Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Nigerian army going to Argentina to learn “ranching skills”: The alarm, the worry…

EC Ejiogu*****

ANYONE WHO presumes that there are no global and strategic dimensions to Muhammadu Buhari’s re-advent to the control of state power in the Nigeria project and his on-going determined pursuit of deadly parochial-Islamization policies viz-a-viz the disruption of the peace, well-being and existence of the distinct peoples that inhabit the enlarged Niger basin—especially the Igbo and their neighbors in the lower southeast portion—should take a pause and reflect better.

The role that dedicated Igbo scholars, public intellectuals, their allies, and sympathizers everywhere must play by bringing their skills and knowledge to bear on the contextualization of the issues and facts involved in Muhammadu Buhari’s state polices, their adverse aims and implications this time and beyond for the peace, well-being and existence of the Igbo and the other threatened distinct inhabitants of the Niger basin cannot be downplayed.

When Adolf Hitler and his militaristic Nazi regime were routed in 1945 by the efforts of the heroic men and women—fellow Africans included—from every corner of the globe, who volunteered for military and military support service in the World War II, several of Hitler’s frontline and backroom operatives in the Nazi establishment who played actionable roles in the mass genocidal extermination of countless Jews and people of other despised races in the gas chambers, concentration camps, etc. that they set up and operated in known parts of Europe’s heartland, fled Germany and resettled in Argentina, other parts of Latin America, and even the Middle East.
IT IS noteworthy here for full disclosure that my own dear father, who died in 2011 at the age of 97 was one of those brave African men who stepped forward to be counted for military service in that Great War as soldiers in occupier Britain’s Royal West African Frontier Force, (RWAFF).  My father who enlisted in 1940 at the enlistment depot in Enuugwu, was assigned to the Royal Signals Corps alongside 24 other young enlistees all of who were from the distinct nationalities in the Niger basin’s lower southeast portion.  Their assignment to the Royal Signal Corps instead of the Regimental Signal Corps was on account of their superior Western educational qualification—all of them possessed the standard six certificates, which was coveted at the time.  Research revealed that the need to recruit personnel with the requisite Western educational qualification was in fact, the compelling rationale that trumped the established stipulation made by Her Majesty’s military policy makers at Whitehall to deviate from the established stipulations that guided the recruitment of colonial military manpower in the colonies to favor men from the so-called “martial tribes” alone in the upper Niger basin,

For those Nazi operatives who fled to Argentina, their choice of refuge was aided and abetted by their Argentine benefactors, some of whom are in or connected with their country’s military establishment, who also received and provided them with cover and sundry support upon arrival in Argentina.  In the post WWII years after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, and it quickly evolved into a no-nonsense veritable protector of universal Jewish rights with regard to the vow that “never again” would the Jewish people fall victim to such violation of their human rights as was the case in the hands of the Nazis, only a few of those Nazi operatives have been located by the Israeli state, which in some cases, used extraordinary means to bring them to Israel where they faced justice for their crimes against humanity.  The rest have quietly lived out their lives and died natural deaths undetected, without being made to account for the atrocities they inflicted on Jews and their other victims.

Don’t forget that Africans—Ovaherero and Nama peoples of South West Africa, in today’s Namibia, were the initial victims of the Nazi genocidists.  The torture techniques that the Nazis subsequently applied wholesale against their victims during the Jewish Holocaust were developed and perfected on the Ovaherero and the Nama by German colonial administrators who operated in South West Africa in the early 1900s.  An estimated 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama lost their lives during the time.  Noteworthy is that in 2004, Germany accepted that those killings amount to genocide, but still refuses to pay specific compensation to descendants of the victims.  Descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama who lost their lives in that genocide recently filed a law suit in New York in which they demand compensation from the German government.  That suit is on-going in New York.

IT WAS not by happenstance therefore, that the military establishment in Argentina after its overthrow of President Isabel Peron’s government and usurpation of state power in 1976 embarked on a systematic and horrific human rights violations against all sections of society in Argentina throughout the duration of the reign of terror called the Dirty War on civil society that it imposed in the 1976 through 1983 after it lost the Falklands war and was ousted from power.  Society in Argentina is yet to recover from that horrific Dirty War in which 30,000 opponents of military rule were systematically “disappeared”.  Most of those who were responsible have not been held accountable.

Although the military establishment in Argentina is no longer in control of de facto state power since 1983, there is no doubt that its strands and elements that were responsible for and participated in those horrific gross human rights violations are still well and kicking.  They were the same strands and elements that received, gave cover to, and protected fleeing Nazi genocidists from Germany when they arrived Argentina after 1945.

THE HISTORY of land ownership and plantation agriculture in Argentina and the rest of Latin America is the story of racial expropriation and exploitation especially of indigenous peoples.  Much of the large scale commercial ranching in Argentina and other Latin American countries are in the hands property-owning families that support and or are involved in right-wing politics in society.  The military establishments in Latin America have direct links and affiliation to those property-owning families who rely on their relationship to the former to guarantee their economic and political privileges in society.  Also, during the period when the military was in control of state power in Argentina, many of their individual elements appropriated stupendous tracts of acreage of land that they deployed for huge commercial ranching ventures that they still own and operate all over Argentina.

The alarm, the worry…

DO YOU now see one of the worrisome and alarming linkage-implications of Muhammadu Buhari’s policy that would send soldiers from a military, whose officer corps and other ranks are overwhelmingly Hausa-Fulani men to Argentina to learn ranching skills?  In stark terms, the policy will enable Muhammadu Buhari’s genocidist military to acquire up-to-date skills to aid and abet the Islamization agenda in the Niger basin.

Military forts in the name of cattle ranches scattered across the land will provide outposts around which government supported Fulani settlements will flourish.  Also, as was the case in parts of the world where settler colonialism prevailed, soldiers from such military forts will be used to project pacification violence against indigenous resistance to forced permanent Fulani settlements in the nooks and crannies of the rural communities where they are located.

IGBO scholars, intellectuals and their friends everywhere must not be shy to proclaim to the world that the Igbo and their neighbors in the lower southeast Niger basin do not pose or constitute threat of any sort to peace in the regional or global contexts.  The non-militaristic cultures and the inherent democratic social authority patterns that these inhabitants of the lower southeast evolved and still rely on to direct authority in their respective society are testimonies to that truthful assertion.

For civilized humanity to sit by and watch while Muhammadu Buhari and his militaristic Hausa-Fulani kinsmen and women deploy militaristic policies that engulf the peace-loving peoples of the lower southeast right in their respective homeland using different ploys amounts to real and serious threats to regional and world peace.

EVEN THOUGH nothing again has been heard about this policy since it was first flouted in sections of the Press in Nigeria sometime last year, the big worry is whether it indicates that the Hausa-Fulani ruling establishment under Muhammadu Buhari has made contacts with elements of Hitler’s Nazi war criminals and their Argentine benefactors.  The implications of that for the distinct peoples, especially the Igbo, that inhabit the lower Niger basin is serious as they continue to face down Fulani Islamization onslaught.

*****Professor EC Ejiogu is author of The Roots of Political Instability in Nigeria: Political Evolution and Development in the Niger Basin, Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2011 and guest editorSpecial Issue on Chinua Achebe: The Igbo, Pogrom, Biafra War and Genocide in Nigeria”, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol 48, 6, December 2013 (contributorsEC Ejiogu, VY Mudimbe, Biodun Jeyifo, Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Carol Ijeoma Njoku, Chima J Korieh, Douglas B Chambers, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o)


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