Friday, June 6, 2014


By William PLEASANT and Sekou OSEI

To understand the current crisis in Nigeria, we must to understand the crisis of African neo-colonialism, wherein, at this phase, the native proxies of foreign capital have outlived their usefulness to imperialism. Contemporary Nigeria is the abattoir of Africa, the grandest slaughterhouse of Africa's workers and peasants. While Black cultural nationalists, social democrats and assorted liberal mourners –feminist and otherwise—TWEET and only TWEET their moralistic distemper, a holocaust grips Africa's most populated nation. The cause is neo-colonialism and the tool of genocide is actually the Nigerian bourgeois nation-state itself.

Nigerian Pres. Goodluck Johnathan, slaughterhouse manager.
Nonetheless, we are presented, via a parade of media pundits and liberal leaders of opinion, with an action comic book account and explanation of the current Nigerian crisis. In April, the muslim mercenary gang Boko Haram managed to kidnap roughly 240 schoolgirls. The children were spirited away on trucks by insurgents disguised as Nigerian military forces. They are now allegedly held hostage somewhere in the bush that engulfs northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

Appropriately ultra-savage Boko Haram thug leader Abubakar Shekau 
Last week, the Nigerian government boasted that it knew the location of the abducted teens. Chief of Defense Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh crowed, “The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you. But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back." (Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2014). In short, Boko Haram has the entire Nigerian government and its military in-check. That is really what the Air Marshall and his ostensible boss, Pres. Goodluck Johnathan, really can't tell the heartbroken parents and the Nigerian people at-large. But there is at least a theatrical solution to the quandary...

Enter from the left panel of the neo-colonial comic book, swinging from a vine, appears Barack Obama as the new Tarzan. The recently crowned King of the Jungle has heard the Nigerian tom-toms from his far-off North American tree house. And now he pounces into heroic action.

But what do the tom-toms say, Tarzan?

Our colored Tarzan hears that Boko Haram has, since the April mass kidnapping, slaughtered over 2000 people in Northeastern Nigeria—Muslims and Christians alike. Since Wednesday, May 4, Boko Haram bandits have assassinated another 500 hapless civilians. According to AFP (Agence France Press, June 6), “It is confirmed that there have been killings and village pillage by armed men identified as Boka Haram in the last 48 hours. Local people insist Thursday that villagers perished at the hands of heavily armed men posing as soldiers on Wednesday. They completely destroyed the villages of Goshe, Attagara and Aganijara in Borno State. According to a local chief, between 400-500 people have been killed. The report has not been confirmed by Nigerian government officials. But if it is confirmed, then these attacks will be among the worst atrocities since the 2009 start of the Boko Haram insurgency when at least 2000 people were slaughtered.”

The Nigerian military has yet to appear on the scene to even document the ongoing Boko Haram rampage. Nigerian government cowardice? Nigerian government ineptitude? Nigerian government active complicity in the daily slaughter? The answers to these questions are YES, YES, YES! Nigeria is a failed state, and lawfully so.

Our Tarzan hears this and much more about the utter decay of the Nigerian nation-state. But he is not listening to that. Instead, he, with the assistance of the mass media and liberal melodrama peddlers, insists on playing the savior of waifish damsels in distress. This convenient comic book narrative is designed to mask the objectively, mutually beneficial historical and political relationship between the US bourgeoisie—and its European junior partners—the demented Nigerian neo-colonial state apparatus and the islamized night riders of Boko Haram.

Michelle Obama in the role of EBONY JANE
If Obama was listening to the cries of the Nigerian people, then his wife's (May 9) sob-n-drool liberal/feminist plea on behalf of the kidnapped Nigerian women would have been dismissed with derisive laughter. Remember, Michelle Obama quipped of the abducted students, “In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.” The Obama tots live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, guarded by a phalanx of gunmen. They will go on to elite schools and subsequent marriages befitting their stations as princesses of the American realm. They, with a very high degree of certainty, come home to that reality every night.

+The question went begging: Bring them back to what? The loving and protective embrace of the decadent Nigerian nation-state?+

Spent of lowbrow, empathetic sophistry, Michelle Obama then balefully mugged for the cameras and entreated Boko Haram to “#Bring Back Our Girls.” The question went begging: Bring them back to what? The loving and protective embrace of the decadent Nigerian nation-state?

Even snug as a bug in their families' huts, the 200-plus schoolchildren, like the vast majority of Nigerian women, can only come home to impoverishment and grinding gender oppression, especially in the islamized northern region of the country.

