The Evolution of Political Islam and Populist Politics: Caliphs & Democrats

The Evolution of Political Islam and Populist Politics: Caliphs & Democrats

The Evolution of Political Islam and Populist Politics: Caliphs & Democrats

By Professor John O. Voll, Georgetown University

Summary from a webinar presentation, hosted by The Cordoba Foundation


In This Issue

The puzzle of Political Islam
The many forms of Political Islam
Muslimism
Evolution of Political Islam – a brief glimpse
Conclusion


The puzzle of Political Islam

Modern Political Islam takes many forms. People and groups as diverse as Osama bin Ladin’s Al-Qa’ida organisation, and French women protesting a ban on head scarfs get called expressions of “Political Islam.” The Economist, in discussing this situation, spoke of “the puzzle of political Islam.”1 Part of this puzzle reflects important contradictions in the way we look at Political Islam. Many people use an outdated conceptual-analytical framework for trying to understand the nature of Political Islam.

There are old-fashioned ways of analysing Political Islam that still have value but are based on looking at things in a binary way – things are either “x”, or they are “y”. In analysing Political Islam, people often end up viewing movements or attitudes as binary, being either “secular” or “religious” or being “traditional” or “modern.” In that context, the immense variety of groups that are usually associated with Political Islam becomes a real puzzle. In actual operation, Political Islam appears in forms that are both secularly radical and religiously fundamentalist or express an identity that combines the traditional and modern in ideology and modes of operation.

The many forms of Political Islam

Simplistic, either/or binary identifications obscure the diversity of forms of Political Islam, creating artificial categories for analysis. It is important to recognise the real contrasts among things that have been labelled Political Islam. One might compare, for example, the militant activism and terrorism of Al-Qa’ida under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, especially in the 1990s, with the head-scarf wearing French women protesting for the right to wear the hijab whose protest slogan called for liberty, equality and fraternity. These are all part of the many forms of Political Islam.

One of the fascinating expressions of Political Islam is a very popular rapper, Amir Tataloo in Iran, who raps in Persian. During the negotiations in 2015 which resulted in the agreement on Iranian nuclear production capacity, he released a special rap video supporting the hardline position of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The video was produced by the Iranian Republic navy and had the support of the hardline Ayatollah, Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, who was later elected President of the Republic.

It raises a question then: what is the nature of Political Islam – that it can include a radical rapper and the Ayatollahs in Iran?

The many different faces of Political Islam include women. Women in Egypt throughout the 20th century and into the 21st , for example, played important roles in protests and movements. The fashions of the day reflect some of the changes. In 1919 there was a nationalist revolution that women participated in. Some women participated with faces covered and conservative dress – but the clothing that they were wearing was not old-fashioned, it was not traditional. It was a new kind of explicit dress of identification that was Islamic but not traditional. In the same way, women in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Arab Spring protests in 2011 could be seen as being part of a variety of people protesting and their head covering reflected 21st century fashions while still being in hijab.

Muslimism

With all of this diversity of types of activism and direct political participation, it becomes helpful to make at-least one distinction. Some of the activities that get called Political Islam are actions taken by Muslims because they are participating in politics – it is a mode of acting politically. It is the broad spectrum of ways that Muslims act politically. Some scholars have called it Muslimism. This kind of Political Islam was visible in Tahrir Square. It was not formally organised, not part of a formal group, not part of an institution, but rather a mode of acting politically.

The other, more common usage of the term is to apply it to specific movements, like the Iranian Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, specific organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qa’ida, and ideologically influential intellectuals like Abu al-Ala Mawdudi.

Evolution of Political Islam – a brief glimpse

An analysis of the evolution of Political Islam in the 20th and 21st centuries could begin by looking at the emergence of the believing community in the time of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. However, Political Islam is also a distinctive modern phenomenon as well as a long-term historical dimension of Muslim history.

If we are conscious of trying to avoid a binary analysis which identifies movements as either “secular” or “religious,” either “traditional” or “modern,” it changes the narrative. All of the movements of what is called Political Islam are in many ways modern. The distinction between traditional and modern fades into a synthesis of traditional and modern. And in the same way, movements that are active in the secular world may be religious and movements that are active in the religious world may be secular. And so we have what might be called a religio-secular synthesis of political activism within the Muslim world.

