Monday 18th May 2009 Speaker: DELE OGUN On: 'ANOTHER WAY FOR NIGERIA' Chairman/Sponsor of House of Commons: GEOFFREY CLIFTON BROWN, MP Vote of Thanks: PROFESSORE ALAN LEE WILLIAMS,

Monday 18th May 2009

Speaker: DELE OGUN

On: 'ANOTHER WAY FOR NIGERIA'

Chairman/Sponsor of House of Commons: GEOFFREY CLIFTON BROWN, MP

Vote of Thanks: PROFESSORE ALAN LEE WILLIAMS, MBE

Location: COMMITTEE ROOM 11, HOUSE OF COMMONS

 

 

SEE ARTICLE IN EUROPEAN-ATLANTIC JOURNAL

 

 

Question and Answer session

 

 

Questioner

 

Nigeria is part of the commonwealth; it is a member of the African union; it supplies huge numbers of troops in the African union in the conflicts throughout Africa and indeed throughout the world as United Nations troops. It plays its part on the international stage.  It is taking its responsibilities seriously. So how come the Nigerian government is taking these international responsibilities so seriously and yet it isn’t taking seriously the plight of its own people?

 

Dele Ogun

 

That question really does define the dilemma of the Nigerian people. It is true that from Sierra Leon to Liberia, Nigerian troops have been at the forefront of efforts to bring peace to those countries. The parallel can even be taken further; our most recent President was appointed as the UN Ambassador to the Congo, to try to reconcile the war and poverty in that country. But the Nigerian army massacre in villages and towns in Nigeria was done at his direction! It seems that the state of Nigeria does not believe that they’re there to serve the Nigerian people. The state is available for friends outside, but it has lost part of its principle purpose, which is to serve its own people. It is almost like a Janus-mask, but facing the wrong way. Most states show their nice face to their people and their hard face outside. The Nigerian state shows its nice face outside and its hard face to its people. That really is a result of the somewhat artificial nature of the construct that is Nigeria, because having been made up of so many diverse peoples, an identity which homogenous states would normally have is simply not there - so it is possible to send troops into what it is really another nation, another country, and exterminate them as if they were not members of your family. Until we can construct a spirit within Nigeria where the people really do feel Nigerian - this is what the Genesis Project is seeking to achieve, to build an inclusive Nigeria that all Nigerians of whatever faith or whatever ethnic group can believe in - it is only then that the face, the collective, will face forwards.

 

 

Patrick Emek Sec of CIAJ

 

Is it possible that Nigeria might become an Islamic Republic, and if does become an Islamic Republic, would in fact the majority of the people be opposed to this, in view of the fact that one of the issues that extreme Islam works on is not just poverty, but also on massive levels of corruption, under representation and tyranny. Is it not on these issues that you have a real uphill task? Having met with a senior Nigerian representative not long ago, I’m not left with a belief in a very hopeful future for the country.

 

Mr. Ogun

 

If I had been asked in early 1980’s during the oil boom in Nigeria, and Nigeria felt much more Nigerian in those days: ‘Could we see Nigeria as practising Islamic law (sharia)?’ The answer would have been ‘Of course not.’ The movement in Nigeria now is much more moslem-oriented and the evidence of that is that even in the colonial era, most of the British colonial administrators preferred it to be in the law, as practised. They were comfortable there, they could enjoy their alcohol in small doses, it was a very relaxed atmosphere. Many of the former colonial administrators that I speak to, they speak lovingly of the old live-and-let-live atmosphere and so the answer to your question would have been I couldn’t, and none of us could, see Sharia law being practiced in any part of Nigeria. And when the question was asked in 1999, and 2000, when the state became the first state to introduce Sharia law, could we see it going any further; and the assurance was that ‘no this is a special case’. Of course we were proved wrong, because more people adopted Sharia law. And it must be said that part of the reason why Sharia law was introduced and was able to be introduced in the first place was the very poverty and of loss of hope. It’s not a monopoly of the towns - all of it was produced by irresponsible government, and so when a more disciplined way of life is offered to you, then they see decadence all around them, you can understand why people would say “well yes, perhaps we ought to.” That is how Sharia law has been gathering momentum.  So the problem is where does it stop; where is the fine line between committed and feared and moderate Muslims even the Sharia? Where is the fine line between them on the one hand and the extremist? It is a very hard border to patrol, and very rarely would you get moderate practitioners of Islam speaking out against the extremists. So it’s a problem that, unless the checks and balances are to be placed early enough, to be sure that the moderates do not have to be overwhelmed. It shouldn’t be their problem, if the checks are put in place in the first place. So to answer your question, ‘Can I see Nigeria becoming an Islamic republic?’ Yes I can, because now I have the benefit of hindsight. If I ask ‘can I really see an end to it whereby it doesn’t go across the whole of my Nigeria?’ I really can’t.

