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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 20:19 GMT 21:19 UK

World: Africa

The future for Nigeria - your reaction

Chief Abiola

What you have said so far:

The northern dominated military would eventually have to govern over ghost towns in the south west. Czechoslovakia showed the civilised way out of this kind of quagmire. Gentle hugs and firm hanshakes and then bye-bye to all that. People don't have to die. The lives of individuals are sacred. States are human constructions. They cannot have priorities over the aspirations and lives of citizens. Let Nigeria go the way of all such human anachronisms.
Nuno Philips, Los Angeles, USA

Iīve read what you have all to say about peace and understanding. But truly? Do you really think Nigeria ever will come to terms with democracy. I have travelled Nigeria from north to south, from west to east. I have entered the country from all directions. And all around the borders, the only thing Iīve seen is corruption. That is OK, as that is the only way to make money if your an official employee. Nigeria is huge. But if you look deeper, it is not, and can never be one country. England (that is the small remote island southwest of Norway) drew up its borders when they "owned" the land. That is why Nigeria has the problem it faces now. Itīs not one country, itīs three, at least. Break down this. And as long as the rulers (Hausa) keep their stiff role and bring in their money from oil companies, there will be no other situation The Nigerian army is strong. Just look at Sierra Leone, and what they have done there. But donīt forget . More than a thousand Nigerian militaries have been killed allready. For What? ECOWAS That is the last outreach for the most solid army of Africa. So whatīs the solution? Itīs absolutely not Abiola or anyone else. Fela died about a year ago. Sonny Ade is still alive. Stangely enough, music canīt role.
Ulf Nordling, Sweden

I'm a little concerned at what is happening in Lagos right now. The vibes are those of a nation in a state of turmoil and political disarray. History is being written and perhaps for Nigerians everywhere the question to be answered is which way to we go from here. Unless we turn around and face our past we cannot progress to whatever lies ahead. A lot is being said about returning the country to democratic rule. Something which I agree to wholeheartedly. However the fact remains that those who want to take charge are the same greedy, unpatriotic despots who looted the treasury in the second republic. My greatest resevation about the return to civilian rule, is that the person on the street will be no better off than how they are now. Unless the lessons of the past have been learnt, unless we as a nation and a people recognise that leadership is not for self gain but to enhance the lives of those who elect us. Then we might as well stay under the oppressive rule of those who do so at the point of a gun. I love my nation, her people and her rich culture, but I cry when I think of the waste and plundering of our land. Too many have stepped onto the stage of leadership in our beloved nation, without a clue as to what real leadership means. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's servanthood of the highest order. Leading one's nation is both an honour and a priviledge. My question is WHICH WAY NIGERIA?
Tony Olusanya, London

I am a Nigerian/German. I have lived all my life in Nigeria and am now planning to study here in Germany. We just lost our hope for a true beginning of democracy. There will never be such a true democratic election than there was on June 12 1993. Nigeria just lost their hope. Abiola might not have been the best president, but it would have been a start for democracy, after all we did have an election and he won. Right now I see no future. Whatever hapens now is false and has no meaning. Our human rights have been totally demoralised. My hope just died.
Moji from Germany

Allow me to comment on the geopolitical effects and aspects of the deaths of Moshood Abiola and Gen. Sani Abacha, the late strong-men of Nigeria. In order for Nigeria to gain any international recognition and credibility it must put its house in order. It must use the opportunity accorded by the untimely demise of the afore-mentioned gentlemen to launch a fresh start. It is time for the military to retire to the barracks and bring a return to civilian rule. Until this happens, it is meaningless for Nigeria to promote democratic institutions across West Africa while its own house is in a shambles. If Nigeria is to take its place among the league of nations, it must be ready to call its pot black and stop chastising the kettle.
Kevin Kihara, Redhill, Kenya

The way forward is the establishment of a credible democracy. The five political parties should be dissolved and all previous elections cancelled to pave the way for the formation of independent parties. This will enable credible individuals who had been denied participation in the previous political process to take part. The military government need to move very fast and conclude the entire process by January 1, 1999. Furthermore, there is need for a power shift from the North to the South if only to assuage the feelings of Southerners who have been denied the opportunity of producing the nation's president for a long time.
Okpa Obaji