An important transition time in the history of Muslim political activism was World War I. That war brought an end to old-style empires like the Ottomans and Hapsburgs – and opened the way for the modern Muslim politics of nationalism and new state creation. Claims to leadership based on the call for re-establishing a caliphate lost support. New state systems based on national or Islamic identities – like the newly established Turkish Republic and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – articulated political visions that combined religious and ethno-cultural identities in the period between the two World Wars. In Egypt, for example, the nationalism of Sa’d Zaghlul and the Islamism of the then-newly-created Muslim Brotherhood were political competitors but this was not a competition between “modern” and “traditional” politics, since both movements were modern political entities.

Following World War II, the older style nationalism was challenged in many places and replaced by a new radicalism in which nationalism provided the major vision and Islam tended to be a secondary element in articulating political ideologies. However, this “secular” nationalism was not anti-religious but rather presented a religio-secular political synthesis. By the 1970s, this radical nationalism had created authoritarian dictatorships and an opposition articulated in Islamic terms emerged as the most effective form of political populism and reform.

By the 1980s, a broad set of movements emerged as major political forces and observers used the term ‘Political Islam’ to identify them. Among the most important of these are the Iranian Islamic Republic, the Muslim Brotherhood in a number of countries, the Islamic Tendency (later organised as a political party, al-Nahda) in Tunisia, and the Muslim Youth Movement in Malaysia.

By the beginning of the 21st century, Islamically articulated political visions and populist appeals became a major element in the evolution of Muslim political activism and global politics. It was possible for a very well-informed observer in 2002 to say, “Islamism has become, in fact, the primary vehicle and vocabulary of most political discourse throughout the Muslim world… The region’s nationalist parties are weak and discredited, and nationalism itself has often been absorbed into Islamism.”2

The continuing evolution of Political Islam in the 21st century involved a number of diverse developments. The development of Al-Qa’ida from a local militant group in Afghanistan into a globally significant set of terrorist networks and the establishment of the Taliban as rulers of Afghanistan both reflected the importance of locally-based manifestations of a militant Political Islam. A very different part of the spectrum of Political Islam involves the self-re-definition of Islamists like Rashid Ghannouchi as “Muslim democrats.” An important factor in the changing nature of Political Islam is the increasing importance of the Internet and social media in creating communication networks of activists and providing ways of recruiting new supporters. As a result, a sense of political populism is an increasingly important aspect of global Political Islam.

Conclusion

“Political Islam” has become a useful label for the significant developments of Muslim political activism. It provides a way of noting the global and local dynamism of Muslim politics in the 21st century. In a time when it is possible to speak of “multiple modernities,” it is important to recognise that Political Islam is not a form of traditional society and culture opposing modernity. Instead, it is an important element in the efforts to define the various possible forms of Islamic modernity.

 


1. Cover, The Economist, August 26th-September 1st, 2017.
2. Fuller, Graham E. (2002). “The Future of Political Islam,” Foreign Affairs 81, No. 2 (March/April), p.50.

Author

John O. Voll is Professor Emeritus of Islamic History at Georgetown University. He is a past president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. His most recent book is the co-authored volume, Islam and Democracy after the Arab Spring.

Copyright
© The Cordoba Foundation 2021.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior permission of the The Cordoba Foundation.

Disclaimer
Views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of The Cordoba Foundation.

Editors
Dr Anas Altikriti – Chief Executive
Dr Abdullah Faliq – Managing Director
H.D. Forman
Sandra Tusin

Published in London by The Cordoba Foundation

info@thecordobafoundation.com

www.thecordobafoundation.com

NIGERIA: MILITARISING A CIVIL PROTEST

NIGERIA: MILITARISING A CIVIL PROTEST

NIGERIA: MILITARISING A CIVIL PROTEST

by Prince Debo Luwaji


In This Issue

Part 1 – Nigeria: Mishandling of a simple protest
What sparked the mass protests?
Demands of the protesters
The case against SARS

Part 2 – What breaks the peace
Role of the President
Two distinct youth movements behind the protests
The Governor’s reaction
International condemnation of the brutal crackdown
Pervading frustration: how much time do we have?


