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The Exclusion Of Ogu (Egun) People From The Lagos And Ogun National Conference Delegates’ List.


The continuous marginalization of the Ogu (Egun) people of South-West Nigeria is common knowledge. The late sage and Premier of the then Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo has remained the reference point in leadership not only because of his selflessness and capability, but primarily because of his inclusiveness. For example, it was Chief Awolowo who appointed the Aholu, Claudius Dosa Akran from Badagry as the Minister for Economic Planning and Community Development (1958 – 1964) in the then regional government.

At the same time, Chief D. K Aihonsu (from Ipokia, present day Ogun State) was a member of the Regional House of Representatives through the support of Chief Awolowo. Since the demise of this sage (and the leadership style he represented), there have been spirited efforts to present the South-West Nigeria as a mono-ethnic region. In this vain, political representation (other than local elective posts) has largely excluded Ogu people.

For the records, Ogu people, who speak the language called Ogu (although erroneously called Egun) had been part of this space before colonization and amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria. The misfortune of colonization led to the partitioning of Ogu people into Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. The geographical spread of Ogu people forms a trans-border continuum in all these countries, while settling Ogu people are found in various other places in Nigeria.

To this end, Ogu people were part of the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and have contributed in no small measure to national development. In today’s Nigeria, Ogu people are found mainly in Badagry area of Lagos State as well as in Ado-Odo/Ota, Ipokia, Imeko, and Yewa South Local Government Areas of Ogun State. They are found in most states that share borders with Benin Republic, including Oyo, Kwara and Niger States. In addition, there are various Ogu indigenous communities like Makoko and Iwaya in Lagos State, Ago-Egun in Abeokuta, among others.

The indigenous Ogu people of Nigeria have had their fair share of the troubles with Nigeria. The Ogu are the typical victim of ethnic crisis in South-West Nigeria. In recent times, there has been escalation of ethnic crisis between Ogu people and their majority Yoruba neighbours as often reported in Ado-Odo, Ipokia areas, and some parts of Badagry. A few years ago, Ogu people were, almost as a matter of policy, denied admission into Badagry Grammar School, Kakon Model College and other government-owned schools until sufficient pressure and protests were registered by their leaders. On account of the non-Yoruba names most of them bear (there are some who consciously and on account of accident of naming bear Yoruba names), Ogu people are still denied admission into the various tertiary institutions in South-West Nigeria today among other injustices arising from their minority status in the South-West in particular and Nigeria in general.

The situation, sadly, at times suggests a systematic intention to single out this particular ethnic group for persecution. To many, the Ogu are Nigerians only when it is time to vote. Lagos traditionally has five divisions with Badagry (comprising mainly the Ogu people and the Awori sub-ethnic group of the Yoruba) as one of these divisions. It is however worrisome that a lot of political decisions and other moves for development often exclude the Ogu as is playing out in the nomination of delegates for the forthcoming national conference.

The Ogu people had looked up to the national confab as a great opportunity to table their concerns and suggestions that will advance the Nigeria project. It was with anxious optimism that the Ogu people through the Ogu Concern Forum (and various other groups) made presentations and submitted memoranda to the Senator Femi Okurounmu-led Confab Committee when the panel visited the South West late last year. Among others things, the Ogu people canvassed for ethnic representation to the confab, just as many other groups had advised. The report that the Constitutional Conference Planning Committee ultimately presented recommended, among other things, that the selection of delegates from each state should reflect their ethnic composition. Following from the recommendations, the Ogu people had made presentations and suggestions to the Lagos and Ogun State governments to be represented at the national confab.

On Monday, February 24th 2014, Governor Fashola of Lagos released the names of the six nominee-delegates of Lagos State to the national confab — Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Mr. Supo Shasore, Mr. Rabiu Oluwa, Mr. Waheed Ayeni, Prof Tunde Samuel and Mrs. Funmilayo Bashorun. Just as the Ogu, who were not in any way given any consideration in the choice of delegates, were grappling with the misfortune that had befallen them, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun also announced the names of Ogun State nominated delegates two days after to include Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Senator Biyi Durojaiye, Fola Adeola, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, Mrs. Titi Filani, Barrister Biyi Adegbuyi and Senator Iyabo Anisulowo. Once again, the reality of Nigeria having a non-political national conference without Ogu people represented stares the entire South-West in the face.

