By Philip Agbese
I was very hesitant replying the tweeted blackmailing diatribes on my personage on social media. They were masterminded mainly by one pseudo-activist, Omoyele Sowore and Deji Adeyanju who shares bemusing activism instincts with the first.
But after deep reflections over it in the course of the night, I decided to pen a response because the Englishman echoes in a maxim that silence means acquiesce to any propaganda reeled out on someone. So, I won’t quietly dignify their spite and hateful lies on me. Moreover, a lot of people who are not acquainted with my philosophy may gulp their tissues of assumptive thoughts as true.
Back to the kernel of the matter. The duo have accused me of being sponsored by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and the Chief of Army Staff and leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, my most admirable Nigerian in recent times of being commissioned to spearhead the campaign against the expulsion of Amnesty International (AI) in Nigeria. AI is a foreign-based human rights organization operating in several countries of the world, including Nigeria, my beloved country.
Undoubtedly, the declaration of the duo is borne out of an over-bloated ego to hit at those they assume have affinities with these two venerable leaders of Nigeria they hate so much for reasons best known. They may have genuinely expressed their thoughts, or merely exercised artificial activism impulse, or are even mercantile politicians who have absolute conviction in the continuous disordered nature of our country. I believe the latter seems high on the table.
I am not unaware that a handful of unpatriotic Nigerians, backed by foreign destructive forces place personal interests ahead of that of our beloved country, Nigeria. To assert that such people are unpatriotic is same as casting the dais too far or putting the cart before the horse. Unfortunately, I see Sowore, Adeyanju and many others in such illumination. I beg to be spared the nightmare.
Quickly however, let me scratchily replay my background to Sowore, Adeyanju and indeed, my beloved compatriots in Nigeria. I am a proud Prince from Agilaland, Ado Local Government Area of Benue state, Northern Nigeria. I was born and started life in my obscure village. But I had the rare privilege of having caring and responsible parents who were extremely keen about western education for their children. They sent me to school!
So, very early, my parents exposed me to the quest for knowledge outside my immediate vicinity to avail me the platform to mix, culturize and socialize with other Nigerians outside the confines and comfort of ethnicity and village life. And I immensely benefitted from it.
Each time I picked my ark of Noah box to resume back to school at Federal Government College, Ugwolawo in Kogi state, my father won’t mind to howl at the driver to a halt because he forgot to tell me these words-“love, respect everyone, abide by the truth, don’t fight anybody, be loyal to your friends and be patriotic always.” He must drum it into my ears over a hundred times, again and again!
I grew up with this counsel, which resonates even unconsciously in my psyche and actions. It serves as guiding principles ever since. I have friends all over Nigeria and beyond. Even as an adult now and in spite of our fault lines as a people, I still cherish the cord of fraternity immensely, acknowledge and hard work. I have been taught and grown up to cherish the virtues of love, respect for elders and hard work anywhere I find myself. No desire on earth can compel me to do otherwise.
Anyway, let me address the Sowores and the Adeyanjus properly now. I am one of the numerous Nigerians that are ever proud of the Nigerian Army under the focused leadership of Gen. Buratai. The achievements of the COAS as the overseer of the war against Boko Haram insurgents and ISWAP terrorists in Nigeria, in my estimation, should attract his worship like a demigod or the apparition of an angel by all.
I have lived long enough to understand what happens in my country. I knew what Boko Haram caused Nigeria before President Muhammadu Buhari became President of this country and appointed Gen. Buratai to lead the counter-terrorism war in the country. I have felt and relished the impact of the counter-insurgency operations under Gen. Buratai. No partisanship can blur this reality from me. It is borne out of personal conviction over time and keen observation of his unquantifiable sacrifices and achievements that brought the much needed peace and security in the North East.
Many of us, including yours sincerely, by providence survived the horrors of bomb blasts in Abuja and elsewhere in the North. Hey! The dangers, risks and psychological tortures that we went through in the hands of Boko Haram are gory memories unworthy of recollections. I pray we should not reverse back to such frustrating degeneration on insecurity anymore, with the gains on our hands. Any dispassionate Nigerian would attest to the difference now and then!
At the risk of flattery, Gen. Buratai has brought respite to us as a people against Boko Haram insurgency in spite of challenging and difficult circumstances. I see in him a defiant spirit of a soldier horned to succeed on any given assignment. Sowore is pretty aware the number of times the insurgents have tried to kill Gen. Buratai himself. But he has remained undeterred and resilient. Rather, he is more determined and sleeping in the trenches with his troops to ensure that all of us have a peaceful night rest, including him who now either sneak in or out of Abuja to make such amusing jarring noise on Nigeria’s leadership.
