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Wednesday, June 17, 1998 Published at 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK

World: Africa

Nigeria's future: What you think

First of all the British should be blamed for what is going on in Nigeria. The solution is to allow the Biafra to form a government. I'm from Igbo land and in Biafra I believe in it I shall die. Nigeria can never be the same until we the Igbos have been compensated for the injustices we have suffered from the western and northern Nigerians before and after the civil war.
Urunebo (USA)

The military have stayed in power long enough. If there is anything that could have done for the nation, they have had long enough to actually demonstrate that they are either incapable of doing it, or that do not have the will or the desire to do it. We gave them a chance for more than 30 years now. Every indication now is that the military is part of the problem. The army officers who seize power no longer go into government with the sincere desire to bring about meaningful change. At this time, what we need in Nigeria is to return the country to popular government. Refering to this as Western style democracy misses the point and or begs the question. We are living in a modern world. We, as Africans, must be capable of opering modern governments. There is nothing in the African experience or culture that precludes or makes it difficult for us to function in a truly democratic system. The problem on the continent is not that we cannot operate Western style democratic governments. Our problem is that we do have the will, through our leaderships, to respect the processes that we set up. This is a problem of leadership.

The military government should immediately release the constitution that was drafted recently. It is the best constitution that we have had since independence. The is the first constitution that recognizes the real source of our problems in Nigeria; the lack of effective strutures for the sharing of power among the contending contituencies. Elections must be held immediately and power handed over to an elected government. If the constitution is found to still be flawed, we can always ammend it while the business of government still goes on. As a safeguard against the misuse of power to perpertuate incompetent and corrupt governments, we may have have to establish a system by which the instruments of the electoral process are removed far away from the incumbent government.

Finally, all political prisoners must be relased without conditions. The press must once more be truly free. Our leaders on the continent must learn to have a sense of humor as well as a sense of responsiblity. Without criticism, a government cannot be truly accountable. On the other hand our people must cease to use violence a means of expressing themselves.
Chinyere E. Egbe, Ph.D, Dean of the School of Business Administration, Medgar Evers College of, The City University of New York

Nigeria's future prosperity obviously depends on its oil industry, and therefore on the wholehearted cooperation of its oil workers. Major-General Abdusalam Abubakar should move without delay to release the Nigerian oil workers' elected leaders, Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori, and to end government intervention in the affairs of their unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG. Dabibi and Kokori have long been detained without charge or trial in Nigeria (for details, see our website at They are in poor health. Both are recognised by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience. On behalf of more than 20 million oil and allied workers worldwide, and in the best interests of Nigeria's future, we call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Vic Thorpe,General Secretary of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions, Belgium

The new leadership in Nigeria should set about negotiations with viable political parties in Nigeria with the intent of holding parliamentary elections by the end of the 1998; after a 6 months period, presidential elections should be held for a new president. The parliament should then draw up a new constitution the would mandate only three political parties namely, conservative (traditional), liberal and independent. These parties must be made to understand that their membership must come from all parts and peoples of the country. They must have similar party branches in all states within Nigeria and all their leadership must all also have this make to be considered viable for any future national or local elections. This requirement will reduce tribalism, sectionalism and all the other regional issues that plaque Africa today. the new constitution must also make it plain to the military that they need to stay in their barracks as professionals and that if they want political power, they must give up their uniforms and join established parties and then run for office. Three strong parties will serve as checks and balances against the abuse of power. Those in power need to understand that they will be held accountable for their job performance by their parties as well as they people with very public trials for corruption and crimes against the people. I am from Sierra Leone and currently reside in Virginia and am greatful that Nigeria is helping to restore democracy in my country. Yet Nigeria must allow democracy in its own country, most reasonable people look to Nigeria because of its size to set a good example for leadership and human rights. we cannot as a continent ignore what is happening there today. Thanks for allowing me to send my comments.
Sheka Kamara, Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

I believe the Lord is slowly but surely answering the prayers of the Nigerian People. Abacha's death is one of the first signs. I am optimistic about our future.
Lola Rotimi, University of Birmingham, UK.