I am a Yoruba but not sure if I should claim to be Nigerian anymore. Britain still stand accused for merging the North and South in 1914 and called it Nigeria. Nigeria has no unifying future except problems and lack of direction on the part of the North. To avert war the United Nation must divide Nigeria into three countries as it had a regional government before 1960. The recent event is just a follow up to the North system of elimination. General Babangida who annulled the 1993 election is controlling his course in the new leader .
Kunle Sowunmi, Dallas Texas USA

Nigeria should go its separate way, most of the problem we have today in Nigeria were cost by the colonial master Britain. As a Yoruba man who grew up in Western Nigeria I know that parents have to work very hard to educate all their children. But in the Northern part of Nigeria , the government pays for everything. If you are a Nigerian living outside Nigeria, for example U.S.A or London you will see that 99.91% of Nigerians in these places are people from the south, working very had to make a living but if are from the North, our embassy will take care of you with local, federal and emirates funding. With all this going on, I don't think I can call myself a Nigerian.
Olatunji Owagboriay

General Abubakar, the new Head of State, should resign immediately and Gen. Babangida, must be locked up for causing the Nigerian political problems. Nigeria's political future is doomed to fail. The Northern people kill to rule. Lebanese residents in Nigeria are advised to leave and stop planning to kill the Jews with Nigerian oil money. God bless the Jews. Americans should stop playing games in Nigerian politics.
Tony Sule

At this period of profound national grief for all Nigerians, our thoughts and prayers must be for the departed souls of Chief MKO Abiola, his late wife Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and ALL the members of their family left behind. We must also remember and pray for the numerous martyrs in the struggle to Free Nigeria from the stranglehold of despotism and oligarchy. From well-known names like late PA Alfred Rewane, Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 9, Gen Shehu Y'Ardua to the less well-known numerous Nigerians who were shot on the streets in cold blood or died in police detention unsung and perhaps unmourned. (Famuyiwa) June 12 is apparently closed, but the struggle for democracy, human rights and justice continues. Abiola, Abacha, or Yaradua's death is one thing and pushing Nigeria to democracy is another. All we want is to keep the Juntas out of Aso Rock. The current crisis will not stop any of the movement go on in Nigeria or abroad. The Free Nigeria Movement, March on Washington for Free Nigeria will still go on. All we want is to stop America form supporting the Nigerian Junta government because of Oil. See you in Washington on Monday, July 27th, 1998

The future of Nigeria has always hung on a balance. The social upheavals of recent days only accentuate the fragility of our country. Incidentally, the current rise in tension run against recent improvement in the general mood of the whole country which, given the death of Abacha, was expected to improve. The violent reaction of a section of the Nigeria society over the suspicious death of one of our own and the sudden shift of the country's prospect towards cataclysm, only reinforces the need for wisdom among our leaders. The future of the country could well depend on this spiritual virtue. My perception is that the way the Yorubas have been treated of late suggests a deliberate attempt to humiliate and marginalize them. Even I, an Ibo, feel their pain as a people. I have been there. The way forward is for the current leadership of our nation to reestablish some credibility. It must show understanding of the grief of the Yorubas and reach out to them in a direct and profound way.
Mansim Okafor, Nigeria

If indeed Abiola died of natural causes, then we should be expecting more deaths because I can sense the hands of the Almighty hovering over Nigeria. He is about to give us a clean slate. But there is a price to be paid. Abacha and Abiola are part of the price. The innocent blood shed since 1993 are also part of it. There is no redemption without shedding of blood. In the absence of a civil war, some people have to pay the ultimate penalty to pave the way for a new era. Ken Saro Wiwa, Abacha, Yar'Adua and Abiola are among the few who have willingly or unwillingly offered their lives. And more are yet to come. The next few months will continue to be trying and difficult to predict. But one thing is sure: Nigeria will definitely not enter into the next millennium under the present confusion, social disorder, degradation and unpopular system of military government. I can see better days ahead. Behold! It's not far.
Ebenezer Ajayi, Nigeria Resident, California, USA

We do not believe that the issue is either democracy or military leadership. The situation calls for a constitutional compromise among the people and a decisive and patriotic military/civilian leadership. In any case, the chances of a civil war appear to be far removed because Nigerians are as yet unclear as to what the real solution is. What will we be fighting for?
Folake Fabunmi and Dozie Obele, Washington DC

As a concerned Nigerian, I think that the country is at a critical juncture in its quest for democracy. The nation will either make a clean break from military rule or find itself in another civil war. The outcome of the autopsy on Chief M. K. O. Abiola is critical to where we go from here. If it turns out that Chief Abiola died of natural causes, that puts an end to the issue of June 12. Then the country can make a fresh start in its stated goal of making Nigeria a true Democratic nation. For over 38 years the country has lived below its potential. We must claim our rightful place among the free world now or never.
Gloria Anionwu, Nigeria

