By ZENTS KUNLE SOWUNMI
A popular adage says if the world refuses to blow your trumpet for you, don’t complain, blow it for yourself, let the world know your worth, it is very sad to note how the world leaders decided to cheat Nigeria out of the glory in the death of the greatest son of Africa, late Nelson Mandela despite all the sacrifices , like the Oracle ones said, most heroes often started as rebels, Nelson Mandela a rebel up till five years in most Western world lists as a terrorist, will be buried as a hero and some of the countries that helped with men, money, materials may be sidelined, the Oracle will give details on how Nigeria played significant roles in the liberation of most countries in Africa particularly South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
The first country in Africa to support ANC the rebel turned political party in South Africa was Nigeria at a time the man with the Golden voice, Sir Abubarkar Tafawa Balewa was the Prime Minister of a post-independence Nigeria in 1960, during his visit to United States of America when JF Kennedy was the President, Balewa made it known that the freedom in Africa particularly South Africa, Rhodesia and South West Africa (Namibia) must be seen as very important to the freedom of the Africans.
Nigeria foreign policy because of the Civil war was not properly defined when General Yakubu Gowon was Head of State until General Muritala Mohamed and his two other Musketeers, General Olusegun Obasanjo and Lt General T Y Danjuma in 1975, including the mustached Col, Joe Narven Garba the Federal Commissioner for Foreign Affairs who took over from the technocrat Okoi Arikpo, became the team which added flesh to the foreign policy which Gowon had tied to the apron of the British.
Within Six months, General Muritala Mohammed reshaped Nigeria foreign policy, he announced over the radio and television, Africa would be the center of Nigeria policy and plans must be set in motion to free Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, the pressing issue then was Angola and General Obasanjo who was number two man was given the assignment to liaises with Savinbi and Augustinho Neto and Nigeria eventually, took side with MPLA group led by Augustinho Neto.
Late President Gerald Ford was not happy with the stand of Nigeria, he sent delegates to Dodan Barracks in Lagos to ask Nigeria Government to drop the support, General Muritala Mohammed ordered the American representatives out of his office and the stage was set for a confrontation between Nigeria and the United States of America, by the time General Muritala Mohammed was Killed on February 13 1976 Nigeria leadership and goals had been defined and western world started taking Nigeria serious.
General Muritala Mohammed foreign policy created the fear that Lagos the seat of the government was likely to be bombed by the Apartheid controlled South African government under Botha which was developing atomic and nuclear energy and signs were there then that Lagos was no longer safe because of the coastal location of the most important City in Nigeria, by the time General Obasanjo took over, as the Head of State the tempo was fast paced, President Jimmy Carter a Democrat was elected President of America, the threat was no longer America but Great Britain which was harboring General Yakubu Gowon who was rumored to have been involved in the death of General Muritala Mohammed.
General Obasanjo was a respected and ruthless Head of State who brought Great Britain to its knees, he used all the resources available to Nigeria to fight the only country standing between Africa and freedom because of her veto power with the United Nations, however, General Obasanjo’s administration nationalized all the British investments in Nigeria, Standard Bank became First Bank, Barclays Bank became Union Bank, British Petroleum became African Petroleum, until Britain started asking for dialogue from Uncle Shege with several invitations to visit Britain , General Obasanjo refused, the Queen sent messages, Uncle Shege ignored the Queen, the muscles of Nigeria was greater than that of Britain, cleverly, America under a Democrat became neutral because Obasanjo had developed friendship with Andrew Young, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Jimmy Carter visited Nigeria, he was taken to Badagry, where all the slaves were chained before shipment to the Europe and America in the 18th Century, he also visited other cities in Nigeria like Kano Abeokuta and other places.
Obasanjo was the greatest problem in the flesh of all the countries that stood against the freedom of African countries in his three and half years as Nigeria Head of state, Zimbabwe which the country first supported Joshua Ukomo had to shift to Mugabe who won the election an both merged to run the first post Zimbabwe country, Namibia was next and South Africa which drew tears from Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia next in line, was a protected country of the Western world.
General Obasanjo, was the Mandela of Nigeria, South Africa actually owed her freedom and the support from most of the third nations to this man from Abeokuta, all Nigerian workers were educated and made to donate 5% of their wages towards freedom of Africa countries, he took the whole country along the part of understanding the freedom of all African countries as the only way we could be proud as Black people and Nigerian musicians like Sunny Okosun wax the LP “Papa Land,” Ngozi made LP in honor of Winnie Mandela.
Because Nigerian men love beautiful women , they could not stand the site of a beautiful woman deprived of her husband, Winnie was beautiful, she was elegant and her smile and beautiful teeth charmed Nigerians, they all wanted to help and we began to understand what Apartheid was all about, which was complete disenfranchisement of the black majority by the white minority, we read how the government of South Africa deprived women from seeing their husband during ovulation period, they wanted a systematic reduction in the black population, hoping a day would come the whites would catch with the population growth of the Black people.
Nigeria Universities and Colleges gave the South Africans free education, their lawyers were trained in Nigeria, the civil service was opened to the potential workers that may take over in future, Nigeria was the training ground for most of the freedom fighters from South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, they were treated like families, Nigeria was indeed the bigger brother to most Africa countries. , some her secret agents were sent to South African, some of them never made it back.
Britain never found her voice until Reagan became the President of America and President Sheu Shagari took Nigeria back to the era of Gowon, he went to Britain which Obasanjo turned down, he was taken to the farms to inspect Cows and poultry, his funny cap was mocked by the press, and sthe team of our foreign policy was deflated instead of moving Nigeria forward, Shagari was not focused. The combined effort of Britain under Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was a big blow to the tempo left behind by Obasanjo; Shagari was not equipped to handle Reagan and the Iron Lady. Britian action destroyed Nigeria economy because of the actions of the previous government over the polcy on South Africa
However, when Obasanjo left office, the Oracle believed he was appointed a member of the Eminent Personalities along with the Prime Minister or Australia or Canada or so to visit Nelson Mandela in Jail, he did, and he worked for the release of Nelson Mandela, the long match to freedom could be long, but the end result was fine, the son of Africa returned home to his people like the Biblical Joseph, the whole world bowed for him, in life and in death.
Mandela did not forget his friends when he came out, he visited everyone from Cuba, to Libya and was also in Nigeria to say thank you to the Nigerian workers that contributed time and money which freed his people, Today, Nelson Mandela is gone, he is now the hero of everyone, the enemies of yesterday became friends today, in Africa, we do not cry when an old man dies, we celebrate death because we believe he finished the race, and he should be with his ancestors, his spirit will watch over his people, his memories with guide his people, and the world, Mandela shoes may be too big for anyone now, but the God that created Africa as the first place for human DNA will give us another Mandela, the Oracle says , the God watching over Africa will not sleep. when South Africa was hungry Nigeria was there, when the country was thirsty, we gave them water, when Mandela will be burried, Nigeria must be given its rightful place, the giant and big brother must not be pushed aside by the new friends.