Nigeria ends oil subsidy national strike but will there be a civil war?

SAEED SHABAZZ Special to the AmNews | 1/18/2012, 6:24 p.m.

However, when reporters questioned the spokesman for the secretary-general concerning Sachs' statement, there was no response.

The Nigerian ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., professor Ade Adefuye, explained on the embassy's website that ending the oil subsidy was a "necessity."

"The removal of the fuel subsidy is a painful but necessary action," the ambassador said. "Removing the subsidy, while temporarily painful, will ultimately benefit the masses."

Obviously, the masses disagree.

Nonetheless, there is another very important issue facing Nigerians and their government: Is Nigeria heading for civil war?

"We see the nation heading towards a civil war," wrote Nobel laureate professor Wole Soyinka in an article that was carried by TheBlackList. Soyinka, a dramatist and essayist, became Africa's first Nobel laureate in literature in 1986.

Soyinka told the BBC that the religious and ethnic unrest that has cost the lives of 14,000 Nigerians since 1999, according to Human Rights Watch, was pushing his nation in the direction of civil war. "It's going that way. We no longer can pretend it's not."

Meanwhile, Adefuye called people who espouse such thoughts "Nigerian pessimists."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared a report on Jan. 10 at the U.N. headquarters on First Avenue with Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru. The report discussed a concern in the West African region that are links between al-Qaeda, Somalia's al-Shabaab and the Nigerian group Boko Haram, according to a readout from the secretary-general's spokesman.

Boko Haram, supposedly a militant group of Muslims, seems bent on driving all Nigerian Christians from Nigeria's north and has been blamed for acts of violence since 2000.

Observers say that in a nation where religion is one of the most important features of identity, the ongoing struggle between Christians and Muslims over political power is a significant factor in the nation's ongoing unrest. There are reportedly 350 ethnic groups in Nigeria who speak 250 languages. Muslims make up 50 percent of the population, with Christians at 40 percent.

However, the burning question is still whether religious violence will lead to a division of Nigeria along the same lines that divided Sudan, that is, into a Muslim north and a Christian south.

Christian Science Monitor reported on Jan. 12, "Vociferous religious ideology often obscures violence driven more by economic factors."

Dr. Leonard Jeffries, former director of Africana studies at City College and one of the leading Pan-African voices in the United States, said he has been dealing with Nigerian issues "for 50 years."

"There is an unseen hand at work today in Nigeria, taking advantage of a shattered consciousness and a fractured identity; and there are definitely outsiders perpetuating the identity crisis," said Jeffries.

"White folks want control of Nigeria's resources, so they develop a 'shock doctrine' to foment the crisis and then go in and take over," he added. "Nigeria is so important, so critical. Africans must come up with a formula on how to work together through their differences."

Omoyele Sowore, a Nigerian national who calls himself a "citizen activist," has been working in the United States for the past 15 years in an attempt to develop a better understanding of the issues facing his homeland. He has developed the Sahara Reporters, which may be found at www.saharareporters.com.