When I hear some Nigerians asking for the return of Abiola as President of Nigeria, I feel bad. Not that I do not like Abiola or that I prefer the military with their cling to power. My problem is that Abiola is one of the causes of the corruption that has bedevilled the country. Most of us have forgotten that Abiola was incharge of modernizing the telephone system of Nigeria when Mohammed was the military leader. The contract made Abiola the richest man in NIgeria, yet Nigeria does not have a working telephone today. My fear is that if Abiola becomes President, he will do to Nigeria what he did to our telephone system. I really cannot say that handing over by the military to the civilians will solve our problems. The civilians are more corrupt than the the military, the only difference is that the military has the gun to protect their own. The worst is that the educated Nigerians who went home after studying abroad get into the system and join the bandwagon. If you are a doubting Thomas, look at our university system where if you are a girl, you can trade sex for grades. If that is not enough take a look at the civilians appointed by the military. However, the best thing for Nigeria is a total reorientation so that if the civilian government is enthroned, it will have meaning to the lives of average Nigerians. Let those Nigerians who keep on blaming the western world keep quiet because the havoc perpetuated in Nigeria by Nigerians is a hundred times more that what Britain and its allies did. Brothers and sisters, keep faith. The military is a big problem in Nigeria but the Civilians are getting equally bad.
Chinwe Ogbonna, Lansing, Michigan, USA

Nigeria's future is being wrongly (in my opinion) shaped by the millitary, foreign interests and local greedy operatives. We need to think 50yrs down the line for Nigeria. I would like to see a Nigeria that: Has a professional military dedicated to the protection of the territorial integrity of the country; and uses its resources to revamp the country's ailing infrastructres. Returns to an elected civilian govt in October 1998, that will be given a chance to groom 'a Nigerian democracy' over time. Downsizes the police, re-educating, adequately compensating and equiping it to protect and uphold the law. Re-educates the customs officials and holds them to their professional duties. Gives the judiciary autonomy to ensure a soceity of law and order for all. Provides good roads, constant electricity (privatised), constant water (privatised), working telephone (privatised), functioning capital markets (privatised). Lets people claim residency where they are born or residing for a year with aim to neutralising ethnicity problems and find ways to cushion tradition/custom implications and concerns Provides a national identification system. Gives a lot of emphasis to education, mechanised agriculture and health. And finally has an equitable distribution of federal resources. When we do these, our green passport will again be a treasure to have. Let's hope it will take only 50yrs. to achieve if we start now.
Pat Okpala, Queens, New York,

The entity will remain as Nigeria if, and only if, the dream of June 12 1993 is realised. Anything short of that simply leads to the erasure of Nigeria from the World Map.
Mary Alasan- U.S.A.

Thank you for providing this forum. Nigeria needs a revolution for a truly longlasting change. Our greatest problem is lack of leadership. The military is not trained to govern. Nigerians are Nigeria's most important problem. Everyone is guilty.
Foluso Allison

In Mayor Daley's Chigago political machine, it is said that the dead would cast their votes for the party's nominee on election day, but General Abubakar has done better by promising to stick to Abacha's transition programme. This means there will be a referendum in August, "Should Abacha's corpse be sworn in as a civilian president on October 1st, yes or no?" The real question is whether the northern-dominated army, which is the direct continuation of the colonial army of occupation, Lugard's West African Frontier Force, is part of the solution or part of the problem. They should hand over to Abiola.
Victor Manfredi, Cambridge, Mass.

