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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The curse of Okuama tragedy

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Curses and magical beliefs are woven collectively in African politics. A research discovered that nearly all African leaders come to energy emboldened by beliefs in native magical spells. Francisco Macias Nguema, first president of Equatorial Guinea from the time of the nation’s independence in 1968, until 1979 when he was overthrown, was an ideal match of this. A strongman and one of the vital brutal dictators in human historical past, Nguema reportedly killed between 20,000, to 80,000 out of the entire Guinea inhabitants of about 200,000 to 300,000 folks. This led to his nation being nicknamed the Dachau of Africa. The Dachau Focus Camp, constructed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany in March, 1933, is situated within the medieval city of Dachau in Bavaria, Southern Germany. It was the place Hitler’s hounded political opponents had been warehoused. Nguema was perceived, as Nigerians perceived Common Sani Abacha throughout his reign, to be mentally unstable. Medical experiences that backed this up emerged even from his early profession. For example, a report in 1968 by the French overseas intelligence service, SDECE, claimed that Ngueman suffered psychological problems and venereal illnesses. Claims of this ruthless dictator’s psychological state of affairs had been additional compounded by his rumoured habit to common utilization of medicine like hashish. This, he was mentioned to devour via its edible drink derivatives of bhang and iboga which have robust hallucinogenic results.

Extra importantly, Nguema believed strongly in magic. Whereas he was president within the Nineteen Seventies, he brazenly marketed steep romance with sorcery. For him, voodoo was a automobile of instilling concern within the folks of Equatorial Guinea. He typically dropped the narrative at public occasions that his occult powers had been drawn from a group of skulls he arrayed within the presidential palace. The idea that Nguema was as properly a sorcerer permeated the nooks and crannies of Guinea. He additionally flaunted frequent conversations he claimed to have had with the lifeless, most particularly with the identical individuals he had ordered their execution. To strengthen the narrative of his religious invincibility and supernatural status, Nguema organized his personal escape from sponsored assassins. Thus, in 1979, upon his ouster within the coup masterminded by his nephew, Teodoro Obiang Ngueman Mbasogo, Nguema was ordered to be executed by firing squad. Nonetheless, it turned a herculean activity sourcing his executioners. Nobody dared volunteer to execute the outdated sorcerer. The idea which permeated the entire of the minds of residents of Equatorial Guinea was that Nguema was a legendary shapeshifter. He had the powers to make a return journey from the land of the lifeless within the type of a tiger and thus search vengeance from his executioners. It was so unhealthy that the federal government of Mbasogo needed to import Muslim executioners from Morocco who finally carried out his loss of life sentence. Because the final breath escaped his nostrils, Nguema was rumoured to have cursed Morocco. In a rustic suffering from perception in sorcery, sympathetic magic and witches, Morocco’s disaster which got here later had been attributed to the tiger, Nguema, which laid curse on Morocco for lending Mbasogo the sharpshooters who introduced his life to an finish.

Within the mild of this, how highly effective are curses, or how efficient is their notion? Within the killing of 17 troopers of the Nigerian Military within the Okuama Group of Delta State on March 14, 2024, discourses on the curse of oil got here to the entrance burner. Oil useful resource, typically held to be a blessing to nations, is in the identical mould believed to be a curse to them. Nigeria and Venezuela took their rightful positions in that narrative. Have been the troopers martyred in Okuama a part of the curse of oil on the Nigerian soil?

Discourses on the hyperlink between assets and curse gained forex within the early Nineteen Seventies. The proposition put ahead was that, international locations which can be richly endowed with pure wealth are most instances suffering from violence, don’t do properly economically, politically, and socially when in comparison with poorly endowed international locations. Two students, Paul Collier, a British improvement economist and Anke Hoeffler, German economist, political scientist, had been recognized for his or her pioneering works on useful resource curse. They concluded that assets immediately invite loot-seeking rise up, in addition to sociopolitical and institutional decay. Indra de Soysa, (2015) too, in “Oil and the ‘new wars’: One other take a look at the useful resource curse utilizing various knowledge”, Growth Research Analysis, 2:1, 64-76 argued that there have been empirical proof which helps the ‘useful resource curse’ argument in that oil abundance raises the likelihood of political violence.