 

Alache Ode, Voluntary Service Overseas

 

I think there’s a generalization that the whole of northern Nigeria is a Muslim country, but there are lots of pockets of Christians. The two states you’ve talked about there are also Christian states. And there is what they call the ‘middle belt of Nigeria’ that tries to balance problems between the north and south, and they don’t want to be classified as either northern or southern Nigeria, and they will do well to also mobilize some of those people in terms of supporting for a united Nigeria. I also think that one of the problems and challenges in Nigeria as a country is that when people start gathering momentum, provided it’s also part of the international communities’ problem, they do not intercede when they need. In the 1970 as a young girl in school in Nigeria, it was obvious that there was move towards Sharia. Sharia has always been in northern Nigeria. It is the implementation that is a problem. We’ve always had Sharia in northern Nigeria, and this was part of what happens when you have what they call the Almagria system. The Almagria system is where young children of 3, 4, and 5 years old are told to face east and move towards Mecca. So they have no parents, nothing and you have these pockets of people who teach them, and they are supposed to follow Islamic leaders, but there is no Islamic faith or religion being taught, what they are doing is to encouraging them to just be street kids, and most of the uprising in the north is from these street kids. There is not a lot of work done with Almagary children. They don’t go to school; they only go to Koranic school, where extremism can be fostered. Another thing is, in the 70’s as well, we were going to school in the north; there were Christian schools (church of England schools) and what happened? Because of the lack of teachers in those states they began to employ Pakistani teachers. And as soon as we had Pakistani teachers in our school then the northern Nigerian government stopped us from reciting any Christian things, then we had to form Muslim student societies. And the divisions have been happening for a long time but people in international communities don’t intercede until it becomes a major problem. And it took 9/11 to see that all these things have now become a problem. These are critical issues, and for Nigeria it is much more critical because even the military that used to intercede when there were problems of religion, ethnicity and so on, are now so politicized both on the lines of religion and really on the lines of ethnicity as well. So in the last resort Nigeria has gone that way, and I think it is high time that we begin to look what and where the interventions can really begin to happen. And finally there is also hope in terms of gender, the development and progress of Nigeria has been done by women.

 

Mr. Ogun

 

There is nothing for me to disagree with in what you said. To take the opportunity to mention one further point in response to Patrick’s question which touches on one of the comments you made too. The gradual Ismalisation and subtle Islamisation, because when you have Nigeria run as it is, where all business and all opportunity come from government, one’s sense is captured like that, it becomes an instrument of patronage and opportunities are given to people of a particular faith, and you see the pattern emerging that everybody is looking for an Islamic name inside their repertoire. It affects CVs even in a way it wouldn’t have done before because that is the path to opportunity. And that’s what makes urgent the need to re-centre Nigeria at the centre, such that it can be shared for all. Otherwise the opportunities for contracts, for education, advancement, and political advancement comes through recruiting mechanisms that point people in the direction of Islamic extremism.

 

 

 

George West

 

Do you have anything to say about the influence and effect of the European Union upon Nigeria?