My only advice to the new head of state is to sit back for 30 minutes, and to try and recollect all the good deeds Abacha achieved {probably none} and the suffering that was inflicted on his own people.{ I personally was hoping his death would be worst than that of sgt. Doe of Liberia.) His next step would be to let the people have the right to choose who they feel like electing to the throne, because I strongly believe that without the people's support there will be no prosperity in Nigeria true facts: A soldier learns how to fight war. A soldier learns how to defend his/her country. A soldier learns how to protect the people.A soldier does not know the facts about economics {basic tool to economize the country}. A soldier does not know about the business that can help the country. A soldier is blind to understand a common civillian talk less of the masses. A soldier does not know the word "compromise" but a soldier knows "commanding order".
Isiak Detroit, Michigan

I was suprised but highly elated to hear about the General's death. I believe that this is an oppurtuinity of epic proportion and Nigerians must and should use the unexpected but celebrated exit of the tyrant to hammer the sword of dictatorship into a fountain of democracy, peace and prosperity.
Levi, Los Angeles, California

The death of Abacha came to us as one best thing that ever happened to Nigeria in 21st century. It is a solid attestation that only God Almighty has absolute powers and he alone can control, determine and influence its use. To the new leader, my only advice is that he abides by the truth; for nothing can be done against the truth. He should move quickly to release all political prisoners and create an atmosphere of genuine reconciliation so that the country can move forward. This is not a time for rhetoric, it is a time for practical actions; for action delayed, may constitute backlash of tragic events which could be uncontrollable. To say that June 12 is dead is to be living in the fools' paradise; for this all important day has claimed so many dignitaries both high and low. To stop this unfortunate trend is to restore justice and democracy. According to the new head of state of Nigeria in his broadcast to the nation, in which he appealed to the people in exile to return home, I think that should not be the first way to peace and reconciliation. What should be done is to lay down the genuine foundation of democracy; which includes the restructuring of the body politic and an atmosphere condusive to such. I will conclude by saying this adage that "nobody rides on a tiger without ending in the belly of the tiger". A word is enough for the wise.
Raffy O. Bell. Houston, Texas.

I personally think that pressure from the western nations should be kept on the military in Nigeria. The solution is to release MKO Abiola and for him to lead the country and convene a conference of national unity. Without releasing MKO, there is not going to be peace in Nigeria. He won a free and fair election back in 1993. The death of Abacha is one hurdle but what happens next is what we need to wait and see and one hope it will not be "SOJA GO SOJA COME". I hope Gen. Abubakar will listen to the voice of reasoning the voice of suffering Nigerians and return Nigeria to democratic rule by honouring the result of the 1993 election. That is the way and the only way for Nigeria to move forward. Having another election without solving the 1993 debacle is not a solution.

This is the time for us to mourn and remember those Nigerians both known and unknown that have sacrificed their lives for democracy in Nigeria. Those who fought for the independence of this great nation called Nigeria the likes of Awolowo, Azikwe, Ahmadu Bello, Ajasin and so many others. Their dream was not for Nigeria to be in this kind of state. But a certain click of selfish, corrupt, and greedy Nigerians have brought this great nation down to her knees.

Nigeria needs a democratic government we need not jubilate too much and forget about the battle ahead the fight for freedom must continue until the military obey the will of the people. The military needs to go.
Adeyemi Olufemi Akinsanya, George Mason University, Fairfaz, USA

This is a very good time for patriot Nigerians to offer constructive ideas that will help advance the course of that we all have been yawning for: democratically elected government. However, I will caution that we don't engage in destructive gestures that will take us back to the 1960s era that catapulted the country into the current hegemony. From my perspective, it does not matter who governs Nigeria, but what matters is that will he or she have the vision to take that great country into the league of civilized nations? I have read statements by respectable Nigerians abroad as to what the current leadership should do, but we should give them some time to come up with good ideas that will eventually produce lasting results. I am very sure that Gen. Abubakar will not make the same mistake as his predecessor because Nigerians are too sophisticated to be fooled any longer. We need genuine democracy and not tribal politics.
Ukwunnaya J. Nwosu, Seattle, WA

As a Nigerian I stronlgy believe our future lies in addressing the prolem of the cage of the nation-state.
Nankin Samuel Bagudu