The all-Yoruba delegates’ lists from Lagos and Ogun States reek through and through with contradictions. Such an exclusive list has the potential of detracting from the constant claim to a progressive character with which the South-West has often been identified. Neither is such a move in consonance with the mantra of justice and fairness and a collective developmental partnership which often reverberate in this part of the country. How, for instance, could these two states with radio and television broadcasting programmes in both Yoruba and Ogu close their eyes to the existence of Ogu ethnic nationality in their choice of delegates to the National Conference? It is an established fact that, Ogu people are not Yoruba, and to that extent, the governments of the states should have been kind enough to allow for representation of the Ogu as a distinct ethnic formation in the states. Even the non-Yoruba people in Ondo (Itshekiris, Ijaws) get better treatment from the state government.

We believe it is not late to rectify this gross marginalization and injustice. We are persuaded that there should be at least one Ogu representative in the Lagos State delegates’ list. We are equally persuaded that the Ogu people in Ogun State deserve at least one representative out of the eight delegates nominated by the state. We reject every suggestion that Ogu people can be represented by non-Ogu people, as not only does this smack of an attempt to infantilize Ogu people, it also amounts to malignant paternalism. We reject the persuasive distortions that tend to lump us up as Yoruba. We make bold to say that the absolutism being projected by the current leaders of South-West Nigeria is against the spirit of national dialogue.

We demand from the Nigerian State equal rights as citizens, including the right to air our grievances through the national conference. We remind all, that persistent injustice breeds agitation and resistance. We reject all suggestions that diminish our persons, our identities, our dignity and our uniqueness. We do not affirm difference for its sake; we do so because it is the least logical thing to do, seeing that we operate by distinct cultural paradigms that are framed by equally distinct historical evidence.

Signed on behalf of Ogu Collective:
Dr Pius Fasinu
Ms Gloria Sevezun Agbaosi
Dr Senayon Olaoluwa
Mr Viyon Awhanse
Dr Jendele Hungbo
Mr Nunayon Samson Afodewu

Ogu collective, a representative body of the Ogu people of Nigeria can be reached atogucollective@gmail.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.


By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

MEND leader John Togo for burial 2 years after death.


John-togo

The Defence Headquarters has given the go-ahead for the burial of a notorious sea piracy kingpin and leader of the Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF), John Togo, over two years after he was killed in a clash with troops of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State.

The Nation reliably gathered that the JTF has received the approval to release the body of the crime lord to relevant authority for burial.

Sources said the delay in burying the scar-face militant, who was a factional leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), was due to the Federal Government’s directives that a DNA test be carried out on his decomposing remains.

 

Togo was killed in an aerial assault by the Airforce arm of the JTF in May 2011 after a five-month stand-off between his ragtag army and troops of the JTF.

He died after he renounced the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government in November 2010, took up arms and went back to the trenches with a handful of his fellow NDLF members.

He triggered a furious manhunt when he ambushed and killed about six soldiers of a JTF team near Ayakoromo in November 2010; the incident led to the invasion of the community and burning down of about 50 houses in the Ijaw community.

Thereafter, the JTF intensified manhunt for him and his boys, who were encamped at the ‘Israel Camp’ of the group in an isolated boundary area between Bayelsa and Delta states.

He was killed after months of bloody clashes and his gang members buried his remains in a shallow grave before fleeing the scene.

His body was later exhumed when the JTF sent in ground troops, who arrested one of the fleeing militants who led them to his burial site.

The remains could not be buried due to the military’s insistence that a DNA must be conducted to properly identify his body before the manhunt launched for him would be officially called off.

The DNA test, which confirmed the remains as that of Togo, was carried out leading to the recent approval given for his burial.

A top official of the JTF in Effurun Barracks, Capt. Mohammed Abdulahi, was contacted by our reporter, confirmed the report.

He said: “It is true that approval has been given for the burial of Togo, but it is not the task of the JTF to bury him, the body will be released to the Police.”

A source at the JTF’s headquarters, Yenagoa said the approval came last Wednesday.

Source: Radio Biafra.

“Presidents For Life” Fight For Re-election; Audit Finds Billion Dollar Loss Of Nigerian Oil Profits; Conflict Across Great Lakes Region Prompts Confab; Zuma Cozies Up To Nuclear Power.


