Buhari’s missed moment at The Hague

July 23rd, 2018

The current president of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands, is an African. Elected in March for the next three years, till 2021, Justice Chile Eboue-Osuji, who was born at Anara, Imo State, 55 years ago, and also happens to be the first African to occupy that position. This year of his election coincides with the ICC’s 20th anniversary, because it was this month 20 years ago that the Statute of Rome which is the foundation instrument of the International Criminal Court, to which Nigeria is a signatory, was enacted and adopted. Incidentally, during these 20 years, only African leaders have been indicted and jailed by the ICC for various forms of impunity and genocide which their acts of commission and omission have brought about in their respective countries.
It is, therefore, of a great significance that a Nigerian would be superintending over during this ICC’s special milestone.
Justice Eboue-Osuji did not fail to grab at the special occasion for the benefit of his country of birth. The ICC under him, invited President Muhammadu Buhari to deliver a special address and to participate at the special anniversary dinner. There was no doubt that the ICC president had the intention of providing that very international pedestal for Nigeria and its leader to showcase Nigeria’s current and ongoing challenges in the area of human rights and the on-going wanton killings which have astounded the world, and to obviously provide the opportunity for Nigeria to reassure a worried world that it has ideas on how to save the country from relapsing into a killing field and mass cemetery of sorts, which it is unfortunately sliding into, at a time when the bewildered citizens are stupefied by the inability of their government to stem the tide of the wanton killings that are going on unabated in different parts of the country, especially in the central parts of the country, even a the Buhari administration has shown a pitiable incapacity to rein in the orgy of massacres, which have been blamed largely on murderous conflicts between sedentary farmers and largely nomadic Fulani pastoralist herdsmen.
As bodies, especially of hapless women and children have continued to pile up and are shoved into mass graves while the reputedly tough government stands aloof and confused, or at the best, pointing fingers of blame at everything that moves, and even at marauders from Libya and elsewhere, the ICC, just like other international bodies must have been dazed.
Significantly, during the week of the ICC celebrations, envoys of France in Nigeria, obviously acting on superior intelligence, issued statements to the effect that France does not believe that the ongoing wanton killings in Nigeria are being perpetrated by foreigners, thus giving a lie to the facile claim that Nigeria was been assailed by enemies from without its borders.
It was equally during the same week that the ancient Sokoto State, at the Northwest of the country, reputed as the most peaceful part of the country, which had been so far been spared from the wanton killings, had its Rabah Local Government Area was violated with brutal and unprovoked attacks by armed marauders who slaughtered over 40 innocent villagers, having also burnt their houses and rustled their livestock. It was, therefore, during that week of ICC celebrations that that last oasis of peace and stability in Nigeria lost its innocence as it joined Nigeria’s widening lakes of innocent bloodletting.
Not many Nigerians take the allegations of Libyan scapegoats in Nigeria’s killing fields with any seriousness. To most discerning minds, there are hardly any motives for such outside involvements in the ongoing horrendous human rights abuses in Nigeria. To most thinking citizens, the Buhari administration has nobody but itself and the complexion of its governance to hold responsible for the fact that Nigeria has never, since the end of the civil war in 1970, been this divided, as it is now. Never before have the diversities which had given vibrancy and colour to the variegated nation become this exploited as agents of division and hatred.
Never before since the inception of the Buhari administration have Nigerians been at each other’s throats on basis of their ethnic, religious and other forms of differences, as they are now, to the extent that they are becoming incapable of managing basic differences, as they now routinely resort to incestuous blood-letting . To make matters even worse, it is becoming clearer by the minute that the government of the day lacks the capacity to mobilize Nigerians to, in their usual classical ways of the past, manage their differences to the greater glory of the fatherland and to their mutual benefit.
So far, rather than accept the sad reality that Nigeria is falling apart by the day, the government has persisted in excuses and buck-passing while groping for enemies within and without, while blaming the mounting woes of the country on the corrupt elements in the polity, the fight against and eradication of which the government has made its preoccupation, in what appears to be more and more quixotic, as the challenges of the nation lie clearly elsewhere.
Meanwhile, reputable patriots, as well as domestic and international organisations, as well as long-standing friends of Nigeria have continued to point to the horrendous failures in human rights situations as well as the unprecedented divisive policies of government as the potential danger signals. These warnings continue to be repudiated, while organisations like the Amnesty International are being written off as irritants and haters of the nation.
Worse still, the strident warning voices of the generally and widely acknowledged leaders of conscience like the prominent traditional rulers in the hue of the Sultan of Sokoto, leaders of the two main religions in the country, as well as the different civil society organisations, as well as the protestations of the intellectuals have been treated with utter disdain and disregard. The only voices that the government seems to hearken to these days happen to be its own cracked voices whose din seems to be leading the nation deeper and further into self-destruction, measure by the non-abetting loss of innocent lives.
The leaders of the International Criminal Court must have, like other organisations in the world, become alarmed at the trajectory that Nigeria is taking and must have thought that Nigeria could take advantage of this time when one of its sons is presiding over the ICC, to have a rethink and lead its people back from the brink of this precipice towards which its seems to be hurtling at a top speed. To that extent, the invitation of President Buhari last week to The Hague by one of its sons, would have been a very polite and friendly nudge on the shoulder of a respected partner.
But rather than indulge in a deep introspection over the invitation, and by so doing reflect on its ramifications, President Buhari and his aides launched into self-adulation and celebration of how suddenly great Nigeria had become as to have qualified as the sole invitee to ICC’s 20th anniversary. It was a pity that Nigerian leaders did not realise that ICC was sending, through that invitation, to Nigeria, to look over its shoulder and save itself from being the failed state which it was fast becoming.
While Buhari would have used the opportunity to reassure the world that it would accept the gentle reminder and step back from its current destructive scant for human lives and in a true democratic sentiment, mobilize its massive human and natural resources to draw back the country from self-perdition unto which it is currently embarked.
Rather than that, President Buhari at the outings at The Hague, left its burning house to humour himself and bemuse the international community on his quixotic battles against corruption, and even daring want to recruit the ICC on that fight which would appear as laughable to all that listened, as a clear case of a Nero who was fiddling while his country burns.
Incidentally, not every Nigerian is content to forever allow the present government to eternally take the nearly 200 million people down this burning precipice, without uttering a whimper. The ongoing rumbles in the polity, which is starting with mass anger and movements in the political parties and formations in the country, are undoubtedly clear signs that Nigerians will, sooner than later enforce a change in their circumstances in a huge act of self-redemption.
President Buhari still has the chance to effect the change he promised or miss out on yet another opportunity to make history for himself and Nigeria.

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