 

Mr. Ogun

 

The parallel between Nigeria and Europe is something that is lost on most people. In Nigeria it was forced to amalgamate historically diverse and distinct nations - over 250 of them - and the result was this democratic deficit where by people can pull on the lever as much as the want but the train doesn’t respond; it doesn’t change direction. There is a ‘disconnect’ between the people and those who are running the ship, and that’s because of the scale of Nigeria compared to the scale of Europe. And also there is the artificiality of the system. When there is proximity between the representatives and the represented then you have the ingredients for true democracy. Most fundamental to share iare value, language, culture, vision. Now in Nigeria we are just seeking to make the best of a bad situation. Political union was imposed upon us and we’ve got to find a formula to try and make it work. And indeed that’s what I sought to achieve in the constitution that I drafted for Nigeria. To say this is to say where we are, how can we make it a bit more democratic, to get it closer to true representation of the component peoples but recognizing the reality?  Europe is moving in the other direction, moving towards political union, so it has that slight advantage. But nevertheless the definition is  going to be the same in my view based on our experiences in Nigeria because is what when you’ve got such diversity for values, aspirations, languages etcetera you end up with the lowest common denominator as your representatives. The public who would then dilute and discount the principle, in order to sell their message to the widest possible constituency rather than those of principle or vision of integrity who will stand their ground for their families, for their people, for their country first and foremost. They will always be the losers in competition for popularity as the scale of the state in which democracy is to be practice gets larger and larger and larger. Perhaps I should illustrate the point this way: if you look at your neighbourhood watch, for those of you who attend neighbourhood watch meetings, at the street level, your street, you have a little bit of an understanding or knowledge of your candidate. In Nigeria, in the villages, families know each other, and not for the one generation, they know each others from generations past. And so when someone is suddenly coming into money and wants to run for office, within the village that is, someone will pipe up and say ‘that fellow can never represent us, his father was a crook, his grandfather was crook and we can’t possibly have him representing us’ but that same person standing for election in a super-state who has now come into funds to fund his campaign to buy the advertisements on TV, he’s not known, they only know him on the basis of the images and the messages that have been imparted through the media, TV and newspaper, without any real knowledge of the individual. So therefore he can persuade them that he is the best candidate, because he has raised the most funds to fund his campaign. What happens as democracies practice on a larger and larger scale you find that the democrat process come monetary because we now no longer know the individual candidate. And whoever can raise the most money will tend to win the day at the post of the best candidate, because the one with no money, despite integrity, principle, industriousness etcetera. There are the parallels between the Nigerian experience and the European Union project, where as that scale on which democracy practice grows larger and larger, democratic deficits grows greater and greater.

 

Questioner

 

You explained some immensely complex political and constitutional position. Do you identify in your federal system any political movement, any political party apart from the ones you’ve said you tried that are anywhere near tackling the problems you so defined?

 

Mr. Ogun

 

None at all. For the simple reason, that because of the way the last 50 years has evolved, the practitioners of politics have come to realize that all that matters is winning, and it doesn’t matter how you win, and the best way of winning is rigging and monetization of the whole process. Once you knows those are keys to power, your ideology matters not; you don’t need to campaign on any issue, as issues are irrelevant. With the level of poverty that prevails in the country, the ballot becomes the currency mover, and the more that you have, you already have the vote in your pocket, because you are billionaire, so to really doesn’t matter what one says, arguments or policies, all that matters is the size of your treasure chest, giving you the opportunity to buy patronage, to buy exposure, to buy media coverage. Not too dissimilar to the Americans ...

 

Mr. Justin Glass

 

I think most people would feel that for there to be some form of probably happy outcome, there needs to be some consensual caucus near the top at least of Nigerian politics that people can identify with and who make the disparate elements coalesce around them in a direction which follows through with the vision that you have for Nigeria. Most of us having heard you tonight, would feel ‘how marvellous it would be if someone like you were there’ but could you perhaps unpack this for us a little more? What the personality situation at the top, and do you see a role for your self in it? Can this go beyond the overview you’ve unfurled for us into a reality and, if so, can you give us your hoped-for time scale?