By nature, I hate deliberate persecution of anybody in the pretext of politics. With due respect to Deji Adeyanju and his cohorts , I never heard their voices when Boko Haram peaked under the preceding administration in Nigeria. Frankly, I therefore need no personal relationship with President Buhari or Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, to express my opinion in favour of his stewardship at any point in time. I feel the impact personally.
In fact, the latest vituperations from Sowore and his minions would now encourage me to seek ways to reach out to these great Nigerian leaders. I think that’s what all of them wish to hear. I am therefore looking forward to an opportunity to meet with Gen. Buratai anytime soon.
However, I am not one of those publishers who will send out my reporters or go to solicit for help from anyone because I support the Nigerian Army or President Buhari’s government. I do it very honestly and from the bottom of my heart. I will never do it for all it takes in the name of the Almighty God I worship.
Perhaps, you need to know my political personage deeper. I am an ardent believer in President Muhammadu Buhari and not shy about it. And I have gone further to write a book on him which chronicled major events in his first term as our President. Yes, I published and launched the book in Abuja, sometime last year. As innately with me, the book was not the usual praise-singing or sycophantic stuff on Buhari’s administration, which is now the creed and penchant of many Nigerians who pencil down anything on public office holders.
I am a critical thinker and critique. My African traditional religion and Christianity inclination teach me good conscience. So, I don’t belong to the herds who inherit the hatred of others. Like Femi Adesina adumbrates always, I cannot emulate someone’s hate for another person.
Therefore, the launch of the book on President Buhari didn’t attract the usual fanfare peculiar with such events in our country for reasons of my objectiveness. That hasn’t in any way deterred me in pursuing my convictions on President Buhari or Gen. Buratai or even diverted my attention from seeking to see a better Nigeria, my country. It will not restrain me from proclaiming my belief in the administration and no group of persons or individuals can change it as far as my learning and exposure are concerned.
These ideologies are deeply rooted wittingly or unwittingly in my writings in the freest expression of fundamental rights as a proud citizen of Nigeria. I have no apology to anyone, least of all, the assemblage of attack dogs on my person. And it is also an established fact that I have a right to associate with any person or groups of persons within or outside the country. That same rights do not extend to associating with those whose lifestyles and convictions do not blend with mine.
I want to make it emphatically and abundantly clear that Amnesty International (AI) is one of such groups, I hate and choose not to associate with, irrespective of how much money they offer. Not even on my grave! Times without number, I have been approached to lend my expertise in human rights to AI through fronts or proxies. I always decline.
My consistent position has remained unchangeably that I totally fault AI’s attitude, modus operandi, modus operandi, methodology and ideology in Africa as an NGO concerned with the promotion and promotion of human rights in Nigeria. If I had consented, I would have been part of their congregation conspiring against my own country by now. That will never be and no amount of blackmail or propaganda against my person would change that.
The difference is; I have sworn never to be a party to anything that will negatively affect or destroy my country. My patriotic spirit won’t allow me the liberty of such generous and inglorious indulgence. We all know the malfeasances of AI against Nigeria. I can’t enlist in the deviousness of conspiring with outsiders to build enemy camps against Nigeria.
Let me make a detour slightly and recourse to yesterday’s Boko Haram history in Nigeria again! Do they recall that the United States under the leadership of former President Barrack Obama refused Nigeria’s purchase of weapons or any military hardware and technical support to the country in the fight against Boko Haram because of alleged abuse of human rights of Nigerians in the prosecution of the insurgency in the Northeast? America referenced the prohibitions as contained in the Leahy Act and persuaded other foreign countries to also deprive Nigeria of weapons. The records are there as regards those that masterminded the correspondences that formed the basis of such unfortunate decisions by the US.
President Donald Trump eventually unbanned that embargo under the Buhari Presidency having seen the truth under a new administration in Nigeria. But what led to such declassification and smear campaigns of Nigeria on human rights?
Some indigenous media in Nigeria, obviously hired by enemy foreign forces who are after the destabilization and break-up of Nigeria, aggressively played the false scripts of concocted reports of alleged human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram to allow terrorists triumph over Nigeria. Insurgents had sophisticated weapons to fight us; but Nigeria was deprived of same weapons by these persons.
