not be at the expense of the fellowmen. To some extent, this is the only thing we seem to do in Africa.

The person who introduced capitalism had a good idea. But what we even have in Africa is not capitalism but exploitation. Capitalism in the United States of America is that there’s no way your neighbour can be drinking champagne every night and you would not report the person (to law enforcement agency). But here, you can do anything and enjoy anything and no one dares to come and report or investigate where you got the money you are spending.

How do we then police each other? You are not paying the right tax and you are doing something criminal. So, anything like revolution can happen anywhere, where this type of situation persists.

Do you think African leaders deliberately create conditions that warrant revolution?
Yes, they do! So, let me seize this opportunity to appeal to African leaders, and especially Nigerian politicians, and those in several positions of authority that they should find ways of reducing the pressure.

When gas is opened and the room is sealed, there can be an explosion either accidentally or someone carelessly lighting a match and throw it into the room, and then the sound.

In Africa, what we do is to ask the question: ‘Who brought the gas into the kitchen?’ But the important question we should be asking is, ‘Why the gas was left open for so long until so much pressure was built up?’ We seem to love creating oppressive situations in our countries; lack of this, lack of that; lack of good roads, infrastructure, light, water; those basic necessities of life that should come first on our budget list. But rather, those in power fill their own pockets with monies allocated for all these and made alternative means for themselves, how to enjoy all those things they deny the electorate.

Can we quantify the number of lives bad roads have claimed, while the money to rehabilitate the same were pocketed by politicians who prefer to travel by air to their various destinations with the same people’s money they call government money? All these, including lack of justice, contribute to that pressure.

So, when something happens, as it did in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Libya, we begin to ask why it happened. But we created the pressure! This is why I equate it with the issue of gas.

What I am saying, in essence, is that the whole government machine, the people who are in responsible positions that disdain those that rightly criticize the government for stepping out of line. These are the politicians, who have gone too far! There was an unlawful order by one time President of Nigeria on two or three occasions. He dispatched troops to some areas and gave the soldiers the order, ‘Shoot at sight.’

That was madness, craziness. Shoot at sight? That was manslaughter. Even the Western powers that helped him to get into office were very angry, asking, ‘What is wrong with this man? Shoot at sight? Does he really know what that means, (a person) who calls himself a General?’

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