It is a shame that after 38 years of independence, Nigeria is still going through this mess. Whatever happened to Abiola should be investigated in the interest of unity. Maybe it is time for the three regions, North, South and East find a better solution and just be their own countries. Enough is enough.
Jide Owoeye, USA

May the soul of Moshood Abiola rest in perfect peace. I plead to all Nigerians at home to be calm and not go on a rampage. Rioting will not solve the problem but will add to it. We should all come together as a nation to move this great nation ahead. We should not accuse anybody of Abiola's death until the autopsy result is out.
The government of Major General Abubakar has been moving in the right direction since he came to power, so let all of us help him to make the return to civil rule a reality. The military should not take all the blame, civilians both men and women who have been profiting under military rule all these years should also bear some of the blame. Many civilians who would not have had thousands in their bank accounts are today millionaires.
I implore the new leadership to make use of well-meaning Nigerians who really want to see Nigeria be a great nation once again. Many of us are ready to help in any little way we can. Please, my brothers and sisters, let's be calm. The whole world is watching to see if we will destroy our great nation. The time has come for a month of national prayers and fasting for God to intervene for us and help us make the right decisions for peace and unity in the country.
Philomena Desmond, Washington, DC

I am very disappointed that my beloved country Nigeria, with all our intellectuals and hardworking people, cannot forge a political process that can manage our people and build our nation. I am not advocating a preference for a novel military or civilian leadership. I have seen both forms of government in Nigeria and so I am not particularly excited by dramatic political or leadership shifts. I am advocating a leadership that is conscious and serious about the development of the country (our schools, hospitals, roads, agriculture, telecommunication system, transportation, water and power). Nigerians will take care of the rest. Europeans and Americans built their nations and Nigerians should build Nigeria. It requires commitment and love for the country rather than relentless quest or adherence to political power. Nigerians are smart, hardworking and knowledgeable.
However, we have not been blessed with a leadership that plans (with commitment) for the greatness of our nation, which will make us utilise our human and material resources to build the country. It is obvious that with all these problems our leaderships will be preoccupied with consolidating power and fending off oppositions rather than focusing on building and developing our country. Please, let us focus on maintaining unity and developing Nigeria. We are a great people.
Dr Joseph U Igietseme, Atlanta, USA

It is apparent from problems seen in the rest of the world that it is difficult to have a unitary government in a multi ethnic country. Therefore the United Nations should intervene and see that Nigeria is divided into three separate and autonomic states for the Yorubas, the Hausas and the Ibos. No doubt there are many other minor ethnic groups, but eventually they would be satisfied with this arrangement. I have lived in Nigeria for eight years and am very much aware of the country's political, cultural and socio-economical problems.
It is a rich country with hard working and intelligent people. It is my prediction that if this country is not divided into the above-mentioned three regions, it will be forever ruled by a dictatorial government, with lots of bloodshed and the economy grinding to a halt.
Ponniah Thangarajah, Los Angeles, Ca, USA

Please bear in mind as you read that all the writers in this forum, judging from their names at least, come from southern Nigeria (mostly the Yoruba homeland). As usual, we seldom hear from the northerners, particularly the Hausawa, although they constitute not only the largest ethnic group in Nigeria, but the whole of black Africa.
Logically, therefore, the views expressed here cannot be said to be the typical views of the average Nigerian, but rather the views of some frustrated elements of southwestern Nigeria. This explains the Hausawa/northerner-bashing that dominates the forum. I would like to comment on the ill-fated June 12th resolution.
What is the future of the resolution of the June 12, 1993 issue, for which so much has been fought? If this struggle is truly genuine, we would like to see more pressure from democracy activists now that Abiola is dead. If the struggle is truly sincere (not sectional), the so-called pro-democracy movements should seek the resolution of June 12th by asking the government to hand over power to Abiola's running mate, Babagana Kingibe. But you can bet this will not happen, simply because Mr Kingibe is from the north and a Muslim. Which goes to show that all this hulabaloo about June 12th is just an expression of southern frustrations. Democratic principles require firmness, fairness, and consistency; no double standards. But remember, too, that a lot of people have fattened their pockets in this bid.
Dr Ismail Iro, Washington DC, USA