Though in fits, Nigeria had attempted to forge unity through its travails. The legacy of Abacha is in unravelling the past veneer of unity that tenously held Nigerians together. Most of those in detention had been those who had the courage to transcend the numerous ethno-religious divides in that unfortunate multinational state. These were the ones who served as the organic glue to hold together that incongruous structurally unbalanced federation. These were the ones who had a vision of working patiently through the hegemonic project of the North in the hope of transforming Nigeria into a future nation. The gains of these great Nigerians have been now lost through the blatant assertion of northern domination under first the Babangida junta, and more recently the almost incredibly brutal Abacha junta. Now, the ethnic calculus would be factored more consciously into the Nigerian political process. The security dilemma for all would be the uncertainties and impact that the kind of consolidated ethnic hegemony witnessed under Abacha would have on the logic and dynamic of power and its play in a future confederal (or extinct?) Nigeria. Ethnic hawks now have a better claim to being realists given the failure of the liberal visionaries and their humiliation. How many can still out their necks for the corporate interest of a Nigeria given the fate of the Obasanjos and Abiolas? The military is doomed. There is no doubt about that. The only prayer is that when they do descend on themselves they limit the inevitable armageddon to their barracks. As for the Yoruba leadership, I can only praise their strategic sense. With a northern occupation army that parades itself as the Nigeria army, what use was there to destroy the most developed part of Nigeria in a senseless civil war? The Yoruba have proven their sophistication yet again, even if admittedly with a bruised face. Today, Abacha is dead. The Yoruba can dance on the grave of the myopic despot. Whatever the state of the infrastructure in Yorubaland and the degradation of its industrial capacity, the Yoruba can only build from the ruins of neglect and not the scratch of destruction perpertuated by brotherly enemies.
Osuolale Alalade- California, USA.

I am a Nigerian and resident at home. Basically I believe that the military ought to have zero role in politics. However, be that as it may, Nigeria, Nigerians and the western countries have never been patient enough to allow a viable political class to emerge. Ours has been a continuing incidence of "divide and rule" tactics which I dare say was learnt from the Britons whose coming and ruling us did more harm than good.

Unlike many of my compatriots, I believe that the conduct of the western countries most notably Britain, US and the EEC reeks of utter insincerity and mere lip service. Abacha understood this too well and that's why he was able to hold on to power for so long! The international community needs to distinguish between their trade interests and a genuine interest in the development of Africa before they can be of any use in helping resolve our conflicts (which I doubt they will agree to!)

I don't know what you mean by Western style democracy? But I do know that we can have viable leadership which is committed to the people and out to ensure the betterment of the Nation. The question is will the west desist from corrupting such governments when and if it does spring up? Naturally strong leadership is necessary to hold my Country together and that connotes a leader willing and able to exercise power provided like I said the west does not corrupt him first!
Odusolu 'Jide, Legal Counsel TOPCON-Nigeria

The death of Abacha ought to be a blessing in disguise for Nigeria and the end of Military rulers' power struggle. The country's interest as well as the well being of poor Nigerians should be the top priority and not selfish interest of any military ruler after 37 years of independence. Any Nigerian head of state's motto should be " What can I do for my country and not what my country can do for me".
Toyin James, BellTech, USA

Abacha's death can be viewed as Nigeria's chance to move forward. It was apparent, with Abacha, that the nation had been driven to a dead end. My advice to the new head of state is to recall the last elected government and ask the people in a memorandum whether or not Abiola should be given the presidency or hold fresh elections for the presidency. Give the people the chance to direct their future. This approach should hasten return to civilian democratic government.
Manny Ukpo, California - USA