 

Mr Ogun

 

It is the organiser’s prerogative to ask the most difficult question, but that is an extremely difficult question. The personalities on the ground: there are one or two personalities that could conceivably help to bring about this vision that I have outlined. But there are risks attached. One main possibility is with a former president General , I will explain the opportunity first then the risks. He was a former military man ruling Nigeria, and come 1979, handed over to a similarly weak civilian ruler, in president he ran the country for one full term but never made it to the end of the second term because a coup was organized and emerged as military ruler. One of the initiatives he identified was the need to restore discipline. He is famous for making Nigerians do the most remarkably basic, which is queuing, and that legacy lives on. While I was at the Nigerian law school, at the law school on the day he was supposed to start, I witnessed the scrum that took place outside the doorway to get into the main auditorium - because if you didn’t get into the main auditorium then you had to receive the lecture upstairs by intermediate media, and PowerPoint, such as it was in Nigeria, meant you could very well miss most of the lecture. So the scrum to get into the room was remarkable, but outside the law school people queued up and that was part of the legacy. The environmental sanitation days that  organized was a legacy of that administration. There was a discipline about them, and an iron discipline, but what happened was Nigerians were then seduced from going that part way by General Ibrahim.  So ‘enough of all this authoritarian strict military rule forcing you to queue up!’, lets have a free-for-all, that’s what we’ve had ever since; it was an invitation to an anarchist party and its what’s been going on since. Now he ran for office in the last election in 2007 and he was rigged out. He had run in 2003 and was rigged out and he took his protests to courts, but I just told  him that was a waste of time because the corruption of the value system with which the government had been running its affairs since 1999 has pervaded all aspects of Nigeria society including the courts. So increasingly you see a situation where people are being forced onto the streets, streets become the only option, once the avenue for peaceful change, whether through the ballot box and through the courts, is withdrawn and removed. Now I present the risks because he is a believer in the strictest form of Islam. It is said that he has ambitions to convert Nigeria into an Islamic state. I for one don’t believe this. I think there is a lot of propaganda that is placed out there but I’ve flagged the risks, and he is in the process of trying to build a common front with the groups that call themselves the progressives, Chief… was the leader of the group for national reformation that I worked with for a very long time, indeed it was the two of us who worked on the constitution project he came up with the ideas he’s an oxygen Arian(?) he was the one who moved the original motion for independence for Nigeria in 1953 that was voted down at the time. So he has been long in the campaign for democracy in Nigeria. The last reports I heard that … and … and other progressives were trying to get together what they called a mega-party to take on the ruling party. Now at the time I was quite excited about that prospect and possibly indeed being able to feed in possibilities and solutions. I lost some faith in that possibility as a result in the elections in that took place in …, That one state in Nigeria that had a run off election, because it was a different election. It told us what was in store for 2011, which is only around the corner. The presidential campaign will start very soon, the ruling parties made it very clear that the results will be as they say they are going to be, so it matters not what policies and solutions you campaign on and come up with, it matters not how well organized your electoral machine is, it matters not how popular your solutions are; what matters is that ‘we’ are organizing the elections, we appoint the chairman of the independent national election commission and we will continue to appoint him. And the very one who, this professor Morris… he was the one who was in charge of the elections that went down as the most rigged ever, in the long history of rigging in Nigeria, for the 2007 elections despite the outcry and despite the international condemnation he’s still there. It would have been a simple thing for … to distance himself from what happened in 2007, indeed … that the election where not conducted properly, but it goes back to the culture of impunity that I talked about earlier. He acknowledges that, simply let the same fellow there, conduct the 2011 elections. So, the mega party, if it manages to bridge the divide between them, manages to pull it together, with the same professor Morris … in office to conduct the election, I say that the outcome will be the same. This time … will simply leave it to the courts, because it’s been to the courts on two occasions, and you can see that the courts really don’t know the difference and so the alternative becomes the undemocratic part. And that is what people have been pushed in the direction of. As to whether I saw a role for myself in the area that I’ve outlined. I would dearly love a role, but whether I can achieve it within my lifetime is another matter.