Part 1 – Nigeria: Mishandling of a simple protest

Militarising civil protest is not only dangerous but history has proven that the consequences of doing so is dire.

The use of the military on Tuesday 20 October, 2020, to supress the largely peaceful protests by youths in Lekki, Lagos and other locations in Nigeria was so plainly wrong-headed that it is difficult to imagine that those who authorised it did not foresee its inevitable outcome. What began as a largely peaceful #EndSARS protest, has in one moment of ill-advised official high-handed reprisals, turned into #LekkiMassacre and #BlackTuesday.

Several protesters have been killed and hoodlums have taken over from the hitherto peaceful gatherings, unleashing mayhem on government property and drawing officers of the law into bloody confrontations with protestors. Some men of the police force count among the casualties and a few police stations have also been torched. There are reports of shopping centre looting as well as the targeting of homes and businesses of families linked to politicians. It is hurtful to recall that these same protests were generally acknowledged, both home and abroad, as peaceful and well-organised everyday the youths were on the streets, until Tuesday’s violence.

Within 24 hours, by the close of Wednesday 21 October, the loss of property in Lagos alone has cost in the region of $450m US dollars. Places set ablaze included the Nigeria Port Authority, Lekki Toll Gate, BRT Bus Terminal, along with no less than 60 Mass Transit vehicles, Television Continental, and the Oriental Hotel Victoria Island. The last of these two properties are believed to belong to a prominent politician. The Federal Road Safety and Vehicle Inspection Offices as well as the Governor’s family house in the city were also damaged. The once revered palace of Oba of Lagos was also not spared in the mindless arson, his symbol of authority seized. Many local government offices in the metropolis were torched or damaged.

Additionally, the mayhem, as reported in the business news, seems to have dampened investors’ sentiment, leading to a decline in the equity market, where “market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N113bn from N14.98tn the previous day to N14.87tn – as market sentiment remained in the negative territory because of the #EndSARS crisis”.

In retrospect, many believed that a ten-minute address by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian armed forces Muhammadu Buhari, if broadcast in the wake of the growing protests, would have made all the difference required to calm nerves and encourage the protesting youths to vacate the streets.

Writer and philosopher George Santayana once said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. In other words, when we fail or refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past, it becomes inevitable that we make the same avoidable errors.

There are historians who believe that the collapse of Nigeria’s First Republic and the nation’s unfortunate three-year civil war (1967–1970) that claimed millions of lives actually had its roots in Western Nigeria, where street protests against the perceived rigging of the 1965 Western Regional Elections was mishandled. The deployment of maximum force by soldiers and brutal Police squads to quell those protests spiralled into ‘Operation Wetie’ — a wave of sporadic arsons and widespread destruction of property.

Drawing from this, it is imperative that the government and all men of goodwill in Nigeria begin immediately to take measures to douse the flames and avoid further needless bloodshed and a calamitous end result.

Nigerians are a largely peaceful people who often wilfully overlook the excesses of those in government. In a general sense, life is tough, and making a living in the absence of any significant socio-economic support systems imposes on most people a daily hustle that starts from dawn and ends at dusk. Thus, what the average citizen asks for is nothing more than an atmosphere of peace and the freedom to pursue their legitimate undertakings.

Although the majority are enlightened and have a full grasp of all news regarding the corruption and unbridled greed of many politicians and public officials, you will hardly see Nigerians mount-up mass protests against their leaders. The time required for such frivolities is simply too expensive to spare. The majority of people are in such an impoverished state that anything that would shift their focus and time off work (or their business pursuits) will lead to terrible consequences for their dependants. So, most often, they simply take whatever is thrown at them – increased power tariffs, hikes in fuel prices, with equanimity and move on.

Within this context, it made the #EndSARS protests an unprecedented event and a serious embarrassment to the government? So how did it start?

What sparked the mass protests?

