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Nigeria burning on all fronts…

And what are our politicians doing…pursuing Rats!

Nigeria burning on all fronts! As I write, At least 11 people have been killed in a fresh outbreak of an attack today on a village close to the central Nigerian city of Jos, a region where hundreds have died in sectarian violence this year, state radio said on Wednesday.

While this fire is burning everywhere, Nigerians does not know whether their president is alive or dead.  Mr Yar’Adua was taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia in November and only came back to Nigeria last month. Since his return he has been kept in an ambulance; he is treated only by Saudi doctors and no one outside his wife’s inner circle has seen him, not even the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan.

But what are our politicians doing? Like Emperor Nero that fiddled while Rome Burns, Nigerian Politicians are currently squabbling over two items: over the timetable and primaries for the election expected to produce a successor to President Umaru Yar’Adua next year, and over the contention between Jonathan Goodluck and the Governors over whom to field as their candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections.

To underscore that fact that Nigeria is burning on all fronts, A video posted on a militant Web site calls for Muslims in Nigeria to use “the sword and the spear” to rise up against Christians in Africa’s most populous nation, according to a translation released Tuesday by a U.S. group that monitors militant sites.

The video on the Ansar al-Mujahideen forum, a Web site sympathetic to al-Qaida, comes in the wake of a series of religious massacres and riots in central Nigeria.

The video shows television news footage and graphic images of those killed as a narrator tells viewers “the solution is jihad in the cause of Allah,” according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Yesterday, The Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for the Explosions that today rocked a government building in Warri, Delta State venue of an amnesty talks minutes after militants issued a bomb threat. 6 people died and 30 injured at a meeting that had three state governors in attendance. MEND said its operatives planted three bombs at the venue.

The release of the 10-minute video comes after more than 200 people — mostly Christians — died last week in massacres in villages outside of the central Nigerian city of Jos. More than 300 people — mostly Muslims — died in January during rioting in the same region.

In the midst of the hue and cry attending the Jos Horror where mostly women and children were butchered in the middle of the night. Youths under the banner; Enough is Enough gate-crashed the National Assembly in protest at the state of the nation. That did not stop the Independent National Electoral Commission officials from announcing a time-table that brings Nigeria’s 2011election three months earlier than scheduled.

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu, released the time table for the 2011 general elections today in Abuja.

Even outsiders are intervening.

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi today canvassed that Nigeria should be split in two!Gadhafi said nothing would stop Nigeria’s ethnic violence except splitting the nation into Muslim and Christian states, Libya’s official news agency reported Tuesday.

Gadhafi told a group of African student leaders in Tripoli that the violence in Nigeria is a “deep-rooted conflict of a religious nature” that requires a radical solution. It is curious, that Gadhafi made this statement the same day that the inflamatory video was released. Gadhafi had been known to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs.

In May 2003, Osama bin Laden purportedly urged Muslims in the country to rise up against one of the “regimes who are slaves of America.”

Yesterday, Nobel prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka, who has been leading protests against the nation’s political crisis, warned that Nigeria is close to breaking up and its leadership has descended into a “theatre of the absurd”.

The veteran writer and civil rights activist told The UK Independent that his home country was now a “failed state” where ordinary people’s “anger has peaked”, with potentially lethal consequences. “Nigeria is looking at its last chance in the next year,” he said.

But to the Politicians, Nigeria may burn, but business continues as usual.In the ruling party in particular, pitted in one corner is the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, against those at the other end, PDP Governors and the National Working Committee (NWC), led by the National Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor.

The NWC wants to roll out the timetable, Jonathan thinks it is premature to do so, and is also determined to prevent the Governors from picking the Presidential candidate.

It was learnt that he wants proper primaries, regardless of the report that – through insider dealing – Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki, is on pole position for the ticket, neck and neck with Gombe State Governor, Mohammed Goje.

Those who attended the national caucus meeting of the PDP at the Villa last Thursday said Jonathan refused to approve the party’s programme and timetable. He is the leader of the PDP, in the absence of Yar’Adua.

Sources recounted that Ogbulafor told the caucus of plans to call for “forms of intent” in line with a timetable for the 2011 elections, but Jonathan “cut him short,” saying “no one had discussed the idea with him.”

Attempts to discuss the timetable failed, as Jonathan reminded the caucus of in-fighting in three PDP states, and warned that “nobody should overheat the polity.” He also put his foot down that, “Any talk of 2011 now would derail his own programmes for the country” and told the party to “let the status quo remain.”

A caucus in the PDP is calling for early nominations so that a Presidential candidate would emerge latest by September 2010. The North is adamant on the rotation agreed in 1998, which produced Olusegun Obasanjo as its candidate from the South West.

There are two camps in the PDP, with the younger Northern elements taking the upper hand, and accusing Jonathan of working as a “sole administrator.” They want a Northerner as Deputy to Jonathan and also want the person to be the PDP Presidential candidate.

As the squabble goes on, Militants, both in the Niger Delta and the Islamists in the North are sharpening their ammunition. “Negotiations, dialogues and protests will not stop the advancement of the enemies and their massacres,” the narrator says in the posted militant video. “Nothing will stop them but the sword and the spear.”

The narrator also says the “crusader West” is interested in Nigeria for its abundant oil reserves. He refers to President Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, as a “tyrant” who allowed the killing of a sect leader whose group’s attacks on police stations and rioting left more than 700 people dead in July.

Nigeria’s military ended fighting led by the group, known as Boko Haram, after seizing its leader. The group’s name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language. The group’s leader was later killed, and the army and police gave differing accounts of his capture that suggested that he may have died while in police custody.

Nigeria, a country of 150 million people, is split almost evenly between Christians in its south and Muslim in its north. However, the nation has yet to see an al-Qaida-inspired terror group take hold inside its borders — despite others beginning to thrive in West Africa.

Security forces claimed to break up such a linked terror cell in November 2007. Last year, a 23-year-old Nigerian who later claimed ties to al-Qaida attempted to detonate an explosive abroad a Christmas Day flight headed via Amsterdam to Detroit.

While all this fire is burning, Nigerians does not know whether their president is alive or dead.  Mr Yar’Adua was taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia in November and only came back to Nigeria last month.

Since his return he has been kept in an ambulance; he is treated only by Saudi doctors and no one outside his wife’s inner circle has seen him, not even the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan.

[The President] returns under the cover of darkness and they say he is up and drinking tea, with a straight face,” Mr Soyinka said yesterday. “Everyone knows it is a lie – even those who say it – and it insults people’s intelligence. His mother was told to go away and could not see her son. It is spousal abuse.”

Soyinka accused Mrs Yar’Adua of using her husband’s “phantom existence” for her own interests, along with a corrupt cabal of unelected leaders that he called a “bunch of absolute brigands”. “It has gone beyond theatre of the absurd into something ghoulish going on macabre,” the writer said.

The author compared the task of reforming Nigeria to that of Sisyphus, saying: “You roll that damn rock up the hill, you don’t get anywhere and the rock rolls back down.”

The ordinary Nigerian wonders: when would the elites desist from pursuing the rats to save the tottering edifice from being consumed by these simmering flames?

elsdaniel@yahoo.com