Faure
By Global Information Network (GIN)

Jul. 30 (GIN) – Ruling parties in Togo, Zimbabwe, Mali and Guinea Bissau are looking to take one more bite of the apple and snatch one more electoral victory, deflating hopes by opposition parties to bring new faces and fresh ideas to the top offices.
Early returns in Togo and Mali have some crying foul. “It’s a sham amid massive corruption and proven fraud,” declared Agbeyome Kodjo, a former prime minister of the West African nation of Togo, whose party Togo Solidarity (OBUTS) joined with Let’s Save Togo for the elections.

Early results show Togo’s ruling party of Faure Gnassingbe winning two-thirds of parliamentary seats, allowing the president’s family to continue its 46 year-long grip on power.

Faure’s father, Eyadema Gnassingbe, came to power through a coup in 1967 and ruled for 38 years until his death in 2005, when his son was installed by the military.

Gnassingbe’s party will now control 62 of 91 seats, up from 50 of 81 seats.  Observers from the African Union and West African bloc ECOWAS have said that the elections were held in acceptable conditions.

Zimbabwe is slated to vote on July 31, Malians voted July 28, while Guinea Bissau is due in November.

Challengers to the firmly entrenched leaders appear to face insurmountable odds. The seemingly unbeatable so-called “Presidents for Life” include Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (25 years), Paul Biya of Cameroon (29 years), Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (31 years), Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (32 years) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea (nearly 32 years).

Meanwhile, hundreds of comments crowded the website My Continent – Africa on the “Presidents for Life” topic. http://mycontinent.co/Ditactors.php  Jackson of Uganda, speaking of the aging leaders, wrote:”Their overstay has affected our development, they are only after empowering their friends and families, the rest is history.” Added Nana Debrah Bekoe Isaac of, Ghana: “How can some people be so power glutton? Staying in power for over two decades is too bad. African leaders should change.” w/pix of F. Gnassingbe

REPORT OF BILLION-DOLLAR LOSS TO OIL FRAUD DIMS OIL WEALTH DREAMS

Jul. 30 (GIN) – Nigeria lost billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues over a 2-year period as the nation suffered from crumbling infrastructure, polluted lakes and rivers, joblessness and a growing insurgency now operating nationwide. A damning auditor’s report of fraud, mismanagement and corruption comes as neighbor countries Uganda and Ghana are becoming oil giants themselves.

The amount of potential oil revenues lost to oil theft, from 2009-2011, is estimated at approximately $10.9 billion, according to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

“Over 136 million barrels … were lost to crude oil theft and sabotage,” said Ledum Mitee, a former activist with the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. Mitee heads the National Stakeholders Working Group for the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, an appointment approved by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

In addition to oil theft and pipeline vandalism, the audit blamed a poorly defined pricing methodology, a dilapidated refining sector and excessive fuel subsidy for significantly reducing government revenue from the oil sector.

While the country pumped more oil, noted the report, there was no measurable improvement in the standard of living of the people and the ever-expanding population of the poor.

Anthony Ebipade, a former fighter in the Niger Delta, observed:”Since our people’s livelihoods have been destroyed through oil spillage and gas flaring, coupled with the poor quality of human potential owing to poor education, the easiest option is illegal business such as oil bunkering.”

Nnimmo Bassey of the Mother Earth Foundation added:”As we see clearly, neither farming nor fishing thrives in polluted and severely degraded places like the Niger Delta. This entrenches unemployment, poverty and disease.”

Writing from Uganda, journalist Byaruhanga Chris of the Ugandan daily New Vision asked when Uganda would take similar measures with its new oil income.

“So what’s the delay? Why has Uganda been slow to prioritize an already tried and tested transparency tool, especially now that the country is facing some of the biggest corruption scandals of its time?  Why can’t we, the citizens, be told how money is exchanging hands in the oil and gas sector?”

AS CONFLICTS MOUNT, REGIONAL LEADERS TO MEET IN KENYA FOR SPECIAL SUMMIT

Jul 30 (GIN) – Nairobi will be the venue for a major summit on growing flashpoints in the Great Lakes region, including renewed hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tension among the two Sudans over the use of oil pipeline and rebellions, the pacification of Somalia and crisis in the Central African Republic.

Heads of states and governments from the Great Lakes region will also discuss the issue of refugees in the region, regional economic integration, investments in infrastructure and increased regional trade.

Kenya has been lobbying the international community for support to resettle refugees residing in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, in northern Kenya and those living in other urban cities and towns. Nairobi’s involvement in Somalia has been a burden, said Minister Ken Vitisia, “both in terms of refugees and our presence militarily. It is very important that we find a common ground on this problem.”

