Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Rwanda has invaded DR Congo... maybe

Rwanda has invaded its gigantic neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Or maybe it hasn't.

No one's quite sure. And Kigali is doing its best to muddle the issue. An advisor to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, interviewed yesterday on the BBC World Service's Focus on Africa program, was asked point blank three times if Rwanda had already sent troops into the DRC. Three times, the advisor refused to specifically answer the question.

The BBC reported today that Kagame told legislators that Rwandan troops may already have crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo in pursuit of Hutu rebels... He told senators attempts to disarm forces across the border "will not take long, or it is even happening now".

As was the case in its two previous invasions of the DRC, Kagame claims the reason was to destroy former fighters who perpertrated the 1994 genocide and are allegedly hiding in the east of the DRC.

In its 1998 invasion of the DRC, Rwanda claimed it was merely giving itself a buffer zone against cross-border raids. It occupied land up to 1000 miles into DRC territory. That's one heck of a 'buffer zone.'

Some Congolese analysts say that the real reason behind Rwanda's threats is that President Joseph Kabila has recalled the governor of North Kivu province, based in Goma, who is from the Rwandan-backed RCD former rebel group.

Chippla, over at his blog, observes: Both Rwanda and Uganda are among countries accused by the UN of plundering the DRC's resources during the war. I tend to think Rwanda has a vested interest in the DRC that goes beyond hunting down rebels. Unfortunately, Kagame might likely just defy the Security Council with no repercussions. Rwanda seems to have an eternal excuse: "Where were you guys during the 1994 genocide. We need to ensure that such never happens again". This excuse might just be good enough to silence most nations on the Security Council.

Kagame, who's becoming the boy who cried wolf, uses 'divisionism' as a catch-all phrase to silence anyone who disagree with his government's policies.

The 1998-2002 conflict in eastern DRC, which also involved several other African countries and is generally seen as Africa's first continental war, directly or indirectly cost over three million lives.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Puppet master Rawlings still pulling the strings

The BBC's Kwaku Sakyi-Addo is keeping a diary of Ghana's presidential election campaign. In this entry, he writes of the increasing involvement of the country's colorful former leader Jerry Rawlings. His hand-picked successor, is running again against President John Kufour.

Apparently, Rawlings has written a 10-page letter, addressed to the Nigerian president and [African Union] Chairman, Olusegun Obasanjo.
In it, he asks President Obasanjo to intervene in what he alleges are President John Kufuor administration's attempts to rig the 7 December poll, warning that anything short of free and fair elections would have "a ripple effect and derail the democratic process," with implications for the whole of West Africa.

Being a two-time coup-maker, his critics have decoded that as long-hand for "coup d'etat."

The administration has dismissed the allegations, and so has the Electoral Commission whose chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Djan, was a Rawlings-appointee.

But assuming the issues raised by Mr Rawlings are justified, why didn't Mr Mills write and sign the letter? He's the candidate. Mr Rawlings is not.

You see, Atta Mills was Rawlings hand-picked successor in the 2000 election (when the constitution barred him another term) and lost to then-opposition leader Kufour.

A two-time coup leader and military dictator for over a decade, former Flight Lt. Rawlings is used to getting his way.

[In a related note, the Confederation Cup soccer final has been postponed a month. The continental tournament pits Ghana's two biggest clubs and bitter rivals Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak. The request was made by Ghana's soccer federation despite the objections of the two clubs. While Kotoko are associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party, Hearts are often linked with the opposition National Democratic Congress, notes the BBC. The first leg of the final was scheduled for a few days after the presidential election]

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Can't much get education if you're dead

Some might think that the genocide in eastern Sudan, isn't attracting enough attention. But in a column for Kenya's Daily Nation, Peter Mwaura suggests that Darfur is attracting TOO MUCH attention.

Southern Sudan merits the greatest attention of the Security Council and the donor community in terms of post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation if peace in Sudan is going to be meaningful.

He writes of how southern Sudan needs a big investment in infrastructure like roads, bridges and schools, to say nothing of helping resettle refugees.

For the period between April and December this year, Darfur has (comparatively) attracted confirmed contributions of $178 million and has only a shortfall of 13 per cent while for the same period southern Sudan has attracted only $368 million and has a shortfall of 35 per cent according figures provided by the World Food Programme.