It is truly lamentable that Chief Abiola should die in custody. Much as I disagreed with his politics, the man did not deserve to die in these circumstances. Like any free man, he and his followers had every right to insist on their beliefs, even if such beliefs may be flawed. If Nigeria is to mature as a viable, credible democracy, differing views and positions must each find accommodation and be resolved through reasonable dialogue. The military dictatorship that denied this well-respected man his freedom and kept him away from his family and friends for so long did not do Nigeria any favours. Indeed Abiola symbolises why the military has no business in Nigeria's government. Enough is enough, and all roads should now lead back to the barracks for our men in uniform.
It is no secret that Abiola did not come into Nigerian politics with clean hands, given his alleged role in unfulfilled ITT telephone contracts and alliances with the military. It is also true that he personally mishandled the matter of his presumed election which was annulled by his friend, General Babangida. Notwithstanding, he did not deserve the long detention or to die in custody. This should serve as a great lesson for all Nigerians. If we are to have a country that is worth anything, discipline (including respect for public wealth), respect and equality for all have to be the yardstick. Nigeria cannot survive being treated like the separate property of a section of the country because they dominate the military. Besides it is not necessary to do that because, when you really think about it, no Nigerian poses any significant danger to the other, and there is enough wealth to go around; it just needs to be spread to all corners, as should the leadership.
Recent events in Nigeria are, in some ways, baffling. Notice that Abiola's passing occurred barely 30 days after that of Abacha and as his release was believed imminent. The presence of the American delegation at the time of his reported heart attack and the results of an autopsy, when available, will be the only things to neutralise an incensed suspicion of foul play.
The bottom line, I believe, is that Nigerians must heed the message. Maybe God is giving us a chance to get our house in order. Abubakar cannot ignore this warning either. The next time Nigeria tips over, I'm afraid it is heading straight for the precipice. May Chief Abiola's soul rest in perfect peace.
Ken Okorie, Houston, Texas, USA

Those with small powerbases will say divide, those with bigger bellies will say unity, those in the current parties will say continue with the same parties, others and outsiders will say scrap those and form new ones, some will say continue with the military for a little more time etc, etc. We will hear lots of jazz and hot air.
You know who we will never hear? The common man or woman of Nigeria!
Because 99 millon common persons have been fooled into complete slavery and impotence by a small group of our tribalistic hausa, ibo, yoruba, and even minority "elders".
Bandits all, both present and past ministers, governors, commissioners, old brigade politicians, soldiers etc whose sole purpose in life is the pursuit of personal gains above prosperity for future generations of Nigerians. Individuals who, despite their Harvard and Cambridge experiences are incapable of learning from and emulating the rest of the world's fast advancing technological development.
Hamza. Mississippi, USA

In understanding what engendered Chief Abiola's death, we need to ask ourselves the essential question of who is going to profit by his death.
Abubakar and his cohorts stand to gain by both men's deaths. The US delegates who quickly declared there was no foul play without an autopsy, do not want any situation that would trammel the flow of cheap oil into the United States.
I believe the military government in Nigeria will actually allow the unrest that has engulfed the nation to fester before quelling it.
Over five hundred people were killed at the inchoate stage of the June 12 imbroglio. Abacha, who gave the order, liked to credit himself with saving Nigeria from collapse. The junta likes to prove that only the military can keep the country together. I certainly will not be surprised if military rule continues for the next five years in Nigeria...that is, if there is still any country called Nigeria by then.
Tunde Olusesi, USA

The death of Chief Abiola threatens the foundation of Nigeria as a nation. It is likely to spark reactions better imagined than experienced. But it might be too late by the time the military and the international community pick up the pieces.
This singular event may completely erode the the unity of Nigeria which is, by itself, very fragile. The pro-democracy groups have all along drawn attention to this to no avail. The events in Lagos and other cities in the South West since the announcement of his death is what the pro-democracy groups had feared all along.
Whatever the cause of Abiola's death, the Nigerian military cannot absolve itself of blame. For years, the Nigerian pro-democracy movement has drawn attention to his failing heart. The military ignored those calls and continued to keep him in solitary confinement. Thus even if it is true that he died from a natural cause, it is not unrelated to the neglect by the military. There is a parallel in the manner of his death and that of Yar'ardua who dead in detention in similar circumstances.
The death of Abiola is also a slap in the face of American diplomacy and the entire international community. For years, the US and the international community ignored the call by the pro-democracy movement to impose oil sanctions on Nigeria. Instead cosmetic sanctions were imposed as the international community, especially the US, Britain and Netherlands, preferred procuring Nigerian oil to acting to promote democracy and human rights.
With the death of Abiola, it has becomes imperative that the international community must now pressurise the military to hand over power to an Interim National Government. Any extra day the military remains in power spells disaster for Nigeria. The only way forward for Nigeria is:
1. Immediate constitution of an Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU),
2.The IGNU's major task is to organize a Sovereign National Conference as a platform for Nigerians from all sections to discuss and proffer solutions to the problems of the Nigerian body politic. Thereafter the IGNU should organize a democratic election.
These are the issues that the international community should support rather than be obsessed with the holding of elections. Any election held by the military and without the problems confronting Nigeria as a nation being addressed through a sovereign national conference will be postponing the evil day.
Emma Edigheji, Trondheim Norway

