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Drive Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi And His Children From Power!

March 22, 2011

I was in the ranks of people who were extensively averse to the unprovoked invasion of Iraq in 2003 by George Bush, the son who was apparently manipulated and then cheered on by the coterie of neo-conservatives in his foreign policy establishment.

I was in the ranks of people who were extensively averse to the unprovoked invasion of Iraq in 2003 by George Bush, the son who was apparently manipulated and then cheered on by the coterie of neo-conservatives in his foreign policy establishment.

  The messianic belief by that bunch in an American exceptionalism on which its elements based their perception of their right to invent and invoke lies and use same to justify pre-emptive military action directed at anyone that fitted their definition of being “against the US” was as scary as it was both illegitimate and troubling.  I’m still inclined to argue today that there was no legitimate ground for George Bush to invade and occupy Iraq.  However, although George Bush and his neo-conservative brigade have yielded to another set of actors in the management of US state power—it indeed matters who occupies the seat of state power in the US—I wouldn’t hesitate to infer today that humanity is much better off without Saddam Hussien and his children remaining in power in Iraq.

“Heads of State” in Africa as Autocrats and Despots

That brings up Libya under Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi and the problems that he has transformed himself into over the years for not just Libyans, but the rest of Africa and human kind at large.  Many of us who are adults today encountered Gaddafi even before we came of age.  For me, growing up as a primary school lad, I still recall that his portrait in ceremonial military garb with dark sunglasses to match was a regular fixture in the annual almanac calendars that featured a parade of African “heads of state” that many vanity roadside commercial printing presses used to mass produce in Nigeria.  Those almanacs used to adorn the walls of homes and classrooms as décor in most parts of Nigeria at the time.  The notion that those almanacs etched on my impressionable mind year in year out was that it was our destiny as Africans to be ruled for ever by “heads of state”, i.e. military men: As testimony, on those almanacs, Joseph Mobutu—later Field Marshall Mobutu Sese Seko of Zarie was always there.  So were Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic—who we learnt cried his eyes out when Charles de Gaul whom he called, for reasons that I concluded later derived from his stupidity as an individual, “mon Pere”—meaning my dad, died; Jafaar El Nimieri of Sudan; Generals Afrifa and Ignatius Acehmpong, who were later executed by Jerry Rawlings, of Ghana, Anwar Sadat of Egypt until he was felled by an assassin’s bullet; Emperor Haile Sellese and later Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, Mathew Kerekou of Benin, Gnessingbe Eyadima of Togo.  Closer home, there was General Yakubu Gowon who was later ousted by Murtala Mohammed in Nigeria.

In those cases where the “heads of state” were civilians instead of military men, I still remember that the individual rulers who were featured on those almanacs were still yearly fixtures nonetheless: William Tolbert of Liberia who remained in power until he was ousted in a coup d’état and killed by Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, Mouktar Ould Dada of Mauritania who also was ousted in a coup d’état, Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone, Leopold Sedar Senghor who was succeeded by the exceptionally tall and lanky Abdou Diof of Senegal, Sekou Toure of Mali who remained a “head of state” for the rest of his life, Omar Bongo of Gabon—he is still a “head of state”, Houphet Biogny of Ivory Coast.  The list was quiet extensive.

Big Eye Opener about Gaddafi

Particularly because these “heads of state” were always on those almanacs every year, it never occurred to me that they symbolized an aberration, even though elsewhere, especially in the US, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, etc. prime ministers and presidents came into and went from office.  My innocence in that regard began to shift when I was in form two in grammar school on the day Mr. Alozie, our English language teacher pointed us to a memoir by a Henry Kymba who was Idi Amin’s foreign minister until he fled for dear life into exile in 1976.  I went out that same day and bought the paper back entitled State of Blood, in which Kymba chronicled his eyewitness account of Amin’s atrocities as “head of state” in Uganda.  What I read in that book that held me spell bound for the couple of days that it took me to finish it was mind-numbing.

Yet, a few years after I read the book, when Amin miscalculated and invaded Tanzania and provoked Julius Nyerere to order the Tanzanian army to pursue him right into Kampala and drive him from power, it was Col. Gaddafi who sent Libyan soldiers to assist Amin!  As it turned out, his assistance failed to save Amin and his regime, and they were routed by the Tanzanians.  An issue of Time magazine that I read then carried pictures of the abandoned corpses of some of the Libyan soldiers who perished in the hands of the Tanzania army in the streets of Kampala and elsewhere on Ugandan soil.

That was a big eye opener about Gaddafi for me, and by the time he wrangled with US president Ronald Regan—who I think was himself a troubled soul too at the time due to early stages of Alzheimer’s— in 1986, I had almost concluded that Gaddafi is too much of a danger to be left unchecked.  I happened to have read an episode of his Green Book about the same time.  That I found the book whose author claimed is the blue print of his regime in Libya all those years that he had been in power as a “head of state” incoherent and illogical, was enough to make me write the man off as crazy and ever-dangerous.  Yet, he remains in power because of the lack of meaningful challenge to his ruthless autocracy up until now

Africa’s Finished, the US and the West as Global Policemen?

The more than forty years that Gaddafi has spent clinging to state power in Libya is regrettable to say the least.  I’ve heard some people assert that the West and the US are ganging up against him this time even as he is on the rampage killing Libyans, just because of their interest in Libya’s oil.  Accusations have been flying around that the US and the West arrogate the role of global policeman to themselves.  A panelist on a talk radio in Bloemfontein, South Africa lamented the other day that Gaddafi’s ouster from power would imply that “Africa is finished”.  It’s tragic that anyone would lament the end of the Africa that Gaddafi symbolizes.  It’s regrettable that the Africa that Gaddafi denotes has lingered until this day and age.  It’s an Africa that ought not to have been at all in the first instance.

At a time when the continent has been rendered powerless to check the rise and growth of the likes of Gaddafi, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the West and the US stepping up to help Africa get rid of this lunatic, Gaddafi.  His sort, anywhere they exist, are human blithe.  The excuse that Gaddafi should be ignored as was the case, simply because his sorts elsewhere are not being confronted is lame and daft.  Anyone who laments for Gaddafi must make an appointment to occupy a chair in a shrink’s consulting room if that will help sort the one’s mind out for him or her.  What’s the difference between what the West and the US are helping out with now in Libya and the one that the British court and prosecutors rendered on the thief James Ibori and his associates?  But for them, James Ibori—according to latest revelations by Wikileaks—could probably be parading himself alongside the rest of the other clowns and thieves in the forthcoming charade being called elections in Nigeria even as the normalizers of the absurd in our midst busy themselves either with either endorsing him, his also flawed opponents, or pontificating about how the charade can be made “free and fair”.  That there are people amongst us who are still obsessed with “elections” in Nigeria in disregard of conventional wisdom, which indicates that it will never come to pass that charades in which thieves and clowns are primary actors would suddenly turn out free and fair, is serious cause for worry.

Drive Gaddafi and Co. from Power!

It’s high time every African worth his or her salt stood up to call the bluff of political correctness to join the pressing task to turn the continent around in the right direction.  My whole hearted support therefore is for the UN-sanctioned operation currently underway against Gaddafi, his children and their repressive and illegitimate regime.  Any end point short of their being driven from power and made to have their day at The Hague Tribunal should rightly be booed as a failure.

● E. C. Ejiogu, PhD, is a political sociologist and author of the Roots of Political Instability in Nigeria published this month by Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

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