A young man, Joshua Ambrose, was reportedly thrown to his death from a fast moving vehicle belonging to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police in Ugbeli, Delta State. This coincided with other reports of abuse at the hands of the police, something that has become commonplace. For the youth, it was one loss of life too many. Their spontaneous reaction resembles the one ignited by the Tunisian vegetable vendor – Mohammed Bouhazizi who set himself ablaze in frustration after his wares were seized by overbearing state officials, sparking off protests in Tunisia. There was also a report of a young man here who committed suicide after the seizure of his phone by SARS prevented him from closing a deal on the stock exchange, plunging him into huge loss.

The Nigerian government swiftly reacted by announcing the dismantling of the much-maligned SARS and replacing it with the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), proclaiming this as the beginning of the administration’s elaborate plan towards police reforms, Incidentally, this wasn’t acceptable to the youth who saw it as mere tokenism, much like pouring the same wine in a different bottle with a new label. And so, the protests continued and had stretched beyond the second week by #Black Tuesday.

Demands of the protesters

To be sure, the demands of the youth didn’t seem extra-ordinary. On Sunday, 11 October, the protesters put up five demands to be met by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The demands, which were signed by ‘A Nigerian Youth’ – apparently to prevent any leader or group within them from being identified as the arrowhead of the protests, asked for immediate release of all those arrested during the protests, as well as justice and compensation for all those who died through police brutality in Nigeria.

They wanted notorious officers of the SARS identified for their various atrocities brought to justice. At the root of their concerns is the reform of the police who currently operate in such deplorable conditions that have largely contributed to their inhumane attitude towards the people.

From street to street, the protesters grew in number and were encouraged by the outpouring of support from demonstrations in different cities of the world calling on the government to grant them a hearing. The protests largely mirror the legitimate frustrations of the Nigerian youth, whose lot has gone from bad to worse over the years. Joblessness has reached an all time high, and those who have any job are mostly paid a pittance despite possessing university degrees. Higher education is gradually losing its value to the youth because of the hopelessness that awaits most university graduates. According to Dr. Willie Siyanbola, Director General of the National Centre for Technological Management, a staggering 60% of Nigerian graduates are unemployed.

The youth have taken to heart Martin Luther King Jr’s statements, that “a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government”, “protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it”, and “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity”.

The case against SARS

Worst is the accusation of profiling youths, levelled against the SARS. In these days of social media technology, there is indeed proofs gathered through video footage of encounters that lend credence to this accusation. These special departments of the Nigerian Police assumed incredible power of their own, and apparently operate unchecked. Taking advantage of the notoriety of some Nigerians in cyber-crime around the world, harassment and intimidation of the youth became routine. A youth driving an expensive car is damned. The youth on the street with dreadlocks or simply dressing ‘young’ is an easy target. They are stopped indiscriminately, their phones seized and contents checked. Any communication on the phone can be used as incriminating, and the victims are sometimes made to transfer as much funds as the arresting police team can extract. Often, the victim sees his cooperation as a life-saving necessity. These incidents are replicated across the country and have been getting from bad to worse.

Part 2 – What breaks the peace

“Protesting is never a disturbance of the peace. Corruption, injustice, war and intimidation are disturbances of the peace.” ― Bryant McGill

The exact number of lives lost to the reportedly heavy-handed intervention of the Nigerian security forces on Tuesday, 20 October during the youth’s #EndSARS protests in Lekki Lagos and other parts of the country may take a while to be fully ascertained, if ever. Figures being quoted vary from 4 to 40, depending on who you listen to. Some commentators swear the casualties are more, others say the social media orchestration of a ‘massacre’ was a politically motivated exaggeration of what actually happened in Lekki. Without being an eye witness or having independent facts, it pays to be suspicious of everything you gather on social media in these days of creative and manipulative graphics.

What is fairly certain at this juncture, however, is that the reported carnage of Tuesday ignited a conflagration that enveloped the entire city in the subsequent three days. When the dust of the mindless mayhem settled, the damage was incalculable. The financial losses incurred by the state and private citizens, in Lagos especially, was far higher than initially estimated. It could be well over three billion dollars, an unacceptably high figure for a nation in recession and currently reeling in trillions of dollars of external debt. Public assets were not the only targets of the rampaging hoodlums who took advantage of the mayhem that ensued after the organised and peaceful protests had been violently dispersed. Private businesses located in malls and business districts were not spared; a truly sorry situation from which many of the victims may never recover without government assistance.