It is time that the military went back to the barracks and allow the nation to be run democratically. Everyone is tired of the tyranny, violence and corruption. We must know the real cause of Abiola's death and fast. Hasn't enough blood been shed? With regards to Nigeria's future, this is indeed a turning point. One cannot predict what is going to happen. One thing we do know is that the entire nation is angry and expectant at the same time. I pray that it will be bloodless.
Remi Asekun, London, England

There is nothing called Nigeria, why do we keep fooling ourselves? It's time we all go our different ways. There was never any trust and there can never be any after this. The so-called northerners are just holding everybody back. Our ways of life are different; we all have different goal as human beings. Enough is enough. If this separation is not achieved peacefully it will be achieved forcefully.
Olufemi Sanni, Canada

Abacha's death not only offered us an opportunity to reverse five years of misrule, mismanagement and idiosyncrasy, but it also gave the military a chance to relinquish power and return Nigeria to true democracy. Abiola's death has left us confused, and somewhat bewildered, but the military still has the opportunity to do the right thing.
So what should we do now? We would be naïve to think that simply because two of the principal actors of the 1993 "confusion", Abacha and Abiola, have passed away, that the problem has been removed or is less daunting, and that we can now proceed easily into the future. No, Abacha and Abiola may have in someway symbolized the problem with Nigeria, but by themselves they did not represent the problem and the solution.
Nigeria remains bonded by the closeness and similarity of the cultures and traditions of tribes and people that make up our country. But today, Nigeria still remains divided by the same issues that caused disagreements in parliaments during the first republic, the same issues that first brought the military into governance, the same issues that precipitated the civil war of 1967.
We have yet to seriously and openly address these issues, and if we hope to ever move forward as nation, we must address these issues.
One way that has been suggested is to form a government of national unity, invoke a sovereign national conference, and discuss our past, present and future as a nation, as different tribes, peoples and cultures and as people with different religious biases.

1993 was our third try at democracy, and we failed partly because of inadequate planning, and partly because of unfair planning. We must plan properly for the fourth republic. As the saying goes "The King is dead, long live the king".
Isang Ukpong, USA

While I very much lament Abiola's untimely demise, I think Nigeria should make haste in taking democratic progress. His death unencumbers the nation from a potentially painful resolution of the June 12 problem. Abiola, in spite of his past inadequacies became a symbol for democracy in Nigeria. The greatest legacy he can leave is that of a nation using the opportunity of his death in a positive manner.
Ade Alao, UK

We flatly reject the position of the government of Nigeria that its medical officers will perform the autopsy in the presence of his Doctor and family. They should not have anything to do with it when they are possibly connected with his death.
There are no compelling religious and cultural reasons for his body to be buried immediately because among his Yoruba nationality there is a tradition of not burying important people immediately. So there is plenty of time to perform the autopsy.
It is no exaggeration to say that the much-tested foundation of Nigeria as one geo-political unit is now in tatters. There is a faint chance that the situation could still be salvaged. However it requires great courage, patriotism and sense of purpose on the part of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria. The military is no longer part of the solution; it is central to the problem therefore:
· The military must immediately abdicate and surrender power to a government of national unity based on a restoration of all elected institutions from Local government to the Federal level on the basis of the third republic constitution.
· The convening of a Sovereign National Conference of all spectrum of political and social forces in the country to decide on the future of Nigeria. They need to decide on whether they wish to continue to remain Nigerians and on what terms.
As an organisation we believe that in spite of all these challenges, we are still better off as one country but the basis of that association needs to be renegotiated and agreed upon by all Nigerians in equality and freedom.
Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, UK