“The decline in agriculture in Nigeria has had a negative
impact on both the status and the decision making capacity of women because changing land patterns and industrialization facilitate rural urban migration and have led to an increase in the number of female headed households in the rural areas, with limited access to land, income and health facilities,” explained Emeka Emmanuel Okafor, Akeem Ayofe Akinwale and Adeola Doyin -Hassan in their pioneering article Feminization of Underdevelopment in Nigeria: Some Theoretical Issues [Anthropologist, 9(3): 237-245 (2007)].The authors argue that the urbanization of work-age rural Nigerian males has left women in the villages to tend the land and raise the children alone. The underdevelopment of Nigeria is actually driven by the degradation of women. This is a general phenomenon in Africa in the neo-colonial epoch.

They continued, “Degradation of ecosystem on which women depend for agricul-tural activities often leaves women handicapped in the provision of adequate nutrition for their household and limits their ability to provide a varied diet. Also, the promotion of monoculture economy and export of petroleum have reduced the bio-diversity in the oil producing areas. The reduction in bio-diversity occasioned by monoculture economy has led to a reduction in the availability of household food with adverse effects on health of women and other members of their household.”

And to the inferno of merciless systemic poverty is added the gasoline of gender oppression in Nigeria. “Patriarchy is a way of life in which men are believed to be superior to women. This belief has adverse implications on women,” the African anthropologists point out.

+In fact, the fate of the kidnapped girls at the hands of Boko Haram—mutilation, rape, forced marriage and outright chattel enslavement—varies little from what the Nigerian nation-state has to offer them as a “normal” life.+

In addition to widespread ceremonial genital mutilation,“for some communities in Nigeria, particularly in the northern part of the country, many girls below 15 years are given out in marriage or withdrawn from schools...Socio-cultural practices such as mandatory widowhood rituals, wife inheritance, child marriage and virginity testing deny women basic human rights...Virginity testing is a traditional practice that limits women power to negotiate in development. In this cultural practice, a young woman’s relatives or potential suitor insert a finger into her vagina to verify her virginity...If a young woman is found to be a non-virgin, the values placed on her automatically decreases and she becomes stigmatized...In response to the culture of virginity testing in Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland [and Nigeria], some young women usually practice anal sexual intercourse to ensure that they pass virginity test.” Needless to say, unprotected anal intercourse is the super-highway to HIV infection.

The “hopes” and “dreams” of the abducted teenage women invoked by the First Lady are actually groundless fantasies for the overwhelming majority of Nigerian women. In fact, the fate of the girls at the hands of Boko Haram—mutilation, rape, forced marriage and outright chattel slavery—varies little from what the Nigerian nation-state has to offer them as a “normal” life.

Our sepia Tarzan and his ebony Jane hear these tom-toms, but, again, they are not listening. They are oblivious to the fact that US policy toward Nigeria can be characterized by decades of disdain and neglect. If the jungle titans in the White House sincerely had one microgram of concern for the daily plight of the Nigerian people—kidnapped teenagers and all—then they would quickly point out that US foreign aid to Nigeria, among America's most strategic trading partners, is an absolute scandal. To put matter into perspective, consider that the US provided the State of Israel a cash subsidy of approximately $3.1 billion in 2012. In the same period, Nigeria received a handout of $625 million—mostly for HIV programs and “family planning,” i.e., condoms. Nigeria has a population of roughly 166 million people. Israel has a population of 7.82 million inhabitants. That means that each Israeli received $396.36 in US cash assistance while each Nigerian received $3.76!

Nigeria is the fifth largest petroleum exporter to the US. Its output to the US market topped one million barrels per day in 2010 and has been climbing ever since. Meanwhile, Nigerian poverty has deepened.

The NIGERIAN nation-state is the existential enemy of the Nigerian poor, peasant and working classes.
Laz Ude Eze (Standard, November 27, 2012 ) wrote,“If the statistics released by the [Nigerian] National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the state of poverty in Nigeria in 2010 and 2011 at 69% and 72% respectively are correct, then there is a state of emergency. The previous poverty survey in 2004 put the index at 54% and by 2011 it has jumped to 72% despite an average 7% annual growth of income, said to be led by non-oil sector (largely agriculture where the majority of the poor are). No other comparable oil exporting country has a similar record. If the numbers are correct, Nigeria would not only miss the MDG [UN Development Program Millennium Development Goal] in 2015 but would probably hold the world record as the country which rather than reduce poverty by half, actually almost doubled it.”