The situation at the moment is unclear. There are three contending positions. First, some Nigerians would like for power to be handed over to Moshood Abiola. I don't think this will happen. His supports will have to sell his position anew to the rest of the country. At the present time I don't think it will fly. Second, some Nigeria would like the current transition, however flawed it is, to proceed apace. This position is most realistic. The third position is the danger that if the civilian class fumbles once again the military might be encouraged to remain in power. I wish to suggest that the country is back at the period shortly after Gen. Babangida's departure and the enthronment of Chief Shonekan. 'Pro-democracy activists must articulate a realistic option that is acceptable to all Nigerians. In this regard, the present position of NADECO is the most realistic. Failure to seize this moment, may encourage the military to delay handing over power.
David, Theresa & Zachary

It is obvious that the way Africa is treated and continued to be treated by the West (since the end of the cold war) is that of divided and oppressed. Nigeria is undoubtedly the most feared nation in the West. Nigeria has abundant HUMAN and natural resources. The world, in particular Britain, will benefit by allowing country with the most potential in the world to flourish.

But then Nigeria is a victim of her own wealth. The West is afraid that if Nigeria is allowed to flourish the arms trade and the looting (by the west) will end. Hence leaders like Muritala Mohammed were assasinated and a lot of illiterates have been helped to power by the "heavy breathing" West. Nigerians have a higher living standard than other countries (e.g Britain) if living standard is measured by the amount of happiness that one has per unit length of time - though if it was measured by the amount of material wealth one has then Nigerians have, probably, the lowest standard of living in the world.

Britain and the world will benefit enourmously, in terms of trade and scientific input, if African countries are given the chance to prosper. Nigeria is not going to be better off under our new leader unless Britain and the rest of the world realise that selling arms is dangerous to themselves as well as to the countries they sell them to. I was asked in the office today "are Nigerians happy that their dictator is dead ?". My answer was that they are no happier than British people were when Mrs Thatcther was overthrown. British people have the habit of making themselves feel better by criticising others. he media in the West are hoping for the situation in Nigeria to deteriorate to the level of Rwanda and Bosnia in order to give entertainment to their local audience and make Nigerians (Africans) feel ridiculous.

Britain advised our leaders against forming a confederation yet Great Britain is composed of England, Scotland (with her own e.g Law and Educational systems), Wales and Nothern Ireland. A confederation is a collection of diverse nations, with common interests, working cooperatively towards the progress of all in a manner that avoids conflict and prevents outsiders from benefitting from internal fueds. Why is Europe working towards union ? By the grace of God and the wisdom of Nigerians, General Abubakar will see the light and realise that Nigeria is great and has been deprived enough of what she can be. I hope Genaral Abubakar will be able to listen to the voice of the people rather than the voice of the two-faced West and realise that the future and the integrity of his children cannot be dissociated from the future of his country.
Adeniyi Oke ( A British-Nigerian)

Having seen the decline of Nigeria from the most prosperous Nation in Africa in 1976 to the most corrupt one in 1983 to an abused one in 1998 by a power-maniac, I pray that the days of 1976 are returned to Nigeria. In 1976, Nigeria was ruled by the Military led by Gen. Olesegun Obasanjo and people were doing well for themselves. Foreigners wanted to come to Nigeria because that was where the money and respect was. Nigeria was on the world map.

In 1979, going on people's opinion, Obasnajo decided to hand over power to the 'civilians' and bring in the democratic form of Government. From day one, we could realise the growth of corruption in the society. In four years, the political leaders had massacred the economy and stashed away their personal loot in different corners of the world with the common person left to bear the brunt. In 1984, one year after the second round of 'democratic' elections, the military decided enough was enough and took the reins in their hands - and I don't blame them. But, since then, again personal aspirations took over and we had a maniac in place who all but drove the final nail into the coffin.

Now that a glimmer of hope is seen, if I could make a wish for the great country, I would wish for the days of 1976 to be restored. Would it not be posisble for people like Olesegun Obasanjo to be put back into the pedestal to lead the country out of ruins? (Incidentally, I was shocked to read that Olesegun Obasanjo is in jail courtesy Sani Abacha). I wish the people of Nigeria well in their quest for "peace and progress".