Nigeria is very much at its crossroads. The possibility of ethnic tension and the eventual break-up of the country should not be taken for granted. The Nigerian military has finally made this a reality.
Archie Adeosijo

One thing is clear now, the death of Abiola has made him a martyr for democracy in Nigeria. Prior to his death, many people were supporting his course not because they liked him as a person but because they were fed up with the "vagabonds in power." Abiola became a symbol of what many Nigerians are yearning for -democracy. His name has now been immortalized for resisting the oligarchy and their whims and caprices. Alas, he was their friend yet they got him under their military jackboot. Nevertheless, Abiola died for what he believed in, the principle that must now be carried on by peace loving Nigerians. We must make Nigeria a country that all citizens are proud of not a country where some people are second class citizens.
Chuks Egbune, JD USA

Abiola's heart attack stinks of foul play. I believe a confederation of 4 main regions may be the solution for Nigeria's power tussle between the tribes. We could have the Hausas, Yorubas, Ibos and the Delta Area tribes rule themselves with just a common defence ministry. And only Defence!!!!
Adeola (lives in Houston), Nigeria

Nothing short of a people's revolution will bring peace to the Niger region.
Uche Chukwudi, USA

To Nigerians, October 1998 is like the year 2000. As Nigerians approach the date, October 1998, the supposed date for a hand-over to civilian rule, strange events take place. Just last month, the former military leader died in office; the first Nigerian leader to have died in office through "natural" causes. It is ironic that Abacha's prisoner Abiola, died exactly one month after the dictator's death through the same "natural" causes. It is even more ironic that he died just as his release was in sight.
Abiola's death is a confirmation that Nigeria will not see democracy, at least not in this century. How can democracy be possible in Nigeria when the Hausas think that it is their birthright to rule Nigeria? Under democratic elections, they fear they will lose this right. A democratic election will succeed in producing a southern president and the Hausas would rather go to war than have that.
The only hope for Nigeria is a strong international intervention. The time for talk is over and the time for action from the international community is now. Any further delay will result in bloodshed. Nigerians are intelligent, patient people but this patience is wearing thin. However, there is still hope. Abiola can be made immortal through an honest effort by the military to hand over. The military signifies the North. They have ruled Nigeria for more than 30 years and all they have to show for it is bloodshed and more bloodshed. A military that cannot boast of taking part in any international war but rather is at war with the civilians that it governs. Enough is enough.
CO Iroegbu, UK

The death of Abiola is likely to further Nigeria's political disintegration and polarise the country. Although Abiola's release would not have resolved the deep political divide that now plagues the country, he gave hope to those yearning for an end to military rule.
I take issue with the United States Government and the rest of the international community who are currently pinning their hopes on Abubakar. Abubakar's rise to power is deeply suspicious. It's a ploy the military is employing in order to justify a future coup. The state of Nigeria's politics makes it highly unlikely the military will give up power any time soon. The civilian population is highly demoralised and the economy is in chaos. Nigeria has no known democrats and civilian political institutions have all but disappeared. The political future of Nigeria is bleak. There is no immediate remedy for the political decay successive military regimes have brought on Nigeria.
Dr Max Hilaire, US

The Nigerian people must put all rhetoric aside and face reality. The tyrants will not go away unless you make them. No amount of negotiation will take them out. A lot has been said along ethnic lines. I must say it's time for Nigerians to wake up. The ethnic card has been played for too long. They should be able to see through it by now. If you go through the list of political prisoners you will find Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Ibibio, Calabari, Edo, Nupe and just about every ethnic group in Nigeria. The tyrants also include people from all ethnic groups. The rioting in Lagos shows that a lot of people still subscribe to that ethnic doctrine.
The real enemy is the flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights by a few Nigerians and the reluctance of the people to confront the ruling mob. All efforts to ensure that the people control their own destiny must come from the people. No foreign nation will spearhead the resistance movement. That is the people's job. Ordinary Nigerians of all ethnicities have lived together in peace. They know that a united country based on the principles of equality and justice is the best way to go. I strongly believe that in the end the will of the people will prevail. In the meantime Nigerians should not be deceived, the road will be rough.
Uche, United States