Role of the President 

Considering the overwhelming local and international outcry against the reported carnage of #BlackTuesday, especially the Lekki demonstrators, who were not only peaceful throughout their 12-day protests but were indeed recorded to be waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem, even as the menacing soldiers advanced on them. There was a general expectation that President Buhari’s much awaited address would unavoidably take its cue from that incident. Not a few were disappointed when the president’s eventual speech made no direct reference to it.

In his national broadcast of 22 October, the President admitted this much:

“The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments; but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law. As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth”.

Referring to the extensive carnage witnessed all over the country in the last few days, President Buhari could not see how all these could have been executed in the name of the #EndSARS protests; “I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country”. The President concludes further that “the spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens, is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour”.

In fairness, the government did scrap the SARS – the police unit accused of assault, illegal detentions and extra-judicial killings, on 11 October, 2020, about the fourth day into the protests. This was a commendably prompt response that the President now claims may have been misconstrued by his detractors as weakness. But the demonstrators had called for more extensive police reforms and in other areas of governance.

Two distinct youth movements behind the protests

To put it in context, it is evident that two sets of youths were involved in what can clearly be separated into different incidents over the last 2 weeks or so in Nigeria. Those behind the #EndSARS protests, which by the way was a spontaneous reaction at the start of the protest, were mostly educated youths, including renowned artists who organised themselves in the most peaceful manner possible. They raised funds among themselves and extensively from those who were sympathetic to their cause at home and abroad. They ate, danced and slept at the Lekki Toll Gate and other designated gathering points across the country. For the most part, they resisted any attempts of miscreants to infiltrate them, and thugs caught in their midst were handed over to the police. Given their nobility and their calm conduct, this was the last set of people that you would imagine the authorities would want to disperse violently.

The second set of youths were the miscreants and hoodlums, who were initially either watching from the sidelines or had to alter their participation to the peaceful manner dictated by their more refined protests leaders. All this changed dramatically and predictably after the Tuesday incident. The marauding group  took over and these are the  criminals, who had grudges with the police and the state for obvious reasons, attacking and burning police stations, prisons to free inmates, and engaging in an audacious looting spree.

I drove around some parts of Lagos on Thursday 22 October, the second day of the curfew. What I witnessed was scary. No policemen to be found anywhere, only weed-smoking hooligans manning illegal check points mounted on the highways and extracting money from the few motorists who dared to be on the road. Considering the sheer numbers of these disgruntled hooligans, and they can be found in almost every community within the state, the weaponised poverty I witnessed gave me an impression of a city playing with fire while sitting on a keg of highly flammable substance. Monuments and state assets which took several years and colossal amounts of money to build can be brought to ashes simultaneously at various locations by a few unchecked mobsters in no time at all.

The Governor’s reaction

One can sympathise with the Governor of the state, Babajide Sanwo Olu who dissociated himself from protesters at the point where the demonstrations turned disastrous. In his televised address on Friday 23 October, after inspecting the horrendous carnage in parts of the state, the Governor appeared visibly overwhelmed. His frustration was mirrored in a leaked interview he had with a foreign envoy, now in the public domain, in which his undeniable voice was heard lamenting whatever caused the misdirected operatives to shoot at the peaceful protesters. Some excerpts are reproduced below:

Governor: Straight to the point, you knew there was a curfew declared at about 10.30 in the morning, that there was meant to be total lockdown and people are to vacate the streets and be in their homes from 4pm. That was the instruction that was passed out. So at 6 o’clock or thereabouts, when we realised that the protesters at the toll plaza were still there, there were several appeals from civil societies and some of the parents that we should extend the curfew time. We graciously communicated thereafter that the curfew would be extended till 9pm (take off time) before we get the security operatives out.

So those were the communications that were out to a whole lot of security operatives, but I think at about 7 o’clock or thereabouts, there was a small unit of the military that now were not there, and we heard that gunshots were fired. Initially, we couldn’t even believe it, because, security operatives were not meant to be there ‘til around 10 o’clock or 11, so why would anybody be there?