 

 

Mr Ambrose Mann

 

I’m originally from Rwanda. Thanks for you brilliant presentation about the dangers of the … in Nigeria. I’ve been through a different type of danger, which is ethnicity. From what you know about the … region, and what has been going on, which parallel could you draw between extremism and ethnicity, the danger of ethnicity and extremism?

 

Mr. Ogun

 

They are obvious parallels. It is all rooted in the culture of intolerance, whether it’s in matters of faith, ethnicity or opinion, and once you have the culture of intolerance, then you would end up with the Rwanda type situation. The seeds, as far as Nigeria is concerned the early seeds, are there. It is almost a matter of periodic ritual that there will be clashes between Islamism and Christians on the slightest excuse. On the international outcry developed over the Dutch cartoon that mocked prophet Mohammed. Nigerian Christians, even though they were not Dutch, were the first to pay with their lives. So with the slightest excuse, it’s almost a process of slaughter, because government has not given narrative colours to the masses as far as not tolerating intolerance. When it is allowed to fester like that, of course communities start to arm themselves. If the government and the state does not protect properly, people begin to buy black market weapons, and many communities in Nigeria now have their vigilante groups that say ‘if the state won’t protect us we’ll do it ourselves’. Indeed as I understand it there were a lot of killings the other way as well so what tends to happen is next time around people arm themselves even more and then you get to the scale of Rwanda. So there are parallels there. The extremists have got a very serious head start and there is a lot of catching up to do I think that we have a model constitution that could work, that could keep Nigeria going and could keep going the people’s faith in Nigeria whilst allowing each to live as they wish to live with a ‘live and let live’ philosophy. We might just be able to pull it off towards the later stages of my life, God permitting. But with the events in … I think democracy has been postponed. I think the conduct of those elections marked the death of the current democratic dispensation; you can still recognize the corpse of the state, but the organs have ceased to function; it is a shell of a democracy that we are running with now, the cover, the masquerade, and underneath is simply an authoritarian dictatorship that is intolerant of the prospects of any opposition taking power. It is a great tragedy when you consider the conduct of the election in Ghana recently, especially how close those elections were, and the civil manner in which the incumbent, the ruling party, considered defeat. Then you look at South Africa as well, again a very smooth transition, I’m afraid in Nigeria the outlook is not so smooth. I dearly wish that I could be in the equivalent of this building (the House of Commons) trying to help shape the future for the country but I suspect our work will be done elsewhere.

 

Questioner

 

If I understand you correctly, you’re warning us to be on the guard against militant Islam. But at the same time, even before militant Islam back in the 1980s, Nigeria wasn’t working. Nigeria has never worked and giving people civic education surely isn’t going to solve the problem within the current system. The people with the power are clearly never going to allow you to do the things you want. Isn’t the solution that we actually need to do something quite radical to actually change …?

 

Mr. Ogun

 

I suppose that sometimes the radical solution comes whether you want it or no. The Genesis philosophy is less radical, but it is urgent. To the extent that it is radical it is only in its urgency, the urgency of the need to get the process going in order to avoid the radical solution because, as the incumbents have shown, in the intolerance and the culture of impunity that I have talked about, they have made it very clear that there is no room at the top and you are not going to change it by democratic channels. ‘It isn’t democracy that we’re playing’ is the message that they are sending out. And if you think you can change this by voting, if you think you change this by going to the courts  and asking for the judges to overturn the decisions, well, play along, but ‘we’ll allow them to overturn some decisions, we will reorganize the election and we’ll re-get what we want in the exact same way.’ So the democratic solution is looking harder and harder but it can only get worse, so what we see is a need to urgently and seriously engage the people, that civic education that I spoke of, whereby they can start believing again. Nigerians are very optimistic people. In fact, a part of the problem is we’re too optimistic sometimes. Sometimes a dose of reality could really help us to see things as they are. If we can help somehow to accelerate the process by means of which the people will have a a minimal amount of civility or civilization so as to bring sense; damage limitation is all that we are doing. That is the reality, a damaged limitation, but if we don’t do it then we create the fertile soil in which becomes a playground for the extremists and we need to do it, as Tony Blair touched upon in his speech in the interests of the moderate practitioners of Islam as martyrs, in the interests of Christians and the other Nigerians. The danger is, if Nigeria goes in the way of Somalia or indeed Pakistan, we close the borders in the area with the Republic of … with Chad etcetera are so course … again the firewalls you will look for and you won’t find them. It just creates that domino effect and you can see, at least I can see, the picture emerging. The fault line that runs through Sudan and also the fault line that runs through the centre of Nigeria and is close to Somalia. This is a global conflict that the international community is now seeking to respond to. As a precaution, we can’t be sure that it is what someone would call a ‘holy war’ but, as a precaution, these checks and balances have to be put in there, rather than us try to fire fight after the crisis has imploded. So in answer to your question, the Genesis Project understands that Nigerians do want Nigeria but they want a Nigeria that is not the laughing stock of the world because they know that does not really reflect the Nigerian people. Nigerian people are very competitive, a very jolly people and a very proud people, and the image of Nigeria that has come through because the censor has been captured by what we call the Forces of Darkness. They now have defined the image of Nigerians in which the world runs with. The good people of Nigeria are very anxious to repair that image and can only do so by giving and having strategies to give the ordinary people that minimum level of decency to make them, help them, look away from extremists and look to the future of an inclusive and a positive New Nigeria.

