Is Ghaddafi Haunting Nigeria?

The pains of fallen relatives and friends never really cease however we pretend that God “giveth and taketh.” Their memories are always present in our thoughts I shall not forget Dimgba Igwe and his twin, Mike Awoyinfa, for the respect they had always given to senior colleagues. It pains that Dimgba is no more. His untimely death reminds me of the passing of two persons close to me with keen and sharp minds on global political affairs. Dimgba was a concerned Nigerian who wanted his country to rank among those in the premier league in world affairs. And he was lucky to have soldiered under first-class generals in the Nigerian press when he picked his pen job at the National Concord, where Dele Giwa bestrode the world like a colossus.

Talking about the Concord reminds me of a concerned journalist who left this planet 15 years ago and was one of the generals then in that newspaper. Thomas Ozinegbe Borha (alias Tom Bee) had a mind as sharp as a razor like Dimgba and also was a smooth and flawless communicator in English, albeit professionally. He was so committed about Nigerian affairs that when he recovered momentarily from a coma, the only thing he asked was whether Chuba Okadigbo had been made president of the Senate. Okadigbo was a Benin and Ubiaja boy. Benin boys, like Kano boys, are a stubborn lot. No leader can ride roughshod over the people of the South-west, Edo and Kano. One way or the other, the people in those states bring a tyrant or a laggard at the head to a deserved fall.

The mention of Kano also brings one to analyse strong characters like Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of that ancient domain, Tayo Aderinokun, born and bred there and Mohammed Ayagi, all straight-forward bankers but steeped in seeking public good. Tayo went into a coma in Nigeria and when he recovered consciousness in London, the only thing he asked to know was, “what happened to Ghaddafi”.

As Nigeria discusses Boko Haram campaigns, Tayo would have drawn attention to Ghaddafi’s foreign legion, the bulwark of that former dictator’s defence. The officers and men of that legion now move militarily from one part of West Africa to another.

Thousands of Nigerians of all tribes served in that private army. Did the Nigerian security take census of those who returned from Libya after the fall of Ghaddafi? Where are they now?

Hundreds of former Libyan mercenaries were reported to have fought in the rebellion in Mali that was later put down by France and ECOWAS countries.

Nigeria was first to join to denounce Ghaddafi as British and American jet aircraft strafed his defence positions in Libya. Our government backed his encirclement by rebellious Libyan militants who treated aliens in Ghaddafi’s legion with ham fist.

Methinks that when those mercenaries lost Mali their most likely destination was Nigeria where there was already a feeble Boko Haram presence. The aliens in the Ghaddafi legion took away considerable amount of arms and ammunition from Libya. Ghaddafi shopped for quite a sizeable stock of sophisticated weapons in his plot to rule Africa. Though he is dead his dream is being actualised by his disciples drawn from all parts of Africa. Don’t we think they form the strategic command of the Boko Haram insurrection in the North-east?

There were officers who left the Nigerian Army in the 1970s and 1980s to work for Ghaddafi. Thousands of Nigerians crossed the desert to Libya to seek greener pastures and were readily welcomed by the dictator for decades. They were all praise for the tyrant. And they lost him, and somehow, they fought their way across the Sahara to West Africa with the dictator’s son in the lead.

I do not think that Nigerians alone are conducting the war for Boko Haram because the shape and tone of the insurrection changed shortly after the fall of Mali to the French. This is what Nigerian military and foreign affairs thinkers ought to have cast their minds to in their counter-insurgency. The Ghaddafi foreign legion was a better-trained and equipped corps than the regular army and had a better organisation to beat back the rebellion against their leader, but for the intervention of NATO powers.

When Ghaddafi pretended to have softened his outlook on world politics, Western powers were falling heads over heels to gain his favour and so sold very sophisticated conventional weapons to him. They wanted Libya’s oil and would stop at nothing to recoup their losses of decades from that tyrant’s intransigence. Britain beefed Ghaddafi’s defence shortly before the outbreak of the rebellion against him. The regular army never took possession of a lot of the stock. Part may be the materiel at the disposal of insurgent Boko Haramites. The quality of the officers of the Boko Haram troops seems visionary though callous in character with Ghaddaff’s disposition to public matters. That demented leader killed without remorse. Boko Haram forces behave in heartless character like Ghaddafi as they dangle the stick and carrot. If Tayo, with his sharp mind on global political affairs, were alive it would have crossed his mind to raise issues about Ghaddafi’s men.

In one of our brain-storming sessions when he was alive, he joined me to enlighten some fake democrats that military rule was not really worse than civilian administration if there was a progressive and committed person in the saddle. He said a bad civilian government was the same as a bad military one. He cited the case of how an informed and committed general changed the fortunes of South Korea for the better after the civilian rot of Sygman Rhee and succeeding military rule. General Park cleared the stable of the filth and set the tone for the technological advancement of the country, accentuating free education and hard work. Park made his people to build their own future not applying World Bank and IMF programmes. Some fellow told me that Sanusi wept like a baby when Tayo died. They shared the same umbilical cord of Kano and Lagos education.

True, it was Gamel Abdel Nasser who woke Egypt from centuries of feudal slumber to modernity. He was a soldier. There has been none like him in the Middle East for the past 100 years. He had the vision to link the Arabs with black Africa. Ghaddafi’s ghost seems to be haunting Nigeria because we handled slip-shod his liquidation, diplomatically.

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