The leaders expected to attend include the presidents South Sudan, Sudan, Angola, Zambia, the Central Africa Republic and the DR Congo.  The UN and development partners such as the African Development Bank, African Union and the World Bank will also attend.

The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has engulfed other neighbors such as Rwanda and Uganda. There are also emerging tensions between Sudan and Uganda. Khartoum has filed a complaint with the African Union and the Great Lakes bloc over Uganda’s alleged support for rebel insurgencies against Sudan.

Sudan was alarmed after Sudanese opposition parties and rebels signed a charter dubbed the “New Dawn” in Kampala last January whose aim, according to Sudan, is to topple Omar al-Bashir’s regime.

Kenya is hosting the meeting while it seeks regional support for a non-permanent  seat at the United Nations Security Council for a two year period (2017-2018)

The summit kicks off July 31. w/pix of Somali refugees recently arrived

SOUTH AFRICA COZIES UP TO NUCLEAR POWER, DISMAYING CRITICS

Jul 30 (GIN) – President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in three reciprocal working visits this year with nuclear cooperation high on the agenda at the meetings.

Russia is reportedly seeking to provide South Africa with uranium enrichment, supply, reactor technology and localization of nuclear skills. French and Chinese investors will have supporting roles.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Energy praised nuclear power stations for holding “tremendous benefits” for South Africa.

“Most importantly, it will leapfrog South Africa into the knowledge economy, as well as massive industrial development,” said Energy Minister Dipuo Peters.

But Democratic Alliance MP Jacques Smalle said South Africa did not need new nuclear power plants to complement its energy mix.

“In fact, the program could cost the taxpayer up to one trillion rand,” he told the House. A project of such magnitude was “completely unaffordable”.

“We are certain that the corruption [involved with] such a nuclear build would dwarf the arms deal,” Smalle said. “Instead of building new nuclear power plants, South Africa should increase its natural gas footprint.”

Zuma’s embrace of nuclear power, including taking over the chair of the National Nuclear Energy Coordinating committee, dismayed South Africa’s Greenpeace environmentalists.

“The confirmation of the take-over and the underhanded manner in which Deputy President Kgalema Mothlanthe was replaced both highlight the continued lack of transparency and ongoing secrecy by government when it comes to the country’s nuclear energy plans,” said Greenpeace activist Ferrial Adam.

He warned: “Even putting aside the issues of safety, security, and waste management, South Africa cannot afford new nuclear power plants and the stubbornness of the government on its delusions of grandeur would drive the country to bankruptcy.”

 Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

West African leaders gather for Mali summit.


  • Malian soldiers patrols in a street of Niono, Mali, some 270 kms (180 miles) north of Bamako, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday to stop radical Islamists from striking closer to the capital, a French official said. The move to surround Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said they had retaken Konna, the central city whose capture prompted the French military intervention last week. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

    View PhotoAssociated Press/Thibault Camus – Malian soldiers patrols in a street of Niono, Mali, some 270 kms (180 miles) north of Bamako, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday to …more 

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP)West African leaders headed to a special Mali summit in Ivory Coast on Saturday to discuss how to step up their role as the French-led military intervention to oust Islamic extremists from power entered its second week.

Neighboring countries are expected to contribute around 3,000 troops to the operation in Mali, aimed at preventing the militants who rule northern Mali from advancing further south toward the capital.

While some initial contributions from Togo and Nigeria have arrived to help the French, concerns about the mission have delayed other neighbors from sending their promised troops so far.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said Saturday that Mali’s neighbors must work together to eradicate terrorism in the region.

“No other nation in the world, no other region in the world will be spared” if large swaths of the Sahel are allowed to become a ‘no man’s land,'” he said.

At Saturday’s meeting, the big issue will be sorting out a central command for the African force, a French official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive security matters.

Nigerian Gen. Shehu Usman Abdulkadir is expected to be named the force commander.

Speaking Saturday on French 3 television, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Drian said France now has 2,000 troops in Mali and has mobilized 2,900 in the overall operation in places like Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger.

He said France “could go beyond” the 2,500 troops initially announced for Mali, and said that at full deployment, Operation Serval would involve some 4,000 troops in the region.

Meanwhile, Le Drian insisted “there has been no ground combat in Diabaly” involving French troops,

French forces have moved around Diabaly to cut off supplies to the Islamist extremists who took the town on Monday, said a French official who spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss sensitive security matters.