I don't think the international community should let Nigeria's Defence Minister exercise his power as Head of State. Instead, free elections should be held immediately under the supervision of international observers.
Marco Lembo, ITALY

While bemoaning the demise of Nigeria's former head of state, Sani Abacha, I will like to chip in that his death has cleared the relative impasse as regard the credibility of the presidential elections. Others can now come out without any fear of intimidation and oppression. This will give room for a genuine flow of democracy which is characterised by choice and not imposition by any military junta. Abiola could be released either to head the government of national unity or come to join any party of his choice for a fresh attempt at the number one job in the country. This indeed could be the only way out of these mess we are going through now.
Samdu, Lagos-Nigeria

Nigeria has a good future but a very rough road to travel. Whether we like it or not the country will go through a stormy weather between now and October 1998. The death of Abacha is very important but just a part of the events that have to happen to Nigeria. Gen. Abubakar is now the Head of State, and I am sure that he has a serious job to do to clear the mess his predecessor left behind. The death of Abacha is the beginning of the struggle for a good leadership to emerge. Abacha, to be fair, is not the cause of the terrible problems in Nigeria. He only fueled the problems to the point that nobody knows how to solve them. He left behind more problems for the Nigerians to battle.

Many are doubtful of Abubakar's ability to handle the mess left behind by Abacha. I am also doubtful! This is because the political arrangements of the Nigerian army are very deceptive. The outfit is full of potential coupists because nobody in the Nigerian army, and this is true of the civilians also, wants to serve under anybody. Every Nigerian wants to be "oga". That is one of the reasons why all the disgraceful political leaders chose Abacha as their presidential candidate. So in the Nigerian Army there are too many generals waiting to be "oga". Because of the misplaced ambition there is bound to be mutiny in the Army in the near future. It is from the "barracks revolution" that a strong but disciplined leader will emerge. That is the leader that will discipline the rotten Nigerian society before any economic or political democracy can be practised in the country. The leader will surely be a dictator, but not a tyrant. Abubakar could be the one.... but as I said I doubt him because he will be confused by the sycophants that must have started chasing their "oga" around.

Abubakar may make some moves like having a deal with Abiola (provided Abiola survives the storm after Abacha's death) but I think Abiola will not settle for anything less than the "oga" of Nigeria. Can Abiola forgive and keep away from politics in Nigeria if he is released? Diya and co. may be jailed for life or the kind-hearted Abubakar may give them just 15 years each. Then how about Obasanjo and co.? Abubakar may free them in October 1998 to reinforce his grip on power till 1999? I suggested 1999 because that is likely to be his first deadline for handing over power.

The new ruler will definitely dismantle the much-hated five political parties and arrest some of the politicians. In the process of making the people accept him he will arrest some of Abacha's Ministers and retrieve some of the stolen public funds from them. But how about if he decided to jail Ikimi to get the international community to understand that he needs the West. And of course how about detaining Kanu the leader of YEEA (or what is it called?) and his likes? To be candid, Abubakar cannot last in his present position without jailing or even killing some of the criminals among the ruling elite in Nigeria. Then the big question, when will the jailing and killing end? The international community has to talk with the Nigerian Military Government to facilitate their exit from active politics. We should not believe that the so-called Nigerian politicians are honest and better than the Military junta. I do not even believe that they are disciplined enough to practise democracy the normal way. So the international community, especially the West should stop thinking that it is only the Nigerian politicians that they can talk to. The West should put pressure on the Military government to release all the political prisoners and detainees. But who will decide the right time for Nigeria to hold election?

