Twenty-four-year-old Abdoul Abdi, whose formal citizenship is Somali but currently lives in Canada as a resident, faces deportation to Somalia.
Abdi was rearrested recently by agents of the Canada Border Services Agency on his way to a halfway house shortly after his release from prison. Apparently he was bound for rehabilitation into Canadian society.
Abdi, who went to prison for four years for, among other crimes, aggravated assault, has had a chequered past before his brush with the law. Born in Saudi Arabia, a place not particularly known for a nuanced approach to naturalisation matters, Abdi found himself in Djibouti as a refugee before coming to Canada with some members of his family at the age of six. While here, he was taken into custody at the age of seven by child protective services and moved around 31 placements without ever being adopted by anyone. His aunt, responsible for his move to Canada, eventually became a citizen but was disallowed from filing for Abdi’s citizenship as she no longer was his legal guardian.
Many concerned voices are currently calling on the government to spare Abdi the misfortune of deportation to Somalia, a place riddled with lawlessness and where he has little to zero affinity.
They are right. Firstly, much of Abdi’s ties are now largely Canadian as most of his family members live in Canada as citizens. Secondly, given his obvious uncanny background, especially upbringing woes, it is perfectly reasonable to assert that life has not been kind to Abdi. It is probably responsible for his unseemly mobile course and eventual collisions with the law. Thirdly, it’s important that the Canadian government abide by its own declarations on human rights as well as its commitment to the charter of the United Nations Human Rights Commission to which it’s a signatory; and not just paying lip service to that charter. Fatouma Abdi, Abdoul Abdi’s sister recently posed a question from an audience to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Nova Scotia about her brother, asking if he would intercede to make sure Abdoul is not deported. The PM simply gave the usual official line that the law should take its course. But these are stubborn times we live in considering the desperation of groups like Isis and others of its ilk.
And that brings us to the last and most important reason Abdoul Abdi should not be deported back to Somalia: taking a huge risk on the inclination of terrorists.
As the world becomes smaller through technology, you better believe that groups like Al-Shabab in Somalia are interested in what the fate of Abdoul will be moving forward; especially as he would be basically left to cater for himself if deported to a country like Somalia where he has nary a familiarity. It’s essential to protect youths like Abdoul from the likes of Isis, Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab who are constantly looking for new recruits for their nefarious activities. It has been argued in some quarters that if he’s deported, he will surely be condemned to disconnection, loneliness, lonesomeness, disconsolation, despair, disillusionment, disappointment, disenfranchisement, depression, and disenchantment; all factors that play into the hands of terrorist groups. It is reasonable to postulate, without mincing words, that Abdoul is the kind of youth that Al-Shabab will be targeting for membership. We are not saying Abdoul will willingly fall into the terrorist den, but better safe than sorry. We should never give terrorists any more reason than they already can muster to infiltrate our young minds. Abdoul can be spared their contrivances.
By Peter Uduehi
Twelve straight years of the last 50 of Nigeria’s independence has now been spent under civilian democracy and elections are due in April for yet another chapter in its fledgling effort at representative government. Lofty as the idea is in forging a more civilized society, it’s difficult to judge the entire process as genuine and progressive.
It is, because a close look at Nigerian democracy gives the impression that we are simply careering backwards into the heyday of the failed state that marked the first few years shortly after independence in 1960 and the military interregnums between 1976 and 1997. How, for example, is it ever possible to consider the type of democracy in Nigeria as healthy when it appears that the same political party, the People Democratic Party (PDP), has supplied the presidency for the last 12 years? Isn’t it disgraceful that the one-party dominance in a country of almost 200 million people with the outlook of a multi-party mien is anathema to accountability and more freedoms?