Mali once enjoyed a reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies with the majority of its 15.8 million people practicing a moderate form of Islam.

That changed last March, following a coup in the capital which created the disarray that allowed Islamist extremists to take over the main cities in the distant north.

The U.N. refugee agency said Friday that the fighting in Mali could force as many as 700,000 people to flee their homes in the coming months.

___

Corey-Boulet reported from Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Bamako, Mali and Jamey Keaten in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By BABA AHMED and ROBBIE COREY-BOULET | Associated Press

West African troops arrive in Mali to aid French mission.


  • Togolese Army soldiers enter a plane to leave for deployment to Mali, from Togo's capital Lome January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Noel Kokou Tadegnon (TOGO - Tags: MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

    View PhotoReuters/Reuters – Togolese Army soldiers enter a plane to leave for deployment to Mali, from Togo’s capital Lome January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Noel Kokou Tadegnon (TOGO – Tags: MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

BAMAKO/SEGOU, Mali (Reuters) – The first West African regional forces arrived in Mali on Thursday to reinforce French and Malian troops battling to push back al Qaeda-linked rebels after seven days of French air strikes.

A contingent of around 100 Togolese troops landed in Bamako and was due to be joined by Nigerian forces already en route. Nigerien and Chadian forces were massing in Niger, Mali’s neighbor to the east.

The scrambling of the U.N.-mandated African mission, which previously had not been due for deployment until September, will be a boon for France, the former colonial power in Mali.

French troops, which had moved northwards from Bamako in an armored column on Tuesday, pinned down some Islamist fighters in the small town of Diabaly. But French forces held back from launching an all-out assault as the insurgents had taken refuge in the homes of civilians, residents said.

“The Islamists are still in Diabaly. They are very many of them. Every time they hear a plane overhead, they run into homes, traumatizing the people,” said one woman who fled the town with her three children overnight.

Residents in the town of Konna, to the north of the central garrison town of Sevare, said Islamists had fled as Malian soldiers backed by French troops deployed.

“Life is difficult for the people of northern Mali and the international community has the duty to help these people,” said Togolese Lieutenant Colonel Mawoute Bayassim Gnamkoulamba.

“That is why we think that it is necessary for us to protect Mali and we are proud today to fulfill that mission.”

French forces, numbering some 1,400 soldiers, began ground operations on Wednesday against an Islamist coalition grouping al Qaeda’s North African wing AQIM and the home-grown Ansar Dine and MUJWA militants.

President Francois Hollande ordered the intervention on the grounds that the Islamists who had taken over the poor West African country’s north could turn it into a “terrorist state” which would radiate a threat beyond its borders.

Hollande has pledged they will stay until stability returns to Mali but, in the first apparent retaliatory attack, al Qaeda-linked militants took dozens of foreigners hostage at a gas plant in Algeria, blaming Algerian cooperation with France.

A total of 2,500 French troops are expected in Mali but Paris is keen to swiftly hand the mission over to West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc, which in December secured a U.N. mandate for a 3,300-strong mission to help Mali recapture its north.

A rebel push into central Mali was last week halted by bombings by French aircraft and the deployment of ground troops.

A convoy of armored vehicles, fuel tankers and ambulances and around 200 soldiers from Mali’s eastern neighbor Niger was positioned at that eastern border, witnesses said.

A Reuters witness at the scene said heavy weapons fire rang out as troops tested artillery.

Communications with residents in Islamist-controlled towns have become more difficult as some mobile phone towers have stopped working. Residents said rebel fighters are suspicious of anyone using phones, fearing they are passing information to the enemy.

“There are no longer any police stations. (The Islamists) have dispersed across the city, mixing in with the population,” said Ibrahim Mamane, a resident from the town of Gao who reached the border with Niger.

“The population is ready and is waiting for the French forces with open arms. If they attack Gao, the people will fight the Islamists with their bare hands,” he added.

Reuters journalists travelling north of Bamako saw residents welcoming French troops and, in places, French and Malian flags hung side by side.

AFRICAN TALIBAN

Mali’s recent troubles began with a coup in Bamako last March, ending a period of stable rule that saw a series of elections. In the confusion that followed, Islamist forces seized large swathes of the north and imposed a strict rule reminiscent of Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Military experts say France and its African allies must now capitalize on a week of hard-hitting air strikes by seizing the initiative on the ground to prevent the insurgents from withdrawing into the desert and reorganizing.