 Envoy: But the Army said they were not there. Was the army there or not?

Governor: I think the footage showed that they were the military. I wasn’t there on the ground myself but some of the things captured on camera showed that it was the army.

Envoy: Why is the army denying it then?

Governor: They don’t report to me, you know, I wouldn’t know why. The instructions were that they shouldn’t be there until around 10pm. I think there must have been some miscommunication somewhere in their own formation. What we heard is that the unit that went there, their location is less than 10 minutes from where the incident occurred. You know, its straight down the same road, 5 minutes from their barracks they actually could get there. I don’t know who gave those instructions. I don’t know how they missed the information that was passed on.

Envoy: Just to be clear, you are not saying that people should have been opened fire on because they disobeyed the curfew?

Governor: Absolutely not. There were no instructions to that effect. I am not a party to that. I would never instruct people to open fire on protesters.

What kind of security setup do we have in Nigeria which could allow a sitting Governor, the Chief Executive Officer of the state, not be the dominant voice in deployment of forces of intervention in matters whose ugly repercussions are entirely for his state to bear? Notwithstanding his disavowal, however, Governor Sanwo Olu and those who supported the drafting of soldiers to quell the peaceful protests, even if the soldiers had gotten their timing right, grossly underrated the inevitability of the maximum damage that the military are trained to inflict in battles.

International condemnation of the brutal crackdown

The condemnations that trailed #BlackTuesday have been massive, coming from prominent voices everywhere. At home, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, among others, reprimanded the government for its heavy-handedness and called for restraints on all sides. Internationally, former US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, and current US Democratic Candidate Joe Biden, condemned the development in the strongest possible terms, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

The European Union said it was shocked by the killings in the wake of the #EndSARS protests. In a Statement by the High Representative / Vice-President Josep Borrell on Wednesday 21 October said that “it was looking forward to seeing the sort of reforms that would be put in place to ensure police reforms. It is crucial that those responsible for abuses be brought to justice and held accountable”.

Nigeria’s Vice president, Prof. Yemi Osibajo SAN promised this much on Thursday 22 October when he received at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, an American government delegation including the US Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Bob Destro; US Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Conflict Stabilisation Operations, Denise Natali; the Counselor of the US Department of State, Thomas Ulrich Brechbuhl; and the Charge d’Affairs, US Embassy, Kathleen FitzGibbon as well as Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.

According to the Vice President, at-least 13 states in the country including Lagos, have since established Judicial Panels “to seek justice and to compensate those whose rights have been breached.”

Plans are afoot to investigate all cases of police brutality including any extra-judicial killings, prosecute erring police officers, create new state-based Security and Human Rights Committees, as well as provide compensation to victims of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.

Pervading frustration: how much time do we have?

The Nigerian government is running out of time to quell the growing dissatisfaction among the populace. There are those who believe that a slice of the monstrous emoluments of the few in power, starting with those members of Assembly, the atrocious entitlements of ex-governors and the financial leakages in all tiers of government, would make a telling difference in the sectors of education, social amenities and police welfare. A Senator of the National Assembly, Ali Ndume – Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army in an interview on Channels Television said, the problem goes beyond the emoluments of the National Assembly alone, “the overall cost of governance is too high. Right now, Nigerians are spending N13 trillion on less than 5% of the people”.

Surprisingly, even in the midst of the current national crisis, no less than four large warehouses were discovered in Lagos and other states, between Wednesday 21 and Friday 23 October, stuffed to overflowing with essential everyday foodstuffs which were meant as palliatives for the masses during the recent Covid-19 lockdown. There are reasons to believe that similar yet-to-be-discovered storage facilities are in many other states. People suffered hunger and deprivation during the 4-month Covid lockdown, and still do. Yet, several million dollars worth of foodstuffs provided by the government, and with local and international donations, which would have assuaged their hardships, were kept locked-up by conscienceless politicians for whatever reasons – perhaps to gain political leverage at a later date when distribution would have more electoral value.