My suggestion for a good future for Nigeria is; Gen. Abubakar should form a "leaders Committee" that will include Abiola, Idiagbon and all former Heads of State or Presidents to appoint an interim Head of State that will arrange and supervise elections within a year. All the members of the Leaders Committee" will not participate in the elections, and so also the interim Head of States and his ministers, state administrators, advisers, all the leaders of the present five political parties, etc. Abubakar should quit once the interim Head of State is selected by the committee. Abiola should be given for life all the benefits given to former Nigerian Head of States or Presidents. Let all Nigerians work together and be ready to have somebody as the "oga". We cannot all be "oga" at the same time! That is the best we can do to move Nigeria forward in positive ways.
Kolawole Raheem, Finland

Any of the following three scenarios could unfold: Since the "political parties" have shown themselves to be incapable of coming up with a presidential candidate and have instead called on Abacha to continue, Abubakar may use this as a ground for annulling the senate elections and the political parties. He will claim that the whole thing was botched by the politicians and a new drawn out transition programme should be started. This may be another ruse to keep him in power (as he was one of Abacha's cohorts, there is no reason to think that he will not follow this path; and he has precedents for this: Babangida and Abacha's transition programmes); or he may undergo a profound conversion and want to leave a lasting legacy for Nigeria. In that case the transition will be genuine. To determine whether either is the case, his stance on political prisoners (from Abiola to Agbakoba) will tell. If he fails to release political prisoners then that will be clear evidence that his transition programme is a ruse. (The problem with this is that even if he undergoes this conversion, there are many forces behind him that would want the status quo to remain).

Another scenarion is that Abubakar will annul the parties and continue in office without saying much. The art of silence was exploited to its fullest by Abacha. Abubakar must have learnt from this. It will only be a matter of time before sycophants start calling on him to run as President. (This option is very unlikely in view of international pressure and it is unlikely that he will have Abacha's tyrannical streak - something clearly needed for this approach to work.

Or it is possible that Abubakar will press ahead with presidential elections and hand-over power to a bunch of opportunists in the 5 parties (very unlikely, since Nigerians will not support this and he has everything to gain from not following this path).

The international community and the Nigerian opposition must insist on scenario (a)(ii) and watch carefully whether Abubakar releases all the political prisioners immediately.
Dr Tunde I. Ogowewo, King's College London (University of London)

It is not easy to have democracy over night in a country where there is no institution to support that. In the western world we always talk about the government elected on populous vote. It is not possible over there because some strong general could rig the election. The West has to work with them to establish a system which can hold on and respect the genuine elected government.
S. Roy

I believe that Nigeria is in for more of the same. The Muslim Northerners will not release power. The new leader will probably delay the election and at the same time promise democratic reform. Western powers will grumble a little but as long as the oil flows and there is not civil war the West will not complain too hard. I do think that the Ibos in Lagos should beware of Yoruba price goudging and possible riots aimed at them. Yorubas are angry but still fear the Northererns. Political prisoners will remain behind bars most definitely. Promises will be made. Look for more of the same. Perhaps we should call it PAX HAUSA.
Peter Riley/USA

The first question to ask - would it be better for Nigeria to stay together as one country and if so under what terms? You should always remember that Nigeria was not a nation prior to 1914. All the nations in the Niger area became what we know today as Nigeria (NIGER AREA.) There were several nations amalgamated for the easy governance by the British. Nigeria as a result is a big corporation formed by the British. If USSR could not stay together as one nation. There is no point in forcing unity among 250 ethnic groups. I think the Nigerians can work out a great system of government for themselves if they really want to stay together as a nation. Thus, confederacy might be an option.
Posha Rountree

I was very excited about the death of the former Nigeria dictator "General Sani Abacha" because it marks the end of a bloody political dictatorship. I believe he got exactly what he deserved. One thing a lot of dishonest Nigerians have failed to realize is that God is watching exactly what is going on. One cannot take over what is not his as though it is his . There are so many hungry Nigerians out there. Some children have been made orphans, some fatherless all because of his quest for wealth and power.One thing is that now that he is dead, he sure does have blood on his head and he should be ready to face the dead he offended when he meets them up there. It's time Nigeris returned to democracy and it's not that am so much after June 12 but it's just that in order for peace in Nigeria, we have to go back to the June 12 Presidential Election and have Abiola and all those that were imprisoned for no just cause to be released. And to all those who planned with the evil butcher, I wonder where they would hide their face in shame.They alll should be ashamed of themselves and be scared they might also drop dead. Abacha did not do the evil alone. The others would soon have their judgement day. Very very soon I personally do not support the new military leader that replaced Abacha..Nigerians need to protest to throw him out. We are tired of these military boys who are uneducated coming out there and promising us the whole world and never doing anything. One more word, in order for Nigeria to be better, we all should realize the good of the country begins from where we realize that whatever ethnic group we belong is irrelevant. One thing is that we are all Nigerians. Simple.
Tola Olutayo