And Amnesty International amplifies it with all venom. If I should ask, why is AI inordinately interested in the internal affairs of Nigeria? AI has transformed into daily reporters in Nigeria; pushing out news on alleged human rights abuses in a manner compelling the thought on this organization as the opposition mouthpiece in Nigeria. We are an independent nation!
We are all witnessed to how George Floyds protests and riots that rocked United States of America and parts of the world just recently. Did AI drop a word on human rights abuses in America or there was none in the course of the deployment of Federal Forces by President Trump to quell the protests which turned into deadly riots?
I am not a toddler. Therefore, I know several nations of the world as of today that are troubled or afflicted by various conflicts. But it behoves on their citizens to show patriotism by encouraging their leaders to surmount the difficulties or challenges.
I am aware that Sowore’s online publication-Sahara Reporters is funded by foreign organizations. I don’t know the interests and targets of these foreign organizations for funding his publication which exclusively focuses on Nigeria. But I leave it to his judgement of conscience, if he has any. So, everything about Nigeria is bad by his publicized judgment and thinks , it’s possible to brainwash everyone into their fold?
It is true that we are all brothers by the cord of “Nigerianity.” But the elevation of anyone to the position of a demi-god through the instrumentality of the social media is not my calling. I am aware, whenever Sowore visits a public official with his venoms of blackmail, they “shit” in their pants, running amok. Its not part of my thinking as a Nigerian.
But I have discerned the cause of the anger in them now. Only two Nigerians have had the effrontery to call-off Sowore’s bluff-(President Buhari and Gen. Buratai) and, it’s like a nightmare to him. Coincidentally, these two men who don’t care whether Sowore exists are the uncommon war Generals of our time who will not give a penny to anyone to stop press. They are after service to the motherland Nigeria.
The ever-courageous General Muhammadu Buhari and the indefatigable COAS, Gen. Buratai at whose feet the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists tremble and bow will not succumb to their evil machinations and antics.
Assertively, I am reiterating the good news I have for Mr. Sowore and his gods anywhere in the world. I will not bow to their unpatriotic ego within and outside Nigeria. The Almighty God in whom I serve, Oworitso Ad’ Om’Ofo, the one who kept my grandfather as a warrior to defeat the then Biafra soldiers at Agila in 1967, I put my trust forever, for love of our country and humanity
Therefore, it was somewhat infantile for Sowore and Deji Adeyanju to display my numbers on their twitter handles, pleading with Nigerians to call me over the blackmailing stunt on Amnesty International. Gladly, the first 20 persons who called me instantly used the opportunity to read my profile and appreciated me more deeply for standing by my patriotic acts for the country. I was moved to tears. I haven’t seen that kind of reward in serving one’s country since I was born. For that reason, I appreciate Sowore and acolytes for compelling Nigerians to understand me better.
I feel healthier not to belong to the clan of Nigerians recruited by foreign agents and interest groups to destabilize our country; but cannot stand us in an electoral popularity contest. If I contest for the Presidency of Nigeria tomorrow like many of them; Sowore to be specific, I trust God Almighty, my scores would not be as low as 38, 000 votes. It implies that even in Sowore’s home state, he was rejected because of the penchant to disrespect and desecrate the revered palaces of Obas, our royal fathers.
In a presidential election, if I perform so badly to score below one million votes, then I will congratulate the winner and life continues! The morality embedded in me would restrain any action that seeks illegitimate means to dethrone the winner in the guise of street activism.
I am sure by now, Sowore is still unaware that his less than 40,000 votes in the 2019 presidential election under the banner of African Action Congress (AAC), in a population of 200 million persons in Nigeria advertises him as detached from the ideal youths of Nigeria, except hooligans who have an inclination for violence and destructions. So, Sowore’s excited trips to America, Australia, and the UK after he snatched the AAC’s ticket never helped him? In such countries, ideal leaders and not hoodlum look at the pedigree of those seeking political leadership.
Sowore’s recent fatally failed outing to enliven the #EndSARS protests are public testimonies of his steadily waning influence and popularity amongst our focused youths today. An ideal young man should spare time to reflect, rather than cast unnecessary aspersions or midwifing imagery enemies for foreign organization’s with satanic agenda against the country he seeks to govern. I wish I could talk more on Deji Adeyanju who has no known legitimate means of livelihood.
I advise Sowore to stick to his expired #RevolutionNow agenda and revive it when time is ripe, but certainly, not now! I challenge both Sowore and Adeyanju as “good” politicians to pick up the challenge of contesting the presidential election in 2023 and kiss the dust again. For me, Nigeria is my beloved country and I will cherish it forever.
Agbese is a publisher and human rights activist.