In a one-party state—and that’s not what Nigerians bargained for when they reverted to democratic rule—no other voice is important apart from those in power and the only ruling party runs the show. Every member of the party is expected to tow the party line as they live and die by the party’s doctrines. So the danger in the one party system of government is that the ruling party is only accountable to the party and not the country. That’s what Nigeria, in every respect has turned into in the last 12 years. The PDP has monopoly of power and it is carrying on as if the system under which it exists is a one-party state. When the late president Umaru Yaradua was deathly sick in Saudi Arabia months before he joined his ancestors there was a lot of furore in the country when his party members and close associates and aides were tight-lipped about his whereabouts and the true condition of his health. They even held information from his vice president Goodluck Jonathan who was disallowed by family members from setting eyes on his boss who happened to be the sick man of Nigerian politics. Jonathan told the world press in astonishing display of equanimity and élan class that he has “not seen the president and I don’t know what is going on”. It would be laughable if this situation were not taking place in a country like Nigeria, for Nigeria has become notorious for the way its politicians throw their weight around with imperial polity and careless abandon. Many have suggested that because of the cunning nature of the Nigerian politician, not to mention his aversion to accountable governance and probity, many of Yaradua’s close associates, including his termagant wife were trying very hard to protect their ill-gotten nefarious contracts and shady deals in the event that Jonathan and his power tributaries were allowed to take the reins of government upon the revelation that the sick president had become incapacitated in office. These cronies didn’t want the world and Nigerians in particular to have these facts because of their own selfish interests. The Nigerian state was thus hijacked by the PDP party functionaries as if we were in a one-party state. This is what happens when a country’s politics is dominated by one party. It begins to look like communism. Nigerians therefore must learn that when they go to the polls in a April every measure must be taken to assure that those who fill the corridors of power have the kind of mix that augurs well for the type of representative government they have always craved in a country that can only survive egalitarianism if their leaders are constantly checked within the system itself.
The systemic de facto one-party format we have carved for ourselves in recent times is appearing more and more to negate the fact that other parties exist in the country. Otherwise how do we explain the fact that a national consensus is easily generated, as if it has become a fad and a part of our constitution, when the PDP tries to involve its rank and file in the idea that leadership of the party must be rotational? Why should it be the business of the rest of Nigeria what the PDP wishes to do within itself? Why should Nigerians raise the stinking stake for themselves by buying into the PDP flawed pronouncement that at different presidential terms the leader of the country must be supplied in turns from its different regional parts? It is because Nigerians have bought into the idea that the PDP is the only party in the country fit to govern; when in fact the PDP is close to a near-criminal organization erun by the most arrogant Mafia in Africa.
The idea of rotational presidency is a flawed one in the first place. Only a dim-witted populace would subscribe to the proposal because it is in itself a defeatist thought. If we trust ourselves as a nation why should it matter who our leader is and where we come from? An Ibo could be president all the time in Nigeria and it would not matter if that man or woman does the job well and serves their people in good stead. This is where we must begin to think laterally from received orthodoxies instead of allowing ourselves to be reined in by nincompoops and dunderheads.
The spectre of one party dominating our polity is not only reminiscent of the bad days, it comes with much foreboding, throwing us back to the days of political madness when other countries are progressing forward.
The Operation Wet Days, the military interregnums, the Babangida-Abacha cajoling of a baying populace, the accusation that coups were stage-managed by one dominant group (even though coups are coups), are not too far behind us—they proved our aversion to domination and when shortly after the civil war many conscientious people in the country clamoured for pluralism and found it there was much expectation that the events that led to the political imbroglio of the 1960s would never repeat themselves. I am all too afraid that there is a sense of foreboding in the minds of well-thinking Nigerians today.
By Peter Uduehi
Those who know Nigeria well and remember its heyday with fond memories are today calling for the splitting of the country based on the kind of referendum that would determine the future of Sudan: whether or not the South will succeed in separating from the North. The African Union will soon have another member joining its ranks in July as most Southern Sudanese have voted for a split.
Nobody is wishing for the kind of split Libyan leader Col Muamar Gaddafi is wishing for Nigeria, which would further exacerbate the conflagration of ethnic divisions in today’s Nigeria, similar to balkanization with its attendant confusion. Gaddafi likes confusion and nobody needs his help.
These bona fide observers and historians of Nigeria, along with seasoned intellectuals who are serious about a responsible formula for solving the African giant’s geopolitical quagmires, say that Nigeria’s developmental imbroglio could be resolved effortlessly with a referendum like Sudan’s. Several eminent Nigerians, like the late Pa Anthony Enahoro, have produced prefaces to the Sudanization of Nigeria with their call for a major conference of all the different regions of Nigeria to discuss the future of the country’s “ethnic nationalities”. Few people realize that Nigeria is indeed a nation of many nationalities and that its consistency requires enormous undertakings of political technology and human sacrifice to weld its complicated fabric. Its multiplicity of ethnic divisions is supposed to be a source of strength, instead Africa’s most populous nation sits on a tinderbox ready to explode, because of the disorganized state of affairs brought on by unforgiving divisions — a Babel-like conundrum of multitudinal and tumultuous language groupings.