The writing is on the wall: The Nigerian nation-state is hell-bound to social explosion and structural disintegration. It is utterly moribund, as are most neo-colonial state entities across the African continent today.

Moreover, Boko Haram is far from the author of Nigeria's demise. Nigeria was hatched as a national invalid by the British Empire. Stitched together by colonial bayonets from a landmass inhabited by hundreds of ethnic groups and at least three major religious confessions--Christian, Muslim and Traditionalist--Nigeria as a modern bourgeois nation-state was destined to fail and fail spectacularly. The savage 1967 Ibo successionist insurrection known as the Biafran War claimed over one million victims in the name of holding the Nigerian social jigsaw puzzle together. A seemingly endless circus of military coups and counter-coups followed, only to be retired by a "return" to civilian rule characterized by even more egregious government corruption, nepotism and ethnic/regional antagonism.

+ In fact, Boko Haram. at its core, is really not a religiously-inspired formation at all. It is an one-time (?) state-sponsored protection racket.+

It is an error to equate Boko Haram with seemingly similar jihadist formations throughout Africa and Southwest Asia. Boko is not the African Al-Queda. It is actually a spawn of Nigeria's historical/social deformities. Unlike Al-Queda that arose from the ranks of disgruntled CIA mercenaries who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Boko Haram was exclusively born and bred from Nigerian political strife. In fact, Boko Haram, at its core, is really not a religiously-inspired formation at all. It is an one-time (?) state-sponsored protection racket.

Al-jazeera and other news outlets  may have inadvertently shined some light on this observation

 when it reported on May 4 that at least 10 Nigerian generals have been charged and convicted of materially aiding Boko Haram. "Ten generals and five other senior military officers have been found guilty in courts-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram, several Nigerian newspapers have said," the Qatar-based multimedia news agency reported.

"The reports follows months of allegations from politicians and soldiers who told the AP news agency that some senior officers were helping the armed group and that some rank-and-file soldiers even fight alongside the rebels and then return to army camps." continued Al-jazeera." They have said that information provided by army officers has helped Boko Haram to ambush military convoys and in attacks on army barracks and outposts in their northeastern stronghold.

"Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade, who last week denied reports that senior officers were being investigated, reiterated in a statement on Tuesday that defence headquarters 'wishes to state once again categorically that there is no truth whatsoever in the report'. He called it a 'falsehood' concocted by those who 'appear hell-bent on misleading Nigerians and the international community to give credence to the negative impression they are so keen to propagate about the Nigerian military'."

It is rather difficult to give the Nigerian military a worst reputation, given that its prime activity is brutalizing and robbing Nigerian civilians. But there is no question that the Nigerian military has always been a significant player in the sectarian and regional conflicts that grip the country. Put simply, factions in the military leadership readily engage in partisan and ethnic politics. To paraphrase Clausewitz, Boko Haram's war with the Nigerian state is consistent with those politics by other means. And the money trail provides  the peep stone into Boko Harams growing power and its significance on the Nigerian political landscape.

Taiwo Ogundipe, Associate Editor of The Nation, claimed to have exposed the power and funding behind Boko Haram in a 2012 article.Reported Ogundipe, "A spokesman of the group reportedly said in an interview, that the extensive bombardments wrought by it [Boko Haram] came about because the governors of the affected two states reneged on an agreement to make regular payments to it. The interview was sourced from an online publication, 247ureports.                                                                                    

"The unnamed interviewee was quoted as saying 'The reason for Kano and Bauchi States attacks a few days ago was hinged on failed promises by the governors of the two states.' The interviewee claimed further that many northern governors have relationships with the group. 'Most of them pay us monthly to leave their states alone,' the spokesman reportedly said.

"According to him, the immediate past ANPP governor in Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, agreed in late 2004 to an initial monthly payment of N5million to the group. This, he said, was later raised to N10 million in 2009. Apart from this, he said the government also provided institutional infrastructural support through the Hisbah (Islam Police) project which received a yearly budgetary allocation of N1.01billion.

"The new Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, on assumption of office, according to the interviewee, stopped the outflow of this largesse, including the funding of the ‘Islam Police’.

"Regarding Bauchi, the Boko Haram spokesperson said an agreement was reached with the incumbent governor, Isa Yuguda in 2008, also to the tune of a monthly disbursement of N10 million. The agreement, he said, also entailed the provision of training grounds on the many mountains scattered in Bauchi State as well as a promise of protection against arrests by the Federal Government. 