This could solely be the reason of the gory scene in Okuoma neighborhood in oil-dominant space of the Niger Delta the place seventeen troopers which included a commanding officer, two majors, one captain and 12 troopers had been brutally murdered. The troops from the 181 Amphibious Battalion deployed within the Bomadi area had been reportedly ambushed after they heeded calls to take care of peace between two communities who had been locked in skirmishes over land. After their killing, the troopers and officers had been mentioned to have been maniacally decapitated and butchered in probably the most horrendous method. Whereas some had their hearts ripped out of their chest cavities, others’ our bodies had been thrown into the river. Experiences claimed that a few of the recovered our bodies had their stomachs ripped out. Incessant clashes over land, many a instances lethal and requests for compensation for oil spills by vitality firms within the Niger Delta are singsongs. None of those compares to the inhuman killing of those troopers and officers which has raised crucial questions in want of straight solutions.

The query that agitates the minds of many compatriots is whether or not and the way an harmless and dispassionate intervention to maintain peace amongst two preventing communities might have earned the troopers this degree of beastly killing. Whereas many have volunteered tongue-in-cheek analyses of probably the most logically coherent factor that might have led to the horrendous killing, maybe probably the most profound of such was provided by former editor of The Guardian newspaper and Niger Delta chief of thought, Abraham Ogbodo. Ogbodo granted Come up TV interview final week. And he mentioned: “It isn’t true {that a} misunderstanding between an Urhobo neighborhood and an Ijaw neighborhood might truly deliver that degree of disaster, that degree of tragedy that we witnessed. It isn’t true. It’s not about communal disaster. What degree of communal disaster? The mixed inhabitants of these communities might be lower than 2,000 human beings. The place will they get the capability to wreak that degree of havoc? To ship that diploma of tragedy, the place will they’ve the capability? It’s not attainable. It’s like a criminal offense happening in all these drug enclaves in Latin America, and you may be on the lookout for one thing else aside from medicine. There isn’t any crime that occurs in Niger Delta that doesn’t have crude oil and the arising advantages, and the way these arising advantages might be allotted,” he mentioned.

A really crucial challenge raised by Ogbodo was the character of the army intervention. “What was truly compelling a couple of peace mission in that place that can require the strategic workforce going for a tactical mission? So, it exhibits that there are such a lot of issues underlying that we’re not speaking about. If it was truly for a peace mission, wouldn’t it have been for these neighborhood leaders to be summoned to the bottom in Bomadi for discussions to be held? This was not achieved – as a substitute, the whole management of the battalion went to Bomadi and be so uncovered, and if a mission like that was being carried by the strategic workforce, why was there not sufficient tactical cowl that they had been simply gotten and brought out like that so cheaply? The Nigerian army! That’s uncalled for. So, you will notice that there are such a lot of issues which can be fallacious.”

These rhetorical questions are key to resolving the fog that surrounds the killing of the troopers and officers. To make certain, their loss has bored an enormous crater on the center of the nation. From no matter prism one might take a look at it, Nigeria and, particularly, their quick households, might by no means recuperate from the losses. Aside from the massive funding Nigeria made into their trainings, lots of their members of the family might by no means be the identical once more after the departure of those breadwinners of theirs. Having as soon as suffered the loss of life of a beloved gallant soldier, it’s straightforward for me to decouple the character of the grief that envelopes the households of these slain army males. The goriness of their deaths makes the necessity to unravel the crime pressing. Doing so may even deliver closure to agitations that result in life-threatening incessant violence that occurs within the crime scene, apologies to Ogbodo, that the entire Niger Delta area has grow to be.

We now have heard, because the agitations from the Ken Saro-Wiwas, of how resource-wealthy states like Nigeria are perennially enmeshed in provision of decrease ranges of public items by way of training, well being and common wellbeing of the oil-producing communities. Researchers of useful resource curse have additionally discovered that there’s a common malaise amongst governments of resource-rich international locations which displays of their neglect of residents and establishments of the oil-bearing communities. There’s a rising depth of social anger accruing from communities like Okuama in opposition to the operators of state. It’s anger at how their nature-endowed useful resource has given entry to straightforward cash and unearned revenue by undeserving buccaneers in Nigeria. The reality is, if successive governments had prioritized the peace of oil-bearing communities and had taken a greater than informal curiosity in it, the officers barbecued like chickens for a pageant in Okuama could also be alive in the present day.