 

Mr. Dayo Fadina

 

I want to ask you to come back to the point you raised about rigging of elections in Nigeria. I remember in 2007, I was listening to BBC radio news that dealt with the elections. There was monumental falsification of election results, which should not stand. I also remember the Foreign Secretary at that time; I think might have been Margaret Becket, who actually stated very clearly to the whole world at that point that she was quite concerned about election results of that time. What particularly surprises me up till now is, as much as the whole international community condemned the election results of 2007, it seems that today what the British government has done and particularly the international community after the election, what they did was, they just went totally quite quiet about criticizing the government. It seems that at this point in time the British government is actually treating the federal government and the head of state with respect and really they are not actually saying anything about the monumental falsification of election results in 2007. Is he actually the bona fide president of Nigeria? My question is this, what would be your take on the role of the British government right now, in terms of actually sustaining presidents that want to rig the ballot?

 

Mr Ogun

 

The culture of impunity that I spoke about, that prevailed and has prevailed in Nigeria, could also be seen internationally. Although we are supposed to be citizens of a shared world we’ve tended to tolerate lesser practices, practices that we knew were not up to the grade. That is in the nature of state I suppose, at least in the way we used to run the world ‘oh its a local problem it won’t affect us therefore leave it alone, lets just move forward’. Just as the Nigerian governments’ attitude was investigate, make some noises, and then do nothing about it and then move forward, likewise the international community would make the comment and then move forward. But I think 9/11 changed this. I think 9/11 brought a new approach, and if it didn’t, it should have brought in a new understanding that these problems are global, and the threat and the consequences are global. If you ignore or tolerate the fire in one part of this world, especially when you are dealing with ideologies that are global in their aspirations, the risk is of it spreading to other parts. And it is better that it be tackled and tackled early, that’sthe lessons that we’ve learned from the Swat valley incident. The Pakistani government initially took the approach that if only one valley can defeat the army, it doesn’t matter so much, but that territory - and due to pressure from the American government – can change hands. It has to be stopped there, because if you don’t stop there the ambitions are global and the problems would escalate, So I think, yes you are right the culture of impunity or indifference as far as the international community is concerned because then the threat for militant Islam has not been identified. Now it has been identified I think and hope that we will be more joined up in our approach, because to see these things as isolated problems rather than one front of a global struggle, is a recipe for disaster in the long-term. It becomes more expensive to deal with the problem later on.

 

Mr. David Montagu Corry

 

I would like to ask about the medication in your country. Are you doing a great deal for people in retirement as we do in England?  Are your people contributing to the poor from probably some extra money from some of your diplomatic people?

