Nigerian charade exposes West's double standards
Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2007
By Mukanya Makwira
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May 16, 2007
OUTGOING Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo must be a very worried man as he ponders how to extricate himself from the mess he presided over.
The man who, like the proverbial cat, had managed to live nine lives due to his cunning ability to reinvent himself, must be cursing himself over the turn of events in the "democracy" under his stewardship.
The recent "elections" in Nigerian, apart from the shambolic way in which they were held, also exposed the West's naked hypocrisy in the extent to which they can lower the bar in order to suit their ends.
Let it be emphasised that Africa does not need outsiders to authenticate its elections. Even as he awakened from his slumber, the embattled Obasanjo acknowledged that elections cannot be judged using the European barometer.
This exposed his folly for playing to the Western gallery at the height of Zimbabwe's land reform programme. Those who tried to knock some sense into his head must have appeared like fools, but now as the sun sets on Obasanjo's tenure, he is undoubtedly seeing the light.
For how could the West dignify a process which Obasanjo himself grudgingly condemned?
Like the average African who has become accustomed to Nollyhood through exposure to Nigerian movies, the recent Nigerian elections could have passed for the Tom and Jerry rumblings, minus the violence, of course.
It was in Nigeria, albeit with the complicity of the West, that an election was openly rigged, disenfranchising millions of voters amid widespread violence.
One of the key contestants, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, was only given the green light to contest with only 72 hours left before the elections. Thus, he was literally given three days to sell his candidature to over 60 million voters, a feat that could easily have got him into the Guinness Book of Records had he won.
After facing an unexpected revolt from his inner circle in his bid to bend the rules to run for a third term, Obasanjo opted to settle scores with his deputy by sabotaging his bid to succeed him.
Obasanjo threw away all democratic etiquette to throw spanners into the opposition campaign, and ensuring in the process that his hand-picked successor, the little known Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, held sway.
With vast oil resources at his disposal and with his country being a major exporter of this much-needed resource to the Western world, who could raise a finger at the goings-on?
Talk is cheap, the bespectacled leader can today testify. Who can forget his globetrotting ostensibly on Commonwealth business (read British service) as Zimbabwe was facing increasing Western pressure in the wake of the land reform programme?
It was during Obasanjo's tenure as chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that punitive sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe amid allegations that our elections had not been free and fair.
What had not been clear to him was that to the West, as the Nigerian case exemplifies, free and fair elections can only be said to have taken place provided Western interests are secured.
The British sought a reversal of the land reform programme, hence their explosive anger when their puppet Morgan Tsvangirai lost.
To the West, the concept of free and fair elections is interpreted within the context of safeguarding their interests in former colonies. With the prevailing global political climate having moved away from colonialism, the West has sought to promote neo-colonial thinking across the world in order to maintain influence over developing world resources.
Thus, Nigerians had to vote with their blood, over 200 perishing, the elections still being applauded for reflecting the wishes of the people. Which people, the dead or European masters, one might ask?
The so-called policemen of the world will not shy away from validating any political outcome that would install their proteges in power. What concerns them is the smooth flow of British Petroleum, Shell and Exxon oilfields from the Niger Delta. They have sometimes in history gone on to support undemocratic means of unseating legitimately elected governments in order to satisfy their resource exploitation agenda.
Take, for example, the issue of Venezuela. In 2002, the United States of America and its allies shamelessly supported a botched-up coup against the sitting government of Hugo Chavez.
Credibility of an election to the West lies in its outcome, never mind the process. If their surrogate wins, by whatever means, there is no rigging. Has anybody ever wondered the silence of these "champions of democracy" whenever the opposition won some constituencies?
The opposition has participated in the elections which have seen them having a foothold in virtually all the urban centres under the very electoral regulations which have been said to be defective by our detractors.
So nauseating was the Nigerian process and outcome that even senior political figures within the ruling party could not stomach it. The Senate president, a ruling People's Democratic Party member, publicly disowned the process, a stance that got him a rebuke and threats of imprisonment from the government.
The Nigerian elections probably made modern history by becoming the first to be held under classroom regulations where pieces of paper, no serial numbers and all were used to elect class monitors. The only difference was that the monitor being chosen this time was for a class of about 120 million citizens.
In what could be seen as largely an afterthought, probably instigated by the refusal of the majority of world leaders to authenticate the poll, the European Union issued a thinly-veiled statement on the election process. The statement expressed disappointment with the conduct of the elections, but true to their intentions, went on to embrace the president-elect so that they could help the country to "overcome post-election difficulties".
To them, that millions were not given the chance to vote was immaterial. With oil prices on the surge following the bold move by Chavez to nationalise Venezuelan oilfields, I bet they would not have minded even if the Nigerians had voted for a donkey. What would happen to the petrodollars from the oil sales would be another issue all together.
The Nigerian embassies in Western capitals must be very busy indeed at the moment. Their various leaders are probably jostling for the limited tickets for the inauguration of the new president. They are very much interested in establishing themselves with the new leader so not as to escape the oil benefits.
They would want to witness the first civilian transfer of power in Nigeria on the day Obasanjo is going to hand over a blood-soaked baton stick to his successor.
The transition would be a "feat" achieved at the cost of 200 lives.
Who says the military were worse transgressors? Talk of double standards.
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