He concludes that Darfur is the darling of the donor community.

While it's undeniable that in those rare occasions when the international community focuses its spotlight on Africa, it's almost always on the worst crises. More mundane, but hugely important, measures like post-war reconstruction almost always get short shrift.

Still though, I can't fault the Security Council's focus on trying to stop the genocide in Darfur. You can't much education if you're already dead.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Compaoré on solidarity

Just when I thought Jacques Chirac was the hypocrite du jour, along comes Blaise Compaoré.

I was astonished to read this essay in the French daily Le Monde. It's an opinion by Burkina Faso's strongman Blaise Compaoré that argues 'For more solidarity among French-speaking countries.'

Burkina's capital Ouagadougou is to host the upcoming Francophonie summit. La Francophonie is a grouping primarily of former French colonies; basically an attempt by France to copy the British Commonwealth.

Compaoré boasts of how his country respects the international protection of human rights by having signed and ratified most accords on the matter. The education of the rights and responsibilities of the citizen constitutes an important part of government action.

In an interview with the pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent, Compaoré responded to accusations that his country hosts opposition figures from other nations: "Is it normal that, in the 21st century, a regime forces its adversaries into exil?... If liberties are guaranteed, there is no reason for opponents to flee elsewhere. It's wiser to dialogue with those who've fled their country than to denounce hypothetical interference from neighbors..."

Not surprisingly, the Burkinabé opposition might beg to differ. And the Burkinabé press too.

More gallingly, Compaoré writes in Le Monde that: The principal combat of [the Francophonie] community consists of encouraging cultures, religions and civilizations to better listen to, accept and become closer to one another.

Compaoré is a close friend of that notorious African meddler Col. Gadaffi of Libya. The Burkina leader has been accused of destabilizing fell Francophonie members Côte d'Ivoire, Togo and Mauritania, to say nothing of anglophone neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone.

So Compaoré is lecturing the world on solidarity? What's next? Joseph Kony on respect for human rights? The Ivorian 'Young Patriots' on tolerance?

The colonialist denounces imperialism

Some anti-Iraq war folks might be tempted to think that because French President Jacques Chirac agreed with them on Iraq, then he might be someone to admire. That would be mistaken. He happened to be right, but the as the law of averages dictates, it was bound to happen eventually. Even Jesse Helms was accidentally right once in a great while.

In his recent trip to Britain, Chirac said, "The peoples submitted to the West’s domination in the past have not forgotten and are quick to see a resurgence of imperialism and colonialism in our actions."

This was shortly after the French military destroyed the entireity of the Ivorian air force. An action which, shock of shocks, provoked an outpouring of anti-French sentiment in Côte d'Ivoire who accused the French of... imperialism and colonialism.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The brain drain and health

There are many big challenges facing Africa in the health domain: AIDS, malaria, access to clean water. But a factor critical to all those is a desperate shortage of health workers in many countries. This BBC article notes that there are more Malawian doctors in the English city of Manchester than there are in all of Malawi.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sudan: the carrot which has nothing to do with the stick

Last week, I expressed a bit of skepticism at a deal between the Sudanese regime and rebel leaders in Darfur, an agreement referred to as "breakthrough" by many independent parties. Sadly, my skepticism was justified.

The DAY AFTER the agreement was signed, BBC journalist Fergal Keane (a veteran of the last African genocide in Rwanda and its subsequent, and expectedly hollow, promises of 'Never again') filed this report from a Darfur refugee camp.

I saw at least four jeep-loads of police driving over the flimsy shacks erected by displaced people.
Later they returned and began to beat and tear-gas the frightened crowd.

I saw one of the community leaders being thrown to the ground and attacked by several policemen.

The police launched tear-gas grenades into a compound where women and children were sheltering.

Police then entered and forced them to flee.


The police showed open contempt for United Nations officials when they arrived, firing tear-gas grenades and driving aggressively around the camp.

African Union (AU) peacekeepers at the camp said they did not have power or mandate to intervene.

More police have now arrived to reinforce the earlier contingent.

It's chilling to consider what the word 'reinforce' means in this context.

Keane continued:

The police staged two assaults on displaced people, and wouldn't desist from bulldozing their camp, despite the presence of representatives of the UN, AU and international aid agencies.