 

Mr. Ogun

 

We certainly wish we could do those things. The tragedy of Nigeria is that we are very way long off from that because the hospitals are not equipped as they should be either in terms of infrastructure or medication. Those in power who ought to be using the countries resources for providing for basic needs come over here for their medical treatment, including the president himself. They are off flying to Germany, Saudi Arabia, Britain or America for their own medical treatment knowing full well that the hospitals and clinics in the country are not fit for use for anybody. And so those social welfare issues are the very kind of things that the Genesis Project is trying to gather the resources to be able to do. It’s part of that very minimalist comfort level that would enable peoples minds to be protected from the allure of extremism, because once they can’t provide basics and someone dangles money in front of them or a contract, then they will sell their souls to the highest bidder. But if we can give them the basics, health care, basic accommodation, and stop the haemorrhaging of the nation’s wealth out of the country by those in power so that it is there to fund these services. Money doesn’t have to come from outside, because the money is there; it is stopping the bleeding, stopping the leakage, then having a government with the political will to do the right thing by its people to turn to face of Janus the right way around.

 

Question

 

Indistinct

 

Mr. Ogun

 

That is the one ray of hope I see in the gloomy story. I read this book by President Obarma and what I saw there was someone who has an understanding of the problems of not just Nigeria but of Africa, and who has experience, with the inherited structures and inherited countries embracing or imposing, as they do, political union between diverse states. He speaks in the book about his life which has been run on principles unlike Nigeria where the most educated are disregarded because they read too much! That’s why he ended up in Harvard and running America as he does. I sense an empathy, I sense an understanding and I’m hopeful, that because for the first time we have someone in the White House who doesn’t need to be taught as much detail in terms of the relationship between tribes. He understands that from Kenya, he understands that from the context of the other conglomerates like Indonesia where he spent some time. He has signalled in his inauguration speech that those who wish to rule by oppression are on the wrong side of history. We in the Genesis Project heard that very positively, that he would be looking out for organizations like ours who want to build constructive ways forward. Not just within Nigeria but in other parts Africa as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean initially breaking structures up in order to get results from them but helping people to get off that bottom rung, the bottom rung where the most vulnerable react to extremist ideology, where the youth and the youngsters are targeted, with this extremist ideology very early on because they see no other hope in the big world called Nigeria. So I am optimistic. In terms of the practical initiatives that the Genesis Project is looking to work with supporters in Nigeria, and by example if we can do it in Nigeria then there will be hope in other places as well. We firmly believe that the first line of defence is the money, beyond pensions that might be provided, beyond schools that might be built, or houses that might be erected, that if we can strengthen the mental defences and erase the propaganda that has been soaked into the minds of our young ones, if we can compliment the education that those have already been through that stage of the education process, compliment what they’ve been exposed to with civic education, that will help them to defend their liberty and assert their rights, that will help them to distinguish between force and the Islamic problem. In Nigeria also we had Christian leaders who were asking the poor to fund their superstar jet-setting lifestyles. Preaching a false gospel to the young ones, where, by the surrender their responsibilities on this earth and leaving everything to God, and in the meantime they steal resources. I said to some of them recently, ‘if you were preaching Christ’s gospel which is a radical gospel, which would tell these people to stop stealing the money of the people, rest assure the government would have locked you up by now, but the fact that government hasn’t locked you up tells you that you are doing a very nice job as far as their concerned.’ So it’s not just a problem of Islam, it’s a problem of abuse of faith generally, and that’s the most dangerous form of abuse, and our challenge is to work education programs, specific education programs, that’s why we took the Genesis name, emphasizing the commonality between the faiths, Abrahamic faiths, the roots, what they say in common rather than what divides them, and we believe that with that kind of initiative, if pushed hard, if pushed quickly, we can at least, much more quickly than we can build houses, build a defence within the minds of those who are exposed to this program of education. Get the Nigerians to re-engage, because if there is one thing that the oppressors fear most, it is those who are not dependent upon them. If we can get the Africans to re-engage, we have the chance because they are sending money home. Their role at the present is merely keeping people alive, rather than raising them up from that bottom rung to that first rung where they can begin to stand up to abusers. I think those are the kind of initiatives that we are looking to push out and work with partners to really get going as quickly as possible.