General Yar'Adua once said that the military cannot be the custodian of democracy in Nigeria. The former military leader, Sani Abacha, put in place a transition programme that was based solely on his self-succession bid and backed by a Hausa-Fulani oligarchy. For Nigeria to have a credible and meaningful democracy, no transition programme should be conceived and directed by the military. This task must be left entirely to the politicians, and this calls for the formation of a government of national unity to work out a viable political option for Nigeria. However, in view of the magnitude of the corruption and total breakdown of law and order in Nigeria, I sincerely believe that the military has an important role to play in the task of leading Nigeria back to the community of civilised nations. Without in any way influencing the envisaged political debate, the military should act as a neutral watchdog over corrupt politicians. In a word, they should stand around to clean up the huge mess they have created.
Dr Nicholas Ibeawuchi Omenka, Denmark

I am surprised that President Clinton felt that the death of Abiola was not connected to any foul play, probably because the delegation of the United States was made to see that Abiola fell ill in their presence.
The question is what happened to Abiola before the discussion started? Which treatment was he subjected to? What was contained in the drugs he was given in the last few days? Foreign medical experts should be allowed to find out the cause of his death.
Dr Oliver Adesioye, Nigerian based in Germany

The disease with Nigeria is tribalism; a complete eradication of ethnic differences and hates is the sole solution to Nigerian disaster. When the Yoruba stop hating and disrespecting the northern Hausas, the Hausas the Yorubas, the Yorubas stopped eating up the Ibos and discriminating against all non-locale, a kind of peace and progress might be on the horizon.
The northerners are not noisemakers: General Yar'adua died in Abacha's detention, northerners are the only beggars in Nigeria, President Shagari was deposed from power, etc. Did any of the southern so-called democrats ever take notice of these events? Nigerians should call a spade a spade and look at the reality of the situation. I propose a confederation for Nigeria with a small centre; everybody should stay where he belongs. We have a situation now where the majority of government employees are from the West.
MM Sugungun, PhD, Moscow, Russia

The death of Abiola is a sign that Nigeria will indeed move forward. The stage is now set for Nigeria to close the chapter of Abiola and his "expired" mandate. It was unfortunate though that he died. However, if care is not taken, the country could be plunged into unnecessary chaos. Whatever happens, Nigeria will survive the tragedy of Abiola's death and will become a formidable nation once again. General Abubarkar and his junta must take this unfortunate opportunity to bring Nigerians together and move swiftly to return the nation to democracy. Extending the process of transition to civil rule MUST NOT EXCEED 3 MONTHS. Nigerians do not need 12 months of extension again. We are simply tired of the military. Let the military junta know that there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world. Even the United States democracy is not perfect. Nigeria needs to start somewhere. Enough is enough!
Kunle Ajala, Denver, Colorado, USA

Abiola's death came to me as a rude shock. With Abacha's death, I thought the worst was over for Nigeria. Abiola and June 12 became the rallying points for the pro-democracy struggle in Nigeria. The military realised this and decided to move fast to scupper the people's mandate forever. A tremendous blunder has been committed as Nigerians will rise up as one against this great act of injustice. Talking about the future of Nigeria is a sheer waste of time. The various nations that make up Nigeria should be allowed to go their separate ways. I see no other solution.
Tony Eguavoen, USA

The sudden death of chief MKO Abiola was an irreparable loss to Nigeria as a whole. Our prayers and condolences go to his family. I employ all Nigerian citizens to give our new leader, General Abdulsalem Abubakar, full support for a peaceful transition to a democratic government. God bless Nigeria.
Michael S Abitogun, USA

I believe this is the time for well-meaning Nigerians to forget the past and move their country forward to a prosperous year 2000 and beyond. The parties to the disagreements must come to terms with the fact that the health of the nation cannot be equated to the health of any individual, whatever his/her public standing. Abacha or not, Nigeria must stay on and Abiola or not, viva Nigeria. Political compromise is the NEW WORLD ORDER. The world is watching.
Kalilu I Totangi, USA

I agree with what Lotchi Dagbo of the USA said: "Nigerians now have to think about themselves as there is no saviour coming to get them out of this mess." I think the only way to end up being a democratic country is for the people to take the initiative. Situations like this can be an opportunity to make progress towards democracy.
Martin Kellerman, UK

The future of Nigeria couldn't be more rosy. The oligarchy in London and Washington forever hoping to take advantage of instability in Nigeria will probably get a better chance at predicting the weather than see their petty wishes come true. The fundamentals of Nigeria are intact, and it will be proven that western predictions for the demise of Nigeria is greatly exaggerated.
Chief MKO Abiola was a nationalist who loved his country until the manipulators of Africa discovered him as a tool to project their schemes of world domination. Now those who rejoiced when the greatest leader of Africa, General Sani Abacha, passed away last month, can now see that it is foolish to thumb one's nose at the forces of nature because they are beyond the control of man. There's also a lesson in this for the arrogant imperial powers in the West that want to run the whole world: Quit trying to control the outcome of events in Africa; the forces of uncertainty are bigger than your little schemes.
K Nweke, Los Angeles, CA