"The Bauchi State governor, he claimed, stopped the monthly fund in mid 2011. The Boko Haram spokesman said the group was not happy but remained loyal to the agreement because of the unfettered access to the mountains of Bauchi as training camps. Continuing, he said: 'the Northern governors are overwhelmed about the strength of the group and are aware of the capabilities of Boko Haram operatives in their respective states”. Some of the State government officials, according to him, visit their camps to watch them in training exercises. The training, he said, is harder than that of the Nigerian military.'"

The Islam Police was an outgrowth of the effort in Northern Nigeria to impose Shariah Law. This eventually successful campaign was widely viewed as a ploy to consolidate the political power of northern Muslim secessionists, meaning the leaders of the state governments. Boko Haram was simply the extra-legal armed wing of the Muslim secessionists movement. Pleasing the local chiefs who had access to federal government funds took extreme precedent over pleasing Allah. When its services were no longer required Boko Haram was kicked off the payroll. Outraged, these political mercenaries went on a rampage. They have yet to be rehired and their mayhem has yet to subside.

In short, Boko Haram is simply a link in the chain of stick-ups, shake-downs, con games, graft and sandlot politics that form the spine of  Nigerian society and predominant economy,  from the lowliest barefooted 419 email scam kid  all the way up to the presidency. In this way, every Nigerian institution--civilian or governmental or insurgent--is a variety of Boko Haram. Corruption is the leading cause of human suffering and death in Nigeria. Nigeria as Nigeria is as deadly as cyanide.

This is what the tom-toms are saying, but Tarzan won't and can't listen to them because his job is not to save Nigerian teenage girls (or any Nigerians) from villainous Muslim fanatics or mind-numbing destitution, but to protect the capital interests of the US petroleum industry in Nigeria. He listens intently to the bluster and gnashing of teeth arising from the US bourgeoisie who have concluded that the neo-colonial mode of exploiting Nigeria's labor and natural resources has become obsolete. The Nigerian comprador class and its state machinery, employed to manage Nigerians for the past 50-plus years, has fallen to tatters. It lacks the capacity to create the social peace—through military coercion or sham democracy—necessary to ensure that the black gold keeps flowing at a profitable clip.

And true to form, our vine-swinging president gives the famous Tarzan holler. The jungle floor trembles with the stampede of angry elephants, famished lions, rabid hyenas and psychotic crocodiles. He leads their attack against the Boko Haram evil doers. But here the comic book story concludes because Barack Obama can't really call out the menagerie against anybody. He can only mobilize the US military and its European camp followers.

Despite all the hand wringing over “Our Girls,” Boko Haram's bloody antics actually provide a popular and convenient excuse for further US military occupation of sub-Saharan Africa. “Militarily, Africa is fast becoming an American continent. Barack Obama, who has been president for all but the first year of AFRICOM’s existence, has succeeded in integrating U.S. fighting units, bases, training regimens, equipment and financing into the military structures of all but a handful of African nations,” charged Glen Ford ( Black Agenda Report, May 29, 2014). “The great pan-Africanist and former Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of a militarily united Africa has been all but realized – with Americans and Europeans in charge. Under the guise of “humanitarian” intervention...[t]he girls had only been missing for a month, and might not be rescued alive, but five neighboring African countries – one of them the biggest economy on the continent – had already been dragooned into a NATO-dominated military alliance with other subordinate African states.”

Obama's military re-occupation of Africa 2014
Indeed, the genocidal imperialist game is on again. Colonialism in Africa relied on direct European military and civil administration of the expropriation of African labor and goods. At the dawn of the 1960s, with the rise of socialist-inspired nationalistic political movements and the covert material support of the long departed Soviet Union, the colonizing powers were compelled to change personnel. Blacks, armed with a flag and a national fight song, took the civil helm, while European troops were replaced with African gunslingers. Nigeria and a score of deformed state entities were born in this manner. Fifty years later, this tactic of European domination has proven to be a flop. The groundwork is being laid to essentially at least put the former colonies into a sort of political receivership or at maximum employ outright US/European military suppression of the starving, politically restive African masses. Re-colonization of Africa is in the works, produced and directed by IMPERIALIST HORROR SHOW, Inc. and staring our ever-loving Tarzan of the Neo-colonial Apes.