by Raymond Eyo
“Don’t give up. Don’t let anybody push you around.”
– Prof. Chinua Achebe to Nigeria at 50
On June 5, 2013, US President Barack Obama picked his Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, as his new National Security Adviser, a very influential and powerful policy portfolio in the American establishment. As the then US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Rice was part of an American delegation in Nigeria that visited MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of Nigeria’s 1993 freest and fairest presidential elections in July 1998 – a visit which culminated in Abiola’s death, under very controversial and suspicious circumstances.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Nigerian cabinet member in the Obasanjo administration recently wrote, asking: “What did Susan Rice put in the tea that she served to Chief MKO Abiola on July 8, 1998 just before he died? She was one of the last people that saw him alive, she served him some tea, he coughed violently and one hour later he dropped dead. What was in the tea? Can someone please ask Susan Rice what her role was in the death of Abiola? Who sent her to do the job and who was she working for? At that time she was Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in Clinton’s government. Was she acting on his direct instructions or simply on the instructions of her [immediate] boss?”
I share Fani-Kayode’s fears. It is possible that at 33 in 1998, Rice who, journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, in a June 9 opinion piece says, “By disposition and ideology, [is] a strong advocate of American power” was very ambitious and would have promptly acted on the directives of her bosses, however vicious or precarious they were, to demonstrate her loyalty and ‘patriotism’.
In its December 2009 cover story, the renowned pan-African monthly, New African magazine, puts the controversy surrounding Abiola’s death into clear perspective. Quoting from a book written by a UK-based Nigerian lawyer, Dele Ogun, whose rapport with some highly placed American officials had inadvertently placed him in the know of the conspiracy behind Abiola’s death, New African reported that: “There is more to Abiola’s death than officialdom has cared to say.”
In his book, Ogun, an accomplished lawyer, narrates that a revealing comment he made to a commercial attaché in the American embassy in London landed him an International Visitor Program deal, in 1995, that saw him meet anyone he wanted to meet and made himself available for anyone he was asked to meet. On one of such encounters with a former US ambassador to Nigeria during Obasanjo’s first stint in office, Dele says the ambassador asked about Abacha’s [‘civilian’] succession plans and given his response regarding the quandary that that would have thrown up [Abiola would have insisted on his mandate and Abacha wasn’t likely to accede to that], the ambassador asked: “Supposing the two of them [Abacha and Abiola] weren’t there, who would you see as a possible successor?” Innocently and unsuspectingly, Ogun listed some names but the ambassador again asked: “What of Obasanjo… what do you think of him?” Well, the rest is history and, as they say, the handwriting was and is clearly on the wall!
It has to be said that the elimination of popular political figures deemed to be inimical to American interests did not begin and would certainly not end with Abiola. In fact, in a similar New African cover story in April 2007, titled: “Confessions of a CIA agent,” correspondent Osei Boateng, reports that “Larry Devlin was the CIA chief of station in DR Congo in 1960 when the US president, Dwight Eisenhower, authorized the assassination of the Congolese prime minister, Patrice Lumumba [whom the Americans considered to be pro-Soviet], by lethal poisoning. Devlin was given the job to kill Lumumba, but his conscience so smote him that he kept the poisons for so long that the job was taken from him and given to someone else.” Devlin’s memoirs, Chief of Station, Congo – Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone, published in April 2007, provided the irrefutable facts for that conclusion.
Similarly, as New African again reported in its October and November 2005 issues, another American, John Perkins, in his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, explains that “An EHM [which he was] is a person recruited and trained by America’s intelligence community and “employed” by private corporations to go around the world and “encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes US commercial interests… and ensures their loyalty to the US. We can draw on them whenever we desire – to satisfy our political, economic and military needs.” Instructively, Perkins asserted that “If we [the EHMs] falter, a more malicious form of hit man, the jackal, steps to the plate. And if the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.”
Susan Rice has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. While she busies herself serving the American government at its highest echelons, she should not forget one pertinent lesson of history: it always finds a way to eventually shore up the truth! It has taken Kenya several decades to get the British government to finally admit to the truth and pay reparations for the heinous treatment meted out on their Mau-Mau forbears. Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, once said, and rightly so: “[Though] it may take time for the truth to emerge… truth is incapable of being soiled by any outward touch as a sunbeam.”
In the same vein, Fani-Kayode remarks that “Yet no matter how hard they try to cover her up and silence her, truth is stubborn and she cannot be drowned. One day, in the fullness of time, Lady Truth will be seen and heard by all. One day the pernicious lie of “death by natural causes” that the powers that be have claimed [is] the cause of Abiola’s death will be exposed. And those that continue to spin that lie and conspire to hide the truth will pay a heavy price for their murderous deceit, either in this world or the next.”
One reason why the quest for the truth about Abiola’s death will never be quelled stems from his being a foundational figure for Nigerian democracy. As Fani-Kayode puts it: “The fact remains that had it not been for Abiola’s great sacrifice and his gallant refusal to bow before the Nigerian military and give up his 1993 presidential mandate we would not have democracy in Nigeria today.” Voila! For as long as Nigerian democracy will last, Nigerians would continue to ask the apposite questions and demand answers regarding who killed Abiola – until, hopefully, they get it, and the responsible parties are made to atone for their sheer wickedness.
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @Raymond_Eyo