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Lessons From Rwanda

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In 1994, the unwarranted and gruesome genocide unleashed on the minority Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda sent shock waves across the globe as the end result was over 800,000 people killed in just 100 days.
Those killed included men, women and even babies in the cradles. Also an estimated 250,000 women and girls were raped with some of them infected with HIV.
How did these killings start? The Kingdom of Rwanda was a peaceful place until the advent of colonialism which saw it placed under the rule of Belgium after the first World War. The policies of the colonial Belgian governors later ensured that there was class division along ethnic lines by even issuing identity cards stating one’s ethnic affiliation and these identity cards were used in terms of employment, and admission into schools.
Consequently these absurd policies were inherited by the post independent government in 1962 and never abolished.
However the history of Rwanda has never been that peaceful as in 1959 Hutu revolution had forced about 300,000 Tutsis to flee the country. And by 1961 the King who was of Tutsi origin was sent packing, the country was declared a republic; the monarchy abolished, and a Hutu, Gregoire Kayibanda, elected as president.
Kayibanda’s presidency was shortlived as he was overthrown in 1973 by juvinal Habyarimana, who ruled till he was killed with his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntayamira, when the plane they were on board was shot down over kigali, which later triggerd the orgy of killings, the killing was put to an end when the Tutsi led Rwandan patriotic front which had been fighting the government took control of the capital, Kigali, on July 6 1994.
25 years after the killings how far has the country gone to mend the wounds of the past? Today in Rwanda nobody is talking about one’s ethnic background as the obsolete identify card with one’s ethnic classification or social status has been abolished.
Everybody is now a Rwandan by classification. Immediately the Rwandan patriotic front took over the reins of power it also began the process of reconciliation whereby those who took part in the killings of their neighbours and friends had to visit the survivors to apologise, for the role they played in the sordid history of the country. And for those top government and military officers the consequences for their actions were just terms and apologies.
These efforts by the government today have brought about tremendous change in the society. Also memorabila of what took place could be seen in museums in the capital Kigali and other cities with the slogan “Never again”.
For killing to take place in such a speed and the huge number of casalities, quite a number of factors were involved such as hate speeches, government support, religious leaders indifference and sometimes encouragement of one segment of the society against another and foreign power conspiracy to create chaos in the African society. France, Belgium were specifically blamed by the Kagame administration, for aiding and being indifferent to the killings the Catholic Church in Rwanda.
There was a stage when even the Canadian born UN Peace Commander had to emotionally beg for the UN and other international bodies for assistance to stem the killings but found no support, only silence until when the magnitude of the crime was revealed to the world that people started making-half-hearted statements on the genocide.
Initially, France denied complicity but just recently French President, macron has set up a high powered body to look into France’s role in the 1994 genocide. Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said “The failure of Rwanda is 10 times greater than the failure of Yugoslavia, because in Yugoslavia the international community was interested, in Rwanda nobody was interested”.
Hate speech, discrimination and killings do not just start in a day, it has been going on over the years in many countries. In 1913, over a million Armenians were butchered by the Turkish government, with their churches desecrated. The indigenous population of Turkey, the Greeks today are not more than 5,000 in a population of about 80 million people. The second genocidal incident in modern times was the holocaust of 1939 to 1945 during the second World War instigated by Adolf Hitler, that of Cambodia under Pol Pot. But that of Rwanda was the worst as 70 of the Tutsi population was wiped out in just 100 days.
What are the lessons we, as Nigerians can learn after fighting a bitter civil war, following a similar bloody history of hate speech and genocide which saw to the death of one million Nigerians mostly from the South Eastern part of the country?
Although the Nigerian situation was better, for the past five years there has been bloodletting, killings and destruction almost on weekly basis in parts of the country.
Book Haram is still committing atrocities in the North West, with bandits holding swart in Kaduna Zamfara and Katsina and the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
According to the governor of Zamfara State, within the past five years 3,526 persons were killed by armed bandits with 500 villages destroyed, yet the country is not at war.
Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are living in refugees’ camps in their own country with the government doing literarily nothing to stop the violence.
If the Rwanda Patriotic Front under Paul Kagame can put a stop to killings within one week of taking over power with virtually no resources at his disposal under a civil war situation, why can’t the Nigerian government with huge resources at its disposal unable to put an end to the menace of Boko Haram and armed bandits are they spirits?
For too long, the menace of armed groups have been overlooked and it begins to look suspicious that there are fifth columnist groups who want instability and another round of civil war to occur in Nigeria.
The government should take the issue of security seriously, otherwise what is seen as insignificant will one day snow ball into something more dangerous, that will affect the whole country. Killings by so-called herdsmen are still on with no serious attempts made to arrest the culprits.
If we reflect back when the issue of Boko Haram and the banditry in Zamfara started, a lot of Nigerians especially in the affected states were playing politics with it. Today some personalities can’t go to their villages even duns public holidays or weekend as their communities have been razed.
In Nigeria let the truth be told, we don’t value human life. There is no difference between the living and the dead. Our leaders don’t have empathy.
Is it today that the presidency will sit up and realise that the killings in Zamfara State had to do with the mining sector?
There is this suspicious feeling that the killings in part of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna Benue parts of Adamawa Kogi and Enugu states are not herdsmen/farmers clash but a well thought out plan to eliminate the indigenous population of those area because the land there abound with precious mineral resources.
Today these suspicions have been partly proven by the recent statement by the president that all foreigners in all mining sites in Zamfara should quit the area and mining activities be suspended.
So government knew all along that the killings in these areas were economically motivated and had kept silence. What a shame!