It would be interesting to understand on whose orders these foodstuffs were stored? Why did they remain in safe keeping several weeks after they ought to have been distributed?

These issues are galvanising a generation already disillusioned with the ruling class. The government needs to take concrete action to assuage people’s widespread discontent or there will be plenty of protests to come.

Author

Debo Luwaji is a Prince of the Alake dynasty, Egbaland, Ogun State Nigeria where he is resident. He is an educationist, a trained journalist and a writer. He is an alumnus of London School of Journalism, The Polytechnic Ibadan, Lagos State University and Pan African University (Lagos Business School) where he obtained degrees and post graduate diplomas  in Journalism,  Educational Management, law and Media Enterprise respectively. He runs a charity initiative, HSA-LANE Vocational Institute, that empowers indigent youth and women through free training and post-training start-ups.

Copyright
© The Cordoba Foundation 2020.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior permission of the The Cordoba Foundation.

Disclaimer
Views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of The Cordoba Foundation.

Editors
Dr Anas Altikriti – Chief Executive
Dr Abdullah Faliq – Managing Director
Prof. Jerome Krase
H.D. Forman
Sandra Tusin

Published in London by The Cordoba Foundation

info@thecordobafoundation.com

www.thecordobafoundation.com

Webinar Report: US 2020 Elections and Prospects of Democracy in the MENA Region

Webinar Report: US 2020 Elections and Prospects of Democracy in the MENA Region

The coming US elections couldn’t have happened under more dramatic nor crucially important circumstances.
The world sits ravaged by the Coronavirus, economies braced for one of the worst downturns in living memory and countries and societies polarised and divided like never before. Therefore an election that would decide not only the shape and direction of the US administration for the next four years, but potentially some of the most critical questions facing humanity in several generations, is one that demands full attention.

Whether it be global health care and well- being, racial and economic equality, the economy, climate change, public, personal and cybersecurity, privacy and data regulation, human rights and democracy or extremism and terrorism of all types, whoever sits in the White House come January 2021, will be instrumental.

The Cordoba Foundation in collaboration with Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University convened a very timely webinar on 11th of August, which addressed the US elections and its potential impact on democracy in the MENA region. The webinar attracted much attention for understandable reasons. The Trump administration, in the eyes of many, gave oxygen to oppressive regimes and elevated the status of ‘strongmen’, otherwise more commonly known for being dictators, tyrants and oppressors and a return of President Trump would send a clear message that America would continue to not only stand by, but grant actual support to the regimes of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE among others.

 

TCF-USA-REPORT-FINAL
INFORMATION WARRIORS

INFORMATION WARRIORS

AND THE BATTLE FOR HEARTS AND MINDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

 

States and movements use information as
part of a wider strategy to fully engage in conflict… an idea that has formed part of the analysis of the way liberal democracies successfully used propaganda as a tool to achieve both military and foreign policy aims.

Download Publication (PDF, 2823kb)

ROJAVA – THE UTOPIA OF A DEFEATED WESTERN LEFT

ROJAVA – THE UTOPIA OF A DEFEATED WESTERN LEFT

THE HIDDEN TRUTHS OF THE KURDISH “DEMOCRATIC EXPERIMENT” IN NORTH EASTERN SYRIA.

The deluge of quasi- unanimous Western outrage at both Trump’s “betrayal of the Kurdish allies” and at Erdogan’s offensive, and the slew of outlandish accusations against him largely masked how remarkable, and largely successful the U.S.- Turkish-Russian diplomatic ballet has been.

Trump, despite
the bravado of his twitter warnings against Erdogan, actually quickly lifted the sanctions against Turkey before rolling out the red carpet during Erdogan’s visit to the White House

Download Publication

Morsi Full Report

Morsi Full Report

Request for a UN-led investigation into the death of former Egyptian President, Dr Mohammed Morsi
This ‘Report’ has been drafted and submitted at the request of those instructing the ‘Legal Team’, namely the family of Dr Mohammed Morsi, and the Egyptian Revolutionary Council.
It was drafted and reviewed by the legal team comprised of Toby Cadman, Almudena Bernabeu, and Carl Buckley.
Published in London, United Kingdom 15 November 2019