“The whole world clearly needs to unite and do much more than is presently being done to contain terrorism,” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said.

Diabaly is a country town with a population of about 35,000, about 360 km (220 miles) from Bamako and near the border with Mauritania, where AQIM has bases.

A spokesman for MUJWA confirmed that their positions in Diabaly had been fired on but said French forces had not penetrated the town itself.

Diabaly Mayor Salif Ouedrago, who fled on Wednesday, told Malian state radio: “There were deaths on the side of the jihadists. They buried their dead yesterday.”

Meanwhile, the Malian army rushed reinforcements to a town closer to Bamako on Thursday after Islamist fighters were spotted near the frontier with Mauritania.

“Banamba is in a state of alert. Reinforcements have been sent. Nigerian troops expected to arrive in Bamako today could be deployed there to secure the zone,” a senior Malian military source told Reuters.

An inhabitant of Banamba, 140 km (90 miles) from the capital, reported the arrival of soldiers after insurgents were seen in the Boron border area.

With African states facing huge logistical and transport challenges, Germany promised two Transall military transport planes to help fly in their soldiers.

Britain has supplied two C-17 military transport planes to ferry in French armored vehicles and medical supplies. The United States is considering logistical and surveillance support but has ruled out sending in U.S. troops.

(Additional reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra in Bamako, Benkoro Sangare in Niono, Noel Tadegnon in Lome and David Lewis in Dakar; Writing by Daniel Flynn and David Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Marco Trujillo and Bate Felix | Reuters

Western Revisionism of Togolese and African Realities.


As I was looking for information in English on the anti-government demonstrations in Togo and their repression by Gnassingbe’s army since last June, I found almost nothing, except this!

The disclosure (April 1991) of killings allegedly by security forces set off huge, violent demonstrations against the military-controlled government of President Gnassingbe Eyadema (1937-) of Togo (formerly French Togoland), on the south coast of West Africa. Under much public pressure for democratization, Eyadema then legalized opposition political parties and was forced (due to a general strike) to convene a national conference, attended by both military and civilian representatives (July-August 1991). Soldiers failed to halt the conference, which declared itself sovereign; civilians formed a governing council, with free multiparty elections set for 1992 (later postponed). At the conference, militant troops invaded but withdrew through a show of civilian strength. Eyadema remained nominally president, and his loyal troops later (October 1992) occupied the National Assembly building in Lomé, the capital, holding civilian legislators hostage until they agreed to unfreeze the assets of Eyadema’s party, the Rally of the Togolese People. Pro-Eyadema forces later attacked and killed opposition leaders, pro-democracy demonstrators, and dissident soldiers and others (1993-94), securing President Eyadema’s hold on Togo’s government.
 

My unique question rose immediately….

How can violent repression of a people by the “security forces” of an illegal military controlled government be called a “civil war”, if not by western media!?
The same may be happening again these next days in Togo.
The people of Togo have been putting up with the Gnassingbé family’s tyranny since 1963.
After having succeeded to pay off his country’s foreign debt, Sylvanus Olympio, first President of “independent” Togo, was murdered in January 1963 by Etienne Gnassingbé Eyadema (backed up by France, “Friend of Togo”) who remained in power until his death in 2004. His repressive regime has probably been among the most brutal in sub-Saharan Africa.
After a few months of illegal leadership, then legalised by rigged elections in April 2005 (again backed up by France, the everlasting “Friend of Togo”), his son Faure Gnassingbé gracefully took over, turning Togo into a internationally recognised monarchy, and who is today desperately trying to keep up with his second « France-friendly » mandate .
Since 12 June 2012, the “Save Togo” movement (“Sauvons le Togo”) has succeeded in peacefully mobilizing thousands of Togolese, who are demanding self-determination, respect for non-amended Constitution, end of repression and of looting of public funds and resources, as well as access to their basic human rights; Togolese people are globally claiming the end of clan-based tyranny of the Gnassingbé monarchy.

But phobia of demonstrations by the regime is congenital in Togo, as in other places in Africa, and the army has been out since the very beginning of the demonstrations, wearing brand new outfits and super modern helmets, intimidating, beating up, arbitrarily arresting youth, and terrorising the population with teargas and gunning.