The reality is that, troopers and policemen posted to oil-bearing communities usually are not harmless peace-keepers. They’re grossly enmeshed within the crude craze that’s the every day existential pursuit of Niger Delta communities. It isn’t information that troopers deployed to oil-rich communities are alleged to be closely enveloped within the oil-bunkering commerce. A few of them even possess their very own bunkering crew. It is a pestilence within the Niger Delta. Certainly, illicit commerce in crude oil and violence are mentioned to be the one thriving trade in Nigeria’s oil-producing communities. Within the phrases of Ogbodo, “every thing is subordinated to grease.” That is in settlement with scholarly arguments which say that useful resource wealth provides delivery to weak establishments which can be lax in upkeep of peace and safety. Teams throughout the state then capitalize on this weak spot to prepare armed violence which they deploy to seize rents. The result’s {that a} resource-dependent state like Nigeria is landlord to persistent violence in its oil-bearing communities. It is because establishments which can be anticipated to deliver peace and concord like the military and police are both too weak to monopolize violence, can not cease the oil useful resource itself from inviting looting or have grow to be half and parcel of the issue. Within the course of, the financing of gory violence by particular person state actors just like the one in Okuama turns into a fait accompli.

There may be additionally the useful resource jealousy and useful resource monopoly angle to the killing of the troopers in Okuama. The resource-bearing communities see the remainder of Nigeria as parasites reaping the place they didn’t sow. On visits to Abuja, the communities see glittering streets paved by their oil cash, in comparison with the despoliation of their lands and the crude-smeared waters they drink. Additionally they know that fats leeches in energy and their accomplices from different elements of Nigeria purchase toad-like stature from the wealth of their oil. Niger Deltans thus naturally develop a revenge advanced in opposition to these Nigerian bugs. Check out the checklist of 17 troopers killed in Okuama. You’ll uncover {that a} explicit part of the nation takes an enormous share of the fatalities. None of them is from the Niger Delta. This displays how the Nigerian state sucks the nectar of Niger Delta whereas leaving its withered land to its destiny.

The macabre method wherein these troopers and males had been murdered was not strange killing. It bears the traits of a revenge killing, or a Muti homicide. A widespread killing tactic in South and Southern Africa, Muti is a type of human sacrifice. It’s meant to realize energy, vitality or luck and undertaken solely after physique elements have been exactly harvested whereas the sufferer continues to be alive. The purpose is to permit the sufferer’s shrill cry go as much as the sky, within the perception that it will summon deities. Solely yesterday, a media report mentioned the Defence Headquarters had confirmed recovering decomposing hearts of a few of the soldier victims of the Okuama tragedy. Gouging out hearts, if not for ritual functions, is a sadistic revenge methodology that’s not undertaken by run-of-the-mill criminals. Might the murderers have been allies of the troopers and thus noticed them as betrayers?

It have to be mentioned that another students have mentioned that it isn’t wholly true that every one oil-rich international locations undergo the curse of power instability and violence. Nor that these international locations’ useful resource opens up warfare within the oil-bearing communities. And that, just like the rumoured curse positioned by Nguema on Morocco, is a figment of creativeness. This was the trail trodden by Ross Michael (2012) in The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Growth of Nations, Princeton, NJ: Princeton College Press. Whereas Venezuela, Angola and Nigeria affirm the greed thesis of oil useful resource, states and international locations like Texas in America and Saudi Arabia present that the thesis might not be totally true. These are international locations not fraught with Nigeria and her allies’ oil curse manifestations.

The way in which out of the curse of oil is efficient apply of federalism. States the place oil useful resource is discovered needs to be allowed to manage it whereas they pay royalties to the federal authorities. If we do that, militancy and crises over land which necessitate troopers being drafted to make peace can be a factor of the previous.

Nigeria should unravel the killing of the officers and males of the Nigerian Military who met their premature deaths in Okuama. Unraveling it’ll want openness and attending to the brass-tacks of the matter. It have to be achieved by an unbiased entity, unbiased of the army. The army can’t be the accuser and choose in its personal case. The very first thing to look at is the declare of the peace mission that the felled troopers had been alleged to have come to Okuama for. There are claims that the Urhobo and Ijaw that make up the neighborhood weren’t at struggle with one another; no less than to not the extent that might warrant “a peace mission”. So if so, why would an entire battalion invade a neighborhood that’s not at struggle, with probably the most plum of its officers? Second, did the “peace-keeping drive” hearth first on the members of the neighborhood, as claimed by a few of them? At what level had been the officers and males ambushed? In answering these questions, we might be drilling into the bottom of the problem. It have to be achieved for the sanity of the nation.

NIN: How one can modify your title, date of delivery, telephone quantity, others — NIMC


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