It suddenly became clear to me why I had been invited, what I was doing there in that strange assembly. I signaled my desire to speak and was given the floor. I told them what I had just recognized. I said that what was going on before me was a fiction workshop, no more and no less! "Here you are, spinning your fine theories to be tried out in your imaginary laboratories. You are developing new drugs and feeding them to a bunch of laboratory guinea pigs and hoping for the best. I have news for you. Africa is not fiction. Africa is people, real people. Have you thought of that? You are brilliant people, world experts. You may even have the very best intentions. But have you thought, really thought, of Africa as people?

Beyond these rules, I believe that every political critic of President Obasanjo will benefit from some knowledge of how this personage came into being politically. He did not descend on us from the blues. If a political biography of President Olusegun Obasanjo were to be sketched, it would, most probably, start on January 15, 1966. Not that he, then a Major, took part in the first military attempt to overthrow the government of Nigeria which was staged that Saturday morning. On the contrary, he took part in suppressing it, thereby helping the second attempt to succeed.

Those who don't know Dr. Bala Usman, where he is coming from and where is desperate to go would be thinking that the responses to his neo-feudal piece ought to warn him to cease fire. That is not the Usman that is known, revered and dreaded in Nigeria's political and ideological circles. The scion of the Katsina feudal aristocracy proved me dead right two days ago. Last Saturday he was the star of the cover story of the Abuja-based Weekly Trust. The newspaper devoted seven of its 40 pages to him. On the front page story, Dr. Usman declares "Yoruba cannot stop coup." You may wish to ask if one were being planned, against whom and by whom.

At the intellectual level, it is easy to connect the renaissance idea to pan-Africanism, negritude, FESTAC and the anti-apartheid mobilisation. The establishment of the Renaissance Institute which President Mbeki mentioned last year fits into this thrust. But the bigger task is in making the project part of the programme of political and economic reconstruction of Africa through the vehicle of mass action. In South Africa with an 82-year-old African National Congress party, this should be easy.

A critic of Bala Usman's "The Misrepresentation of Nigeria: The Facts and the Figures." Bala Usman asserts that the facts surrounding elections in Nigeria have been misrepresented. I am glad that I did not respond to the CEDDERT article last year when it first appeared. This is because the necessary ammunitions to refute his assertions have since come to light. Given that we now know that a Northern Nigerian Clique imposed Obasanjo on Nigerians (Twice), would Usman still lambaste the opponents of the transition program who saw the shadow behind the man? Babangida has publicly stated that he bankrolled Obasanjo. Others have stated that he agreed to stay for one term and protect the interests of the north. Is this how a democracy works? That a handful of people would pick a candidate, fix his term of office in a deal, then sell this candidate to an unsuspecting public and the world? Is this the type of democracy that CEDDERT is foisting on Nigeria? Did Fela not characterize this type of democracy as "Demonstration of Crazy"?

Somehow, given that this postulation is coming when the author of the famous The Africans: The Triple Heritage is supposed to be here on a "visit", there is a great temptation to put it jovially that he is a "visiting physician" to the anaemic patient called Nigeria. He was actually in town to deliver a lecture under the auspices of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation.

True, Babangida did not invent corruption in Nigeria. But what he did was worse. He took corruption from the closet and installed it as the nation's patron deity, the god in whose name all public acts were done. He elevated corruption to the status of doctrine, an ideological blueprint. He invested public theft (the worst brand of 419) with the force of law; empowering both himself and his aides to treat the public purse as if it were their personal estates. He invited himself and people around him to reap where they had sowed nothing. In Karl Maier's book, this House Has Fallen, IBB boasts that he gave Mr. Abiola much of the money with which he ran the 1993 campaign. He forgets to say where a general, who was supposed to be on a fixed salary, found all that extra money.

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