Abiola's death is surely a sad event and I send my condolences to his children and the rest of his family. As a Nigerian, and a fellow Yoruba at that, my hope is that his death is part of the events yet to come that will move Nigeria forward to a truly democratic, prosperous, and peaceful nation.
Let's face it, Abiola was part of the vanguard of the old order. His colleagues in the northern oligarchy and their hangers-on in the South, need to go with him. Only then will this country of immense natural and human resources become a nation which will provide its children with the ability to reach their potential and its people with freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Aiyemobola Tanimola, Canada

I am saddened to read of the untimely death of Chief Abiola. I have always known that the military government would not convict him of the treason charges. To prove the case, the government would have to prove that he did not WIN the elections of June 12, 1993. Of course, that would entail releasing the entire results to prove the case!
Abiola has died. But the cause for which he stood, democracy, remains to be achieved. He will have died in vain if, in six months' time, we do not have a credible democratic government. I hope the military government understands the gravity of the situation. The days of military adventurism in Nigeria are numbered. The only credible thing for the military government to do now is to release all prisoners jailed by the ABACHA tyrannical regime. Any hesitation will have dire consequences for the entire Nigerian nation. The endless cycle of death and violence must STOP NOW, not tomorrow.
Mku Ityokumbul, USA

It is absolutely shocking that the western governments have dithered for five years in the face of the Nigerian military regime's naked assault on its citizens' civil rights. Now that the presumed winner of the 1993 elections is dead one day before his expected release, the western leaders must all be rubbing their hands with glee, since he will no longer be demanding that the wrongs of five years ago be righted.
It is bad enough that so many regimes around the world have been holding successfully rigged elections for decades. But it is absolutely intolerable when a military regime does not even bother to rig an election and nullifies it when it doesn't like its outcome, as has happened within the past ten years in Nigeria, Algeria and Burma. The "international community" should have punished these three much more severely than it has dared to.
Pasquale G Tato, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

It is hard for anyone to accurately predict the future of a nation or anyone for that matter. However, one thing is sure about Nigeria as there will be darkness at the end of each day. The end to Nigeria's problems is not in sight. The country is too divided for any analyst to be optimistic about Nigeria's future. No one in Nigeria has attempted to solve Nigeria's problems. The status quo is too comfortable for those who wield political power to venture into the unknown for better or for worse. The major tribes are too arrogant, for lack of a better word, to recognise that the country belongs to all. It is only with the vision of a Nigeria for all Nigerians that some progress will be made. On the other hand, Nigerians are too optimistic; an optimism that is built on a weak foundation and not backed actions that will bring about a better Nigeria for future generations. Until Nigerians from all tribes participate in building one nation for all the future will remain bleak. "Heaven has helped Nigeria, but Nigeria has not helped herself."
David Ogula, New York

To predict the future of Nigeria in these circumstances would be like any attempt one would have made to predict the life spans of both Abacha and Abiola a few months ago.
Strange things happen at strange times. But I think Abdulsalam Abubakar, who was rushing to stabilise the situation in the country, will be one of the most disappointed of people. I write as a Ghanaian who obviously has great interest in our brotherly country, Nigeria, but I would not hesitate to point out that the mess in Nigeria and the potentially dangerous situation unfolding is a shame to the military establish in Africa. Turning potentially rich countries into poor beggars!
Adam Abugri, Texas, USA

It is my considered opinion that the untimely death of Chief Abiola will be considered by many Nigerians, as well as observers abroad, as just too convenient. The already considerable cynicism of the people will only be increased, even if it is proven that the death was natural. There is no doubt that the political instability in Nigeria is increased by this untimely event, both in the short and the long run.
Scott Bidstrup Perris, CA, USA

Nigeria is now at its lowest ebb. This is a man that won the fairest and freest election the country ever had. He was denied the presidency mainly due to his ethnic origin. This sad death of President Abiola may mark the end of Nigeria as the geographical expression we know it to be.
Adedeji Adebayo, Nigerian resident in USA

MKO Abiola now belongs to history. We need to be thankful for the short while MKO was with us. Life must go on. Nigeria must take its rightful place in the community of nations.
Ganiu G Alabi, Alabama, USA

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