But the Togolese have had enough for some time now, and resistance has been very active since 2005. They have understood the power of mass-mobilisation and images. Behaviour and arrests by the army are filmed and photographed by many equipped citizen observers. When youth are arrested and hauled into army trucks, their co-citizens share their burden and do all they can to trace them into security force premises. The institutionalised kidnapping of those who are the hope of a whole Nation, will no doubt end up with beatings and torture, far from public eyes. They will then be doubtlessly released and will tell their co-citizens how they were treated.
Will such reports be sufficient for people who have heard and gone through the same things for 49 long years, to hold up future demonstrations? Do they really still have something to lose? Nothing is less certain.
We unfortunately also all know that France, indefectible “Friend of Togo”, can never accept self-determination in “sovereign and independent” Togoland. We have seen it before, as we talk of the traditional model of French neocolonial Africa.
In the meantime, we are all watching the people of Togo daily on YouTube and elsewhere on the net, admiring the courage and determination, wishing so hard that they will somehow win over Tyranny and Evil. We all wish their efforts will also encourage youth in other parts of Africa, in other democratic France-friendly tyrannies, like Gabon, Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and a few others we sometimes know nothing much about. All these nations were gracefully granted “independence” in 1960 by a brutal colonizer who pretended he was leaving, but who in reality never left.  Some of those countries suffered major population losses, such as Cameroon for example in a hidden and brutal independence war, where “enemies of the Nation” (and of friendly France of course), where still hunted down by the French “military cooperation”, and executed long after 1960. The responsibility of France in locally well-known war crimes has been witnessed by many, even by French pilots who took part in the dropping of napalm bombs on hundreds of villages, killing up to 500 000 thousand villagers.
French crimes against humanity in Africa after independence are numerous and well documented, as well as her implication in the overthrow or murder of many “inconvenient” presidents and opposition leaders. The systematic support of France and her allies in the rigging of elections in countries where leaders have been trained and financed for the sake and up-keep of French economic interests is well-known by all. French neocolonialism through total control of the monetary system (CFA franc), local power and land possession of French industrial empires (Bolloré, Bouygues, Areva, etc.) using African resources exclusively for their own economic development, having politically eliminated all sources of obstruction, as well as profiting and implicitly encouraging local impunity in terms of labour regulations and human rights. All former French colonies have stepped into the same neocolonial pattern, and suffer from the same pack of gross abuse and violation, witnessed by a silent and complicit western international community.
In fact, who cares about powerless Africa? Actually the longer it remains powerless, the more profit will be made from it. Basically, the West cannot strategically be interested by any form of emancipation in Africa. Anything that looks like people’s empowerment must thus be undermined, in a spirit of infantilisation of any effort to grow out of what is just simply modern slavery. This is where very efficient revisionist media come in. The transformation of reality in the field is systematic.
So this is how western media ends up claiming that the people’s upheaval in Togo is in fact a civil war, or a tribal based war in other places like Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere, ignoring the fact that the pro-dictator people are often a minority of sometimes remunerated people from the same clan or tribe.
Defining the claim of a people to self-determination as a civil war, justifies in the eyes of France and its western economic partners the victory of the stronger part on the weaker part, which in turn allows them to validate repression against the weaker part, i.e. the unarmed civilian population.

We have seen several upheavals in France-controlled Sub-Saharan Africa these last five years, and most of them ended up in a bloodbath and/or in massive arrests of youth. Western media was always there to transform the protestors into looters, disorganised agitators, delinquent jobless people, and so on. In spite of many official reports on wide-spread human rights abuses, ranging from arbitrary arrests and detention, extra-judicial killing and so forth, the crimes have mostly ended up by being forgotten about or undermined in a spirit of implicit disqualification and institutionalised negrophobia.

So to come back to Togo, let’s continue watching the scene these next days and weeks, and let us be aware of the risk of qualification of the Togolese sentiment of “Too much is too much” as a fabricated civil war or other western revisionist phenomenon.
As for the African diaspora in Europe and in the United States, a special and continuous effort could be made to inform European and American people about what is really going on in Africa. Crimes in one part of the world should be known in all parts of the world. Then nobody can later say they did not know.  The capacity of thought of any individual in a country where freedom of opinion is the rule, can induce protest and pressure on Government if the person thinks that what is being done by Government is wrong. Thus, the decision between universal good or bad is the responsibility of every individual.
We all know by now that the power of the people, i.e. the sum up of a majority of conscious individuals is what represents ultimate power.
By Juliette Abandokwe

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