The unexpected passing of Abacha brings Nigeria to a delicate threshold. While he was alive, a lot of people railed at him. Now that he is gone, the real sore point in Nigerian politics may just show itself. That would happen if the named successor decides he does not have the stomach for Nigerian leadship and makes a hasty hand-over to the unruly civilians. All of the people who have been calling for 'democracy' are ill-prepared for it themselves. There is no intelligent organization, dormant or active, that could reliably fill the vacuum of leadership which military vacation will produce. The substance of Nigerian politics remains buried in ethnic priorities and interests. The endurance of military rule might intensify the 'pro-democracy' and external opposition to the military regime in Nigeria, but any precipitate removal of military rule will quickly reveal the vacuity of the pro-democracy groups as far as their ability to give the country competent democratic rule is concerned.
Obi Akwani, A Nigerian-Canadian from Ottawa, Canada

For sure Nigeria is due and over due for democracy. I was glad to hear that Sani Abacha had died, because it was the only way to get rid of him. What is happening now is like getting out of the fire and stepping into the frying pan by electing another military officer. I hope the new head of state will plan to give power to the people of Nigeria this year; which I doubt. How good would it be if Babatunde Idiagbon could be the next democratic president of Nigeria. He's the only one I can forsee to be the most honest person so far in the country. Most of the hungry contestants are all struggling to get their pockets full of Nira. I wish them all the best of luck.
Wahidi Shomolu, United State (MN)

As a gesture of good will to the new government and to the people of Nigeria, the United States, Britain, and EU should lift all the sanctions placed on Nigeria. Secondly, attempts should be made to send emmissaries to the new government with a pledge to support the transition to democratic government set up by the military. The West should agree to support this transition by offering resources that can speed up the transition to a civilian government. The beligerent stance of the West towards the military government should be turned into that of cooperation with the new government. In fact, the new president, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, should be invited to visit the Washington DC, London and Europe to discuss how the West can cooperate with Nigeria in the transition to a civilian government. Threats must not be used. The military in Nigeria thrives on external threats.
Ayuba J. Sarki, Ph.D, Hampton, Virginia

Nigeria, like all but one or two African countries, is lead by dictators. This will continue to be the case for a long time (50-100 yrs). South Africa will also be lead by a dictator when President Mandela dies.
Roland Reagan, Mississippi, USA

This is the toughest test the Nigerian military leaders have ever faced. No Nigerian head of state ever died in office as a result of a supposed natural cause. Abacha indeed made history as the first. Assuming it was something that was natural, then the leaders were not prepared for it. The tendancy then is to continue what Abacha started before he died. My worry is this: the north still intends to hold onto power. Lt. Gen Jerry Useni being the most senior military officer in Nigeria at the timeof Abacha's death seems the most likely candidate to have been given the task of heading the country. Why was he not? Rear-Admiral Aighe of the Navy is the equivalent of the Army's Lt. Gen, a most senior military officer, why was he not offered the leadership? Why did the military have to promote a Major Gen Abubakar to a General and then have him become the leader in a most unusual manner. Nigerian politics baffles me, as it does everybody. One would only hope that if the next leader goes the way of Abacha, he would also die of heart attack until civil politics returns to Nigeria! Until then however, we must keep looking out for God and ask Him to guide Nigeria out of this mess.
Taiwo Jaiyeoba

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09 Jun 98 | Africa
Nigeria's future: What do you think?

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