The Rogue State: Jonathan, His Mercenaries and Ethnic Militias

Adeolu Ademoyo

By Adeolu Ademoyo

Some seemingly disconnected events show the desperation of President Jonathan in the 2015 elections. It is a battle of his life in which he has thrown moral caution to the winds and where he has thrown in a huge amount of unaccountable corrupt funds. These events show the rogue nature of President Jonathan’s presidency.

First, is the audacity with which President Jonathan turned the legitimate fight against Boko Haram into a business venture for his cronies.

Second, is the audacity with which the PDP led Senate approved Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro’s nomination as a minister. Obanikoro is part of the military-civilian cohort, which President Jonathan used to rig the Ekiti election. So in the West, Obanikoro will be needed to repeat his rigging feat.

Third, is the audacity with which President Jonathan openly supported ethnic militias – OPC, MASSOB, Niger Delta militias -Asari Dokubo, Government Tompolo, Boy Loaf – with a 7 billion Naira oil pipeline security deal.

Final, is the audacity with which the Jonathan administration penetrated a section of the human rights community in Lagos to organise a fake “WALK AGAINST TERROR”. This cliquish, cash and carry market driven section of the Lagos human rights community is the latest to fall to the corrosive, cancerous and corrupt hands of President Jonathan in this 2015 elections.

The so-called Walk Against Terror

The so-called Lagos “Walk Against Terror” is part of the strange things happening in these last days of the 2015 elections. However, any “WALK AGAINST TERROR” – (that did not walk against it for Six years when it was on rampage in the land; that does not walk against the manipulation of terror by the Jonathan administration; that is SILENT on how President Jonathan politicised and turned the fight against Boko Haram to a profit making business venture for cronies who fund his projects and re-election campaign) – is fake and a violation of the moral investments of many Nigerians, dead and living, home and abroad, in historically building the human rights community and tradition in Nigeria. On this issue, deeply grass-rooted in the Nigerian experience, with the burden of history and humility, I speak on behalf of the dead who built the human rights community that is being sold to President Jonathan’s 2015 election campaign.

To treat with a wave of hand the concern over the illegitimate use of foreign mercenaries in the morally and politically legitimate war against Boko Haram – a just and patriotic war which an insignificant few units of the back-in-those-glorious-days elite Nigerian army could have started and concluded within a timely fashion in a matter of days – (and not Jonathan’s drag and politicised SIX YEARS AND SIX WEEKS)- reveals a failure of historic proportion on the part of those who are ready to overlook the historic failure of President Jonathan’s duty and obligation to Nigeria and the Nigeria ground troops, outside the well tended service military chiefs.

And to argue naively that this moral fraud – of a Six-week war – by President Jonathan is what a government can do when people make demands on it, is to turn genuine governance into a fire brigade dead-in-the-night, dark deal cuttings, as President Jonathan is doing. The legitimate moral questions will remain: what did President Jonathan do for Six years and why will President Jonathan contract our sovereignty to foreign mercenaries who defended apartheid and its regime in South Africa?

Playing along with this perfidy for their own personal survival and interests, it is sad that Nigerian service chiefs under President Jonathan have been unable to draw the correct distinction between the military’s legitimate loyalty to the Nigerian state and illegitimate loyalty to a passing government.

Like the service chiefs, the acts of omission and commission of the Lagos organisers of the so-called Walk Against Terror have turned the platform of the human rights tradition over to the 2015 campaign for re-election of President Jonathan – who is a major financier and beneficiary of terror. The ‘Walk’ is part of the poor Choreography of a “winning” Commander. It was a cynical, cruel and demeaning joke carried too far.

Jonathan’s Mercenaries

The job of foreign mercenaries is a costly, high profile cash-and-carry job, where profit is the only object of concern. President Jonathan, having demobilised the Nigerian military due to the failure of training, miserly capital investment, the lack of effective hardware consequent upon corrupt contracts, and ethnic politics, has turned this into a profit-making venture involving foreign mercenaries by his core advisers in and out of his government. Depending on their home country’s politics, the work mode of mercenary groups (the Israeli Elbit, South African Executive Outcomes and Pilgrim Africa etc) ranges from the secret to the quasi-legal and sometimes outrightly hideous. Hence, negotiations with them follow the nature of their statuses in their home countries and work mode. Such negotiations are hideous; sometimes they are open, at other times they are secretive, and at times deliberate dummies are sold to deceive the public. In all these, because of the nature of the business, the mode of payment is also dubious, hideous and lacking in transparency.

Take Elbit for example. President Jonathan and his National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki hired the firm to establish an Internet espionage programme for his government against all known Nigerian laws. Negotiations were secretive and hideous. Two figures were given on the Elbit contract – with Elbit giving the figure of $40 million, while President Jonathan’s government pointed the contract as being worth $62 million. The reason for the balance of $22 million remains a mystery that can only connect to the informal routes in the corrupt politics of Nigerian business.

Col. Sambo Dasuki who came out to own the contract on behalf of President Jonathan has not informed us how and why the Elbit contract was signed, as against Nigerian laws, and why two figures were given. When news of the illegal contract broke, the Nigerian government claimed the contract had been suspended but there is no information on the money paid to or refunded by Elbit Systems. Col. Sambo Dasuki must openly inform Nigerians on this.