All the people here I have spoken to were driven out of their own villages by the pro-government Janjaweed militia and have witnessed rape and murder.

It is really hard to convey what it is like, when in the dark hours of the early morning, jeeps come in with searchlights, knowing that these people have absolutely no protection.

I've been covering Africa for 21 years and I thought I'd seen everything, but to watch the officials and the police of a state like Sudan - which has just signed a peace agreement - demolishing people's shacks under the eyes of international observer and breaching international law, is quite extraordinary and unique.

The domestic BBC Panorama program has also spoken to members of the Janjaweed in northern Darfur.

They also appear to substantiate the often denied claim that Arab soldiers - who are accused of rape and murder in Darfur - are armed by the Sudanese government.

Panorama interviewed one Janjaweed recruit who claimed of his commanders, "They said that if you come across any villages with rebels in burn them down. Straight away."

One refugee told of the horror inflicted on her by the Janjaweed: "Five of them surrounded me I couldn't move I was paralysed. They raped me, one after the other."

Another said, "My son was clinging to my dress. An Arab looking man, in a uniform with military insignia, stopped his car next to me. He grabbed my son from me and threw him into a fire."

A third villager Hikma, claimed the Janjaweed hurled racist insults as they carried out their attacks.

She said: "They were saying 'the blacks are slaves, the blacks are stupid catch them alive, catch them alive, take them away with you, tie them up'.

A fourth told the BBC: "We went to get the firewood at eight o'clock in the morning. Suddenly we were confronted by the attackers.

"They started asking us: 'Where are you going, fur women?', and calling us donkeys. 'Where are the rebels?'

"They started beating us. We tried to resist and defend ourselves but we failed because they threatened us with knives. Four of them raped me."

In response to the appalling situation, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has called on the UN Security Council to impose an long-delayed arms embargo and travel sanctions on the Sudanese regime.

A group of six aid agencies added their weight to calls for action, saying that previous UN resolutions "mounted to little more than empty threats, with minimal impact on the levels of violence". This was evidenced by the atrocities mentioned earlier that were committed in full view of UN and African Union officials.

Despite being the only major country to call the Darfur situation 'genocide' and despite having earlier pushed the arms embargo/travel ban resolution, the US has quickly changed tack, according to The Washington Post. The daily reports: The Bush administration is pressing the United Nations to reward Sudan with a major package of international debt relief and reconstruction funds if the Islamic state signs a peace deal ending a brutal, 20-year civil war with the Christian-backed Sudan People's Liberation Army in southern Sudan by the end of the year.

This is a separate conflict from Darfur (the regime has a knack for fighting its own citizens, eh?).

The offer of financial aid marks a strategy shift by the United States, which had sought international support for two U.N. resolutions threatening to sanction Sudan if it failed to crack down on the Janjaweed.

The US' ambassador to the UN John Danforth says the Bush administration wants to focus more on the carrot than the stick.

Too bad the America carrot has nothing to do with the situation the Bush administration itself called genocide.

Monday, November 15, 2004

An "anti-misery" tax?

A recent essay in Le Monde called for a solidarity tax on petroleum. Olivier Giscard d'Estaing, president of the Action Committee for a World Parliament (and I'd guess son of the former president of the French Republic), called for a one dollar tax per barrel of oil "against misery."

The author estimates that such a tax would the 50 billion dollars ($50,000,000,000) annually necessary to reach the Millenium Goals against poverty. He calls on OPEC to institute this initiative, which he likens to the Marshall Plan.

This is a wonderful and noble idea.

But how will it reduce poverty?

In many oil-producing countries, like Venezuela, Angola and Nigeria, the problem is not lack of money. Those countries are rolling in oil revenues. The problems are corruption and lack of transparency. The money's there. It's just not reaching the citizens. It's not having any effect on the lives of ordinary people.

An "anti-misery tax" would only increase the amount of money for the leeches to siphon off.

Ivorian morass

The mess in Côte d'Ivoire continues to deteriorate. First, an Ivorian government air strike on French peacekeepers left 9 French soldiers dead. The French responded by destroying the small Ivorian air force, something which Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo called "acts of war." Then French troops deployed across the commercial capital Abidjan following anti-French rioting and took control of the city's international airport. The French commander in Côte d'Ivoire denied it represented an attempt to overthrow Gbagbo. Over this weekend, Gbagbo fired his moderate army chief Gen. Matthias Doué and replaced him with a hardliner.