It is clear that if Nigeria must march forward the South must separate from the North, the proponents charge. And some may say for good reason. They point to the enormous corruption plaguing the country, the incessant purposeful underdevelopment of the minds of the Northern youths by the oligarchs who rule over them, and the sheer roadblocks these northern oligarchs use in derailing real progress for the rest of the country in education, science, technology, religion, politics and policies, ideology and culture. Among Nigeria’s thirty-six states, disparities abound to dizzying levels. Northern states’ youths are regularly ill-educated and are not keen on enlightenment, and while a southern state like Edo could produce over half a million high school graduates perennially Zamfara state in the north could only boast of 500 to 1,000. This is an unconscionable gulf that suggests that the two halves of the country have different agendas and careering into the abysmal condition of cataclysm. Matters as simple as the inoculation of children against certain diseases become unnecessarily problematic because of senseless adherence to fanatical attachments borne out of religious bigotry. This is a reference to the recalcitrant refusal by northern elements and their leaders to vaccinate their children against polio because of the deluded thinking that such a project is a conspiracy by Westerners (backed by Nigeria’s Christian South) to poison the people of the north and thwart their reproductive ability. Such is the situation we have in Nigeria that it has become virtually untenable to think of the whole country as heading in the same direction.
How can two halves of a country be so different? If the north of Nigeria professes to act separately from the rest of us, is that not enough indication that they wish to separate themselves? So why are they not clamouring to have their own country? Why must they continue to live or exist within the same nation-space called Nigeria? Why should southerners continue to suggest separation to northerners?
We dare to suggest that oil and gas (the mainstay of the country’s economy produced enormously in the south) are the only reasons keeping the north within the fold of the Nigerian nation-space.
The north would have long sought separation or independence (or split) if their region produced most of the wealth of the country, even though they are further deluded by their own ability to survive without quick petro-dollars.
After all, how did they survive without oil money before the advent of petrol as a source of hard currency? They actually did well, but haphazard and lackadaisical thinking have pervaded the mindset so much so that greed is the only option nowadays.
The truth of the matter is that Nigeria is one country with two systems. Just when you think all is well and that the country is heading in the right direction something happens to take us back a hundred years. A case in point is the Olusengun Obasanjo administration. His government brought sound economic choices that enhanced the country’s foreign exchange earnings, paid down our debt, and instituted a “rainy day” fund of up to 20 billion dollars. But the Umaru Yaradua administration turned everything he accomplished on its head. Yaradua, a northerner and now late, replaced the Central bank governor with a northern oligarch who has introduced 18th century monetary policies that have taken the entire country to the middle ages. Nigeria today is poorer, with only $400 million in the “rainy day” kitty. All because northern oligarchs must be placated, people who have no plans for the rest of us.
Proponents of the Sudanization of Nigeria thus are correct in their opinion that the country cannot continue to function as it is. We agree there needs to be a change if Nigeria is to remain a nation-state. As things now stand, the country is indeed a consummate parody of nation-sense. The truth of the matter is that Nigeria as it now stands is unworkable. A referendum should be called to discuss the future of its nationalities. If a split is necessary like Sudan it should take effect for the better. Southern Nigerians have endured to long at the hands of their northern neighbours. Not because all will be rosy if Nigeria’s South becomes an independent nation, but at least intellectualism and modernization will be less of a hassle to attain. It’s easier to work with people of like-minds. The usual clamour of the Niger Delta might still flourish, the petty jealousies among the different ethnic groups of the south might still hold true, and the abuse of corruptive influences might still be sonorous; however, the aspirations of the people of the south bottled in the quest for modernization and real development free of religious bigotry and fanaticism is an essential encouragement for nation-building. It will be the thread for a more prosperous union, instead of the perennial Islamic flare-ups gripping the current Nigerian nation-space. With hundreds of thousands dying needlessly every decade because of northern-Islamo-fascist leanings, a referendum for the splitting of the country into two halves could be the harbinger to peace for most people who wish to live without stress.