The Elbit contract is consistent with a covert nature, which rogue governments use to negotiate with mercenaries – the so-called Security Companies. Information is never offered, nothing is ever denied or affirmed. Rogue governments often wait patiently like vultures for the information to die off public domain. And given the weakness of the Nigerian civil society (as seen in the ‘Walk Against Terror’!) that is often the case.

Mr. Arthur, Triax and Elbit

The way funds pass though the legendary Nigerian informal sector came alive sometime in 2013, with Mr. Arthur Eze’s strange and sudden donation to President Jonathan’s church. Eze is one of Jonathan’s main financiers. About two years ago on March 16, 2013, Mr. Arthur Eze came into public consciousness when he donated 1.8 billion Naira (then it was $12 million) to President Jonathan’s Church – St. Stephen Anglican Church, Otuoke – for the development of its Youth Centre. It was the largest donation in a fund raising held at the Civic centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. Someone, a Nigerian, donated $12 million to the church of the sitting President just like that in a country that the World Bank officially said the average citizen lives on $2 a day!

So, some Nigerian Churches are certainly conduit pipes through which questionable funds pass. The same church came into public consciousness in April 2012 when Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited, an Italian construction firm, donated its multi-million dollar building. Gitto Construzioni Generali is one of the contractors to the Jonathan presidency.

Recently, it was reported that Arthur Eze, alongside Elbit Systems received a $466.5 million inflated military contract to weaponise military helicopters. Security and defence sources claim $466.5 million can do more for the Nigerian military than weaponising 6 helicopters. Besides, the contract was awarded in a manner similar to that of the $62 million Elbit Internet espionage security job.

While Presidency sources refuse to confirm this deal, background checks reveal the possible connection of more of President Jonathan’s men, within and outside his cabinet, in these questionable deals.

$9.3 Cash For Arms, Eagle Air, Ayo Oritsejafor and South African/Israeli Connection

Nigerians are already aware of the details of this rogue deal, which Col. Sambo Dasuki owned up to. The outstanding question is: why has South Africa not released the $9.3m? Like all rogue deals by rogue state and governments we do not expect any confirmation or refutation of this because of the indicting nature of what will be revealed.

Jonathan’s Ethnic Militia: MASSOB-OPC-Niger Delta Ethnic Militia

For those who still miss this point and continue to spin the issue, the picture of Goodluck Jonathan’s governance before us all is about the emergence of a ROGUE STATE. It is only a rogue state that relies on mercenaries to conduct its wars and ethnic terrorist/militia to handle its internal security. President Jonathan has allocated different roles to the ethnic militias based on tactics and strategy and geo-political calculations. While the Niger Delta ethnic militias are lying low, MASSOB and OPC have been given the role of rubbishing the electoral process before the election, by calling for the sack of Mr. Jega, INEC Chairman. Turned into Security guards (the foreign mercenaries also call themselves security companies!), the payment for the ethnic militias is through the seven billion contract to guard oil pipelines, which the Nigerian security could otherwise guard effectively! Gani Adams of OPC confirmed the bread-and-butter nature of President Jonathan’s rogue state. Adams confirmed the contract as being all about the stomach:

“Whether it is a strange coincidence or not, an empowerment is an empowerment.. I have paid my dues and I never got this opportunity in my life (sic)…Whether Jonathan has done it to his advantage or not, he is our President. We are his subjects (sic). When your brother failed to give you a job and somebody from South-South gives you, then your brother should be ashamed.” Dani Adams justified his patronage by the rogue state as all about food and feeding.

It is obvious that ethnic militias work with military service chiefs and the NSA, Col. Dasuki. For example, Mr. Frederick Fasehun recently confessed the OPC’s in the postponement of the February 14 elections. He recounted that, “The senator (Mojisola Akinfenwa of Osun state) came to me and said, ‘look, I think Jonathan is losing this battle’ and I responded to him, ‘Baba, I will never experience any loss in battle. Today, we shall shift this election.’ And by the grace of God, when we had spoken to a few people, Jega had no option but to shift the date of the election. If that election was not shifted, I bet you that Jonathan would have lost that election.” The question is: who are these few people Fasehun spoke with?

Alhough the OPC leader’s (Fasehun) narrative is different from that of the military, through Col. Sambo Dasuki, the two can be reconciled. While the political face of the ethnic militia works to truncate the election, President Jonathan uses the military – Sambo Dasuki – to directly realise this.

In all rogue situations, there are often two faces – the violent face and the more restrained political face. While the Niger Delta, OPC, MASSOB militia represent the violent ethnic face of a rogue state, the Southern Peoples Assembly of Edwin Clark, Femi Okunronmu and Chukwuemeka Ezeife represents the political ethnic face. Their roles are obvious – to intimidate Nigerian voters to see if President Jonathan can catch up and win the election, or pour onto the streets and unleash violence if he loses.

The Nigerian people and democracy loving friends of Nigerian people in the global community must resist a rogue state and its ethnic militia and para-military ground units that are bent on truncating Nigerian democracy. On this issue it is costly for democracy to be neutral.

Adeolu Ademoyo,, is of the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

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