Now, the UN Security Council is rightly preparing an arms embargo on the country (all belligerents). Including a travel ban and a freeze on "funds and other financial assets" to be imposed against unspecified individuals to be decided later by a Security Council panel. Gbagbo is likely to be on the list, diplomats said. The individuals would include those who threatened the peace and "reconciliation process" as well as those "determined as responsible for serious violations of human rights," the resolution says, reports CNN.

My take on all of this?

a ) I strongly suspect that the "Young Patriots" militias are out of the control of both Gbagbo and his FPI party, even though the militias are nominally "pro-government." I fear if Gbagbo compromises, he may be assassinated by extremists like happened to Rwanda's leader Juvénal Habyrimana right before that country's genocide. Gbagbo may fear this too.

b) The French crossed a dangerous line when they actively bombed the Ivorian air force. It's one thing to protect civilians or themselves but this certainly seems like plain old aggression. Even if they were provoked. So-called peacekeepers don't do this sort of thing; belligerents do. This only stoked anti-French fires that the nationalistic and xenophobic militias were more than happy to exploit.

c) The French are in deep and they don't know how to get out. The French government negotiated the Marcoussis agreement that was supposed to bring an end to the civil war. Originally, they were seen as an honest broker in the conflict. This was no small feat considering that the country's history of meddling in Africa is comparably odious to US meddling in Latin America. Yet the rebels quickly soured on the French as their peacekeepers stood in the way of the rebel march toward Abidjan. Now it's the Ivorian government accusing the French of bias.

France's long history of "involvement" in Côte d'Ivoire and French president Jacques Chirac's comment that "We do not want to let a system develop that could lead to anarchy, or a regime of a fascist nature" only feed the conspiracy theories.

To make things worse, "120 French tanks" had taken position some 500 meters from Gbagbo's residence, according to the Ivorian leder, who equated it to the Soviet invasion of Prague.

d) Sadly, the Ivorian government IS alarmingly close to being "of a fascist nature," however "constitutional" it may be. Reporters Without Borders noted how the country's state media mix propaganda, disinformation and incitement to riot. The non-governmental organization added "If President Laurent Gbagbo does not want to be accused of saying one thing and doing another, he must ensure that the official media are no longer used as tools for organising and mobilising the pro-governmental Young Patriots."

On November 9, a preacher from the Church of the Living Word went on the air with violent imprecations. "The country must be delivered from the evil ones," he said, claiming that French President Jacques Chirac is "inhabited by the spirt of Satan." Ivory Coast was "divided into two blocs, with the Devil's bloc on one side and God's bloc on the other" and it was up to the "patriots" to ensure that the second prevailed, he said. His monologue ended with a ringing "Amen, pastor" from the two RCI [Ivorian state radio] presenters. Throughout the 90 minutes of Reporters Without Borders's monitoring of RCI yesterday, the same two presenters regularly punctuated their live comments with such slogans as "Vigilance, patriots" and "Thanks be to the fatherland." This morning on RTI [Ivorian state television], Reporters Without Borders noted that President Chirac and the French soldiers of the Force Licorne were systematically referred to as "settlers" and "imperialists." In general, comments and reports tended to focus on the claim that France is in the process of carrying out a "coup d'etat" against Ivory Coast, despite the denials by both the French and Ivorian military.

d) The militias and government used the refusal of rebels to disarm as a pretext for bombing. In a national address, Gbagbo said, "I have always considered, by culture and religious conviction, that war is a bad thing. That is why I have unreservedly adhered to all the peace accords signed here in Ivory Coast between the rebellion and the national armed forces or signed in friendly countries between political forces."

Yet it was the parliament, let by Gbagbo's FPI party, that refused to scrap the xenophobic "Ivoirité" laws as required by the peace agreements he "unreservedly adhered to." The legal changes were supposed to PRECEDE disarmament according to the Marcoussis agreement both the government and rebels signed. The discrimination imposed by the "Ivoirité" laws are at the very heart of the grievances that provoked the rebellion in the first place. That Gbagbo refuses to recognize this testifies either to his crimnal and treasonous hard-headness or his fear of being assassinated by nationalist extremists.

