EARLY this week, the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate, announced a 2-Day Policy Dialogue on the Implementation of the Agenda for Change, on the eve of the inauguration of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, by May 29th, 2015.
The initiative is ordinarily welcome and many newspapers saw it as the unveiling of the incoming government’s policy direction. But there is a most devious element to the whole project, and that is the inclusion of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair as “Keynote Speaker” in a Policy Dialogue of an incoming administration elected on the platform of bringing change to our country.
Last week Thursday, most Nigerian newspapers had also carried on their front pages, a picture of the same Tony Blair flanked by Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Tony Bliar had visited the incoming leaders in Abuja. And as is his wont, Blair spoke very patronisingly “assuring” Buhari of “the support of the major democracies of the world” (On what authority was he giving such an assurance?). He went further to tell Buhari: “In whatever way we can, we are ready to support you and help you (And who are the ‘we’ that the war criminal spoke for?)…Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to see you again here in Nigeria…”
The romance with Tony Blair started on the eve of the last elections when Bukola Saraki organised a meeting and photo-op with the former British Prime Minister for General Muhammadu Buhari. If we had thought that it was just a pre-election faux pas, that was perhaps a necessary part of the Chatham House appearance by General Buhari, we were mistaken. Because, the larger-than –life image that Tony Blair is being invested with by the incoming administration, through the machinations of an over-ambitious member of the APC has become a most disturbing aspect of potential policy, including foreign policy. Last week, Bukola Saraki posted a selfie of himself and Tony Bliar on his facebookpage, soon after a meeting at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja. It is also instructive that the 2-Day Policy Dialogue had been announced by long-standing Bukola Saraki aide, Bolaji Abdullahi, who is Deputy Head of the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign Council.
An unwelcome visitor
The problem is that Tony Blair does not possess the halo and aura of credibility that the neo-colonial elite and some individuals in the APC are investing him with. If we have a serious, politically-conscious ruling elite that is dedicated to the best interests of humanity, we would actually have organised Tony Bliar’s arrest for onward transportation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, to be tried for crimes against humanity and the illegal invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq, on the basis of lies.
On Tuesday this week, Olatunji Dare’s THE NATION column, titled: “AN UNWELCOME VISITOR”, explained in great detail, the crimes and indecencies of Tony Blair, that has been turned into some policy Guru befitting the change that Nigerians desired with the election of Muhammadu Buhari. This is the same Tony Blair that cannot freely walk on the streets of London and is perhaps the most detested politician in the whole of Europe today.
As Olatunji Dare reminded: “So unpopular and discredited had he become at the end of his record tenure as prime minister that he could not embark on a farewell tour of Britain, where he was sure to be greeted with shouts of ‘liar, liar’ and pelted with tomatoes and eggs…The last time Blair went to testify before a parliamentary committee looking into how the UK entered into the unholy alliance that invaded, occupied and destroyed Iraq, he had to be smuggled into the committee room through a back door, to save him from the wrath of protesters”!
If the APC denizens inviting him to be “Keynote Speaker” at their Policy Dialogue had looked carefully, they probably would have seen the blood of innocent Iraqi men and women dripping from the pores of their guest and each time he opens his mouth, they probably would have also seen the flesh of Iraqi children still hanging on his teeth! The neo-colonial elite is by nature not better than a eunuch; they always believe that they need the imprimatur of the metropolitan, imperialist bourgeoisie to validate their rule.
When such elite groups include over-ambitious individuals like that touting Blair for the APC, they make very elementary but unpardonable mistakes because of the deeply unpatriotic content of their intentions! Why would any serious patriot committed to the real development of our country be seen in the company of Tony Blair? What policy directions are they working out for Nigeria that warrants the “Keynote Address” of a Tony Blair? There is also a neo-colonial contraption called the Honourary Investment Council headed by the British Conservative Baroness, Lynda Chalker, that was put in place by Olusegun Obasanjo, who also suffers a surprisingly unacceptable level of inferiority complex, vis-à-vis the leading imperialist politicians.
Elected to provide leadeship
General Muhammadu Buhari should remember early enough, that he has been elected to provide leadership for change that works for the Nigerian people. He needs the acceptance and approval of the Nigerian people, not the imprimatur of imperialist politicians. He should, please, keep very decent company. Being lured into photo-ops with Tony Blair, at the behest of an overambitious young man, actually diminishes his stature.
Tony Blair is not decent company! If we cannot arrest him to face his day at the International Criminal Court, because of our neo-colonial encumbrances, they should please stop inviting Tony Blair to our country. We are a nation of decent people with a strong sense of history. The crimes that Tony Blair committed against the Iraqi people were some of the worst war crimes of the Twenty-First Century.
They were crimes not only against Iraq, but also against our collective humanity. And the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq had been on the basis of a lie. Olatunji Dare puts it very succinctly: “Contrived earnestness, evangelical fervor, and ability to tell a blatant lie with a straight face: That is the quintessence of Tony Blair. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. But by the time British forces pulled out, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi had been killed. Hundreds of thousands more had been displaced and Iraq lay in ruins. Hundreds of British soldiers had also been killed- all for a lie…The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whom Blair’s warmongering removed from this world, and the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis it turned into refugees or otherwise brought to ruin have no place in Blair’s consciousness”.
They obviously have no place in the consciousness of those who have been arranging this liaison with Muhammadu Buhari (for the sake of a personal and unpatriotic political agenda, we hasten to add!) and those in the APC Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate, who have chosen Tony Blair as the “Keynote Speaker” at their Policy Dialogue. Muhammadu Buhari must see through the personal agendas of over-ambitious individuals that in the long run, do disservice to our country’s heritage of support for oppressed peoples and which opposes imperialist brigandage; the type Tony Blair typifies!
Kashim Shettima is chairman, northern governors’ forum
ON Monday this week, Kashim Shettima, the Borno state Governor, was elected the new Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF). He promised that the NGF would unite to fight against Boko Haram as well as work together to face the many challenges facing Northern Nigeria. Kashim Shettima is very passionate about the need to confront the issues of underdevelopment and poverty, which have been the basis of the insurgency wracking the North, in the past six years.
One of the problems of the NGF was the refusal of many of the governors to attend meetings because of an unstated but implicit clash of egos amongst them. It became difficult for them therefore, to work in a concerted manner, to build the platforms of unity that were necessary, to create agendas to coordinate the development of the North. There is a younger and more dynamic group of governors elected in the North, who Kashim Shettima will provide leadership for.
The expectation is for them to work with zeal for the development of Northern Nigeria. They cannot afford to fail! We are watching. Congratulations, Governor Kashim Shettima.