DEFENDERS OF PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN
OBASANJO'S INVASION OF BAYELSA
One of the most intriguing aspects of the debates surrounding
President Obasanjo's invasion of Bayelsa State, in central Niger Delta,
was the nature of defence mounted on his behalf by Nigerians at home and
abroad. In its initial phase, this was mostly in response to Peter Ekeh's
letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo that questioned the moral and legal
grounds for the invasion. Apart from Taiwo Ayedun's early reply that expressed
compassion for the predicament confronting Niger Deltans, most of the other
replies based their defence of the President's action on the requirements
of law and order. It is noteworthy that whereas, say, Americans would be
appalled by the employment of a division of the Army to flush out some
twenty criminals from a town of thirty thousand people, Nigerians have
become so used to military operations that some of their intellectuals
are willing to entrust domestic law and order problems to a military establishment
that operates well above the law. What is reassuring, however, is that
supporters of the President's invasion were in the minority. The views
featured in the following selections do not necessarily represent the predominant
position of Nigerian intellectuals and opinion leaders on this issue.
Political philosophers, or at any rate those inclined
to matters of political thought, who read these entries may note that there
is a Nigerian penchant for categorizing the behaviors of people in different
regions in a way that blurs the distinction between individuals and their
communities. There are frequent references in these entries to "hoodlums"
and "criminal youth" in a manner that suggests that their misbehaviors
justify mass punishment of their people. This is especially obvious from
President Obasanjo's own defence of his action, as narrated by his formidable
and apparently eloquent image maker, Dr. Doyin Okukpe, and in the similarly
nuanced double memoranda from Eric Ayoola.
The entries here are arranged according to the dates of
authorship and sequence of references to common sources.