In short, if the French are in deep, Gbagbo's in deeper.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Deal signed for Darfur

A deal described as a breakthrough has been signed between the Sudanese regime and rebel leaders from Darfur. In a security deal the government - under international pressure - accepted a ban on military flights over Darfur. A separate agreement seeks to ease delivery of humanitarian aid to Darfur, where 70,000 have died since the conflict began.

African Union Chair Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria called the accord "a very important step in the right direction."

The actual cessation of genocide in Darfur would be an even more important step in the right direction.

Social situation in Guinea degrades -- Botswanan universal education promise

The political sclerosis in Guinea (Conakry) continues. The country's body politic is basically paralyzed due to the ill-health of the head of state, Gen. Lansana Conté. The opposition is rudderless. The ruling party and the government are essentially waiting for the long ailing general to die before figuring out how succession will work. And apparently they're not doing much else as social conditions in the country continue to degrade.

Earlier this year, riots broke out in the capital Conakry to protest an explosion in the price of rice, the country's main food staple. Though this was further aggravated when people learned that some local government officials were stealing rice. The World Bank halted cooperation with the country; many other partners quit much earlier.

In recent months, there have been protests by agronomy students against living conditions and unpaid railway workers from the now liquidated state rail company.

Then last week, residents of the central Guinea town of Pita rioted against a rise in electricity prices. Troops were called in and one protester was killed and five others wounded, according to AFP.


When a country like Senegal or Kenya shrugs off one-party rule and "goes democratic," it's easy to assume that such gains are permanent. This story from Ghana should remind of the danger of complacency. The Ghanaian Chronicle reports that Seven persons, mainly ex-military officers of the disbanded 64 Infantry Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces were arrested over the weekend by a combined team of Police and officers of state security for allegedly plotting to overthrow the current government.

President John Kufour is seeking a second term in elections scheduled for next month.


Fresh off his party's convincing general election win last month, Botswanan President Festus Mogae has promised universal education for the southern African country. He added that that his government was committed to ensuring better education by ensuring that opportunities for tertiary education are improved through the expansion of the University of Botswana, the building of a second university, whose curriculum would focus on science and technology, as well as a medical school, according to the Gaborone weekly The Reporter.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Traitor Bédié

With the resumption of the civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, the war against the independent press and vast anti-French violence in the country's commercial capital, I've come to a conclusion. The country's former strongman Henri Konan Bédié should be jailed for the rest of his life for treason.

Back in the late 90s, Bédié was having difficulty maintaining his PDCI party's decades-long stranglehold on power; the country had been a one-party state until the early 90s. So as demagogues tend to do when challenged, he found a scapegoat: immigrants.

He invented a concept called "Ivoirité" or Ivorianess. "True" Ivorians were those for whom both parents were born the country. Or in many cases, the colony that became the country. Anyone not fitting that critieria wasn't a real Ivorian. Even if they'd lived all their life in the country. Even if one (but not both) of their parents were born there. In a country where a huge percentage of the population has some sort of roots elsewhere, it was an explosive concept. Until then, Bédié merely been a pompous windbag. Ivoirité is what turned him into a traitor.

It was also ethnically charged. The north of the country was where most people were affected by the Ivoirité. The north of the country is also the only area where Islam is predominant; the rest of the country is mostly Christian. Ivoirité was a xenophobic way of targeting the non-Christian part of the country.

Ivoirité was designed to target Alasanne Ouatarra and his RDR party. The RDR is strong in the north. It was deemed that Ouatarra wasn't legally an Ivorian citizen, despite him having an Ivorian passport. Despite the fact that Ouatarra was once prime minister of Côte d'Ivoire and acting president when the then-president Houphouet-Boigny was hospitalized.

Not surprisingly, northerners finally got sick of the harassment and a civil war broke out. Peace accords were signed in Marcoussis, France but the southern dominated parliament refused to pass legal reforms that would've given more equal treatment to northerners and chipped away at Ivoirité.

With northern rebels refusing to disarm as planned because of the lack of political reform, government forces launched unprovoked air raids on the north, in violation of the cease fire. And the civil war appears to have resumed.