 

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

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Group Urges NASS To Veto Electoral Reform Bill 2021

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The Organisation for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) has said that the National Assembly must veto the Electoral Reform Bill 2021 if President Muhammadu Buhari refuses to assent to it.
The group accused Buhari of applying delay tactics in signing the bill just as he did in 2019 which compelled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use the 2010 Electoral Act in the conduct of the election, despite its deficiencies.
Speaking to newsmen in Kano, Monday, the Executive Director of OCCEN, Abdu Razak Alkali, said, “the National Assembly has done a wonderful job and this is the first time that the legislature, the CSOs and the generality of Nigerians are on the same page.
“Unfortunately, with two weeks left until deadlines, the President is yet to assent to the bill and has been foot-dragging and unjustifiably delaying on the bill, this should be worrying to every Nigerian because it appears the President is listening and giving priorities to some powerful and selfish categories of politicians.
“Sadly, this issue is taking a similar approach to how the President behaved pre 2019 elections which made INEC to use the 2010 Electoral Act despite all deficiencies in the Law”.
According to him, the President needs to do away with the selfish interests of some Nigerian politicians and focus on what is in the best interest of Nigeria and its citizens.
The director of the civil society said it is very clear to all peace-loving Nigerians that the conduct of the party elections through direct primaries in Nigeria remains the most transparent mode of nominating candidates.
“While the current system of indirect primaries has handicapped women and youths from achieving their political leadership, the direct primaries would surely give them that chances and opportunities,” he said.

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PDP Criticises Ondo Gov On Varsity Award

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The Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, has again criticized the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, over an honorary doctorate degree conferred on him by the Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, on Saturday.
Akerodolu was conferred with a Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) Degree, amid fanfare by members of the All Progressives Congress.
State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kennedy Peretei, in a statement titled, ‘Akeredolu’s misrule in Ondo State (7): it is shameless to receive award from a university when yours are under lock and key’, issued in in Akure, on Sunday, condemned the governor for receiving an award when universities in Ondo State were in crisis.
The statement read in part, “…It beats common sense and logical reasoning for a governor whose song is paucity of funds to mobilise almost everybody in the political circle of Ondo State to Oyo for an award. The list is simply endless.
“If the Governor attached so much importance to this award, is it then not an irony that all the state owned-universities which he is Visitor to are under lock and key? Could he receive this award if Crowther University has been closed down like the universities he presides over?
“A cursory look at the footage of the ceremony engenders nothing but pity for a man that can shut down the government of Ondo State for the purpose of a personal award that brings no single benefit to the people of the state.
“Every passing day, the APC government under Rotimi Akeredolu demonstrates that the suffering of the people means nothing to him.
“Otherwise, he should have quietly gone to Oyo to receive his award without putting a strain on the resources of the state. I need not add that in the fullness of time, some of these frivolous spending will be refunded to the Ondo State treasury.”
In response, the state APC Spokesperson, Mr. Alex Kelaniya, said, “The award, no doubt, is in recognition of Arakunrin Akeredolu’s selfless contributions to the development of jurisprudence in Nigeria, enhancement of human rights, and his avowed commitment to good governance.”

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‘Nigerians’ll Reject APC Over Hardship’

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Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence and Senator representing Plateau North, Istifanus Gyang, said Nigerians would reject the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023 elections following the hardship and pains the government have inflicted on citizens.
He described the APC as a failed political party due to it insensitive in addressing insecurity, economic woos and skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs and cooking gas in the country.
Sen.
Gyang stated this on Monday during the distribution of trader moni to 512 widows and scholarship to 611 students in Plateau North Senatorial District, held in Jos, Plateau State.
“As we go towards 2023, we in Plateau State will have leadership that will prove that what we are seeing now is a total failure, what is going on now is a total failure.
“A government that has no respect to the rule of law, no respect for constitutionality and insensitive to the plights of Nigerians. I challenge the Governor of Plateau State to an open debate”.
Gyang explained that his empowerment programme captured strategically 512 widows and  611 students drawn from the 6 Local Government Areas that make up Plateau North.
“We are empowering 512 widows and 611 students are given scholarship. We are giving the widows N20,000 each and each student will go with N10,000.
“The assistance as empowerment of our constituents is something that has been ongoing, the widows and students are special category that is dear to my heart, knowing what my mother faced following the demise of my father and the difficulties that I went through in school and the challenges of indigent students are what prompted this intervention.
“It is not just something that came without concept; it is a product of personal experience. These two groups deserve attention much more than I am doing but with greater capacity, I will do more to this particular group.
“For the widows, this empowerment is for the petty trading. Recall the Federal Government through the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, went to the market and distributed N10,000 as trader moni and I am giving N20,000 which I believe will enhance their businesses and those who don’t have to start one.
“For the students, the state government is giving them N5,000 scholarship and I am giving my constituents N10, 000 to alleviate their challenges.  I have experienced what it means to be in school without financial support.
“The little I am providing can help the students to get a book and pen and to even have a lunch from it and so that is going to create greater impact, which can better imagine.”

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