And despite being overthrown in a 1999 military coup (which was later replaced by a civilian government), traitor Bédié remains free to act as an opposition leader and stir up the xenophobic pot even more as his country goes up in flames. All this started because he wanted to cling to power a little longer.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

More displaced from N. Uganda than Darfur -- Government resumes civil war in Côte d'Ivoire

Ugandan forces are still in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to Human Rights Watch [HRW]. The Ugandan paper The Monitor reported: The UPDF [Ugandan Army] officially withdrew from eastern Congo at a public ceremony in April 2003. HRW however says it has information that the troops returned in May less than a month after the withdrawal. HRW further alleged that a rebel group in Ituri, allegedly backed by Uganda, has recently tortured 24 civilians. Six of them reportedly died later.

Curious, then, that Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni has asked the United Nations to grant "provisional immunity" to warlords in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. "Whereas Uganda has been at the forefront of working for an end to impunity, with respect to war crimes and genocide in this region, our experience in the Burundi peace process has convinced us of the need for provisional immunity to achieve peace first," Museveni told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan,

The alleged implication of Ugandan troops in the eastern DR Congo is odd considering the horrific rebellion in northern Uganda conitnues unabated. Another Ugandan paper, New Vision, reported that the UN raised the alarm over northern Uganda, where it said 20,000 children have been abducted by rebels trying to set up a government based on the Bible's Ten Commandments... In addition to the kidnapped children - who are forced to serve as either soldiers or sex slaves for the [Lord's Resistance Army] rebel commanders - around 1.6 million people have been displaced, more than have been displaced from Darfur, according to the UN's emergency coordinator for the area.


What's left of the peace process in Côte d'Ivoire has collapsed with yesterday's government bombing of several northern cities. The raids were condemned by the African Union and the United Naitons.

Appropriately, rebel leader Guillaume Soro declared "I am no longer ready to negotiate." He can hardly be blamed in the aftermath of the provocations of which the bombings are only the most flagrant. The power-sharing government never really had much authority. Parliament refused to pass laws to make northerners less repressed. Pro-government militias and mobs (whose control by President Laurent Gbagbo and his allies is questionable) have repeatedly attacked suspected opposition sympathizers and opposition media outlets.

These "Young Patriot" militias criticized the rebels for not disarming fast enough. Can you blame the rebels?


In late October, Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was re-elected with 94.5% of the vote in the country's highly 'managed' presidential election. Real opposition parties in Tunisia are not, shall we say, welcome with open arms.

Yet, Ben Ali's score in last month's vote is actually less than the 99+% figures he was credited with in previous elections. Such is 'openness' in Tunisia's police state.


Though in more free elections, Botswana's ruling party was re-elected for the eight time since independence in 1966.

As blogger Chippla noted: Botswana is the longest multi-party democracy in Africa which says a lot as it has a relatively stable economy that has outperformed those of most other countries on the continent.

Longstanding multiparty democracy. Economic growth, relative prosperity and a stable economy.



While many Africans aspire for their countries to be like the United States, one country has actually achieved that goal. In a dubious category: fatness. Obesity levels in South Africa are now the same as those in the United States, according to doctors at the first international conference on obesity in Africa.

In South Africa, one in three men are overweight or obese, while for women, it is more than one in two, notes the BBC. Though perversely as many people die of malnutrition in South Africa as of diseases associated with obesity.

(Not that obesity implies proper nutrition anyway)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Obasanjo and the gay menace

The United States is not the only country where the president is using the "gay menace" as a smokescreen to distract from real problems. Nigerian leader Olesegun Obasanjo recently backed Africa's Anglican bishops who vehemently objected to an American Episcopalian diocese's appointment of a gay bishop. President Obasanjo, a born-again Christian, praised bishops for their "principled stand against the totally unacceptable tendency towards same-sex marriages and homosexual practice" adding that "such a tendency is clearly un-Biblical, unnatural and definitely un-African."

Perhaps, he could apply this vigor to fighting rampant corruption that gnaws away at every facet of Nigerian society.

In the light of recent general strikes, turmoil in the oil producing Niger delta, repressive Sharia being imposed in northern Nigeria and most recently, a fuel shortage which grounded air flights in the country, the religious controversy is useful distraction for Obasanjo.